Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas from your Focus Team

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from your local Focus Team.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Diversion and road closure - Manor Road (Iron Acton / Rangeworthy / North Yate)

Construction of the new footway on Manor Road, between Chaingate Lane and Tanhouse Lane (click for map), is due to start on 4th January (weather permitting) and is expected to take 4 weeks to complete.

Unfortunately, due to the narrow width of the road, Manor Road will need to be closed to motorised vehicles for the duration of the works, although a pedestrian and cyclist route will be maintained. An alternative route using the B4058 and B4059 will be signed for diverted vehicles. The existing bus service will continue, but will take the following diversion route:-

Manor Road (North) – Chaingate Lane – B4058 – B 4059 – North road (including a U turn south of Tanhouse Lane) – Yate town centre.

The island at the junction of the B4058 and Chaingate Lane will be removed to enable buses to make the necessary movements.

Xmas and New Year bus services

First Bus have announced their services for the holiday period:

Christmas Eve - 24 December
Normal service
Christmas Day - 25 December
No service
Boxing Day - 26 December
Sunday 27 December
Normal Sunday service
Monday 28 December
Normal Public Holiday service
Tuesday29 December
Normal Saturday service
Wednesday 30 December
Thursday 31 December
New Year’s Day - Friday 1 January
Normal Public Holiday service
Saturday 2 January onwards
Normal service

Bath Park and Ride services

The Newbridge, Lansdown and Odd Down Park and Ride services will not be operating on Sunday 27 December and Friday 1 January. A Sunday service will operate on Monday 28 December and a Monday - Friday Service will run on 29, 30 and 31 December. The University of Bath Park and Ride will not operate throughout the Christmas Period.

Bristol (Bath Road) Park and Ride - Service 904

This will not operate on 25, 26, 27 December and 1 January. A Saturday service will run on Monday 28 December and a normal Monday-Friday service will run on 29, 30 and 31 December.

School and college services will not run at all over the Christmas period.

Full details are on the First Bus website here.

Rubbish and recycling collection update

Thanks to icy roads and pavements, delayed starts and traffic problems, the problems with bin collections continue. Because Saturdays are already being used to catch up on Christmas public holidays, SITA won't be able to use them to catch up on the weather-related delays.

Therefore black bin and green box collections are being prioritised for collection before Christmas Day, but green bin collections are being suspended, except for households on the food waste trial.

If you are awaiting a collection, please leave your black bins and green boxes out if it is safe to do so, otherwise take them in and put them out again by 7.00am each morning.

At this stage the Sort It Centres remain unaffected by the weather.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

New Council offices - cycling and pedestrian links

As well as consulting on parking restrictions around the new Council offices on Badminton Road, the Council are asking for your views on improvements to cycling and pedestrian facilities in the area. You can find more information online.

Maybe this is also an opportunity to sort out the confusing Stover Rd junction layout - we've seen people coming from Yate turn right too early and meeting Stover Rd traffic head-on.

Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year to all our readers!

Monday, 21 December 2009

Police appeal for witnesses following fatal road traffic collision in Old Sodbury

Police in South Gloucestershire are appealing for information following a fatal road traffic collision in Old Sodbury on Friday.

At around 6.45pm on Friday, December 18, a Peugeot 107 was in collision with a wall on the A432 Badminton Road, between Chipping Sodbury and Old Sodbury.

An 86 year-old woman was taken to Frenchay Hospital by ambulance but later died in hospital.

Anyone who may have witnessed the incident is asked to contact the Collision Investigation Unit on 0845 456 7000

Friday, 18 December 2009

South Glos - holiday changes to refuse and recycling collections

South Glos Council has announced the following changes to refuse and recycling collections over the Xmas and New Year period:

If your collection should be:  
 It will now be:                    
 Friday 25 December
 Tuesday 29 December
 Monday 28 December
 Wednesday 30 December
 Tuesday 29 December
 Thursday 31 December
 Wednesday 30 December
 Saturday 2 January
 Thursday 31 December
 Monday 4 January
 Friday 1 January
 Tuesday 5 January
 Monday 4 January
 Wednesday 6 January
 Tuesday 5 January
 Thursday 7 January
 Wednesday 6 January
 Friday 8 January
 Thursday 7 January
 Saturday 9 January
 Friday 8 January
 Monday 11 January
 Monday 11 January
 Tuesday 12 January
 Tuesday 12 January
 Wednesday 13 January
 Wednesday 13 January
 Thursday 14 January
 Thursday 14 January
 Friday 15 January
 Friday 15 January
 Saturday 16 January

Normal collections will resume week commencing Monday 18 January.

Please put your bin and or recycling boxes out by 7.00 am on the day of collection. If your collection is missed on the due day, please leave your bin out for collection on the following working day.

Extra Rubbish

For the first black bin emptying after Christmas, up to 3 bags of additional waste (side waste) will be collected alongside your black wheeled bin. This is a one-off service for that one day only. This concession does not apply to your green bin. If you have too much cardboard for your green bin, flatten it, fold it and keep it for your next green bin collection.

SORT IT!* Centres (Household Waste Recycling Centres) will be closed on  Saturday 26 December Friday 25 December,and Friday 1 January.

Bulky Waste Collection will be suspended from 24 December 2009 until Monday 4 January 2010.

Recycling Christmas Trees  

Provided they are not to big, then Christmas Trees may be chopped up and put into your green bin. Branches or the trunk should be no more than 4 inches in diameter. Please make sure that the lid closes and that all decorations have been removed. If your tree is too big then it can be taken to your nearest SORT IT!* Centre where it will be separated out for composting.

What do do with Christmas cards and wrapping paper

Unfortunately many Christmas cards now have plastic or metal tinsel etc attached to them - if so, they cannot therefore be recycled as part of the normal collections services.

As in previous years, the Woodland Trust is promoting a Christmas card recycling scheme via certain major retailers. This year W H Smith, Tesco, T K Maxx, Sainsbury's and Marks and Spencer will be taking part in this project. Thanks to public participation in this scheme, last year 93 million cards were kept out of landfill.

Please check with the relevant stores as to whether or not they are offering this service. Some local charity shops may also take used cards.

Wrapping Paper

As with Christmas cards, the metal tinsel, glitter, etc attached to it act as a contaminant and render it unsuitable for recycling, so wrapping paper should go in the black bin.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Reminder - get involved in improving health services

A quick reminder that the South Gloucestershire LINk (Local Involvement Network) now has a website where you can find out how to get involved in improving health and care services locally. On the site you can find out more about the LINk and all the events it is organising.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Have your say on parking restrictions around new Council office

South Glos Council have announced plans to introduce waiting restrictions on roads around their new Badminton Road Council offices.

Claire Young and other local Councillors recently met officers to discuss plans to tackle the impact on traffic of the new offices. With just over 300 parking spaces for around 700 desks, there are worries that employees will park on local roads despite attempts to encourage them to use other forms of transport.

