Wednesday, 31 December 2014

New Year bus service changes

Changes from 5 January

Service 312: Service will operate between Thornbury and UWE Frenchay Campus only – Severnside
The section of route between Downend and UWE Frenchay is withdrawn. Timetable amended to run at peak times only, service is now running commercially Monday to Friday, Saturday service is withdrawn.

Service 622: Thornbury to Tetbury – Severnside
Service now running to Tetbury via Yate, Chipping Sodbury, Didmarton and Westonbirt Arboretum. The section between Thornbury and Cribbs Causeway has now been withdrawn due to another commercial operator running this part of the route. Service will run every 120 minutes during the day. School journey will still operate between Lower Almondsbury and Marlwood/Castle School.
Sunday service will still exist operated by Wessex Connect.

Changes from 11 January

Service 88: Dursley to Bristol – First
Monday to Friday timetable amended to improve punctuality and reliability of the service.

For further information visit the Travel West website

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Recycling Christmas trees

If you have a real Christmas tree, South Glos Council say there are a number of ways you can recycle it when the festivities are over:

  • If you have subscribed to the garden waste service you can put your real Christmas tree in your green bin for kerbside collection on your collection day. Please cut the tree into manageable pieces and make sure the tree is not wedged into the bin.
  • You can buy a single use garden waste sack for £2 from your nearest South Gloucestershire library. Please attach the sack to the tree and leave out for collection on your bin collection day (you don’t need to worry about cutting the tree to fit it in the sack).
  • You can also recycle your tree at one of South Gloucestershire’s four Sort It centres. 
Please remember to remove all decorations, pots and stands before recycling your Christmas tree. Recycled trees will be processed with the rest of South Gloucestershire’s garden waste and turned into fertiliser and mulch. To check your collection day please visit

Monday, 29 December 2014

First stage of the new Wapley bridge

The support beams for the new bridge were put into place the night before last, so you can now see the increased clearance that will be needed for the overhead electric cables.

The new support beams rest on the century-old supporting piers

Trains are running regularly under the partly constructed bridge

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Wapley bridge the morning after the night before

Work on the Wapley bridge came to a halt last night due to the wind and rain - it would have been unsafe to lift the new bridge sections in. We don't yet know the new timing for this but we're guessing next week, maybe New Year's Eve / New Year's Day.

Update 28 December - they've lifted the new bridge beams in! Picture to follow. 

A train thunders past the gap and the crane. Parts of the new bridge are on the lorry on the right.

The gap, with the left-hand support being built up with concrete to the new height.

The support beams for the new bridge waiting on the lorry.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Wapley Bridge up, up and away!

The old bridge across the railway from Shire Way to Wapley Common (Sergeant's Farm Bridge) was craned out this morning (Boxing Day) in a spectacular operation by Network Rail's contractors Murphy and crane operators James Jack.

The 1900s structure was stubborn to the last - it took a man with a sladgehammer to free it from its masonry supports.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

In case you missed Santa's sleigh passing overhead

We promised you a chance to see Santa's sleigh (the International Space Station) this evening. In case you missed it, here's a photo. Sorry it's blurry, but if you look closely you can just see Santa's red coat on the right hand side.

Wapley bridge - Network Rail promised a big crane...

... and they weren't joking! The Big Lift should start around 8.30 or 9.00 am on Boxing Day morning.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Timetable to see Santa's sleigh flying over on Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve the International Space Station rises in the West (Bristol direction) at 5.20 pm and goes down in the East at 5.26 pm.

If there's no cloud it will be be VERY visible - the pass is classed as "incredibly bright"

Details of other passes are available from:

Just the thing for families with small children. We can't promise that you'll see any reindeer, though...

Update - Photo of the event: In case you missed Santa's sleigh passing overhead

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Planning application submitted for council office solar scheme

The planning application has now been submitted for the proposed solar scheme on land next to the Badminton Road Council Offices at Nibley.

Last week we reported on a meeting we had with officers about the proposals. You can now view the plans and make comments online.If for any reason that link doesn't work, go to the planning application search page and enter the reference number PK14/4785/R3F. You have until 6th January to make comments.

Christmas opening times

Local MP Steve Webb has sent out the following useful round-up of local Christmas opening times:

Constituency Office of Steve Webb MP - Opening Hours

The office will be open as usual over the holiday period, with the exception of Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Day and 2nd January. You can contact Steve on 01454 322100 or email

Christmas Posting Dates

The last posting dates for Christmas are as follows:
(It's already too late for 2nd class post)
Saturday 20 December - 1st Class and Royal Mail Signed For®
Monday 22 December - Parcelforce Worldwide 48 hours delivery
Tuesday 23 December - Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed®

South Glos Council Services

One Stop Shops

One Stop Shops will be closed from Christmas eve afternoon (from 1pm) and on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Day and 2 January.

Recycling and waste collections

Recycling centres

All sites are open as usual, apart from 25 December to 28 December and 1 January.

Christmas collections

Bin collections will continue as normal, with the exception of Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day. You will still have the usual amount of collections over Christmas, but the days might change. You can also check the dates using the Council’s collection date checker.

