Independence and the Proposal to Combine Unitary Authorities

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The Society of Poole Men is not a political organisation but is fiercely protective of Poole, its history, heritage and anything that threatens the progress and well being of these things. The proposal to combine Poole with our neighbours, either in a combination with Bournemouth, Christchurch or Dorset as a whole, potentially threatens the independence that Poole has enjoyed since 1248. Irrespective of any of the proposals, it is considered that a Parish Council approach to Poole and its Borough will be essential in order to retain an adequate measure of accountable independence.

In a modern society where we look after the less fortunate, we need to maintain our space and the services to the people within it. Running out of money, cutting back on social services and the functions of what makes Poole so good will, it is considered, be the greatest threat to Poole’s future. However, if the only driver in the question are the financials then it is totally inappropriate to consult with the people until the financials are available – what are we really being consulted on, surely if money was not the issue we wouldn’t change what we have?

Poole is a wonderful place to live, we have much to be proud of and much which we overlook until it is threatened. Poole Borough has a population density half of that of Bournemouth, 3 of the top residential post codes, 3 golf courses, 7 yacht clubs, the busiest commercial port between Southampton and Bristol, one of the most respected arts venues outside London, a top university campus and a strong manufacturing base (15% of employees in Poole work in manufacturing, against the national average of 8%). Yet why do we feel threatened by the proposed changes?

Globalization means standardization, mergers can turn into mediocrity with decision makers distanced from the people who are influenced by their decisions. Perhaps there is a concern because the people of Poole value local decision making and people of Poole making decisions for Poole. Poole has been independent for centuries, much of its character is centred upon our buildings which date from medieval times and our open spaces, these will be required to be preserved and conserved going forward.

Poole is not Bournemouth, our planning department has a different inclusive approach to the development of the town, will this be removed? Will the people of Poole have to accept twice the density of development? Will we have adequate access to the people who will make the local decisions? None of the documentation released to date adequately addresses these concerns as indeed it is the level of local control and accountability which is at the heart of the debate. How can Poole’s unique identity, rich history and heritage be retained within a distanced detached decision making authority? If it can be clarified what decisions can be made locally and how the identity of Poole can be retained, then we can see the way forward.

At the Society of Poole Men, we applaud the idea of efficiencies, but strongly object to the notion of a faceless detached decision making machine which will dilute Poole and strip it of it’s ability to make local decisions which influence the quality of life in our town, it’s history and heritage. It is therefore proposed that within whatever eventual overall decision making body that Poole ends up within, that Poole be made the equivalent of a Parish Council with powers to control local issues to the benefit of those in the town.

Notes

The Society of Poole Men was founded in 1924 and since then has been saving, supporting and promoting Poole: its history, culture and people. The Society of Poole Men, open to men and women, has been responsible for saving Scaplen’s Court, supporting events such as Beating of the Bounds, and raising money for local charities and other organisations throughout Poole.

Society of Poole Men
18th October 2016

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