The Council's answer to this is to introduce parking restrictions and they want to hear your views now. For more information and to make comments, go to the consultation on the South Glos website. Let Claire know what you think too by emailing

Culverhill Special School "outstanding" - OFSTED

Good to see that Culverhill Special School, Kelston Close, Yate has received an "outstanding" OFSTED report, with particular achievements in maths amd sports.

More detail from the Gazette here.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

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.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

South Glos profiled on new Government website

The new "Onesite" website pulls together statistics from a range of sources to give an overall picture of major councils. South Glos's page is here.

It's pretty up to date - for example, it talks about the proposed Priority Neighbourhood status for West Yate and Dodington - though the text sounds rather complacent at times.

Worryingly certain important information seems to be "not applicable", for example:

  • "Congestion - average journey time per mile during the morning peak"
  • "Local bus and light rail passenger journeys originating in the local authority area"
  • "Supply of ready to develop housing estates"
It's all information that is available elsewhere, scattered across many documents, but it's useful to have it all in one place.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Banks to scrap cheques?

The banks will be voting on 16 Dec about scrapping cheque system by 2018 (see Times article here) - an announcement about it is expected in January. At the moment about 1 payment in 25 is still made by cheque in the UK.

Cheques are inconvenient for banks because they cost more to process than electronic transactions. But how else will one individual be able to send payments to another safely? And do you want to be forced into setting up yet more direct debits?

Small companies are also against stopping the cheque system because of the extra costs they would incur. Apparently the banks have already decided to scrap payment guarantee cards from 2011 - anyone remember them telling us about that decision? Surely that will increase the risks for small tradesmen accepting payments from customers.

The postal order system is also likely to be affected because the secure version - the crossed postal order - can only be paid into a bank account or a PO savings account, unless it's used to pay a bill at a post office. So effectively it's a cheque. Unless of course the Post Office decides to scrap postal orders at the same time?

If you think cheques should stay, please sign the 10 Downing Street petition here.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Yate tunes up for Christmas

Yate Shopping Centre has been getting into the Christmas spirit, with their usual excellent decorations and children queuing up to see Santa.

Today was made extra special by a performance of carols and seasonal musicby Dodington Parish Band. This friendly local band welcomes players of all standards - please check out the Dodington Parish Band website for more details.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Rodford Way fatal accident - update

The Rodford Way crossing was the main item of discussion at last week's Yate Safer Stronger Community Group meeting. South Glos tabled a report at the meeting giving background and listing actions they are taking:

  • Schools road safety education - continuing at all local schools
  • Tackling anti-social behaviour - a CCTV dome has now been erected near the newsagents, and a multi-agency meeting is being arranged
  • Subway maintenance - graffitti removal, cutting back undergrowth at entrance
  • South Glos asked for local people to work with S Glos to help improve usage of the subway, but they did not seem to have heard of the Abbotswood Action Group

South Glos reckon it will take a few months for their measures to have their full effect. It was agreed that a new survey of pedestrian movements would be done around the anniversary of the last survey (27 April 2009), the results to be reported to the following Yate SSCG meeting (June?), the report to be circulated BEFORE the meeting this time.

South Glos's stance is that the safest way to cross Rodford Way is via the subway, therefore the problem is to persuade people to use the subway. When we have the results of the next survey we can see whether there has been a significant increase in the proportion of people using the subway. In the meantime the Rodford Way Crossing will remain one of the Yate Safer Stronger  Community Group's three key priorities.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Parking at bus stops

Reader Dan commented on our recent post about the new bus stops:

"Thousands of pounds are being spent on these new shelters and raised kerbs but no restriction is placed on car parking near (or even on) them. In Barnwood Road and St. Briavels Drive especially, buses cannot get anywhere near the raised kerb due to parked vehicles.

Buses have to stop in the middle of the road, defeating the point of installing the things in the first place. How about the council invest in some yellow paint as well!"

We raised this at the Yate Safer Stronger Community Group meeting, and we've got some results:

  • South Glos Streetcare have promised to paint yellow lines on the edges of the raised kerbs when they are all in (and when it's stopped raining!)
  • The police will take action if they are told about offenders - the local Beat Manager has asked people to report location and vehicle registrations

Chipping Sodbury Victorian Day is back! Friday 4 December 2pm to 9.30pm

The Chipping Sodbury Victorian Day Committee has again organised the event with the intention of improving on the fantastic success of last year.

The committee is drawn from the Sodbury and Dodington Councils, Chipping Sodbury Lions and Rotary Clubs, the Festival Society and representatives from local schools and traders.

The event starts at 2:00pm when school choirs will perform in the street along with other entertainers from two stages. Snow machines will produce the winter atmosphere and Father Christmas in his sleigh will parade through the town at 6:45pm.

The streets will be lined with stalls from local charities and organisations and include old time amusements, a traditional fairground including a Ferris wheel, Helter Skelter and children’s rides as well as Traction Engines
and traditional fairground organs. Victorian dress will be worn by many to further enhance the atmosphere.

Entertainment during the event will include school choirs, carol singers, bell ringers, Punch and Judy show, Alfredo the magical clown, brass bands, solo vocalist, the Morris Men and a best dressed window competition.

Food will be available from all the local food outlets along with the ever popular Pig Roast and stalls selling traditional Mulled Wine and Mince Pies, sweets and other fare.

As usual the streets will be lined with Christmas lights and trees decorated by local schools and nursery groups.

Also late night shopping…
... an Ideal time to get your Christmas shopping, order your Turkey, Christmas drinks or flowers

Street Closures - Chipping Sodbury Broad Street will be closed from 1:00pm to 10:00pm.
High Street, Horse Street, Hatters Lane, Wickwar Road and Hounds Road will be closed to all traffic from 4:00pm to 10:00pm.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Taxi marshal scheme for Chipping Sodbury

Those of you who went out in Chipping Sodbury last Friday or Saturday night may have seen the new taxi and street marshals in operation. The scheme follows a similar one in Kingswood. The marshals will work on Fridays and Saturdays between 10pm and 2am, maintaining a safe, orderly queue at the taxi rank outside the George, assisting the police and taxi drivers, helping prevent anti-social behaviour and crime and watching out for unlicensed taxi drivers.

Local Councillor Dave Hockey, who led a Council review into tackling anti-social behaviour, has welcomed the move. “Once our review found that a taxi marshal scheme in Kingswood was a real success I was keen to see one in Chipping Sodbury. I have been pushing for it to be operational in the run up to Christmas and over the New Year period when Chipping Sodbury will be at its busiest - the extra protection provided will I am sure be much appreciated by all involved.''

Monday, 23 November 2009

Yate & Dodington Priority Neighbourhoods - have your say

Parts of South Yate and Dodington have been declared a "Priority Neighbourhood". This means that some of the local statistics show that the area needs some extra help to improve the quality of life for local people and to make the area safer and stronger. It's a way of pointing out to council departments and other agencies that the area needs a more "joined-up" approach.

Community Drop-In sessions will be held next month. They will provide

  • A chance to help shape local priorities
  • Information about local groups, agencies and the area
  • A chance to hear the latest progress on the Yate Community Plan
The sessions are as follows:
Mon 14 Dec 6pm to 8pm at St Nicholas Church Hall, Chargrove
Tue 15 Dec 10am to 12 noon at Yate Parish Hall, Station Rd

Please come along and have your say.

