Thursday, 31 March 2011

Check your Bus Pass - is it about to run out?

Please check the expiry date on your South Glos Diamond Travelcard, as we understand that reminders are not sent when they run out. If your card has expired you will not be able to get free travel on buses or community transport, because they wouldn't be able to claim the money back from South Glos.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Peter Rowell found safe and well

We are glad to report that radio and TV presenter Peter Rowell, who went missing in the Yate area yesterday, has been found safe and well in Cumbria.

The BBC has more detail here

Making your Money Work For You - Free workshop in Yate

Making your Money Work For You.  Free workshop at Westgate Childrens Centre on Tuesday 5th April 1pm - 3pm. A creche is available for children under 5.  Must be booked in advance.

Topics will include budgeting, borrowing, savings, banking, prioritising payments etc.

For full details and how to enrol click here and then click the link to download the Word document "Financial Inclusion Yate".

Voting referendum - what's all the fuss about AV? A simple video explanation

An explanation from Stuart Bonar, Plymouth Lib Dem

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Police seek help to find missing man in South Glos

Avon and Somerset Police have issued an appeal for the public's help to find a vulnerable missing man in the South Gloucestershire area.

Peter Rowell aged 52 years of Wickwar, was last seen this morning at about 8.30am, when he left home for work as normal. (Yes, it is the Radio Bristol and former ITV News presenter - Editor)

He did not turn up for work and concern increased when he could not be contacted.

Peter parked his car at Morrison's supermarket in Yate.

Peter is described as a white man with white/silver coloured hair. He is 5ft 10ins of stocky build. He is possibly wearing brown coloured jeans and a white shirt.

He is thought to be depressed, following the death of a close relative.

Police would like Peter, or anyone spotting him to contact them. Anyone with information is asked to contact Staple Hill police station on 0845 4567000.

Update 30/03/2011 - We are glad to report that Peter was found safe and well today in Cumbria. The BBC has more detail here

Note - click here for a photo.

Site visit on Friday for Beech Hill tipping application

This Friday (1 April) South Glos Council's Development Control Committee will be doing a site visit for the Beech Hill tipping application that we reported on previously.

They are expected at Beech Hill at 10.20 am, but obviously this times can only be an estimate. Claire Young and Westerleigh Parish Council will have the opportunity to speak and there are also slots for any supporters or objectors but they are time-limited, so if there are more than one it makes sense to agree on a spokesperson. The committee won't be making any decisions, the visits are just so that they can see the sites and consider anything that it might be difficult to see from the plans. You can see the agenda and read the reports on the South Glos website.

Strong Safer Communities Awards

The South Gloucestershire Strong Safer Communities awards 2011 aim to celebrate everyone in South Gloucestershire who has helped to tackle Anti Social Behaviour and keep our communities safe.

Every year many people in South Gloucestershire do great work in their communities to help tackle Anti Social Behaviour. For most of them their commitment and hard work goes unrecognised in their wider communities.

South Gloucestershire Council has launched a new scheme to praise and reward people who have helped the Council and its partners tackle Anti Social Behaviour.

Do you know people who are helping to make your community a stronger, safer, better place to live and work?

Nominate them by Friday 13th May 2011.

The Award categories are:

  •     Community Award
  •     Young People’s Award (18 years and under)
  •     Professionals Award
  •     Project Award
  •     Individual Award
Elected councillors (currently in post) are not eligible to be nominated, unless the nomination is for work not associated with the Councillor role.

More details and nomination link on the South Glos website here.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Yate bus station - sign our petition! But who will pay?

After various meetings there seems to be agreement that Yate's bus station needs a radical redesign. The Gazette reports that Tesco is keen to have a permanent indoor shelter, just across from where its new megastore is under construction.

