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News from Dorset councils
Updated: 6 hours 42 min ago

Councillors back plans to breathe fresh life into the Peninsula

Fri, 10/12/2018 - 15:46

Last night, members of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council voted in favour of progressing phase one of the Peninsula regeneration scheme.

Peninsula site from above

Support was given for all of the recommendations – including approval for the business case, funding arrangements, and demolition of the former ferry terminal building.

The council’s Harbour Management Board has already supported the Weymouth Peninsula proposals and the scheme will now goes forward to the shadow Dorset Council Formal Executive Committee on November 12. The outline planning application is due to be received by Weymouth & Portland Borough Council’s Planning Committee on November 28.

Cllr Jeff Cant, Weymouth & Portland Borough Council Briefholder for Finance and Assets, said; “Last night’s cross party decision by Full Council sitting as the Harbour Authority to support phase one of the Peninsula development is a massive step forward in bringing the town into the twenty first century. At last we have a clear vision and direction for future generations.

“This is only the first of a series of ambitious regeneration plans which we are sure will bring a boost to the local economy whilst guaranteeing community access. The decision by the Council to maintain control of the development as an all year round attraction – generating annual income for the community – shows our determination to inject new energy into our much loved town creating a legacy site for generations to come.”

Phase one of the Peninsula redevelopment includes; a 100-room hotel, a pub/diner with rooms, improvements to public space and a walkway around the site. It also includes repairs to the harbour walls. All-weather, year-round leisure attractions, marine facilities and restaurants are proposed in phase two.

The planning application is currently ‘live’ as planning officers seek to build up a complete picture of the proposal. Technical information can be received up until the committee date in line with planning procedure. Information has been provided by applicants and other specialists, for example the Environment Agency and Historic England. All of the documents that have been received can be viewed alongside the application at

The existing planning application seeks approval for outline planning consent. As the project progresses there will be an opportunity for local residents and the community to have their say and share their views on the detailed plans for the site.

To stay up-to-date with Council news please subscribe to the resident newsletter and follow us on twitter.

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Categories: Dorset

20 new homes approved in Longburton

Fri, 10/12/2018 - 15:21

West Dorset District Council has approved the development of 20 new homes in Longburton.

The scheme, located at a former council transport depot, will provide a mixture of two and three-bedroom homes and will be built by housing association, Aster Group.

‘Transform brownfield site’

Cllr Ian Gardner, West Dorset District Council’s Portfolio holder for Planning, said:

“I am pleased this development has been approved. Once completed it will transform a brownfield site and provide key housing for an identified, local housing need.”

Opening Doors

Cllr Tim Yarker, West Dorset District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Housing, said:

“Through our Opening Doors Programme, we are working to encourage the development of more homes, especially affordable homes.

“I would encourage local residents looking to own a home, to fill in our Home Ownership Register. This will give us valuable data on where homes are wanted, and will mean we can contact you when homes are available.

“More information about Opening Doors and the Home Ownership Register is available at

‘Stepping stone’

Amanda Williams, group development director at Aster Group, said:

“Shared ownership is often a stepping stone for people to get on the housing ladder. We are thrilled to be delivering these homes in Longburton and pleased to be providing both shared ownership and homes for affordable rent for the local people and look forward to getting the project underway.”

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Categories: Dorset

Council Tax Support to be reviewed in advance of new Dorset Council  

Fri, 10/12/2018 - 15:10

A public consultation exercise is currently taking place that highlights the options for the Council Tax Support scheme that will be in place for the new Dorset Council.

The online survey invites residents to have their say on the options that may be implemented from 1 April 2019. The survey is now open to the public and will run until 10 December 2018.

What is the Council Tax Support scheme?

Council Taxpayers who are on low income can apply for Council Tax Support (CTS) to help them with their Council Tax. Entitlement to CTS is based on the circumstances and income of the claimant’s household.

Each Council Tax billing authority is required to determine the CTS scheme for its area and has the discretion to determine the principle factors for their scheme, including the maximum support that will be given to working age claimants.