There is more information on Priority Neighbourhoods on the South Glos website.

Campaign launched against threat of 1000 homes on green fields around Chipping Sodbury

A campaign has been launched (link to Gazette report) against proposals for a huge new housing site that would increase the size of Chipping Sodbury by 50%. The development, on green fields to the East of Chipping Sodbury, would include over 1000 new houses, new community buildings (including a doctor’s surgery, new shops and possibly a primary school), a business park and new road access.

Steve Webb MP and local Lib Dem councillors have pledged to join local residents to fight the proposals, highlighting the impact on roads, flooding and the local landscape.

Commenting, Steve Webb said:

"House building on this scale will have a devastating effect on the local community and the local environment. Residents already suffer problems with flooding and this development would make matters much worse. Local roads cannot cope with the strain of at least a thousand more cars and in the absence of a decent public transport system there will be gridlock on roads through Yate and Sodbury. When a full planning application is submitted, we will ensure that all local residents can make their views known to the Council so that this totally inappropriate development can be rejected".

Councillor Linda Boon (Lib Dem, Chipping Sodbury) responded to the proposed development, saying:

"The proposed development would have a serious impact on the local area and I aim to make sure that the voice of residents is listened to. The environmental impact of the new development is particularly serious and could have catastrophic consequences for current residents by exacerbating the already serious problem of flooding in the area. The project is unsustainable and would dwarf the existing town and local community”.

Town Councillor Adrian Rush commented that:

“A housing site of this size and scale will have a disastrous impact on the stunning landscape surrounding Chipping Sodbury. The Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – a place of abundant wildlife and striking scenery – is cherished by local communities. As well as ruining the current views for Chipping Sodbury residents, the housing site would be taken close to the edge of the Cotswold Hills, scarring the landscape and creating an eyesore for those trying to enjoy its walks across the Cotswold Way.”

Residents who wish to be kept informed about the campaign can send their name and address to or can write to Steve at Poole Court, Poole Court Drive, Yate BS37 5PP.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Opening of Yate Health Centre delayed

The opening of the new Yate Health Centre, seen on the left behind the newly opened library, has been delayed due to a problem with the ventilation.

It is now hoped it will be opened in late January/early February, once the problem has been investigated and fixed.

Bus stops are like buses - there'll be another one along in a minute...

As part of a Government-funded scheme, many of our local bus shelters are currently being replaced.

The new shelters will have raised bases to help people who have difficulty getting up onto buses, and they should all be big enough to accommodate wheelchairs, anticipating the newer types of buses with ramps that will come in the future.

What's more, the shelters will have displays with real-time information about when the buses will arrive - another government scheme is paying for most of our local buses to be fitted with sensors so their position is known.

There have been some problems, however - despite agreement to replace shelters one-for-one, the enclosed shelter at Blaisdon - the first one to be replaced on Shire Way - was replaced by an anorexic open design. We've been promised that it will be changed - in fact we stopped the contractor working until South Glos agreed this.

Other problems have happened in Yate. Shelters have been put in the wrong way round, so that they don't shelter people from being splashed by the traffic, and in one place the shelter has been set so far back that you can't get a double buggy past it.

It appears that everything is being done in a rush, and that South Glos has very little control over its contractor - we're watching them carefully and will be chasing up any deficiencies.

Our town and parish councisl have spent quite a lot of money on bus shelters over the years, and are very concerned that the replacements should really shelter people from the elements. Don't know about you, but we would rather keep dry than know exactly when the next bus is coming.

Shire Way and Bredon resurfacing works

There will be major resurfacing works between 4th and 11th December affecting Shire Way, Yate from the Edgeworth junction down to the Westerleigh Rd mini-roundabout, plus Bredon from the entrance to the second junction.

They will be planing off the existing surface, then resurfacing. Traffic will be controlled by temporary traffic lights, with work starting around 8.00am each morning and run until 5.00pm.

South Glos has sent out letters to households most directly affected, including the advice "Alternative routes are advised for the duration of the works". That could be difficult - Bredon is a cul-de-sac! But no doubt they'll be sensible about it.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Bus information for your stop - by text!

There's a new facility on many of our local bus stops. At the bottom of the timetable is a code for the stop. If you text the code to the number provided, you get a text message back with the next timetabled bus due for each service at your stop.

(Please note that there's a charge of 25 pence plus your normal network text charge)

Wapley Bushes Local Nature Reserve - autumn events - planning, working, looking for fungi!

Lots of things are happening on the Nature Reserve over the next few days:

Saturday 31 Oct 9.30 am - have your say about the Management Plan for the next five years - walk around the Reserve with the consultant who is updating the plan. Everyone welcome.

Sunday 1 November 10.00 am - work morning with members of the Conservation Group. Please come and help out!

Tuesday 3 November 2.00 pm - a Fungus Foray with expert Justin Smith. There are lots of fungi on the reserve at the moment, some the size of small plates. Come and find out all about them.

All events are free - meet at the Shire Way gate.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Could YOU be a Parish Councillor?

There are currently vacancies for councillors on Dodington Parish Council. The Council covers the Shire Way / Rodford Way area, the Birds roads and the country areas of Wapley, Dodington and Codrington.

The Parish Council, as the lowest level of local government, is responsible for lots of local services - playgrounds, parks, the Parish Hall and Wapley Nature Reserve to name just a few.

You don't need to have any particular skills for this important voluntary role - the most important thing is to have a keen interest in the local area.

If you think you might be interested, please email your contact details to Cllr Paul Hulbert at and he'll get in touch to talk it over with you. You'll be able to visit the Council's meetings to see what it's like - all the regular meetings are open to members of the public.

We're pretty average (in crime terms, that is)

There's a new website showing crime statistics by area. You just put in your postcode and it reports the statistics for different types of crime.

The information on the map is at beat area level, in our case the Yate beat or the Chipping Sodbury and Cotswold Edge beat. Both have average crime levels for the Avon and Somerset Police area.

We've passed the 500 mark!

We've just realised that our previous post on this blog was number 500 since we started in January 2007.

Please feel free to give us some feedback - post a comment below to let us know what you think of the Localfocus blog.

In particular, what would you like us to cover that we don't at the moment?

Monday, 19 October 2009

Roadworks - Westerleigh and the Folly pub

Today (19th October) there will be temporary traffic lights outside The Cottage, Westerleigh, to enable work on the water supply.

Tomorrow (20th October) there will be traffic lights outside The Folly on Westerleigh Road for "sign face work" to be carried out.

Yate Library opens today

The new Yate Library opens today, a month ahead of schedule. The £1.5 million building has been financed by the Big Lottery Fund and South Gloucestershire Council. The original library was built in 1971, but since then the local population has more than doubled.

New technology will be prominent - self issue terminals will let library users issue and return their own books, there will be more PCs, and there will be plasma screens to let local people know about events at the Library and elsewhere in the area.

