January 2014 Meeting
Your Parish Council met for its monthly meeting on Thursday 9th January.
There were over 20 members of the public present, plus our community policeman, PC Jon Stewart, and our PCSO, Luke Taylor.
Our next meeting will be on Thursday 13th February, at the Drax Hall, starting at 7pm.
All parishioners are welcome to attend.
We would like to make it clear that the Parish Council has a policy of not being drawn into debates on the village Facebook page.
We use Facebook to inform about events and activities, and, sometimes to announce matters being published on our websites.
We do not believe that Facebook is the right forum for constructive discussion and debate.
Parish Council meetings, always held on the second Thursday of the month at 7pm, and Parish Forum meetings, held once or twice a year, are the open, democratic opportunities for people to speak, and for the Council to discuss and decide matters.
May’s Wood Deer Fencing
The council expressed its disgust at the vandalism of the recently erected deer fencing on Brian May’s land.
As he has been generous enough to allow free pedestrian access onto his land, particularly where there are no formal rights of way, we all felt that this was a particularly ungrateful and unnecessary criminal act.
Anyone who has any information about who might have done it is asked to speak to the police, and to be vigilant in the future. It is highly likely that night vision CCTV cameras will be installed
Partial Street Lighting
At the beginning of this year Dorset County Council implemented its policy of turning off street lights in our residential areas from Midnight to 5am.
Members of the public spoke against the new policy on grounds of vehicle and personal safety, and crime prevention.
Others expressed views supportive of the new policy on grounds of cost saving, and environmental benefits. Peter Wharf, our County Councillor, reported on his discussions with DCC over the matter.
PC Jon Stewart reported that there had been no measurable increases in crime in areas where the policy had been running for some time.
After due consideration, the Council decided that there were no exceptional grounds for making a case for Bere Regis to be treated differently from the rest of the county.
Gary Thomas from the Post Office spoke at the beginning of the meeting about future plans in general, and specifically about the future of our post office on West Street.
He explained the new national initiative being implemented at present to invest £1.34billion to help retain some 12000 main and sub-post offices all over the country.
Although our present incumbents had indicated that they wished to give up the post office,
Gary was confident that, from the expressions of interest he had received, there would be a successful applicant to take over the post office possibly in its present location, or possibly elsewhere in the village.
There is a proposal to extract gravel from a number of sites in the county, including one in the parish on Bere Heath near Philliols Farm.
The Parish Council is trying to get more information about the impact this might have, both ecologically and in terms of vehicle movements, so as to determine how to respond.
Parishioners can comment individually, and we would urge anyone with an interest to go to a consultation meeting and comment.
Meetings are being held between the 8th and 30th January at various locations around Dorset.
This is to remind everyone that the new Dorset Waste partnership recycling scheme takes effect in March. You will shortly get your smart new food recycling caddy, your new, smaller, rubbish wheelie bin, and you will have to then use your larger old wheelie for recycling.
More details can be found at www.dorsetforyou.com/recycling
Community Transport & Volunteer Driver Scheme - NeighbourCar
A volunteer driver registration evening was held on Thursday 9th and those drivers that attended were registered and will be ready to start as soon as the paperwork is processed.
There will be a further registration evening in the near future for those who were unable to attend and anyone else who wishes to become involved.
It is intended that the scheme will start asap, with an official launch being help on 1st March – further details will follow nearer the time.
Drax Arms Community Benefit
We are pleased to announce that Sam and Jacqui are planning to put on monthly benefit dinners in aid of good causes in Bere Regis.
The 3 course dinners will be held on the 1st Saturday of every month (except July and August), when up to 50 people will be able to enjoy a fine dining evening for £15.95ph, of which £2.00 per person will be donated to the selected cause.
In addition the proceeds of a raffle and a quiz will also be donated, so each event may generate a donation of up to £200.
Any charity or good cause in the parish can apply to be the beneficiary.
Good causes may include organisations such as the Scouts, FOBRES, Ragamuffins and Pop In Place, but may also include individual young people (under 25) seeking support for instance for a gap year charitable project or similar.
Applications should be made in writing to the Drax Arms, with contact details and explaining what the donation will be used for.
