Monday, 30 March 2015

Progress in Severn Bridge tolls campaign

Local MP Steve Webb has welcomed the announcement in the Budget of plans to cut tolls when the Severn Bridge returns to public ownership in 2018.  But he has said that his ‘no more tolls’ campaign will continue until the whole charge is scrapped.

You can read more on Steve's website and sign the petition at

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Reminder - World Autism Awareness Week 2015 starts this Friday

There are lots of activities and ways you can help raise funds for the National Autistic Society, whether it’s at school, at work, on your own or with friends and family - and it all helps promote awareness of autism.

Please check out the National Autistic Society's website for details of how to take part in World Ayutism Awareness Week (27 March to 2 April)

Monday, 23 March 2015

Photo clubs to benefit from Community Grants

And the last of our round-up from the recent Frome Vale Area Forum, which awarded two grants to local photographic organisations:

Photographers with Disabilities £2820

PWD was formed to enable people with disabilities to practice the Art of Photography. They run two regular weekly workshops and every fortnight they have a photoshoot with a model. They welcome both disabled and supportive non-disabled members. The grant will cover half the year's rent of the dedicated studio they need - unlike clubs aimed at non-disabled people, they cannot pack up their equipment and take it away after every session.

Sodbury and Yate Photographic Club £700

This club has been running for over 40 years, and welcomes young and old people alike. They run a disabled people's project in conjunction with Paul's Place. This grant will enable them to buy a digital projector to allow them to display each other's work and provide construtive criticism to help members improve their skills.

You can find out more about applying for South Glos Community Grants here.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Wapley workday deals with water, planting and rubbish

The Wapley Bushes Local Nature Reserve work morning last weekend attracted 26 Wapley Bushes Conservation Group volunteers and friends, including family groups and a community work party from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

The Group tackled a wide range of tasks. One party planted trees to form a barrier at the edge of the picnic area, while others cleaned up around the main paths and public areas, gathering around 15 bags of litter (plus a carpet from a roadside ditch)

Volunteers listen attentively to the safety briefing at the start
The third and probably heaviest job of the day was clearing silt from the water channel out of the top pond to stop it overflowing. A vital part of managing the Nature Reserve is controlling the flow of the water to conserve the various habitats. It was interesting to find a quantity of frogspawn in one part of the the top pond, something that had not been seen there before but which accounts for the frogs that are seen in the meadows.

"I think the water's going down" - Paul Hulbert checks the depth


This video gives some idea of the amount of silt in the stream

We're glad to report that the mud from railway works we mentioned recently has been partly cleared up, and arrangements have been made to reinstate the area concerned. The contractors now expect to be off site by the end of April.

P.S. If anyone still has two litter-picking tools from Saturday, please ring Paul on 07771 562505 to arrange to return them.

Some progress on protecting Rodford School site trees

All the relevant South Glos officers went to the site yesterday to meet the Bellway Homes planning manager and specialist consultants dealing with the ecology matters and tree protection. Local residents have been very concerned about what has been happening on the old Rodford School site - see our previous post "How much is a tree worth?"

They talked about the Ecological and Landscape Management Plan, which still hasn't been provided, to protect the boundary hedgerows and  provide  biodiversity enhancements.  It was agreed that there is minimal risk from the work to removing the hardstanding, so this can carry on over the next 6 weeks while the ELM Plan is being sorted out. Bellway has given assurances about protecting the protected trees during the work on the hardstanding.

Bellway will now provide South Glos with a detailed timetable (within the next few days) of key stages over the coming months including:
  • When tree protection will be completed including additional fencing and signage. This is vital before any more sub contactors come on site to start the foundations.
  • When the hard standing around the trees in the centre of the site will be undertaken. Bellway have confirmed that a method statement has been prepared for this work, and the contractor on site has been given clear instructions.
  • When all the outstanding information will be submitted.
South Glos will be keeping a close eye on the site.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Peg Hill Skate Park - Help Yate Town Council check out the repairs, and lighting coming soon

Do you use Peg Hill Skate Park? If so come along to the park at 4 pm on Monday 23rd March to have your say about the recent repair works.

What's more,  the ground work for the extra lighting will start next week. The lights will be fully installed by the summer, so they will be in place ready for use in the autumn when the evenings get darker again.  The work has taken longer than planned because getting extra power to the site has been challenging, but work will start on Monday. The plan is to keep the disruption to the skaters minimal, so one section of the park will be closed at a time while it is being worked on.

How much is a tree worth?

How much is a tree worth? Or a historic hedge, or local wildlife? Not much, some developers seem to think.

Take the Rodford School site, for example, which is being redeveloped into housing. We've already reported how valuable trees and habitat were considered less important than profits - at the planning stage local councillors were outvoted by others who don't live anywhere near here, and the developers were allowed to squeeze extra units onto the site despite the concerns about significant trees and hedges.

Now a second threat has revealed itself. Local environmentalists spotted that the builders were not complying with a lot of the habitat protection conditions required by their planning permission. A South Glos inspector visited the site, thought he had sorted them out, and went away. The local experts soon realised that the builders had started doing the same thing again, and had to ask the inspector to go back again.

We're now waiting to see what happens next. It's possible that the builders could be told to stop work altogether if they won't comply with their legal obligations.