It won't just be a library, either. There will be an exhibition area and space for hire by community groups, and it will provide the operating base for the Yate Volunteer Bureau and Shopmobility. Community office space is also available for other community groups, and there will be an advice room for local advice groups to use.

This is the first of the new buildings planned for Yate Town Centre - the next to open will be the new Health Centre, which can be seen in the background behind the Library.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Parents encouraged to apply for a school place online/in person due to post strikes

Due to the planned postal strikes by Royal Mail workers next week, South Gloucestershire Council is strongly advising any parents who have yet to submit an application for a school place to do so online or in person.

The closing date for the return of applications for primary and secondary school places starting in September 2010 is on Friday 23 October at 4.30pm.

As a precaution and to avoid any unnecessary concerns over whether a postal application will reach the authority in time, parents are advised to...
  • Apply online at
  • Hand deliver the admission application form to the Student Access and Support Team, South Gloucestershire Council, Department for Children and Young People, Riverside Court, Bowling Hill, Chipping Sodbury, South Gloucestershire, BS37 6JX.
  • Or hand deliver the admission application form to any South Gloucestershire Council one stop shop at the following locations:
Kingswood Civic Centre, Civic Centre, High Street, Kingswood  BS15 9TR.
Thornbury Council Offices, Castle Street, Thornbury BS35 1HF.
Yate Shopping Centre, Kennedy Way, Yate BS37 4DQ.

Parents who are unable to complete the application form online or by hand should contact the Children and Young People’s Information Service as soon as possible by calling 01454 868008.

Latest information about the strike and how it affects the South West available on the Royal Mail website

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Local rail consultation

Local people have until 27th November to comment on the future of rail services in the area. Network Rail have published a draft "Route Utilisation Strategy" for Great Western services, including mainline services through Bristol and local services such as those from Yate.

The document suggests that there could be an hourly service between Yate and Weston-super-Mare and also an hourly service from Portishead to Gloucester, stopping at Yate. If these proposals came into force there would then be two trains an hour between Yate and Bristol, although investment of more than £2 million would be required at Yate station to enable trains to turn round. The strategy says that this would only be feasible with 'third party investment', which means the local authority and/or developers putting in significant funding.

Urging people to have their say, local MP Steve Webb said, "This vision for rail services in the West over the coming decade offers real potential for improvements for hard-pressed commuters. A regular twice-hourly service between Yate and Bristol would help to improve the quality of service, though we would need assurances that those trains had enough carriages to cope with peak levels of demand. But this document is only a draft and we therefore need to be sure that these improvements are retained in the final version, due to be published in the New Year. I would therefore encourage anyone who cares about local rail services to register their support for investment at Yate by responding to the consultation".

Those wishing to comment can e-mail or write to 'Great Western RUS Consultation Response, Network Rail, Floor 4, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9AG.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Help out at Ram Hill

If you fancy helping to preserve our mining heritage, why not join the Friends of Ram Hill Colliery for a work party on Sunday 18th October at the Ram Hill site? It will begin around 10am and end by 3pm and you can join them for whatever period suits you. Work ranges from cutting back bushes to moving stones. For more information, ring the Chair, Steve Hillyard, on 0117 923 6595.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Don't forget - Cycling City event tomorrow (Tuesday)

If you would like to see the plans for the new cycle route linking Mangotsfield to Yate, drop in to the Shire Way Community Centre in Yate between 1.30pm and 7.30pm tomorrow (Tuesday). For more information, see the consultation online.

Friday, 9 October 2009

BT Community Connections scheme - laptops and broadband for community groups and charities

This scheme may be of interest to voluntary groups you are involved in or know of:

BT Community Connections

Community and charitable organisations, working in any field of community benefit, located throughout the UK or Republic of Ireland can apply for a laptop and a year's free broadband connection.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Banks celebrates 175 years in Chipping Sodbury

There's an interesting article in the Gazette about NatWest - they and their predecessors have been in Chipping Sodbury for 175 years.

A must-read article if you're interested in local history!

The bank, on Broad Street, has an exhibition of old photos and there's a brochure about the history of the branch.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Cycling City exhibition - route to Yate via Westerleigh

A public exhibition is planned on Tuesday 13th October 2009 between 1.30pm and 7.30pm at Shire Way Community Centre, Yate showing details of the proposed new cycle route between Station Road, Yate and the end of the existing Bristol and Bath Railway Path at Coxgrove Hill. South Glos officers will be there to answer questions and to listen to your views.

The proposals will also be of considerable interest to motorists who use the notorious Nibley Lane junction and to local people who live near the Shire Way and Rodford Way roundabouts. The proposed route enters our area under the Shire Way railway bridge and links to the cycle route across Yate Common.

More information on the proposals can be found online, including maps of the route.

Plans can also be viewed from Monday 12 October to Friday 23 October at Yate Shopping Centre.

Government thinks again on housing?

The Government has announced that it will be looking again at plans to build more than 32,000 new homes in South Gloucestershire, many of them in the Green Belt.

The most recent draft of the 'Regional Spatial Strategy' (RSS) for the South West proposed that over 32,000 houses should be built in South Gloucestershire by 2026, more than 10,000 more than local people believe is needed to meet local need. Following a legal challenge to a similar document for the East of England, the Government has now announced that it will be setting up a new 'sustainability appraisal' for the South West to think again about whether the approach to identifying housing sites is the best way forward. This review is expected to be completed in the New Year.

Local MP and countryside campaigner Steve Webb MP said, "At long last, the Government has agreed to look again at whether the planned location for all these houses is really sustainable. We have been arguing for years that these plans risk destroying the valuable countryside which we all value so much. It is a shame that it took legal action for the Government to finally start listening. It is therefore vital that this further review is not simply a whitewash but does look properly at the way these tens of thousands of houses could have a devastating effect on the qualify of life in our area".

Steep rise in parking charges at local stations

Last week huge increases in car parking charges were introduced by First Great Western. The daily charge for parking at Bristol Parkway has gone up by more than a third from £5 per day to £6.90, whilst the charge at Yate has more than doubled from £1 to £2.10. Train companies are looking for new sources of revenue because the current low level of inflation means that they are not allowed to increase many of their principal rail fares this year. However, there is a risk that these very high car parking charges will simply put people off using the train altogether and force even more people onto the roads.

Local MP Steve Webb said, "These huge increases in car parking charges are outrageous. It is ridiculous that the Government tries to cap the cost of rail travel by putting a limit on fare increases but stands idly by while the train companies simply rake in the money through increases in car parking charges. First Great Western should also think again. If higher car park charges put people off travelling altogether then the company will be doing long-term damage to its business by this short term measure".

Steve said that he was also concerned that the large increase in charges at Yate would worsen the problem of rail commuters parking in the residential side streets near to the station. He said that he would now be writing both to the Department of Transport and to First Great Western to protest about the increases.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Get ready to retune your TV!

You have probably seen the notices appearing on your digital TV (Freeview) channels saying that you will have to retune your TVs etc after midday this Wednesday, 30 September.

It's not just TVs - set-top boxes, digital hard disk recorders and digital videos will need retuning too.

