Saturday, 28 February 2009

Lib Dems launch Freedom Bill

The Lib Dems have published their new Freedom Bill to roll back authoritarian laws. You can read more on the Freedom Bill website and sign the petition here.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Supermarket news - progress on Waitrose and Tesco projects

Waitrose has now committed to build a supermarket in Chipping Sodbury, possibly opening in 2011. This is part of a larger development incorporating some housing and smaller shops. There will be a pedestrian walkway across the Frome joining the supermarket to the High Street via a current private alleyway.

There is more detail in the Gazette report on Waitrose, and previous consultation documents are on Waitrose's consultants' website.

Meanwhile it is now expected that building works will start on the new Tesco store in Yate later this year. Demolition of the old store should start in early autumn, with a temporary store being provided before then.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Frome Vale Area Forum tonight

Tonight (Thursday 26th February) is the Frome Vale Area Forum. It kicks off at 7pm in Chipping Sodbury Town Hall and items on the agenda include anti-social behaviour, a Street Care update, a decision by the area committee on small grants and an open session for you to talk about the issues that concern you.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Nibley Lane roadworks

It's a busy time for roadworks on Nibley Lane. From the 18th to 24th February there will be temporary traffic lights outside the Old Mill for cable pulling and on Wednesday 25th February the section between Badminton Road (A432) and Westerleigh Road will be closed from 9.30 to 2.30 for street cleansing and drainage maintenance work. This will affect a lot of people because it's a popular cut-through between South Yate and the Badminton Road.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Could YOUR group organise a Spring Clean? Join the Big Spring Clean 2009!

South Gloucestershire Council is helping volunteer groups and parish councils to spring into action and clean up their neighbourhood or open spaces, helping to transform South Gloucestershire as part of National Spring Clean 2009.

The Council is running the South Gloucestershire Big Spring Clean Campaign 2009 which runs from 1st April – 30th April and is encouraging everyone to join in. Friends, families, neighbours, Parish Councils, community and voluntary groups, church groups, schools and students, youth clubs, scouts and cadets, brownies and guides, and businesses are all invited to take action against litter!

Many groups already take part in voluntary clean-ups during the year, but Spring Clean provides an opportunity for schools, youth clubs, environmental organisations, voluntary groups, communities and businesses to play an important part in a bigger, co-ordinated campaign. It is an ideal occasion for anyone who cares about their local environment to venture down to their local open space, woodland, river, park or public garden and take action.

Register now to claim your free Big Spring Clean supplies!

The supply of free gloves, refuse sacks and skips are on offer to groups who organise a community Spring Clean event. But supplies are limited so you need to register your interest early. South Gloucestershire Council will also arrange to collect all the litter you pick up as long as it is bagged and pick up locations are agreed in advance.

If your Group / Parish Council is organising an event and you would like to receive free gloves and bags, to co-ordinate the collection of rubbish collected, or your group requires a skip, please complete and return the 2009 Big Spring Clean booking form (click here) by Friday 6th March 2009 at the latest.

The same link has more information about how you can get involved in South Gloucestershire Council’s Big Spring Clean campaign, or you can contact South Gloucestershire Council now on 01454 863592.

Bags and Gloves:

South Gloucestershire Council can provide free bin bags and gloves (please state numbers for adults and/or children).


Skips can be booked for larger events, though you will be expected to select the size required (mini, 4 yard or 6yard), together with location details and dates for delivery and collection. Skips will only be provided for litter collection and not for waste material from buildings. Schools will have to demonstrate that they have a serious litter problem before a skip will be supplied.

Spreading the word!

As part of the Big Spring Clean 2009, S Glos asking Parish Councils and Groups to record volunteer numbers taking par and hours, and take photographs of your event for the Council’s web site and future promotional materials. Full details will be sent out with orders for bags, gloves and skips.

Help and Advice for Organising Your Big Spring Clean Event

ENCAMS (Environmental Campaigns) is an environmental charity who campaign directly to the public, and are best known for the Keep Britain Tidy campaign. They have produced a very useful leaflet that provides helpful hints and advice for groups planning a Spring Clean event.

You can download a copy of their leaflet titled ‘Litter – Organising a clean-up’ here.

If you would like further information please contact either Richard Aston or Chris Giles (Partnerships and Projects Officers) on 01454 863725.

Remember! You must return your booking form by Friday 6th March 2009 at the latest.

Friday, 13 February 2009

St John Ambulance in the recent snow

Another organisation that turns out in all weathers is St John Ambulance, seen here supporting Great Western Ambulance Service in the recent snow. Well done St John!

Local Hero wins by-election for Lib Dems

The by-election for a seat on Sodbury Town Council has been won for the Liberal Democrats by Lieutenant Colonel Paul Jobbins, a holder of the Military Medal, who received more than half the vote.

The vacancy was due to the resignation of a Conservative councillor, and the election was called by the Green Party.

Col Jobbins commented "I am very pleased by this substantial vote of confidence. I hope to live up to voters' expectations and I will work for the town of Chipping Sodbury and all its people"

Steve Webb MP described the result as excellent and said "I look forward to working with Paul on Sodbury issues".

