Dorset

Our foster family tell all about homeschooling…

Dorset For You - Mon, 06/01/2020 - 17:51

Groundhog day and TV appearances? Latest blog by Amanda one of our brilliant foster carers.

Amanda, our brilliant Foster Carer tells all about life in lockdown

Anyone feel like we are stuck in the movie ‘groundhog day’?

Apart from the fact I’m not trying to do lots of dangerous things to get out of the loop and I’m no where as perfectly coiffured as Andy McDowell. I get up, home school, explain to the littlies why school isn’t happening and why they can’t go to Fred’s house. I then float into the monotonous routine of suggesting  that washing hands is a thing that must happen and then eat and sleep.

Occasionally the loop gets broken with an exciting trip to Asda, where I get enough food to sink a battle ship.

Although we’ve been in lockdown, there are good bits. I get to have dinner with all my children at once instead of being dumped for the newest friend or movie and have rediscovered the fun of going to the chippie. A trip that usually happens because I’m having a lazy mummy day.

In between all this I did get to appear on TV. No not because I lost it and ran naked across the beach shouting ‘take my kids back teachers, I can’t cope’, but because a very pretty TV bloke wanted to talk to me about fostering. I did briefly think that they were going to whisk me away to the studio by limo, but then I remembered lockdown.

Instead of a plush studio, I barricaded myself in my bedroom and crossed my fingers that the kids wouldn’t come in. I then fiddled around on Skype to see if it had soft lighting and that tool that touches up your wrinkles. No it doesn’t !! Thank goodness ITV cut out my messy bed and underwear strewn across the floor.

Two radio interviews followed this, but thankfully no visuals for that.

I’d like to say I’ve discovered the joy of healthy living, redecorated my home and found a Coronavirus vaccine in my spare time, but I’m tired, getting fed of teaching and can’t wait to buy a not needed, won’t wear because it won’t fit me, item of clothing in Primark.

Hopefully all my foster care colleagues are still hanging in there. Stay sane and glare at all the people who utter ‘Keep smiling.’

 

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Categories: Dorset

Plea to the Government: tell people to stay local

Dorset For You - Mon, 06/01/2020 - 14:31

Statement from the Leader of Dorset Council, Cllr Spencer Flower:

Over the weekend we have seen some extremely disappointing behaviour from visitors to Dorset’s beaches. I am acutely aware of how worried and upset many Dorset residents feel about the current situation, particularly when so many of them complied fully with lockdown guidance and when the Dorset Council area had one of the lowest COVID19 infection rates in the country.

The incidents at Durdle Door on Saturday placed a huge strain on our emergency services. There have also been issues in other areas over the weekend with excessive numbers of visitors and people therefore not able to observe social distancing. We’ve seen littering, people urinating and defecating in public, people camping overnight (which is not permitted under current government COVID19 guidelines) and people having dangerous campfires and BBQs – despite extensive warnings against this from all local agencies. Council employees have been abused by the members of the public as they tried to manage the traffic.

My overriding priority throughout the COVID19 outbreak has been the safety and wellbeing of Dorset residents and all decision making has been based on this. We at Dorset Council have done everything we can within the limited powers we have to prepare for and respond to the situation. For several weeks now we’ve been sending out a strong message that potential visitors should ‘think twice’ about coming to Dorset. This ‘Think Twice’ message has been used widely across the country. We’ve managed the opening of car parks and public toilets very carefully in order to cope with demand and manage safety issues, without inadvertently giving out a signal that Dorset is ‘open for business’.

However, since the government announced on Sunday 10 May that lockdown was to be gradually eased and that people can “travel to outdoor open space irrespective of distance”, both we and Dorset Police have had very limited powers of enforcement. For example, since the recent guidance came into effect, the Police are no longer been able to challenge road users as to whether their journeys are essential.

All public services are very stretched due to weeks of responding to the COVID19 outbreak and other major incidents such as the wildfire at Wareham Forest.

Today I have written to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and to all Dorset MPs on this issue. My plea to the government is to review the unrestricted travel guidelines currently in place and require  people instead to “stay local”. The current guidelines have a disproportionately negative effect on areas like ours which are popular with visitors but do not have the infrastructure to cope right now. I am worried that we will see a second wave of infection here in Dorset as a result of the high number of visitors to the area over recent days. I’m asking the government to act now to save the lives of Dorset residents. Please help us to help them by issuing revised guidance telling people to stay local for the time being

View the letter

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Categories: Dorset

Dorset Council publishes key decisions made during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Dorset For You - Mon, 06/01/2020 - 13:13

A list of decisions made by Dorset Council as part of its COVID-19 emergency response has been published for review.

