We have identified three car parks in West Bay as being in poor condition. These are Bridport Arms car park, Station Yard car park, and the overspill area of West Bay Road car park. Our engineers and car parks team are working with a contractor to resurface these car parks. Currently, there is a lack of clearly defined parking spaces. The works will address this, and ultimately provide more parking spaces.When will these works take place?
The works are due to start on the 16 April. We expect them to last around 12 weeks. This will mean revitalised car parks in time for the school summer holidays.
The works will be phased, meaning that only one car park will be fully shut at any one time. We expect only minor disruption during the works and we will clearly identify shut car parks.Better surface water drainage
A heavy duty, eco-friendly cellular paving system will be implemented.We used this to great success at Chesil Beach car park [above], with great feedback from users of the car park.
The material is made in the UK and designed to expand and contract in hot and cold weather conditions. The anti-slip surface with gravel infill provides better surface water drainage. It’s made from 100% recycled plastic, and is itself recyclable.Investment in to West Bay
Cllr John Russell, Portfolio Holder for Environmental Protection and Assets, said: “We are committed to enhancing both the resident and visitor experience in West Bay; our investment in to the car park is just one of the many projects that are ongoing. We see this new, environmentally friendly surface and re-marking of car parking spaces as a long-term solution to current issues.”Bridport Car Boot Sale to be temporarily closed
The Sunday car boot sale at West Bay road will not go ahead whilst the resurfacing work takes place. This is due to health and safety risks. Although the contractors will work on the car parks one at a time, they may need to store equipment and/ or debris on the other car parks in certain areas. These will be clearly marked.
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A development for 292 properties on land to the west of School Hill in Chickerell has been approved by West Dorset District Council’s Planning Committee.Bank & Ridge Development Plans approved
The outline application was submitted by Litton-Cheney based CG Fry & Son Ltd and is on land identified for housing in the West Dorset, Weymouth and Portland Local Plan.
Infrastructure in the scheme includes two new road junctions, pedestrian and cycle links, a public open space, an extension to St Mary’s Church burial ground, landscaping and drainage, flood control and earth works.
Its proposed Section 106 agreement for infrastructure and community benefits includes 35% affordable housing, equating to 102 homes.
Others are financial contributions towards primary education provision and healthcare provision in Chickerell plus contributions to support existing allotments and the town’s community orchard, and for new facilities such as a grass pitch, sports pavilion, play areas and skate park.
Cllr Ian Gardner, West Dorset District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Planning, said:
“I am pleased our planning officers have been able to work with CG Fry & Son Ltd in order to agree a suitable S106 agreement, which will see significant community benefits.
“Once completed, this development will provide much needed open market housing and a large number of affordable housing for our residents.
“I look forward to the reserve matters application, where the design elements of the development will be presented.”
David Lohfink, Land and Planning Director for C CG Fry & Son Ltd, said:
“We are delighted that the planning committee accepted the positive recommendation from officers and saw the need for much needed housing on a local plan allocated site. We are pleased the committee took into account the significant amount of work we put in to designing the proposals and the package of financial contributions towards the provision of local infrastructure and facilities. We look forward to a continued and productive dialogue with officers and the community as we bring the detailed scheme design forward.”
West Dorset District Council together with Weymouth & Portland Borough Council and North Dorset District Council want to see 20,000 more homes built in their combined area by 2033 under their Opening Doors campaign.
Cllr Tim Yarker, West Dorset District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Housing, said:
“Opening Doors aims to encourage developers to bring more housing schemes forward and to build out these planning applications as soon as reasonably possible if consent is gained.
“Like many other areas, West Dorset has a housing shortage so schemes of different kinds, whether at the larger end of the spectrum, or on a smaller scale are welcome.”
Opening Doors has also recently launched a Home Ownership Register to gauge housing demand and supply information about the latest homes for sale to househunters.
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Councils are keen to alert landlords to a change in legislation that means the licensing of properties let as bedsits or shared houses, known as ‘Houses of Multiple Occupation’ (HMO), is set to change across the country.Licensing changes incoming for HMOs
Currently, a HMO requires a licence if it has three floors or more, is occupied by five or more people or, if two or more households are sharing amenities such as a kitchen or bathroom.
Under new regulations, the three storey requirement is removed. This means all HMOs that are occupied by five or more people in two or more separate households will require a licence.