Recycling your real Christmas tree

There are several options to dispose of your real Christmas tree.

a) Using the garden waste service

If you have subscribed to the garden waste service you can put it in your green bin, or alternatively you can purchase a garden waste sack for £2 from your nearest library or Country Stores at 48 High Street Marshfield SN14 8LP. You don’t need to worry about the cutting the tree to fit it in the sack.

b) Taking it to a recycling centre

You can recycle your tree at one of the four Sort It centres

Train times over the holiday period

Network Rail will be conducting essential engineering works over the Christmas period.  Details of changes to the usual schedule are as follows:

Christmas Eve

Timings of trains will start to change from 1700 across the network, and from 1500 in the London and Thames Valley area. The last train will leave Paddington before 2130.

Christmas Day and Boxing Day

No scheduled train services.

Saturday 27 December

Local services into London will start from around 1100 because of work in the Hayes and Harlington area, and long distance services into and out of London will be limited. We are advising customers to use other routes where possible, or to travel after 1100.  Tickets will be valid on other routes.

Saturday 27 December – Sunday 4 January

A reduced timetable will operate and diversions will be in place. Journey times may take longer than normal.

First Great Western have set out the changes in detail for each route on their website:

Emergency Pharmacy Opening Times in South Gloucestershire

Pharmacy opening times for the December and January Bank Holidays 2014/15. 

Asda Pharmacy, Craven Way, Longwell Green, BS30 7DY
Tel: 0117 3012810
Thursday 25th December: closed
Friday 26th December: 09:00 - 18:00
Thursday 1st January: 10:00 - 16:00

*Asda Pharmacy, Highwood Lane, Patchway, BS34 5TL
Tel: 0117 3172410
Thursday 25th December: closed
Friday 26th December: 09:00 - 18:00
Thursday 1st January: 10:00 - 16:00

Boots Pharmacy, Unit 1, Willow Brook Centre, Bradley Stoke Way, Bradley Stoke,  BS32 8EF
Tel: 01454 202327
Thursday 25th December: closed
Friday 26th December: 09:00 - 17:00
Thursday 1st January: closed

Boots Pharmacy, 116, The Mall, Cribbs Causeway, Patchway, BS34 5UP
Tel: 0117 9509744
Thursday 25th December: closed
Friday 26th December: 08:30 - 18:00
Thursday 1st January: closed

Boots Pharmacy, Unit 1a, Emersons Green Retail Centre, Emerson’s Green, BS16 7AE
Tel: 0117 9575893
Thursday 25th December: closed
Friday 26th December: 09:00 - 18:00
Thursday 1st January: 10:00 - 17:00

*Boots Pharmacy, Unit D, Gallagher Retail Park, Longwell Green, BS30 7DY
Tel: 0117 9678963
Thursday 25th December: closed
Friday 26th December: 07:30 - 11:30 and 12:00 - 00:00
Thursday 1st January: 07:30 - 11:30 and 12:00 - 00:00

Boots Pharmacy, 15-17, North Walk, Yate, BS37 4AP
Tel: 01454 312589
Thursday 25th December: closed
Friday 26th December: 08:30 - 17:30
Thursday 1st January: closed

Bradley Stoke Pharmacy, Brook Way,  Bradley Stoke,  BS32 9DS
Tel: 01454 612855
Thursday 25th December: 10:00 - 12:00
Friday 26th December: closed
Thursday 1st January: closed

Frome Valley Pharmacy, Frome Valley Medical Centre, 2 Court Road, Frampton Cotterell BS36 2DE
Tel: 01454 773755
Thursday 25th December: 12:00 - 14:00
Friday 26th December: closed
Thursday 1st January: 12:00 - 14:00

Sainsbury's Pharmacy, Emersons Way, Emerson’s Green, BS16 7AE
Tel: 0117 9569849
Thursday 25th December: closed
Friday 26th December: 10:00 - 17:00
Thursday 1st January: 10:00 - 17:00

Sainsbury's Pharmacy, Fox Den Road, Filton, Stoke Gifford, BS34 8SS
Tel: 0117 9793412
Thursday 25th December: closed
Friday 26th December: 10:00 - 17:00
Thursday 1st January: 10:00 - 15:00

Westbourne Road Pharmacy, 26, Westbourne Road, Downend, BS16 6RX
Tel: 0117 9565836
Thursday 25th December: 14:00 - 16:00
Friday 26th December: closed
Thursday 1st January: closed
*These pharmacies have a specialist medicines service.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Christmas lights in Westerleigh

Once again Mill Crescent is lit up for Christmas to raise money for charity. This year the collection will go to St Peter's Hospice, in memory of several local residents who have died. 
It's well worth a visit, especially if you have children. Mill Crescent is the side road just next to the zebra crossing.

(Photos by Claire Young)

St Nick's Youth Centre closing, but rescue may be possible

The charitable trust that runs St Nicholas Youth Centre at Abbotswood has suddenly announced that they are to stop operating from the end of December. This means that this month's youth club meetings will be the last, apart from one farewell evening in January.

