Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Yet more shop closures





It's been a bad few months for retail businesses in our area. In Yate Shopping Centre Helibeds, Motor World and Woolworths have closed.

Now Card Warehouse is closing down, and Chipping Sodbury hardware shop Lanes is also shutting its doors. Yate children's clothes shop Adams is in receivership but continuing to trade.

Let's hope that 2009 brings better news.

Update 5th January - Adams at Yate has now closed, one of 111 branches shut by the administrators. The Cirencester, Gloucester and Swindon branches have also stopped trading.

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Do you drive through Frampton Cotterell? Beware more roadworks!

Between 12th and 23rd January 2009 there will be major roadworks on the B4058 Bristol Road, Frampton Cotterell, between Perrinpit crossroads (next to the garage) and Station Road, Iron Acton (the junction where you can turn off via Latteridge towards the A38)

The road is going to have the old surface planed off and a new surface laid. Temporary multi-way traffic signals will be in use at the crossroads, and two-way signals will be used as work progresses along Bristol Road.

Although the work will be restricted to off-peak hours, significant traffic delays are expected. Alternative routes will be kept clear of all but urgent other works.

Recent roadworks in Church Road caused big delays, and these January works are likely to do the same.

Energy problems - and advice on renewable energy

With the cold weather and economic problems, many people will be worried about their fuel bills this winter. Local MP Steve Webb has discovered that the vast majority of people in "fuel poverty" are missing out on the special deals for vulnerable people. You can read more on Steve's blog and in The Times.

If your thoughts have turned to alternative forms of energy, you might be interested in SG Futurenergy, a partnership between South Gloucestershire Council and the Severn Wye Energy Agency which offers advice on renewable energy. The scheme also offers grants and low interest loans to help people install renewable energy.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Recycle your Christmas cards into trees!

From 2nd to 31st January you can recycle your Xmas cards in aid of the Woodland Trust. Our nearest card recycling point will be at the Tesco supermarket, but other stores collecting are WH Smith, TK Maxx and Marks & Spencer.

Also don't forget to save your stamps - take them into our local charity shops, or drop them off to Paul Hulbert at 35 Blaisdon (he's collecting them for Cancer Research) or leave them at Dodington Parish Council (at the Parish Hall, next to Raysfield School in Finch Rd) for him to collect.

You can read more about the Woodland Trust here.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Woolworths - the final days

In Woolworths at Yate this afternoon the staff were busy dismantling the shop around the last Xmas customers - a very sad sight.

A message to all the friendly faces at Woolworths - we're sorry to see you go.

Merry Christmas from the Focus Team


Merry Christmas from your Focus Team. We hope you have an enjoyable festive season.

If you're wondering about changes to Council services over Christmas, you can find information on the South Glos website. For example you can find out the opening times for the Sort It! centres, the temporary changes in bin collection days and the library opening times.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Xmas brass concert at Wapley Court


Dodington Parish Band at Wapley Court

Dodington Parish Band giving their annual Xmas performance at Wapley Court Elderly People's Home - click image to open slideshow.

Interesting in joining this thriving band? Check out their website or email them at mail@dodingtonparishband.co.uk

Friday, 19 December 2008

Ambulances stretched but St John Ambulance provides vital help

Ambulance and health services will be under stress over Xmas and the New Year, but local St John Ambulance volunteers are helping out. They will be providing ambulance crews throughout the winter, and offering support to the over-stretched ambulance service at one of the busiest times of the year.

The ambulance service is under more pressure than ever as more people are calling 999. Crews will be provided across the country as part of the organisation’s role as the ambulance reserve, including London, Bristol, the North West and West Midlands.

Harry Dymond, Chief Commissioner Operations at St John Ambulance, the UK’s leading first aid charity, said: "St John Ambulance has a commitment to support the ambulance service in times of emergency as part of our role as the ambulance reserve"

"We would always expect to provide support at this time of year when calls tend to rise but the demand this year is much higher and we are supporting the service in all areas of the country, in particular London, the North West and West Midlands. We believe this is due to a colder start to the winter which exacerbates cardiac and respiratory problems, as well as an increase in falls, flu and the norovirus"

"Our advice is to call 999 only in a genuine emergency and instead use walk-in clinics, NHS direct and pharmacies. You can also use our first aid advice and podcasts"

Useful links
:

St John Ambulance - www.sja.org.uk/sja/ - click on first aid advice for basic advice and downloads
NHS Direct for advice on a wide range of health topics and conditions tel 0845 46 47 or go to www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Health Centre building going on well


Work is continuing apace on the new Yate health centre. In the foreground of this view from Kennedy Way there is an excellent mural by the pupils of the Ridge Junior School.

Police appeal for witnesses after assault outside Riley's, Yate

Police are appealing for information after a man was assaulted in Yate.

The 19 year old victim was outside Riley's in Yate on Saturday November 22nd when he was assaulted at around 1.30am. He was left unconscious and lost a number of teeth.

Police would now like to speak to a man who they believe may have vital information that may help investigations.

He is described as white, aged 19-20 years old, around 5 feet 7 inches tall, and of medium build with brown/blonde spiked hair.

He was wearing a grey McKenzie hooded top, blue jeans and white trainers. He left the scene with 3 other men in a black Volkswagen Golf.

Police would also like to speak to anyone who may have witnessed the incident or may have been in the area at the time.

They are asked to contact police on 0845 456 7000 or call the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Callers do not have to give their names and could qualify for a reward.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

The Clangers on Politics

Following the sad news of the death of Oliver Postgate, creator of the Clangers, Ivor the Engine, Noggin the Nog and Bagpuss, the BBC website has an excerpt from a Clangers episode unseen since election night in 1974.

They don't make cutting-edge humour like that any more...

(Update 19/12/08 - the original link has moved. Use the link above, or even better, go to the BBC Clangers trivia page and click on the Election link at the bottom - this page has more Clanger excerpts)

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Please save those stamps!

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.

Brrrr.... Cold feet at Kingsgate Park

There are some lovely spots for a winter stroll in our parks...


Most of the lake at Kingsgate Park was frozen over today




Some of the ducks decided walking was easier than swimming - don't blame them!



Sunset over the lake

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Steve Webb live Q&A online Monday evening

Steve Webb will take part in a live question and answer session on the Lib Dem Voice website from 6.30pm on Monday evening.

This is a national event - Steve is of course the Liberal Democrat Climate Change and Energy spokesman, as well as being our local MP.

You can submit a question if you want to - Lib Dem Voice has details here.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Chipping Sodbury Victorian Day - evening highlights


A few pictures from the evening of the well-attended Victorian Day.
Well done to all the organisers, shopkeepers and everyone who took part.
(Music by Bristol Morris Men, who gave an excellent performance)

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Saturday, 29 November 2008

"We must save our broken democracy" - Nick Clegg

Read Nick Clegg's Telegraph article here.

The only thing to add is that there a popular saying
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it".

Well, it's broken now.

And it's time for action to fix it.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Sainsbury's - wind power and waiting

The new wind generator has been installed in Sainsbury's car park at Emerson's Green.