New regulations also bring in mandatory conditions such as minimum sleeping room sizes, maximum number of occupants and provision of refuse facilities.Why do HMOs need a licence?
Cllr Graham Carr-Jones, Leader of North Dorset District Council and Cabinet Member for Housing, said:
“Licensing of HMOs ensures that our housing team knows about properties which may present significant health risk to residents. It also gives us the evidence that shows appropriate management arrangements have been made for the property.”
Licenses will be granted if the proposed licence holder is a ‘fit and proper’ person and is the most appropriate person to be given a licence as well as if the house is suitable for occupation by a certain number of people.
Cllr Tim Yarker, West Dorset District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Housing, said:
“The changes to the regulations will drive up conditions for residents. Through the licensing process, officers will be able to advise property owners of the regulations and enforce them.”
Cllr Gill Taylor, Weymouth & Portland Borough Council’s Briefholder for Housing, said:
“Weymouth and Portland have a high number of HMOs compared to the surrounding areas. Through these new regulations, even more are likely to be identified. The bigger catchment will bring properties to our attention that might not be suitable and we can then work with the property owner to find a solution.How much will a licence cost?
The cost of a HMO licence is set by the district or borough council. West Dorset District Council and Weymouth & Portland Borough Council have both agreed a fee of £650 for a new application and £550 for a renewal. Councillors at North Dorset District Council will receive a report recommending the adoption of the same fee at their Cabinet Meeting in April.
A 10 per cent discount is proposed for landlords committing to the standards required by the Landlords’ Local Authority Partnership or one of the three national landlord associations. Fees for members would therefore reduce to £585 for a new licence and £495 for a renewal.
The Landlords’ Local Authority Partnership is free to join. Members will benefit from seminars as well as quarterly newsletters with the latest industry news. More information about the partnership is available at dorsetforyou.gov.uk/landlords-partnership.What happens if a HMO isn’t licensed?
Councils have the ability to either impose a civil penalty of up to £30k for noncompliance with licensing requirements, or to prosecute in the courts.
However, this is a last resort. The council’s Housing Team is committed to working with property owners to ensure licensing requirements are followed. Landlords who are uncertain if their property requires licensing should contact the Housing Improvement Team.
Landlords and tenants can ask for advice by contacting our Housing Improvement Team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org by phoning 01305 251010.How do I apply for a licence?
An on-line application process is currently being put together and will be made available on dorsetforyou.com. Prior to that facility being available, landlords are able to obtain an application form by contacting email@example.com by phoning 01305 251010.
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Concerns were recently raised at a meeting of Weymouth & Portland Borough Council. What follows here is a joint response from organisations that provide public services outlining the work that is being done to improve things.
Thank you to Pete Barrow for raising important points (highlighted in bold below) at the recent full council meeting of Weymouth & Portland Borough Council.
It is very true that we are facing complex challenges. The context, as people will be aware is that we are a coastal area with a rural hinterland. We have a seasonal, low-pay economy with few large employers. Like other coastal towns we are remote from a strong industrial base, which means a lack of investment and opportunity. Local agencies are working hard to address the challenges associated with this and this is a joint response.
Joint working is increasing between Weymouth & Portland Borough Council, Dorset County Council, Dorset Police, Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Public Health Dorset, Dorset CCG, Weymouth College and the local community. We will try and address the points raised below.
- We have the third worst social mobility in the country
Social mobility is a complex issue which no agency can tackle alone.
Details of how agencies are working to improve social mobility are set out here:
A report, published in 2017, called ‘The State of the Nation, Social Mobility in Great Britain’ identified hot spots where social mobility is good and cold spots where it is poor. The report looks at indicators in four domains – early years, school, youth and working lives. We are not complacent and recognise the urgent need for all agencies to work together to improve social mobility.
- We have two areas that fall within the 10% most deprived in England
Parts of our borough including Melcombe Regis are within the top 10% most deprived areas according to the Index of Multiple Deprivation, 2015. The causes of inequality are multiple and need to be tackled by all agencies. This is why the Melcombe Regis Board was set up, so leaders of public agencies can work together to improve quality of life.
The ‘Working with You’ initiative in Littlemoor, Melcombe Regis, Underhill and Westham is also tackling the problems causing inequality. We are tackling issues such as long-term health and wellbeing, poor quality housing, crime, social isolation and creating an improved local economy providing better life chances. A 2018 update on the project is available here.