The council’s Resources Scrutiny committee will consider the decisions on Tuesday 2 June. They were made by senior officers and portfolio holders using delegated powers as outlined in the council’s constitution.

The use of delegated powers is required during crisis situations such as the COVID-19 outbreak so that critical decisions can be made quickly to respond to rapidly changing circumstances and to put appropriate arrangements in place.

The decisions made over recent weeks include:

•            Closure of council services including libraries, leisure centres, country parks, public toilets, household recycling centres and day centres

•            Agreement to relax off-peak bus pass criteria so they can be used before 9.30am

•            Temporary suspension of charges in all off street car parks

In March, all council committee meetings were postponed as all such meetings had to be held in a physical space.

In April, Government regulations ‘The Local Authorities (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority Meetings) (England) Regulations) 2020’ came into force. The regulations allow committees to be held remotely. These include Cabinet, Audit & Governance, Area Planning Committees and Licensing Sub-committees.

A new web page details the meetings and how to watch them virtually. The page also details information about how submit questions to these meetings. Recordings are also available to view after they have ended.

Once the COVID-19 major incident is over, the council will resume its usual processes with key decisions made by councillors through committees.

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Categories: Dorset

New grants application scheme for businesses launches today

Dorset For You - Mon, 06/01/2020 - 09:36

Businesses that were not eligible for Government funding through previous COVID related financial support schemes are being invited to apply for business support funding through the discretionary grant fund, from today (Monday 1 June) until the closing date on 14 June.

The funding is designed to help small businesses which did not meet the criteria for the first round of funding which targeted Small Businesses in the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure sector.

There will be a two-week window in which businesses can apply for the additional funding and as the number of applications is expected to exceed the available funding, businesses are encouraged to fill in the online form before the deadline at midnight, 14 June.

The grants do not need to be paid back and businesses that have already applied for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme are eligible to apply as well as people who are eligible for the Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

The discretionary business grant scheme was announced by the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak in early May and is designed to support small businesses that were trading on 11 March 2020. Applicants will be asked to demonstrate the adverse financial impact of Coronavirus on their business. Grant amounts will range between £1,000 and £25,000.

The broad categories of businesses which are eligible are:

  • Small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces. Examples could include units in industrial parks, science parks and incubators which do not have their own business rates assessment
  • Regular market traders with fixed building costs, such as rent, who do not have their own business rates assessment
  • Bed & Breakfasts which pay council tax instead of business rates
  • Charity properties in receipt of charitable business rates relief which would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief.
  • Businesses operating in the Visitor Economy (i.e. tourism and hospitality) and the supply chain of this industry that did not qualify for the previous funding.

Cllr Gary Suttle, Dorset Council Portfolio Holder for Economic Growth and Skills, said:

“It is most welcome to see additional Government funding for businesses that have not been eligible for financial support up to now and I am heartened by this move by Government to further help businesses.

“In my council role I have encountered a number of businesses that failed to qualify for the previous grant scheme, but clearly need help and up to now I have found it distressing to be unable to offer anything other than sympathy when action is required.

“I would encourage any business owner who thinks they may be eligible for a discretionary grant to apply as soon as possible in order to meet the 14 June deadline.”

It is hoped that those businesses who have not benefitted from Government financial support already, will now do so under this additional funding. These businesses will be required to demonstrate a significant fall in income with ongoing, fixed property related costs.

Check eligibility and apply here.

 

 

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Categories: Dorset

£9m for Dorset’s roads

Dorset For You - Wed, 05/27/2020 - 14:00

Dorset Council will be able to carry out more resurfacing and reconstruction work on its roads this year, thanks to a £9.1m injection from the Department for Transport (DfT).

The Secretary of State for Transport has announced a £1.7billion Transport Infrastructure Investment Fund to be allocated to Combined Authorities and Local Highway Authorities for 2020/21.

The fund will improve journeys for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers across England through repairs to local roads and will seek to lock-in environmental benefits seen during COVID-19.

Councillor Ray Bryan, Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said:

“This is a much welcomed, significant boost to our highways funding.

“As always, there are caveats as to what we can spend this money on, but we are hoping to accelerate our current programme of roads resurfacing and improvement works.

“Highways teams are currently assessing sites that would benefit from resurfacing as well as drainage improvement schemes and stability works between Wimborne and Cranborne.

“We welcome government funding for specific areas of the council’s work like this. However, I must remind residents that the council’s overall financial position remains challenging due to the significant additional expenditure and loss of income incurred through our COVID response.”

This additional money raises the total capital funding received from the Department for Transport for Dorset Highways to £23,848,000, and includes:

Confirmed 2020/21 annual allocation £10,564,000
Incentivised element (Band 3 awarded) £2,201,000
Improvements funding £1,971,000
Transport Infrastructure Investment Fund £9,112,000

Programmes of work and further information will be published as it becomes available.

