Wearing my poppy with pride

Armistice Day Town HallIt seems only yesterday that I was installed as Mayor; in fact I am almost at the half-way mark in the Mayoral year, a very active year so far.  We have had over 270 engagements to date! They have been varied and in some cases, very inspirational.

We have met service users with a drug and alcohol dependency unit and I was flattered to be invited back to open a new facility for them. We have seen exhibitions and I have opened new businesses. We have also met a Minister from the Chinese Government and welcomed diverse groups into the Mayor’s Parlour.  I have presided over citizenship ceremonies, and had a fair amount of contact with the Armed Services too, including attending a farewell event for Commodore Jamie Miller of the Royal Navy with a group of people who had worked with him during the 10 years of the Air Festival; I don’t think there was a dry eye by the time the evening ended!

Whilst talking about the Services I am reminded that 11 November is Armistice Day and indeed it is 99 years since the end of the Great War to end all wars.

Wreath memorial

There is one date in the calendar that is particularly important and that is Remembrance Sunday.  I am pleased to say I have not missed one yet and I know my colleagues on the Council also look forward to showing their respect for those who have lost their lives, not just in World War One but in every conflict since.

I will, like the 104 Mayors before me, proudly lead the procession behind the Mace on Sunday 12 November. A parade of Ex-Service Associations, pre-service and youth organisations will be marching through the Town Centre and the Central Gardens to the War Memorial where our youth organisations will be handing out Orders of Service to members of the public. I would encourage you to please come along and watch the service; Bourne Avenue provides an excellent viewing area for both the Service and Parades.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many staff who take part and particularly the team in Democratic Services that organise the morning and make it so easy for us –  even though it is not.

I look forward to wearing my poppy with pride and would like to personally thank Councillor Anne Rey for the work she does for the British Legion to make sure poppy sellers are where they should be and that everyone who wants a poppy is able to purchase one.

Another huge part of my role as Mayor of Bournemouth, which I am honoured to be able to do, is to support some of our local charities. This year we have been hosting events and activities to raise money for the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, The Hannah Levy House Trust, Pavilion Dance South-West and the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum.

Christmas Business Come DancingOur next event is ‘Christmas Business Come Dancing’ which takes place on Thursday 14 December in the Pavilion Ballroom. Ten local business individuals will be getting to grips with a dance routine and then performing it on the night! It should be a great evening and I am thoroughly looking forward to it. You can find out more about it, and all our other fundraising events on The Mayor of Bournemouth Charity Appeal Facebook page. I hope to see some of you there!

Councillor Lawrence Williams, The Mayor of Bournemouth

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Bournemouth: the place we love and call home

Autumn is upon us. Chilly mornings are bringing crisp, clear skies and amber leaves are tinting the tree lined streets of Bournemouth.  Hats and gloves are starting to appear on brisk walks taken along the seafront and the River Stour, our beautiful parks and green spaces are awash with changing colours, and dare I say it, festive touches are being sprinkled in shop windows.

Everybody wants to live, work and visit nice places, but few people understand what it takes to get them looking and feeling that way.  That’s where the Economic Development and Sustainability team come in.  We’re working to improve the environmental performance and overall sustainability of both the council and of the whole town, capturing hearts and minds and creating financial value while we’re at it.

We recently published the Green Credentials Report that highlights the key activities council departments are undertaking to save money, reduce carbon emissions, protect frontline services and improve our resilience to climate change.  Most importantly, the report announces that thanks to the fantastic work of staff across the organisation, Bournemouth Council has hit its operational carbon reduction target of 34% three years early and proposes a new target of 42% by 2020. This work to date has created a saving of £990,000 – a figure not to be sniffed at.

Bournemouth has also, for the second year running, become one of only three UK locations to be certified as ‘compliant’ under the global Compact of Mayors scheme, along with London and Manchester.  This is the highest standard for Compact of Mayors members and represents our contribution towards combined savings commitments of nearly one billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually by 2030.

It’s our vision that through all of this work, Bournemouth will become internationally recognised as a Green Economy Leader – a place to live, work and visit that is at the cutting edge of environmental performance and uses its sustainability credentials to attract business talent and inward investment.  We’re working with businesses, local communities and other council departments to safeguard our amazing and unique environment and create the best version of Bournemouth possible.

So how can you help? Well, for starters, switch your tea, coffee, sugar and snacks to Fairtrade – it’s really easy to do and generally won’t cost you any more money.  You’ll be supporting producers and sustainable farming practices across the world, plus eating lots of really tasty things which will help Bournemouth remain a Fairtrade Town.

