Saturday, 28 March 2009

Green scheme will lead to lower bills

Money-saving “Smart Meters” will soon be available to borrow free from libraries across South Gloucestershire, thanks to a successful proposal made by the Liberal Democrats at the South Gloucestershire Council meeting this week.

Smart meters measure the electricity being used by home electrical appliances and enable users to find ways to reduce their electricity consumption. When a library loan scheme was introduced last year in York, the overwhelming demand for the meters meant that the number available for hire had to be doubled.

Bringing the scheme here was the brainchild of local Councillor Dave Hockey (pictured right with a smart meter). Speaking after the meeting he said, “I am delighted that South Glos Council unanimously backed this Lib Dem proposal which has proved to be so popular with local residents in York. Residents will now have the chance to borrow a smart meter for a week to check which of their appliances are the heaviest users of electricity in time to take action and cut both their bills and their carbon footprint - brilliant!'”

Friday, 27 March 2009

Easter Egg Extravaganza


This page was about the 2009 event!

Please click here to find out about the 2010 Easter Egg hunt

Yate Town Council Easter Egg Hunt will be held at 10.00am on Monday 13 April in Kingsgate Park.

This free event is open to all children aged 12 and under.

Find a token to win an Easter Egg (separate area for children aged 5 and under); wear an Easter Bonnet to win a prize.

While we're talking about eggs, here's a video showing a creative way to break Creme Eggs. Sorry but we couldn't resist it...

Lib Dems keep up the pressure on bus cuts

Local Lib Dem Councillors kept up the pressure for action on the recently announced bus cuts at Wednesday's meeting of South Glos Council.

(Have you signed the bus petition? Click here to sign)

They won cross-party support for a motion calling on the Tory Cabinet Member responsible for transport to negotiate with all bus operators to achieve a number of key improvements and to recognise the importance of improving public transport in the area in time for the opening of the new Badminton Road Council offices.

But Tory and Labour Councillors voted against an amendment suggesting a timescale for implementing Nibley Park and Ride and criticising the delay in passing on information about the cuts.

Local Councillor Claire Young, who proposed the motion, said, “We are seeing a vicious downward spiral in the bus services in the Yate area. People in places like Iron Acton and North Yate face being cut off not only from employment and services in Bristol but also in central Yate. Nibley and Coalpit Heath saw cuts last summer and will now lose the only remaining daytime express service.”

“Against this background of dwindling services, the Council will be introducing hundreds of employees at the new Badminton Road Council offices. Local residents are very concerned about the impact the new offices will have on them, whether through increased parking in residential roads or greater congestion.”

Claire reminded fellow Councillors of the shelved Nibley Park and Ride project. “Had this been implemented as planned, it would already have been taking cars off the local roads and supporting the viability of the bus services. Instead services have been slashed, fares increased, congestion worsened, while the Executive Member apparently waits for new services to appear so that the site can be implemented without subsidy.” She urged the Executive Member to look at the problems in the area as a whole rather than trying to fix issues in isolation.

Yate Councillor Ian Blair, who proposed the amendment, said that the Executive Member met with First Bus in early February. "I believe he should have told members and the public about the bus cuts sooner. The first local Councillors knew was a letter from First Bus only a day before the announcement. This simply isn’t enough time to enable Councillors and residents to mount a proper challenge.”

Earlier in the meeting, Lib Dem transport spokesperson Pat Hockey challenged the Executive Member on the action he was taking to deal with the cuts.

Shire Way, Yate - resurfacing 30 & 31 March

There will be major roadworks for a couple of days on the section of Shire Way near Blaisdon, Woodchester and Littledean. They are going to plane off the surface and then put new tarmac down.

Work will run from 8 am to 5 pm and there will be temporary traffic signals. It's going to be disruptive but the results should be worth it.

We are still asking for repairs further down Shire Way - the potholes near Kingscote and the broken-up road centre on the hill section. We'll keep you posted about those.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Bus cuts - more of your comments

The "Save Our Bus Services" petition is still open - please click here to sign the petition - and ask your friends to do the same.

Here is another selection of your comments - you can read the latest ones on the petition web page.

I am a 17 year old female and i live in Iron Acton i rely on the bus to travel to Yate as my school and friends are based there. When i herd about the bus being stoped i was very worried as too how i would travel to Yate. I live with my grandmother and so it is difficult to get a lift.

What a selfish decision First Bus has made with no consultation with the people who use the bus as their only means of transport, especialy when we are being encouraged to leave our cars at home and use public transport.