- We have the lowest pay in the country
We have not been able to identify your source data for stating that Weymouth is the lowest paid area in the country. Our review of the data published by the Office for National Statistics through its Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) is more positive.
It states that the gross weekly average full time earnings for Weymouth and Portland is around £500, which is not the lowest in the country. The ASHE provisional workplace earnings for 2017, published last autumn, shows median work placed based gross full time wages at £500.20 in Weymouth and Portland. This is an increase on 2016, while the residence based assessment (wages of people who live in Weymouth) is £510.50. Both of these are about midpoint in a list of 41 local authorities in the south west.
However, it is true that the number of jobs earning less than living wage is higher than in some other parts of Dorset. This reflects the type of employment, such as seasonal work in accommodation and food services, available in the borough.
We have a vision – the Town Centre Masterplan – to attract more quality jobs and improve prosperity. It was one of only five projects in 2015 to win Government Growth Deal Funding (£600,000) from the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership.
Unemployment is currently low in Weymouth and Portland, running at 1.3 per cent in September 2017.
- We have an escalating problem with anti-social behaviour with many residents now genuinely frightened for their own safety
Concerns have been expressed recently about the behaviour of a small group of 14 and 15 year olds in Weymouth town centre. The police and the borough council’s Community Safety Team work hard to tackle anti-social behaviour and have effective systems in place for dealing with it.
As Cllr Francis Drake mentioned briefly on the radio piece this week, we currently run the ‘Do You Know Where Your Children Are?’ campaign. This sees tiered warning letters sent home to parents if their children are found engaging in anti-social behaviour. Multi-agency case conferences are held to address underlying causes and make sure the right referrals are made. If necessary, Acceptable Behaviour Contracts are then offered to put parameters in place to manage behaviour. The team are also looking at providing youth outreach work for key periods like Saturday afternoons. When we have details of this we will share this with you.
It is worth noting that while these actions are usually effective in dealing with anti-social behaviour when it occurs, we cannot easily prevent isolated incidents from happening. There is a lot of work going on in this area and it is important to highlight that the vast majority of young people are a credit to our community. These recent incidents involved around 10 children. Work is now ongoing with them.
Police Sergeant Andy Jenkins, of Weymouth Neighbourhood Policing Team, has also said: “We will not accept anyone engaging in anti-social behaviour (ASB) and causing distress to residents, visitors and businesses.
“I want to reassure the public that we have identified the group of teenagers involved in incidents of ASB over the last few weeks. We have put in place dedicated police officers who will directly target these individuals and, where appropriate, look to put them before the courts. Where there is a clear necessity offenders will be arrested. We also have other enforcement options we are considering, including criminal behaviour orders and dispersal orders.”
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) have said: Anti-social behaviour affects residents’ quality of life across the county and must be addressed through engagement, enforcement and diversion. The Safer Dorset Fund Community Grant has been established as a funding source for voluntary and community sector organisations to deliver projects that meet one or more of the Police & Crime Plan priorities. The OPCC encourages community groups to be part of the solution. Find out more here.
The OPCC looks to support innovative schemes. In 2016, the OPCC supported a new breathalyser pilot in Weymouth to empower licensed premises to manage excessively intoxicated patrons, in an effort to tackle anti-social behaviour issues linked to the night-time economy. More information can be found here.
We are also supporting the early scoping for inclusion CSAS (Community Safety Accredited Officers) within the town and have allocated funding to the venture. This follows on from a successful approach using CSAS in the Bournemouth area also supported by this OPCC. More information on CSAS can be found here.
The OPCC has also supported the investment of a community capacity support worker, which will serve to build a strong and resilient local community and build community cohesion by effective working with service providers, advocate their needs and support action to address the identified problems in these areas. Work will include engagement with hard to reach groups.
- We have drug taking and drug dealing taking place in public
Here is a response from Weymouth & Portland Neighbourhood Inspector Steve Yeoman: “Tackling drug misuse and dealing is a priority for Dorset Police and we fully understand from speaking with residents how it impacts on the community, but this issue is not just unique to Weymouth and can be seen in many towns across the country.
“Some residents who report drug misuse and dealing may believe we take no action, but not all reports warrant an immediate police response. I want to reassure the public that we use all reports of drug misuse and dealing to gain an intelligence picture and gather necessary evidence to target drug dealers and safeguard vulnerable people. This can be seen through all the various drug warrants we have carried out, arrests and convictions that we have secured recently.