The problem is that this would cost £40,000 to £60,000. Town councillor Chris Willmore, who has been leading calls to have it rebuilt, said: "As soon as it opened we held an emergency meeting with representatives from First Bus, the council, shopping centre owners Dominion and Tesco"

"Rather than focus on which of them was responsible for this mess, we urged them to focus on finding a solution. Tesco and Dominion were committed to getting a solution quickly. The council unfortunately started talking about the fact a change would need planning consent, which would take six to eight weeks"

"People before technology"

Cllr Willmore talked about the complaints from people getting soaked while waiting for the bus. She said "Interactive bus signs should be here in April but we have warned the council that if they end up putting in that expensive technology before they have got the basics right, like shelter from the rain, they will have to account to the public. The public quite rightly want to be dry as their first step"

South Glos Council has said that that they are waiting to hear from Tesco or the shopping centre owners Dominion about options for a redesign.

Click here to sign our online petition to sort out Yate Bus Station, or join our Facebook group.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Victims can track crimes online (Avon and Somerset Police)

Avon and Somerset police have just launched a new online service for victims of crime.

TrackMyCrime is now being offered to all victims of crime across Avon and Somerset. It will allow them to track the progress of their crime as it's investigated by police officers by providing access to information extracted from police systems.

Deputy Chief Constable Rob Beckley said: "We've introduced TrackMyCrime to keep victims informed about the status of their crime in a more streamlined and efficient way. It combines policing with modern technology and gives victims more choice about how they want to receive information from us."

The system will revolutionise the service that victims receive. It will cut the time spent waiting for police officers to call them back about their crime as they will automatically be updated either by e-mail or text as officers fill in information on police computers.

Victims can also send messages back to the investigation team and view information about their stolen or damaged property.

Scott Fulton, Head of eServices, for Avon and Somerset Police said; "No one wants to be the victim of a crime but if you are then you want it to impact on your life as little as possible. We developed this system to provide victims of crime with more choice about how they are updated and with a better service.

"You can check your bank account and track parcels on-line, it makes sense to provide a service where you can check details about your crime too."

The access the site go to 

Friday, 25 March 2011

Elderly people's homes - major petition triggers South Glos council debate, maybe rethink

Cllr Alan Lawrance supported the
petition and managed to get the
timetable for closure reconsidered
At South Glos's meeting this week, local resident Mr John Williams prompted the first petition debate at South Glos. He had presented a petition with over 2600 names at Cabinet and therefore secured the right for a debate in Full Council.

The petition challenged the closure of Wapley Court Elderly Persons Home in and other residential homes before replacement homes promised had been built - planned for 2014. Mr Williams spoke of the failure of the Executive Councillor and the Director to engage fully with residents, their families and staff in the implementation of the programme.

Cllr Alan Lawrance spoke in support of Mr. Williams, highlighting that so many people were obviously unhappy. Though the main thrust of the policy had merits, the attention to the residents of Wapley Court and Kerr House demonstrated at best a breakdown in communication, and at worst an attempt to steamroll controversial decisions that could have a detrimental impact on the residents and their families.

Cllr Lawrance urged a reconsideration of the timing of the closures, and this was supported by the Labour Group and even reluctantly by the Tories. The Executive Councillor has now to reconsider the programme.

Well done Mr Williams for such a magnificent effort. It's good to see this new provision for petitions of more than 2500 signatures being used for the first time. Whoever wins the local elections in May, let's hope that people's voices can be heard like this more often.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Yate nightlife - two applications made

An alcohol and music licence application has been made for the former Rileys premises to become "Waves Night Club and Bar" - there's a notice on the door if you're interested.

Meanwhile there is a planning application by J D Wetherspoon for a "drinking and dining establishment" at 11/17 South Parade, Yate. That's the four units nearest to the "Gold buying" kiosk. The end one used to be the car parts shop. The Wetherspoon planning application is available on the South Glos website.

Cardboard recycling bags to come in early summer

The bags for storing and putting out cardboard for recycling that we've been campaigning for are now on order. South Glos are buying 40,000 bags which will be available for residents that want them. They tell us that the bags should be available in the early summer.

