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Dorset Jurassic Skyline attraction comes down

Deconstruction work has started on the Jurassic Skyline tower in Weymouth.
Since it was built in 2012, almost three quarters of a million people have taken a ride on the Jurassic Skyline to enjoy  panoramic views of the Dorset coast and landscape.

But with declining visitor numbers in recent years,the operator Merlin Entertainments said that the £3.5 million Weymouth attraction is no longer financially viable, so it's been sold to an overseas company. 

Two years ago a mechanical failure resulted in 14 people including an 11 week old baby getting stuck for several hours in the rotating gondola at the top of the tower. The group was winched to safety by a rescue helicopter.

The permanent closure of the Jurassic Skyline was announced in August this year. Residents and visitors have expressed mixed feelings to BBC Radio Solent reporter Laurence Herdman about its demise.

The site will be cleared and made suitable for car parking. Depending on winter weather interruptions work is expected to be completed by the end of February 2020. Weymouth peninsula will remain open throughout the work with alternative pedestrian access put in place as necessary.

South West unemployment lower than UK average

BBC Business News

South West unemployment figures
BBC

Some 2.6% of “economically active” people - those aged over 16 - in the South West of England were unemployed in the three months to September, latest figures show.

The figure is lower than the UK figure of 3.8%.

However, UK wage growth has slowed and the figures showed the biggest annual drop in job vacancies in nearly 10 years, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS said this was down to falling numbers of people working in retail, after the collapse of several store chains and the implementation of shop closure programmes by other firms.

Ninebarrow in Dorset

Clare Balding walks with folk duo Ninebarrow in Dorset.
Clare walks with Jon Whitley  and James (Jay) La Bouchardiere, two childhood friends born and bred in Dorset who moved back there after university and began playing folk music.   Jon’s father had run a folk club so it was in his blood so to speak as is the Dorset countryside.
When they started writing songs it was a natural process to incorporate the landscape and folklore of the county and this eventually led to them producing a book of the walks that they have enjoyed and written songs about.  They perform as a duo called Ninebarrow, a hill near Corfe Castle.
They’re walking one of their favourite and oldest walks of coastline, a circular walk beginning and ending in Worth Matravers. OS Ref SY 974 777

Producer: Maggie Ayre

£1.8m EuroMillions ticket unclaimed in Dorset

The search is on to find the owner of an unclaimed £1.8m EuroMillions ticket bought in Dorset.

The prize-winning ticket was drawn on 4 October. It has five matching numbers plus one Lucky Star paying out a total of £1,844,973.60 but no-one has come forward.

The ticket holder has until 1 April to claim their prize otherwise it will be donated to the lottery's good causes fund.

Chain ferry on track for return

It's been a long wait, but users of the Sandbanks ferry have been told the service is on track to return at the end of the month.

The ferry, which crosses the mouth of Poole Harbour, was taken out of service on 12 July after its drive shaft broke.

But it looks like it will back up and running in the next few weeks...

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Lines reopen but delays to last a while yet

Some lines have now reopened after a signalling problem between Brockenhurst and Weymouth.

But South Western Railway has warned delays are still likely to last for the rest of the day.

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Train problems to last 'until the end of the day'

There's not good news for people affected by signalling problems between Brockenhurst and Weymouth...

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Train delays due to signalling problem

Rail passengers are being warned of delays until 14:00 due to a signalling problem at Brockenhurst Station.

Commuters have reported services being delayed by up to an hour.

We've also been told of a power cut affecting Poole station.

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Dorset Police uplift welcome but concern over recruitment

Chief Constable James Vaughan:"We will struggle to get the people with skills needed".
Dorset Police will receive an extra 50 officers in year one of Operation Uplift programme.

But Chief Constable James Vaughan has told BBC Radio Solent: "one of our challenges going forward will be attracting sufficiently skilled people to come and join Dorset police".