Why is it being revised?

The current two tier system of local government in Dorset is changing from 1 April 2019 and the nine existing councils will be replaced by the following two unitary councils:

  • ·Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, which will provide services covering that area
  • ·Dorset Council, which will provide services covering the rest of the County.

As a result of these changes the existing CTS schemes will effectively cease from that date and Dorset Council will need to agree a new scheme which is affordable, consistent and fair for all residents. Not only for those that receive support but also for those who depend on wider services.

How can I have my say?

Comments can be made by completing the online questionnaire at that do not have access to the internet can be sent a paper questionnaire by phoning 01305 211930. The results of the consultation will be considered in February 2019 when the Dorset Council CTS scheme will be agreed.

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Categories: Dorset

Bringing empty homes back into use

Fri, 10/12/2018 - 12:23

It’s National Empty Homes Week from 15 to 21 October. To mark the occasion, we’re inviting you to join a national campaign.

National Empty Homes Week

National Empty Homes Week aims to raise awareness of empty properties in your area and encourage you to report these to the councils.

205,000 empty homes across England

Data shows that 205,000 homes across England have been empty for more than six months. Over 5000 more than the previous year. This 2.6 per cent rise is the first increase since 2008, although the proportion of England’s homes long-term empty is broadly stable at around 0.85 per cent.

877 homes empty across three council areas

There are currently 217 empty homes in North Dorset, 429 empty homes in West Dorset and 231 empty homes in Weymouth & Portland.

Of the total 877 empty homes across the three council areas, 233 have been empty for over two years.


Cllr Gill Taylor, Weymouth & Portland Borough Council’s Briefholder for Housing, said:

“The condition of empty properties can deteriorate rapidly, costing more to insure and eventually repair, especially if they are subject to vandalism or fly-tipping.

“If brought back into use, these homes can contribute towards the local housing demand, and can be an extra source of income for owners.”

Increased council tax

It has been estimated that keeping a property empty could cost as much as £135 a week, or £7,018 every year.

If a property is left empty for over two years, the owner will be charged a Council Tax Premium at a rate of 150 per cent.

For example the owner of an empty property paying £1,867.32 will see their Council Tax Bill increase by £933.66 per year to £2,800.98.

Parliament is proposing a Bill to further increase Council Tax on properties left empty for two years or more. Amendments to the Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) bill would also mean councils could increase the premium significantly on empty homes.

Bringing homes back into use

There is a high demand for housing with around 4,300 households on the housing register across the three council areas.

Cllr Graham Carr-Jones, Leader of North Dorset District Council and Portfolio Holder for Housing, said:

“We want to take a proactive approach and return as many empty homes back into use as we can.

“I encourage anyone who owns an empty property, or knows of one in their area, to contact our Empty Homes Officers.”

Empty Homes Officers work with landlords to provide support, guidance and encouragement in order to return empty homes to use.

Partners are also on hand to give tailored letting advice and financial support.

In North Dorset, Ten long term empty homes were brought back into use by the Empty Homes Officer in 2017/18. Five have been brought back into use this year.

In West Dorset, 24 long term empty homes were brought into use by the Empty Homes Officer between in 2017/18. 15 homes have been brought back into use so far this year.

In Weymouth & Portland, seven long term empty homes were brought back into use by the Empty Homes Officer in 2017/18. Six homes have brought back into use this year.


Cllr Tim Yarker, West Dorset District Councils Portfolio Holder for Housing, said:

“With our housing shortage, it is wrong to have homes empty unnecessarily.

“Refurbishing and repairing empty properties helps to improve the look and feel of a neighbourhood. If a property needs renovation, in certain circumstances owners could be eligible for a low cost loan.”

Low cost funding is available through Wessex Resolutions CIC when supported by the council. Loans of up to £15,000 may be offered.

More information about loans and grants can be found on or by contacting our Empty Homes Officers on 01305 252469.


If you would like to report a property which you believe is empty, please contact our Empty Homes Officers on 01305 252469 or via email at

You can find out more by stopping by our roadshow events in Dorchester and Weymouth during Empty Homes Week.