The idea is that residents who want the bags will pick them up from designated distribution points throughout the district. South Glos are currently looking for suitable storage premises throughout the area.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Disabled living open day

Living (dlc), the disabled living centre, are holding their next drop in day on Wednesday 23rd March 2011 from 10:00am – 3:00pm in the Vassall Centre, Gill Avenue, Fishponds. Admission (and refreshments) are free, occupational therapists will be available and there will be a range of equipment designed to make your life easier.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

"Green giros" to move away from Post Offices

The Department of Work and Pensions has announced that benefits cheques – commonly known as Green Giros - will be moved from Post Offices to PayPoint locations from 2012. In some cases the change will just mean picking up the payment from a different counter in the same shop, but it represents a loss of business to small Post Offices.

Around 350,000 people use the system each week to to receive payments by cashing a cheque at their local post office. Of these, about 60,000 users are pensioners and 38,000 are on Disability Living Allowance and could have difficulties if their only local payment location is withdrawn.

Monday, 21 March 2011

New partnership to tackle local issues in Yate and Dodington

Yate Town Council and Dodington Parish Council have agreed to take the lead on a new community effort to tackle issues in "Priority Neighbourhoods" where it is felt that extra activity and investment will benefit a specific area. They will be forming a Community Lead Group with South Glos to co-ordinate the involvement of local people and to bring together other local organisations, plus agencies such as the Fire and Rescue Service and the Health Service.

They hope to build on the many examples of positive work undertaken by the three councils and local community groups including Yate in Bloom and the forthcoming Youth Café. The focus will be on practical work and projects to give local people opportunities to improve their own wellbeing and the life of their community.

Cllr Ian Blair, Mayor of Yate, said: "When a community lives and works together it will be a strong and safe community. We will be working to make it easier for this community to flourish from the inside not imposing structures from the outside. Yate and Dodington are good places to live and through working together with the community they will become even better."

Paul Hulbert of Dodington Parish Council, said: "Yate and Dodington have a lot of experience of working together, so we've agreed to take the lead on this initiative. Priority Neighbourhoods are areas where we've identified that work needs to be done to improve lives and opportunities for local people of all ages, whether it's health, education, employment or environment. But this isn't just another council committee - we want to get together with local voluntary groups to try to improve our area from the inside."

Friday, 18 March 2011

Your views on Yate transport problems

South Glos Council’s planning blueprint (“Core Strategy”) aims to regenerate the industrial estates to the west of Yate, to create a wider range of jobs and a more attractive approach to the town. The planners are looking at the transport problems in the area. They are already aware of a whole host of issues including:

  • The need for improvements at Yate station
  • Heavy traffic on Badminton Road and Station Road at peak times
  • The difficulty getting into and out of South Avenue and houses on Badminton Road
  • The narrowness of the bridge on Stover Road
  • The problems caused by lorries wrongly going down North Road

If you have any other concerns you’d like to feed in at this early stage, please contact Claire Young.

Walk-in burglary warning as man charged

Police are warning householders in Yate and Chipping Sodbury to be on the alert after a man was charged in connection with a burglary in the Woodchester area on Monday March 14.

A man was arrested later the same day.

Neighbourhood PC Mike Hart said: "We have had 11 'walk-in' burglaries like this since the beginning of the year. It's really important for householders to make sure doors are locked even when they are at home. Now that we're beginning to get some warmer weather I would also remind people to keep windows closed unless they are in the room. It only takes a minute for a thief to sneak in and take your purse, wallet, mobile phone, or your car keys, so keep them safely out of sight."

PC Hart also recommends registering valuables at, the free, secure, national property database, and marking items with your postcode.

For more information on home security visit the police website, or contact your neighbourhood team at Chipping Sodbury police station, tel 0845 456 7000.

A 28-year-old Yate man has appeared before Northavon Magistrates charged with burglary. The man faced magistrates on Thursday March 17 and was remanded in custody to appear before Bristol Crown Court later this month.

Lower speed limits for Nibley Lane

Claire Young at Nibley Lane
Under the proposed road safety scheme for the B4465, Westerleigh Road and Nibley Lane, the current national speed limit on Nibley Lane between Badminton Road and Westerleigh Road would be reduced to 40mph. If you would like to look at the detailed plans or make comments, you can do so on the South Glos website. But hurry - the deadline for comments is Monday 21st March.

