Update from Rebecca Knox

Blog From Rebecca, villages around and Beaminster

Many of you will have attended the recent public consultation day event for very draft proposals for housing in and around Beaminster – the event was held by West Dorset District Council (it is now of course part of a tri council agenda) as part of their part 1 public consultation on bringing back the need to explore where sites for new housing might be sited in the area.  The attendance was great from Beaminster and area residents, and all your views will be considered by the WDDC and others but the outcomes and consensus from you is that more affordable housing is what is needed and sites already agreed in the previous plan do allow for much of this, perhaps not all.

The discussion I am having too is about key worker housing, those housing needs for people who work for our social care needs (across all ages), schools (teachers and all those who work in our schools as teaching assistants and for children’s primary care needs for instance, and young people social care), for our GPs, NHS nurses and their families, so that we have housing which suits what a town and local area need to support locally.  Suitable housing also needs to include the desire many in our area would like so they can live independently, we have an aging population and everyone’s needs should be considered.  Young people are looking for that first home, to fit with their employment and future need. It is welcome that at this early point of exploring what is available to work with in terms of land availability, your views are and will be taken into account.  Living independently at later stages in life also needs planning – I and others have listened and we must look at housing which includes living as independently as possible with appropriate care.

These decisions about the most fundamental and important issue for you, your loved ones, starts with where you live and how you connect to work, friends, family, fun and feeling safe.  Connections are key.  Public transport can be key for many and what is being explored by the Dorset County Council is how to make the public transport connections for the Town and villages work best for those who need it.  Why have transport going places you want to go, back to a place empty just because they are labelled for one purpose?  this is changing.  This is already producing great services, more than public ever did – thank you all for getting involved.

There are some really great developments ongoing to make the connections from the more rural areas to the public bus network through community bus links – this has really taken off since subsidised routes were reviewed.  In many areas, not all but I hope we reach all very soon, there is now more choice of how to get from one place to another than ever before, using taxpayers money, your money, more effectively.  What is really welcoming and this has been pushed by me and others, from the authority and from you, is to use that time or capacity of school buses when they are not being used for school transport – this and using the social care mini bus fleet can really enhance the whole transport system approach.

Our NHS health services:  there is a national and therefore Dorset debate going on – the need to integrate social care with GP and the NHS services in Dorset and importantly for those of us in West Dorset, Beaminster and the local area, how to ensure local delivery of primary, and acute health services continue.  As far as I am aware our local GP practices are with you and hugely value your support of the services they provide (CCG aside at this point) and what the local authority which provides social care wants to do is to work with GPs, community based services build this even more so that locality based early help, primary care and much more is available as close to home as possible.  There has recently been a consultation by what is the Clinical Commissioning Group called the Clinical Services Review which provoked a suggestion about the future of our GP surgeries.  You or your neighbours or your local Councillor, Me, do not accept the scaremongering suggestions.  I am really working hard to support that local delivery, it could include so much more too with more investment in early help and prevention working with social care.

Schools are key to this, for  long term health and wellbeing, safety and prosperity for our local communities.   We have the most outstanding reputation in Dorset, and particularly in and around Beaminster, for the best start in life for young people.  Families move here because we have a fantastic school education system.  The connections through the school “pyramid” – the working together between nursery, primary and secondary schools is fantastic providing choice of study at secondary schools ultimately (look at the Beaminster and Colfox connection and Kingston M, Weymouth and Yeovil) , and with primary schools who are all working together, just such great learning, practical and academic.  The staff and governors at our schools are stars (and if you feel you could give anything via being a volunteer to governor, they would all welcome you) because really good schools like we have in the area are down to the Head, the staff, the Governors, the Parents/loved ones and so importantly from what I have seen as a Governor and Councillor role for the Community is listening and learning from the pupils – young people’s views are just invaluable.

We are so very fortunate to live in a wonderfully beautiful area – I have lived here all my life, I value the opportunities it gave me when I was growing up and still do, even more so I look back on the freedom I had and do have now to enjoy the incredible beauty of our area but at the same time one that is providing jobs and opportunity for all to live their lives in a place which many as visitors pay to come on their precious breaks from work.   I am going to do a next blog about how our County service for the beautiful area we live in is now doing so much to make it better, not because it has to, but because we are now valuing it all so much more than we did just even 10 years ago.  So much has changed in values, our natural environment is a cure for many things.

We have been assessed, and I know there are some areas I need to work with more on this, as the fastest growing digital economy in the country – we want to live and work here and are starting businesses, working from our beautiful environment, really trying and succeeding to create a rural work place, how great is that but it needs more.

I’m here to help as always.  The way to help is to break down barriers and to build the work together agenda.

Rebecca Knox









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