  • Tuesday 16 October from 10.30 to 14.30 – South Street, Dorchester
  • Friday 19 October from 10.30 to 14.30 – New Bond Street, Weymouth


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Categories: Dorset

Video competition: How far does your litter travel?

Fri, 10/12/2018 - 10:41

A new video competition is being launched to highlight the sources of Dorset’s plastic pollution problem.

Litter Free Dorset wants your videos to inspire change and reduce litter across the county.

‘Litter Travels’ can be about any aspect of litter and its journey – as plastic and other rubbish can travel from our roadsides and streets, through drains, down rivers and into our oceans.

The team want to see videos that explore the litter journey and inspire people to ‘Be the solution, not the pollution.’

A shortlist will be selected by judges, including McDonalds in Weymouth and Dorset Devils founder Peter Ryan. The final shortlist will then be put to public vote through social media.

The prize for the most innovative and creative video will be a 4K Panasonic Camcorder.

How to get Involved

For information on the competition and how to enter click here

Deadline: 28 February 2019

Format: MP4 video file

Max length: 2 minutes


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Categories: Dorset

Free bike security day

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 16:45

Cyclists can get their bikes security marked for free in Weymouth this Saturday. (13/10)

Bike security

The event, which will run from 1pm-3pm on the Rodwell Trail near the White Bridge overlooking the Marsh, has been funded by the Dorset Community Safety Partnership, which includes Weymouth and Portland Borough Council.

The funding, of around £1,300, means Dorset Police can hold bike marking sessions, where bikes are marked with codes so they can be identified. Under the scheme, tamper-proof stickers with QR codes are fixed to the bike’s frame. The owner’s details are recorded in a database. This means that if a marked bike is stolen and later recovered, the owner can be identified.

Security measures see bike returned

The event follows a successful bike marking day in Weymouth last Saturday (6/10) which saw hundreds of bikes marked. One of the bikes marked last week has already been successfully recovered and will be returned to its owner.

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Categories: Dorset

Gillingham Library goes autism-friendly

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 14:51

Gillingham Library has a new autism-friendly room.

It has been designed in partnership with Autism Wessex to give people with autism and their family or carer a quiet place to go, as they may need to seek out time alone if overloaded with social interaction, or if spaces are too bright or loud for comfort.

Councillor Andrew Parry, Cabinet member responsible for libraries said: “Library Services contribute to the health and wellbeing of communities and the creation of this room will provide a quiet, relaxing space with access to reading materials.

“It’s vital that everyone in a community has the opportunities and access to enjoyable and educational resources.”

The room is also available for professionals to run support sessions, counselling, assessments or meetings.

Visitors can familiarise themselves with the building before visiting through the library’s ‘picture journey’.

There will be an opportunity to see the room, meet the staff and see the autism book collection on 16 October from 10.30 am -12 noon.

To book the room email or call 01747 822180.

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Categories: Dorset

Helping local communities

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 13:55

This year, Dorset Highways has been working with its contracting partners to help local charities.

Taking advantage of Dorset Highways private sector partnerships and Dorset County Council’s ‘volunteering day’ allowance for staff, work is carried out free of charge.

Dorset County Council encourage staff to use their annual ‘volunteering day’ at one of the 4,000+ voluntary and community groups across Dorset, using their ‘work’ skills to directly benefit the local community.

The projects

Following the success of the first highways volunteering project at Weldmar Hospicecare in February 2018, more than 17 organisations got in touch asking for help.

Two further projects, to be delivered in 2018, were selected by Dorset Highways frontline workers.

October 2018
MyTIME | Because Young Carers Matter

MyTIME charity’s outdoor centre in Worth Matravers, near Swanage, gives young carers – some as young as six-years-old – somewhere fun, safe and secluded to escape to.

