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Thursday, 27 December 2007
Monday, 24 December 2007
If you're wondering when your bin will be collected over the Christmas period, you can find the details on the South Glos website.
Click here for changes to your rubbish and recycling collection days.
Click here for changes to SORT IT!* Centre (civic amenity site) opening times.
Friday, 21 December 2007
Network Rail has written to householders in the "Birds" roads (Goldcrest Rd, Robin Way, Gullivers Place) and Gaunts Road to say that they will be removing the trees on the top of the railway cutting. In the case of the Birds this is everything the railway side of the allotment fence, plus the corresponding trees the other side of the cutting, next to the farmer's land.
The work is being carried out for safety reasons. The letter explains "Vegetation can create a host of safety problems. It is well documented that during the autumn months thousands of tonnes of leaves fall onto the railway line. Passing trains compress these leaves to form a slippery black substance on the rails which can cause the train wheels to slip in a similar way to black ice on the roads".
They have also told us that they are concerned that trees may fall onto the line or that there may be a landslip like the one a few months ago at Chipping Sodbury, possibly causing a major accident. Originally Network Rail hoped to be able to keep the trees on the very tops of the cutting, but they have reassessed the the length and concluded that it has the highest risk in the South West and South Wales.
We can't really argue with such a strong safety case, although it's going to look rather bare along there. For example the phone masts that were installed a while back will now stick out like a sore thumb. We tried to persuade Network Rail to pay a contribution to environmental work somewhere near this stretch, but they say that this is just routine maintenance (quite a few years overdue? - Editor) so they are unwilling to do so.
They aim to start work around the end of January, and say that it will take about four weeks to complete.
When the trees are gone the masts opposite Robin Way will be much more visible
We now have a potential date for Network Rail to be off site at Westerleigh Rd. They have some further drainage works to do in February, and hope to be off site, with all the fences removed, by the end of March.
They have inspected the defective trench (thump, thump) across the road, but say it's OK and that the traffic noise is coming from a defective reinstatement nearby. They have asked S Glos to inspect it. We'll follow this up after New Year.
Our investigations show that unfortunately we can't plant any screening on the Westerleigh Rd verge opposite the bungalows because it's completely occupied by large drains. If we plant trees there we would run a risk of damaging the drains and flooding the area.
However Network Rail has agreed to pay £1000 towards environmental works on Yate Common, and we are awaiting the cheque. I hope that we can get other grants to go with it to carry out a more substantial scheme - we'll keep you posted.
Thursday, 20 December 2007
Tuesday, 18 December 2007
We're glad to see that Steve Webb's Facebook page has now returned. Let's hope it stays that way. Thank you to everyone that contacted Facebook, and thank you also to the person at Facebook who decided to reinstate the account.
For those that don't know what this is about, Facebook is an online networking system that many young (and not so young) people use. Steve had more than 2500 contacts on there, and many of them used it to raise problems with Steve - education, buses, housing, you name it.
Two minutes on the site would have shown Facebook that it wasn't a fake. Let's hope they'll be more careful next time.
If you're on Facebook you can see Steve's Facebook page here - if not, you would need to register.
Of course Steve's blog is still at http://www.webbsteve.blogspot.com/ and his website is http://www.stevewebb.org.uk/.
I have just emailed Facebook as follows:
"Please restore Steve Webb MP's facebook account
I was very disturbed to learn that the Facebook account of Steve Webb MP - a member of the UK Parliament - has been removed because you believe that his site is a fake, and that it is a breach of your rules not to give a genuine first name and last name.
I can assure you that Steve's site is genuine. He is a colleague and a friend of mine. If you don't restore his site you risk extremely adverse national and international publicity for something which looks like political censorship, but may of course only be an error on your part. It's already spreading through the blogosphere. Please act before it is too late to avoid unfortunate publicity for your otherwise excellent service."
If you are on Facebook please do something similar - you can find the messaging link under Help / Signup and login problems / Write us a message - and also join the Facebook group Steve Webb is real!
Monday, 17 December 2007
Most of our local charity shops collect used stamps - foreign, UK commemorative or just plain "ordinary" stamps - and sell them on to dealers. Please keep all those stamps you get at Xmas or indeed any time of year and take them in.
Alternatively you can drop them off to Paul Hulbert at 35 Blaisdon (he's collecting them for Cancer Research) or leave them at Dodington Parish Council for him to collect.
Friday, 7 December 2007
Congratulations for everyone involved in organising Chipping Sodbury Victorian Day. It all went very well. The shops were very busy and there was a good-natured crowd in the Street. The slide show includes shopkeepers in costume, the Morris Men, Dodington Parish Band and the local constabulary with their cloaks. And Father Christmas of course!
Thursday, 6 December 2007
Monday, 3 December 2007
Thursday, 29 November 2007
|Flashback: Cllrs Mike Drew and Ruth Davis checking out plans at the Health Centre|
As well as replacing GP surgeries at the current West Walk building and Chipping Sodbury clinic, it will offer many outpatient facilities so that local people often won't not need to go to the major hospitals for tests and clinics.
Building is due to start in early 2008. The West Walk GP practice will move to a temporary building during the works.
Police have warned that drinkers in Chipping Sodbury will face tough action from the police if they are caught acting anti-socially.
As well as the criminal damage we have already reported on, there was violence last weekend including a fight and an assault in the early hours of Sunday. A total of five people were arrested.
Police have said they will operate a zero tolerance policy on drunken behaviour between now and Xmas (We hope they carry on for New Year, as well - Ed.)
Sodbury Town Council's closed circuit TV system system is see as key to identifying people causing vandalism in the Street. The Town Council has agreed £35,000 to upgrade and improve the CCTV system.
Read the detailed Gazette story here.
Tuesday, 27 November 2007
It's been a bad season for vandalism and other unacceptable behaviour. Shopkeepers and residents in Chipping Sodbury are up in arms about late-night vandalism in the Street - broken windows and other damage.