The Drax Arms management and a member of the Parish Council will vet all the applications and will carry out a draw for the successful monthly bids.
The person or organisation applying must be prepared to fully participate in the event by providing information, selling most of the tickets and finding raffle prizes.
This is a wonderful opportunity for the whole community to benefit, by supporting our good causes and one of our local businesses and enjoying a great night out all at the same time.
Bere Stream Open Space Project
As parishioners will probably know, the Parish Council now owns the whole of the Souls Moor area to the South of the Bere Stream, including the fenced SNCI area, and the open land towards Southbrook.
We are very shortly taking ownership of the land to the North of the stream from Shitterton Bridge through to the Scout Hut.
We have plans under development for a skate park, and there is now a proposal to create a memorial sensory garden as part of the development of the open space near Southbrook .
At the moment these are all separate projects, but the Parish Council would like to integrate our thinking and take a more holistic view of the development and management of this hugely valuable and attractive area of open space.
This does not mean the individual project teams will be wound up.
They will still be crucial to each part of the whole, but an over-arching view will help us to better coordinate our approach.
We therefore want to create a small project team comprising both Parish Councillors and residents to take this forward.
Any residents who would be interested in helping either with this team or with the individual project groups is asked to put their names forward to Amanda Crocker, our clerk.
February 2014 Meeting
Your Parish Council met for its monthly meeting on Thursday 13th January.
Our next meeting is on Thursday 13th March, 2014 starting at 7pm.
The fenced area of the site has now been formally named Souls Moor Nature Reserve.
The grazing will commence in the spring as it has been too wet for stock this winter. Interpretation boards will be installed and a nature area created and it is hoped this will be funded by Dorset Wildlife Trust.
A work party is planned for the 8th March to clear the area of brambles and nettles to help the southern marsh orchids and ragged robin regrow and repopulate the area.
A small trench has been dug to take water away from this area and the end of Souls Bridge.
A bat walk and talk is planned for the end of May and details will be given nearer the time.
After many years of negotiation with Purbeck District Council, the land running along the northern side of the Bere Stream (with the exception of the fenced area) has been handed over to the Parish Council.
This means we will now be able to better manage the site in conjunction with the Souls Moor site.
Open Space Project
The Terms of Reference for this group were approved.
The Project is concerned with the use, development, management and future maintenance and costs of the open spaces owned by the Parish Council on the North and South sides of the Bere Stream.
On the North side the area comprises the land running from Shitterton Bridge to the Scout Hut, excluding the land owned by Mr Lockyer.
On the South side, the area comprises Souls Moor, from Shitterton Footbridge, through to Southbrook.
One of the first objectives of the Team will be to prepare a communications plan to engage and inform local residents of the Project.
A report will be prepared for the end of this year.
Cllr Robin Pitcher has been appointed to lead this Project and has been tasked to set up a team to work on this Project.
In these times of cut-backs, we are looking for ways to save money and, unfortunately, one of the items we are having to look at is the Christmas trees.
Up until now, we have provided 60 trees free of charge each year.
This is not something we want to stop as the village looks wonderful when all the trees are lit but everyone who received a tree last year will shortly receive a letter asking for a £5 donation towards your tree for this year.
This still makes them incredibly cheap.
Don’t forget, you must order your tree by June if you want to receive one.
Bere Regis NeighbourCar
The scheme is now up and running.
There will be an official launch at the Bere Regis Surgery Patient Participation Group’s Spring Event – “Towards a Healthy Life” – on Saturday 8th March between 10am and 12 noon.
This scheme is open to anyone with short or long term transport problems and has been introduced to help connect people and reduce rural isolation.
There is a one off fee of £5 and a suggested minimum donation of 50p per mile.
All our volunteer drivers live in the area and offer a door to door service. If you want to get involved, either as a driver or a client, or have any questions about the scheme, come along on the 8th.
If you are unable to make the event, please contact Cllr Brenda House on 07749 621631 or pick up a leaflet from the shop, Post Office and surgery.
Remember, you must be a member of the scheme in order to use it.
Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole Mineral Sites Plan
Several councillors attended the exhibition on the 13th January at Wareham Town Hall and the Parish Council was able to obtain a day’s grace from Dorset County Council to register our comments.
After a good debate, it was unanimously agreed to object to the proposal in respect of the Philliols Farm site.
The full objection can be found on the Parish Council web site or via www.dorsetforyou.com/mineral-sites.
March 2014 Meeting
Your Parish Council met for its monthly meeting on Thursday 13th March.
Our next meeting will be on Thursday 10th April, at the Drax Hall, starting at 7pm.
All parishioners are very welcome to attend and to take the opportunity to raise any matters or concerns.
Elder Road Open Space
We are delighted to report that Purbeck District Council has just gifted to the parish the whole of the open space which runs on the north side of the Bere Stream from Shitterton Bridge to the Scout Hut (excluding, of course, the parcel of land by the boardwalk which belongs to Mr Lockyer).
Part of this land will form part of the Bere Regis Local Nature Reserve which we are creating with the Souls Moor SNCI, and part, at the Eastern end will be available for community use.
The Parish Precept
Each year the parish agrees a budget, which includes an element of Council Tax, called the Parish Precept, and we estimate other sources of income we might receive.
For instance over the past three years we have received a grant from Dorset County Council to help with the cost of employing a Lengthsman.
We have also been receiving a grant from Purbeck called the Community Support Grant.
I’m sorry to have to tell you that the Lengthsman’s Grant is being stopped this year, and the Community Support Grant is being phased out by 2018.
However, on the positive side, having just taken ownership of the Elder Road Open Space, we will be receiving financial help with maintaining that for a number of years.
We also seek funds from grant making trusts towards various projects.
Nonetheless, the precept will be increasing this year from £33000 to £37000.
This represents an average amount per household per month of about £3.60, up from about £3.20 last year.
Given what we have and do achieve on a relatively small budget, including the Lengthsman’s work, the new Play Park, the cemetery and open space maintenance, footpath maintenance etc, I hope that you agree that this represents very good value for money.
As I write this in balmy Spring weather, there are only 284 days to Christmas, but, it is never to early to be thinking about it!!
This year we will be charging a nominal £5 towards the trees we buy in with which to decorate the village.
To obtain them at a very reasonable price, we have to order them in June.
Please, therefore, put your orders in now, either to Christopher Maunder on 471342, or to our clerk,
Amanda Crocker and include your £5 with the order.
Bere Regis Volunteer of the Year
At A ceremony at Purbeck District Council offices in Wareham on 6th March Mr Tony Shave received a scroll as Bere Regis’s ‘Volunteer of the Year’.
This is the citation that was read out:
Tony was born and has lived all his life in and around Bere Regis.
Part of a farming family, he has spent all his working life on farms in this area.
Tony was born with a form of skin cancer which has necessitated regular bouts of hospital treatment and surgery.
No-one can ever remember Tony complaining about this.
Indeed he is a most positive and cheerful person, despite his medical problems.
Despite his constant pain and discomfort, he is a person who constantly brings good cheer and warmth to everyone he meets.
Tony is a rare asset to Bere Regis.
He is someone who will always volunteer, not for the most glamorous or noteworthy of jobs, but for the behind the scenes, low profile, but vital jobs that many people wouldn’t even consider.
If there is an event in our community, you can pretty much guarantee that somewhere in the background you will find Tony cheerfully helping out.
For instance over the last 17 years Tony has been a volunteer for the Pop in Place, Bere Regis’s Community Group, helping out in all manner of ways, and bringing fresh fruit and vegetables from Wareham market for sale on a Friday morning.
To do this, Tony buys with his own money and sells on, never quite knowing if he will actually cover his own costs or not.
We suspect he frequently operates at a loss at his own expense.
He is a member of the team that runs our village hall.
He is the first person everyone turns to run the car parking for any event, be it the School Bonfire night or Summer Fayre, or for the Jubilee celebrations last year.
Tony supports the Sports Club by acting as scorer for cricket home matches.
He has even been known to act as unofficial traffic policeman on Rye Hill when everything has ground to a halt when the children are coming out of school.
