Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Post early for, umm, Tuesday?

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

Freedom of speech at risk from big money?

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

Sea Stores development could be held up

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?

Blobby not coming to our area

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

New feature - links to local street map & travel planner

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.

Wellesley School building opens

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

Mini motorbike seized, crushed

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

These boots are made for walking

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

Big Yate Park & Ride to be cancelled?

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?

Yate cinema site floated

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.

Frenchay Hospital - maybe some progress

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

Just for Fun

(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

Beech Hill Farm tipping application - update

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

BBC backs down over environment show

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

Coming soon to a doormat near you...

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.