The detailed results were:
Paul Jobbins, Liberal Democrat Focus Team, 342 votes.
Deborah Newman, Conservative Party, 274 votes.
Desley Radmall, Green Party, 30 votes.
Turnout 37%
Photo - Lt Col Paul Jobbins after the result of the election was declared.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

It's election day! (in Chipping Sodbury)

The Chipping Sodbury North East by-election is taking place today, Thursday 12 February.

Voting is from 7am to 10pm.

Three things to remember...
  • The Liberal Democrats keep in touch with regular Focus
  • We work hard all year round for you and your neighbours
  • We get things done

The Sodbury Focus Team...
Poole Court, Yate BS37 5PP Tel 322100

1 Leaman Close 320613

30 Cotswold Rd 882812

37 Batten Court BS37 6NJ 329930

1 Leaman Close 320613


56 Horse Street 324880

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

St Johns Way flooding risk - housing decision delayed

Focus Team member Paul Jobbins at the area that has flooded already at St Johns Way
The St Johns Way area of Chipping Sodbury is one that would be particularly vulnerable to flooding if some of the government's proposed thousands of houses are built nearby.

As we reported before, hundreds of people responded to our campaign and local campaigns like BS37action.

In fact the government received so many objections that they are still going through them all. Their decision was due in January, but it's now been delayed. Maybe they might listen for once? Let's hope so.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Rubbish and recycling collections delayed

South Glos Council says:

"Because of the severe weather some waste and recycling collections have been missed.

Please can residents put their containers out as normal and these will be collected as soon as possible.

SITA will be undertaking collections on Saturday 14 February and Saturday 21 February to help clear the backlog.

We apologise for any inconvenience and thank residents for their patience"

New Sodbury footpath shows its worth, but more needed

In the recent snow it was a pleasure to be able to use the new footpath in Gorlands Road rather than tramping along the grass verge.

Previously there was no footpath on Gorlands Road except on a short section near the middle, despite the two groups of sheltered housing Whitefields and Batten Court. Anybody living in the Gorlands Road area had to brave the parked cars and the rough verge in order to walk into the High Street or Hatters Lane.

The footpath was provided after a sustained campaign by Lib Dem Focus councillors Ann Hulme and Linda Boon, and with the kind cooperation of the Badminton estate, which owns some of the verge.

This is not the only place in Chipping Sodbury that needs better footways, and the Focus Team is continuing to campaign for improvements - there are narrow and dangerous places elsewhere. Footpaths need to be wide enough for disabled buggies to pass comfortably and safely - please let us know if there's a particular problem area you want to be tackled.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Community Transport - out and about in the snow

As we trudge round in the snow, spare a thought for the people who help elderly and disabled folk get around - Community Transport.

They have been out and about in the snow helping people who would otherwise have been stuck indoors - unable to go out, or just frightened of falling and breaking a bone.

It's been hard enough driving a car at times lately, let alone a minibus. Well done Community Transport staff!

Town Council candidate urges greener Sodbury

Paul Jobbins, the Lib Dem Focus candidate in the Sodbury by-election, has already been responsible for the large amount of trees that have been planted on the Ridings. He recently wrote a report about getting the Commons around Sodbury to be less ”sterile” and making them more attractive for walkers, cyclists and riders.

Paul is a confirmed country lover who takes preserving the green space around Sodbury seriously and is committed to fighting any proposals to build large numbers of houses on the fields around our town.

Steve Webb says . . .
“Paul is great addition to our team. I look forward to working with him on Sodbury issues and wish him well for the by-election."

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Outstanding local candidate chosen for Sodbury by-election

Paul Jobbins, the Liberal Democrat Focus Team candidate, has lived in Horse Street, Chipping Sodbury with his wife Nicola for 19 years.

Colonel Paul Jobbins has recently finished his second career in the Royal Marines, having served in Northern Ireland, the Falklands and Bosnia. He first retired in 1999 but was recalled for the Balkan Crisis.

As lead military Observer to the UN peace keeping force in the Congo he won the George Medal:
“Under fire he personally and unarmed rescued many terrified civilians and personally ensured the safety of thousands of civilians and is cited for his commitment, courage and gallant leadership under fire”

Now retired from the Royal Marines, Paul has a part time job as an Assistant Manager for Chipping Sodbury Town Hall. He is dedicated to helping the green environment of Chipping Sodbury. He is keen on self sufficiency and keeps about 200 hens and a small herd of pigs.

By-election in Chipping Sodbury this week

There will be a by-election for the North East ward of Sodbury Town Council on Thursday this week. This ward covers the St Johns Way and Gorlands Road areas, including the streets off them.

If you are in the area you should have had a polling card from South Glos Council, but you don't need the card to be able to vote. If you have arranged for a postal vote you should have received the papers by now - if not you should contact South Glos Council.

