It is so good to be part of the team looking at planning for health and wellbeing, community engagement, emergency resilience, and public health for Dorset and so many other services you need from me and the Dorset County Council
The focus for public health is to promote early help and prevention. What can we do working with others to prevent people from having medical and mental health issues? To address loneliness, obesity, health issues as a result of poor housing, poverty, neglect? Many people suffer from these and we should be able to help at an early stage rather than let people continue, often not realising, the effect their home environment or daily routine can have negatively on their health in the long term.
Public Health in Dorset has one of the best projects in the country for what is called the Healthy Home project – giving assistance to people whose homes need a little attention to combat cold, slips and trips in the home, damp and condensation – where one lives really determines health of individuals.
Keep Safe – safe isn’t just about combating the obvious as seen by criminal activity. At our Community Safety Partnerships across the County we look at what the professional public services and the voluntary sector can do to help address things like anti social behaviour, alcohol and drug abuse, unhealthy eating, poverty, safety at work. If these issues are not addressed, people’s health is adversely affected in many ways. It can spiral out of control but if spotted early, small changes can make life changing positive outcomes for all.
The work we is in partnership with many – social services, the NHS, police, fire & rescue services, youth offending team, schools and local communities – catch the issues early means less need later on when a concern might have gone unchecked.
Natural Environment – we have the most wonderful natural environment – our countryside. We are focusing what we can do to help people get out and about and enjoy it, whether by helping others take walks, get to work or school, being outside is proven to be far more beneficial to physical and mental health than most other activities.
It has been too long since my update of this page. I have been tweeting, but realise that not everyone is on Twitter, it is easy, and you don’t need to tweet to join but I realise that a blog type website can be easier for some.
I have a load of information to give, which I give at local parish council meetings, via email to those who want it, but will really try to provide a monthly update here. I am going to do this from now on.
This week so far has included planning a pan Dorset meeting bringing all partners together in July to address road traffic accidents and what we can do to prevent, this means working with the police, highways, consequences for the health service, fire and rescue and local communities. There is really good work being targeted at trying to educate drivers and prevent the very tragic consequences of a road accident, for the many reasons they come about.
Parish council meetings, locally, they are so important, and I attend to address local concerns and provide information about the county council.
Today I was at a meeting that was attended by children’s services professionals talking and providing really positive action points to help target the right service to families, that they need.
Community safety, I am part of the team looking at the causes of crime, across the whole spectrum. The action that is needed is the key, and I am helping to include the community voice of concern and so importantly what is needed to help address that.
Transport, of all kinds. This I raised in conjunction with a discussion with the CCG and the Clinical Services Review consultation which you will be asked to play a part in August. Watch out for it, the proposals will be important for you to respond to. My point was that it would be great to have primary and secondary services locally based, but transport needs to be included. And for maternity, paediatrics services, think again and consult on any changes from Dorchester Hospital. I am pleased that the response from the review is the consultation questions are still to be determined and that the team will talk to DCC about travel and rural accessibility.
Thank you to Val Pitt Rivers, Lord Lieutenant of Dorset, for all the work you do for young people in particular, and for everyone in Dorset, your New Year Honour is no surprise, so deserved. Rebecca Knox
It’s been a busy month with many Cabinet meetings and those in between where detailed discussions take place to look line by line into the budgets and consider what Dorset really needs for all.
I have been to meetings about road safety, including also the celebration of Streetwise and Safewise with the leading partners. Attending the Dorset Fire and Rescue Princes Trust Team award days and the DFRS SPARC course for young people events is a real reminder of the continued need to help young people as much as possible.
I give parish council updates and I hope to reflect this on each village/parish spot on this site.
I have also been made a national lead on the group looking at the next communications system for the blue light emergency services, so they are all linked up.
Broadband continues to be the hot topic and the key for our rural economy. There is so much support locally and from Oliver Letwin MP – the update on the front page shows continued progress.