Meanwhile at Abbotswood a dispersal order is now in effect to deal with anti-social behaviour. Police and Police Community Support Officers now have the power to send unruly groups out of the area. Anyone who refuses to move on, or who returns to the area within 24 hours, could be arrested. (Details on the Avon and Somerset Police website).
Along Shire Way a cable phone and TV box in Blaisdon has been pushed over twice in two days, and at the weekend a large pane of glass was smashed in the bus shelter between Woodchester and Maismore.
Friday, 23 November 2007
Tuesday, 20 November 2007
Watch this short video for a very clear explanation of the options for dealing with climate change (or the consequences of ignoring it).
Please tell your friends about it, or email them this link to the video:
Thanks to the Earthly Ideas blog for highlighting this video.
Thursday, 15 November 2007
If you run a cafe, restaurant or shop, or you are a supplier selling Fairtrade products then South Gloucestershire Council would like to hear from you.
Any organisation supplying, selling or promoting Fairtrade products in the district can get a free listing in the South Gloucestershire Fairtrade Directory. Email details of your organisation and the Fairtrade products you provide to email@example.com by Friday 30 November 2007.
The free directory will be available from local retailers, libraries, leisure centres and council offices in time for Fairtrade Fortnight in February 2008.
Sunday, 11 November 2007
If you want to avoid the Christmas traffic on Saturdays in Bristol, one way is to take the free Park & Ride service from UWE in Coldharbour Lane, Frenchay - just follow the "Christmas Park & Ride" signs off the Ring Road.
The bus drops you on the edge of Broadmead and you can catch it back from Lewins Mead or outside the Bristol Fashion (opposite House of Fraser)
Click here for the official leaflet about the service.
Saturday, 10 November 2007
The Guardian points out that this week has been the 80th anniversary of automated traffic lights in the UK. An experimental set was first installed in Wolverhampton and was switched on on November 5th, 1927. The lights were judged a success and were made permanent the following year.
(Source: Wolverhampton Local History Society)
However these weren't the first traffic lights, because manually operated two colour signals were installed in Westminster in 1868. They were semaphore types, with red and green gas lamps for night use. Unfortunately in 1869 the apparatus exploded, injuring the policeman who was working it.
It was not until 1918 before the first modern-style three-colour automatic lights were installed in Piccadily, London.
(Source: Visual Arts Data Service)
Steve Webb MP has been campaigning to get proper state pension payments for women whose computer records had been lost, so that they weren't receiving credit for periods when they were at home raising children.
Steve was contacted by more than a thousand women who have been affected. Steve and his team identified a dozen key cases and took them to the Department of Work and Pensions, who agreed that they had lost out. One woman has received more than £10,000 in back pension and interest.
The Government has now agreed to trawl through millions of National Insurance Contribution records to identify the people affected - the back payments may add up to tens of millions of pounds.
For the full details, see Steve Webb's blog.
A gigantic lorry was seen going up Nibley Lane this week, despite the weight limit. It only just made it over the narrow curved bridge. Maybe the driver was blindly following a satnav?
We were reminded of this photo from www.funny.co.uk (warning - there's a very irritating flashing advert on that site), pointed out by the Hit By A Thought blog.
Friday, 9 November 2007
Following a great demand, from the people and traders of Chipping Sodbury, a group has been formed to organise this year's event. The group is drawn from Sodbury and Dodington Councils, Chipping Sodbury Lions and Rotary Clubs, the Festival Society and traders within the town.
The events start at 2.30pm when school choirs are expected to perform in the street. The evening events are being kicked off with the arrival of Father Christmas between 6.45 and 7.00pm when snow is guaranteed.
The streets will be lined with stalls from local charities and organisations and old time amusements, including a Ferris wheel, Helter Skelter and two children's rides.
Choirs will sing, bands will play and The Bristol Morris Men will dance while a Christmas Farmers Market, including a Hog Roast will be held in High Street.
Come along and join us for your late night Christmas shopping with shops open throughout the evening. As usual the streets will be lined with Christmas lights and trees, decorated by local schools and nursery groups.
Monday, 5 November 2007
Cllr Mandy Sainsbury, whose phone was affected by the cabinet vandalism, reports that her land line is finally back on.
"I bumped into a rather harassed Virgin engineer on my morning walk. Apparently the idiots poured petrol into the junction box and set fire to it, so Virgin have had to rebuild the whole box".
"Some folk got re-connected ok but some didn't, so the engineers are in the area trying to track down the individual houses that need work to get the lines active again".
"Any blog readers still off should contact Virgin ASAP to get their (I have to say helpful) engineers round".
Sunday, 4 November 2007
It's a hundred years ago this month that the first women councillors were elected in this country, at the elections of 1 November 1907, following the Qualification of Women Act. They started taking office at the first meetings of the new councils, 100 years ago this week.
The first woman mayor, in 1909, was Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, who became mayor of Aldeburgh in Suffolk. She was also the first woman to qualify as a doctor in the UK.
It took another 21 years before women got the same voting rights as men, in 1928. A personal note from the editor - when women were first given full voting rights, my grandmother and her friend arrived a long time before the start of voting. When the polling station opened they walked in together so that they could claim to be the first women to vote under the new law.
This slide show from BBC Woman's Hour gives some interesting insights into the decade 1900-1909.
Friday, 2 November 2007
This Saturday (3rd November) is Make a Noise Day in the South Glos libraries. Events will be taking place at all libraries and will include competitions, storytimes, IT sessions and a guest appearance of the Bookstart Bear.
Oh yes, and you can return overdue items without having to pay a fine!
Some phone lines are back on after the firework damage to the Virgin phone cabinet between Blaisdon and Woodchester about a week ago.
However some people are still off - and one neighbour reports "If you ring my number you get a ringing tone but the line in the house is as dead as a dodo. Virgin have no idea when service will be resumed!"
Isn't it about time Virgin sorted it out? Several local residents have said that they can't get any information from Virgin at all.
Wednesday, 31 October 2007
A credit card scam with an unusual twist is operating in the our area. The criminal gets hold of someone's credit card details - possibly via a poorly secured wireless computer network. Next they contact a home catalogue company and order an item they already know is out of stock - this is enough to set up the home shopping account.