Not sure how to do it? Lost the instructions? No problem, look at the TV Retune website and select your product.

This is all connected to the transfer to digital TV - the old analogue channels will be switched off in a few months time.

If you ONLY use cable TV or satellite you shouldn't need to do anything. Retuning just applies to channels that you get via a TV aerial.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Nibley Lane closed on Wed 23 September

Nibley Lane will be closed on Wednesday 23 September 2009 between 9.30am and 2.30pm for street cleansing and drainage maintenance. Access to properties will be maintained during the works.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Wapley Bushes - come and help, Sunday 20 September

The Wapley Bushes Conservation Group is meeting on Sunday 20 September at the Shire Way gate at 10.00 am, finishing by about 12.30 pm.

They will be doing some general conservation work such as tidying up a small stream that is the habitat of a very rare plant.

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.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Fancy some star-gazing?

A stargazing evening has been organised by conservation groups in Chipping Sodbury and Yate to give local people the opportunity to learn more about the sky at night.

The free event will start at 7pm on Tuesday 29 September in the Watkins Room, Old Grammar School, High Street, Chipping Sodbury.

The evening will begin with a presentation by Callum Potter of the Cotswold Astronomy Society. If the skies are clear participants will then proceed to the wildflower meadow on St John’s Park estate to view the night sky, at approximately 8pm. People wishing to attend the viewing of the night sky without attending the presentation should meet at the River Frome bridge on Wickwar Road at this time.

The event, which is supported by South Gloucestershire Council, is open to all. Budding stargazers should bring along their own binoculars or telescopes if they have them. In the event of thick cloud the evening will be restricted to the presentation in the Watkins Room.

For more information please contact Chris Giles at South Gloucestershire Council on 01454 863725.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Changes to Yate and Chipping Sodbury buses

First have announced changes to some of the local bus services with effect from 27 September.

Timetables for the X42 and 342 services have been adjusted to reduce some journey times, notably in the late evening when journeys have been decreased by just under ten minutes (end to end).

First's website says that on "Service X27 the timetable has been altered slightly to improve punctuality and reliability" - the only change we can see is that they have altered an ingoing stop in Bristol, so the X27 will now drop off at The Haymarket (Stop Rg) instead of Bond Street (Stop B).

Local bus timetables are available on the South Glos bus timetable web page - if a service has changed, the new timetable is shown as "from 27 Sept 2009 until further notice".

Waste plan - more detail on Yate

The West of England Partnership, made up of the four unitary authorities covering the old Avon area, is currently developing a plan setting out where waste facilities should be sited. Earlier in the year, we expressed concern that no specific site was stated for Yate, making it hard for local people to comment. They have now published a document that identifies a "Strategic Area" within Yate and they would like your views on it by 1st October. They are considering the trading estates on the eastern fringe of Yate. The Partnership contact details can be found here.

Local food and drink festival

The fifth year of South Gloucestershire's "Taste" local food and drink festival runs from Saturday 12 September to Sunday 11 October. Events include the chance to visit Shipton Flour Mill, a tour of Thornbury Castle and vineyard and a butter making demonstration. For more information visit the South Gloucestershire Local Food website.

While we're on the subject of food, today sees the launch of the Love Food Hate Waste campaign, which aims to get all of us to waste less food. A food waste diary competition is being run, more details on the South Glos website.

Heritage Open Days this weekend

This year's Heritage Open Days run until Sunday 13th September. They include a chance to go on a guided tour of the remains of Ram Hill Colliery near Coalpit Heath on the Sunday. The information leaflet is available to download from the South Glos website.

Coal mining buffs might also like to attend the free Open Day at Oldwood Pit between Yate and Rangeworth. There will be guided tours approximately every half an hour 2-6pm on Saturday and 11-5pm on Sunday, so it will be possible to visit both Ram Hill and Oldwood this weekend. More information can be found on the South Glos Mines Research Group website.

Good news locally about online credit card fraud

Statistics in the Guardian shows that the BS37 area is among the 20% of the country that has the lowest proportion of "card not present" fraud.

Some relief for overcrowded Yate rail passengers

First Great Western is putting an extra carriage on an overcrowded morning service from Yate via Filton Abbey Wood and Bristol Parkway to Bristol Temple Meads. From December there will be three carriages on a re-timed train at 8.16 am, instead of just two carriages at 8.09 am.

This follows a campaign by the Friends of Yate Station and Steve Webb MP, who took a senior First GW manager on the train to show how overcrowded it was.

This still leaves an overcrowding problem in the evening service back from Temple Meads.

Steve Webb described the changes as just a small step forward and commented "It's good news but we need three carriages on all peak services. We also need to be confident that trains will always turn up. They should also be running with greater frequency"

So how about it, First Great Western? You'll be able to take some people into Bristol but you won't be able to bring them back. That's not exactly integrated thinking.

For more details see the Evening Post report here

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Get out and about this Autumn!

If you'd like to get out and about this autumn, there is a range of fun and often free events being run by South Gloucestershire Council with local organisations and community groups. Whether you fancy bat detecting, making apply juice or foraging for fungi, you can find out more in this online leaflet.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Don't forget to give your views on the Youth Cafe!

Just a reminder that the Youth Cafe designs are on show at Yate Lesiure Centre until Friday (11 September).

There will be a drop in session with Yate Town Councillors and South Gloucestershire officers this Monday, 7 September, from 2.00 - 8.30pm.

See our previous post for more details.

Steve Webb praised for work against child poverty

Northavon MP Steve Webb has been shortlisted by charity Child Poverty Action Group for their MP of the Year award.

Speaking in the debate on the Child Poverty Bill he said Parliament should try to do better than reducing the proportion of children in poverty to 10 per cent, because that would still leave a million children in poverty.

He said: "The goal of being about as good as the best European countries is a start but it should not be the end."

More detail from the Evening Post here.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Community planting at St Nicks - can you help?

St Nicholas Family Centre at Abbotswood is creating a new outdoor area for all the groups that use the centre.

They are aiming to have a "grand community planting" on Saturday 26 September, from 9.30am to 12.30 pm.

Please put this date in your diary, and come along and help.

Friday, 21 August 2009

£2 an hour to park in Chipping Sodbury?

Outraged shoppers recently rounded on Tory Councillor Melody Gall as she called for a £2 an hour parking charge for Chipping Sodbury.

In a meeting discussing how to tackle the all day parkers who block up most of the parking in Chipping Sodbury, Melody Gall, a Conservative Councillor on Sodbury Parish Council ,repeatedly urged the solution of charging for parking, suggesting £2 for an hour would discourage all day parking.

Chris Willmore, a Lib Dem Councillor from neighbouring Yate who frequently shops in Sodbury, branded the idea 'bonkers'. She said "It would also discourage shoppers - the very thing we need to encourage. The aim is to help bring trade into our shopping centres. Charging to shop in Sodbury would kill it. We need to get rid of the all day parkers, who are blocking up Chipping Sodbury so there is no space for the shoppers to park outside the shops, rather then punishing the shoppers."

