Friday, 29 April 2011

Good news on Yate Bus Station - solution in sight!

Chris Willmore reports: "I hope you have all had a lovely day. I thought I should share the following good news with you. Ruth Davis and I have had a pretty hairy week, trying to get answers on the bus station. This week the officers were giving us the run around, so I wrote to the Chief Executive"

"Within an hour, we had discussions going with Steve Evans - the Director who has shown superb understanding of the problem and the need for a solution. More junior officers were still saying there was no money and it was not their problem. We suggested a source of money. Steve has now confirmed that source of money can be used - which will not cost Tesco or the Council extra money. So we have the money to pay for the changes"

"And they have promised to get designs for the bus station out to Yate Town Council and me, for comment on 6th May. As soon as I get the designs, we will post them on the web, and post the link here, so you can have a look and let us have comments. Remember everyone looking is better than just one or two pairs of eyes! I have reminded them we want the seats sorted out, as well as making the building weather proofed"

"Well, on 7th May I may be looking a complete charley (don't say it won't be the first time) but I believe Steve Evans when he says he has got a grip on the situation and is going to make sure it happens. He is the new director responsible now for both Planning and Transportation - and realises that this entire mess does not reflect well on his department. So two cheers for Steve Evans, and hope we can add the third cheer for him on 7th May!"

Smart meters to be rolled out

The Government has published plans for the national rollout of smart electricity meters nationwide over the next few years.

They have set out the overall timetable for the installing 53 million smart meters in 30 million homes and businesses across Great Britain, estimated to have a net benefit to the nation of £7.3 billion over the next twenty years.

Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Chris Huhne said:

“Smart meters are a key part of giving us all more control over how we use energy at home and at work, helping us to cut out waste and save money.

“In combination with our plans to reform the electricity market and introduce the Green Deal for home and businesses, the rollout of smart meters will help us keep the lights on while reducing emissions and getting the best possible deal for the consumer.”

Smart meters will deliver a range of benefits to consumers, energy suppliers and networks:

  • Consumers will have real time information on their energy consumption to help them control energy use, save money and reduce emissions. By 2020, the average consumer (with both electricity and gas) is expected to save around £23 per year on their energy bill as a result of smart metering. There will also be an end to estimated billing.
  • Suppliers will have access to accurate data for billing, allowing them to improve their customer service and reduce costs, for example by reducing call centre traffic, ending visits by meter readers, and better debt management.
  • Energy networks will have better information with which to manage and plan current activities as well as the move towards smart grids to support sustainable energy supplies.

The rollout of smart meters will take place in two phases. During the foundation stage, beginning now, the Government will work with industry, consumer groups and other stakeholders to ensure all the necessary groundwork is done for the second stage, the mass rollout.

The Government expects the mass rollout to start in early 2014 and to be completed in 2019.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

New rush hour bus service between Yate and Bristol

A new bus service will appear on our roads shortly. From Tuesday 14 June Kingswood-based operator will run a peak-time service between Yate and central Bristol. The X2C service will have one trip in each direction on Mondays to Fridays and is aimed at commuters. 

The morning journey will run from Yate Shopping Centre at 08:00 and operate via the A432, Downend, Fishponds, Eastville Park, Muller Road, M32, Newfoundland Street, Bond Street, The Haymarket (arriving at 08:40), continuing to St Augustines Parade, Park Street, Whiteladies Road and terminating at Black Boy Hill at 08:58.

The afternoon journey starts at Black Boy Hill at 16:30, and also picks up at Queens Road at 16:42, St Augustines Parade at 16:45, Penn Street (by Cabot Circus) at 16:52 before retracing the morning route back to Yate. 

This is a commercial service, i.e. not subsidised by South Glos Council, and will be particularly useful for people who want to get to Clifton because they won't have to change buses .

Full details of the timetable will appear on the Bus Timetables page on the South Glos Council website in due course.

Dan Snow explains the Alternative Vote

As simple as going to the pub...

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Morrisons – different sides to the story

Local councillors recently asked South Glos to investigate whether, if Morrisons move out of their warehouse on Armstrong Way, the planning permission could be changed so that it would no longer been used as a distribution depot.