“However, solving this issue does not just involve Dorset Police. It requires of a wide range of agencies working in partnership including Weymouth & Portland Borough Council’s Community Safety Team, British Transport Police, Public Health Dorset and other charities and agencies.
“Simply arresting drug addicts is not going to solve the issue in the long term. Many of these people do have deep-lying problems that need addressing and that is why we want to signpost them to support agencies in order to help them to improve their ways. We do have enforcement options available to deal with those who refuse to accept help.”
OPCC response: Resolving drug issues goes beyond the remit of the police to enforce. In the past, I have supported the concept of a drug and alcohol recovery hub in this part of the county. We know there are links between drug and alcohol misuse and offending behaviour, and such a facility has the potential to reduce crime by providing tailored, professional support to those who need it.
- Our secondary schools are the lowest performers in Dorset
Here is a response from Dorset County Council:
We are, of course, disappointed that the performance of secondary schools in the Weymouth and Portland area is below the national average. Significant support has been put in place, both by the Regional Schools Commissioner and Dorset County Council, to turn this around. The Dorset Education Advisory Service and senior officers are fully committed to supporting the schools concerned to make sure pupils in the area reach their full potential.
- We have an escalating housing crisis rough sleeping up 60% in a year
The annual rough sleeper count (carried out on a single night in November each year) revealed a total of 18 rough sleepers in 2017 in Weymouth and Portland, up from 11 in 2016. This reflects a similar upward trend across the country.
The borough council funds a Rough Sleeper Outreach Service for Weymouth and Portland. Our service provider, Julian House, engage proactively with people found sleeping on the streets, and do what they can to help them into settled accommodation, to tackle other underlying issues such as alcohol and drug dependency and so on. We also work in close partnership with a range of other agencies, such as Dorset County Council and The Lantern, to improve the situation of rough sleepers.
A group of Trustees and volunteers have recently set up the Bus Shelter scheme, which can provide overnight accommodation for up to 17 rough sleepers, and although it has only been up and running for a few weeks in a borough council-owned car park in the Lodmoor area, a number of rough sleepers have already been taken from the streets and the signs are good that the scheme can make a major contribution to alleviating local rough sleeping problems with funding support from Dorset County Council.
We have an agreed protocol that sets out how we deal with rough sleepers during periods of extremely cold weather, and this came into effect during the recent freezing weather. Numerous people were taken off the streets and helped into a range of types of short term temporary accommodation.
With regards to homelessness more generally, in our experience, much of this arises when private rented sector landlords perfectly legally end the tenancies of their tenants, who struggle to be able to afford to find somewhere else to live. Under such circumstances, we have a scheme whereby we can fund people’s rental deposits and first month’s rent, and this has made a tremendously positive difference for many local people over the years.
There is a huge imbalance between the demand for and availability of affordable housing locally. The borough council does what it can to enable the building of new affordable housing, whether for rent or shared ownership, and it will continue to do so.
OPCC response: In October 2017, the OPCC hosted its inaugural Problem Solving Forum to consider the issue of homelessness. The Commissioner pledged to bring together stakeholders including those from the voluntary sector to facilitate more effective joint working on issues that are long-standing, reoccurring and require a multi-agency response. The PCC Innovation Fund is available for proposals borne out of the Problem Solving Forum, but will only be allocated where action plans meet strict criteria. Ideas must be scoped into business cases that outline how initiatives will make a real difference to community safety.
- Our children have the worst obesity rates in Dorset
Here is a response from Dorset County Council:
This is an area of concern for reception children, as data for 2013-17 suggests that obesity is higher than the national average. However, in the same time scale, the data for year 6 pupils shows a lower proportion of children with obesity than the national average.
Although there is no room for complacency in addressing barriers to a healthy weight, this is an issue across all local authority areas and not specific to Weymouth and Portland. There is also a link between childhood obesity and areas of deprivation. The data is available here:
No one single intervention or initiative will address obesity, and relies on organisations working collectively to tackle the issue and support families.
- Mental health admissions in W+P are greater than in Bournemouth
Here is a response from Dorset County Council with information from Dorset NHS Clinical Commissioning Group and Dorset Healthcare:
Dorset NHS Clinical Commissioning Group is not able to confirm this and say about 70% of the demand for inpatient services comes from Bournemouth and Poole. Looking at serious mental illness prevalence rates by GP locality, Weymouth and Portland is the third highest in the Dorset CCG area and above the national average.