Residents who completed our surveys in the autumn were also worried about speeding in Nibley Lane between Nibley and Iron Acton. Officers are now investigating whether a 30mph limit could be introduced there, perhaps at the same time as a scheme to make Frampton End Road safer in response to the petition presented to South Glos in December.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Census day coming soon - have you received your form yet?

The 2011 Census will take place on Sunday 27th March. It will provide a snapshot of the population that will be really important in deciding how much funding our area receives for schools, health services and so on. Your questionnaire should have been delivered to your house by now - if not, please contact the helpline 0300 0201 101.

You can complete the census or get help or more information on the official 2011 Census website.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Watch out for paving contract scam

South Gloucestershire trading standards is urging local residents to be very careful signing home improvement contracts when dealing with doorstep salespeople.

Legally you are entitled to a seven-day cooling off period after signing a contract with a door-step trader. During that time you can back out of the agreement with no consequences. However, several block paving businesses which operate in the region are suspected to be routinely back-dating contracts when they are signed by customers, preventing them from exercising their right to back out.

The workmen then turn up at the customer's property, usually when they are not at home, and start digging up the driveway. When the customer complains, the business may refer them to the contract which makes it look as if it was signed over a month ago.

It is a criminal offence for doorstep traders not to give customers a written notice of their right to cancel the agreement within seven days of signing it, but this may be waived by the customer only if they sign to say that work can start immediately. Most block paving businesses give such written notice, but some use the tactic of writing an earlier date on the contract so that they can effectively start work immediately and it looks as if the customer has already had their seven day cooling off period.

Anyone entering into such an agreement is recommended to check any date that is written on the agreement straight away and make the salesperson correct it if an earlier date is written on there. If you feel that you have been duped by this method and the work has started within the seven days without your consent, please report the business to Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06.

Beech Hill Farm - another application for tipping

View Larger Map

Beech Hill Farm - blue line shows tipping boundary, pointer shows access from Westerleigh Road

Back in 2007 Beech Hill Farm, "the place that sells the fireworks" just under the railway bridge from the Shire Way roundabout, was refused planning permission for significant tipping. They've now submitted another application.The site is just across the railway from Rodborough and Chedworth.

Westerleigh Parish Council and Dodington Parish Council have objected - comments include that the application should be refused on the ground of traffic problems and disturbance to nearby properties. As the alternative approach routes - Westerleigh village and Nibley Lane - have weight limits, this would mean all significant lorry movements coming down through the Dodington/Yate estate roads.

Should permission be approved restricted hours should be imposed, avoiding worstening the dangerous junctions at Nibley Lane and Shire Way mini-roundabout at peak hours, i.e. before 0930 and after 1600 Monday-Friday.

Make your own comments - the Planning Application reference number is PT11/0339/MW, and you can submit comments to South Glos here - the closing date is 1 April.

(Note - thanks to the local resident who pointed out that we had the old reference number on our leaflet and on this page, though the comments link was correct - apologies for the error)

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Heron North Yate exhibition - a report back

In case you didn't get to Heron's exhibition at YOSC or Yate Library, it was a pretty good briefing about the issues for the site, and it was good to see them making an early engagement with local people.

Some visitors were surprised by the scale of the development and how much has to go in the area. There will no doubt be pressure for the land least suitable for building to be designated as the Public Open Space allowance for the development, but local councillors are determined that the wettest areas should not be counted as part of this allocation because they wouldn't provide suitable space for recreation.

The Gazette reports that several hundred people visited the exhibition. Heron will now take feedback into account in developing an outline planning application, expected to be submitted in late summer or early autumn. More details area available from Heron at

Rodford School - No need to involve the public, say Tories

Cllr Alan Lawrance at Rodford School
At a recent South Glos committee Lib Dem Councillors demanded the public should be involved in decisions that affect their communities. Lib Dem members asked for a concept statement to be drawn up before the Rodford Way School siteis disposed of. They said this would lead to consultation with the public but also provide a win-win situation as the Council might achieve a higher price if the land was sold with outline planning permission.