Chris Willmore urged officials to convert more parking to 1 and 2 hour limits in Chipping Sodbury - so shoppers can park, rather than all day parking driving out custom. She added "If we don't do something, Chipping Sodbury High St will die as a shopping centre - and we need both Yate Shopping Centre and Chipping Sodbury to do well to provide local choice".

MP urges action on spiralling unemployment

Local MP Steve Webb has called for urgent Government action to tackle the spiralling level of unemployment in this area. Although it remains well below the national average, the number of people out of work and claiming benefit has more than trebled in the last year.

Steve said, "It is a source of great concern that unemployment levels are rising rapidly in our area. There is a danger that the Government concentrates all of its attention on traditional unemployment 'blackspots' and neglects areas such as ours which have had low unemployment in the past but are now being hard hit by the Recession."

"I am urging the Government to ensure that local JobCentres have more resources to assist those who are unemployed. We also need to make sure that the banks lend money to the many viable local businesses who are struggling to raise finance".

If you are a local employer being hit by the recession, Steve would like to hear from you. You can find all his contact details on the front page of his website.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Sea Stores consultation time extended

As the planning application wasn´t available on South Glos´s website for a few days, the consultation for the Sea Stores has been extended until 2 September 2009.

Therefore, the plans will remain on display in the foyer at Poole Court until Friday 28 August.

Please use this opportunity to give your views on this important development.

New Yate Health Centre and Library on schedule

There's a lot going on at Yate Shopping Centre. Peacocks and Bon Marche have just opened in the old Woolworths store, and progress is good on the Health Centre (pictured) and the new Library. The Library is currently ahead of schedule, and should open in mid-October, with the Health Centre opening in mid-November.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Name wanted for Cambrian Drive housing development

South Glos has reached the stage with the housing scheme where they want a name for it, and as usual they have asked the Town Council for ideas.

If you have any suggestions (no doubt local residents can think of some rude ones....) please let us know as soon as possible, and we'll pass them on.

Yate Town Council tends to try to use old field names, but in this case, if anyone can think of something that commemorates the fact we used to have a green there that people played on, that would be even better.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Yate Tesco getting ready for rebuild

Yate bus station, which will be revamped as part of the Tesco rebuild

Agreement has now been reached on the highway works involved with the rebuilding of Tesco. The works directly involved with the rebuilding will start shortly, and Tesco have agreed to make a major contribution to other highway improvements around the town centre.

Yate Town Councillor Chris Willmore said ""We have waiting a long time for the green light. I am sure shoppers in Yate will be delighted to get rid of the current cramped outdated store and
get a new one. It will be massive, not just a replacement for the current store, but one of those enormous Tescos: great for local shoppers, as long as it does not push yet more local shops out of business, or gridlock our town centre."

Temporary bus stops will be installed in the Overflow Car Park starting in November, and a 3000 square foot temporary Tesco store will be erected by Xmas, just along from the East Walk toilets.

Building of the new Tesco is scheduled to start in January/February, and it is planned to open by Xmas 2010. Once the temporary Tesco has been removed, work can start on building extra shop units on East Walk - hopefully the business climate will have picked up by then. No doubt there will be competition to have shops near Tesco because of all the passing trade.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

New South Glos office - parking problems ahead?

As the new South Gloucestershire Council office nears completion on the fringes of Yate, there are doubts about whether the car parking will be adequate. Even with optimistic car sharing figures, it is calculated that there will be a need for 594 parking spaces, and they have only supplied 332. This means that a third of the employees will have to change travel plan habits, or find on street parking.

There is a Green Travel Plan which includes a shuttle bus from Emersons Green, but initial ideas for shuttle buses round Yate have suddenly been dropped.

And the offices will stop work at a time that coincides with the evening traffic peak, when Badminton Road is already jammed.

Yate Town Councillors have asked for an urgent meeting with South Glos travel planners to try to avoid this very predictable problem.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Youth Cafe - all systems go

In a groundbreaking initiative being watched nationally, Yate Town Council has won its long struggle to get a youth cafe for the town. There is no model anywhere in the UK that will offer quite the blend of facilities from the commercial (not for profit) café / disco to the upstairs training and development opportunities.

A £1.3 million complex will now be build between the leisure centre and the roundabout. No trees will be removed (except the very small straggly one by the path to Morrisons). It will provide a 7 day a week informal cafe venue for young people from all over the town to gather, meeting the needs they have expressed - with rooms behind in which a range of youth services will be provided. Young people have been involved at all stages of the design.

Now it's time for you to have your say. The current designs will be shown at a special exhibition at Yate Lesiure Centre 1 - 11 September. There will be a drop in session where representatives from Yate Town Council and South Gloucestershire officers will be present to answer questions on Monday 7 September from 2.00 - 8.30pm. Comments are needed that week, as the final design will be signed off as soon as the comments can be considered and acted on.

Cllr Chris Willmore, who has led the project, paid tribute to the town councillors and the young people who have stuck with the project through thick and thin. "They could have settled for second best, but held out for what will be an amazing facility - there are few communities in this country that would back their young people in this way. I am really grateful that Yate Town Council unanimously agreed to put £650,000 into the scheme, and that officers at South Gloucestershire have worked with us to find£650,000 from their funds"

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Rodford Way accident site - why the secrecy?

We've been told that South Glos officers are preparing a report about last November's fatality at Rodford Way for the Cabinet Member responsible and the Director of Planning, Transportation and Strategic Environment.

We have asked for the report to be released to our local councillors at the same time - we want a LOCAL input, before someone takes a decision and it's all set in stone.

Watch this space...

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Sea Stores planning application - your chance to comment

The Sea Stores planning application is open for comments until 19 August. Details are available from the South Glos website here

There are masses of documents and papers, so you may find it easier to pop into Poole Court, where there will be an exhibition of the proposals in the foyer until Monday 17 August.

==== Update 13-08-09 ====

The South Glos system isn´t showing this application now - maybe they have a problem, it was there the other day. We suggest that you visit the Poole Court exhibition to view the plans.

==== Update 15-08-09 ====

Apparently S Glos were updating their system. The application is now visible again at the link above.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Get involved in improving health services

Do you receive health or social care in South Glos? Do you want to help make the services better? Then why not join the LINk (Local Improvement Network)? The next meeting is taking place in Westerleigh village hall on Monday 3rd August from 2pm to 4pm. There will be a short talk from the Independent Complaints and Advocacy Service. For more information ring Sarah Booker on 0117 9589351 or 0117 9589349.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Did you see this assault in Yate Shopping Centre?

Police are looking for witnesses to an incident in which a 16-year-old girl was assaulted on Monday afternoon (July 20) at about 2.30pm in Yate shopping centre.

The victim was outside the Dorothy Perkins Store when she was approached by a woman in her 30s who appeared to head butt the teenager, who was also punched several times. The victim suffered bruising to her head.

Police believe there would have been a number of people in the shopping centre at the time who may have witnessed the incident.

They would like anyone who could help their enquiries to contact them. Anyone with information is asked to contact Staple Hill police station on 0845 4567000.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

At least it's good for the allotments...

