CHAMBER CALLS FOR VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE IN COUNCILLOR KAREN TIPPINS AND LAUNCHES PETITION FOR HER IMMEDIATE RESIGNATION

Dear Members

Under normal circumstances, we would not comment on events at the Town Council as, clearly, our focus as volunteers is purely on trade and commerce within the town.  However, we do work closely with the Town Council on initiatives and events for the town that are of benefit both to businesses and Shaftesbury’s citizens.  This has become not only possible, but enjoyably so, because the Town Council hired a Business Manager and we are blessed to have Brie Logan as our liaison.  She is a woman of phenomenal energy, commitment and passion for her job, combined with level-headed patience, politeness and an acute understanding of how local government works.  This is absolutely invaluable and has opened many doors for our town, which coupled with the professionalism and experience of our fantastic Town Clerk, Claire Commons, has made for an excellent team. 

We also, on occasion, find ourselves in meetings with Town Councillors when their roles on various committees overlap our ideas.  All Town Councillors are also unpaid volunteers, many of them with full time jobs, so the time and commitment they give, to the best of their ability, is impressive when we all lead such busy lives in the normal course of each day.  In short, some of us at the Chamber have quite a lot to do with our Town Council and we have been very pleased with how our relationship has been developing over the last few years.

All good, you might think, and so it was until a councillor stood down last Autumn and a new councillor was appointed for the East Ward.  Since when, there have been nothing but ructions.

I won’t list every incident, there have been too many, but after months of bullying the Town Clerk with baseless accusations, filing five separate objections about the Neighbourhood Plan directly with Dorset Council, some of which were in the form of defamatory accusations, Cllr Karen Tippins has this week opposed the Town Council’s decision to increase its discretionary emergency funding from £5,000 to £20,000 in order to buy PPE for our frontline workers and carers, her heated comments culminating in her openly abusing fellow councillor Matthew Welch – please click on this link to see and hear her comments 

It is beyond the understanding of any of us how, in this time of national and international crisis, the best efforts of our Town Council should be undermined for what at best seem reasons of ill-judged officiousness and at worst, appear positively vindictive. 

The Council went into action very quickly with efforts to support the town – it set up a volunteering network to aid those members of our community who either through age or an existing condition, need to self-isolate; currently, over 100 volunteers are helping over 280 of our citizens with shopping, prescriptions or other needs, coordinated by Brie and her team.  To this is then added the idea, proposed by Cllr Julian Prichard, to buy PPE for Shaftesbury’s emergency workers, which clearly shows a Council doing its best and using its authority and funding to support their community in its hour of need.  It hardly needs pointing out that we are living through truly extraordinary times.  This gesture in no way suggested that our town was critical of the Government’s efforts; on the contrary, it was perceived as an action that could support our citizens without diverting critical supplies from the main Healthcare procurement organisations.

It seems Cllr Tippins deemed this an incorrect use of public funds as she felt it should be spent on repairs and replacement, not interfering with NHS procurement, even though the supplier of the proposed PPE is not a large supplier that could provide equipment to Health Trusts but a local supplier in Dorset, whose products have been NHS approved.

Cllr Tippins decided to write a letter of complaint to Dorset Healthcare who were, understandably, dismayed at being involved in a disagreement about something they had no knowledge of, even though Cllr Prichard had made it clear that this was his own idea and had nothing to do with Dorset Healthcare.  This has resulted in the very sad resignation of Cllr Prichard as he felt he had to protect his relationship with Dorset Healthcare in his capacity as Chair of the Friends of Westminster Memorial Hospital.  You will all remember that it was Julian who set up and ran the Save Our Beds campaign a few years ago and who has done so much to help maintain a cottage hospital in Shaftesbury.  Whilst we at the Chamber didn’t have any dealings with Cllr Prichard in the course of our work, we are very sad to see the Council lose such a committed, decent and caring person from its committee.  It is a deeply disappointing and troubling turn of events.

We will not offer any thoughts on Cllr Tippins’ motives for undermining the Council to this extent;  it is utterly baffling why anyone, under the guise of volunteering for their community, should be more committed to making such trouble and causing such upset for decent people who are genuinely trying to give of their best.  The purpose of volunteering is to do good, not to engage in protracted campaigns of spite and vengefulness.