 

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Categories: Dorset

There is still time to have your say on a new social housing policy

Dorset For You - Wed, 05/27/2020 - 10:08

Dorset Council is drafting a new policy looking at how people access social housing in the area.

The new policy, that will come into effect on 1 April 2021, will:

  • Offer people seeking accommodation a choice about where they live
  • Be fair and easy to use
  • Offer solutions to those most in need while making the best use of the housing stock available

It will replace the Christchurch and East Dorset Joint Housing Allocation Policy and the Dorset Homechoice Common Allocation Policy.

The policy proposes some changes that might affect people currently on the housing register in Dorset.

Much of the content of the policy is set by law, but there are some key areas which the council can decide, such as:

  • who can apply to be on the register
  • how to prioritise applications
  • how many bedrooms to allocate to a household
  • how to support homelessness applications

In completing this first draft the council created a cross party elected member panel from all the former district council areas.  The panel looked at all the current policies as well as best practice from across the country to create this draft version.

Cllr Graham Carr-Jones, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Safety at Dorset Council said:

“We’re asking people what they think about our new housing allocation policy.

“We’d like to hear from as many people as possible, so we get a wide range of views.

“If you are currently on the housing register this policy affects you, so please do take a bit of time to have a look and think about what this might mean for you.

“Your feedback will help shape the final version of the new Homechoice Dorset policy.”

Find out more and complete our survey

The consultation is now live and runs until 20 July 2020

Paper copies of the survey are available call 01305 221000 to have one posted to you.

Why are we introducing a new policy?

Applications for social housing in Dorset are currently being decided under the old council geographical boundaries that were present before 1 April 2019.

As part of local government reorganisation (LGR) central Government agreed a period of two years to put in place new housing allocation policies for Bournemouth Christchurch & Poole Council and Dorset Council. These policies must come into effect on 1 April 2021.

No changes to how applicants apply for social housing or the criteria to decide a local connection will come into effect before 1 April 2021.

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Categories: Dorset

Sherborne household recycling centre to re-open, but your visit may be very different

Dorset For You - Wed, 05/27/2020 - 09:39

 Dorset Council is pleased to announce that Sherborne Household Recycling Centre (HRC, or “the tip”) on West Mill Lane will be re-opening on Tuesday 2 June.

However, there will be different measures in place for visitors to follow if they want to drop off their waste, which will involve being redirected to another location first.

Sherborne HRC was the only Dorset Council recycling centre not to reopen earlier in May. This is because it shares an access road with a Waste Transfer Station, which is where the waste at the kerbside goes after collection. More planning was required to prevent queuing traffic – seen at all other HRCs across Dorset – disrupting bin collections by obstructing waste collection vehicles.

Dorset Council’s Waste Service officers have been working closely with Sherborne Town Council for the last few weeks and have found a solution that prevents excessive traffic queues, but also allows residents to drop off waste that cannot be safely stored at home.

When the Sherborne HRC re-opens on Tuesday 2 June, all visitors should proceed to the Terrace Playing Fields car-park (situated on the southern edge of Sherborne at Dancing Hill).  At this point you will take a paper ticket (like a supermarket deli counter). When the queue at the HRC becomes short enough your number will be called by on-site staff, at which point you can visit the HRC to drop off your waste. Visitors without a ticket will not be able to enter the recycling centre.

Visitors are reminded that social distancing measures are in place at all HRCs. Please note: –

  • Do not arrive at the Terrace Playing Fields car park early – operating hours are 9am to 6pm daily
  • Do not visit the HRC directly or if you are unwell
  • Stay 2m away from all people on site outside of your household
  • HRC staff will not be able to assist with carrying items
  • Only one person should leave the vehicle to unload waste, two if unloading heavy items
  • Please bring a maximum of two waste types per visit
  • Reuse areas will remain closed
  • Charges still apply for some waste types, but contactless payments only – no cash.
  • On your return from the HRC, please remember not to touch your face and to wash your hands for 20 seconds on arrival at your destination.

Cllr Tony Alford, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for Customer, Community and Regulatory Services, said:

“We’ve been working hard planning how we can re-open Sherborne HRC without disrupting kerbside collections and I’d like to extend my gratitude to Sherborne Town Council for their help in finding a solution that works for everyone.

“If you do need to visit Sherborne HRC, be prepared for delays. We’ll have friendly employees and volunteers at both sites to let you know what you must do.

“We will get things back to normal when visitor numbers drop to manageable levels and/or social distancing restrictions are relaxed. In the meantime, we kindly ask everyone to have patience and understanding while these temporary arrangements are in place.”