Starting on Monday 15 October, highways volunteers will be will be creating a new access road, installing infrastructure for a new electricity supply, laying a patio area and constructing a large concrete hardstanding. This is only made possible by donations of time and materials from Dorset Highways and its partners:

  • 300m of new ducting (pipe under the road for cables)
  • 300m new access track – material provided by Hanson Contracting
  • 45m² new patio – materials supplied by Bradfords Building Supplies
  • 50m² new concrete hardstanding – material supplied by Knights Brown
September 2018
Panda Pre-School, Blandford Forum

Dorset Highways staff volunteered their time to install a new playground at the Panda Pre-School in Blandford, with equipment from Mark Farwell Plant Hire and materials from Hanson Contracting.

February 2018
Weldmar Hospicecare , Dorchester

Dorset County Council highway operations staff used their annual volunteering day to put their skills and experience into action for the local, independent charity Weldmar Hospicecare at their inpatient unit in Dorchester, Joseph Weld Hospice.

  • designing and building a new access road into the fundraising field
  • replacing defective drains with low maintenance drainage
  • installing some new road markings to improve road safety

Material, labour and equipment was donated by Hanson Contracting, Hanson Aggregates, W J Road Markings and Bradfords Building Supplies.

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Categories: Dorset

Vandalism puts community project at risk

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 12:22

A community project to improve subways in Weymouth is under threat after repeated graffiti attacks.

Graffiti in Weymouth underpass

The project, which got the go-ahead following a £7,000 grant from Weymouth and Portland Borough Council, aims to improve the town’s underpasses by getting them thoroughly cleaned and painted.

More than 200 people have supported the project by sharing their views. Volunteers from a community group, East Boro Housing, and a local artist have offered to paint the subways, transforming them into pleasant places.

Aster Housing have offered to help with the cost of painting the subways with a white base coat. Sadly these efforts look likely to be undermined as the subways are being persistently covered in graffiti.

Subways covered in graffiti

Cllr Mike Byatt, Community Safety Briefholder at Weymouth & Portland Borough Council, said: “This project is a fantastic community effort, which could improve our underpasses.

“Sadly community efforts to transform these neglected places into vibrant arty spaces are being put in jeopardy as they are being consistently covered in graffiti. I’d like to appeal to anyone spraying graffiti to support their community by stopping.”        

The subways are at the top of King Street and by Radipole Lake, Westham.  

Anyone with information is asked to contact Dorset Police at, via email or by calling 101, quoting occurrence number 55180164959. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via

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Categories: Dorset

Which assets and services might transfer to Weymouth Town Council?

Wed, 10/10/2018 - 15:20

Councillors will soon consider proposals to transfer a number of assets and services to Weymouth Town Council.

Councillors will soon consider proposals to transfer a number of assets and services to Weymouth Town Council.

The first meeting of Weymouth’s Shadow Town Council is set to take place on Thursday 18 October.

At this meeting members will consider a report detailing which of assets and services currently owned and operated by Weymouth & Portland Borough Council could transfer to the new town council when it comes into existence in April 2019.

Which assets and services could transfer?

Assets and services up for consideration include:

  • The council offices at Commercial Road
  • Parks and gardens and cemeteries
  • Beach and seafront, including Esplanade lighting and the festivals and events service
  • Community Development
  • Clocks and monuments
  • Public toilets
  • Weymouth Museum Collection
  • Civic items, mayoral regalia and twinning responsibilities
  • Town Centre Management

Read the report to see full details of the assets and services being considered.

No decisions yet

 Cllr Alison Reed, Weymouth & Portland Borough Council briefholder for Corporate Affairs and Continuous Improvement said:

“A lot of work has taken place to bring these proposals to the table but no decisions are being made yet.

“The meeting is an opportunity to set out the shape and scale of what we are proposing, and get feedback from the members of the Shadow Town Council as to whether we are heading in the right direction.”

Following the Shadow Town Council meeting on 18 October, the report will then be considered by Weymouth & Portland Borough Council’s Management Committee on Tuesday 30 October.

At this meeting members will be asked to decide if they agree with the overall direction of the proposals. Following this, the proposals will also be considered by the Shadow Dorset Council Executive Committee.