Sainsbury's store is now open again following the major changes. It's very nice inside, with a lot more choice, but the outside has lost its distinctive gables and it now looks like any other boxy retail store - a backwards step.

Also please note the parking restriction - two hours free, maximum stay three hours.

So don't try to use it as a Park and Ride to travel to Bristol for the Xmas shopping - parking attendants are patrolling enforcing the time limit.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Victorian Day 2008 is coming!


Chipping Sodbury Victorian Day was very popular last year - and it's coming back! There will be all sorts of entertainments for the whole family - music, fair rides, late night shopping with the shop staff in costume, morris dancing and much more.

Victorian Day is on Friday 5th December from 2 pm to 9.30 pm.

Check out the Chipping Sodbury Lions Club website for full details of the Victorian Day events.

First Bus reviews recent bus changes - newer buses next year

First Bus has told South Glos's Transport Select Committee that they will be fine-tuning bus times now that the recent changes have bedded in - see the Gazette story here.

This was in response to local people who have complained to councillors about problems with the amended services between Bristol and Yate and Chipping Sodbury.

The good news is that many of the buses that serve our area will be replaced next year. The older buses will be withdrawn and replaced by some three-year-old vehicles from elsewhere. Second-hand, but better than what we've got at the moment.

Train fares rise despite falling inflation

The train companies have announced price rises of around 6% for "regulated" fares - including season tickets and saver tickets - but in some other fares will go up considerably more.

According to today's Guardian "Unregulated fares, which include most leisure and advanced-fare tickets, will rise by an average of 7%, with some fares increasing by over 11%"

They are allowed to put regulated fares up by the retail price index plus 1%, and the increase is based on July's inflation figure of 5%. So despite the fall in inflation they can still put the prices up (which will increase the rate of inflation again... Chicken and egg here we think!)

Maybe people wouldn't mind so much if the trains were less crowded and had better carriages.

Another road fatality in Yate - police appeal for witnesses to Scott Way motorcycle crash

Police are appealing for witnesses following a fatal accident involving a motorcyclist shortly after midnight (Sat 22 November) on Scott Way in Yate.

Police believe the motorcyclist, who comes from the South Gloucestershire area, was travelling south from the A432 on to Scott Way when the bike collided with the kerb, causing the rider to fall.

The male rider was taken by ambulance to Frenchay Hospital but died shortly afterwards.

Police are keen to hear from anyone who may have been in the area at the time who may have information to help their enquiries.

Anyone able to help is asked to contact the collision investigation unit on 0845 4567000.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Wheelchairs for South Africa - well done Rotary!

The Gazette reports that disabled children in Cape Town have been given 140 wheelchairs after a fundraising drive by Chipping Sodbury Rotary Club.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Your chance for online chat with S Glos police chief

People living and working in South Gloucestershire have the chance for an online chat with the man in charge of local policing later this month, says the Avon and Somerset Police website.

Chief Superintendent Andy Francis is the South Gloucestershire Police District's commander. He will be available for a webchat on the police website between 6.30 and 8pm on Wednesday November 26 2008. C/Supt Francis said he hoped local people would take the opportunity to log on and have their say.

He said: "We are working really hard to make sure our priorities reflect the needs of local communities. We know people are concerned about anti-social behaviour and we're tackling this with Safer South Gloucestershire and other partner agencies.

"We are using high-profile patrols of hot spot areas, talking to the young people we find there and their parents, and making good use of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders and Anti-Social Behaviour Contracts."

But C/Supt Francis stressed that the most important resource for police was local people.

He said: "It's vital that people get involved. The key to making our neighbourhoods safer and stronger lies with the residents. We need them to tell us about the problems that concern them the most – and help us find lasting solutions.

"One of the best ways to do this is to come along to your neighbourhood's Safer Stronger Community Group meetings, held regularly in a local venue. Details can be found by visiting www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/inyourarea

"The Government's recent 'Not in My Neighbourhood' week of action showcased a number of initiatives where local people have taken the lead and really made life better for everyone in their neighbourhood.

"Residents of a road In Filton have clubbed together, with the support of the neighbourhood team and Safer South Gloucestershire, to install lockable gates preventing access to the lanes behind their homes.

"This has helped to cut crime and make residents feel safer – but it could not have happened without the active support of the locals."

To make your point to C/Supt Francis simply visit www.avonandsomerset.police.uk between 6.15 and 8pm on Wednesday 26th and follow the link.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

St John Ambulance AGM 19 November


The AGM of St. John Ambulance, Chipping Sodbury and Yate, is being held on Wednesday 19th November in The Sixth Form Common Room, Brimsham Green School, Yate starting at 8.15 pm.

Everyone is welcome, and refreshments will be provided. Please come and find out more about this very valuable organisation.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Sainsbury's at Emersons Green to close for a week

In case you sometimes go across to Emersons Green, you might like to know that Sainsbury's will shortly be closed for a week because of the building work.

It closes at 6 pm this Friday - 14th November - and reopens at 9 am on Friday 21st November.

The petrol station will stay open as usual.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Leaf fall problems

For the next few weeks, South Glos Council's Street Cleansing Team are suspending their routine sweeping programme to concentrate on clearing leaf fall.

If you are concerned about an area with high levels of leaf fall please contact the Streetcare help desk - email streetcare@southglos.gov.uk or phone 01454 868000.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Teenager killed in road accident on Rodford Way - Police seek witnesses

Police have put out an appeal for witnesses following a fatal road traffic collision in Yate last night (Monday November 3).

The incident happened at about 7.15pm on the Rodford Way, near the Abbotswood Inn. A 13-year-old girl from the Yate area was in collision with a Ford Transit van.

Police, fire and ambulance attended the incident but the girl was declared dead at the scene. The road was closed for examination by the road policing unit's collision investigation unit and re-opened at 10.39pm.

Police are keen to hear from anyone who may have been in the area at the time of the incident.

Anyone with information should contact the police's collision investigation unit on 0845 4567000.

Link to local police website - click here.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Beware forged £20 notes!

Two forged £20 notes were passed at a Yate shop today - if you work in a small shop in our area you are recommended to look very closely at any £20 notes you are offered, or use a counterfeit detection pen.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Have YOU had problems getting the bus from Cabot Circus? An apology from First.

Have YOU been left standing at the bus stop opposite Cabot Circus, near the Spectrum Building, while a Yate or Chipping Sodbury bus drives straight past?

After our recent story "Save the hassle, take the bus to town", one of our readers commented:
"Having just read your article I would like to bring to your attention a few facts that you may be interested in concerning the Spectrum building designated pick up point for Yate, Chipping Sodbury. I work in Cabot Circus and have tried to use this Stop on a number of occasions as it should enable me to catch a bus that I would otherwise miss if I had to run to the bus station"

"Unfortunately this is not very often the case as the majority of bus drivers(x342 / x42) and their unions have taken it upon themselves to decide whether or not they stop at this designated stop. This is because they are disputing whether it is a safe place for them to stop to pick up. This I find laughable as the bus stop is big enough to accommodate 6 parked cars and if they were in their correct lane when coming off the roundabout it would be no more dangerous than any other bus stop"

"Unfortunately whilst this dispute still goes on the general public are the one's being forced to suffer the consequences of their actions. Resulting in the bus drivers ignoring the waving arms and cries of stop as these unfortunate victims try without success to get these buses to stop. So I ask you does this sound to you like a hassle free bus service from town or a humiliating experience for anyone who dares to use the designated stop?"