Many of us are depressed by the currrent weather, but people say the rain is good for gardens and allotments. Cllr Mandy Sainsbury recently judged the Dodington Allotments Association competition (just before the deluge started!) and here are some of her photos.

Allotments are rather scarce. If you live within Dodington Parish (Birds, Shire Way, south side of Rodford Way, or the country area out to the motorway) and you would like to go on the waiting list, please contact Dodington Parish Council on 01454 866546.

If you aren't a Dodington parishioner, the Parish Council can give you a contact number for the company that owns the private allotments alongside the railway line.

Appeal for information after pensioner tricked (Yate)

Police are appealing for information about a group of men who tricked their way into a pensioner's home and stole cash from him.

The 84 year old was walking home from Yate shopping centre at around 12.20pm on July 18 when a grey car pulled alongside him in Church Road. A passenger told him he was working for a charity and persuaded him to reveal his address.

When he got home he was approached by two men who said they needed to check a water leak. He let them, and then a third man, into his home, where he was robbed.

Police have descriptions of the men they would like to talk to. The passenger in the car is white, aged between 40-45, of slight build, with grey hair and wearing rimless glasses.

The other three are white .One was 5ft 10ins tall, of thin build, in his late 20s, clean shaven with dark hair.

The second was 5ft 8ins, of stocky build, clean shaven with dark hair.

The third is 5ft 8ins, of medium build, with dark hair. All were wearing dark clothing.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 0845 456 7000 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Crimestoppers never ask your name and never trace your call.

Latest swine flu advice from Council

You can read the latest swine flu advice from South Glos Council on their website. In particular, they stress that if you need anti-viral medication, rather than go out yourself and risk spreading the illness to other people, including health professionals, you should ask a "flu friend" to collect the medication on your behalf.

If you have children, you can find the latest information about schools, nurseries, pre-schools, children's centres and other services online.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Bus services update, and a chance to question First

  • A chance to question First
  • Download our local First Bus timetable
  • Get regular bus updates from South Glos
  • What's your experience been of the X27?

A chance to question First

This week you have the chance to put questions to representatives of First Bus. Jenny MacLeod, Operations Director, and Simon Cursio, Commercial Director, are attending the Planning, Transportation and Strategic Environment Select Committee on 22 July to respond to councillors’ questions and concerns.

Pat Hockey, who chairs the committee, said, "Members of the public are always welcome to attend our select committee meetings, to raise issues, ask questions or present petitions. If you can't make it along yourself, you can contact your local councillor and ask them to raise questions on your behalf".

The meeting will be held at 3pm on 22 July, in the Council Chamber, the Council Offices, Castle Street, Thornbury. If you would like to speak, please contact Gordon Moss on 01454 86 3014.

Download your local First Bus timetable

You can now download the timetable of First Bus services (though not the other companies' services unfortunately)in Chipping Sodbury, Yate, Coalpit Heath, Frampton Cotterell and Winterbourne from the South Glos website here

Get regular bus updates from South Glos

You can get regular updates on the X27 and associated services by putting yourself on the South Glos on a mailing list for offers and news. Please let South Glos know your name and email addresses and/or postal address. You can send this information to or alternatively you can call their contact centre on 01454 868004 and ask to be put on the transport mailing list.

What's your experience been of the X27?

How have YOU found the X27 service since the changes? Has the extension through to the Centre been useful? Have you had any problems? Please let us know by emailing

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Yate library latest

It looks like the refurbishment of Yate library may be finished ahead of schedule, with Monday 19th October pencilled in for the re-opening.

The library closed last October and the service has been operating from 23 South Parade in Yate Shopping Centre. There won't be room to run the usual summer holiday activities in these temporary premises but there will be activities at other libraries including Chipping Sodbury, Emerson's Green and Winterbourne.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Discover the nature where you live

Nature lovers are invited to join a walk to explore the wildflower meadows, riverside grasslands and woodlands of St John’s Park estate in Chipping Sodbury.

The walk, which will be led by Mary Wood from Avon Wildlife Trust, takes place on Tuesday 21 July from 7pm.

South Gloucestershire Council has employed the Avon Wildlife Trust to renew the management plan for these open spaces so please come along to discover the wildlife and discuss how the areas should be managed in the future.

Anyone interested in joining the walk should meet at the bridge over the River Frome on Wickwar Road at 7pm.

If you need any further details please contact Chris Giles at South Gloucestershire Council on 01454 863725.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Major roadworks in Westerleigh Rd, Yate, 13-17 July

Essential roadworks will be carried out affecting Westerleigh Road from the Rodford Way roundabout to the junction with St Briavels Drive. they will be planing off the existing surface of the carriageway, followed by resurfacing.

The traffic will be controlled by temporary traffic lights. Access to properties fronting the site will be available at all times and every effort will be made to keep the disruption to local residents to a minimum.

The work will start at approximately 8am each morning and continue until about 5pm. Please note that adverse weather conditions or plant / delivery problems may affect these times and dates.

It is possible that delays will occur during the day, so alternative routes are advised. Please watch the local press for any further news. South Gloucestershire Council apologises for any inconvenience caused.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Out in the open air...

Fancy a bit of gentle exercise in the open air tomorrow morning? (Sunday)

Then join Wapley Bushes Conservation Group at their work morning. Meet 10.00 am at the gate on Shire Way, Yate.

More details available here.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Closure of section of ring road next weekend (3-6 July)

The eastbound carriageway of the A4174 Ring Road will be closed to all traffic between the Hambrook traffic signal junction and the Bromley Heath Roundabout from Friday 3rd July 2009 at 8pm until Monday 6th July 2009 at 5am. If bad weather stops the work being carried out then, it will be done the following weekend (10th to 13th July).

This section of road is being closed so that a defective bridge movement joint in the carriageway can be replaced. At the same time, the road across the viaduct will be resurfaced and other maintenance work carried out.

A contraflow will be put in place but significant delays should be expected and motorists are advised to find alternative routes if possible.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Music Fest - Saturday 4 July, Yate

Music Fest is a special fundraiser for the very valuable organisation
Yate Sodbury & District Community Transport

It's being held at Yate Town Football Club on Satursday 4 July from 4:00 pm until late.

Headliners are: Back Trax, Crossfire, and Clayfield - and there's much, much more!

For tickets £5 ring 01454 228706 or call 390 North Road, Iron Acton, Bristol BS37 7LW

This year's Festival would not have been possible without the incredible support of all the volunteers, companies and bands who’ve so generously given their time.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

We regret to announce the death of the planning appeal system

The Planning Inspector has decided to overrule South Glos Council and permit yet another mobile phone mast on a short stretch of Rodford Way. Just look at this aerial view. There's already an O2 phone mast built (blue marker), plus approval for a "3" mast as well (yellow). Now the inspector has approved a mast for Vodaphone (red).

Click here to see detailed map from Google Maps.

There's yet another approved "3" site at the eastern end of the main road, just a couple of hundred yards away. And T-Mobile has shown interest in putting a mast a similar distance west.

