Category: Dorset

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BCP Council: the beach huts story…

Daniel Parkin

According to the Bournemouth Beach Huts Association, there are some 20,000 private beach huts in the UK and, despite their limited size and lack of home facilities, they have become icons of the British seaside resort. Many beach huts were former fishermen’s huts, boatsheds or converted Georgian or Victorian bathing machines, which looked like beach […]

Ghost gear: meet the heroes cleaning up our ocean’s frontline

Kristy Westlake

With our oceans quickly filling up with plastic and fish stocks dwindling, it’s time to start talking about the massive whale in the room: ghost gear. An enormous environmental problem caused by commercial fishing and fuelled by our ever-growing appetite for seafood. Kristy Westlake talks to some of the heroes on the ocean’s frontline and […]

Ukraine rocks

Gérard Fabrice Guminski

On 24 February 2022, I saw the first footage of Putin’s invasion of a sovereign nation, Ukraine: the beginning of what will be a long journey of suffering for so many innocent civilians. I’m sure we all agree that this conflict doesn’t belong in the 21st century, whether here in Europe or anywhere else in […]

BCP Council’s shopping trolley of doom

Adam Sofianos

Back in May 2021, Boris Johnson’s former guru, Dominic Cummings, painted a scathing picture of the Prime Minister. Describing a culture of U-turns, policy changes and general chaos, he likened Johnson to “a shopping trolley smashing from one side of the aisle to the other”. Since then, Cummings’ tweets and blogs have often referred to […]

BCP Council – the death of scrutiny

Alex Mckinstry

Few BCP Council committees were more highly regarded than the Overview & Scrutiny Board (OSB), which tracked and challenged Cabinet policy, grilled the leadership, and benefited from a truly impartial chairman … Clearly it had to go. It was abolished under a proposal brought by the Council’s deputy leader, Philip Broadhead, on 10 May 2022. […]

Is BCP the most corruptible council in England?

Adam Sofianos

In 2020 the anti-corruption group Transparency International UK published a paper on the potential for corruption in English local authorities. Fifty key councils were assessed on how they manage corruption risks such as lobbying, oversight and conflicts of interest. One council was deemed by far the worst in England: Bournemouth-Christchurch-Poole (BCP). Why was BCP Council […]

Fear and loathing in East Dorset

Adam Sofianos

If you think your local government is chaotic, just take a trip to the Bournemouth-Christchurch-Poole region.  BCP Council was only formed three years ago, but already we’re on our second administration, with possibly another change next year.  There’s been corruption fears, departments in special measures, budget scandals, and major concerns raised about everything from the […]

Dorset Council environmental decisions: moral and economic madness?

Sarah Cowley

Moral and economic madness? That is the charge being laid at the door of Dorset Council, by local environmental activists, who question whether the Council understands the realities of the climate crisis. Just six months ago, the UK hosted the UN Climate Change Conference (‘COP26’) in Glasgow, in November 2021. That conference concluded with a […]

Tory council leader Drew Mellor faces Vote of No Confidence tonight at Bournemouth/Poole/Christchurch Council

@Adam5of

It’s story time:A land politically divided. Run by a controversial Conservative group. Where public services are visibly failing, and accusations of cronyism are growing.No, not the UK. Welcome to the metaphor that is Bournemouth-Christchurch-Poole Council.Let me begin… Tonight sees a vote of no confidence (VONC) in BCP council leader Drew Mellor. It’s the first VONC […]

Fire service cuts: Ashburton area protection downgraded and more to follow

Tony Morris

Fire Authority stealth cuts put lives and property at risk, argues Tony Morris. Just a couple of years after Ashburton residents successfully fought to save their fire station, the Conservative controlled fire & rescue authority has stabbed them in the back. In a secret move, Ashburton’s properly equipped fire engine has been removed and replaced […]

“My small business is in ruins and I see no way out.” An update

Anthea Simmons

More than a year ago we published this article about two small businesses being ruined by Brexit. We now have an update from the second of those profiled – Steve Shovlar. Over to you, Steve. (Oh, and just to explain, ‘Sir’ Steve references the ludicrous award of a knighthood to Gavin Williamson, a serial failure […]