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Categories: Dorset

More help for businesses is on its way

Dorset For You - Tue, 05/26/2020 - 17:36

Following the Government announcement on 1 May about a top up grant for businesses that are not eligible for other grants, the guidance to local authorities was issued on 13 May. We are now preparing a local scheme for Dorset which will be available shortly.

The guidance from Government indicates that these grants are primarily and predominantly aimed at:

  • Small and micro businesses, as defined in Section 33 Part 2 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 and the Companies Act 2006.
  • Businesses with relatively high ongoing fixed property-related costs
  • Businesses which can demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the COVID-19 crisis
  • Businesses which occupy property, or part of a property, with a rateable value or annual rent or annual mortgage payments below £51,000.

We are aiming to publish eligibility criteria and guidance on making applications for the discretionary grant, including the evidence required in support of applications, on our website early next week.

This information will set out the criteria for which priority businesses are eligible to apply and how the application process will work.

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Categories: Dorset

Greener highways in 2020

Dorset For You - Tue, 05/26/2020 - 10:48

Dorset’s highway fixers are back in action and now producing fifteen per cent less emissions!

For the first time, this year will see Dorset Council using low energy asphalt (LEA) on all resurfacing schemes, and as a surface course on new construction projects such as cycleways.

The material is produced 30 to 40 degrees lower than conventional material, which is usually produced at 180 degrees. This reduced heat results in 15% less carbon emissions during the production process.

Although widely used in America and France, low energy asphalt is much less common in the UK.

Councillor Ray Bryan, Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said:

“Following two successful resurfacing schemes trialling LEA here in Dorset, we’ve been very keen for mass-production of the material at the regional quarry, Whatley. Working closely with our private sector partner Hanson UK this has become a reality.

“The quality of the lower energy material is not affected by the temperature difference. It helps reduce our carbon footprint and it’s actually easier to keep at temperature during transport due to the lower production temperature.

“We know that construction activity is one of the biggest contributors to CO2 emissions, and we will continue to look for new ways of working to reduce the impact we have on our environment.”

Dorset Highways currently uses LEA in the lower and middle layers (base and binder) of road construction, with these containing 30 per cent recycled material too.

From July, low energy material will also be used for the surface course (top layer).

Between April and September, 37 schemes will be resurfaced as part of the annual structural maintenance programme.

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Categories: Dorset

Council thanks hotels as emergency care scheme closes

Dorset For You - Fri, 05/22/2020 - 15:53

As part of the efforts to help people leave hospital at the start of the outbreak, the Best Western Hotel Rembrandt on Dorchester Road in Weymouth and the Grange Hotel at Oborne, near Sherborne, offered accommodation for people not affected by coronavirus and who were medically fit to leave hospital.

These people couldn’t go directly back to their own homes as they were waiting for a social care help and support package.

Dorset Council worked with health and social care partners to put joint plans in place so that the most critically ill people had access to the right help and support in hospitals and there were beds available to care for those with the highest level of need.

There was a period of time when care and support in people’s homes became increasingly difficult to find, so the hotel-based care provision made sure anyone who was able to leave hospital could do so in a safe way, while we worked with them to get the support they’d need to return home. This interim arrangement meant they could continue their recovery in a more homely environment.

The council would like to thank all parties, especially the hotels, for the efforts made to get things up and running so quickly. This gave valuable assurance that we could cope in the event of high demand. Luckily here in Dorset, the level of need has not been as high as had been first anticipated and the cases much lower in numbers.

As a result of this, we’re now confident that there is enough capacity in the care sector to support people in their own homes in a variety of ways without the need for the additional space in the hotels. The council is now working with the hotels and partners to end the service and return all the equipment provided to set it up.

We are continuing to look to the future at how the most vulnerable people can get the right help and support, in the right place at the right time and this will involve working with both statutory, voluntary, community and commercial partners in the area.

 

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Categories: Dorset

Dorset Council’s country parks to re-open

Dorset For You - Fri, 05/22/2020 - 15:41

The four country parks managed by Dorset Council are re-opening to the public on Tuesday 26 May.

Avon Heath, Durlston, Moors Valley and Thorncombe Woods will be open from 9am on Tuesday.

The country parks closed in March due to Covid-19 restrictions. Following the easing of lockdown by central government, the council has made some adjustments to the running of the parks so people can enjoy the open air and countryside whilst protecting their health during the current pandemic.

Councillor Peter Wharf, Deputy Leader, Dorset Council, said: “We understand that people are keen to get outdoors, so our country park teams and our partners Forestry England at Moors Valley, have worked hard to put in measures to help visitors enjoy the parks whilst protecting their health during the current pandemic.”