This would have the effect of removing a good deal of heavy goods traffic from roads in Yate and the surrounding villages – Iron Acton and Rangeworthy residents have been complaining for years about the volume of lorry movements.

The question is whether the site is appropriate for distribution use now – would planning permission be granted if it was a new site? In view of the other traffic problems in the area, quite possibly not. This is being interpreted as local councillors trying to drive Morrisons out of town, but it’s just asking for a reassessment of the site in the light of changed circumstances.

Whatever happens, some lorries will still have to go in and out of Yate, to bring things in local people want and need and to take away things that are made here, but with major distribution centres you have lorry traffic coming in and going out again with little benefit to local people. Those sorts of uses are far better right next to motorway junctions so that the lorries don’t have to trundle up and down the narrow country roads or get tangled with town rush hours.

What would be the overall effect on local employment? Even if the planning permission was changed, this would still be employment land. Different employment uses could quite possibly bring more jobs – South Glos officials say that distribution provides a very low number of jobs for the area of land taken up.

But are Morrisons definitely going? Morrisons management indicated quite a while back – long before any changes of weight restrictions on rural roads - that they would be closing some but not all of their smaller depots once their Bridgwater depot opened. Workers at Morrisons however have been given the impression that the Yate depot WILL close.

Steve Webb is going to be visiting the Morrisons depot, and we’ll ask him to report back what he finds out.

Brimsham Park leaflet - advance copy

We thought you would like to see a copy of the leaflet we'll be distributing shortly in the areas near the Brimsham Park development - it contains comprehensive facts and figures about the local housing development proposals.

Click here to download the leaflet:

This electronic copy goes one better than the paper version - all the links to websites and email addresses should be clickable.

Please forward this email on to friends who may be interested, and encourage them to sign our petition at and/or join our Facebook Group "Stop Brimsham Park Housing"

We hope you find this electronic leaflet useful, as it's a bit of an experiment - all comments welcome!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Accidents and the Air Ambulance

Over the last few days the Air Ambulance was called to two accidents in Yate, one at Eggshill Lane and one in Church Road. This made us think...

  • Was the helicopter being used because of serious traffic problems?
  • Will this become normal if all those extra houses come to Yate, bringing lots of extra traffic?
  • How much does this cost compared to a normal ambulance?
  • Will the helicopter be needed more when Frenchay Hospital closes and people have to be transported to Southmead?
  • What happens when Filton Airfield closes?

Of course we don't know the circumstances that applied to these two accidents - it may be that the air ambulance was the most appropriate method of providing treatment.

But do any of our readers have comments or relevant background information on the service?

Monday, 25 April 2011

Housing development links - everything in one place!


For any development, if it has got as far as a planning application you can get all the details by going to the South Glos Planning Applications search page and typing in the application number listed below.  Some of the developers also have websites for their schemes, please see below.

BRIMSHAM PARK - 3000 houses

Heron's mega-plan for the land between Brimsham Park and Tanhouse Lane, with all the traffic coming through Brimsham Park. There's no planning application yet - the next step will be a public inquiry in the summer.

PEG HILL - 250 houses

Barretts want to build on the land between Brimsham Park and Gravel Hill Road.


As well as the houses already approved for the land next to Coopers, there is now a proposal to flatten the factory and build housing on the whole site.There's no planning application yet, but the developers have just persuaded Tory-run South Glos to let them off more than £200,000 of community contribution for the first part of the site.


Without any consultation with local people, the Tories on South Glos have decided to flatten the school and sell the site to the highest bidder, which will almost inevitably mean more housing. Yate Town Council has put in a proposal to rescue the playing field part as sports pitches, a changing room and allotments.


Taylor Wimpey tried to wriggle out of their contribution towards community buildings, and also attempted to cut down the environmental standard of their properties, but the Lib Dem Focus Team councillors managed to fight that off.



Although this site isn't even in the Core Strategy, Bloor Homes and Sydney Freed Holdings want to build hundreds of new homes and offices all over Engine Common.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Armadillo Open Day today - your chance to look round

Visitors of all ages checking out the new building today

Just a reminder that the new Yate Armadillo Youth Cafe and Venue is open for visitors to look round today (Saturday 23rd April) until 4pm. Why not combine it with a visit to the St George's Day celebrations at the Heritage Centre and the White Lion?