The vacancy is caused by the resignation of a Conservative councillor. The Green Party called for an election to be held, so there will be three candidates - Liberal Democrat Focus Team, Green Party and Conservative.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Thanks for the survey

Thank you to everyone in Chipping Sodbury who responded to the Residents Survey when we were going round with Steve Webb MP this morning.

It was good to meet so many people and to find out about your views and concerns.

An end to the "cars for sale" nuisance at roundabout

After pressure from local councillors, the new waiting restriction at Rodford Way roundabout (3 hours in any 6 hour period at all times) will finally come into operation on 2 March. This will remove a traffic hazard and a nuisance for local residents and users of the Common.

South Glos originally suggested a 2 hour limit during the day only - this would not have been long enough for users of the Common, and there would still have been lots of cars for sale. Local councillors protested and got the limit changed.

Photo - Cllr Alan Lawrance has been fighting for the waiting restriction on behalf of local people.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Find out more about new Yate Health Centre - workshop and exhibition Wed Feb 11th

Yate's new community health centre is being built at the moment and should be ready by the autumn. It will provide outpatient appointments, hopefully a minor injuries service, X-rays and so forth, plus an integrated families' and children's advice and information centre.

The project team want to hear from people who have been helped by particular services so they can find out how best to meet their needs. There will mock-ups of the building and workshops on specific services.

Workshops will cover areas such as cardiology, diabetes, general surgery, audiology and respiratory conditions.

The event will be held in Chipping Sodbury Town Hall on Wednesday, February 11 from 2.30pm to 5pm and from 6pm to 8.30pm.

People interested in attending can phone 330 2408 to register.

For more details about the Health Centre please see this Evening Post article.

All S Glos schools closed due to snow (Fri 6 Feb)

All council-run schools in South Glos are now closed for Friday, a priority service is operating for community wheels, there will be no refuse collections and all Sort IT centres are closed.

Check South Glos Council's website for more news. (Note 10/02/09 - this South Glos link is no longer accessible)

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

More snow forecast - could be heavy

South Glos have put some advice on their website and promise to update it regularly with information for the public if the snow arrives as forecast tomorrow.

The page includes links to the GWR and BBC Bristol websites, where you can find a list of school closures.

This is a link to the Met Office Bristol forecast.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Conservation volunteers work with Europe to defeat elm disease

Over the last few decades Dutch Elm Disease, a fungus spread by bark beetles, has devastated the British elm population to the extent that many people have never seen a live mature elm tree.

Now however a multinational project involving a site near Yate may hold the key to repopulating elms in the UK. Members of the Wapley Bushes Conservation Group discovered a a native Wych Elm on the reserve that has remained unaffected by the disease, and they have have sent seeds from to the French national State Forestry Nursery for analysis to assess the extent of disease resistance.

The aim of the European project is to identify types of elm that are resistant to the disease so that eventually the resistant specimens can be planted out to repopulate the European countryside and help the many species that are dependent upon elms.

Tim Fairhead of the Conservation Group explains “In return we received seeds from ancient elm trees in a French Nature Reserve, and these were grown on at Portsmouth University. These particular trees contain high levels of unique bark compounds that deter feeding by the beetles so they are less likely to get infected in the first place. We hope these trees will go on to provide a resource and home for threatened and vulnerable species like the White-letter Hairstreak butterfly”

Volunteers from the Wapley Bushes Conservation Group are shown planting out the resistant saplings on Dodington Parish Council land at Wapley Bushes, together with South Glos Councillors Linda Boon and Claire Young. This is the only elm repopulation project of its type in the South West and one of only four sites in the UK.

South Gloucestershire Cllr Linda Boon (Liberal Democrat, Sodbury) said “It’s good to see such a significant initiative by a local volunteer group. Local groups like this are key to running our local nature reserves, together with support and expert advice from South Gloucestershire’s Environment Department”

Cllr Claire Young (Liberal Democrat, Westerleigh) said “This is really good news. A whole generation has grown up who only know elms as dead tree skeletons in hedgerows. If this works we can start to repopulate the country’s landscape”

Have your say on waste plans

The West of England Partnership, which is made up of the four unitary authorities in the old Avon area, is working on a Development Plan to set out policies which will help planners make decisions about where waste facilities should be located. They are currently consulting on their “Preferred Options”. You can read more at There will also be a drop-in session from 3 to 7pm on 9 February 2009 in Chipping Sodbury Town Hall. The consultation runs until 12th March 2009.

One concern is that unlike all the other locations proposed, where a specific site is identified, in Yate they have only gone as far as identifying two areas in which to look, Stover Industrial Estate and Great Western Business Park. This does not give people a proper chance to comment on the suitability of any site.

Snow on the Information Superhighway?

The UK's most widespread snow since the Internet went "mainstream" has brought chaos on the web - virtual traffic has also been grinding to a halt as travel websites have crashed. Anyone got a virtual shovel?

Meanwhile, some local snow photos:

Wapley Common
Photo by
Margaret Hulbert
Wapley Bushes
Photo by
Richard Hulbert
Sam the Dodington Dog
Photo by
Mandy Sainsbury