Cllr Alan Lawrance said, "We are in general agreement with the decision to raise valuable funds for the Council from the sale of the land; however what was missed was the expected engagement of the whole community. Especially as this school is in a priority neighbourhood, the Conservatives have missed an opportunity to really work with the community to provide regeneration opportunities and a focal point for community facilities and assets"

He continued, "I was very disappointed that the Conservatives felt there was no need to ask the public their opinion over what would happen in their community. I think the Council has failed in its duty to consult as there had been no attempt to involve the public"

However the Conservatives voted against this revision of the decision to proceed with sale of the land and during the debate, Cllr John Goddard (Cons Hanham) said, "In view of the fact we don’t want to see any cuts stopped we will vote against" (i.e. they voted against consulting the public)

Labour voted with the Lib Dems but were one short due to a clash of committee meetings, so the proposal failed. The sale of the land will go ahead with no further consultation.

However Yate Town Council has now agreed to bid for sports pitches including changing space and allotments on the playing field. They say they are keen to keep as much land as they can in the local community.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Kingsgate Park work day

The Friends of Kingsgate Park have recently been successful in winning a South Glos Council grant of £1200 towards replacing some of the fencing along the Scott Way end of the park.

The Friends are having a workday to bolt on some of the new pales on Saturday 26th March, 10.00am – 12.00, meeting at the double gates on the Scott Way side of the park.

Rodford Way barrier work in progress

South Gloucestershire Council is installing the central barriers at the Rodford Way fatality site. The plan was discussed at the recent Yate Safer Stronger Communities Group, and the general feeling was of dissatisfaction about lack of consultation.

The meeting decided not to protest against the impending work, but to keep an eye on the situation and if necessary raise the issue again. The point was made that people have been seen locally to vault barriers like this into the path of oncoming traffic. Many residents still feel that their preferred solution would be light-controlled crossings.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Orchard for the Future planting "a resounding success"

Claire Young and Paul Hulbert with the volunteers of the Wapley Bushes Conservation Group

Wapley Bushes Conservation Group have called their latest planting day "a resounding success" as more than 40 trees were planted, forming a new Community Orchard on Wapley Common and nearby.

The trees on the Common are all local types of apple, plus a few plums of a rare local variety.

"It's good to do something so traditional yet so future-looking", said Dodington Parish Cllr Paul Hulbert, who organised the event. "We're very grateful to expert Graham White - known locally as Mr Fruit - who guided us through the planting"

South Gloucestershire Cllr Claire Young commented "This was a great way to spend a beautiful spring morning - fresh air, good company and exercise with a legacy that should last years"

The planting was jointly funded by Dodington Parish Council and South Gloucestershire Council.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Charity clothes collections - Trading Standards Warning

South Gloucestershire Council's Trading Standards officers and neighbourhood police are warning people in South Gloucestershire to be wary of door-to-door leaflets asking for unwanted clothing.

There is currently a red and white flyer asking to collect clothes for a charity called ‘Breaking the Waves’. The website on the flyer does not exist and the telephone number provided does not connect. The police have some concerns and are currently investigating.

The only way to guarantee that donations benefit good causes is to deal only with charities you know are genuine, or take unwanted items direct to a charity shop.

Neil Derrick, Senior Enforcement Officer with South Gloucestershire Trading Standards, said: "Clothing collections are regularly conducted throughout the area and, although some are genuinely for charitable purposes, we have concerns that others are just done for commercial gain and that the public are being misled by false claims about the use to which their donations are put and the use of bogus company details."

If you are in any doubt about door-to-door flyers like this, or any others offering goods or services, contact Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Email scam warning - "Undelivered package" message

Beware of an email saying:

Dear client,
Your package has been returned to the Post Express office.
The reason of the return is "Error in the delivery address"

Attached to the letter mailing label contains the details of the package delivery.
You have to print mailing label, and come in the Post Express office in order to receive the packages.

Thank you.
Post Express Support 

Downloading the "label" actually installs a rather nasty virus on your PC.

This version of the message has just been received locally, but there are others about claiming to be from different companies. Beware!