Friday, 22 April 2011

House of Common committee opposes scrapping cheques

We've reported previously (here and here) about the big banks' intention to get rid of paper cheques.

The Treasury Select Committee has said that plans to phase out cheques should be put on hold because they are still vital for vulnerable people. They have been inundated by letters from members of the public saying that they rely on cheques, so they are reopening an inquiry initially launched last year.

More detail from Yahoo! Finance here.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Easter Monday Eggstravaganza - Easter Egg Hunt in Kingsgate Park

Yate's annual Easter Egg Hunt takes place on Easter Monday (25 April) from 10 am to 12 noon in Kingsgate Park. You have to complete the Treasure Hunt to win a chocolate Easter Egg.

It's open to all children aged 12 and under, with a special section for children aged 5 and under. Come along with an Easter Bonnet to win a prize!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The Armadillo has landed - take a sneak preview on Saturday!

Yate's new Youth Cafe and Venue, the Armadillo, has been handed over by the builders - on time and on budget. It's being fitted out at the moment - the disco rig and the cinema gear all have to go in yet.

There's a chance to have a look round on Saturday (23rd April) from 11 am to 4 pm - people of all ages are welcome. You will be able to meet some of the team, and hear about the plans for the full opening in a few weeks time and future events - the first big gig will be in May.

Congratulations to the Project Board - Lib Dem councillors and young people working together - for pulling off this excellent project.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

St George's Day events at Yate Heritage Centre

This Saturday (April 23rd) Yate Heritage Centre is hosting its St George's Day event, with lots of activies for everybody:

10.15 St George Procession
10.45 Grand Opening
11.00 Acro Gymnastics
11.20 Folk Singers
11.45 Street Dancing
11.55 Folk Singing and Storytelling
12.00 Punch & Judy
12.20 Acro-Gymnastics
12.40 Folk Singing
13.00 Punch and Judy
13.05 Street Dancing
13.15 Folk and Storytelling
13.40 Thornbury Town Band
14.05 Rag Morris
14.30 Folk Singing
14.50 St George Award Ceremony
15.00 St George Pop Band (White Lion)
15.15 Thornbury Town Band
15.35 St George Pop Band (White Lion)
15.50 Rag Morris
16.10-18.00 St George Pop Band (White Lion)

Yate Bus Station - why is South Glos taking so long? Tesco sent them new proposals 4 weeks ago!

We have been digging around. We've just found out from Tesco that they put proposals for a solution to South Glos officers on 22 March, but they are still waiting for a reply.

Chris Willmore has got Yate Town Council chasing to find out what the South Glos officers are up to....... We haven't seen Tesco's plan yet, but anything is probably better than the current mess. Why hasn't South Glos at least talked to the local councillors about the Tesco proposal?

We will let people know as soon as we do get either the plans, or some answers from the South Glos officers. The two officers involved are specific named officers in planning and in public transport, so we have specifically asked them for an update, and Chris will try to get them on the phone.

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

And you can click here to see the comments people have left on our petition.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Tickets for Sodbury Festival now available!

Tickets for this year's Sodbury Festival have gone on sale - they usually go very quickly, especially for the headline events, so get yours soon!

The Festival runs from June 10th to 19th. This year's highlights include a talk by journalist and The One Show regular Gyles Brandreth, and The Last Night of the Proms. The Carnival Procession will be on Saturday 18th June.

Young bands are wanted for the Battle of the Bands competition in Chipping Sodbury Town Hall on Wednesday, April 27. The winners will open this year’s free Music in the Street event on Tuesday, June 14. Local bands looking to enter should email

Tickets for all events are available from the Tourist Information Centre in Chipping Sodbury High Street, and from Farrago at 5 Horse Street. Visit for further information.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Ring road to close for resurfacing

Weather permitting, the A4174 ring road between Emersons Way and the Shortwood Roundabout and between Siston Roundabout and the Deanery Road Roundabout will be resurfaced between 18th and 21st April. The work will be done during the night (8pm-6am) and there will be lane closures with convoy vehicles controlling traffic. South Glos promise they will make every effort to keep the disruption to a minimum but it's best to avoid the area during the works if you can - please check the local media for more information.