The range of measures for visitors’ safety include 2 metre distancing signs and provision of hand sanitiser. Rangers will be on hand to help people enjoy their visit and manage any queues.

Councillor Wharf continued: “As you can appreciate, we’ve had to make a number of changes to the way our country parks are operated so they can be reopened.

“This is a new experience for us all, and the teams on site will do their best to make sure everyone has an enjoyable time. The range of measures means there may be queues for facilities, including parking and toilets. Please be patient and understanding and respect others.

“By following the government rules on social distancing, and staying alert, we hope everyone will be able to enjoy our country parks.”

For the continued safety of visitors and employees, play areas, cafes, visitor centres and cycle hire will not re-open on Tuesday. However, this will be monitored and, if possible, takeway facilities will be made available later in the week. Updates will be posted on social media and on the council’s website

Picnic benches are available at the parks and have been placed at a safe distance from each other so families can make the most of the outdoors.

See full details of the facilities available at each country park.

Usual car parking charges will apply at all the parks, with contactless payment wherever possible. The car park machines will be disinfected hourly and hand sanitiser will be available at all machines.

Please park legally and responsibly in the car parks, keep highways and gateways clear for others to pass safely. If the car park looks full, please be prepared to make the decision to turn around and come another time.

See website for details of car parking for each country park.

Residents who are vulnerable, or who are showing symptoms which may indicate coronavirus, should continue to follow government stay at home guidance.

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Categories: Dorset

Libraries stepping up during lockdown

Dorset For You - Thu, 05/21/2020 - 09:02

The doors may be closed but readers in Dorset are enjoying e-books and e-audio items that are available for downloads from Dorset Libraries.

E-Books and e-Audio books issued peaked at almost 26,000 in April, an increase of 75 per cent on same period last year, perhaps proving that there’s nothing quite like a good book to help lift your spirits or provide a bit of escapism.

The increase in Dorset is part of a national surge in eBook library loans, with recent figures showing a dramatic increase in people accessing digital titles across library services in England during the coronavirus lockdown as the nation seeks comfort in e-books.

Cllr Anthony Alford, Cabinet member for Customer, Community and Regulatory Services, said:

“The libraries in Dorset reluctantly closed their doors on 20 March, but the latest figures shows you don’t have to walk through the doors to be a library enthusiast.

“Thanks to easy-to-use digital services with support to get online, residents are enjoying reading digital books, audiobooks and even comics.

“Our virtual library service has gone from strength to strength, with thousands of eBooks, eNewspapers and eMagazines loaned and downloaded by people staying at home, up by nearly 50 per cent since lockdown began.

“As a result, we’ve invested in the service to increase the number of available titles – more than 800 new e books & 1400 new audio books so there’s now even more choice, with more being added each week!”

See for yourself by visiting www.librarieswest.org.uk

All you need to access these digital services and resources for free are your library card number and email address.

If you’re not already a member you can join online,
www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/libraries-history-culture/libraries/libraries.aspx
We will send you your membership number and then you can get started straight away!

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Categories: Dorset

People are asked to Think Twice about visiting Dorset over the bank holiday weekend

Dorset For You - Thu, 05/21/2020 - 08:17

Dorset Council continues to ask people thinking of visiting Dorset’s seaside or beauty spots over the bank holiday weekend and half term to be considerate and think about the potential impact of any visit on Dorset’s communities.

Dorset currently has one of the lowest COVID-19 infection rates in the country thanks to residents who have followed the Government’s ‘stay at home’ advice over the past few weeks. The council is asking people from other areas of the country not to visit at present as it risks spreading the virus to local communities. Dorset has a large older population and many people have underlying health conditions which make them more vulnerable to the virus.

The latest government guidelines prohibit people from staying overnight at any place that isn’t their main home. The council is reminding any potential visitors that they must not stay overnight – whether in cars, tents, motorhomes, camper vans, second homes or holiday accommodation right now.

The government has also said, “it is also important that everyone continues to act responsibly, as the large majority have done to date. The infection rate will increase if people begin to break these rules and, for example, mix in groups”.

For anyone considering a visit to the coast, the RNLI has said that lifeguards will not be on beaches and is advising people not to swim or take part in water sports.

Last weekend saw traffic levels across Dorset that were 40% lower than a usual May weekend. Generally, the numbers of people at beaches and beauty spots were manageable and most managed to maintain social distancing. However, there were issues in a number of areas including Lulworth, Portland and West Bexington with irresponsible behaviour by visitors such as illegal parking, littering and lack of social distancing. And sadly since the weekend, and with the good weather, the number of visitors to the county appears to be increasing significantly.