They wait a few days and then order something valuable, and follow the delivery van on the expected day of delivery. If the cardholder is out the scammer pretends to be a helpful neighbour and offers to accept delivery - or simply takes the parcel from the doorstep or behind the garage where the delivery driver leaves it.There are several things we can do to protect ourselves and our neighbours. First, look out for anybody unknown hanging around your street. They could be waiting to intercept a delivery, or sitting in a van with a laptop to intercept wireless communications.
Second, from a more technical point of view, lots of people now have wireless home networks for a laptop or a games consoles like an Xbox. Wireless home computer networks need to have strong security:
Tuesday, 30 October 2007
Yate Library has been awarded a grant of £1.5million from the Big Lottery Fund to extend and update the inside of the library, creating space for community learning and an exhibition area for local organisations and the community. The improvements should open by 2010.
Councillor Kay Crowe said, “It's absolutely wonderful news. We've been waiting this for a long time. Within the Yate and Sodbury Library Committee and the Mobile Library Committee we have been surveying and canvassing residents as to what improvements they want to see."
"The sort of opportunities that this money will provide for extending the building means we can improve the existing service, increase the range of products we offer and possibly include office space. We really want to widen the use of the library facilities and this award means we can reach out to more people within the area.”
Sunday, 28 October 2007
It appears there is a scam going on throughout Chipping Sodbury, Yate and Dodington, relating to a young girl seeking sponsorship money for a sponsored “Bike Ride”. She usually goes by the name of Natasha, Natalie, or something similar.
The girl is knocking at random doors and claiming to be someone with ‘Special Needs at Chipping Sodbury School’. Fortunately, the Head of Year at Chipping Sodbury School realised she was not a student, and what's more there are no sponsorship events even running. The form looks very official (with the school logos and everything).The police have been alerted and are currently looking. Unfortunately she (and her possible accomplices) are at large in the area it appears, having stolen purses from the elderly (up to £80 we are told by the police), and obtaining large amounts of money over the last 6 months.
Please be alert and let the police know if you see her, or anyone acting in this manner from any school. Please try and remember any names and addresses on the sponsorship form, if possible, since everyone is writing their details down and giving money.
I don't know about you, but when this time of the year comes around I spend the extra hour looking for all the clocks and the gadgets with clocks in and resetting them, so I don't gain an hour at all.
And what's more, when we return to Summer Time I lose one hour because of the change, and another hour looking for the clocks and things again.
Multiply that by however million households in the country...
Mind you, I've got a radio that I only ever use when I go abroad in the summer. So I leave it permanently on French summer time!
Friday, 26 October 2007
Liberal Democrats across South Gloucestershire are today celebrating that their long campaign for FREE weekly kerbside collection of food waste in the green bins has been successful. The scheme is set to go ahead for all residents by the end of 2008.
“This is great news” said Cllr. Dave Hockey (Lib Dem – Frampton Cotterell). “We have been campaigning on this since 2005 and our success means:
- good news for local residents because weekly collection will cut problems with smelly food waste and free up space in their black bins;
- good news for the environment since methane gas, a bi-product of biodegradable waste buried in landfill sites, is 21 times more damaging to the environment than carbon emissions;
- good news for council tax payers who are set to avoid penalties rising from £1m per year in 2009 to over £5m per year by 2020”.
Wednesday, 24 October 2007
At Prime Minister's Question Time Gordon Brown has refused to consider an independent review of the Frenchay Hospital decision. See Steve Webb's blog entry here.
It''s not easy to get home by bus if you study or work at UWE.
There's an hourly-ish service 581. For example, it leaves UWE at 1621, 1726, 1834. There's also a 680 - one journey a day in each direction - leaving UWE at 1722.
Spot the flaw? It's only 4 minutes different from the other one - and lots of lectures at UWE finish on the half hour, so you would miss both of them.
It is possible to get back back another way by changing in Frenchay, but we thought there would be the demand for a more frequent direct service from UWE to our area.
We contacted South Glos Council, and they are consulting with the bus contractor and Filton College, which is also on the 680 route. If they agree, the return 680 might be delayed so that people at UWE can use it. Any change could come in from January.
We're grateful to South Glos for their support for these services - they have to subsidise them because no bus operator is willing to run them on a commercial basis. However don't hold your breath for any extra services - the bus support budget has been cut by £200,000 over this financial year and next.
Red line shows proposed cycle track
View Larger Map
Finance has been found for a cycle track from Chipping Sodbury, near the Millennium Garden, parallel with Wickwar Road inside the playing field hedge, up to the junction with Southfield Way, where a new crossing will be installed.
The project will be funded by Chipping Sodbury Town Trust, South Glos Council and Hansen Aggregates, who operate the quarry.
The proposal is out for public consultation at the moment.
Cllr Paul Hulbert, of the Joint Cycleways Group, said "This isn't just a link for Chipping Sodbury children to reach the Peg Hill skate park, it will be a safe route for children travelling to Brimsham Green or Chipping Sodbury Schools".
"This important link is one of a number of cycle routes we've been asking for in Chipping Sodbury, Yate and the surrounding area".
We notice that the Conservative Club in Hatters Lane now has a newly surfaced car park.
Pity they haven't attended to Tudor House itself - this Chipping Sodbury landmark has rotting windows bereft of paint and cracks in the masonry.
Let's hope that's their next priority.
Following a suggestion by Lib Dem councillors, you can now text South Gloucestershire Council with general enquiries about services, thanks to the launch of a text messaging service.
By saving the number 07950 080 111 to your mobile phone, you can text in your enquiries - maybe to tell South Glos about a problem while you're out and about. The new service will also help people with hearing impairments.
Texts will go directly to the council's customer services contact centre where staff will try to answer your enquiry and respond by text during the next working day.
Texts may be subject to the normal charge by your mobile phone network provider.
To find out more about this service please visit the South Glos website.
Tesco have finally submitted the planning application for their new Yate store to South Glos Council. The proposal is for a two-storey supermarket built on stilts above car parking.
The new building will be a Tesco Extra with three times as much floor space. This plan is a result of two consultations over the last year.