Say Yes to Fairer Votes - and have a chuckle at the same time

If you missed the (very short) TV broadcast about Fairer Votes the other evening, it's well worth watching. And the bit with the duck is priceless...

(N.B. Please don't follow the link shown at the very end of the video - it now goes to a spam website)

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Westerleigh Road / Folly closure - now starting at 9pm Friday

Your Focus Team has been informed that the closure of Westerleigh Road between the Folly pub and the ring road for resurfacing will now start at approximately 9pm on Friday 15th April and go on to around 6am on Monday.

South Glos Council email problems

South Glos Council have been suffering email problems this week, so apologies if your Focus Team Councillors haven't been able to respond to you. If the problem is urgent, please phone instead - find the contact details here.

Any bin will do

The South Glos dog wardens are currently overwhelmed with requests for new dog bins. The good news is that if there isn't a dog bin available, you can put bagged dog mess in any litter bin. Claire Young asked officers if they would be putting notices on the bin to promote this and has been told that they have ordered some stickers based on the Keep Britain Tidy “Any bin will do” dog fouling campaign to use in relevant areas. Unfortunately many of the litter bins have a textured surface in order to prevent fly posters being applied to them, which also makes it difficult to add the Council's own signs!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Easter Holiday Fun: Crafts and Activities

Easter Eggstravaganza: eggcellent crafts and activities at Yate Library, Tuesday 19 April from 10.30am until 12.00. Free drop-in, suitable for 4 – 11 year olds.

For Easter activities in other libraries click here.

Access to Ring Road from Westerleigh Road closed this weekend

Westerleigh Road, from the Folly public house to the ring road will be closed from 6pm on Friday 15 April 2011 until 5.30am on Monday 18 April 2011.

Update 14 April - the closure will now be from 9pm on Friday 15 April 2011 until around 6am on Monday 18 April 2011.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Housing development meeting - the slides

Didn't make it to Steve Webb's meeting about all the housing developments planned for Yate? Did make it but want to recap on what you heard? You can now read the handouts online along with advice on making comments.

Don't forget to sign our petition about the Brimsham Park development -

Reminder - public meeting about big housing developments TODAY!

If you're concerned about all the major housing developments planned for our area, please come to Steve Webb's public meeting about all the housing developments this evening (Tuesday 12 April) at 7.30pm in Yate Parish Hall on Station Road.

And if you haven't already done so, please sign our petition about the Brimsham Park development - click here

Monday, 11 April 2011

What next for Green Dog Walkers initiative?

Cllr Claire Young (right) with
Cllr Linda Boon and her dog Cocoa
Back in December, Claire Young won the backing of South Glos Council for an investigation into whether a Green Dog Walkers scheme or similar could work in South Gloucestershire. When Claire asked recently about progress on the scheme, she was disappointed with the apparent lack of enthusiasm shown by the Conservative Cabinet Member responsible for Community Services for progressing the idea.

Claire said, “Parish Councils might well be interested in taking up the idea. However for the scheme to work people across the area need to recognise the arm bands and collars and it makes financial sense for South Glos to take advantage of their ability to bulk purchase the equipment."

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Income tax and pensions in South Glos

Over the last seven days in South Gloucestershire, thanks to the Liberal Democrats being in Government:
  • 122,000 people are getting a £200 income tax cut - benefiting 23 million people across the country
  • 4,100 people have been lifted out of paying income tax altogether, with more to come
  • 53,100 pensioners have been given an extra £4.50 a week – and those retiring from today will be on average £15,000 better off over their retirement.
This week also saw Steve Webb, as  Pensions Minister, announcing that the Government will be introducing a simple, flat-rate state pension of £140 to replace the current complicated, unfair and means-tested system.