Next, you could think about the way you travel and if you could switch a journey to a more sustainable mode of transport; reduce the amount of waste you produce and recycle more; and have a go at home composting (the Council offers a discount on home composters).

Lastly, check if you qualify for our latest energy saving scheme (LEAP) which can help you save cash and carbon at home.

Roxanne King

Environmental Strategy and Sustainability Officer

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Boscombe: an alternative point of view

Boscombe signWhat do you think when you think of Boscombe? Some would have you believe it’s an awful place, riddled with crime. WRONG. It’s a vibrant, thriving, up-coming community that recently lost power, but never their spirit. It is extremely heart-warming to hear stories from the residents about how they’ve opened their homes to one another through the well reported power surge that meant a loss of electricity for two days

Staff from SSE (the electricity company), local landlords, councillors, myself and many of my colleagues were ‘all hands on deck’ to get things back to normal for the residents. Meanwhile, the residents rallied round to help one another. From a bacon sandwich to a shower, it was all on offer. I question whether you would get the same community response elsewhere.

This isn’t the Boscombe that the wider public see, and that’s a real shame. Boscombe Regeneration and the creation of Operation Galaxy has been a real turning point in my eyes.

In the last 18 months, we have rehoused nearly 20 people from unsuitable accommodation, or where they needed a little more support. We have inspected hundreds of units of accommodation and improved the housing conditions for over 600 households. We’ve also made over 150 referrals into agencies that offer everything from weight management to mental health support to financial advice. This work is with the help and assistance of local landlords and other council teams, who work with us to better the lives of the people living in Boscombe.

As for drugs and crime, it is not tolerated. It’s as simple as that. The partnership work in Boscombe between the anti-social behaviour team, the police and Operation Galaxy is recognised across the borough as best practice – it is effective and there really is a zero-tolerance approach. The team works extremely hard, and I for one see the difference it makes. We even won an award for our efforts last year!

On Thursday we invited the Daily Echo for a walk around to showcase the ongoing work and introduce them to a key lead resident who, alongside his neighbours, is encouraging this brighter side of Boscombe that we want to see. A really positive article has come out of that, so thank you Alex Winter. It is nice to showcase the other side.

Do you know the names of your neighbours? Do you speak to them in the street? Do you get together to sweep leaves or create a community allotment? Here we do. Churchill Gardens has been nominated for a national award off the back of this hard work, something the local residents should be very proud of.

Churchill Gardens is also nominated for UK’s Best Park! Please show your support, come and visit the park and vote now! Voting closes on Friday 3rd November.

Sophie Ricketts

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My job is like a dating agency!


Did you know that a young person who has had four or more workplace encounters is 86% less likely to be unemployed or not in education or training? That’s why my job is to increase and improve work experience opportunities for young people in Bournemouth and Poole.

As Enterprise Coordinator, my challenge is to connect schools with senior business leaders (Enterprise Advisers) who will help inform careers strategy and planning, and provide students with meaningful experiences of the workplace.

We want every student to have at least four workplace encounters, and to have career education from the age of seven. We want to guide and support schools in Dorset and embed an ethos that celebrates career and enterprise opportunities and places them at the heart of schools.

Any new job involves challenges and this one had a nearly blank piece of paper, schools enthusiastic to be involved and 25 Enterprise Advisers to be found.  Visiting businesses and speaking about this role is a passion seated in the belief that “every child should have the opportunity to meet with employers and have workplace experiences”.  This view is commonly shared by the number of people who have volunteered as Enterprise Advisers already.

Six months into the challenge and how many dots have been joined?  Well, all Bournemouth and Poole schools are enthusiastic about the programme, including our special schools and Bournemouth and Poole College. Connections have been made with 20 strategic business leaders willing to provide support.

My daily job is never the same and ranges from meeting businesses, recruiting Enterprise Advisers, visiting schools, making connections with people, and making lots of phone calls!

Inquisitive questions are welcomed and these range from:

Are business organisations supportive?  Yes, very.  They want to be more connected to schools and want an employment feed that supports their needs.  However, this is about people who volunteer their time, commitment and energy to leverage career provision in schools.

Why do people who are already busy volunteer?  Different people have different reasons: “I want to give something back”, “I am working in an organisation and love my job but want to be more connected to people”, “My career education was poor and I want to make a difference to others”.

Is your job like a dating agency?  Yes!  I am trying to connect people; to get the best possible match to ensure that schools have the right kind of support to meet their needs.

The next few months will see schools being connected to their Enterprise Adviser and a tailored plan being developed for each school.

I want it to be easy for schools and colleges to be connected to employers and the best providers of career activities and programmes.