With investment and support from Dorset NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, Dorset HealthCare is introducing a number of changes which will improve the provision of mental health care across Dorset – including Weymouth and Portland. There will be an additional 16 inpatient care beds, including four at Forston Clinic near Dorchester, and the creation of two new ‘Retreats’ (including one in Dorchester) where people can access the professional treatment and support they need. The Trust is also introducing three community ‘front rooms’ (including one in West Dorset), giving people in crisis access to specialist peer support workers. And further enhanced support will be available through Connection, a 24/7 crisis line. These changes will complement Dorset HealthCare’s existing community mental health teams working in the Weymouth and Portland area.
- Life expectancy is the lowest in the County
Life expectancy in the borough varies according to where people live. For men, there is a difference of 10.7 years in life expectancy across the borough. For women, the range is 7.9 years.
To set this in a national context, life expectancy for men in Weymouth & Portland is 78.5 years compared to 79.5 years in England. Life expectancy for women is 83.4 years compared to the 83.1 for England. Looking at the most deprived areas of the borough, there is a gap of 5.3 years to the borough average for men and a gap of 3.4 years for women.
In summary, there are complex challenges facing us. We, the providers of public services, recognise this. We are working hard, and increasingly together, to improve things.
While not in any way detracting from the problems facing us, it is also important to celebrate what is great about Weymouth and Portland. We have one of the best beaches in the country, set off beautifully following the successful Seafront Regeneration Project, part of the £3.5million project to improve Weymouth seafront. We have the most amazing natural environment on our door step. Our Jurassic Coast is now famous as a World Heritage site and we are surrounded by an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. We are known internationally as one of the best places for sailing, following our successful hosting of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympics. We have lots of wonderful award-winning parks and gardens. We also have an engaged community, who are passionate to work with us to improve things, which is evidenced by your group as well as in many other projects.
Thank you again for your questions, we hope these responses help to set in context what we are currently doing and we hope your group will work with us to help improve quality of life in Weymouth and Portland further in the future. As discussed we are looking at how we can engage in a different way with our community, to harness their support for making things better. If anyone has any thoughts about this engagement please let us know in the comments section.
Matt Prosser, Chief Executive of Weymouth & Portland Borough Council and Chairman of the Melcombe Regis Board
Councillor Jeff Cant, Leader of Weymouth & Portland Borough Council
Debbie Ward, Chief Executive of Dorset County Council
Martyn Underhill, Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner
Richard Drax, Member of Parliament for South Dorset
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The renovations of the promenade at Avon Beach are progressing well, despite slight delays as a result of the extreme weather suffered in recent weeks.
Council engineers have re-prioritised works following the extreme weather brought by Storm Emma, meaning that more than half of the promenade between Avon Beach car park and Southcliffe Rd will be open to the public for Easter weekend. Walkers will be able to enjoy the new promenade from the sloped access at Southcliffe Rd. The access to the beachfront café and shop is still available via both the beach from the Eastern side or from Avon Beach car park. The Eastern set of steps (closest to Southcliffe Rd) will also be opened at the same time.
Dorset Coastal Connections Project Co-ordinator Natalie Poulter said “We’re really pleased to see council engineers, and their contractors, are working hard to minimise delays and I thank them for their continued efforts to achieve this important work in what have been difficult weather conditions.”
Council engineers hope that the remaining 100 metres of the new promenade will be opened during the week beginning 9 April. This western stretch will include two new seats for walkers to pause at, which was a key request from the community during the engagement sessions held last summer.
Visitors will be able to enjoy a wider promenade, meaning a less cluttered space in front of the popular beach huts. The level access to the sand will be maintained too, which means the area’s character will be restored, whilst providing the additional protection needed for this section of coastline.
Cllr Margaret Phipps, Champion for Rivers and Coastal Issues, said: “The weather we saw in recent weeks has been exceptional, and it’s not surprising the work has been delayed slightly. I’m proud of the work our officers and contractors are doing to make sure as much of the Avon Beach promenade is open for business on time, and that access for walkers has been maintained along the beach throughout the works.”
The Avon Beach Promenade renovation project is part of Dorset Coastal Connections, a portfolio of 18 connected projects which aim to improve physical, digital and emotional connections to the coast in Dorset, supporting and growing the local economy. Dorset Coastal Connections is a partnership project supported by the Coastal Communities Fund.
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