Same proposals as last year only we had a 'consultation' that time. This year no consultation, we'll just put thru' last years plans. It was said that other bus companies are available or will be available, that's okay especially when you have already paid First over a thousand pounds for your current ticket. I doubt there would be a refund. Additionally because of long term problems we have to go regularly to the eye hospital at various times of the day, absolutely no chance for services to arrive on time to get us there for 0845am- this means leaving currently at the latest 0720 otherwise you catch the fishponds downend/frenchay/hambrook and m32 traffic - thanks First

We need a good public transport service to reduce car use and support our communities.

I catch the X27 in peak commuting times and the bus is always packed. I find it hard to believe that the route is not affordable at peak times. The times of buses on the alternative 327 are not suitable due to childcare arrangements. It is ridiculous to cut bus services, introduce CPZ parking in inner Bristol areas and then talk about a congestion charge.

This is my only means to arrive at work on time - please please reconsider!

We are already .8 mile from bus stop now will be 2-3miles.

This is the result of Tory deregulation of bus services, bring bus services back in to the public sector

We have just started using the bus again for reasons of conservation of energy & reducing stress - & now you make it impracticable



The bus service is being cut yet again! I am annoyed about this and need your influence to sort this out.

I am incensed about this issue! I fought for years to get a bus service to Brimsham Park/North Yate and now that it is there, they're going to take it away. It is my only means of transport and without it, I will lose my independance.

This bus service is very important to the community of Yate - I use it to get to work, as well as recreationally because I want to a) save money on parking and b) help reduce congestion and emissions, and without it, this is impossible!

I think this is absolutely disgraceful that First Bus can just cancel a bus service which a lot of elderly, young people and workers rely on to get them into the Town Centre and Bristol. It has left my 70year old mother with no public transport at all, this is not acceptable.

A cheaper regular service is needed urgently,not cancelling a service altogther. I caught the X27 today & the bus was full, so how do we commute to Bristol centre now?

I use the X27 to get to and from work in Bristol. Without this bus I am going to face a half hour walk very early in the morning to catch a bus from the centre and a half hour walk back at night. Adding an hour onto an already long day.

The X27 is well used and on the return journey is almost completely full.

I think it is atrocious that these cuts are being made in an age where we are constantly being encouraged to leave our car at home - we can't do that without a decent transport system!

The X42 is not a suitable alternative as I will have to use my car to get to it being unable to walk the distance to access it. Also it will be full before it leaves Yate.
No promised Metro, no promised park and ride - now no bus. Pushed back into our cars we will then get slapped with congestion charge at some point. Great planning everybody!!

This decision is unacceptable and against the Public Interest and isdicriminatory to people who have to use public transport especially the elderly

My daughter gets the X27 into college each day and would have to leave much earlier to get the 327. She is in her final year of A levels and works long hours in the library. Getting into college quickly makes her long day much more bearable. The X27 is a vital service for many students like her- it gets them into college on time without long delays travelling through half of north Bristol(which is what the 327 does- painfully). Over two years of poor time keeping, often rude and aggressive drivers and overcrowding on the X27 we have spent a considerable amount of money investing in First Bus. A company with such a poor name for service should be doing its utmost to improve customer relations, not anger its client group of travellers.

Please do not reduce the X42 service to peak times only, 342 journey is a nightmare.

After being pleased with the recent improvements made to the X27, news that it will be cancelled is very disappointing. I will lose ~6hrs a week, most of which will be spent on an unpleasantly overcrowded bus. I will also have to cancel one of my classes as I won't be home early enough to go. It is a shame that South Gloucestershire buses cannot take over.


The X27 and X42 are the buses I use to get to college every day, the X27 being the one closes to where I live.

If these services go in May, then the annual bus pass I bought in September is effectively useless as I'll never be able to get into college on time in the mornings on the 342.

I was outraged although not shocked when I was informed of this move by First Bus. It frankly does not shock me what a truly below average service First provide, (in fact they are not worthy of the name First).

I left North Yate eight years ago, and even back then the service was abmysmal. My mother and grandmother live in the area where the service will be cut. It is not safe for lone females or children to walk in the dark to the shopping centre to catch the bus.

Such a shame a reliable customer focused company can't overthrow First.

Commuters in Yate have my sympathy. I really hope First have a change of heart and leave the service in place.

Just why are they cutting this vital link?

keep the bus !

