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

The Plan can be downloaded from 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 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:

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

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.