    Saturday, 9 April 2011

    Eggshill Lane / Westerleigh Rd traffic hazard

    Sue and Ruth at the junction with local resident Mr Gale
    Residents are saying that when they try to turn into Eggshill Lane from Westerleigh Rd, cars parked near to the corner means that they have to stop on the entrance if there's something coming the other way. If vehicles coming out of Eggshill Lane refuse to give way, drivers have to reverse out onto the very busy Westerleigh Road, which is dangerous.

    What it needs is for the white lines on the corner to be extended a few yards so that one or two cars could wait for the traffic to clear, rather than having to reverse out into the busy main road. Sue Walker and Ruth Davis are taking this up with South Glos.

    Friday, 8 April 2011

    Rodford School demolition delays

    Cllrs Alan Lawrance and Dafydd Holbrook
    checking out the part-demolished site
    Local people were concerned when work stopped recently at Rodford School and the site was left in a part-demolished state.

    Apparently the demolition contractors have had problems - in particular they've been waiting for British Gas to do the final gas disconnection.

    In the meantime South Glos has asked the contractors to tidy up the site, and to dampen it to reduce the amount of dust being produced.

    Update 08/04/2011 - The gas has now been disconnected and demolition work has restarted. The last part of the building will be demolished early next week. As well as the fence aound the site, a security patrol will visit in the evening and over the weekend until the site has been fully cleared.

    Thursday, 7 April 2011

    South Glos sees drop in teenage pregnancy rates

    Latest provisional figures from the Office of National Statistics show that the number of 15-17 year old conceptions in South Gloucestershire has fallen from 141 conceptions in 2008 to 130 conceptions in 2009. This figure is against the background of a long-term fall in the rate of teenage pregnancies in the district, down 18.9 per cent over the past 11 years, better than the national rate of 18.1 per cent.

    The good progress reducing teenage pregnancies in South Gloucestershire reflects the strong partnership effort across a wide range of local agencies to provide better education and information to young people about relationships and sexual health, and to provide better access to local sexual health services.

    The multi-agency South Gloucestershire Teenage Pregnancy Partnership implements actions and initiatives to reduce conceptions and support young parents. The partnership aims to ensure that successful interventions to reduce teenage pregnancy are included within the development of more integrated services for young people over the coming year.

    Vandalised phone box finally fixed after six months

    Dafydd Holbrook and Alan Lawrance try out the newly-repaired phone box
    This phone box was vandalised in early October. We reported it to BT. The police reported it to BT as well. But for months all they did was remove the damaged equipment.

    BT said it wasn't a priority because it's not used very much. Not surprising, if they didn't repair it!

    It's only just been fixed after six months, maybe because they wanted to put a new advert on it.

    Wednesday, 6 April 2011

    Town Council fights to keep Registrar service in Yate

    As a cost-saving measure, South Glos Council last year announced plans to relocate the staff of the Registrar service from Poole Court to one of the council’s own offices, possibly Thornbury.

    Before Yate Twon Council took over Poole Court, people had to register births and deaths at the health centre and marriages were conducted in Chipping Sodbury.

    Cllr Chris Willmore said: "This is somewhere people use during the most traumatic time of their lives and we should be doing all we can to keep it here"

    "People like coming here now. All I am concerned about is that if South Gloucestershire Council decide they have to move it, they make it somewhere that suits users"

    "But my fear is this is not about the users, it is about bureaucracy"

    Tuesday, 5 April 2011

    Rebuilding has started at Yate International Academy

    Cllrs Sue Walker and Ruth Davis
    checking out the site
    It's good to see that work is well under way on the new buildings for Yate International Academy. The new development, at the rear of the existing buildings, is due for completion in July 2012.

    The buildings will include  learning resource centre and ICT rooms, a vocational centre including a hair and beauty salon, motor vehicle workshop and technology rooms, a theatre, an auditorium and a dance studio that will double as a 150-seater cinema.

    Monday, 4 April 2011

    Beware bogus census callers, say police

    Police are warning people to beware of bogus callers posing as census collectors. If you haven't filled in your census form, you may get a call from the census field staff.

    Although there have been no cases of this kind in Avon and Somerset, the advice follows a recent complaint to Trading Standards in Leicestershire another part of the country about a bogus caller, trying to enter someone's house by posing as a census official.