Surely this service has seen a smaller number of passengers during off peak times due to the very hard winter and this will certainly pick up during the warmer weather. Every bus service is bound to have peaks and troughs during the day. I wonder what Justin Davies would do if he lived on this route and used the bus to get to work? Regarding the bus fares how can First justify putting fares up due to the price they paid for fuel and yet now fuel prices have drastically reduced we have not seen a reduction in fares. Perhaps they should put the customer and not shareholders first -they should be supplying a PUBLIC SERVICE. How on earth did we get to this situation. Most other major cities have a very good, affordable and efficient service e.g. Cardiff,why not us?

From Winterbourne there are currently three X27s between 7 and 8 am, at 7:09, 7:26 and 7:41 - this is too much, but could be reduced instead of stopped completely. Whenever I took the 327 it took an extra half an hour (at least) to get home because of the traffic through Frenchay at around 5 pm.

Im a regular user of the buses from yate to bristol, as i work as the bristol kids. I am outraged that, once again, first are cutting the services. Just when things are working down, another change!!!

I absolutly agree with everything the petition says. First is an horrendous service but, unfortunatly for its citezen's, it is the main public transport in the Bristol area and so is relied upon by large amounts of people. Cutting a number of buses is just adding to thier already extremely bad name! Why, at this time of huge enviromental concern, does it feel like those who are trying to help are constantly being pushed to just give up and get a car. First buses truly are Worst buses!!!

If first cut this service there is a chance I will lose my job!

I live on the east side of brimsham park. Now they have removed this service it's pretty much an equal distance for me between the shopping centre or the train station. And the train is a lot cheaper than the busses. The only reason I used to get the bus was for the convenience but they have removed this now and they certainly don't win on cost.

Monday, 23 March 2009

First Bus and Rail to axe hundreds of jobs

The Western Daily Press reports on major job cuts within First:

"Some 1,100 bus jobs will have gone by March next year in the UK and a further 600 jobs will go in the rail division, which includes the South West-serving First Great Western, which operates out of London Paddington"

Is First imploding, we have to ask? Is its management in panic mode? Our local service cuts are just part of a national programme to slash services and reduce costs. The same day as our cuts were announced, more services were axed from Ipswich to East Lothian.

First's share price halved over the last 6 months - like many others - falling from £5.50 to £2.00. Was management action a reaction to this?

News of the cuts has meant that the shares have gone back up to £2.50. The volume of shares traded has shot up - someone is buying First. Their management must be pleased.

Last Thursday First gave a major briefing to financial institutions. There are 21 pages of statement and questions and answers. And what did they say about our buses? Just "Outside London it’s a flexible business. We can closely match services to demand in a pretty short time if we need to"

But what will the share price do when the loss of public goodwill becomes obvious? And shareholders realise that First's market share is contracting?

If we owned shares in First, we would be very worried.

Homelessness consultation event

South Glos is currently consulting on its Homelessness Review. Tomorrow (Tuesday 24th March) there will be an open meeting from 2pm - 5pm at the One Stop Shop in Yate to discuss any issues or concerns.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Bus cuts - have your say!

The "Save Our Bus Services" petition is attracting some interesting comments - here is a selection.

Click here to sign the petition - and please ask your friends to do the same.

"This story is a perfect illustration of the folly of bus de-regulation carried out so naively by the Conservatives: at the time, Labour promised to re-regulate the buses when they returned to power - just like they promised to re-nationalise British Rail after the Tories botched the privatisation.
First are just a money-making organisation: public service is quite irrelevant to their leadership and their management"

"Why are we being marooned ?
Why are you stopping us supporting the new Cabot Circus ?
Why have you just recently installed new bus stops on Brimsham Park and upgraded all the others?"

"I pay £104 monthly by direct debit for my season ticket. I am seriously considering cancelling this arrangement as the loss of the X27 will mean a 15-minute walk in all weathers to the Shopping Centre. At least I am fit enough to do this. What about those for whom the X27 is the only way of getting from North Yate into Bristol or to the Shopping Centre? Shame on you, Justin Davies and your company, you have returned us to the dark ages when only those who can drive have the freedom to get about and live their lives!"

"If First won't serve North Yate, S. Glos Council needs to find a company that will (bet it would be cheaper too!"