The strange case of the disappearance of Dorset’s wildlife cops

Ian Denton
Dorset wildlife police officer

In late January 2022, Dorset had a strong and healthy wildlife cop presence. Positive messages abounded far and wide…. However, by February 10, there was a severe climate change…. Storm Loder blew in from the west and wrought havoc across the land: By the next day, the wildlife team was unable to communicate further! On […]

Standing with Ukraine

Lucy-Ann Pope
Pro Ukraine banner

I first heard late on Tuesday about the call from the European Movement (EM), for their members and local groups to come to the ‘London stands with Ukraine’ rally and march on Saturday 26 March. They had joined with London mayor Sadiq Khan, who’d asked Londoners to stand in solidarity with Ukraine. Could I attend […]

Latest dire warning from the IPCC report – what are we doing locally to counter climate breakdown?

Belinda Bawden
IPCC report cover

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its latest report this week. The UN secretary general, António Guterres, described it as an “atlas of human suffering”. Alice Bell, co-director at the climate change charity Possible, wrote in the Guardian: “The key findings are bleak, if familiar. Climate breakdown is accelerating rapidly; many of the […]

Chris Loder: more jabbering parrot than soaring eagle

Sadie Parker
white tailed eagle soaring above Isle of Purbeck

“When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber,” Winston Churchill once said of blathering back-bench MPs. An eagle silenced by death in Dorset had erstwhile pork-pie plotter, Chris Loder, now shamefully returned to the back-bench Borstal of Boris-backers, jabbering on social media recently. It is not known how the rare young eagle came […]

Brexit’s impact on Bournemouth

Sarah Cowley
UK and EU flags on jigsaw puzzle pieces, held apart

Perhaps the journalist for Bournemouth Echo had guessed that Jacob Rees-Mogg was about to be handed the ‘exciting’ challenge of proving the advantages of Brexit. None seem to be immediately discernible. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) released a report on 9 February, which revealed that “the only detectable impact so far is increased costs, paperwork […]

Closed minds, broken politics

Barbara Leonard
meme: waiting for Sue Gray

Last week I wrote to my local MP Robert Syms. I explained the great sadness and upset I felt had been caused by the revelations of casual disregard of the Covid rules by those responsible for imposing them. While my family had been prevented from seeing dying relatives and attending funerals, they partied on. Back […]

Raise your voice!

Mick Fletcher

At West Country Voices we like to tell the stories that others in the media don’t. Often, these stories concern issues that the powerful and well-connected are keen to suppress; they involve holding policymakers to account or exposing abuse of office. Recent stories have focused on the threats to our democratic rights and freedoms. They […]

The property price boom that helps the few, not the many

Mick Fletcher
Stags estate agent sign

In 2021 the average price of houses in Taunton increased by 21 per cent: the highest rate of increase in the country. It is a sign of how utterly dysfunctional our housing market has become that this was announced as good news. According to the Daily Mail, for example, “while it was good news for […]

“First homes, not second homes!” MP Luke Pollard is on a mission

Anthea Simmons

Housing. It’s in crisis across the UK but nowhere is that crisis more acute than in the south-west, battered by the perfect storm of beauty, inequality and wealth. It’s not as if we don’t know what damage second, holiday and empty homes do to a community. There’s enough research out there, let alone the daily […]

Ecological confidence trick

Nick Dobbs
Horses standing in field at Highmoor Farm

At the heart of Bournemouth and Poole lies Talbot Heath Nature Reserve – an extraordinary 37-hectare fragment of the once ‘Great Heath’ that stretched uninterrupted from the Purbeck hills to the New Forest. Since 1800, 80 per cent of heathland has been lost worldwide, and today the UK is the custodian of 20 per cent […]

Egyptian artefacts and enchanted arbours at Kingston Lacy

Valery Collins
Illuminated trees at Kingston Lacy

During the medieval period, the grand estate known as Kingston Lacy was part of a royal estate within the manor of Wimborne in Dorset. The manor house stood to the north of the present palazzo, close to a deer park. Supporters of the Crown were allowed to let the estate. After it was sold at […]