In response to the changing situation over the past week, Dorset Council is reopening some car parks and public toilets in key locations in time for the bank holiday weekend to help cope with demand. The usual charges will apply at these car parks.

The council also plans to re-open car parks at its country parks next week (Tuesday 26 May), as part of the phased re-opening of Dorset.

The council reserves the right to close or suspend any facilities if it is deemed that public health is in danger through visitors not following social distancing measures.

Parking payment methods

Dorset Council continues to encourage the use of contactless payment for parking via phone-call, text message or smartphone app as the safest way to avoid spread of the virus. However, in response to public requests, the council is reinstating cash and card payment methods for drivers who do not use a mobile phone.

Due to the required use of keypads at payment machines, visitors who choose to pay by cash or card do so at their own risk. People are strongly encouraged to wash their hands both before and after using the machines to lower the chance of infection.

Dorset Council’s Leader, Cllr Spencer Flower, said:

“Throughout the pandemic all councils have had to react to a rapidly changing situation, and our priority has always been to protect the health and wellbeing of Dorset residents above all else.

“We continue to ask visitors to Think Twice about coming to our county at this time.

“However, after closely monitoring what is happening at various locations around Dorset over the past week, we have taken the sensible, but very difficult, decision to adapt our approach in order to deal with emerging problems.

“There are no perfect solutions at this time of crisis. Striking the balance between looking after the safety and health of all our residents while discouraging the mass gathering of people at our many beautiful tourist destinations will remain difficult for the foreseeable future.

“I would like to thank town and parish councils for working with us on these arrangements. And I would particularly like to thank all Dorset residents for their patience and understanding. Dorset Council is working non-stop to rise to the challenge of COVID-19 and I remain incredibly proud of our efforts during these unprecedented times.”

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Categories: Dorset

Virtual democracy for local people

Dorset For You - Wed, 05/20/2020 - 14:56

Since the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic started Dorset Council has been working to hold all public meetings virtually.

Five weeks ago, the national Government passed legislation that this meant it is possible to carry out democratic decision making in this way. Previously all such meetings had to be held in a physical space, where members of the public could attend.

Now all 82 councillors have the appropriate connectivity, software and kit to take part in these committees.

A new web page details all the meetings being held in this way. There is a link to the agenda and how you can access the meeting live. Also, you can find information about how to submit questions to these meetings. The recorded meeting will also be available on this page shortly after the meeting has ended.

A number of meetings have already been held including Cabinet, area planning committees and Audit and Governance. There will also be an opportunity in early June for the overview scrutiny committee to scrutinise the council’s response to the pandemic

The Full Council, which is the council’s Annual Meeting, is normally held in May. It will now be held 3 September. Details of how the full council will be held is being worked through. It may be entirely virtual or there may by some attendance in the council chamber.

Cllr Spencer Flower, Leader of Dorset Council, said:

“I have worked with the leaders of all our political groups to agree a schedule of meetings  that ensures our democratic business goes ahead. It is very important that members of the public are able to view our process, submit questions and be part of the process.

“I am very proud of members and officers who have worked hard to make sure we can continue our work in a virtual way. Democracy is alive and well in Dorset Council.”

Other meetings such as licensing hearings and school appeals are also continuing as well as three of the Executive Advisory Panels dealing with Climate and Ecological Change, the Dorset Local Plan and Digital/ICT. These are important working groups, vital to the wellbeing of Dorset going forward.

Find the details of virtual committee meetings 

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Categories: Dorset

Online music lessons for Dorset’s young musicians!

Dorset For You - Wed, 05/20/2020 - 14:52

Young musicians in Dorset are overcoming the strains of the current lockdown by accessing music-making together – online!

Dorset Music Hub have launched their Tuition Online pilot programme of music lessons for pupils across Dorset.  The team of music instructors are reaching out to musical pupils and delivering online lessons via a secure learning platform during this time when face to face tuition just isn’t possible.

We know that music plays a significant role in many young people’s lives. Whilst there are no limits on the many benefits on wellbeing that can come from listening to and enjoying music, many young people have been missing out on making music with others and continuing to get support from their music tutors.

The Dorset Music Service instructors have been delivering one-to-one lessons to pupils who would usually learn during school and the system is working well.

Strategic Lead for the Music Service, Clair McColl said: “This crisis has brought some stressful challenges to many families and young people.  We are delighted that the Dorset Music Hub has been able to respond to the changing needs of our community with this innovative programme. It’s important that young people can continue to express themselves and take some comfort in their enjoyment of music-making during this difficult time.”

You can find out more information or book onto a virtual lesson by visiting our webpage.

