Voice of the Churches
FROM THE VICAR – Rev’d Philippa Sargent It’s been a rum old few months! Who would have imagined at the start
March is proving to be a busy time
Life is very full of meetings currently. There is the normal run of commitments of a large county Council plus many meetings relating to the setting up of the new Dorset Council.
Most of the Dorset Council’s work will be about continuing the major services the Dorset County Council has always provided but worth listing out for council tax payers.
The additional services which the District Councils bring to the partnership – licencing, planning, housing allocation, elections, whilst important are but a small proportion of the overall budget and the councillors’ duties.
By merging these services into the new Council and hence reducing management costs the shadow Dorset Council has got off to a great start by making overall cost savings enabling it to set a balanced budget and ensure there are no cuts to the services that matter so much in our communities and their main stakeholders.
Indeed, as a team we are delighted that an additional £6.9 million will be put into children and family services to do the best we can for the vulnerable children for whom we have a responsibility. This is especially pleasing as historically our former Council has struggled to do all that we would wish for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. As time has gone on the number falling into that category is steadily growing and the funding we get from central government for some reason never keeps pace.
Our local MPs and the Local Government Association have taken up the cudgels on behalf of all councils because the problem is a countrywide one.
Dorset is leading the way
Historically different part of government have tended to work independently of one another. This inevitably leads to a ‘right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing’ situation in many areas of government. The result of course is inefficiency and poorly delivered services. This is especially so where Health and Social Care services are concerned. At last the Government has got wise to this and has asked Dorset to take the lead in pioneering new ways of working together for these two departments.
The new Dorset Council will be leading the way nationally in promoting closer working between the Health Service and Adult Services with the aim of enabling older or disabled people to live as independently as possible for as long as possible.
People are living for longer, which is good, but the quality of life needs to be as good as it can be. Under the slogan “Better Together” there are plans for providing more supported housing, including pre-fabricated buildings especially designed for the needs of the elderly, and more local support to help people stay in their homes rather than having to stay in hospital or care homes. We need to design clear measures to track success and these are being developed by the experts and I look forward to reporting on the success of this project.
A funny inheritance
The new Dorset Council will inherit an estate of farms from the old council which provide the opportunity for young people to enter farming, indeed I was brought up on one of those farms. We are looking at how the farms can also make a wider contribution to the community, not just by providing business opportunities and food and jobs worthy though both are.
Currently we are exploring how we can use this great resource.Initiatives under considerations include
Meeting with me
Meeting my constituents and listening to their concerns is one of the best parts of my job. If you would like to get hold of me face to face or by email there are details below of my whereabouts.
During March I will be doing a surgery at Pulham on 2ndMarch, 10.00 a.m., attending the Coffee Morning at Shillingstone at 11.00 a.m. and a surgery at The Exchange in Sturminster.
I will be attending the Mud Pie Café in Okeford Fitzpaine on the morning of the 9thMarch
My address Councillor Pauline Batstone, Blackmore Vale Division of Dorset County Council, Elvlyn Cottage, Glue Hill, Sturminster Newton, Dorset DT10 2DJ. Tel 01258 472583
Preferred e.mail address [email protected] Facebook Councillor Pauline Batstone