As soon as we got this, we contacted the manager at South Gloucestershire Council who deals with negotiations with the bus company, and he got straight on to First.

Alan Willoughby, the Assistant Operations Director for First Bristol, said
"I am sorry to hear that we remain with drivers not observing Stop C in Bond Street. The stop has been agreed, drivers and inspectors have been informed of the stop. Any individuals not observing the stop will be seen. My apologies to any passengers left behind, if they have details then we can identify and deal with individual drivers"


So if this happens to you because a particular driver isn't following instructions, please contact First's customer services by phoning 0845 606 4446 or emailing bath.csc@firstgroup.com with the details - day, time and bus service number should be enough (Yes, their Bath customer services deal with these routes) You might care to tell them "Mr Willoughby asked for details of any incidents like this".

South Glos has also told Bristol City Council about the problem because the services affect them as well.

Well done South Glos for very prompt action on this one!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Phone mast alley - the good news and the bad news

Giving phone masts the bird

The good news - following pressure by local councillors, South Glos has rejected Vodafone's notification of another phone mast on ten Rodford Way frontage of Blaisdon, just yards from the existing O2 mast (though Vodafone can still appeal against the decision)

S Glos decided that "The addition of the third mast would be visually intrusive and the cumulative impact of the three masts would have a negative impact on the streetscene and would detract from the visual amenity of the area"

We've persuaded Vodafone to reconsider other sites they had previously rejected, and we're waiting to hear back from them.

However - the bad news - in the course of investigations, it has emerged that "3"intend to use BOTH their approved sites - the Harescombe corner of Shire Way and the Merlin Way corner of Scott Way - to service their joint network arrangement with T-Mobile.

So even if the Vodafone mast eventually goes somewhere else, we'll have three masts in a row anyway. We are NOT impressed by South Gloucestershire's handling of phone mast applications. They are not involving Parish or Town Councillors at an early enough stage, and they are pointing the phone companies towards locations that are totally unacceptable to local people.

Watch this space for future developments.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Rush hour road works on the ring road

On Tuesday 21st October, work on widening the A4174 ring road at Hambrook will start at 9.30am as usual but will continue on beyond the normal end time of 3.30pm (weather permitting). This is because the surfacing work needs to be done in one go and cannot be completed in the restricted hours. There will be fewer lanes in use than normal and the traffic lights will be adjusted to keep traffic moving as best as possible but there will inevitably be delays.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Save the hassle, take the bus to town

Bristol's new Cabot Circus shopping development is attracting large numbers of visitors. Last Saturday the brand new 3000 vehicle car park was full, with queues at the entrances and traffic jams back up the M32 to the Inner Circuit Road junction.

Why not save yourself some hassle and catch the bus? You can get off near Cabot Circus, and as you can see there's a return stop at the Spectrum Building, just opposite the new shops.

Another alternative - up until 28 December - is the 984 Park and Ride on Saturdays and Sundays from the UWE car park off the roundabout in Coldharbour Lane, Frenchay (fare £2 return) - and this service picks up from the Spectrum Building stop as well. It runs every 15 minutes during the day.

Note that the 984 DOESN'T officially pick up at the Bristol Fashion, even if a driver tells you it does. If you wait there the bus may just sail past you. The stop before the Spectrum Building is further back towards the Centre in Lewins Mead (stop Hm).

No, not THAT Iceland!

Fortunately, as far as we know, this is the closest South Glos Council has got to the Icelandic banks crisis.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Government's online housing consultation held up "because Gary is on holiday"

Apparently recent comments on the governments proposal for massive housing developments in South Glos and elsewhere in the region are not being updated on the ministry website.

We do no better than quote Hansard for Steve Webb's speech to the House of Commons in this week's housing debate:

'One of my constituents, Ron Morton, who chairs the Shortwood green belt campaign, rang the Government office for the south-west and asked, “Why are there no more comments since 25 September?” He was told that the official consultation website is not currently being updated with participant submissions, because “Gary is on holiday.” [Laughter.]

'There is a serious point here. He has asked me to put to the Minister the following question: can the Minister extend the consultation period, this time by a period at least equal to Gary’s holiday, because given the crucial timing of Gary’s absence, the backlog of comments on his return is likely to be substantial?'

Green Belt protection "rigid and old-fashioned", says minister

During the House of Commons debate on the massive housing developments proposed for South Gloucestershire, Communities Minister Iain Wright described the principle that brown field (previously used) land should be built on before green belt as "rigid and old-fashioned", and said that what was needed was flexibility.

Speaking to the BBC outside Downing Street, Steve Webb MP said:

“Every MP who was at the debate was shocked by what the Minister said. He said that the green belt was fair game.

“We cannot tell developers to go to the brown field and developed areas first. They can go to the prime sites on day one. It was a disgrace.”

The debate was arranged by Steve Webb after the government raised the number of proposed houses by 50% despite already overburdened roads, inadequate bus services and minimal train services.

Steve describes the debate here.

Following the debate Steve delivered a protest petition to Downing Street.

Whether you signed the petition or not, it's still important to put in your comments to the government. The more voices they hear, the more likely they are to tone down their plans. You only have until 24 October - just over a fortnight including any time in the post. Just to repeat what we said the other day:

If you would like to object to the Government's proposals on housing, but don't know what to say, you can click here to download some suggestions: Word version

(Note - we've had occasional problems with this link - if it doesn't work for you, please email paul.hulbert@gmail.com for a copy)

Then:

  1. Get the blank Government form online here
    - you can fill it in electronically or fill in a paper copy
  2. Use our 'specimen' as a guide – but put it in your own words, because people take more notice of personalised objections
  3. Send completed forms to the email or postal addresses on the form to reach the Government Office for the South West not later than 5.00pm on Friday 24th October (the deadline has been extended by a week)
This is important. Please do it NOW.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

30,000 houses - latest news, how to object, and some suggestions

The main slides from Steve Webb's public meeting can be seen here.

View the slideshow to see just how big the impact would be on Yate and Chipping Sodbury.

If you would like to object to the Government's proposals on housing, but don't know what to say, click here to download some suggestions:

Word version

(Note - we've had occasional problems with this link - if it doesn't work for you, please email paul.hulbert@gmail.com for a copy)

Four steps to getting your voice heard

  1. Get the blank Government form online here
    - you can fill it in electronically or fill in a paper copy

  2. Use our 'specimen' as a guide – but put it in your own words, because people take more notice of personalised objections

  3. Send completed forms to the email or postal addresses on the form to reach the Government Office for the South West not later than 5.00pm on Friday 24th October
    (Updated 09/10/08 - the deadline has been extended by a week)

  4. Sign our petition at: www.stevewebb.org.uk

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Reminder - public meeting on the 30,000 houses - 2nd Oct at King Ed's 7.30pm


Don't forget the public meeting at King Edmund School, Yate, tomorrow (Thursday 2nd October) at 7.30 pm. Come along and hear the latest from Steve Webb MP and local councillors.