More information about the Career and Enterprise Network can be found on the Dorset LEP website.

If you would like to know more about becoming an Enterprise Advisor or how you can help please do contact me at catherine.beater@bournemouth.gov.uk

Catherine Beater

Enterprise Coordinator

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It’s National Adoption Week

Last week, I had a phone call from an adopted adult, with whom I had last had contact in 1996! At the time, I helped her to access the original records about her adoption and acted as an intermediary when she made contact with her birth mother. She had tracked me down through several office moves because she now wants to try to find her birth father.

I started with this story to illustrate that adoption doesn’t just stop when a court makes an Adoption Order on a child but carries on and affects many different people over the years. Here in Aspire Adoption, we support anyone in the Bournemouth, Dorset or Poole area and sometimes further afield whose lives have been touched by adoption – children who need adoptive families, children who have been adopted, those children when they become adults, anyone thinking about adopting, anyone who has adopted, and birth parents and other relatives whose children have been adopted. Think about your own family, friends and work colleagues, and I can bet there will be people you know whose lives have some link back to adoption.

Aspire Adoption went live as a Regional Adoption Agency on 1st July this year, after many months of planning. We have joined together the adoption services formerly provided by Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole councils into one agency, Aspire Adoption. We had a brilliant formal launch on 18 July, at which Jamie Baulch, sprint athlete and silver medallist at the 1996 Olympic Games, came to share his stories, not only about his athletics career but about his adoption as a baby, his adoptive family and his eventual decision to search for his birth mother:

I’ve never been interested in finding out who my mother was, although I always knew I was adopted. My parents Alan and Marilyn have been marvellous and my two sisters and brother too. I’ve had the best possible life with them…but when you get older, you suddenly realise how important life is, how precious it is, and I wanted to find out about where I came from… I really, really wanted to say thank you to Teresa for what she’s done, for being so strong, for deciding to have me and then give me up for adoption.

Read more about Jamie’s story and watch the clip from the BBC Wales TV programme which followed him in his emotional search to meet his birth mum, Teresa, shortly before she died from cancer.

Aspire Adoption places children like Jamie, and others who are unable to be brought up within their birth family, for adoption. We assess very carefully anyone who wants to adopt, and match children and adopters together. We make sure we support everyone over the years when things get tough, as they do for all of us bringing up children. This is even more important for adoptive families as many of the children being placed for adoption nowadays will have experienced difficult times before they are placed for adoption and often need extra care and support as they get older. We don’t forget birth relatives either and can provide support through Aspire or through an independent service.

It’s National Adoption Week this week (16 to 22 October). Come and talk to us if you have ever thought of adopting or need support in relation to adoption. Ring us on 0300 123 9868, visit our website at www.aspireadoption.co.uk or email us at enquiries@aspireadoption.co.uk.

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Bournemouth Art Attack: Hydromania!

This week I met with the Reverend Dr Ian Terry, Team Rector of Bournemouth Town Centre Parish and Chair of Trustees of Shelley-Frankenstein Trust.  It was great to hear about the plans for the celebrations in 2018 to mark the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”.

The annual Shelley Frankenstein Festival, coming up in November, was established to celebrate the life and works of the Shelley family, some of whom lived in Bournemouth and many of whom are buried in Bournemouth. Ian and I explored the relevance of the “Frankenstein” themes today – demonising people who are outside the norm and all of us having another, less favourable side of ourselves that we hide from the public.  Quite challenging issues! The festival aims to make the Shelley family relatable to us all and to promote Bournemouth as a Shelley destination internationally. We are proud to be part of the festival planning and look forward to taking part next month.

Our Community Overview and Scrutiny Panel Chair, Councillor Michael Weinhonig, invited Pavilion Dance South West (PDSW) to talk to the panel at their recent meeting about the significant role they play in the arts scene in Bournemouth and across the South West.  PDSW is the National Dance Development organisation for the South West of England.  It was brilliant to hear from Zannah Doan, Chief Executive, about her passion to bring dance to everyone to watch or take part in.  The highlight of their presentation was hearing from Lola and Sally. Lola joined PDSW at 14, has toured the country with her junior dance troupe, won many national awards and now works as front of house as well as being part of the adult dance troupe.  Sally told us she had been dancing every week for the last 6 years, with the Parkinson’s Dance Group – a creative and therapeutic class with movement designed specifically for the symptoms of Parkinson’s.  Sally told her very powerful and moving story about how dancing had not only supported her physically as her Parkinson’s disease progresses but also uplifted her emotionally and spiritually – how amazing is that!  It is fantastic to have such a creative resource right here in the heart of Bournemouth.