South Gloucestershire Youth Initiative was founded in 2012 after the core youth club funding from South Gloucestershire Council ceased. In 2013 they managed to attract enough funding and grants to keep the club open. However this year they found it increasingly difficult to balance the books and they felt they had no option but to close.

But there is a glimmer of hope. Your local Focus councillors believe that local youth work is essential, and they are working hard trying to put a rescue package together. Yate Town Council is taking the lead role. This has been complicated by the very short notice given, and the fact that it's happening in the run-up to Christmas when key people are less likely to be available.

We'll update you here when we know for certain what is happening.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Campaigners call for cycle path to be finished

Paul Hulbert and Claire Young launching the petition in August
Westerleigh Councillor Claire Young delivered a petition to a meeting of South Gloucestershire Council on Wednesday as part of an ongoing campaign for the completion of the ‘Yate Spur’ cycle path. The petition has so far been signed by over 300 residents from Yate, Westerleigh and further afield.

Claire said: “This petition shows there is strong support for completing the “Yate Spur” cycle path, which currently stops just south of Westerleigh but is planned to link up the village and Yate with the Bristol-Bath railway path and the wider cycle network. When it’s finished, it will provide a safe, off-road route for travelling to the Science Park at Emerson’s Green, Bristol city centre, Bath and beyond. Families will be able to enjoy leisure rides and it will make commuting to work by bike a realistic option for many more people.”

Local resident Rob Bushill spoke at the meeting in support of the petition.“There are just two ways in and out of Yate towards Bristol. Via Badminton Road, which has a lot of heavy traffic, or via Westerleigh, a narrow rat run of twisting bumpy country lanes that is so off putting and dangerous that even experienced cyclists avoid it. Yate has become an island to anyone bar the car driver, which is incredible considering that 30 plus miles of great cycleway is available just 2 miles away."

“By constructing this small but complex stretch of pathway, it will open up the shops of Emerson’s Green, the things for the family in Bath and Bristol, even provide a safer but longer route to the offices of Emerald Park and the Science Park. It’s 50 minutes to Bristol by bike, it’s a viable means of transport in the week and a source of family enjoyment at the weekends. It’s definitely not just for lycra-clad cyclists. By building these last few miles of cycleway, a huge barrier to people making those trips would be taken away.”

The Local Economic Partnership (LEP) Investment Board are due to consider further funding for the scheme at a meeting today. Claire called upon the Council to present the petition to them and lobby for the extra funding. We will continue campaigning until we have secured this vital sustainable transport link You can add your support here.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Abbotswood Christmas lights are back!

The community has rallied round to deal with vandal damage to the Abbotswood Christmas tree. Thanks to a generous donation and local volunteers, the tree is now illuminated again! Well done to everyone involved.

Solar scheme and safeguarding Park and Ride site at Badminton Road

Earlier this year, we reported that the council was proposing to put solar panels on land next to the council offices at Nibley. This week Ruth Davis, Claire Young and Paul Hulbert met officers to discuss the plans before an application is submitted. This would be a very small scheme compared to the commercial solar farms that have sprung up in the area recently, the aim being to provide electricity for the council offices.
Claire Young and Ruth Davis at the site
While keen for the council to save money in a positive way and use greener energy, your Focus Team was concerned that enough space should be left for the long-planned park and ride.This now needs to be bigger than originally planned due to all the new homes being built in Yate. The good news is that the latest plans allow for a 236 space car park, with the possibility of further spaces behind the offices. The solar panels would go on the slightly higher ground towards the back of the site in the top picture, which isn't suitable for car parking.

The site is just opposite the Badminton Road council offices
Your Focus Team is campaigning to get the park and ride built, along with other transport schemes in the Yate area. Go to  to back the campaign and share your experiences and ideas about local transport.

Get more out of your library with new mobile apps

Libraries from across the West of England work together as LibrariesWest. They've just launched free apps for iPads and iPhones and for Android devices. Using the apps you can:
  • Search the catalogue
  • Place reservations
  • Renew your loans
  • Manage your library account
  • Find your nearest library
  • Access eBooks and online resources
  • Follow LibrariesWest on Twitter
The app is available for iOS and Android devices, and Windows Phone and Kindle Fire versions will be available soon. To find out more, including the download links, go to

Thursday, 11 December 2014

First Bus services over Christmas and New Year

First Bus say that the level of service provision will vary by area, but to help travellers information has been published already, with posters on buses across the area, and a special guide for Bristol is available. 