 

Dorset Youth Virtual Orchestra

Dorset’s Youth Orchestras and ensembles have not let lockdown stop them from collaborating together to celebrate our wonderful world. The rendition of ‘What a Wonderful World’ by Bob Theile and David Weiss, reminds us to focus on the positive things in life, even in these challenging times.

The Dorset Music Service team are thrilled that everyone can enjoy this virtual performance from our dedicated group of young musicians from the Youth Symphony Orchestra, Jazz Orchestra and folk ensemble Reel Dorset. Thanks so much for all the work of our wonderful young musicians and their supporters.

View the final collaborative performance:

 

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Dorset

Update on childcare

Dorset For You - Wed, 05/20/2020 - 10:15

Plans are being made to welcome more of Dorset’s youngest children back into childcare.

Dorset Council is working with early years providers, such as preschools, nurseries and registered childminders, as they plan to welcome back more children.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement we are expecting that childcare providers will be able to open from 1 June. However, this will depend on government advice and arrangements will vary. This is because what is needed in a childminder’s home, or a small setting that perhaps hires its premises, will be very different to a larger nursery or preschool that offers full day care provision.

All providers are following guidance from the Department for Education and Dorset Council. Plans are being made to reduce the risk of infection as much as possible. Risk assessments are being carried out and providers are working to make sure they are ready to receive more children.

Childcare settings that provide care for groups of children may potentially look different and youngsters may notice changes. This is because measures will need to be put in place to help keep children and staff as safe as possible.

Registered childminders have had the option to provide care to other children from the same household, for example siblings, from the 13 May. However, they cannot do this if they are already caring for vulnerable children or the children of critical workers.

Cllr Andrew Parry, Dorset Council Portfolio Holder for Children, Education and Early Help, said: “I would like to thank childcare providers and their staff for their work during the pandemic. Many have been open throughout for the children of key workers and vulnerable children and their work has been vital at this difficult time. I know they are now working hard on plans to welcome more children back as safely as possible.”

Children and young people, or their families who are shielding because they are considered clinically vulnerable, should continue to shield and should not return to their early years provider.

Early years providers will be in touch with parents and carers to discuss individual circumstances and find out what their childcare needs are. You can Read more here and also search for childcare.

Latest government guidance for parents and carers is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers

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Categories: Dorset

Bags left next to recycling banks in car parks treated as rubbish

Dorset For You - Tue, 05/19/2020 - 16:56

If you are looking to donate items such as clothing using a recycling bank in a car park, we are kindly asking you to keep hold of them until the current pandemic has passed.

Dorset is a county of keen recyclers, amongst the best in the country for dealing with their waste responsibly by reducing, reusing and recycling.

Many have taken the opportunity during the lockdown period to clear out their wardrobes, hoping to donate their unwanted clothing to charity. Others have continued to gather up their cartons, foil and small electrical items to take to a recycling bank in a car park.

However, most recycling banks in Dorset Council car-parks are not currently being emptied as they rely on volunteers and services that have been suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite this disruption, some people have taken items to the car-parks and left them in bags outside/next-to closed recycling banks. Not only is this considered to be fly-tipping, but it is most likely that the contents will be spoiled and unfit to be donated or recycled, ending up as regular rubbish.

On one day last week, street-cleansing crews in East Dorset picked up 22 black bags of items that had been left on the ground next to banks.

Most of the bags being left behind contain clothing. The Salvation Army, who service Dorset Council’s clothing banks in car-parks, said “While we are grateful for donations, we ask that people refrain from leaving bags of donations next to clothing banks and outside charity shops, as lockdown restrictions mean they cannot be collected and they will instead be sent to landfill sites.

Losing these donations to landfill will cost the charity thousands in lost stock as well as being an environmental disaster. Money raised from textile reuse and recycling benefits us as well as many national and local community-based charities. Our Lifehouses (homeless hostels) and food banks are just some of the vital services supporting people hardest hit by the coronavirus.”

If you have items that you would usually take to a recycling bank in a car-park, please wait until the banks are being emptied again, consider if there’s another way to deal with them while maintaining social distancing, or reduce what you produce. For example: –

As soon as volunteer, staff and resource levels return to normal, we will ensure all recycling banks are opened back up and make an announcement.

Cllr Tony Alford, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for Customer, Community and Regulatory Services, said:

“We appreciate the enthusiasm of Dorset residents to recycle clothing that they no longer need.

But dumping it on the ground by the side of a recycling bank or outside a charity shop is fly-tipping and this clothing is more likely to end up being treated like household rubbish rather than be recycled.

We ask everyone to be patient and to hold on to their clothing and other items until the containers are ready to be serviced again.”

