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Mayor’s Blog – 138 – Includes a report from the Mayoress

Mayor’s Blog 138

This week : Winfrith Police HQ, Police attendance at Bridport Town Council  Meeting, Creating Cleaner Air Communities, Dorset Coast Forum Annual Conference 2023, Mayoress Report, Press Release – From Street to Sea

Winfrith Police HQ

Last week, along with other Dorset Mayors, I was invited to the Police HQ at Winfrith by Police and Crime Commissioner David Sidwick to attend an informal informative event and hear about the Contact, Demand and Engagement Management project.

The aim of the CDEM project is:

  • to improve customer service and connectivity with all communities within Dorset. This project meets the Police and Crime Plan 2021-29 pledge of ‘Making Policing More Visible and Connected’ and the Force vision to provide ‘Exceptional Local Policing’.
  • to promote the work that the Force and PCC are undertaking to improve accessibility, engagement, and access to the police, at the most local level.

Included in the day were:

Presentations On The Project

  • Tour of the Control Room to show how the contact team operate; and to see how despatch, call handling and intelligence research is used.
  • The Rural Crime Team van was on site and the staff explained how it is used as a ‘mobile police station’ in the rural areas of Dorset.
  • There was also a Community Contact Point set up on site, so we had an opportunity to find out more about how all 27 of these sites work across the county.

One of the most worrying statistics presented was that the Police spend only around 25% of their time dealing with “police matters” and we heard how much police time had been wasted by false 999 calls, either by accidental dialling in a pocket or just a complete lack of public understanding of when to dial 999 and also which public service they actually should be dialling.

I felt that the police have a difficult task in educating the public when to dial 999, when to dial 101 and when to use the e mail system.

Winfrith Police HQ
Winfrith Police HQ

As Bridport Town Council had already tabled “Policing in Bridport” as a topic for public debate during our forthcoming Full Council meeting on Tuesday it was a good opportunity to make David Sidwick personally aware of the recent assaults and anti-social behaviour we had experienced in Bridport. He had already agreed to accept an invitation from Bridport Town Council to involve himself at our Full Council meeting, probably “virtually”, and I gained his promise to attend in person to let the Council and the public know exactly how the police intended to respond to recent events.

Police Attendance at Bridport Town Council Meeting

On Tuesday evening Bridport Full Council met in the Town Hall. The Police and Crime Commissioner, David Sidwick, and one of the local Police Sergeants attended the meeting.

David had driven down from London specifically to hear our concerns regarding recent events and lack of engagement with the general public.

We had plenty of chairs put out in the expectation that our residents were concerned about said recent events (so we had heard from many) and would naturally want to come to the meeting to hear about policing in our town.

I am sorry to say the number that turned up was a big 0. Very deflating.

Councillors, however, asked many questions and received a lot of assurances and information.

No doubt I will hear in the future that “the police station is never open” yes it is – Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 am to 3pm according to our local police.

“Why don’t we have a police presence on the streets?” That and many other questions were answered on Tuesday night.

Creating Cleaner Air Communities

Towards the end of last year Dorset Council contacting a wide range of Councillors about a Defra funded air quality awareness project they are currently delivering in our area.  As part of this project, they hosted a community information event on 21st September at Bridport Town Hall.  The event focussed on tackling pollution and improving air quality in the community.

We were promised a good mix of talks, information stands, and Q&A sessions.  Dorset Council were interested in exploring how the council can work with residents to create clean air communities.

Residents also had a chance to talk with officers from the environmental protection, transport, housing, and climate teams to find out more about what they’re doing as well as what our residents can do to help.

I must say I was impressed at the attendance as the Town Hall was packed. I was rather concerned that the first presentation seemed to dive straight in to how best to manage a log fire including how long to dry the logs and the issues arising from unseasoned logs/not cleaning the chimney etc. and unfortunately I had to leave shortly after so I can’t comment on the rest of the evening. I hope it was informative and helpful.