WHAT ELSE CAN I DO ABOUT IT?

(1) Sign our petition by Friday (3 Oct) so that Steve Webb can present the petition in the special debate in Parliament - you can do this online at http://www.stevewebb.org.uk

(2) Tell the Government what you think (by 17 Oct) by responding to their consultation:
- online at http://tinyurl.com/6z6pdz - register with the government "Consultation Portal" (click "Login" top left, then "Register") and then comment on section HMA1
- or on paper - get an official form from Poole Court or by ringing the government on 0117 900 1743. On Section B of the form, you should say that you oppose the Secretary of State's changes.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Energy savers wanted!

South Gloucestershire residents are being asked to take part in anew energy saving competition.

Communities will go head to head in the competition to see who can reduce their energy consumption the most over a 6 month period. Winners will be awarded an Eco Hamper for each household as well as tickets to travel to an International Awards Ceremony in Brussels.

All participants will receive a variety of energy saving gadgets and eco goodies throughout the competition, including energy saving lightbulbs, eco kettles and hot water tank jackets, and will have the chance to win spot prizes of standby saver gadgets, water powered clocks, fridgesaver plugs and wind up radios and torches.

Competition organisers are looking for 10-15 households in South Gloucestershire

To take part or find out more contact the Severn Wye Energy Agency (www.swea.co.uk) on 0800 512 012.

(Thanks to our sister blog for this item)

Time to apply for local grants


The next round of Revenue Grants will run from Monday 29th September with a closing date of 3rd November.

South Glos Council's website says: "Small grants are awarded to local groups to develop projects and provide activites that meet local needs"

"Categories of work include art and culture, children and play, community safety, developing communities, enhancing the natural and built environment, learning activities, promoting equality and tackling poverty, sports and for supporting vulnerable people"

You can apply online on the South Glos website. Select G from the A-Z then Grants, Community Grants.

Concerned about local ambulance services?

The South Gloucestershire LINk, set up to enable the whole community to have a say in local health and social care issues, is currently gathering views on local ambulance services for the Great Western Ambulance Joint Health Scrutiny Committee.

You can send comments to epowell@swindon.gov.uk by the 10 October on how
satisfied you are with ambulance services in your area, anything you would
like to change about the ambulance services in your area and any issues that
you think the committee should consider in more detail.

Local MP Steve Webb challenged the Great Western Ambulance Service earlier in the year about the impact on journey times of Frenchay being downgraded.

(Thanks to our sister blog for this item)

Rodford Way Vodaphone mast - latest

Dodington Council has objected to the mast application - their very detailed comments are now visible on the South Glos website, along with objections from local residents.

This week Cllrs Mandy Sainsbury and Paul Hulbert met Vodafone's agents, who have promised to take another look at several sites they had previously discounted. They should be making contact again in the next few days - we'll keep you posted.

In the meantime the existing application still stands, and you only have until 2nd October - that's Thursday - to get your objections in.

To view or comment on the application, go to the South Glos Planning website. In Reference Number, enter PK08/2533/PN1 and click the Search button.

Scroll down and click on any document to read it. To comment, look for the link Comment on Application just under the row of green buttons - it's not at all obvious.


Alternatively you can email your comments to planningapplications@southglos.gov.uk, quoting Planning Application number PK08/2533/PN1.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Cranleigh Court buses - good news

Wessex Connect will be increasing its 482 Chipping Sodbury to Cribbs Causeway service to give hourly buses from next January.

This means that people in Cranleigh Court, which lost its First Bus service last month, will also now have an improved service to Yate Shopping Centre. This is particularly important because of the closure of their local post office.

Well done, First, and congratulations to Steve Webb MP and local councillors who have been campaigning against local bus cuts. Cll Ian Blair, who led the campaign, commented "This is great news for people who need to get up to the shopping centre to use the only remaining post office".

New website for Yate area

An excellent new website for the Yate area has just appeared - MyYate at www.myyate.co.uk. It's got local information and news, and welcomes event information from local organisations.

They are also compiling a local map that will be free from Ordnance Survey copyright restrictions.

Please check it out now - we're adding it to our "Local Links" in the sidebar.

King Edmund - The Ridings consultation

South Gloucestershire Council are now consulting on plans for King Edmund School and The Ridings to become academies within the Federated Academy Pathfinder Programme (which will include the technical legal closure of the existing schools).

You can read more about the consultation on the South Glos website.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Rodford Way Vodafone mast - get your views in now!

The full details of the Vodafone mast application are now visible from the South Glos planning application website. Search for Reference Number PK08/2533/PN1.

Normally the page would have a link saying "Comment on the Planning Application" - but it's missing.

So just email your comments to planningapplications@southglos.gov.uk, quoting Planning Application number PK08/2533/PN1.

Comments need to reach South Glos not later than 2nd November.


Councillors Paul Hulbert and Mandy Sainsbury making local people's views clear.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Police appeal for witnesses to Yate assault in early hours

The Avon and Somerset Police website says:

Police in South Gloucestershire are appealing for witnesses after a man was assaulted in Yate Shopping Centre.

At around 2.30am on Sunday, September 14, 2008, the 22-year-old victim was walking through the shopping centre when he was set upon by four or five men.

The victim was head butted and suffered a cut lip as a result.

Police would like to speak to anyone who may have witnessed the assault as it is known that there were a number of people in and around the shopping centre at the time.

Anyone who can help is asked to contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Driver assaults cyclist in Rodford Way, fractures shoulder - did you witness it?

The Avon and Somerset Police website says:

Police are appealing for witnesses following an incident that occurred at Rodford Way, Yate, on Tuesday 16th September 2008 at 2.15 pm.

The incident occurred when a yellow Iveco truck cut up a cyclist who was dressed in a bright yellow cycling top. The cyclist banged on the side of the truck with his hand. The truck driver then stopped his vehicle in Rodford Way and pushed the cyclist off of his bike as he cycled past. This caused the cyclist to fall off and fracture his shoulder.

The incident blocked the road and caused a small traffic jam.

The cyclist was taken to hospital by ambulance.

We believe there were several witnesses in the vicinity at the time of the incident including the driver of a Sainsbury's truck who stopped to assist the cyclist.

If anyone has any information about this incident they are asked to contact Staple Hill Police station on 0845 456 7000.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Yet another mast proposed for "Phone Mast Alley"


Blaisdon residents, including Cllr Mandy Sainsbury, are protesting about a proposed mobile phone mast in an area which will shortly be crowded with them.

This small area of Yate already has one O2 phone mast built (you can see it in the background on the right), plus approval for a "3" mast as well. Now Vodaphone wants to erect a third mast within only a few yards - you can see on the aerial photo just how close together they would be.