19 November 2013
It’s been a really busy time at DCC in my role as Cabinet lead on Children’s Safeguarding and Families. Prioritising is so hard, since all issues associated with the protection of children, helping families when they need it, ensuring that children in care are given the life changing experiences they should have. A difficult one coming up is how to ensure that what is called Universal Services for Children and Families, which include Children Centres and Youth Services, are really aimed at those who really need that support – we have a fantastic service in Dorset, and my role is to ensure it reaches those that really need it. Helping families at the very early stages of when they just need that is what we need to do. In official speak it is called “Early Intervention”. In our language it is help such as giving those who have children or look after young people a bit of support in getting them to school, helping them get back to work at the same time, for instance, when finances in the family are stretched.
Wearing my Chairman of the Dorset Fire Authority hat, the Fire Service is a lead in showing how early intervention and education about how to protect your home or business place can reduce fires. If these measures about fire prevention are in place, it so helps. The Dorset Fire and Rescue Service works with young people to educate them not only about the safety at home message but also on building confidence, working together and giving young people who come on courses with DFRS qualifications which are nationally recognised, confidence and can be life changing.
And at the local level, I do hope you are going to see a big improvement on highways – there are some really good changes being put in place which will help the highways teams work more efficiently – team turns up to inspect, which in the past would mean they inspect and then get a job to mend it later will no longer be the case. Using technology so incidents can be approved on the spot, they can now fix it there and then.
I have now held the cabinet portfolio for children safeguarding and families for nearly five months. It is extremely important and whether we have children, work with children or not we as a community care hugely for young people.
25 June 2013
I am thrilled to be reappointed as Chairman of Dorset Fire Authority – I will continue to work as hard and more for 2013 and beyond.
I posted last week details about helping Dorset Fire and Rescue in your communities. Please see my home page if you would like to know more. It is a truly great scheme and welcomes anyone who would like to help, get experience of working with Dorset Fire & Rescue and carry out a very important role in prevention of fires and promoting home safety.
I have been appointed to the Cabinet of the Dorset County Council – the Cabinet consists of 7 elected Members, each with a specific responsibility. Mine is Children’s Safeguarding and Families, a very challenging role and one that involves some very difficult situations, which need to be addressed on a daily basis. It is quite an honour to be appointed to the DCC Cabinet and will mean that not only do I vote on issues affecting my Portfollio but do so on all other matters at this level. The First Meeting I will be attending of this new County Council will be on Weds 5 June. The Agenda is varied and can be viewed on Dorset For You. I will report back from these meetings since all those decisions affect us all.
View From Beaminster press coverage of the Dorset County Council elections Beaminster 2013 http://www.viewfrompublishing.co.uk/news/1/14
>Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org – I aim to reply within 24hrs
I am the Dorset County Councillor for the Beaminster area and using this site to keep you as updated as possible about what is happening in the community, particularly the issues being addressed by DCC and what I am doing to progress those you need doing.
I grew up at Pilsdon, and got involved locally at an early age because I just want to get things fixed and sorted – I have come across a great deal of red tape which is what I found frustrating when I was not a County Councillor and it is this I am helping to sort out, so that we all get done what is needed, saving money, doing what you want but at the same time recognising that within each community there are different issues that need looking at and have different priorities. Rules that cover the whole should be adapted to suit local areas and they do not have to cost more, actually around our area, they can often cost less if looked at by local people.
Being a County Councillor is not just about sitting in meetings, though I spend a lot of time in Dorchester putting across your views and mine, which is of saving money, and with what one can do with the money that is there, use it better. As Chairman of the Dorset Fire Authority this has been essential for ensuring our firefighters in Dorset are safe with the best equipment, training and for you, that there is a fire service in your community.
I of course help at and with events, projects and causes: helping park cars and being on the gate at the Forde Abbey Summer Fair for Marie Curie and RABI (a charity that supports the farming community, locally raised funds stay local). Volunteer at the Beaminster Job Club. Marie Curie Flag Day. Baking bad cakes for many causes; and of course the famous Marie Curie Walk – a wonderful mixture of all sorts of walkers, dogs, which is run by my family and other Marie Curie supporters for it must be 15 years plus.