Last week, I attended the opening concert in Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s concert season, which leads up to their 125th Anniversary in May 2018. The concert was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 from Lighthouse in Poole raising the profile of the orchestra and our region across the country and throughout Europe. It was a very memorable evening which was attended by people from all walks of life and it reminded me that we have an exceptional cultural offer for residents and visitors alike.

With the Arts by the Sea festival launch on Friday and the festival starting on Saturday, there is something for absolutely everyone. Hydromania has caught my eye – it is set to be a reimagining of the Town Hall with a multi-sensory display of light and sound – fantastic!  Our arts and cultural offer is one of the many reasons our region is thriving and growing and is such a great place to live, work and play.

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Magic, music, mind-reading and meticulous planning

We’re currently surrounded by boxes. Boxes of brochures and posters, craft materials, clipboards and volunteer uniform. Yes, we’re in the final stages before this year’s Arts by the Sea festival begins on Saturday!

As anyone who works in events knows, these things can take a year’s worth of meticulous planning and you’re still trouble-shooting the fine detail right at the last minute. However, with only a few days to go, all the hard work by the Arts, Events and Marketing teams, and our external programmers and technicians is paying off.

We’ve been working on our environmental credentials this year and exploring ways we can make ourselves, our venues, artists, suppliers and audience more environmentally friendly. The artists have been carefully chosen to create an exciting and cohesive programme of events based around this year’s theme ‘Plastic Beach’. Working with amazing partners, collaborators and co-commissioners, the festival will highlight and respond to the global issue of plastics in our oceans, hopefully informing and inspiring our audience.

Of course, the work we exhibit has to be available, suitable for our venues and within budget, so programming starts at least nine months in advance and is a constant juggling act to reach the finished line-up. We also support artists in creating new work to be premiered at the festival and these pieces need a long lead-in time. This year you’ll see an incredible brand-new installation on Bournemouth Pier by our Associate Artist Will Simpson & Toby Wiltshire, and three new works chosen from the fifty applicants to our Open Call for commissions – Turning The Tide, Sol Cinema and The Rockpool.

There is a huge range of diverse and accessible events which will hopefully provide something for everyone. Our opening show Hydromania is a large-scale spectacular taking place outside our own Town Hall and our closing show Sense of Unity will be a beautiful parade from Old Christchurch Road into the Lower Gardens. Opening weekend will see pop-up theatre, sound and light installations, dance, a full music programme on the bandstand, a parade of illuminated umbrellas and a fire laboratory – all in the town centre’s open spaces and all free. During the week, we have an incredible range of ticketed shows at the Shelley Theatre and Pavilion Dance; ‘Like Bjork on 3 tabs of LSD’, ‘A TED Talk on the science of lying’, ‘brutal, wild, beautifully vulnerable live electronica’ describe just some of our shows, covering themes such as politics, identity, magic and mind-reading – and don’t miss our Family Rave at The Old Fire Station on the 21st.

Contracts, risk assessments and insurance documents are flowing in. Site visits have all been completed, all the logistical issues ironed out and technical elements ordered. Volunteers have been recruited and briefed and our festival marketing is now reaching fever pitch; we’re ready to go. See you at Arts by the Sea!

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Casanova, J. Edgar Hoover and Batgirl

What do Casanova, J. Edgar Hoover and Batgirl have in common?

They all worked in libraries. Library use across Bournemouth and Poole is flourishing. We’ll be joining the nation to celebrate the local network of 22 libraries during Libraries Week from 9 to 14 October.

How many visits are made to our libraries each year?

Over 1.6 million, and more than 1.5 million items are borrowed. Library staff answer 350,000 research and information enquiries each year too.

Continue reading

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Keeping the traffic flowing

Recently, I was delighted to meet our Civil Enforcement Team and hear about their work to keep the traffic flowing around Bournemouth. Ian Wilson, Civil Enforcement Manager introduced me to his team and their work and I learnt about some of the challenges faced in delivering this very front line service. The team will soon be wearing body cams to help them in providing evidence when disagreements happen with members of the public which hopefully will be infrequently! Continue reading

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Dedication, compassion and mango sorbet

My recent visits to services have been most uplifting and reminded me of how dedicated and caring all our staff are.

I was delighted to have the opportunity of talking with members of the parks team over breakfast at the Woodpecker Cafe at Queens Park recently. Darren Roser, our new catering manager has an exciting vision for the future for all our cafes in parks to provide a wide variety of visitors and residents with a wonderful place to stop by, enjoy all that our beautiful parks have to offer and even put on a party! Continue reading

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