Handy Van South Glos - free security checks, subsidised minor repairs

Free Security Checks
Handyvan South Gloucestershire Council operate a free home safety and security check for all owner occupiers and private tenants in the South Gloucestershire area. Improving the security of your home, will help reduce the risk of burglary and unlawful entry, making you feel safer.

All work is carried out free of charge, to British Standards and insurance Industry requirements. The service is funded by South Gloucestershire Council and supported by the Avon and Somerset Police and Avon Fire and Rescue Service provides a free security service including crime prevention advice and home security products for:

  • Properties at risk of burglary
  • Vulnerable people
  • Victims of crime domestic violence and hate crime
  • General home safety and falls/accident prevention checks with remedial action
Subsidised Minor Household Repairs
South Gloucestershire Council operate a subsidised Minor Household Repair Service. The aim of this service is to enable people to maintain their independence in their own homes.

The minor household repair service is restricted to jobs of less then 3 hours at a subsidised rate of £10.00 per hour and will typically consist of:
  • Small building repairs, odd jobs (e.g. fitting curtain rails or shelves)
  • Small plumbing jobs, (e.g. tap washers, leaks, blocked sinks.
  • Small carpentry jobs, (internal door repairs, flat pack building)
  • Gutter cleaning, cracks in paths, small plaster repairs
The service is available to vulnerable residents who are over 60 years of age, and to people of working age with disabilities. This service is not available to Housing Association or Private Landlords.

For more information please contact or telephone 01454 863857.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

South Glos Libraries launch new audiobook download service

Anyone with an MP3 player can now download hundreds of audiobooks for free from a new service available through South Gloucestershire libraries by visiting

Members can choose from over 600 titles, which can be downloaded for 3 weeks to a PC, mobile phone or MP3 player. All titles are unabridged and available simultaneously so there are no waiting lists, and loans automatically expire after 3 weeks, unless they are renewed, so no late fees.

Titles include The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest by Stieg Larsson, the late Swedish writer whose Millennium Trilogy has been turned into a series of acclaimed films, and the Man Booker prize-winning Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel and Twenties Girl by chick lit author Sophie Kinsella. Classics like Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Jane Austen’s Emma are also available and more titles are
added each month.

All that is needed is a library membership card and a computer, iPod or MP3 Player. This new  service is easy to use, available 24/7 - and free!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

South Glos to get around £400k "pothole money" from government

South Gloucestershire Council is expecting to receive around £400,000 to help repair winter damaged roads from the Government. The Department for Transport has announced a £100million pot of cash for English councils to help repair potholes formed during the recent freezing weather. The money will be distributed on a needs basis and South Gloucestershire is likely to receive around £400,000 based on the same formula as last year when a similar scheme was rolled out.

The DfT cash will be used to pay for priority schemes which range from pothole repairs to patching and complete resurfacing projects. The council has already put extra resources to combat potholes this year with two additional teams to complement the existing three teams working across the district. These teams have already filled around 2500 potholes since the start of 2011.

On average, South Gloucestershire spends around £500,000 per year on repairing potholes and £200,000 on patching. In recent years, the council has invested an additional £2 million into road surfacing to deal with previously declining road conditions, and this has paid off by reducing the impact of the severe winter weather.

The new money will be prioritised to deal with areas where work is needed as a matter of urgency.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Planting an Orchard for the Future - Saturday 12 March

Please come and help Wapley Bushes Conservation Group members and friends plant some groups of fruit trees on Wapley Common next Saturday, 12 March.

We aim to create a community orchard - an "Orchard for the Future", if you like - where in years to come our children and grandchildren will be able to come and pick delicious fruit straight from the trees.

The project is being funded by Dodington Parish Council and South Gloucestershire Council, but the labour is all being provided by local volunteers. The planting session will start with a workshop led by local supplier “Mr Fruit” (Graham White)

We shall be meeting at the Shire Way gate to the Nature Reserve, next to the zebra crossing near Cherington, at 10.00 am. It would be helpful if you could bring a spade and gloves, if you have them, and you should wear suitable footwear.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Road resurfacing

South Glos are currently carrying out a "Micro asphalt" resurfacing programme on some of the worst roads in our area. Households affected are being notified by leaflet drops before work starts in their streets.