    PC Andy Williams, who works on the forcewide team that tackles distraction burglary, said: "In our experience, fraudsters will take advantage of any situation to con people or to access homes to steal, and the opportunity presented by the census is no exception.

    "We are urging people to only answer the questions in the census form.

    "They should not disclose credit card or bank details and not pay any money to anyone claiming to be from the census.

    "Remember if you are not sure, don't open the door."

    A spokesperson for the Office for National Statistics, which is carrying out the census, said: "Residents who return their completed questionnaires promptly are unlikely to be contacted by the census field staff, and all census staff will produce an ID card with a photo and logo.

    "They may ask for name and number of residents, but they will not ask for specific details, like credit card details and bank account numbers.

    "If you're unsure about a caller, close the door and ring the census helpline on 0300 0201 101, to verify whether it is a genuine census call.

    "If you do think you've had a bogus call, ring the Police. If you find that you are a victim of a bogus caller, ring Consumer Direct on 0845 404 0506."

    Take action against major housing planned for our area!

    Are you concerned about the massive housing developments planned for our town? South Glos and developers are planning 3000 new houses for Brimsham Park, north of Yate, plus more at Peg Hill.

    But it doesn't stop there. Elswick Park (the Sea Stores) is already being built. Then there's the Coopers factory site on Westerleigh Road and the housing planned to go along with Waitrose at Chipping Sodbury, and South Glos intends to sell off much of the Rodford School site for housing.

    Just as worryingly, there are attempts by developers to put houses on sites that aren't even on South Glos's plans, such as Engine Common, with the possibility of more to come. Could Chipping Sodbury have some surprises in store?

    Your Lib Dem Focus Team councillors are already fighting the massive developments. But we need YOUR help.

    What can YOU do about it? Some simple steps:
    • Sign our petition about the Brimsham Park development - click here
    • Come to Steve Webb's public meeting about all the housing developments on Tuesday 12 April at 7.30pm in Yate Parish Hall on Station Road
    • Tell a friend or a neighbour about the petition and the meeting!
    • If you're on Facebook, you can join the group Stop Brimsham Park Housing
    Update 04/04/2011 - Barratt Homes, the developers for Peg Hill, have pointed out that it is within the boundary shown in South Glos's Core Strategy, so we've amended the wording above. In other news Heron Land Developments (the main developer for Brimsham Park) has objected to the Peg Hill development because it's not been coordinated with their big proposals.

      Saturday, 2 April 2011

      Still time to register to vote or apply for a postal vote

      There is still time to register to vote or apply for a postal vote for the local elections on 5th May.

      Registering to vote

      To vote, you must be on the electoral register. If you have moved in since 15 October last year, you will need to re-register at your new address to be able to vote there. If you are unsure if you are registered to vote please contact the helpline on 01454 863030.  The deadline for applications to vote at these elections is 5pm on the 14th April 2011 but it's best to make sure you are registered as early as possible.You can download the form from the South Glos website.

      Voting by Post or Proxy 

      If you want to apply to vote by post, or want to change your existing postal or proxy voting arrangements, the deadline for South Glos to receive your form is 5pm on 14th April. New proxy voting applications can be received up until 5pm on the 21 April. Download the postal or proxy forms from the South Glos website.

      Postal votes will be issued on the 18th April 2011 by first class post.

      Friday, 1 April 2011

      Did YOU Plant a Tree for Mothers Day in 1994?

      Wapley Bushes Conservation Group is trying to locate local people who took part in a mass planting on Sunday 13 March 1994. In just one morning 80 people – half of them children – planted 800 trees to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of Dodington Parish Council. It was an event called ‘Plant a Tree for Mothers Day’.

      “Many of the trees planted in 1994 are now twenty feet tall” said Cllr Paul Hulbert, a member of Wapley Bushes Conservation Group.

      “We’re planning a very special planting on Mothers Day next year – March 18th 2012 – to create a hedge on the edge of the Centenary Wood, so we would love to locate some of the original parents and particularly children who took part in the original planting so long ago”

      “We would be grateful if anyone who remembers taking part could contact us by phoning Dodington Parish Council on 01454 866546 or emailing