The proposals also include a revamp of the bus station to provide improved facilities for buses and community transport.
The plans will go out for public comment shortly - we'll let you know where to find them online.
The Gazette reports the story here.
Monday, 22 October 2007
Liberal Democrat Councillors are appealing to the South Gloucestershire Conservative Administration to rethink their decision to put the Nibley park-and-ride on hold. Councillors Pat Hockey and Claire Young (pictured above at the site) are among five Liberal Democrat councillors who have asked that the decision be reconsidered at the next meeting of the Planning Transportation and Strategic Environment select committee on the 28th of November 2007.
The Executive Member issued a press release and started the decision making process without any consultation, despite having made a commitment a few weeks earlier that he would continue the practice of always consulting appropriate Councillors before publishing his proposed decisions. This leaves very little time to object – and certainly cuts out the local people from having their say.
As the Tories have always claimed in the past that their Transport Policy is based on Park & Ride where does this leave us? They criticised the Lib Dems for not progressing Nibley fast enough as it was to be the first of the proposed “necklace of Park & Ride ” sites to combat the traffic jams.
There is no need for the Tories to take the Nibley money for the P&R at Parkway as they are now suggesting. This was planned to go ahead this year anyway. It can only be used for rail passengers in the short term until the problem of extra buses through Stoke Gifford has been solved. We have Yate station if we want to travel to Bristol or the MOD by train. It certainly won’t do anything to cut the queues on the Ring Road and through Coalpit Heath and Winterbourne!
Claire Young said “Whatever concerns local residents had about the P&R site, I am sure, like me, they will be even more concerned that there may now be other plans for it that we aren’t being told about”.
Sunday, 21 October 2007
It's sad that the well-established Oxfam shop at Yate closed last week. Apparently the cost of the shop lease made it uneconomic.
Our nearest Oxfam shops are now Thornbury, Malmesbury, Dursley, Keynsham and a number of shops in Bristol. Put your postcode in on the Oxfam shop finder page to locate your nearest shop.
And don't forget that you can buy lots online, too - one of the most novel ways of giving a present is through Oxfam Unwrapped, with gifts like "Build a Bog" and "Teach a Teacher".
We ought to acknowledge the contribution of staff and volunteers at the Yate shop - we understand that several of them have already moved to volunteer in other local charity shops.
Click here for the main Oxfam website.
Thursday, 18 October 2007
Steve has written a post on his blog "The Webb Log" explaining the reasons why he didn't join in the Lib Dem Leadership race. Please read it for "straight for the horse's mouth" information (no offence meant, Steve!) and for his view of the forthcoming contest.
Best wishes to Steve and family from all your many supporters.
Wednesday, 17 October 2007
On Steve Webb's blog today he confirms that "I've consulted a few MPs about whether I should throw my hat into the ring, and have been able to establish that if I decided to go for it I would have enough nominations to take part in the contest".
"I now need to decide whether this would be in the best interests of the party, my constituents and (not least) my family". Click here to read the full blog entry.
Steve appeared on Newsnight last night - click here for Newsnight site
(Thanks to Bloggers4Steve for that)
[Note - the Newsnight link has now been replaced by tonight's programme - Editor]
Tuesday, 16 October 2007
There are several online campaigns in favour of Steve Webb standing for election as the next Leader of the Liberal Democrats. There's a Facebook Group "Steve Webb for Lib Dem Leader" - and a website - Bloggers4Steve.blogspot.com. These campaigns seem very appropriate seeing the impact Steve has been making with his online campaigning.
Steve is expected to say later this week whether he will stand.
The election timetable is as follows:
16th October - nominations open. To run, an MP must be nominated by at least 7 MPs; and also by at least 200 party members in 20 local parties.
31st October - nominations close.
17th November - ballot papers sent out to party members.
15th December - last day for return of ballot papers.
17th December - the new Leader will be announced.
If you've been thinking about joining the Liberal Democrats, and you would like a say in who the new Leader will be, now is the time to join. Our understanding is that if you join before 30 October you will be able to vote in the leadership election.
You can join the Lib Dems online here or you can contact any of the Sodbury, Yate and Dodington Focus Team.
(P.S. apparently the deadline is 4pm on 31 October - but to avoid postal delays, if you're joining at the last minute, do so online at the link above - Editor, 17/10/07)
Police are urging residents in Chipping Sodbury not to let bogus callers into their homes (Story from Avon and Somerset Constabulary website).
It follows two incidents in Woodlands Close on October 2 when two men claiming they were from the "water board" called on properties in the area.
On one occasion a resident was asked to run a water tap but discovered that a bedroom may have been entered although nothing was taken.
Another resident in the same street was told to check her taps as a water pipe had been damaged in a nearby road. The resident became suspicious and the men left. Nothing was stolen.
Police are urging residents to turn away any unexpected visitors and not let anyone into their home unless they are genuine callers. They should follow the doorstep code at all times.
The incidents come a week after Avon and Somerset Constabulary launched a campaign to raise awareness about the threat of distraction burglars.
For more information visit www.dantheburglar.org
Friday, 12 October 2007
It's good to see that Al Gore, maker of the environmental film "An Inconvenient Truth", has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, along with the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
A day ago a senior judge criticised nine errors in the film, but the Nobel Prize recognises the significant effect that the film has had in changing people's attitudes towards global warming.
You may recall that we arranged a local showing of "An Inconvenient Truth" and we've been trying to get the film shown on TV. Maybe it's still a bit too inconvenient for the establishment.
How different history would have been if Al Gore had become President. There's been a lot of talk about him entering the contest this time, but apparently he would have to declare within the next 10 days if he's to have a realistic chance of getting the backing he needs and raising the necessary finance.
P.S. (17/10/07) There's an interesting piece in the Guardian claiming that the judge got at least some of his facts wrong when criticising the film, plus some seemingly informed comments from readers. There's an even more detailed discussion on RealClimate, a site that describes itself as "Climate science from climate scientists".