"Choosing the right course for your future career sometimes means young people taking courses at City of Bristol College. This demands a huge commitment.It means an early start and late finish to their day travelling from Yate into Bristol; they must find means to pay the high cost of bus travel into Bristol. Having made that commitment they have the rug pulled from under them as the bus they rely on is cut. They must now extend their day by making their way to find the nearest bus stop or rely on parents or friend drive them into Bristol for their classes or as some may do give up their courses. This action by First will have a catastrophic effect on some of our young people"

"Withdrawal of the X27 will mean residents of north Yate and Brimsham Green will have to walk well over a mile to reach an alternative bus route into Bristol.Residents of Iron Acton will have no buses passing through their village at all.
Surely First Bus have a duty to provide a service to the public in the more rural areas and not concentrate only on their more profitable inner city routes.
First Bus say that they are trying to encourage more people to use the buses. How can this be possible when they are withdrawing and restricting services??
Come on First bus,what on earth are you thinking of in trying to axe such a major route as the X27??"

"This is horrendous, leaving many people unable to get around as they have no access to a car for essential travel. How can we cut congestion when the alternatives are taken away without any consultation? What use are free bus passes for the elderly if there are no buses!?!"

"Cutting the X27 bus service will leave the majority of North Yate without any buses. This will mean that unless people are willing and actually ABLE, to walk for at least 20 minutes to the nearest bus stop at Yate Shopping Centre, they would have to either pay for a taxi or those who have cars, add to the congestion on the roads to get in to Bristol.
What about people who go to the eye hospital - who are told not to drive their car - has anyone thought about how they will have to manage?
It was bad enough when the service from North Yate, which went past Yate Railway Station was cut last year, but to have no buses at all is totally unacceptable"

"This leaves a massive area - around 10000 people - without any bus to work or any means to get to health appointments unless they have a car. That is contrary to every reasonable policy - it is vital either First Bus gives us the bus back or South Glos comes out quickly and agrees to fund an alternative provider. I note Justin from First Bus is saying it is because of the recession, less people shopping - yet I see no sign of the bus to Cribbs being cut. It is ridiculous for North Yate to have a bus to Cribbs but not to Bristol. I am sure the £4.40 single is the real problem. Too expensive. Lower prices will mean more passengers and therefore more income / use"

"The X27 bus service is vital and if it withdrawn North Yate will be without any public transport. Many people will be house bound and not able to get to Yate or Bristol. Dreadful The slogan on the First Bus signs is "Transforming Travel" They are transforming it to "no" travel for people in Yate and areas. We have a right to public transport"

"Please do not cut the X27 I will be totally unable to get an alternative bus as I am 84 and this is the olnly bus which goes from outside where I live. I cannot walk to get any other bus to take me into Bristol and then from there onto other places. I will be unable to gan anywhere which is very depressing"

"First bus have recently announced huge profits for 2008/2009. Using these "huge profits"...why not put passengers as priority?"

"It's disgraceful that First Bus can get away with this sort of behaviour. This situation is the result of Conservatives deregulating the buses"

"Yet again First Bus treats Yate in its customarily shabby way. They fail to appreciate that people living in Yate and Chipping Sodbury whose place of work is in Bristol need a daily express service to get to/from home/work. The prospect of having to use the slow all-around-th-houses No 342 service is dismal to say the least!"

"Let's ask Wessex Connect to take over"

"It is unbelievable to think you can take away the X27 completely cutting off North Yate and Iron Acton from all the facilities of Yate and Bristol. Take some of the funding from your profitable routes in Bristol City and keep us moving"

Butcher closes at Yate

K and W Butchers in Yate Shopping Centre has closed due to lack of trade.

The south side of Yate Shopping Centre is starting to look like a desert - other empty premises include Adams, Helibeds, the fruit shop and Motorworld. One shop in the same area is the library, but that's only temporary.

The Gazette has more on the closure of the butchers.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Save our bus services - online petition launched

Liberal Democrat councillors have demanded immediate action to counter drastic service cuts by First Bus.

The cuts mean that some areas including Iron Acton and North Yate will have no daytime buses at all. Other areas such as South Yate will have one less bus per hour, and journeys from Yate to Bristol will be at least 10 minutes longer because they will stop many more times along the way.

Liberal Democrats have called on South Gloucestershire Council to arrange adequate alternative bus services for the areas affected by the cuts.

“These services are vital” said Cllr Ian Blair (Lib Dem, Yate North) “These cuts means more cars on our roads, and more congestion. Fewer people will take the bus, and First will want to cut services again”

Councillors are also asking First Bus to reduce their fares to a level at which public transport becomes an attractive alternative to cars.

“Every few months we get an increase in fares and a reduction in the services” said Cllr Paul Hulbert (Lib Dem, Dodington). “I can foresee a time in the not too distant future when our only buses will be to Yate Shopping Centre, and people in this heavily built-up area will have to walk a mile or more to catch the nearest bus. We need to break this spiral of higher fares and fewer passengers”

Councillors have set up an online petition at
asking for immediate action by South Gloucestershire Council to restore adequate bus services for the areas affected, and for First Bus to reduce their fares to a level at which they encourage people to use public transport instead of cars.