The specifics in Bristol  (including Yate and Chipping Sodbury)

·        In the run up to Christmas buses will operate normal timetables until Christmas Eve
·        On Christmas Eve most night buses in Bristol city will run until around 2am.  There will be no buses after this time or on Christmas Day itself. Some journeys on buses to and from Bristol will not operate after midnight on Christmas Eve.
·        No services on Christmas Day
·        On Boxing day the following will run in and around Bristol: Services 1, 2, 6/7, 24, 39, 40, 42, 43/44/45, 46, 47, 48/49, 70, 73, 75/76, 78, 90, 376,  X2, X6, X8 and Service A1 but special timetables will be in operation,
·        Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 December: normal Saturday and Sunday timetables
·        Between Christmas and New Year some services will be operating normal Monday to Friday timetables, while others will use Saturday schedules on Monday 29, Tuesday 30 December and New Year’s Eve.  Travellers are advised to consult the special guide
·        On New Year’s Eve, all Bristol night bus services will operate running throughout the night as per normal.  
·        On New Year’s Day, as on Boxing Day, some special timetables will be in operation.
·        On Friday 2 January buses will mostly operate Saturday services, but some routes (the same as those which operated between Christmas and New Year) will run normal Monday to Friday schedules.
·        From 3 January all buses will revert to their normal timetables.

The specifics for all other services, ie those in and around Bath, Wells, Weston-super-Mare, Frome, Corsham etc
·        In the run up to Christmas buses will operate normal timetables until Christmas Eve
·        On Christmas Eve, buses will operate as normal although Service 39 (Bath – Bristol) will finish earlier than normal. Specifically the last bus from Bath will leave at 2300 hours, while the last from Bristol will leave at midnight.
·        There will be no buses on Christmas Day.
·        On Boxing Day, Sunday services will operate on the three Park and Ride services in Bath, while a special timetable will be running on Service 39 (Bath – Bristol).  Some other services from outlying areas to Bristol will also run, for instance Services 46, 47, 376, X2, X6, X8 (using special timetables).
·        Normal timetables will apply to Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 December, while on Monday 29, Tuesday 30 December and New Year’s Eve, Saturday timetables will operate in most instances (the exception will be on Service A2, Corsham’s Service 10 and Frome’s Service 30, which will run normal Monday to Friday timetables)
·        On New Year’s Day some buses in and around Bath will run, using special timetables. In Bath the following will operate Services 5, 10, 13, 14, 39, 178 and 376.  
·        On Friday 2 January, buses will mostly operate Saturday services, but some routes (the same as those which operated between Christmas and New Year) will run normal Monday to Friday schedules.
·        The special Bath timetables are available here

·        From 3 January all buses will revert to their normal timetables.

More details are available from the First Bus web page here

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Please save those stamps!

Most of our local charity shops collect used stamps - foreign, UK commemorative or just plain "ordinary" stamps - and sell them on to dealers. Please keep all those stamps you get at Xmas or indeed any time of year and take them in.

Alternatively you can drop them off to Paul Hulbert at 35 Blaisdon (he's collecting them for Cancer Research) or leave them at Dodington Parish Council for him to collect.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

South Glos budget consultation - have your say!

South Gloucestershire Council is currently consulting on its budget, council tax levels for next year and its overall savings plan. The council asks council tax payers their views each year before agreeing its budget and council tax. This is your opportunity to comment on the council’s priorities, its council tax and proposals to improve services and increase efficiency. You can tell them your views on these important areas by completing their survey (also available to download) or contacting them - for more details visit Council Budget and Savings Consultation

The Council has to make difficult decisions and the Lib Dem Focus Team wants to make sure this is done as fairly as possible. We want to protect the most vulnerable, work with you to find new ways of doing things and we want to know what you think are the most important services to save. Please take part in this consultation. Your comments here would also be welcome!

Monday, 8 December 2014

Local bus problems due to jams in Bristol?

We're getting reports of buses not running in Yate and Sodbury because of traffic congestion in Bristol and maybe Bath. Services have been missing and parts of the routes have been left out as the drivers attempt to get back on schedule.

Please comment below about any problems you've encountered. Please be specific about the day, the time and the service affected.

It seems daft that jams as far away as Bristol can stop our buses running completely in Yate and Chipping Sodbury. Not everyone wants to go to Bristol - the local leg of the journeys is a lifeline for many people. Can anyone remember the "Badger Bus" that used to provide a local service round the estates? Maybe it's time they brought that back, at least when they've got predictable peak-time problems..

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Free concert Saturday 13 December - collection for Ebola Crisis Appeal

Come along to the Cameo Orchestra Concert at St Nix Church Abbotswood from 7.30 pm - an enjoyable evening of light classics, music from films and shows, and Christmas favourites.

Refreshments available.

Retiring collection for the Ebola Crisis Appeal (TEARfund).

Why not come along - it'll be fun!

Work on temporary Wapley footbridge going well

They've erected the two stairways and they are just putting the support for the walkway across today (Sunday 7 Dec). Presumably they'll need some more time without any trains passing to finish the walkway off.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Shop locally this Saturday

This Saturday (6th December) is Small Business Saturday UK. In South Gloucestershire, participating traders and independent shops will be getting involved, including in Yate, and you can win £100 to spend at one of the businesses.

To be in with a chance of winning, simply tweet the South Gloucestershire Council Twitter account @sgloscouncil on Saturday 6 December and tell the council why you like to shop locally and/or suggest your favourite independent shop in South Gloucestershire. All tweets must include the hashtag #southglos and the best tweet will win the voucher.