The final decision about which assets and services will transfer to the new town council will be made at Weymouth & Portland Borough Council’s Full Council meeting in January 2019.

The role of the Shadow Town Council

The Shadow Town Council is being established to help guide the process of setting up a new town council for Weymouth.

It is comprised of 29 members of the existing borough council who are ward members for the Weymouth area.

The Shadow Town Council is a committee of Weymouth & Portland Borough Council. It has no decision making powers and as such is only able to comment on the proposals in the report being considered on 18 October.

Meetings of the Shadow Town Council are open to the public to attend.

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Categories: Dorset

School application deadline looming

Wed, 10/10/2018 - 09:47

Parents across Dorset are being reminded that there are only a few weeks left to apply for their child’s secondary or upper school place for September 2019. The deadline is 31 October 2018.

To date, Dorset County Council has received 2,376 applications for secondary/upper schools, but many children have yet to have an application submitted for them.

Councillor Andrew Parry, Cabinet member for Education, Learning and Skills, is encouraging parents to apply:

“It is of paramount importance that any parent wanting their child to be offered a place at a preferred secondary or upper school applies by the 31 October deadline. It is regrettable that any applications received after this date won’t be considered until the late round in February, so please don’t take the risk of leaving it too late.”

The deadline for middle, junior and reception is 15 January.

Information, including an online application form, is available at, or families can call 01305 221060 for an application pack to be sent out in the post.

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Categories: Dorset

West Dorset, Weymouth & Portland Joint Local Plan Review extended

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 16:53

The ‘Preferred Options’ review of the West Dorset, Weymouth & Portland Joint Local Plan has been extended for a further week until 15 October.

Local plan review extended

Residents, business and local organisations are being encouraged to share their views in the consultation.

Technical errors

The consultation has been extended due to some technical issues taking place with our email account on the final day of the original consultation period. This meant a number of responses weren’t able to be submitted.

Cllr Ray Nowak, Weymouth & Portland Borough Councils Briefholder for Environment and Sustainability, said:

“A number of residents have been in contact over the last 24 hours to inform us of the problem and we apologise for any issues that have been experienced. The right thing for us to do is extend the consultation, to allow for these comments to be received.

“We want as many responses to this consultation as possible in order to inform member decision making.”

Further opportunity to have say

 Cllr Ian Gardner, West Dorset District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Planning, said:

“This provides a further opportunity for anyone who may not have found the time to have their say on the ‘Preferred Options’.

“I encourage anyone interested in the future development in the area, to read the proposals and share their views.”

Next steps

The review has received around 900 responses so far. Following the closure of the consultation at midnight on 15 October, Planning Policy Officers will analyse these responses and work up a final draft of the local plan review.  This revised plan will be consulted on in the future.

Have your say

Have a look through the proposals set out in our ‘Preferred Options’ document.

Following this, send us your comments through our consultation form online, by email or post.

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Categories: Dorset

Dorset County Council proposes new relationship with schools

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 16:01

Dorset County Council has set out proposals in a paper going to Cabinet on 17 October for a redefined relationship between the council and schools and academies across Dorset.

The aim of the proposals is to bring about school improvement through the creation of a new Dorset School Improvement Board (DSIB) together with a system of school clusters. The DSIB would be an independently chaired, school-led, voluntary body representing both academies and maintained schools. The Local Authority would act as a key advisor to the board, rather than leading it.

These proposals outline a school-led system where the council would operate as a partnership broker and facilitator. The council’s school improvement service would continue to monitor all schools, but do less to ‘fix’ schools directly. The vision is for the schools themselves to do this whilst the school improvement team concentrates on developing partnerships and evaluating and feeding back on the success of activity resulting from decisions made at the DSIB.

This approach has been proven to significantly improve school performance in other areas of the country and is supported by many local headteachers.

Below the DSIB would sit clusters of schools, grouped by geographical area. These clusters would encourage collaboration and the spread of good practice, helping to improve lower-performing schools.

The proposal also earmarks an initial grant of £100k for the Strategic School Improvement Fund to support the new arrangements.