Click here to see detailed map from Google Maps.

What's more, there's yet another approved "3" site at the eastern end of the main road, just a couple of hundred yards away. And we know that T-Mobile may want to put a mast a similar distance west.

"Enough is enough"

Cllr Paul Hulbert, who also lives in Blaisdon, said "Whatever your opinion about mobile phone masts, this sort of clustering is clearly overdevelopment. We're exploring all possible ways of objecting to the Vodaphone mast".

We'll keep you posted here with extra details as we find them. The application is not on South Glos Council's website yet - we'll let you know when it appears, and advise you about how best to object.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Reminder - change of venue for Area Forum

In a break from recent practice, this Thursday's Frome Vale Area Forum will be held in the Main Hall at Frampton Cotterell Primary School (rather than the Ridgewood Centre, Yate). Doors open at 6.15pm for a 7pm start and the agenda includes a chance to give your views on the Government proposals to impose 33000 new homes on South Gloucestershire, decision making on grants and an open forum for your to have your say on whatever is concerning you.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Stop the tidal wave of new housing

The Government has upped the development allocation for South Gloucestershire to 32,800 new houses. Yes, we need affordable housing. No, we don't need this many houses - especially without the infrastructure to support them.

They're planning to shut our major hospital, Frenchay. They're planning to cut the number of hospital beds. The roads are beginning to seize up already. And the Government has deleted public transport proposals like the Yate rail turnback from their consultation (this is vital to get more trains to stop at Yate Station)

THREE THINGS YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT...

(1) Tell the Government what you think (by 17 Oct) by responding to their consultation:
- online at http://tinyurl.com/6z6pdz - register with the government "Consultation Portal" (click "Login" top left, then "Register") and then comment on section HMA1
- or on paper - get an official form from Poole Court or by ringing the government on 0117 900 1743. On Section B of the form, you should say that you oppose the Secretary of State's changes.

(2) Sign our petition (by 3 Oct) so that Steve Webb can present the petition in the special debate in Parliament - online at http://www.stevewebb.org.uk or by filling in the form on the special Focus leaflet that's being delivered at the moment. Watch for it dropping on your doormat!

(3) Come to Steve Webb's next public meeting - We've already held two in this area, and there's another one at King Edmund School, Yate at 7.30 pm on Thursday 2nd October. Come and hear the latest news and support the campaign.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Anti-skid surfacing at new traffic lights near Westerleigh

Anti-skid surfacing is going to be laid on Westerleigh Road, Shorthill Road and at Shorthill Crossroads - where the new traffic lights have been installed recently on the B4465.

This will mean temporary traffic lights replacing the new permanent signals while the work is carried out.

Thanks to our sister blog for this item.

Make sure you get your vote!

It's that time of year again when the Register of Electors forms start arriving on our doormats. This is the form that makes sure that you can vote at elections. The electoral register also gets checked if you apply for credit.

It doesn't take long to fill out the form or if there are no changes you can simply do it by telephone. Remember to tick the right-hand column if you don't want your details used for marketing (if you do it over the telephone they will confirm if you have that box ticked).

Thanks to our sister blog for this item.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Taking a dim view

With the atrocious weather lately, and evenings starting to pull in as autumn creeps up on us, it's worth reminding any teenage cyclists you know to get their lights working.

This evening we encountered one lad without any lights at all. Fortunately he was wearing a light coloured shirt, so he was a little more visible than he might have been.

Picnic in the Park postponed


Because the weather forecast is bad, Yate Town Council has decided to postpone the Picnic in the Park event scheduled to take place in Kingsgate Park this coming Sunday, 7 September.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Massive housing proposals - a quotable quote

Stephen Fry on Radio 4 this morning reminded his audience of a slip of the tongue attributed to John Prescott:

"The Green Belt is a Labour policy, and we intend to build on it"

Enough said...

Nibley Lane to close on Thursday

Nibley Lane, Yate (from its junction with Badminton Road to its junction with Westerleigh Road) will be closed on Thursday 4 September 2008 between 9.30am - 2.30pm to enable street cleansing works to be undertaken.

(Thanks to our sister blog for this item)

Walking in the Frome Valley - 11 September

There will be a six-mile organised walk on Thursday 11 September, starting at Wickwar Rd Car Park, Chipping Sodbury at 10.30 am.

The walk - organised by the Avon Frome Partnership, the Friends of the River Frome and South Glos Council - will explore wildlife and heritage along the river.

Call 0117 922 4325 to book a place, and don't forget to wear sturdy footwear.

More from the Gazette here.

Sunday, 31 August 2008

History for all the family at Lower Woods - Sunday 7th September

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust has a family event to celebrate 2000 Years of history at Lower Woods Nature Reserve, near Wickwar, on Sunday 7th September from 11.30 am to 5.00 pm.

There will be a guided archaeology/history walk with experts around the Roman Villa and World War II sawmills (N.B. Excavations are not visible) and guided wildlife and geology walks through the Woods.

There will be a marquee with displays of archaeology, history and wildlife, plus demonstrations of traditional woodland activities.

There will be family activity walks in the Woods, and children can help to build an Iron Age roundhouse (probably muddy - wear appropriate clothes or bring a change!)

Demonstrations of traditional woodland activities will including bodging, coppicing, hurdle-making, horse-logging, fletcher, charcoal-burning and a herbalist.

There are full details and directions on the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust website.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Community Transport goes on the Magic Roundabout

Yate, Sodbury and District Community Transport has just taken delivery of two extra 15-seater minibuses - and named them Florence and Dylan.

They will join Zebedee and the other buses in providing an expanded facility for elderly and disabled people and community groups in the area.

Community Transport aims to extend its services to seven days a week and provide transport in the evening. The group already runs Ring and Ride and group travel services, including some day trips.

And don't forget that you can use your National Travelcard on Community Transport!

Friday, 29 August 2008

Yate Community Plan Launch - 12 September

The Yate Community Plan - based on the views of residents, young people, businesses, community organisations and visitors - is a twenty-year vision for the future of Yate.

Key points include commitment to the young people of Yate, in particular a youth café and the long-overdue cinema; and more alternatives to the car for travelling in and around Yate.

The plan has been put together by local volunteers, and Yate Town Council's September meeting in September is expected to adopt the plan as policy.

There will be a celebratory launch event of the plan on Friday 12th September, 12noon – 2pm in the Heron Rooms, Poole Court. There will be celebratory music and food followed by a short opening presentation from Steve Webb MP. If you would like to attend, please contact Karen Whitaker on 01454 868127 or email karen.whitaker@southglos.gov.uk.

The Plan can be downloaded from www.youryate.co.uk or you can contact Yate Town Council (01454 866514) to request a copy.

So, there's a plan. But this is only the first step. To put the plan into action, an Implementation Group which will be formed immediately after the launch. If you would like to be involved please email info@yatetowncouncil.gov.uk or phone Yate Town Council on the number above.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

GCSE update - Brimsham Green School

Last week we reported on the GCSE results from King Edmund and Chipping Sodbury Schools, and we promised to let you know the results for Brimsham Green when they were available.