For further information click here:

Dorset Coast Forum Annual Conference 2023

On Wednesday 27th I attended the Dorset Coast Forum event in Bournemouth that was aimed at DCF members. Themes included nature recovery, a local Nature Recovery Strategy Workshop, Coastal developments, storm overflows (my favourite subject) and water quality.

It was a well-attended event with lots of relevant information but what stood out to me was  Ocean Sustainability and a project called “Motion for the Ocean”. This focussed on what local councils should be obliged to do including embedding ocean recovery measures in planning:

UK councils are being urged to sign a “motion for the ocean” – pledging to engage with citizens to promote ocean recovery. Plymouth City Council, Falmouth Town Council and South Tyneside Council have already passed ocean recovery motions. The team behind the project have created a model motion for councils to adapt and adopt, in the hope of creating a movement similar to that seen with climate emergency declarations.

The motion was written by Dr Pamela Buchan, a University of Exeter researcher and Plymouth City Councillor; Emily Cunningham, Lead Officer of the Local Government Association (LGA) Coastal Special Interest Group; and Nicola Bridge, Head of Ocean Advocacy and Engagement at the Ocean Conservation Trust.

We were privileged to have Dr. Buchan attending and presenting the project to us:

“The need for ocean recovery to mitigate some of the worst impacts of the climate emergency and support the wellbeing and prosperity of coastal communities is urgent,” said Dr Buchan, who proposed the motion that was adopted by the city of Plymouth.

“For too long, the ocean has been side-lined in climate debates and taken for granted by our island nation, but people and politicians are beginning to understand that we can’t mitigate the impacts of climate change without addressing how we use and manage our coastal and ocean environments.

“My research as a marine social scientist shows that connecting emotionally with the sea and feeling dependent upon it for your wellbeing are really important factors in motivating people to take marine environmental action.

“This motion recognises that we need to connect people to the ocean in sustainable ways.”

Dr Buchan’s ESRC-funded PhD research focussed on “marine citizenship” – people feeling responsible for the marine environment and taking action to transform the relationship people have with the ocean.

She hopes UK people will feel “empowered to act as marine citizens” and ask their local councillors to support an ocean recovery declaration.

Emily Cunningham said: “Coastal local authorities are working hard to bring about a brighter future for the communities we serve, yet too often we overlook the opportunities and benefits that a healthy ocean could provide. The LGA Coastal Special Interest Group recognises that our ocean is in a state of emergency and that local government has a crucial role to play in recovering it to health.”

“Local authorities cannot solve the ocean crisis alone, but they can and must play their part. We are ready to support all councils in stepping up to take ocean action now. There’s no time to waste.”

Nicola Bridge added: “All of our work at the Ocean Conservation Trust is centred around people. Our Think Ocean Challenge is designed specifically to bring the ocean to the forefront of people’s minds and help them to think about the ocean in their everyday lives. For too long, the ocean has been missing from discussions at local and national government levels, meaning that decisions are made that do not reflect the importance of a healthy ocean”.

“At policy level, ocean health is not recognised as essential for human health. We are pleased to have been part of the creation of this model ocean recovery motion and hope to see councils across the UK adopting it and taking steps towards better recognition of the importance of ocean health.”

It is a fact that English local authorities have a range of coastal and marine responsibilities within their powers, including flood and coastal erosion risk management and, through their local Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority, the management of inshore fisheries and marine protected areas. Additionally, they can share in the collective responsibility to improve the health of our shared ocean through a wide range of local strategies and actions, including educational approaches; water, waste and land management; and the full remit of climate emergency actions many have already committed to.

So I hope this new motion which embraces the “source-to-sea” approach can be adopted widely by Councils at all levels, it highlights the direct connection that we all have to the sea through rivers and drainage, and the important impact of land-based carbon emissions on ocean health.

This makes the motion relevant to all councils, even those inland.

