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.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Clocks and street lights

You've probably had enough reminders to put your clocks back an hour at 2 am on Sunday. But what will our street lights do? When will they go off? You may remember all the fuss when faulty photocells meant that street lights went off much too early for a couple of weeks.

Crews from the council’s StreetCare team have been replacing thousands of faulty photocells on South Gloucestershire’s streetlights - they were still doing parts of South Yate today (24 October)

The faulty units have been replaced by the manufacturer at no charge to the council and by this autumn’s hour change, more than 9,000 replacement photocells in mainly urban areas will have been installed. A final 3,000 units, in mainly rural areas, will be replaced by the end of November - they haven't srrived from the manufacturer yet.

In areas where the replacement photocells are being installed after 26 October, existing street lights will continue to switch off an hour earlier than intended, at approximately 1045pm. This is expected to begin on 20 October and will last for about two weeks, before units come back into line with GMT or are replaced as part of the ongoing works.

As well as resolving the hour change issue the replacement units have also been adjusted to operate to the council’s revised part-night lighting regime of 1am to 5am, providing an extra hour of light each night.

Part-night lighting was adopted by the council as part of measures to conserve energy and reduce carbon emissions through South Gloucestershire. Approximately two-thirds of the district’s 30,000 street lights have been switched to part-night operation.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Free school meals for all infants

Steve Webb is keen to hear YOUR feedback on the new School Meals scheme. From this term, infant age children will ALL get a free meal at lunch time in School. As well as catching many lower income children who miss out on free school meals, the evidence from places where this is already the policy is that *all* children benefit from this time together eating a nutritious meal. This is a Lib Dem initiative nationally. Steve would like to hear from parents and pupils about it - you can email him on

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Road works to cause night time and early morning delays on Ring Road and in Frenchay

Major resurfacing works are coming up in the Hambrrok / Frenchay area.

From 3 to 6 November overnight works will take place on Bristol Road, Frenchay from the Hambrook lights down to the former Frenchay Hospital entrance, and on the Hospital end of Old Gloucester Road as well.

From 5 to 12 November the ring road junction at the A4174 Hambrook lights (the Winterbourne junction)  will also be resurfaced.

Work will take place between 8pm and 6am each night, and the roads affected will be closed overnight.

South Glos say that alternative routes will be signposted, but delays will be likely (We reckon inevitable is more like it!)

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Money to bin?

Don’t be taken in by the Great Tory Green Bin Con!

Tories want you to believe they would give you free Green Bin collection. the trouble is that to give everyone free green bins, they would have to cut something else - but they've refused to say what. Either they don't know, or they DO know and don't want to tell us because it would be something even worse...

The Tories did try claiming that collecting bins from early morning to late at night would save the money - until independent experts say it would actually COST over £50,000 more per year than it would save. Since then the Tories have been tight lipped about how they’d cover the cost of free green bins.....

So far over 38,000 residents have decided to go with the new scheme. Residents in Bristol and Bath & North East Somerset have been paying for their green waste to be collected for a number of years. No one wanted to introduce a charge here, but cuts had to be made somewhere. The 21 Lib Dem councillors on South Glos are committed to playing our part in making the difficult choices about which services to protect - let's hope the 33 Tory Councillors will start taking responsibility too, instead of playing politics.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Unsure? Close the Door

A nasty scam, this one...

Age UK South Gloucestershire have been made aware of an incident where a bogus caller, claiming to be one of our representatives, cold called an older person offering to undertake some home decorating and repairs.  The rogue caller then asked for money to buy materials.

Age UK South Gloucestershire want to remind older people across the area that we never make unsolicited cold calls to people’s homes.  Their representatives help many older people, either our volunteers who offer a befriending service or our Information and Advice workers who help with benefits advice and form completion.  However, their visit will never be unexpected.  Age UK's professionals always make appointments and never cold call.