Buses should be efficient and affordable, and should serve the needs of the public.

Bus service cuts - Steve Webb speaks out on BBC TV

BBC News has done a good report on the proposed cuts by First Bus, including an interview with Steve Webb.

If you missed it on Points West or the evening news, check out the BBC website report here, or click here for a larger version of the film.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Tories attempt to veto residents parking schemes

On Monday South Gloucestershire Council’s ruling Conservative administration were told to talk to residents before ruling out residents parking schemes. Lib Dem and Labour Councillors made the recommendation at the Select Committee meeting responsible for looking at transport policy.

There are already free schemes running in Thornbury and Kingswood, the Thornbury one having been set up to resolve parking problems created when the Council offices were built. The Cabinet Member appears to have considered only two options - introducing a policy with an extremely high charge for a permit, which he insisted would have to apply to the existing free schemes, or not allow any more parking schemes to be created.

The meeting was chaired by Pat Hockey, who said the Cabinet Member had failed to get full information on other schemes in other places or to ask the public for their opinion on what they wanted for their areas. Amazingly, the high cost proposed seemed to be based on recovering all start up costs in the first year.

Lib Dem Councillors said the Council had a moral duty to deal with parking problems created by its own offices. Claire Young said that it would be unfair for the administration to say to residents who might be affected by the new Badminton Road offices at Nibley that they couldn't have the option of a scheme like the one already working so successfully for Thornbury residents.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

More bus services to be slashed - excuses, excuses

First have given advance notification of significant cuts in bus services affecting Chipping Sodbury, Yate, Iron Acton, Winterbourne and Coalpit Heath.

From 10 May 2009 they say that:

Service X27 will no longer be operated
Service X42 will run at peak times only and be replaced at off peak times by Service 342

Service 327 and Service 329 (evening service subsidised by South Gloucestershire Council) will continue to run.

They say -

"We recognise that it is not long since we made alterations to services in this area, but the worsening economic climate has meant we have had to bring forward our planned network review. We have needed to react and make alterations to our business quickly, and this has meant that unfortunately we have been unable to give you and our customers the opportunity to comment on these changes"

We think this is just an excuse. We got them to scale back their cuts last time - now they're using the recession as an excuse to make bigger cuts.

Who suffers? We do, the passengers. Removing the X services means that it will take longer to get anywhere, and therefore reduces the employment possibilities for people in our area. And it will mean more cars on our already overcrowded roads.

We all need to fight it. If we don't, it will just happen. More to follow, please watch this space.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Yate man saves drowning woman

The Evening Post reports how a Yate man and a local policeman saved a drowning woman from a car in a river near Devizes on Saturday morning.

The car had skidded off a bridge and was upside down in the river.

Well done to Paul Wiltshire and PC Tom Kinderman.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Phone mast alley (Rodford Way) - Vodafone go to appeal

Back in the autumn South Glos rejected Vodafone's application for another phone mast on the Rodford Way frontage of Blaisdon, only a few yards from the existing O2 mast.

Now Vodaphone has slapped in an appeal to the Government inspector for exactly the same site, despite promising local councillors that they would reconsider alternatives.

If they get it, that will mean four masts in a row from Merlin Way down to the Sundridge Park junction - two from 3, one from O2 and this one from Vodafone.

Cllrs Mandy Sainsbury and Paul Hulbert have met the South Glos Council official responsible for mast applications and have been assured that South Glos will oppose the Vodafone application strenuously on the grounds of the cumulative impact of so many masts in such a small area.

We're doing some more research and will keep you updated.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Temporary traffic lights at Westerleigh Rd / Nibley Lane junction, Monday

On Monday 9 March there will be three way temporary traffic signals while work is carried out on a fire hydrant.

This is a busy road so there may be some delays.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

S Glos council have internet & email problems

In case you're trying to email South Glos this afternoon or look something up on their website, both are out of action due to a power failure.

UPDATE 4 pm - website is now visible

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Government finally agrees to introduce individual electoral registration

The Government has finally caved in to pressure from the Electoral Commission, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives to change voting registration to being done on an individual basis.

Registration on a single form for each address has long been a weak point of the entire voting system - it's very open to abuse.

Unfortunately it will also cost more, and the cost is likely to fall on local councils.

More details on the new registration system here