We haven't got detailed statistics, but the Gazette has reported that results have improved slightly from last year. The number of students staying on for the sixth form has also increased, which is excellent news. Congratulations to students and staff!

Open Day at Oldwood Pit, Rangeworthy (near Yate)

mine above groundSunday 14 September 11.00 am to 5.00 pm

Come and explore a local pit - see the pit shaft and head tunnel, rails, drift entrance wheels and trucks. There will be guided tours of the Colliery site remains and a display of mining artefacts. Entry is free and refreshments will be available.

Oldwood Pit is on Tanhouse Lane, Rangeworthy, BS37 7PZ - It will be signposted from the B4058 south of Rangeworthy.

For more information see the South Gloucestershire Mines Research Group's website: (check out their fascinating photo gallery!) or contact Jenni Humphris, Tel: 01454 228160.

mine below ground

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Frome Vale Area Forum meeting - 11th September

The Frome Vale Area Forum brings together residents and councillors from Chipping Sodbury, Cotswold Edge, Dodington, Frampton Cotterell, Ladden Brook, Westerleigh and Yate.

The next meeting will be held on Thursday 11 September at 7 pm on the main hall of Frampton Cottrell Primary School. Doors open at 6.15 pm - a good opportunity for some networking!

This meeting's agenda includes:
- An opportunity to ask your local South Gloucestershire councillors questions
- A discussion about the Government's proposal for 33,000 new homes in South Glos by 2026
- Decision making on capital grants to local community groups

Monday, 25 August 2008

Safer Stronger Community Group meetings

The next meetings of our local Safer Stronger Community Groups will be held as follows:

Yate area - Shire Way Community Centre – Tues 9th September 7pm

Chipping Sodbury area - Horton Village Hall – Weds 15th October 7.30pm

These meetings bring together representatives of the police, councils and other agencies. Sometimes it's hard to find out who is responsible for dealing with problems - these meetings are an opportunity for residents to raise issues, so that a coordinated approach can be taken.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Tormarton composting application

The consultation period has started for SITA's in-vessel composting application for the highways depot site near Tormarton. You can view the extensive case file and make comments on the South Glos website. According to the website, the deadline for comments is 9 September, but local Councillors were told it was the 8th. Either way, there isn't long to make your views known.

Residents and Parish Councils affected by the previous composting application near Westerleigh were angry that no residents were notified of that application because none lived within 100m of the site. Claire Young took these complaints to the Executive Member at the Select Committee and this time the Council have contacted all those within 900m. This includes some people living in the part of Dodington Parish within Westerleigh ward.

If you would like further updates on this application, you can join our composting mailing list by sending an email to:
focus-on-composting-subscribe@googlegroups.com

Thanks to our sister blog for this article.

Big Band at Picnic in the Park - Sunday September 7th

Lovers of swing and big band music are in for a treat on Sunday September 7th when the Phil Dando Big Band performs in Kingsgate Park, Yate.

This free event in the newly refurbished park is being staged and funded by Yate Town Council from 3pm to 7pm. Music lovers are encouraged to bring a picnic and chill out to the sound of the band.

More details from the Gazette here.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Wapley Bushes - come and help, Sunday 31 August

The Wapley Bushes Conservation Group is meeting on Sunday 31 August at the Shire Way gate at 10.00 am. They will be doing some general conservation work such as tidying up a small stream that is the habitat of a very rare plant. (No, not this one - this is just one of the Lords and Ladies arums)

Please come along and help! Tools are provided, but you'll need to wear wellies or stout footwear and appropriate clothing. If you would like more details please ring Paul on 01454 315851, but you can just turn up on the day.

You can also find out more about the Nature Reserve from the Wapley Bushes Blog.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

First bus prices to rise

First Bus has announced price rises of around 6 percent in the Greater Bristol area with effect from Sunday 1st September. They say this is due to the rising cost of fuel.




The announcement from First is here.

For more details you can click on the "Bristol fares information" link at the bottom of First's announcement.

GCSEs - good news for Yate and Chipping Sodbury schools

Several of our local schools have seen major improvements in GCSE results this year.

King Edmund Community School in Yate has had a rise of 20 per cent to 54 per cent of students achieving 5 A* to C grades, with 36 per cent of students achieving five or more A* to C grades including English and maths.

Chipping Sodbury School is celebrating its best ever GCSE results with 67 per cent of students achieving five or more A* to C grades, with 53 per cent of students achieving five or more A* to C grades including English and maths.

We haven't seen any figures published yet for Brimsham Green School, but we'll put them here if we do.

Congratulations to all our local GCSE students - and to their hard-working teachers!

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Jeremy Clarkson for PM? Number Ten's video reply

We don't normally include Government videos on this blog - but we couldn't resist this one:



Click on the arrow to start.

And yes, this is an official video from Downing Street, on their YouTube channel.

Gordon Brown's own videos get 5000 views in a month or two, if he's lucky.

This one got 25,000 views in the first 9 hours.

(Thanks to Gavin Whenman for pointing it out on his blog)

Monday, 18 August 2008

Cambrian Drive village green bid turned down

An attempt to have land at Cambrian Drive, Yate, given village green status has been turned down by South Glos Council’s Public Rights of Way Committee.

Instead a housing association will now build 70 homes and a day centre for elderly people on the site.

The Gazette gives more details about the Cambrian Drive decision here.

Going mobile

We're trying a little experiment - if you can access the Internet on your mobile phone, you can see a cut-down version of this blog at http://localfocus.mofuse.mobi/

You just get the latest stories without the comments or the sidebar, but it loads very quickly. There are a few sponsored links at the bottom of the page, but that's because it's a free service.

You can click here to preview how it will look.

If you use it, please let us know how you get on.

Friday, 15 August 2008

A Level results

We said all this last year, but we'll say it again:

Congratulations to everyone who got the A Level results they wanted. At this time of year there's always negative press comment saying "It was harder in our day". Ignore it! It's not easier now, it's just different - and probably taught better too. Enjoy your success, it's well deserved.

And if you didn't get quite what you wanted, keep an open mind about courses and opportunities - there are lots of universities and colleges out there with places still available.
(in fact, why not look at UWE - but I would say that, I teach there - Editor)

My own story might be useful to some people out there. I had the right number of points for my first choice, but in the wrong combination. I'd done better than required in one subject but worse in another. I talked to them, and they agreed to take me after all. If you're in that situation, it's worth a phone call!

Plastic bag use down, but still more to do

According to the Guardian, Tesco has reported a 40 percent drop in the number of plastic bags handed out over the last two years - a drop of 20 million bags a week. They have encouraged customers to re-use bags by giving Green Clubcard Points.

They say that they don't intend to charge for single-use bags, but they will no longer be on display at the checkouts - people will have to ask if they want them.

Marks and Spencer are among stores that have started charging, and their plastic bag use has dropped by 80 percent since May, a reduction of 7 million a week. Profits from the charges, over £200,000, are going to the Groundwork charity to create new parks and play areas.