Here at the Chamber of Commerce, we felt that our community should be made aware of the damage that is being done to our Council and to say that we cannot sit by and watch it happen; so much fantastic progress has been made in recent years in repairing bridges with the County Council and various local government bodies with whom we MUST have a good relationship, and it would be of considerable detriment to our town, our community and our business community if this was seriously jeopardised by one Councillor.  Shaftesbury Chamber of Commerce want to formally state that our Town Council and Town Clerk have our full support and request a vote of no confidence in Councillor Tippins.

Further, we have all decided that the right course of action is to set up a petition calling for the resignation of Cllr Tippins – please click here to sign it.

We are taking a stand.  It is too easy to sit on the side lines hoping that someone else will sort things out.  Please take a stand with us and support the town you love by sharing this email and the petition details with your colleagues and friends.

Best wishes

Virginia Edwyn-Jones
Chair, Shaftesbury Chamber of Commerce

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Dorset Council have launched the online application form Small Business Grant Fund or Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund. 

The Government recently issued guidance on the Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF) including eligibility, accessing the funding and a likely date for eligible businesses to be receipt of grant monies.

There is more information on the associated but separate business rates holiday scheme here

Guidance issued to local authorities on SBGF and RHLGF

SBGF     Grant    £10,000

RHLGF  Grant    £10,000 or £25,000 per property

To apply use this form:

https://dorset-self.achieveservice.com/service/COVID-19-Grant-Funds

Here is the guide from the Government:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/877301/small-business-grant-and-retail-leisure-hospitality-grant-guidance-for-businesses.pdf

COVID-19: Business support from Dorset Chamber
COVID-19: Business support
These are understandably extremely challenging times for businesses, staff and the wider population in general. We have invested in additional resources to ensure our Dorset Gateway team can signpost you to the full range of support available to businesses, including financial assistance.

We continue to update TwitterLinkedIn and our website with the latest information as it becomes available, including: information on grants, the business interruption loan scheme, support for the self-employed and guidance for managing apprenticeships. follow our updates on social media.
COVID-19 information

COVID-19 Business Impact Survey
We are seeking input from businesses, the self-employed, and charities in Dorset about the impact COVID-19 is having on business operations.

Your feedback will allow us to identify sectors in Dorset which may need financial support or funding assistance so that we can tailor our support in the region. The results we gather will also help us advise the government’s Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as they develop current COVID-19 business support measures, nationally and locally.
Complete the survey

#BidBites: your guide to bid-writing
On Friday 3 April we are hosting a live Q&A webinar, offering free advice on writing award winning funding bids. In preparation for this, the Dorset Gateway’s #BidBites podcast series will bring you daily bid-writing tips aimed at improving your chances of  winning grant funding and helping to inform any questions you might have for our bid writing expert.
Sign up to the #BidBites Live Q&A

Dorset Gateway Funding BlogIn addition to the financial support on offer to businesses around COVID-19, there continues to be a range of other funding available from a range of sources including the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, the Small Business Research Initiative, the Global Challenges Research Fund and others. Dorset Gateway’s fully-funded bid writing support service is available to any Dorset-based business looking for free advice and support to access this funding.
Read our latest funding blog

Working from home – our top tips
Working from home is a concept we’re all familiar with – but how many of us do it on a regular basis? Whether you’re a working from home expert, doing it for the first time or juggling work with family and caring responsibilities, these top tips from our team will help keep you motivated.We’re all working from home and continue to be available to support you through this time – some of us will be working flexible hours but we’ll respond to enquiries as soon as we can.
Our top #wfh tips

OH20: Aquaculture Expo
Earlier this month and before government measures introduced due to  the COVID-19 outbreak we hosted the One Health 2020 Aquaculture Expo was held on 4 March, at Kingston Maurward College.

Over 90 people attended the expo, including representatives from the Department for International Trade, Cefas, aquaculture businesses, researchers and investors.

The expo was the first UK event on aquaculture to discuss the concept of ‘One Health’ which is the interrelation between plant, animal and human health, and is of critical importance to sustainable protein production in aquaculture.

Many local businesses, some of which have already been featured in our #DorsetAquaBitesseries, were able to share their stories, discuss opportunities for the sector and raise the profile of aquaculture in Dorset.

Read more about the expo and watch a video on Aquaculture in Dorset below.

Event summary

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