For more info about Small Business Saturday events and offers in South Gloucestershire visit

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Smile campaign

The weather is glum, but there's no need for us to be! South Glos Council is running a campaign to encourage people to think about the small things that they can do that will make a big difference to other people. Find out more at

What are you doing to make someone else just a bit happier? Please comment below to let us know.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Warm Up South Gloucestershire

Are you the landlord of a rented property in South Gloucestershire? Is it cold and draughty? If so, take a look at the new initiative Warm Up South Gloucestershire which has been launched by the council this week.

The scheme offers landlords significant help to improve inefficient properties in a bid to protect tenants against cold, draughty houses. It offers a range of measures, including heating upgrades, cavity wall and loft insulation, draught proofing and double glazing. There is also a limited amount of additional support available to landlords for installing a new gas connection if required.

The initiative applies to landlords who own properties with an F or G energy rating, which means they’re very energy inefficient, and offers two thirds off, up to a maximum of £3,000, for home improvement measures.

The council has secured government funding to deliver the measures and work will be completed by a largely local small and medium sized enterprise (SME) supply chain to ensure that South Gloucestershire businesses benefit. The funding was secured in conjunction with Bristol City Council and North Somerset Council who are running their own Warm Up campaigns.

The funding for the scheme is limited, so you need to act quickly to take advantage of it.

If you're a landlord, go to and call 0800 980 09 02 to find out more. If you're a tenant, speak to your landlord about the scheme.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Interested in office work, but need key training?

If you are over 19 but haven't got a full Level 2 qualification (e.g. GCSE levels A*-C), this Introduction to Office Skills course could be for you.

The *FREE* course will focus on key topics for business administration and general office skills, for example:
  • Communication skills
  • Organizing a meeting, taking notes
  • IT specific skills
  • General office skills
The course will run from 7pm to 9pm on Thursday evenings at Yate Library, starting 8 January, for 10 weeks. Please note that if the course isn't full by Christmas the start may be delayed by a few weeks.
For more information, to find out if you qualify, or to enrol contact the Community Learning Team:
Tel. 01454 864613 or 07584 580225

South Glos Council to start collecting unwanted green bins

If you don't use your green bin, South Glos will be collecting them shortly. Obviously they won't collect it if you use it for green waste, and you can keep it if you use it for anything else (for example, some people have found that they're handy for garden tools)

In our area the planned removal dates are:

Frampton Cotterell     Monday 15 December
Yate North     Tuesday 16 December
Yate Central     Wednesday 17 December
Dodington     Thursday 18 December
Westerleigh  and Chipping Sodbury     Friday 19 December

Details of the green bin removal day will be provided on a leaflet that will be delivered to your address one week before the collection. This is a one off service and if you no longer want your green bin it must be put out for removal on the date on the leaflet you receive.

All green bins for removal must be outside by 7 am on the appropriate day and must be empty. They will not take any bins that contain waste, including garden waste.

If you currently receive help putting out your bins and require assistance to put your unwanted green bin out, please contact 01454 868000 or e-mail prior to your removal day.

Warning - if you subscribe to the green bin collection service, please make sure that your bin is not outside on "removal day" or it will disappear!

Full details are on the South Glos website here.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Consultation on changes to Sort It Centres

South Glos Council is consulting about possible changes to the Sort It Centres (recyling centres) to save money by limiting the amount of commercial waste and material brought in by people who don't live in South Glos. This could affect the way YOU use the Sort It Centres - options include:
  • Limiting business use by clarifying the definition of a van, introducing van permits and limiting the number of times a van can visit in a year
  • Asking local residents to pre-register for permits before visiting to reduce the number of non-residents using the sites
  • Introducing a charge for the collection and disposal of some non-household waste items
  • Changes to opening hours and the days sites are open
You can download the consultation document here. The consultation is open until 14 February,

You can find out more and let South Glos know your views by:
  • Completing the consultation feedback survey (you can fill it in online or download and print it)
  • Email:          
  • Write to: FREEPOST RTCT-JXLE-EET, South Gloucestershire Council, Corporate Research & Consultation Team, Sort It Centre   Changes Consultation, Civic Centre, High Street, Kingswood, BRISTOL, BS15 9TR
  • Phone: 01454 868154
If you would like someone to talk to your group or organisation about these proposals, please contact South Glos using the details above to arrange.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Abbotswood Christmas event a big success!

Nearly 400 people attended last night's Abbotswood Christmas Event. The Abbotswood Primary School Choir set the mood by singing beautifully. Father Christmas arrived in a police car - fortunately, there was no sign of handcuffs!

We discovered that government ministers make very good elves - we had two surprise visitors, our local MP Steve Webb, and Ed Davey the Minister for Energy and Climate Change. Steve Webb was particularly pleased when he was introduced to Santa's Dad!

It was lovely to see so many people at the event - the community feel is really starting to return to Abbotswood. Many thanks to all the organisers - here are a few photos from the evening:

Update on Westerleigh cycle path "missing link"

Work is currently under way to widen the carriageway on the northern side of Westerleigh Road near on the the Kidney Hill junction to accommodate a new refuge for the cycle route crossing. If you've driven out of Westerleigh towards Bristol recently you will have encountered the temporary traffic lights we warned about a couple of weeks ago.