(Thanks to Belsize Liberal Democrats for these links)
If you're applying for a school place for next year, it's vital that your application meets the deadline of 4.30pm on Friday 19 October, otherwise it will be treated as a late application and dealt with after those received on time.
With further postal strikes possible, the safest bet is to apply online at www.southglos.gov.uk/admissions or hand deliver your form to Student Access and Support Team, South Gloucestershire Council, Department for Children and Young People, Riverside Court, Bowling Hill, Chipping Sodbury, South Gloucestershire BS37 6JX.
There's also another alternative - if forms are handed in to ANY main South Gloucestershire office they can be put into the internal post, which is collected and delivered twice a day. You can save your time/petrol and go to the nearest main office, for example Yate One-Stop Shop.
Sunday, 7 October 2007
A leaflet for another clothing collection came through the door today. Looks like a different outfit, and at least it doesn't say that it's a charity. It's up to you, but remember that it's almost certainly a profit-making concern. We suggest not leaving anything out for their collection that a local charity shop would accept.
So after all that excitement about a possible election, we're not going to have one. I think most people had got fed up with all the to-ing and fro-ing. Isn't it about time we had fixed periods between elections? Lib Dem MPs are suggesting this in Parliament - see the BBC story here.
In the meantime, here's a short video that comments on the last couple of weeks' events.
Friday, 5 October 2007
Following complaints from neighbours, Sodbury Town Council has decided to close the car park extension because of antisocial behaviour. Residents in High Street and Brook Street have complained about youngsters speeding, revving engines and playing loud music.
The extension was opened last year at a cost of over £250,000. The Town Council also intends to extend the CCTV network to cover the car park.
The extension is being closed for a trial period, but the old part of the car park will stay open. The Town Council says that it shouldn't cause a problem because the car park isn't used much at night.
(I've been to Sodbury several evenings lately and the Street was full - where else are people expected to park? - Editor)
The Town Council is asking people to comment to the Town Clerk on 01454 864666.
Town and South Glos councillor Linda Boon said she was disappointed with the temporary closure order.
She said: "What was the point of spending £250,000 extending the car park if we're now going to close it at night?"
"The extra spaces were provided because they were needed, so I hope this is only a temporary thing".
"We do have a problem with noisy teenagers and something has got to be done, but shutting the car park is something I'm not happy about".
"What's more it will cost money to open and close the car park every evening".
She said the young drivers are attracted to the car park because it's so open. Apparently one suggestion was to put flower planters in the car park to make it more difficult to speed, but it's been decided not to do that.
In a shock move the Environment Agency has blocked plans for youngsters in Cranleigh Court to have a kickabout area on the school sports field.
Local youngsters asked their local councillors, Mike Drew and Ian Blair for a kickabout area. Both schools agreed to release part of their land – in a win-win deal, where the school would use the surfaced kickabout area during the day and local young people could use it out of school hours. Residents backed it. Cllr Martin Monk, who lives within sight of the scheme, took the proposal to a TV competition – and only just missed out on raising the money through a major TV contest where viewers voted for which scheme to fund.
Yate Town Council then managed to raise the money – so it was full steam ahead to get it built. The last bit of bureaucracy it seemed was getting planning consent.
But now in a shock move the Environment Agency has lodged a blocking objection. They say
“The applicant has therefore failed to demonstrate that the flood risks resulting from this development can be safely managed. During a flood event it is unlikely the site will remain operational and safe".
"The proposed fence poses a possibility of the obstruction of flow caused by racking up of material against the fence.”
Cllr Chris Willmore commented “This is bonkers. Of course it won’t be used if there is a flood. All the scheme proposes is a surfaced area for football and basketball, with a fence round it, on the school field".
"There is a fence there already right round the field. If any fence is going to catch debris and obstruct flow of flood water it’s the fence that runs right along the school field between this site and the river bank. Are they going to insist the current fencing right round the field should be removed?”
The Environment Agency has suggested their concerns could be allayed if the new fencing was removable.
Chris Willmore added “This would add hugely to the cost. I seriously think they have simply completely misunderstood the plan. If they haven’t they’re taking a sledgehammer to crack a walnut”
Yate Town Councillors have called for an urgent meeting with the Environment Agency to remove, what they hope, will be the final obstacle to giving local youngsters what they asked for.
This is post number 100 on this blog since it started in the middle of January. It's now attracting a regular readership (thank you all!) of over 300 visitors a month.
According to Technorati, the blog search engine, this blog ranks at no. 97, 290 out of the 108 million blogs indexed worldwide - so it's in the top 0.1%. Can't be bad - mind you, I wonder how many of those are never updated?
If you enjoy this blog, please tell your friends about it.
Monday, 1 October 2007
To help celebrate national Meals on Wheels Week, Steve Webb MP visited King Edmund School and helped to dish up the dinners.
Meals on wheels is 60 years old and here in South Gloucestershire the service is changing to a new and innovative scheme where school kitchens are used to provide fresher and more nutritional meals to older and disabled people.
Six schools are already signed up to the new look service, St Chad's Patchway Primary School, Bradley Stoke Community School, Hanham High School, Kingsfield Secondary School, King Edmund Community School and Mangotsfield Secondary School.
By the end of the year the scheme is expected to roll out to the rest of the district. The benefit to clients is that they will be eating the same fresh and organic produce used by the school meals service, and, they have a direct link with the local school, bringing communities closer together.
When they let the new assistant chef out of the kitchen, Steve helped to deliver meals to the local area.
Picture: Steve Webb and Cllr Howard Gawler delivering to Mrs Jones of Yate.
Tuesday, 25 September 2007
Make the most of this coming Sunday's post collection - it's the last one. The Post Office is stopping Sunday collections from the 30th September. They're stopping Bank Holiday collections too.
And they're even considering stopping Saturday deliveries.
Suppose they do that. If you post something late on a Thursday evening, first class, it might be delivered on the following Monday (or Tuesday if you're unlucky). Not first thing, either - remember that the post delivery is later nowadays. So it could take four or nearly five days, first class, even if it's not a Bank Holiday weekend.
Apparently all this is to save money, because of the competition from texting, email and mobile phones. But it's not exactly going to encourage people to send letters, is it?