Initial consultation with schools on these proposals took place in July and September, and, subject to Cabinet approval, further consultation will take place with headteachers and schools over coming months to add detail to the proposals. If approved, the new structure would come into effect from 1 April 2019.

Cllr Andrew Parry, Cabinet member for Economic Growth, Education, Learning and Skills, said:

“This proposed approach recognises the excellent work that is already going on in schools and between schools. The aim is to strengthen the partnership working between schools, giving them greater autonomy to share ideas and methods across all schools. We anticipate that this will help improve school performance across the county. The council is keen to facilitate and support these arrangements.”

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Categories: Dorset

New visitor area on Black Down

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 10:02

A new car park and picnic area have been officially opened at Black Down, close to Hardy’s monument.

Black Down is the highest point on the South Dorset Ridgeway. Its height gives visitors excellent views over the Jurassic Coast and Portland. It is also a haven for local wildlife including the Nightjar and Raven.

It has an excellent network of walking trails across open heath and through woodland. And it’s a favourite with dogwalkers and ramblers.

Dorset County Council, who own the land and Dorset AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) have created a new visitor area, including parking, new paths and sculpture with the help of grants from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Arts Council England.

Thanks to National Lottery players, HLF has invested over £1.8m in the South Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Partnership.

Stephen Boyce, Chair of the HLF South West Regional Committee:

“This new visitor area is a great example of the difference National Lottery players can make. I am very pleased to see the approach taken by the South Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Partnership in bringing better access to this remarkable landscape together with opportunities for art (sculpture) and traditional skills.”

Alongside free parking for 30 cars, there are picnic areas and new surfaced trails that link to existing paths including up to the Hardy Monument. New landscape-inspired sculptures have also been added to this area.

Quote from Cllr Hilary Cox, Chair of Dorset County Council:

“A few years ago I championed the project to obtain Black Down for the benefit of the people of Dorset, as well as the important wildlife that thrives on such rare heathland sites.  I am delighted by what we have achieved in partnership (with Dorset AONB and The Arts Development Company, with support from the National Lottery and Arts Council England.)  and that many more people can enjoy Dorset’s heritage and the wellbeing associated with time outdoors in nature.”

The council’s countryside ranger service is continuing to improve the heathland habitat for wildlife. One way to do this is to use Belted Galloway cattle to graze the land.

See a map of Dorset’s rights of way

Find out more about South Dorset Ridgeway 

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Categories: Dorset

Residents to vote on Askerswell Neighbourhood Plan

Fri, 10/05/2018 - 10:30

Askerswell could have a Neighbourhood Plan if residents give it the go ahead.

Residents set to vote on neighbourhood plan Councillors approve referendum

Councillors agreed at West Dorset District Council’s Strategy Committee on 11 September 2018 to go ahead with the referendum on Askerswell Neighbourhood Plan.

A local referendum will take place on Wednesday 21 November 2018, with local residents going to the polls to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the proposals

The plan was drawn up by local people, and agreed by the Neighbourhood Forum, who felt confident that the plan reflects the hopes and views of the local community.

View the plan

The plan can be viewed online at

Alternatively, it can also be viewed at West Dorset District Council’s South Walks House Office in Dorchester, or Bridport Town Council offices. The Neighbourhood Forum also intend to ensure copies of these documents are available locally.

More say for residents

Neighbourhood plans were introduced in the Localism Act 2011. They aim to give residents more say in the future use of land and buildings in their area. For example the plan can say where new homes, shops or offices might be built. They can also detail where important green spaces might be protected.

If the plan is supported by the local referendum it will be used to make decisions on planning applications.

Cllr Ian Gardner, Planning Portfolio Holder for West Dorset District Council, said:

“Residents of Askerswell now have the opportunity to approve the neighbourhood plan for their area, as modified by the independent examiner.

“Residents will need to ensure that they are on the electoral roll if they intend to vote in the November referendum.”


The referendum will be held on 21 November. You have to be registered to vote by Monday 5 November 2018 to vote in the referendum. You can check if you are registered to vote by emailing calling 01305 838299.