The funds currently available for cycling schemes won't cover much more work, however. The major part of the scheme will be to bypass Westerleigh on a largely off-road track that will emerge under an unused arch of the railway bridge near the Shire Way mini-roundabout. We talked about the reasons for this strategic scheme in our blog post back in August when we launched our petition to get the final section of the route done as soon as possible.

Two lots of money will be needed - one lot for the detailed design work, consultations with residents and legal work, and one lot to carry out the actual construction. Probably the trickiest part of the design will be the last leg through to Shire Way, but it also brings opportunities to sort out the notorious Nibley Lane / Westerleigh Road junction, which will benefit motorists, and to get better pedestrian crossing facilities across Westerleigh Road near the bungalows so that local people can cross between the bus stops more easily.

We think South Glos are now well aware of the need to carry out proper consultations for schemes like these, but we'll keep on their case to make sure that they do.

So whether you're a cyclist, a motorist or a pedestrian - and lots of people are all three - please sign our online petition here: to make sure that the "missing link" is completed soon as possible.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Chipping Sodbury Victorian Day 5 December, now with added parking!

The ever-popular Chipping Sodbury Victorian Day is on Friday 5 December, from 2.00 pm until 9.30 pm.

And there will be lots of extra parking in the Bowling Hill area, at the Merlin Housing Association and Jelf car parks.

It's a really fun, atmospheric event - well worth a visit!

Elswick Park proposed waiting restrictions - Mulberry Crescent and Normandy Drive

There have been a lot of problems with vehicles parking inconsiderately in these roads, and blocking access for refuse lorries, emergency vehicles and deliveries. Yes, the developers should have thought of that...

South Glos Council is consulting on proposed waiting restrictions - in essence, a lot of double yellow lines within the development. The consultation is open until 4 December.  You can:

Big switch-on at Abbotswood this Saturday

There will be a Christmas Event at Abbotswood this Saturday (29 Novermber) from 4.30 pm onwards. The Christmas Tree will be switched on, Father Christmas will appear, and a choir from Abbotswood Primary School will be performing. 

This event is largely being organised by Jacobs Well along with a working group from the Abbotswood Action Group.  Donations of a tree plus lights have been made by local residents and the group has funded the installation of an electricity point for use on occasions such as this.  Dodington Parish Council has awarded grants towards the event along with a very generous donation from a former local resident.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Wapley footbridge update

A quick progress report on Network Rail's work to raise the footbridge in connection with the electrification of the Great Western main line.

On the Wapley side of the bridge they have now laid stone along the green lane to the point where the temporary footbridge will be positioned. On the Shire Way side contractors Murphys have been removing excess soil prior to constructing the temporary bridge. If the track to or from the "ash track" is blocked for lorry movements, they will let you through if you ask - the track isn't closed.

The temporary bridge will go up in the fairly near future, and they will then start work on the accesses to the new bridge. Subject to the weather it is planned to crane the old bridge out and crane the new bridge in over a VERY long day on Boxing Day.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Healthwatch issues report on Southmead Hospital

Healthwatch, the consumer group concentrating on health and social care, has been consulting patients and the public about their experiences at Southmead Hospital - their report is available here.

North Bristol NHS Trust has responded in fairly general terms - for example, they say "Parking is an area of continuous improvement for us whilst waiting for the completion of the phase 2 development in spring 2016"

The report concentrates on matters within the hospital, so it doesn't really touch on issues such as bus services. Please let Pat Hockey know about any excessive delays or missing services on the Southmead routes.

Monday, 17 November 2014

No More Bridge Tolls - sign the petition!

A new campaign by local MP Steve Webb and the local Liberal Democrats to scrap the tolls on the two Severn Bridges has got off to a strong start.   The ‘no more tolls’ campaign is calling for the toll to be scrapped on the two bridges once the construction costs of the bridges have been paid off in a couple of years’ time.  At that point the bridges will return into public ownership and Steve Webb is arguing for remaining maintenance costs to be transferred to the Highways Agency budget so that the tolls can be completely scrapped.   An online petition calling for the tolls to be scrapped attracted over 1,000 signatures within a week, with support coming from both sides of the bridge. Speaking to campaigners, Steve Webb said:

“We have always known that the tolls would be needed to pay for the construction of the two bridges.  But once the bills are paid, there is no longer any need for a separate maintenance charge for the bridges.  We already pay through our taxes for the maintenance of the rest of the highway network, including local motorways, and there is no reason for local people to go on paying for routine maintenance for the bridges"

“We have had a huge positive response to this campaign with people keen to see the tolls scrapped to make it easier for people who live and work on different sides of the bridge, or for those who have family and friends on each side of the Severn.  Scrapping the tolls would be good for local businesses and the local economy and we will be stepping up our campaign in the coming months to get the tolls ended”

To sign the petition, or for more information on the campaign visit

Friday, 14 November 2014

Calling all community heroes

It's time to make your nominations for the Chair's Community Awards 2015.