Mayoress Report

I was pleased to facilitate a Carer support group meeting on Wednesday this week. Agencies that attended were representatives of: Care Dorset, Age UK, Alzheimer Society, Jurassic Coast PCN – Lead Social Prescriber and Frailty Manager, People First Dorset, Carer Support Dorset and the Co-op Pioneer.

It was an opportunity for collaboration between services, leading to better outcomes for carers and their cared for person.

The aim of the meeting was to engage with agencies to discuss proposals for new Carer Support groups in Bridport and, as a result there are two 2 proposed initiatives:

Firstly, Carer Support Dorset are about to launch a new Carer group in October in Bridport. This will be an informal “drop-in group” for carers. Information will be available shortly.

Secondly, Age UK and the Jurassic Coast team, linking with Care Dorset at Bridport Connect aim to start a group, potentially in January, called ‚Forget-Me-Not’. The remit for this is that it is for Carers and those cared for with Dementia. We are very aware that there is little respite available for Carers when they cannot leave their “cared for” person at home.

Carers need time out, where they can speak freely about their concerns and anxieties. The idea for the group is that they will come together initially as a whole during the weekly session. Then the cared for persons will separate off to engage in productive supported activities whilst the Carers have some informal “downtime” to socialise, relax and exchange experiences or share advice.

These are both exciting initiatives for Bridport that will be sustainable for the long term.

I am aware that there are other Carer groups, like those caring for people with learning difficulties, who also need this kind of support group. I am hoping to raise awareness and collaborate with other agencies to ensure that there are carer groups for everyone who wants and needs one.

There are various other projects lined up for us to investigate and I will keep everyone informed of progress. Thanks to all of the attendees, it was truly inspiring to have everyone working together with a common aim to help the people of Bridport and surrounding areas.

Press Release

From Street to Sea 6

Bridport’s autumn mass litter pick is scheduled to take place from 10.00am on Sunday 15th October. The Street to Sea team are delighted that Seal’s Cove has become the fifth rendezvous point enabling the citizens of Bradpole and north Bridport to become involved more easily. Since opening Seal’s Cove has been keen to support our local community. Director, Mandy Jones said “We at Seal’s Cove are really proud to be part of this community event and our team are really looking forward to joining in with such a worthy cause.We are also looking forward to meeting the litter pickers and providing refreshments to thank them for their efforts on the day.”

When I spoke to him, Deputy Mayor Ian Bark said “Sadly, Bridport still has its fair share of litter. Our streets, green spaces, rivers and beaches are all spoilt by those who choose to discard rather than dispose of their litter in a responsible, environmentally friendly way. In fact there is not a street which is truly litter free if you look closely enough.”

On previous From Street to Sea events the pickers have removed large items such as car tyres, shopping trolleys, tents and even a fridge all of which had either been dumped in hedges or in the river. But it is the masses of small items such as crisp packets, snack wrappers, plastic bottles and cigarette butts that do the most damage, breaking down into micro plastics which pollute our rivers and seas, damaging habitats, poisoning wildlife and ultimately entering our food chain. The litter we humans casually discard is not only causing huge damage to our environment it is increasingly impacting on our health and wellbeing.

Following the success of previous events an additional rendezvous point has been added at the Seal’s Cove car park where pickers from that end of the town can gather at 10.00am. This is in addition to the Co-opMorrisons, Waitrose/Ropemakers carparks plus the Black Hut on East Pier, West Bay sites used on previous occasions and again this time.

The aim of From Street to Sea is to have all those people who care about our beautiful town and the environment, out on the streets, on the rivers and on the beaches removing the rubbish that is not only ugly to look at but extremely toxic.

Ian added; ‘My message to the people of Bridport is, instead of moaning about it, come and join us in doing something about it.’

To get involved simply arrive at one of the five rendezvous points at 10.00am and you will be provided with all the equipment needed to get picking. Alternatively set off from home at 10.00 picking on your way to one of the rendezvous points where you can drop off your bag of rubbish.

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