Askerswell residents can vote in person at Askerswell Village Hall. The polling station will be open from 7am to 10pm on 21 November 2018.

To vote by post or proxy in this referendum, you will need to have filled in an application form and sent it to Electoral Registration.  Postal and proxy vote application forms are available online at or by contacting the district council.

Applications to vote by post must be received by 5pm on Tuesday 6 November 2018. To vote by proxy, application forms should be received by 5pm on Tuesday 13 November 2018.


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Categories: Dorset

Fibre broadband brings business to Dorset

Fri, 10/05/2018 - 09:16

A businesswoman says moving to Dorset and switching to full fibre broadband has “changed her life”.

Sue Escott ran her business from an office in Cambridgeshire for 18 years, helping Governments and institutes across the globe prepare for media interviews when making major announcements and publishing the results of scientific research.

She decided to relocate to a village near Dorchester a couple of years ago but couldn’t move the business because fast broadband is essential to her work.

“I run webinars with scientists around the world, internally we share large documents, hold virtual meetings and make all our calls over the internet. This was impossible from home – it used to take three to four hours to upload interviews. It was easier to travel to Cambridge,” said Sue.

The arrival of some of the UK’s fastest broadband in her village has now allowed Sue to drop the 4.5-hour drive to the office and work from home.

The Superfast Dorset programme and its delivery partner Openreach recently brought full fibre broadband to Higher Bockhampton, birthplace of Victorian novelist and poet Thomas Hardy.

Download speeds were previously around 2Mbps (megabits per second), but the new fibre to the premises (FTTP) network can support speeds up to 500 times faster.

Sue, who used to work at the highest levels in Government, has taken an 80Mbps service via internet provider Zen.

She said: “Uploading an interview now takes one to two minutes. It’s fantastic. We have always loved Dorset and being based down here really has changed my life. We have the beautiful location and latest technology . . . it’s the best of both worlds.”

Around 96 per cent of properties in Dorset can already access superfast broadband – download speeds of 24Mbps or more. But to benefit you must contact an internet provider and ask to switch to fibre broadband.

Check fibre broadband availability at your property and see the options if you are outside current plans.

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Categories: Dorset

Dorset’s Children in Care Awards: “Everybody’s an individual and everybody matters”

Thu, 10/04/2018 - 16:07

Dorset County Council has held its annual Children in Care Awards.

The awards celebrate the achievements of foster families, the children they look after and the youngsters who are leaving care.

Over 100 awards were presented at an emotional ceremony at Bryanston School on Saturday 29 September, attended by some 300 people.

Awards included the recognition of birth children who have welcomed foster children into their homes, educational qualifications gained by looked-after young people, and adult carers for their long service and outstanding contribution to fostering.

Councillor Andrew Parry, Cabinet member for education, learning and skills, praised the dedication of foster carers before expressing his pride as a ‘corporate parent’ to the 450 foster children currently in Dorset: “Our aim is to help children in care fulfil their potential and achieve their dreams. We don’t have just one plan for these 450 children – we have 450 plans for them, because everybody’s an individual and everybody matters.”

Director of Children’s Services, Nick Jarman, and Cllr Andrew Parry with Niall and Toby – two of the many wonderful children who help their parents to foster.

Brothers Toby and Niall (pictured) collected a Significant Achievement award on behalf of Michael, a care-leaver who their family fostered. Michael couldn’t attend the award as he is on a placement year in America as part of his Bio-Medical Science degree at the University of the West of England. Michael sent a message to say that being in foster care was “the best thing that ever happened” to him.

Mayor of Dorchester, David Taylor, who himself grew up in care, treated the audience to a ‘floss-off’ with the children. He said: “The inspirational people here today prove what a fantastic environment fostering can be. Their love, joy and commitment to bringing up children to the best of their ability is clear – and they’ve done a fantastic job.”