The Republic of Ireland instituted charges for bags in 2002 and saw a fall of 90 percent. Certain major supermarkets in France have yet another approach - they just don't have single-use carriers. You can't get them even if you ask for them.

Our Government has said that if stores do not introduce a charging policy voluntarily, they will be forced to under the proposed Climate Change Bill. Perhaps Tesco can achieve the same effect by their "hearts and minds" approach.

The size of the problem: According to the Telegraph, shops in Britain hand out almost 250 million plastic bags per week. Their average useful life is just 20 minutes from shop to bin.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Chipping Sodbury Library open again, temporary library planned for Yate

The Library in Chipping Sodbury is open again after a major refit. Opening hours are as follows:
Monday: Closed
Tuesday: 9.30am - 12.30pm and 1.30pm - 5.00pm
Wednesday: Closed
Thursday: 9.00am - 1.00pm
Friday: 9.30am - 12.30pm and 1.30pm - 5.00pm
Saturday: 9.30am - 12.30pm
Sunday: Closed

Meanwhile, South Glos is planning ahead for the rebuilding of Yate Library in the Shopping Centre. They have just applied for planning permission for a temporary library at 23 South Parade, which was previously the Sheila Peters shop. The opening hours at Chipping Sodbury will also be extended to spread the load.

Increased fire brigade cover for Yate, Chipping Sodbury and surrounding area

Avon Fire & Rescue Service has announced that it will be expanding its fire cover by crewing Yate Fire Station 24 hours a day, in preparation for the expected increases in local population.

At the moment firefighters work out of the station between 8am and 5pm, with retained firefighters on call for the night shifts, responding to 999 calls from home or work via a pager.

From Thursday 1 January Yate Fire Station will be crewed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by a Wholetime Duty System, supported during peak times by their Retained Duty colleagues.

This is similar to the Bath and Weston-super-Mare stations, which have Wholetime and Retained Duty firefighters working together to protect the community.

Yate Fire Station Manager Steve Kendrick said: "I am delighted that Avon Fire & Rescue Service is expanding its resources at Yate Fire Station. We are hoping the new arrangements will mean we can spend more time working with community groups and members of the public to highlight fire safety messages. The changes will also mean we can be more flexible when offering free Home Fire Safety Visits, booking appointments at a more convenient time for members of the public."

"Obviously this means local groups can now use the Community Safety Centre in the evenings, which has a free meeting room and Information Communication Technology (ICT) facilities. There will also be facilities for the local Police Community Support Officers so that they can use the fire station as a base."

Author's note: This is a nice meeting room if you want a good venue for a committee meeting - recommended.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Missing links

The Evening Post has reorganised its website and consequently a lot of older links on this site no longer work - clicking on them just takes you through to their home page.

The Gazette has reorganised too, but in their case you just get an error message.

We've also had to take the Evening Post headlines feed off the sidebar because their feed no longer gives the complete addresses. We've written to them about it. The Gazette headline feed does work, however.

Apologies to our regular readers.

Update 12 August - We have removed the Evening Post dead links. The Gazette search facility is offline, so we'll wait until it returns - we might be able to resurrect some of their links.

Update 16 August - We've located all the old Gazette links in our articles, so they should all work now. We've had no reply yet about the problem with the Evening Post headline feed.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Police appeal for witnesses after Yate robbery

Police are appealing for witnesses after a robbery in Yate last Thursday evening of Thursday, August 7. The victim was walking home down an alley that connects Station Road to Milton Road at approximately 11pm last night when she was approached by a man.

The man threatened her with a knife and made her hand over money. He then made off with £25 back down the alley towards Tesco Express.

The suspect is described as white, in his late 20s, with a slim build and spiky short dark hair. He was clean shaven but is described as having a scruffy appearance and wearing a green 'parka' style coat with hood, denim jeans and trainers. He also spoke with a Bristolian accent. The knife he used is described as having a bone handle.

Police are asking that anyone who recognises this description or may have seen anything suspicious that evening to call Staple Hill CID on 0845 456 7000 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Thanks to the Avon and Somerset Constabulary district news for this item)

Closure dates announced for Post Offices

Closure dates have been announced for two of our local post offices. The PO counter in Station Road, Yate (Tesco Express) will close at 1pm on September 5th, and Old Sodbury's PO counter in the village shop will close on September 4th.

Obviously the Old Sodbury closure will have a major effect on the village, although the shop will try to manage without the PO facility.

Meanwhile the Station Road closure will have a major effect on the large number of elderly people in the area - not everyone can get to the Shopping Centre easily.

It's clear that the Post Office takes very little notice of objections made during their "consultation process". Community concerns don't count.

As we've commented before, how long will it be before they want to shut Chipping Sodbury, or Abbotswood, or North Road? The only language they seem to understand is profitability, including the share of central costs that they load onto each location. The Post Office's message to us is simple - use it or lose it.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Helicopter chases moped

Just seen on the Avon and Somerset Police website:

The police helicopter was involved in a lengthy search of the Yate and Chipping Sodbury area last night, Wednesday August 06 2008.

The helicopter was called out after a moped which was being ridden without any lights failed to stop for officers at about 11pm in North Road, Yate.

The moped made off along footpaths, pavements and grassed areas as well as the roads around Yate and Chipping Sodbury.

It was finally stopped at about midnight in Merlin Way, Yate.

A 17-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of theft of a moped, dangerous driving, failing to stop for police and assaulting a constable. He remains in custody.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Track thief derailed

You may recall that back in June we reported on the man who stole five lorry loads (171 tonnes) of old rails stacked up next to the main London to South Wales railway line at Acton Turville.

The BBC reports that he's now been sentenced to two years and nine months in prison.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

New bus timetables starting

The new bus timetables that come into action tomorrow (3rd August 2008) can be seen on the South Glos website. Make sure you click on the new rather than the old timetables where both are listed.

Local residents will be particularly interested in the changes to these services:

X27 South Yate - Yate - Bristol
X42 Chipping Sodbury - Yate - Bristol
327 & 329 Yate - Bristol
342 Chipping Sodbury - Yate - Bristol

But don't forget that the above are only the services run by First Bus - there are also the services run by other operators, and these are NOT changing:

41 Yate - Malmesbury
200 Chipping Sodbury - Frenchay Hospital
482 & 483 Chipping Sodbury - Cribbs Causeway
581 Hanham - UWE - Chipping Sodbury
620 Tetbury - Chipping Sodbury - Yate - Bath
622 Cribbs Causeway - Chipping Sodbury
627 Yate – Wotton-under-Edge

and the term-time services:

680 Yate - UWE - Filton
967 Yate - Chipping Sodbury School

Happy anniversary to the NHS and the Pension (updated)

This year has seen important anniversaries of two key items of social legislation - the National Health Service and Old Age Pensions.

The National Health Service began on July 5th, 1948 under Nye Bevan as Labour Minister of Health, despite opposition by the Conservative Party and the British Medical Association. Who can imagine these bodies opposing it now? How times have changed.