Saturday, 22 September 2007
Not a local issue, but an important one nevertheless.
Uzbeck billionaire Alisher Usmanov - the one that is trying to buy Arsenal football club - has taken exception to bloggers writing about his past criminal convictions.
Letters from high profile lawyers have forced an internet service provider to take down the blog of civil rights campaigner and former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray. Others removed from the Internet range from Arsenal fan sites to (accidentally) Boris Johnson MP's blog.
You can read about it at http://freecommonwealth.blogspot.com/2007/09/disappearing-blogs.html
More4's TV report is available here.
Despite the websites being removed, you can still find out what all the fuss is about - there are many copies still out there on the Internet -just try this Google search:
potential arsenal chairman Alisher Usmanov
If you're on Facebook you can join the group "Craig Murray's blog should return"
Sunday, 16 September 2007
The Highways Agency put an advert in the local papers recently trying to identify previous owners of the Sea Stores site. It was bought during the Second World War. If land has been bought by compulsory purchase - or the threat of it - it has to be offered back to the previous owners or their successors at current market value.
Part of the land was owned by the Newmans, and one of the family has now come forward. The Gazette reports that another part was owned by an electrical company that has stopped trading (Could this be another part of Newmans? Or could someone else come out of the woodwork?)
A third portion was owned by a council that has now been succeeded by South Glos, who don't seem to be interested in having it back. But should they be interested? Is there a potential profit that could be used for improving local facilities?
It's a case of "watch this space" - but we have to ask why the Highways Agency didn't investigate this earlier. It's very likely to hold up the redevelopment of the site for a short while, and could even jeopardise the careful negotiations about the layout of the new development. Or maybe it could result in something more advantageous for the local community going there?
There have been rumours for some time that Noel Edmonds has been house-hunting around here. He's been staying a few miles away while filming Deal or No Deal at Endemol in Bristol.
The Evening Post (link no longer available) has now confirmed that he's signed a lease for a house in Bitton village.
Friday, 14 September 2007
We've put a couple more useful websites under "Local Links" on the right.
Can't find a street in Chipping Sodbury and Yate? There's a link to the Standbrook Guides online map.
Planning a journey by public transport? There's also a new link to the Traveline South West journey planner.
It's been good to see the new Wellesley Primary School building in use from the start of term.
The old building will now be demolished and a new sports area put in its place (during the building works the school has been using Dodington Parish Council's Kelston Close playing field)
Flashback: Cllr Alan Lawrance and Cllr Kay Crowe visiting the site a year ago.
Wednesday, 12 September 2007
Police seized an illegal mini motorbike in Chipping Sodbury last week - the same day as a local teenager received it. He was apparently riding it up and down Brandash Road.
These toys may look attractive, but they're not "real motorbikes". They're dangerous to inexperienced riders and the public, and they're not street-legal.
Chipping Sodbury police explained: "Mini motorcycles cannot legally be ridden on the roads – including footpaths – or any public open spaces. The only place they can be used legally is on private land with the permission of the landowner".
In other words, if you've been sold one without realising this, you've been done.
The mini moto will now be destroyed. See the story on the Police website here.
Tuesday, 11 September 2007
Dodington Parish Councillors are currently walking the patch systematically - every road, front and back. We're checking for things that are broken, problems that need fixing and the like. Potholes, broken walls, graffiti, you name it - we're compiling a big list of defects, and passing them on to whoever is responsible for dealing with them.
If you live in the Birds or Shire Way/Rodford Way areas, and you see something that needs fixing, please let us know - we might have missed it. Click here for a list of your local councillors.
Of course you can tell us about problems in other places as well, but we're having a blitz on these particular areas at the moment.
Monday, 10 September 2007
The new Conservative administration on South Glos Council has decided to cancel the Park & Ride project at Nibley. They want to have smaller sites at Falfield, Almondsbury, Yate, Cribbs Causeway, Emersons Green and elsewhere.
When the Nibley site was first suggested, there was a proposal to put in a smaller Park & Ride first - but it was rejected because the demand would have overwhelmed it. Who wants a Park & Ride you can't park at? After the first couple of times you wouldn't bother, you would just drive past. It's not likely to work.
Could this be just the first of a series of projects the Tories will cancel in the Yate/Sodbury area?
The owners of Yate Shopping Centre have said they've checked out the overflow car park area, and it's not likely to flood - so it could be a site for a new cinema. They've asked the Environment Agency to confirm their findings.
Let's hope they're right - the risk of flooding was one reason they didn't want to build the new health centre there.
A spokesman for the shopping centre owners said work could start on the cinema next year, but they won't submit a planning application until they're certain about the flooding.
This is the short version - you can read the full story on Steve Webb's blog.
First the bad news - we tried to get the Parliamentary Ombudsman to investigate the way they decided to downgrade Frenchay Hospital - but she's decided she can't because nobody has "suffered injustice" yet. And by the time they have, the hospital will be closed and it'll be too late.
And now the GOOD NEWS (maybe) - The new Health Secretary, Alan Johnson, has said in the Commons “…I will, as a matter of course, ask the Independent Reconfiguration Panel - our expert clinical group - for advice on any decisions made at local level which have been referred to me by Overview and Scrutiny Committees”.
Last week's meeting of South Glos Council's health scrutiny committee was just going to note that Mr Johnson had responded negatively to the Council's concerns about the Bristol Health Services Plan.
However Lib Dem Cllr Sue Hope tabled an amendment saying that the Committee should make a fresh referral of the whole thing to the new Secretary of State. It was passed because the Lib Dems persuaded the Conservatives to vote for it as well.
The Labour spokesman says it's a waste of money - they've given up already - see the Gazette story here.
Saturday, 8 September 2007
(Photos by Mandy Sainsbury)
We tend to talk about fairly serious things on here - but here's a lighter side of community life. Our colleague Cllr Mandy Sainsbury went to St John's Church Fun Day and Summer Show and reports:
"The sun shone for St John's Fun Day today... a super selection of home-grown fruit and vegetables was on offer for the judges. I was very impressed by the wooden Land Rover that person had entered. Their vicar Chris made a splendid scale model of a Spitfire.