More foster carers are urgently needed across Dorset to help make a difference to the lives of children in care. If you might be interested in fostering, you can find out more here, or get in touch: 01305 225568 or

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Categories: Dorset

Service 40 has a new operator

Thu, 10/04/2018 - 12:06

Bus service 40 links between Crewkerne and Beaminster and has been run by Dorset County Council since July last year. From Monday 29 October Buses of Somerset will be running this service on an altered timetable.

The new service will provide four return trips per day with the final journey being direct from Yeovil to Beaminster without the need to change buses. There will be no journeys before 9am on this service.

There is a service operated by the schools (Sir John Colfox Academy and Beaminster School) to Yeovil College so students requiring an early start are being advised to contact their student support services for advice. We hope there are opportunities which will arise from the arrangement that is in place.

Cllr Daryl Turner, the county council’s Cabinet member for the natural and built environment, said:

“I am happy to announce this replacement supported service in West Dorset linking Beaminster with Crewkerne for other bus services and rail.

“While it is disappointing that a full timetable is not available, the ability to fund the peak journeys for a few passengers is not possible with the current funding levels.”

There are connections with other services for passengers who wish to travel further. More details and the timetable will be available on website in the coming days.

Find out more about public transport

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Categories: Dorset

Mack Trading cease operation with immediate effect

Wed, 10/03/2018 - 11:50

Mack Trading, who lease and operate the golf course at Moors Valley Country Park and Forest, has ceased trading with immediate effect and as a result the golf course at Moors Valley Country Park is now closed.

The company has appointed receivers to deal with outstanding debt and the golf course is currently closed.

Matti Raudsepp, Strategic Director, Christchurch and East Dorset Councils, said: “The council was made aware of the closure of Mack Trading at 10pm on 2 October.

“We are waiting to hear from the receivers that have been appointed to act on their behalf and currently the golf course is closed.

“We are working to ensure that members of the golf club are made aware that the course is not open.

“It is obviously disappointing to hear this news and we will now consider options for the future running of the golf course.”

Anyone with queries regarding outstanding debt should contact the Insolvency Practitioner at Butcher Woods Ltd, 79 Caroline Street, Birmingham B3 1UP.

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Categories: Dorset

More grants available from Silverlake Fund

Tue, 10/02/2018 - 11:21

A second round of funding is available through the Silverlake Conservation and Community Fund.

Second round of grant funding from Silverlake Development

The fund was launched in April this year for the parished areas of Warmwell, Crossways, Knightsford, Owermoigne, Puddletown, Moreton, Broadmayne, Winfrith Newburgh and Woodsford.

The fund has been developed by West Dorset District Council, Dorset County Council Natural Environment Team and Habitat First Group.

The Conservation and Community Fund can be used for projects to benefit habitats and wildlife found in Silverlake and the local area. It can also be used for projects to reduce vehicle use in the area through promoting the natural environment – such as bike paths, walking routes.

School benefitting

Already, the fund has benefitted Broadmayne School. They have put plans in place to utilise almost £1,000 of grant funding for their outdoor development project.

The school have earmarked an area of their field to become a wild meadow to encourage bugs and butterflies for students to study.

They will also be installing new planters and a trellis, and have plans to plant bulbs over a ‘gardening weekend’.

Cllr Ian Gardner, West Dorset District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Planning, said:

“I am pleased that this funding is providing benefits to the area through Broadmayne School’s outdoor development project, a great initiative for interactive learning.

“This next round of funding is the ideal is an ideal opportunity for local community groups and organisations make a positive change and enhance the natural environment.”

Applying for funding

Applications for funding can be made during April and October each year. This round will last from 3 October to 31 October.

The Conservation and Community Fund currently stands at just over £18,000. It will increase as the number of properties within Silverlake increases.

Applicants can apply for up to £5,000 per year from the fund.

Those wishing to apply for funding will need to complete and submit an application form by 5pm on Wednesday 31 October. The applications will then be considered by Dorset County Council Natural Environment Team, West Dorset District Council, Habitat First Group, and relevant ward members before awards are made later in the year.

Guidance on the application and assessment process has been prepared together with an application form, visit

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Categories: Dorset