Read this excellent BBC article on the birth of the NHS.

My own family must have been very grateful for the new NHS as I was born within its first year - one of the first generation of NHS babies.

(As Jock Coates has commented, whilst the NHS was instituted by a Labour government, the overall plan for the welfare state of which it was a big founding part was of course the work of a Liberal, William Beveridge)

The Old Age Pensions Act was passed on 1st August, 1908 under the Liberal government of Asquith (not Lloyd George as I originally said - thanks Jock for this correction also). The first payments were made on 1st January 1909 - 5 shillings (25 pence) for those 70 and over. As another interesting BBC article on the Old Age Pension points out, it was means-tested, being reduced if your income was over 12 shillings a week or you had too much furniture.

In our times of the credit crisis, people not saving for retirement, and a rapidly ageing population, the NHS and the Pension will continue to be needed for many years to come.

Steve Webb's recent item on rising energy prices highlights yet another current concern for people with lower incomes.

Clothing collections - UPDATE - don't donate to EC Export

In the past we've warned about commercial door-to-door clothing collections that pretend to be charities. Our advice is usually that unless you recognise a collection by a "big name" charity, you should take usable items to your local charity shop.

We previously said that this organisation appeared OK, but we've discovered from one of our readers that there is no longer a link with the Children's Heart Surgery Fund - in fact in Cardiff EC Export has been prosecuted for making illegal charity collections


Our previous advice was written when the Children's Heart Surgery Fund listed them as a corporate sponsor.

Many thanks to reader "Wales" for bringing this to our attention.

Friday, 1 August 2008

School murals at Yate Health Centre site

There are some fascinating and imaginative murals by various local schools on the hoardings around the Health Centre building site at Yate Shopping Centre. They're well worth looking at - this photo shows just some of them.

Maybe we need more local spaces for art - for older people as well as children? What do you think?

Thanks to our "Blogsitter"

Sharp-eyed readers may have noticed that some recent blog entries have been written by Claire Young, while regular editor Paul Hulbert was away on holiday.

Claire is the editor of our sister blog Focus on the Ladden-Frome Area, which covers the Charfield, Frampton Cotterell, Ladden Brook and Westerleigh wards of South Gloucestershire.

Thanks for keeping things going, Claire, especially with major issues like the housing strategy around.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Lib Dems call for legal challenge to housing numbers

At Wednesday's Council meeting, the Lib Dems tabled an amendment to a Council motion on housing numbers, demanding that the Council investigate taking legal action if the Secretary of State doesn’t reduce the housing numbers destined for South Gloucestershire.

The number of homes that would have to be built each year is highly unrealistic but if the targets are not met there is a real danger that developers will be able to win appeals to build on land not earmarked by the Council for development.

Another concern is that the minister's recommendations would not ensure that the infrastructure needed to support the new homes would be built first. The Lib Dems succeed in gaining three party support for their motion demanding funding from Government to give first class transport for South Gloucestershire residents.

Wind turbine plans for new Council offices

South Gloucestershire Council has agreed to look into erecting a wind turbine on land adjacent to the new Council offices on Badminton Road. If installed, it would provide part of the power needed for the offices.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Fewer new homes for Yate and Sodbury but 2000 more for South Glos as a whole

The Secretary of State has recommended reducing the number of new homes to be built to the north of Yate and Chipping Sodbury from 5000 to 3000 but has increased the number of new homes proposed for South Glos as a whole by 2000 to 32,800.

Lib Dem Leader and councillor for Yate Central Ruth Davis explains, “I am horrified that the Minister has ignored the huge outcry from the public against the proposed housing within South Gloucestershire. We have already said that an increase of 23,500homes would be difficult to deal with properly if not impossible. In reply the Government panel suggested 30,800. Now instead of reducing that number to a manageable and sustainable level of growth the Secretary of State Hazel Blears MP has put it up further. As far as we’re concerned she’s living in the house of commons fantasy land.”

“Our worst fears have been founded with the figure going up even further. As there will now be a 12 week public consultation period on these proposals I urge the public to put their views forward in writing as it appears the Minister is just not listening.”

“We need time now to analyse these new figures in detail as whilst it appears the number for Yate are reduced to 3000 additional houses, this means 4000 more houses for the rest of South Gloucestershire. Being swamped with a flood of new properties was not what Yate residents wanted but they certainly wouldn’t have wished 4000 upon their neighbours in the rest of South Gloucestershire.”

The Lib Dem planning spokesman Cllr Pat Hockey said, "The Government needs to think again about the totally unrealistic number of new homes being proposed for South Gloucestershire. It is ridiculous that the Minister has not taken into account that development appears to have ceased on a number of major sites in South Gloucestershire due to the downturn in the housing market. This makes these housing targets unrealistic, unachievable and pure fantasy figures."

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Fun Day at St Nicholas Nursery, Abbotswood - 26 July

St Nicholas Church is fund raising to improve the outdoor environment - they want to enclose the grass area at the side of the building to make it a safer area for children to play. As their contribution, St Nicholas Nursery will be running a fund raising fair on Saturday 26th July from 11am to 3pm.

As well as many attractions, they also need people to sell and buy at the table top event, and they hope to include a car boot sale. If you are able to help in any way please ring 07879 680118.

Wind farms for South Gloucestershire?

South Glos Council is considering building wind farms on seven council-owned sites in the area. Some sites would only take one wind turbine, but four sites could accommodate up to four turbines each, so that's about twenty turbines in all. The turbines would be connected to the electricity grid, and each could earn up to £25,000 a year (note the "up to").

The sites have been identified by a "desktop planning" exercise - looking at sites more than 450 metres from the nearest house, not actually visiting sites or telling occupiers yet. We presume they've picked sites with reasonable wind velocities.

The proposal is included in a report which is about to be presented to members of the South Glos cabinet. The council will not reveal the site locations until all occupiers have been contacted.

The Evening Post has more on the wind turbines here.

Monday, 14 July 2008

New theatre for Yate?


At the recent consultation display about the Sea Stores housing development, Yate Town Council unveiled their vision for the public part of the site - a three-storey theatre and arts venue. It would include a 300-seater theatre, performance rooms, an exhibition space, bar and restaurant. If the project goes ahead it could be open by 2013. It would cost £2.5 million - largely funded by developers, who have to contribute towards community facilities as a condition of getting planning permission. Nevertheless £1 million will have to be raised to make the scheme a reality.

The new venue aims to respond to demand from members of local amateur dramatic societies, community groups and audiences. For example, Yate Town Councillor and member of the University of the Third Age Sue Walker said there was a real need for a new theatre and meeting place in Yate. "The U3A has 450 members and 26 different groups and we have nowhere to meet at the moment. It is such a job booking places and there really is nothing around".

Those behind the project hope it will result in Yate staging leading dramatic productions and hosting prestigious arts events. "The town centre needs somewhere for people to go in the evening and there is nothing for people aged between 30 and 60," said Cllr Chris Willmore. "There is no other venue like this around."

Read more about the theatre project in the Gazette article here.