The roads involved are Elm Close, Chestnut Drive, and Hartley Close in Chipping Sodbury, and Tyndale Avenue, Brockworth and Edgeworth in Yate.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Grants awarded for local group projects

One of the roles of Frome Vale Area Forum is to award grants to local groups, often funding projects that would be impossible without this sort of help.

Cllr Alan Lawrance said "Requests always exceed the money available, but it was great to see the grants provided by the Frome Vale Forum supporting local groups which work so hard in the community"

"£3000 was granted to the youngsters working with the new Youth Café to develop training. The Willow Tree Centre, based in Abbotswood, also received good support. The Forum didn’t forget Youth Athletics, Southwold Swimming Club and Shopmobility. It was also pleasing to note the small grant donations to work on the Common with Avon Wildlife Trust and Yate and West Dodington in Bloom"

"I'm keeping my fingers crossed that these vital grants continue to be provided and I hope they are not cut in any proposed savings next year”

Other groups to receive grants include Yate & District Heritage Centre Trust, King Edmund Acro-gymnastics club, the Friends of Kingsgate Park, Chipping Sodbury Festival Society, South Gloucestershire Mines Research Group, Chipping Sodbury Netball Club (Juniors), Yate Choral Society and the Pop Inn Cafe.

Some groups who did not receive anything this time round have been advised to apply for capital grants later in the year.

Pensions boost scheme - a special message from Steve Webb

Steve Webb says:

I am keen to draw the attention of local residents to a special scheme, part of which runs out in a few weeks’ time.   This is designed to enable certain people who have retired in the last few years (or who will retire over the next few years) to boost their state pension on favourable terms.

In brief, it applies to those who reached state pension age after April 2008 and who are not drawing a full state pension.   If this applies to you and you already have at least twenty years of contributions or credits (for time at home with children, for example) then you may be able to buy back extra years of contributions under a special scheme.  

There are two information sheets available, one for those who reached state pension age between 6 April 2008 and 5 April 2010, and a second for those who reached (or will reach) pension age between 6 April 2010 and 5 April 2015.   You can find them here:

There is a wide range of relevant information on this website:

I hope that this information is helpful.   If you have any queries about your eligibility for the pension boost scheme do let me know.   If so, it would be helpful if you could let me have your date of birth and NI number so that I can make further enquiries on your behalf if you wish.

With best wishes,

Steve Webb MP

You can email Steve on, and you can also use the same address if you would like to be put on his list for occasional emails on issues that may interest you.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Council Tax frozen, but Conservative cover-up on cuts

Lib Dem Leader Ruth Davis used her budget statement last week to back the proposed South Glos Council Tax freeze and warn against hidden cuts in the Conservative budget proposals.

Explaining why the Lib Dems could not support the Tory budget, Cllr Ruth Davis said, “I wouldn’t want anyone to be deceived by this bland balanced budget with its cover up of words like ‘savings’. Many of these ‘savings’ have yet to be worked out and until you make the details public there will be no guarantee that these ‘savings’ will not actually be CUTS. I want to highlight that the Conservative Cabinet are not prepared to give us the details to make these public”

On the Council Tax freeze she said, “Contrary to your scaremongering stories we will be voting for the zero Council tax rise because, if we are in the administration next year, we believe that we can do things differently within that overall figure next year and in subsequent years”

“Four years ago we promised we would provide constructive opposition in order to protect the services, needs and rights of South Gloucestershire Council residents. We have kept our side of that agreement and have influenced and challenged and achieved changes over those four years that include such successes as; plastic kerbside recycling, protecting the green belt and a state of the art Youth Café. If we can do this in opposition, how much more can we achieve in Administration?”