One of the best things about representing the area and the County is that I can combine my love of walking and exploring with looking at the various issues that arise on our footpaths, bridleways, lanes. You will spot me all over in the landrover photographing things that need seeing to. My husband often comes with me to look at a site that is being applied for extention of a footpath, or turned into a bridleway. There are hundreds and hundreds of miles of rights of way, which is great for us all, but need to be kept in order.
My biggest photo album is of pot holes and damage to verges, this should not be the case and with over 2000 reported every month, there is a huge backlog that need sorting out quickly.
Those I help and have helped locally include RABI, Marie Curie, Beaminster Job Club, NFU and CLA, Melplash Agricultural Show, Broadwindsor Community Shop, Beaminster Festival, Beaminster Businesses and the Beaminster & District Chamber of Trade, Friends of Broadwindsor Common Water Lane, Beaminster Sports Group, and of course the Beaminster Festival.
More recently I have joined the Board of Trustees of the Airborne Initiative – this has “set-up shop” on Dartmoor to provide 5 day courses as an alternative to custody for young offenders between the ages of 16 and 20. See more on www.airborneinitiative.org
There are fantistic people working for the County Council, many helping in our area, they live here and help – brilliant, I thank them all. But I also thank you all for helping me and them to try and get a better service that suits us here. That is what local government is about.
Dorset County Council has saved £45m over two years and need to find the same again over the next two years. I think that this challenge is a good challenge – less money but there are ways to do things differently with less money, do it differently to achieve all the jobs the County does, sometimes with local involvement – no policy at this local level fits all areas of the County – for us, we need very different services at times to other areas of the County. So Dorset County Council might come out with a blanket policy decision – my take is that it needs to be nudged to fit us in rural West Dorset. My viewpoint so far is working.
The official positions I do at Dorset County Council include:
Chairman of the Dorset Fire Authority – oversees the governance, structure and lobbies for funding for Dorset local fire fighter service. Prevention is key – smoke alarms save lives. I am on a national policy panel which is seeking to change national legislation so that sprinklers are fitted in all buildings particularly schools and buildings of multiple occupation as a start.
Vice Chairman of the Roads and Rights of Way Committee – a quasi legal committee which makes decisions on change to rights of way; new traffic management schemes…On this one I am campaigning to change the national legislation which is currently meaning that cases take years due to the red tape; requests from parishes and communities recieve a NO due to national legislation which actually should be decided locally and perhaps funded locally where wanted like speed limit requests and road restrictions.
Vice Chairman of the Environment Overview Committee – this one looks in detail at what the Highways Department does and includes also waste, rights of way, transport – it’s a good committee to be on since I can question policy changes and urge for changes which for some areas would mean speed limit issues, the winter service, the way that road issues are covered.
Chairman of the Policy Development Panel on Community Led Highway Improvements – due to the financial constraints, many things that towns, villages and residents want mending or adding to in their areas are put on a list which might not be done since priorities are for spending the money things that are urgent. This can be frustrating and so this panel has looked at how, if local communities want to, they can begin to do things themselves. It’s currently being implemented and so far I have had a good response – yes, in a perfect world it would be good if the highways department did everything, but some things are just not possible. More details will follow but I hope that if for instance a village wants a finger post fixed, they might not have to wait on a long list but can get on and do it. Safety of course is paramount if anyone is working on a road so there are levels of safety measures. Talk to me if you want something done or better still contact your local parish or town council.
- Chairman, Policy Development Panel on Sponsorship opportunities (aiming to make revenue for DCC to offset costs of highway improvements and others)
- Member of the Dorset Local Access Forum
- Chairman Policy Development Panel on Joint Use for Community Sport and Leisure Facilities
- Member Policy Development Panel on Libraries
- Co Chairman of the Forum for Equality and Diversity
More to be updated………