The patron Saint of Cann and Melbury Abbas is St Rumbold (Rumwold), a curious Saint who only lived 3 days , dying after delivering a sermon on the Trinity while barely out of the womb.
His memory was besmirched by fraudulent practice.
Boxley Abbey had a famous portrait of the saint. It was small and of a weight so small a child could lift it but at times became so heavy even strong people could not lift it.
According to tradition the attempt to lift the portrait was a test of a woman’s chastity. In practice, those who paid the priest well could lift the portrait with ease, while others could not. Upon the Dissolution of the Monasteries in England, it was discovered that the portrait was held by a wooden pin by an unseen person behind the portrait
Cann and Melbury Abbess, is the parish in which I grew up, on the fringe of Shaftesbury in Dorset. It is now a parish beset with its own controversy over the closure of the C13, otherwise known as the Higher Blandford Road which runs from Shaftesbury to Blandford through Dinah’s Hollow.
Dinah’s Hollow, is a steep section of road that has sunk over centuries into its own gorge. The gorge used to have rocks inserted into its flanks against which the carters would rest their carts as horses recovered. Now it is thought to be collapsing and all kind of structural surveys are being carried out to see how it can continue to carry traffic.
I wont’t go into all the ins and outs of why this road has been closed for nearly a year and is thought may not reopen this side of 2017 as arguments rage over whether the C13 or A350 should be upgraded with money from North Dorset District Council, Dorset County Council and EU grants.
The question that those still living in North Dorset should be asking is why the road upgrade projects proposed for Melbury and Spetisbury some 20 years ago have not happened.
The answer is of course money. The third of the three projects under consideration in the nineties did happen – it improved the by pass around Weymouth in time for the 2012 Olympic Regatta.
So why has a rich county like Dorset no money to see through a project that is so obviously 20 years ago? One answer is that Dorset County Council , like all the other Local Government organisations, has a pension scheme the costs of which are totally out of control.
To manage the budgets of the County Council and the District Councils , the Treasurer has to first put money by to pay pensions to Council staff. This is money that otherwise might be put into what ordinary people would call a “sinking fund” for capital expenditure – expenditure on projects like upgrading the C13.
So when it comes down to it, the people whose lives are worsened by the extra traffic on the A350, people in the villages of Child Okeford, Compton Abbas, Durweston,Fontmell Magna, Iwerne Courtney, Iwerne Minster, Okeford Fitzpaine, Shillingstone, Stourpaine Sutton Waldren and Melbury Abbas, have to pay the price for guaranteeing those who work for the council their pensions.
I am sure that many of the residents of these villages are also pensioners of the local government pension scheme and may be a little sheepish if they were reading this, but the majority aren’t. Those who work on farms , or local businesses or commute into the larger towns of Wimborne, Bournemouth and Poole, may be looking at their council tax bills to understand just where their money is going.
This is the human cost of not getting pensions right. It is simply unfair to have a society that pays wonderful pensions to some and poor pensions to others to have the “others” getting poor pensions and poor local services.
I am of course polarising the problem and I am sure such a simplistic evaluation misses all kinds of points, but at heart I am right. Many people pay more money into the Local Government Pension Scheme (though Council Tax) than they do into their own scheme, even though they will get nothing out of LGPS.
With an election around the corner, I hope those in North Dorset, especially those impacted by the closure of the C13 (which is nearly everyone) will remember that the reason by-passes at Melbury and Spetisbury has not been built has been , in no small measure, because the issues surrounding LGPS have and continue to be ducked.
The priests that manipulated the women of Boxley may have been more mechanical in their deception, but they were no more devious than those who maintain the LGPS status quo.