He is also the unofficial, unpaid and totally voluntary ‘caretaker’ and warden for his neighbours where he lives, getting older folk to doctors’ appointments, or to the shops and checking up on people when they are unwell.
He organises an annual Christmas Dinner for the farming community of the parish.
He is a source of country lore and, on his side of the parish he knows where to find the Early Purple Orchids and Cutty's (Dorset Wrens).
All round the village he is the person who knows if a tree is down and needs clearing, or if a gate or fence needs mending, and he’ll draw it to the attention of whoever is responsible for sorting it out, if he hasn’t already done the job himself.
And he has a prodigious appetite for cake, preferably home made!
Unassuming, reliable, modest, never seeking the limelight, Tony is the embodiment of the true volunteer. I know that his nomination as Purbeck Volunteer of the Year will completely surprise Tony, but delight many people in Bere Regis who know just how much he does for the parish.
We offer Tony our sincere congratulations on this well deserved award.
April 2014 Meeting
Your Parish Council met for its monthly meeting on Thursday 10th April.
Our next meeting will be on Thursday 8th May, at the Drax Hall, starting at 7pm.
All parishioners are very welcome to attend and to take the opportunity to raise any matters or concerns.
Crime (or lack of it)
Our PCSO, Jake Williams attended the meeting and brought information about the crime statistics for our parish.
The good news is that in the first quarter of 2014, there were just 11 reported incidents, against 19 reported in the same period last year.
This year’s incidents included 2 criminal damage, 1 theft from a vehicle, 7 thefts from garden sheds, and just 1 burglary from a house.
Please make sure you leave nothing valuable in your car or van, and securely lock up sheds and outbuildings.
The thoughtless and irresponsible leaving of dog excreta on pavements, walkways and footpaths continues to cause great distress to residents.
There can be nothing worse than to find that your child, or you, has inadvertently trodden in dog mess.
Dog owners, it is your responsibility to clear up after your dog.
After the heavy winter rains many of our drains have been blocked by debris.
Drains will be cleared by Dorset County Council, but only if they are reported as blocked.
Please let our clerk know if a drain near you is not working properly.
The Parish Council Election
Peter Wharf will write about this in more detail, but just to remind you that the election takes place on 22nd May. Please vote.
And if you will be away, please register for a proxy or postal vote. Forms are available from the clerk.
Cemetery Grass Cutting Contract
As we are very satisfied with the quality of the contractor’s work, and his price, the contract will run for another year, but we will review the contract next year and we will give local contractors the opportunity to bid early in 2015.
The Parish Precept
I wrote last month explaining that the precept, which is the very small element of Council Tax that comes directly to the Parish Council, will be increasing this year.
We have now lost a grant which we used to get annually from Dorset County Council to cover the cost of the Lengthsman, and we will be losing the Community Support Grant from Purbeck District Council, therefore the rise this year is quite large.
For a band D household the rise will be £13.85pa.
We debated whether to increase the precept, or whether to use the funds we have, or cut back what we do in order to make up the shortfall.
In the end, it was the unanimous decision of the council to increase the precept, so that we can maintain the service we provide, not just this year but over the next few years.
This means we can continue to employ the Lengthsman, maintain the Play Park and Cemetery and look after Souls Moor and the footpaths.
We believe this represents very good value for money, at a time when other services are being cut.
This year we will be charging a nominal £5 towards the trees we buy in with which to decorate the village. To obtain them at a very reasonable price, we have to order them in June.
Please, therefore, put your orders in now, either to Christopher Maunder on 471342, or to our clerk, Amanda Crocker.
“The Amizing Prack”
We have recently been able to finalise the accounts for the new Play Park.
We felt parishioners would like to know how much this cost, where the money came from and on what it was spent:
Fundraising £4,000 Consultancy & Fees £1,872
Parish Council £1,050 Design, equipment & construction £43,048
Jubilee Profit £1,848 Signs £414
Donations £1,250 Safety Inspection £60
Awards for All £9,000
Community Fund £6,000
Total £45,648 Total £45,394
The small surplus will be used for maintenance in the future.
The Play Park fencing will be repaired as soon as possible, but at present it almost impossible to buy fence panels.