In addition Age UK South Gloucestershire will never ask for any money for their advice.  Neither will they ask if you keep money in your home.

Their professionals carry official identification and will encourage you to scrutinise it.  If you are ever unsure about a caller who claims to be from Age UK South Gloucestershire please close your front door and call Age Concern's office number.  The professionals will not be offended if you are cautious.  If you feel unhappy or intimidated please call the police on 999.

If you think that you or someone you know has been a victim of a bogus caller please contact Trading Standards, Age UK South Gloucestershire or the police on 101.  However if you feel a crime is in progress call 999.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Older people set to benefit from Community Grant

A local care provider has decided to give away its first ever Community Grant – a sum of money that could benefit any local group in South Gloucestershire working with older people.

Bluebird Care opened its office in Chipping Sodbury a year ago, and ever since has been working hard to support other organisations in the community.

Jack Whitfield, Managing Director, said: “As well as providing care & companionship services to people living in their own homes, Bluebird Care is passionate about supporting community projects and initiatives. So many neighbourhoods thrive because of volunteers who work tirelessly to run community groups, host events and provide services that benefit others. Much of this work involves supporting older people who, without regular coffee mornings, day-trips or lunch clubs, would be left isolated at home.”

The care provider is making available £250 to a community group or initiative that works with older people within the area. The group that can best demonstrate a need for additional support will be allocated the funds.

Bluebird Care (South Gloucestershire) offers a realistic alternative to residential care by allowing people to stay in their own homes with care and support. Their work can involve one or more short visits a day in order to help with the everyday tasks of life. However, their service doesn’t stop there because longer duration visits are also available, including overnight help and live-in care.

Sophie Rowland-Jones, Managing Director, says support will be offered to the successful applicant to ensure older people get the most from their Community Grant: “The Bluebird Care Community Grant will also come with support and advice. We want to work with a local project that gives older people an opportunity to try something new and that will add benefit to their lives. Examples of the type of projects we are looking for could include gardening, leisure, recreational or musical activities.”

For more details, and to receive an application form contact Bluebird Care can phone 01454 323624, email or visit their office at 82 Broad Street, Chipping Sodbury.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

New ways to recycle

You can now put out food and drinks cartons (Tetrapaks) and small electrical items in your green box and a wider range of mixed plastics in your plastic bottle bag. As well as bottles, you can include things like yoghurt pots, margarine tubs and meat trays (but not black ones). Recycling services for flats will be improved. Bring banks at the Sort It Centres and those operated by charities will continue as well. This will help the environment and avoid spiraling landfill costs. Check your bin hanger to see which weeks your recycling should go out If you didn't get your bin hanger or have any other problems, visit or call 01454 868000.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Could your organisation benefit from a volunteer task-force to help you complete a small project?

Widening Occupation Weeks (WOW) is part of the BSc Hons programme in Occupational Therapy at UWE, and provides students with ‘hands on’ experience of engaging in and with the community through different organisations, while simultaneously helping local organisations to get a job done.

Last year, 51 students contributed 1837 hours of voluntary work to support 21 different projects large and small in and around Bristol.

 They are now seeking more WOW projects, which must happen between 9th-19th February 2015 and involve 5 to 50 students.

 To register your interest by 24th October, email Vanessa Parmenter or call  0117 32 88869.

Friday, 10 October 2014

More bus service changes likely from 2 November

SERVICE 82 (Southmead Hospital to Chipping Sodbury)

First are proposing to extend the 82 service from Chipping Sodbury to Wotton-under-Edge via Wickwar and Charfield, as there is currently excessive layover time at Chipping Sodbury.

This will provide Wickwar and Charfield residents with a direct service to Southmead Hospital and Cribbs Causeway, but there would still be no direct service for South or North Yate.

NEW SERVICE 87 (Cribbs Causeway to Dursley) - impacts 62 Chipping Sodbury to Thornbury

First will introduce a new 87 service; this service incorporates the existing supported 311 service between Thornbury and Dursley, and will replace a section of the  622 service between Cribbs Causeway and Thornbury, currently supported by South Glos.