Cllr Davis said the Lib Dems would prioritise protecting the vulnerable, older residents and children’s services and called for localism in action. “We believe in working with local residents to create the community they would like, not imposing things upon them nor doing things to them. We firmly believe that residents should be given a seat at the decision making table, because if you are not at the table there is a risk you or your service or needs could be on the Cuts menu. Localism in action doesn’t mean cutting the budgets to community groups but instead bringing everyone together to work out what’s best for their neighbourhood. That is the way communities and individuals prosper and grow, creating their own diverse solutions.

“We need to grasp the freedoms given under the new government to ensure all communities are able to have serious influence and power over what is done in their area, rather than skewing resources to meet central government targets that were set by the last Labour government. We would do this by ensuring all the public organisations and local service providers are open to questions at Local Area Action Groups that are based on neighbourhoods that residents define, not the Council nor other organisations such as the Police or the Health service. We would aim to build on the best safer and stronger groups, parish and town council and Area forums that already set local priorities. Each neighbourhood can choose the right structures for themselves and hold the people who provide services in their area to account”

She concluded, “My colleagues will speak on issues and opportunities that they would want to be investigated if we were the Administration and in May we hope to convince the public that our vision is worth believing in. I make the following promise, that when the Tories eventually have the courage to make their plans public we will be checking exactly what impact any proposals will have on residents’ services to ensure that the savings are just ‘savings’ not CUTS!”

Heron's vision for North Yate development to go on display

Heron Land Developments has announced the dates of two drop-in days, when people can view proposals for a new neighbourhood in North Yate.

The area was identified for 3000 homes in South Glos's draft Core Strategy to meet the previous government's housing targets. Although planning authorities have been allowed to assess housing need themselves since the General Election, the current South Glos administration has decided to retain the 3000, despite local opposition.

Heron owns most of the land north of Brimsham Park and would be the lead developer, responsible for the infrastructure for the new neighbourhood. This exhibition is not part of the formal planning process, but it demonstrates that Heron are prepared to engage with the local community, and hopefully to listen to what local people tell them.

Based on feedback from these sessions, Heron will draw up a draft masterplan for the site for a second round of public consultation, then submit an outline planning application in the summer. Building would take place between 2013 and 2026.

The public exhibitions are on Friday March 11 from 2pm to 8pm at Yate Outdoor Sports Complex, and on Saturday, March 12 from 10am to 4pm at Yate Library.
Further information about the public consultation and proposals can be found at

More details from the Gazette here

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Better security, more information for Yate station

Sue Walker and Ruth Davis try out the new information help point
Yate rail campaigners have welcomed the news that CCTV cameras are to be installed at the town's station. The Friends of Yate Station were told at a meeting on Monday that eight cameras will be installed to increase security at the site, which has suffered repeated vandalism.

Lib Dem councillor Sue Walker, who chairs the group said, “I'd like to thank everyone who has worked to make this happen. Yate rail users were left out in the wet and cold this winter because the shelters were damaged, which shows how a few mindless vandals can make waiting for a train a misery for everyone. I hope criminals will think twice when these cameras are in place."

She added, "The station has been without a ticket machine for some time thanks to vandalism. First Great Western said they wouldn't replace it while there were no CCTV cameras on site. I hope once there are that they will think again."

Meanwhile, a new station information machine is now in action. It has a real-time information display, and you just have to press a button to talk to the information line. Sue Walker said "It's great. We could have done with it last week when the train to Cardiff didn't come - the Friends of Yate Station have been trying to get this for more than two years"

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Reminder - Yate Safer Stronger meeting this Thursday!

Cllr Alan Lawrance inspects the wall repairs
The Safer Stronger Community Groups are where local people and community groups get together with local agencies (Police, Fire and Rescue, South Glos and local council officials, and local councillors) to try to solve local problems.

The next meeting of the Yate Safer Stronger Community Group is at Poole Court this Thursday, 3rd March at 7pm (refreshments available from 6.45pm)

The photo shows a Safer Stronger success - South Glos repaired damaged and dangerous walls at Abbotswood despite disputes over ownership.

Please come along and take part in the meeting, whether it's to tell people about a problem or to offer to be part of a solution. Safer Stronger is a real example of a community taking responsibility for its own area.

Flashback - one part of the damaged walls before repair