I would have to (grudgingly) admit that the gents who entered the Victoria Sponge challenge can bake with the best!
It was a well supported event, as you can see from the folk browsing the stalls within the church. All in all a super day."
Thursday, 6 September 2007
Dodington Parish Council has now joined Westerleigh and Yate in opposing the tipping application. At their meeting last night Dodington decided to recommend that South Glos should refuse the application on the grounds of traffic problems and disturbance to nearby properties (the site is just across the railway line from Chargrove and Rodborough - see our previous article and map).
Even if the application is approved, Dodington PC has recommended very restricted hours for traffic entering and leaving the site, so that lorry movements and road sweeping avoid the peak traffic periods, to avoid making the dangerous junctions at Nibley Lane corner and Shire Way mini-roundabout even worse.
Dodington PC has also recommended that no tipping should take place on the southern part of the site (behind the buildings) to avoid damaging the major drains across the site - they carry sewage from the estate and surface water from the streets and the railway.
The application now goes to South Glos to decide.
Wednesday, 5 September 2007
The other day we talked about the BBC's planned "Planet Aid" telethon. But now it's been cancelled.
Sounds like it was too controversial. According to the BBC's website ""The BBC says it cut the special because audiences prefer factual output on climate change"
There are suggestions that it would have left the BBC open to accusations of bias.
And they refused our request to show "An Inconvenient Truth".
We wonder who twisted their arms?
Tuesday, 4 September 2007
You'll shortly be getting the Register of Electors form from South Glos - the form that makes sure that you can vote at elections. It also gets checked if you want to apply for credit.
If there aren't any changes from last time it takes literally just a minute to fill it out - it'll probably take you longer to work out how to fold it.
Remember to tick the right-hand column if you don't want your details used for marketing.
Please fill it out now and pop it into the postbox - no stamp needed - and make life easier for the hard-working staff in the Election Office.
Wednesday, 29 August 2007
Answer - lots of those "paper based liquid food and drink cartons". The sort that you buy fruit juice in, and maybe milk from the corner shop. They're actually rather clever multilayer cartons, but this makes them hard to recycle. The manufacturer has set up a dedicated recycling plant - big enough to deal with a fifth of all the liquid food and drink cartons used in the UK.
They offered local councils FREE recycling bins. South Glos could have had five special collection points, with all the cartons taken away free for the first two years.
Lots of other councils have accepted - but what has South Glos done? Turned the offer down!
Emma Bone (Prospective Lib Dem MP for Filton and Bradley Stoke) said "I'm simply astonished... Lib Dem Councils up and down the country have already signed up to this free win-win scheme”
Lib Dem Councillor Peter Tyzack (Pilning & Severn Beach) commented “I am amazed and appalled that the Conservative administration didn't sign up to this free scheme to recycle them. We get fine words from them promising to improve on the previous Liberal Democrat led Council’s recycling rate but no real action!"
Update - It is now reported that the Executive Member for Communities will meet the company this week. Maybe the Tory South Glos Executive is having a rethink?
Our colleagues Emma Bone and Peter Tyzack with just a few of the cartons that South Glos could have recycled
It was good to see the new wind turbines installed at Avonmouth recently. They're certainly an impressive sight - this photo was taken from Portishead.
In the meantime, we're doing our bit to make small-scale renewable energy cheaper. A while ago a £50 fee was introduced for people wanting advice about permitted development - in other words, whether or not you need to put in a planning application. It turned out that they were even charging for advice on applying to put in solar panels and the like - just the wrong message when you want to encourage them! Now, after pressure by Lib Dem councillors, the charge has been removed completely for advice on renewable energy proposals.
P.S. Those wind turbines weren't the first renewable energy project at Avonmouth. Back in the Eighties the Wessex Water sewage treatment works, which generates electricity from methane, was connected to the mains network. The Evening Post headline at the time was "Power from the people"!
Tuesday, 28 August 2007
After Dodington Parish Council showed Al Gore's climate change film "An Inconvenient Truth" locally, we asked Steve Webb to try to get it shown on network television. He's received a reply from the BBC's Deputy Director-General as follows:
"While I am sorry to disappoint Councillor Hulbert and his colleagues on the Council, I must report that at the moment the BBC has no plans to broadcast this film. I understand however that it is considered likely that it will indeed receive an airing on national television in due course"
We suspect this means that someone like Channel 4 got in first.
However according to the newspapers the BBC is planning a big show provisionally entitled "Planet Relief" for January 2008, maybe with Ricky Gervais and Jonathan Ross. Instead of asking for donations, the idea is to get people to switch off all unwanted gadgets. The floodlighting on major landmarks will also be switched off. They hope to be able to switch off a major power station with the electricity saved.
There has been criticism that this is not the sort of activity that the BBC should be involved in. The editor of the BBC's own Newsnight programme, Peter Barron said it was "not the corporation's job to save the planet" ( Daily Mail, 27 August )
But isn't this one reason why we have public broadcasters? To "inform, educate and entertain", as their mission statement says?
Anyway, if this sort of show isn't to your taste, you could still join in - switch off the TV instead and save a bit more energy!
P.S. It must be better than yesterday evening. At midnight BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 were all showing films at the same time - not a scrap of original programming on terrestrial TV.
View Larger Map
Beech Hill Farm - blue line shows tipping boundary, pointer shows access from Westerleigh Road
This is the property on the right as you go from the Shire Way mini-roundabout, under the bridge towards Westerleigh – the place where they periodically sell fireworks and the like. The land behind the buildings is just across the track from the Westerleigh Rd railway embankment, so the neighbours are Chedworth and Rodborough. Over the years there has been a history of failed planning applications and enforcement notices.
Many years ago the land was tipped, but according to the planning application paperwork it is too contaminated for grazing – some of the tipped material was waste sand from a foundry. Most of the original tipping was domestic waste. Test pits have confirmed this, finding amongst other things a Wellington boot and a dead cat. Apparently the clay capping on the landfill has failed.
