Councillor Pauline Batstone reflects on the Council’s workings in pandemic

Sturminster Newton-Pauline is bugged by people who litter

Blackmore Vale Ward Councillor’s update previously in the Shillingstone News – April – May

I keep intending to make a record of the number of different queries and issues I will have dealt with in a morning between 8.00 a.m. and my first virtual meeting of the day or whatever.   With a combination of phone calls, e-mails and social media contacts it can be quite a range, from neighbour disputes, road closures, speeding, potholes, how the council have wasted money on pothole repairs, domestic violence, waste collection, bat surveys, litter, council farms, racism, and more neighbour disputes.   For those who think being a councillor is about Party Politics, think again, although it is about politics with a small “p” or at least about diplomacy.   My greatest allies are my councillor colleagues regardless of party as we are all in this together.

It is expected that by the time you read this article the latest Bill on Domestic Violence will be well on its way to becoming law.   As you will no doubt have read, there has been an increase in reports of domestic violence during lockdown, affecting children as well as adults.   The proposed new Act recognises coercion and economic control as forms of domestic violence and offences, plus strangling to the point of suffocation but not to death as an offence in its own right.   It concerns me that often we do not recognise the difficulties older people may be in when a previously loving partner is suffering from dementia in some form and the focus Is on their health whereas the caring partner finds themself suffering from domestic violence at the hands of the demented one.   Nothing in life is ever simple.

The Dorset Council has been consulting on the Local Plan proposals for Dorset, which have economic as well as development implications for our area.   The Council has also been consulting on its proposed response to climate change.   Both of those pieces of work will now come back through the Council for discussion and decision during the course of this year.

As we approach the summer holiday season the Council is preparing for the great British Staycation and expected invasion of day trippers and holiday makers.  As well as attempting to monitor and control car-parking, especially in the Purbecks where there is basically only one way in and one way out, the Council is looking at how facilities can be improved, especially the availability of toilets.   Farms who wish to open up temporary camp sites will be guided and supported in doing that, with the aim of controlling what is happening, rather than having to cope with unauthorised camping and “wild camping”.

Council staff are still predominantly working from home when their responsibilities allow and face to face meetings, including formal Meetings, will not be allowed to happen until the end of June.   Office space is being rationalised and unneeded buildings disposed of.        It is expected greater use will be made of virtual meetings in any case as we move forward, including “hybred” meetings, i.e a mix of physical presence and virtual attendance.    Some staff continue to be deployed from their usual roles to cope with the Covid situation which  is under constant review.   What a weird year this last one has been and will continue to be.

Pauline Batstone,

Blackmore Vale Ward Councillor.