Letter from the Leader of the Council
I would firstly like to thank those of you who supported Conservative candidates in the May local elections. I would also like to thank anyone who did not support us for taking the time to look at our website. Once elected, Councillors represent all of the people in Poole not just those who voted for them.
Since the May elections Poole’s Conservative Administration has been working in a “No Overall Control” environment (NOC).
The Conservative Group, as the largest party group in council and have formed the Administration, with myself appointed as Council Leader and Cllr. Mike White, appointed Deputy Leader of the Council with a Cabinet of 5 other conservative portfolio holders.
The Liberal Democrat group have formed the Official opposition.
The Liberal democrats hold the majority of overview and scrutiny chairmanships with Cllr. Karen Rampton holding the Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
This arrangement means that most policy review and statutory plans go through the overview and scrutiny process before being brought to Cabinet or Council by the chairman of the appropriate committee.
The iconic Twin Sails Bridge is taking shape. The fabrications started to be delivered from Darlington in the late spring and have been welded and constructed on site. I was present when the decks started to be installed by floating them into position on massive barges and was in awe of the technology and engineering. The construction can be seen from the viewing platform located next to the site at Wilkins Way, off West Quay Road. I would encourage local residents to visit there. A real time film is being made of the construction and installation, it will be held and viewed at Poole Museum on completion. We expect the bridge to open to traffic and the public in early spring and many exciting opportunities are being explored to mark the official opening. Last week it was confirmed to me that BSO’s (Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s) Children’s composer will be sponsored by local business to work with children in Poole schools to compose a piece of music to commemorate the opening of the bridge.
The near completion of the bridge has encouraged land owners and developers to start to come forward with plans and proposals for developments on the regeneration sites. These are being closely monitored by the council and residents groups. Developers are holding exhibitions of their proposals in Poole Town and Hamworthy, supported by the local engagement forums and Cllr Mike White, the deputy leader of the council and the Head of planning and regeneration.
Fantastic new investment has arrived in Poole from Wereldave, They are an international company who have bought Poole’s Dolphin Shopping Centre and are proposing to update Poole’s retail offer in the shopping centre. They were attracted to Poole because of our vibrant dynamic economy and the bridge.
Some key issues that we are facing in Poole are the examination by the Select Committee of the transport network proposed to support the new bridge and infrastructure, the initial hearing on the application for Town & Village Green Status for Baiter and Whitecliff and the conclusion of the Talbot Village Trust public inquiry into the planning application for a mixture of homes and academic space at the university. All of these will be open and accessible to the public and I would encourage interested residents to attend.
We are now entering the vital phase of examining budgets and services for 2012/13 and beyond, there has been a budget simulator exercise on line, which many residents have used, and I will be attending area committees throughout the autumn to discuss and take questions on the budget. Last years budget setting process was fraught because national government implemented necessary austerity cuts in the UK and Poole’s government funding was cut by almost £14m. Poole remains in the bottom 5 English local authorities in terms of government funding
Savings were achieved by cutting staff numbers, services and increasing fees and charges in areas that were discretionary i.e beach hut rental and car park charges. However due to Poole’s above average ageing population and the pressures on social care budgets, Poole also had to review it’s eligibility criteria for accessing social care and some people lost the services they used to receive.
In the next two years Poole has to find an additional £14m of savings and we know that this can’t be achieved by efficiency’s alone and therefore a huge piece of work has been started to review the structure of the council and the services it delivers, to enable these changes to be made at the same time as protecting services for the most vulnerable.
All is not doom and gloom, however. I have talked of the interest in Poole and the confidence potential investors have and Poole’s excellent record or partnership working means that we are judged to be the second safest urban area to live in the UK.
I’m sure you’ve all heard of the forthcoming Localism Bill making it’s journey through parliament. This Bill is very much about engaging with the public and getting people to participate in their communities – helping themselves and each other - at the same time as shaping places for this and future generations. To this end, following the elections, I appointed Councillor Judy Butt, portfolio holder for Public Engagement & Participation and would invite people to participate in any consultations that take place.
Again thank you for your continued support and I hope that you will participate in consultations and surveys that take place.
Information of what is currently happening can be found on both this web site and www.boroughofpoole.com. Conservative councillors are committed to supporting and helping local residents and making tough decisions that need to be made.
Councillor Elaine Atkinson