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Categories: Dorset

Update on schools opening for more pupils

Dorset For You - Mon, 05/18/2020 - 15:51

Plans are being made to welcome more pupils back into school across Dorset.

Dorset Council is working with schools as they plan to open for more children from Reception, Year One and Year Six.

The earliest possible start date for these pupils will be 1 June. This will depend on government advice and arrangements at individual schools.

Secondary and upper schools in Dorset are also working on plans to hold some face to face sessions for Year 10 and 12 before the summer holiday.  

Dorset schools are following guidance from the Department for Education and Dorset Council. Plans are being made to reduce the risk of infection in schools as much as possible. Risk assessments are being carried out.

Arrangements will vary, as what is needed in a small primary will be very different from a large secondary or upper school. Classes will potentially be very different, as measures will need to be put in place to help keep children and staff as safe as possible.

Special Schools are working with families individually to agree when it is safe for each pupil to return to school. Children and young people who are shielding because they are considered clinically vulnerable should continue to shield and should not return to school.

Parents will not be fined for non-attendance at this time.

Cllr Andrew Parry, Dorset Council Portfolio Holder for Children, Education and Early Help, said: “I would like to thank our schools and all their staff for their work during the Coronavirus pandemic. Our schools have been open throughout for the children of key workers and vulnerable children and I know they are now working hard on plans to welcome more pupils back into the classroom.”

Dorset schools currently remain open for the children of key workers, those with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) and vulnerable children, which includes children who have a social worker.

Schools will be in touch with parents and carers to discuss arrangements to welcome back more pupils. Schools will update parents and carers again, as soon as plans are finalised and the date from which schools can admit more pupils is confirmed. Each school will keep parents and carers informed.

Latest government guidance for parents and carers is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers

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Categories: Dorset

Our plea to potential visitors from outside Dorset

Dorset For You - Fri, 05/15/2020 - 17:12

Are you thinking of visiting Dorset now? Please think twice 

 If you are thinking of visiting Dorset’s seaside or beauty spots, we are asking you to be considerate and think about the potential impact of your visit on Dorset’s communities. 

Dorset currently has one of the lowest COVID-19 infection rates in the country, thanks mainly to our residents who have followed the Government’s ‘stay at home’ advice over the past few weeks. We are asking people from other areas of the country with higher infection rates not to visit right now and run the risk of spreading the virus to our local communities. Dorset has a large older population and many people have underlying health conditions which make them more vulnerable to the virus. 

 We are also reminding people that the latest Government guidelines prohibits people from staying overnight at any place that isn’t your main home. We’re asking people not to visit second homes and holiday accommodation right now, to help us continue keeping the virus under control here, to protect the NHS and save lives.  

 The Government’s health advice has not changed – we all still need to stay at home as much as possible to help stop the spread of the virus. 

 Please note that council-run car parks and public toilets near beaches and beauty spots, and also our country parks, remain closed at this time. Added to this, many businesses are still not operating and those that are open are only offering limited services. 

 For anyone considering a visit to the coast, the RNLI has said that lifeguards will not be on beaches and is advising people not to swim. 

 Cllr Spencer Flower, Leader of Dorset Council, said:  

“Our main priority is the safety and well-being of Dorset residents. We are kindly asking people from outside the county and from areas with a higher rate of infection than Dorset to postpone visiting our beaches and beauty spots and help prevent spreading the virus to local people. 

“If you are thinking of visiting Dorset from elsewhere in the country, please ask yourself, is this safe? Is this fair? We are looking forward to welcoming visitors back to our beautiful county in the future when the pandemic has passed, but it’s too early to take the risk right now.” 

  

  

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Categories: Dorset

Restrictions for dogs on beaches to be enforced

Dorset For You - Fri, 05/15/2020 - 15:18

Following the Government’s recent Coronavirus (Covid-19) guidelines to lift some of the restrictions Dorset Council will again be enforcing the restrictions for dogs that had previously been relaxed.

These restrictions are contained within public spaces protection orders (PSPO) and look to protect public health.

Dog owners can exercise their dogs in the designated areas taking account of the social distancing requirements. Find details of these areas

Cllr Tony Alford, Dorset Council’s Portfolio Holder for Customer, Community and Regulatory Services, said:

“The restrictions have been put in place so that local families can enjoy the beach safely at  two metres distance from people who are not part of their household.

“Although beaches are open, we are still suggesting caution as far a swimming is concerned. The RNLI has said that lifeguards will not be on beaches and so is advising people not to swim.”

Find more information about staying safe at the seaside

The council is also reminding people of restrictions for cycling along promenades. With the expected increase in numbers using seaside towns cyclists will need to obey local rules.

The restrictions for dogs on beaches will start on Friday 22 May.

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Categories: Dorset

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