It is proposed to cover the site to a depth of 2 metres - 1 metre of clay, 0.75 metres of subsoil and 0.25 metres of topsoil. This would mean importing 54,000 cubic metres of material – some 6350 lorry loads over 2 years, roughly similar to the railway embankment works, but spread over a longer period. This would be an average of 11.3 lorries per working day (based on 3 axle trucks holding 8.5 cubic metres each – if 4 axle trucks are used there would be fewer journeys)
There would be temporary roadways and wheel cleaning to minimise mud, and a mechanical road sweeper on Westerleigh Rd when necessary.
Proposed working hours are 0800-1800 Monday to Friday, and 0800-1300 or 1600 (the paperwork is inconsistent) on Saturdays. This road is of course very busy in both rush hours.
They have shown turning dimensions for trucks going both ways, so presumably some traffic could go through the estate. Trucks would go round a loop within the site so they should not need to reverse onto the main road. Restoration would include appropriate hedge planting and drainage.
Westerleigh Parish Council has objected due to its “dangerous highway location” and noted that there has been a history of not complying with conditions of a planning appeal. Yate Town Council has objected that it would be detrimental to nearby residents’ enjoyment of natural amenity, and that there would be an unacceptable increase of traffic at peak times. A local resident has objected on the grounds of noise, traffic, vibration and dust.
South Glos Technical Support (Street Care) has expressed concerns about potential flooding, unless an Environment Agency report is received to the contrary. They also point out that there are major sewers and drains across the southern part of the site – two Wessex Water surface water sewers, a Wessex Water foul sewer and the Network Rail land drain, all of which would need to be protected.
The land drain is the one that drains the embankment and carries the water from the Shire Way club tipping site, where it is suspected that tipping crushed a drain, causing the flooding at Besom Lane.
Dodington Parish Council will be discussing the application at its meeting on 5 September, and then the application will go to South Glos Council for decision. All the paperwork is available from the file on South Glos's website, but be warned, there's a lot of it.
Monday, 27 August 2007
Last Wednesday evening a group of Dodington Parish Councillors took our summer minibus ride round the parish to make sure that we all know what we're talking about (well, hopefully)
We hired the minibus from Yate, Sodbury and District Community Transport - a group that the Parish Council has supported for many years. (Many thanks for an excellent trip!)
These are some of the sites we looked at, together with a brief update on several of the "hot potato" issues:
- Sea Stores - The government has put it up for sale, and is awaiting bids. When someone buys it we expect to see a planning application for housing, plus a little community land.
- Kelston Close Playing Fields - Should we upgrade the changing rooms, maybe get rid of the garage and put in some better storage?
- Westerleigh Road railway embankment - No, Network Rail haven't gone away and forgotten it. We're hoping to have another meeting with them soon about planting - watch this space.
- Beech Hill Farm (just in Westerleigh Parish Council's territory) - A proposed tipping site just the other side of the railway from the Westerleigh Rd embankment, Rodborough and Chedworth. More details to follow here shortly.
- Wapley allotments - They were looking very well-kept as usual - well done!
- Wapley picnic site - We get complaints from next door from time to time, when people camp out overnight, which they're not supposed to, and light fires other than on the barbecue. We have talked to the police about the incidents of rowdy behaviour.
- Wapley burial ground, next to St Peter's Church - the Parish Council runs the burial ground and the churchyard.
Are there things in the Birds or in the area between Shire Way and Rodford Way that we should have looked at? Or do you have comments about some of the issues above? Please let us know through the feedback form - click here and fill out the form in the right hand column.
Saturday, 25 August 2007
Well done to those who've got their GCSE results this week. As with the A Levels, ignore people who say it was harder in their day. It was just different.
There's an interesting article by Mike Baker on the BBC website. He points out that one purpose of exams is "to show individuals what they are good at and what they are not so good at" because nowadays education and training doesn't usually stop at 16, and this could help with their career choice.
(Mind you, when I did O levels - the old equivalent - I didn't choose to carry on with the subjects I scored highest in, because something else interested me more - Editor)
Mike Baker makes the point though that people who score low in maths and English need to do something about it as "these grades indicate a need to improve these skills because literacy and numeracy skills will be essential for the future".
He sums it up neatly: "So exam grades are all about helping to identify strengths and weaknesses, about guidance towards further learning and future pathways. They are about the here and now. So, questions about how today's examination results compare with the past are, frankly, of little relevance. "
Tuesday, 21 August 2007
North Bristol NHS Trust has apparently told the BBC that Accident and Emergency services at Frenchay are not at risk. Are we seriously expected to believe that moving specialist services to Southmead isn't going to make things worse?
Put that together with today's Department of Health funded study that your chances of survival are worse the further you have to travel...
Yes, local accident facilities help minor injuries and certain conditions. But moving our main hospital miles away through some of the heaviest traffic in Bristol must be a wrong move.
Steve Webb and local campaigners have been fighting this for years - don't let our concerns be whitewashed by non-elected bureaucrats!
Click here to join our campaign "SOS for the NHS"
Friday, 17 August 2007
South Glos Council has announced the results of the questionnaire from the exhibition at Chipping Sodbury School. There were 69 replies. South Glos will now work up a detailed scheme for the full legal consultation. They say:
"From the above results and comments made at the exhibition, the Formal Consultation plans will include proposals to maintain the current speed limit for the interim and carry out traffic calming measures on the southern side of Cotswold Road/Kennedy Way" (That's the side nearest to the school - Editor).
"The proposals will include reducing the existing dual carriageway from the Smarts Green Roundabout in a westerly direction to one lane and providing hatching. A cycle lane will be provided on this length of road along with a vehicle activated sign. A short length of protected parking will be provided on this side of the road and hatched markings".
"Following formal consultation and scheme implementation, it is proposed to monitor the vehicle speeds and driver behaviour on this southern side of Cotswold Road before progress is made on the northern carriageway".
It does seem a bit strange that they aren't proposing to reduce the speed limit, even though three quarters of people asked for it. Maybe they're hoping to get the speed down to its present limit first...