The annual awards recognise and celebrate the huge contribution local unpaid volunteers make to our communities. The celebration will take place in March and you have until Friday 9th January to nominate your local "community hero". You can do it online at, call 01454 863019 or email

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Another Living Well with Dementia Roadshow

Another ‘Living Well with Dementia’ roadshow is being held, this time at Turnberrie’s Community Centre in Thornbury next Monday, 17 November. These roadshows offer practical, emotional and health advice aimed at anyone who has recently been diagnosed with dementia, their carers or relatives of people with dementia.

The free event runs from 10.30am to 1pm however places must be booked in advance by using one of the following methods:

For more information and details of future roadshows visit

Police and Crime Commissioner Forum Wed 3rd December

Sue Mountstevens our Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) will be holding her next public forum on Wednesday, December 3rd from 1845 - 2100 at The Shire Way Community Centre, Yate, Bristol, BS37 8YS.

It's a chance for you to hear from North East's Area Commander Chief Superintendent Caroline Peters, and to ask any questions to the PCC, C/Supt Peters and other senior police officers.

If you would like to attend please register here , email or call 01275 816377 so they can ensure a seat is reserved for you.

If you have questions please email them ahead of the event. This will enable the PCC and senior police officers to bring the relevant information to the meeting and give those who cannot attend an opportunity to have an input.

You can also tweet your questions to @AandSPCC using the hashtag #YPCCYV.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Barn fires in Chipping Sodbury area - police ask landowners to be alert and appeal for information

Poloice are asking farmers and landowners to be on alert after three deliberate barn fires in the Chipping Sodbury area early yesterday morning. (Tuesday Nov 11). They are also appealing for anyone who saw any suspicious vehicles or people in the area to call them on 101.

The fires were all started sometime around 2am. The first was at Ten Acre Farm on Horton Road in Chipping Sodbury where a stone barn was destroyed, including 350 bales of hay and a number of cars and farm vehicles.

The second fire was at nearby barn at Colts Green. An empty caravan was set alight which then spread to the barn, destroying it and farm machinery and vehicles inside.

A short time afterwards a third fire was reported at Ostland Farm in Wapley Road in Codrington. A barn and its contents were destroyed.

Anyone who has any information about the arsons, or who may be responsible, should call police on 101 quoting reference number 117280/14.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Could YOU help stop speeding?

The Chipping Sodbury Community Speedwatch team are seeking further members to assist their activities on Kennedy Way and Cotswold Road.  This would boost their ability to monitor speeds now that the statutory limit has dropped to 40mph (but is still often being ignored).  

Speedwatch training by the Police is a very simple operation. If you're interested, please phone the local organiser John Pearce on 01454 778418.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Bus fare changes improve travel into Bath area

First bus fares changed a couple of months ago. As regular bus users will already know, apart from a few exceptions like Park and Ride, there are no longer any return fares. Instead you can buy a Day Ticket for the zone involved, or buy a 10 Journey ticket for ten journeys. Week, month and year tickets are also available if you're going to be travelling regularly.

The latest change will be of interest to people who travel from Yate or Chipping Sodbury to the Bath area. Yate and Chipping Sodbury are now within the Bath Outer Zone, as well as the Bristol Outer Zone. So you could buy a Bath Outer Zone Day Ticket for example, and get return bus travel from Yate or Sodbury via Bath to Frome or Chippenham.

More details on the Bath fares are shown here

The main First Bus website fares page is here but it hasn't caught up with the "Bath Outer Zone" change yet.

These tickets only apply to First Bus services - if you want to mix and match with other operators, you will need an AvonRider ticket.

Roll on fully interchangeable bus tickets - it's about time that this restriction was removed.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Police and Crime Commissioner visits Abbotswood

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens visited Abbotswood yesterday and met members of Abbotswood Action Group, Jacobs Well, local residents and councillors to discuss plans for improving the area.
She was shown the recently-launched Abbotswood Action Plan and heard about projects that are already under way and community events such as the recent Abbotswood Apple Day.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Free childcare for 2 year olds - find out more!

Yate Children’s Centre, Cranleigh Court Road, is holding weekly surgeries for parents who would like to find out more about this Government funded scheme.

A maximum of 15 hours per week per child can be claimed for 38 weeks per year if your child is entitled to a free place.

Eligibility Criteria:
  • The family meet the eligibility criteria also used for Free School Meals
  • The family receive Working Tax Credits and have an annual gross earnings of no more than £16,190
  • The family receive Universal Credit and have an annual gross earnings of no more than £16,190
  • The child has a current statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN) or an Education, Health & Care Plan
  • The child attracts Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • The child is looked after by the Local Authority
  • The child has left care through a special guardianship or adoption or residence order. 
Your child must be resident in South Gloucestershire.

Please call on 01454 864154 to book an appointment.