Is there any fairness in the planning appeal system? Evidently not. We asked South Glos for details of mobile phone applications which had been refused and then went to appeal. Their list included ten urban sites - four of them are in this small cluster. Out of the ten, the planning inspector has allowed nine masts to go ahead.

In other words, if you object to a proposed phone mast, however good the case you make, you have only a one in ten chance of being successful.

The planning inspectors' judgements simply ignore many of the points made by South Glos and the parish and town councils. The inspectors are simply not doing their job - there is a culture that the mobile phone companies' requirements over-ride any other consideration, even if there are alternative, better sites only a few few yards away that haven't been considered.

We have concluded that the Planning Inspectorate is simply not fit for purpose, and needs to be reformed. We have written to John Denham, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. He's the minister responsible, but all he did was pass it on to the Planning Inspectorate's own complaints department - we don't hold out any hope from that direction.

We asked for local comments. Most were unprintable, but Cllr Mandy Sainsbury said "My neighbours and I, living near the proposed Vodafone installation site, are naturally bitterly disappointed by the Planning Inspector's appeal decision".

"However we have all vowed to carry on fighting this decision which flies in the face of a very robust campaign by ourselves, local councils & MP. To that end we have contacted the minister and lodged complaints with the Inspectorate whose decision we deem to be incompetent - we could call it something less polite!"

Just to remind you, we objected on the grounds of overdevlopment, loss of visual amenity, cumulative street clutter and quite simply that Vodaphone hadn't considered nearby less sensitive sites and hadn't even followed the procedure that they are supposed to.

If you wish to add your voice to the protest, you can email the minister at

MP forces Government to u-turn on MP's pensions

Local MP Steve Webb has succeeded in forcing the Government to re-think its plans to increase the amount of money taxpayers put into the MPs' pension scheme. You can read more on Steve's blog.

Horsecam - an alternative view of Glastonbury!

Click here for a view straight from the horse's - ummm... - eye?

Friday, 26 June 2009

Funders Fair

CVS South Gloucestershire are running a Funders Fair on Thursday 9 July 2009, 9.00am - 2.00pm at Yate Outdoor Sports Complex. This is an opportunity for local groups to gain information and advice directly from representatives of key funders, including The Big Lottery, Quartet Community Foundation, Children In Need and South Gloucestershire Council, and to network with other groups who are addressing similar fundraising issues. More information including booking details at:

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Floral Fantasy - Wapley Flower Festival 26-28 June

This spectacular event only takes place every three years. St Peter's Church at Wapley (the one on the hill that looks out over Wapley Common) is filled with creative and unusual flower decorations - it's well worth a visit.

The Flower Festival, which is staged by Chipping Sodbury Floral Society, is on from 26 to 28 June.

The church is open from 9 am for viewing. Morning coffee, lunches and cream teas are available daily.

On Saturday there is an evening of wine and music with `Footloose' at 8 pm. Tickets available.

On Sunday there will be Festival Evensong at 6.30 pm with The Archdeacon of Malmesbury.

Telephone 01454 315436/311083 for tickets and further details.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Community Music festival in Kingsgate Park this weekend

The Community Music Festival was so successful last time that this year's Festival will stretch over two days, Sat 27th and Sun 28th June.

Saturday 1pm to 9pm - Local bands and groups of all sorts.

Sunday 10.30am to 2pm - Praise in the Park – a joint Yate and Sodbury Churches celebration. Hymns in the park, followed by a puppet show and treasure hunt.

Sunday 3pm to 5pm - Picnic in the Park – bring a picnic, sit back, and chill out listening to the Phil Dando Big Band.

And there's more - face-painting, bouncy castle, fairground rides, craft and refreshment stalls plus lots of activities for children and teenagers.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Chipping Sodbury Festival - well done!

A big round of applause please for the organisers of the annual Chipping Sodbury Festival, with its multitude of events - there was something for everybody.

Here's a three-minute slide show of the Festival parade and street fair on Saturday - a very enjoyable event.

(Photos by Paul Hulbert and Mandy Sainsbury)

Click here for the Gazette report on the Carnival.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Decision on new homes delayed

Your Focus team has long campaigned against Government plans for thousands of new homes to be built in South Gloucestershire. We had expected a final decision on the numbers from the Secretary of State by the end of June. Now though it has been delayed indefinitely due a legal challenge to a similar plan elsewhere in the country. Until the implications of that can be considered, no new timetable can be set for the decision. We will keep you posted.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Cutting out the junk mail

Cutting out junk mail can save you time and help the environment. To cut down on addressed items, you can sign up with the Mailing Preference Service. For unaddressed items delivered by the Royal Mail, see the information on their website. For other unaddressed items, see the Direct Marketing Association's website.

Monday, 15 June 2009

See "The Age of Stupid" this Friday

Sustainable Thornbury, a Town in Transition, is screening the environmental/climate change film “The Age of Stupid” at Cossham Hall in Chapel St, Thornbury this Friday (June 19th). It starts at 7.45pm and admission is £3. Refreshments will be available from 7.15pm when the doors open.

Oscar-nominated Pete Postlethwaite (In The Name of the Father, Brassed Off) stars as a man living alone in the devasted world of 2055, looking back at archive footage from 2007 and asking: "Why didn't we stop climate change when we had the chance?"

It will be followed by a Q&A with a panel made up of Steve Webb MP, Paul Ashford (member of the International Panel on Climate Change-IPCC), Ian Page (member of International Futures Forum) and Chris Sunderland (Agora).

Click here for link to trailer for Age of Stupid.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Wapley Woods - a priority

At last week's Yate Safer Stronger Community Group, which covers Dodington Parish, one of the top priorities identified was to tackle groups of youths setting fires in Wapley Woods. The youth service will liase with the youths and follow up work will be done in schools to prepare for the leaving parties next year.

Another priority was engaging young people in the Safer Stronger Community Group meetings. For more about the meetings, see the Avon and Somerset police website.

On Your Bike! Chipping Sodbury Festival Bike Ride next Sunday, 21 June

There will be a choice of two rides, 12 and 25 miles. The twelve mile event will be suitable for families, and as usual there will be a quiz with prizes. “Children from five or six upwards manage twelve miles quite easily,” said Councillor Paul Hulbert, one of the organizers. “It’s the adults who have more trouble! For safety reasons children under secondary school age need to be accompanied by an adult.”

The longer ride is a little more challenging and will explore the countryside to the north and east of Chipping Sodbury.

“As usual, we’re showcasing some new routes this year, including the new cyclepath on the Iron Acton to Yate road” said Cllr Hulbert.

The events will start from Chipping Sodbury Clock Tower. The 25 mile ride will set off at 11.30 am, and the 10 mile ride will begin at 12.30 pm. Both rides will finish in Jubilee Park by about 2pm – just in time for the Festival boules match (equipment provided) and the Avon Wildlife Trust duck race!

More details are available by telephoning Paul Hulbert on 07771 562505 or Granville Olive on 01454 317461, or by emailing The rides have their own website at

Don't forget to check out the Chipping Sodbury Festival website for details of other Festival events, and the main Bike Week website for other cycling events.