The recruitment target for Dorset Police is 50 new officers as part of year one in the 6,000 national Operation Uplift scheme.
This figure will be in addition to the existing planned recruitment for officers that Dorset Police already had in place.

On Tuesday 8 October 2019 the National Policing Board announced how year one of the Government’s officer uplift programme would be allocated across all of the forces in England and Wales.

Chief Constable James Vaughan said: “This is a good start and it will bring a welcome relief to our stretched workforce. 
“These much needed extra officers are great news for the communities that we serve in Dorset. I would like to reassure them that the new officers will be carefully invested for maximum effect and we have already developed firm plans to recruit these officers. “The extra officers will assist the Force in moving from good to outstanding in the way we deliver services.”

Dorset makes up just under one per cent of the national policing budget, and is the third lowest funded police force in the country.

Speaking to BBC Radio Solent the Chief Constable said: "Police officers' starting pay is quite low - we will give them a free degree over three years and once qualified their salary moves to a fairly reasonable level fairly quickly, but the starting salary is quite low and I worry that will put off people, particularly older people from coming into policing."

The uplift numbers for both year two and year three of the scheme are yet to be confirmed.

Dorset Labour councillor quits the party

One of Labour's two councillors on Dorset Council has announced she is leaving the party, attacking the national leadership.

Kate Wheller was elected to the new unitary authority for the Rodwell and Wyke ward in May.

In a statement posted on social media, she said she would continue as an independent without "the distraction of national and local politicking".

"I can no longer stand by and watch when at national level the party obfuscates while the future of Britain lies in the balance and cries out for strong, principled leadership," she said.

Kate Wheller
Dorset Council

Dorset Council care leavers exempt from council tax

Council tax bill
PA Media

Dorset Council has become the latest authority to make care leavers exempt from council tax until the age of 25 or eligible for a discount if they live with someone.

It follows a campaign by The Children's Society who say care leavers can struggle with finances because they often lack the same support networks as other young people.

The charity said more than 100 councils in England had signed up to the scheme, including Basingstoke, Isle of Wight, Mole Valley, Portsmouth, Slough, Southampton, Windsor & Maidenhead, Wokingham and West Oxfordshire.

Dorset Council said it was responsible for 225 care leavers aged between 18 and 25. It said about 104 lived in Dorset, meaning the scheme would cost the authority about £46,500 a year.

It will be applied from April 2020.

Ambulance crews to be given body cameras

South Western Ambulance Service staff are to wear bodycams for a trial period.

It's hoped it will reduce the number of crews being assaulted and abused.

Staff will start wearing the cameras for three months from next month.

There were more than 1,000 incidents of violent or aggressive behaviour towards staff in the South West in a year.

Ambulance
BBC

GWR offers alternative trains after Thomas Cook collapse

Andrew Segal

BBC South West

GWR passengers affected by the collapse of Thomas Cook can use alternative services on its routes, the South West and West of England rail operator says.

Bosses said those "unable to make their booked train will be permitted to travel on the next suitable service by providing reasonable evidence of a Thomas Cook booking".

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Meanwhile, the rail operator is calling out to Thomas Cook employees, saying it "would love to hear" from those affected as part of moves to recruit new staff.

The tour operator's failure puts 22,000 jobs at risk worldwide, including 9,000 in the UK.

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Dorset's Miss World Ann Sidney

Fond memories from a Poole hairdresser who became Miss UK and Miss World in 1964.
Dorset chef says women could solve the curry crisis
Dorset chef Sarah Ali Choudhury wants to encourage more women to work in Indian restaurants.

South West unemployment drops 2.5%

BBC Business News

Unemployment in the South West has continued to fall to a low of less than 2.5%, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The latest 2.4% figure of people aged 16-64 unemployed between May and July 2019 is lower than the UK-wide figure of just under 3.8%.

The official figures also showed earnings nationally grew at an annual pace of 3.8%.

The ONS said rising employment was being driven mainly by more women in work, partly due to the rise in the state pension age.

South West unemployment
BBC