Surgery dates: 11th November; 18th November; 25th November; 2nd December; 9th December; 16th December, between 1.00 and 2.00pm. Friendly advisor Claire will be able to explain the process, check eligibility and inform you about how to apply for funding.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Local advice agencies join forces to improve money advice in South Glos

Talking Money and North Bristol Advice Centre (NBAC) are working in partnership to ensure everyone has access to specialist money advice throughout South Gloucestershire; advice sessions have been increased and are now running in Patchway, Kingswood, Yate and Filton.

Drop in advice sessions operate Tuesday to Thursday throughout the county. For up to date information on where and when you can access advice please visit

Talking Money say “Money problems are complex and are often caused by other personal issues, like long term ill health, family break down or loss of employment. By working together we can offer specialist advice and support on debt and welfare benefits”.

In addition to offering face to face advice at sessions throughout South Gloucestershire both agencies offer the same service through telephone and email. NBAC comments “We know that high quality advice can change lives and are pleased to offer weekly drop in sessions, as well expert advice by email, phone or online so that everyone can now access our services. We urge people to get in touch, no matter how desperate the situation may seem, because there are so many ways we can help.”

Monday, 3 November 2014

Making food recycling easier

You can now use ordinary plastic bags to line your food recycling caddy, thanks to new mechanical sorting techniques that separate the bags from food waste.

This will hopefully make it easier and cleaner to use the kitchen caddies and so encourage more people to do so. At the moment, about a fifth of the waste put in black bins is food that could be recycled. Not only is this bad for the environment, it also costs taxpayers’ money – money that could help protect front line services as our central government funding reduces.

Further information is available at

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Checks stepped up at Sort It! recycling centres

Every tonne of waste tipped at Sort It! Centres by people who don't live here or commercial traders costs the council £100 to process. That's something the council can't afford with the increasing pressure on finances. Unauthorised use can also create delays for genuine residents using the site.

To try to stop unauthorised use, SITA are stepping up residency checks at the site. From 1st October, you may be asked for proof of residency - one or more official documents that together prove who you are (photographic ID) and that you live in South Gloucestershire.  Suitable documents include driver's license, utility bill, Council Tax bill and passport.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Valuing You event

"Valuing You" is an event for people with learning difficulties, their families, carers and service providers. It's being held at BAWA in Filton on Wednesday 26 November, from 10am to 3pm, and you can book your place now.

The event will be opened by Paralympian Karen Baxter and give you the chance to find out about activities and opportunities for people with learning difficulties in South Gloucestershire. Activities will include fencing, dancing, boccia, knitting and drumming. There will also be an art competition, and you can find out more information about Dementia Friends and shared reading.

There is no charge to attend the event but you will need to book your place and choose the workshops you might like to take part in:

Friday, 31 October 2014

Would you like a stall at the Armadillo Christmas Fayre?

The Armadillo Youth Venue and Cafe is holding its Christmas Fayre on Saturday 6 December.

If you would be interested in having a stall at the event please contact Sophie Webber (Adminstration Apprentice) on 001454 869441 or email Sophie at

Free basketball sessions for 14 to 18 year olds, male or female

If you would like to join this free club at Yate International Academy on Fridays, please contact or call 01454 865821.

Grants for community groups

Local voluntary organisations, community groups and Parish Councils have until Wednesday 26th November to apply for a range of grant funding from South Gloucestershire Council - Community Grants, New Homes Bonus (NHB) and Positive Activities Subsidy (PAS) grants.  The final decisions on all three will be made by councillors at the area forum meeting in March.

Community Groups are aimed at projects that benefit local people. Generally the grants are less than £3,000 but more can be awarded if the Forum thinks it is justified.

New Homes Bonus funding is a grant which the council receives annually from central government, based on the number of homes built or brought back into use. This money would typically be used for larger projects. It's worth contacting your ward councillor to find out more, as the number of new homes built has varied greatly between the wards.

The Positive Activities Subsidy grant funding is to help local young people aged 13 to 19 (up to 25 for disabled people) to take part in, or initiate, activities.  Applications should be for projects which are accessible, affordable, wanted and valued by young people. Frome Vale has very little of this funding left to allocate.

To apply visit (free internet access is available at all South Gloucestershire libraries). For more information call the grants helpline on 01454 865865 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm) or email

More work to start on next stage of "Yate Spur" cycle path

More work is due to start on the next stage of the Yate Spur cycle path next month.

People living near the Kidney Hill junction are receiving letters telling them that work to widen the carriageway on the northern side of Westerleigh Road to accommodate a new refuge is expected to start on 17th November and last for four weeks. Temporary traffic lights will be used during the work and access to properties will be available at all times.

Your Focus Team is still campaigning for the remaining length of the Yate Spur - the "Missing Link" - to be completed around Westerleigh and through to the Shire Way mini-roundabout. You can sign our petition online at or we can supply paper copies if you would like to help collect signatures that way. 

Wapley footbridge works now under way

The work to raise the Wapley footbridge to make room for the overhead cables for electric trains is now under way. Network Rail's contractors have been clearing vegetation and test drilling to check out the ground conditions.

A temporary footbridge will be provided while the main bridge is out of use. Unfortunately the temporary bridge won't be suitable for pushchairs or prams.