South Glos is considering amending the contract for the 622 to serve Chipping Sodbury to Thornbury, removing the duplicated part of the route. It sounds like this might involve some people having to change buses, but this isn't really clear in the document we've seen.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Pond life - take 2

Last week's work morning at Kennedy Way Pond had to be postponed - it was raining so much that it was too wet to work on the pond! It will now take place this Saturday, 11 October. 

The pond recently won an award in South West in Bloom for its range of flora and fauna. Volunteers will be carrying out general management works including vegetation clearance at this local wildlife haven.

Meet at the Kennedy Way Pond, Link Road, Yate Shopping Centre at 10.00am (parking is available at the Yate overflow car park also on the eastern side of Link Road, BS37 4AY).

Review of Discretionary Rate Relief (Not as complicated as it sounds!)

The Discretionary Rate Relief scheme supports voluntary and community groups in South Gloucestershire by paying part of their non-domestic rates bill. It's in addition to the mandatory rate relief - which South Glos Council has to give by law - awarded to registered charities/community amateur sports clubs.

South Gloucestershire Council is consulting on possible changes as part of the savings it needs to make. You can find out more online and have until 24th December to comment.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Young people join in the political debate in Yate

A packed house attended a special meeting in Yate to discuss getting young people more involved in politics. The visiting speaker was Cardiff Central MP and Government minister, Jenny Willott, who was first elected to Parliament at the age of 31, and at the time was one of the youngest MPs in the country.  In addition, the meeting also heard from Eva Lily Fielding, aged 20, from Alveston, and Liam Monsell, also aged 20, from Thornbury who explained how young people see politics and why they believe it is important for them to get involved.

Jenny Willott talked about her experiences of campaigning as an MP in a university town with a predominantly young electorate, and the need to make political campaigning fun and a social activity as well as tackling serious issues.  The meeting featured a lively question-and-answer session where a number of people said that they felt that schools were not doing enough to prepare young people to understand politics and how government works.  A number of the young people who attended the meeting were already members of the local Liberal Democrats and others joined on the night.

The meeting was chaired by Thornbury and Yate MP Steve Webb who said, after the event,
“It was great to hear not only from a fellow MP but also from local young people about their passion for getting involved in politics.   Although we keep hearing that young people are not interested, I find that many local young people care very strongly about a range of issues, from the very local to the global.   I think that politicians have sometimes put people off from getting involved when instead we should be making it easier for people to try to change things”.

The meeting was organised by the local Liberal Democrats as part of an annual series of events in memory of former Avon County Councillor, Heather Larkins, which raises funds to enable a local young person to attend the Lib Dem conference and learn more about politics. 

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

More consultations on savings proposals

Regular readers will have noticed that every week there are new proposals coming out for ways to save money from South Glos Council's budget. By April next year, the council will have saved £43m from its annual budget – with around another £36m to be cut by 2020.

We have to make these savings because the council tax we pay only covers part of the council's costs. Most of the rest comes from central government grants, which are being reduced as part of tackling the deficit.

Some of the latest consultations include:
You can find all current South Glos Council consultations online

All the political parties on the council agreed the savings targets when we set the budget in February. Wherever possible we want to make the savings by making things more efficient – better use of IT for example or cutting senior managers – but that alone is not enough. We have 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.

There will also be the usual budget consultation later in the autumn – keep an eye on this blog for more information.

More on Yate's Dementia Friendly Town initiative

The launch event of the Dementia Friendly Town initiative was very well attended and many people found it very illuminating. Particularly striking was one couple who talked about living well with dementia.

Perhaps you missed the event, but you would still want to find out more? Please email Sue Walker on or ring her on  01454 310980.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Help make Abbotswood better

Abbotswood Action Group local volunteers have big plans for sorting out Abbotswood. If you would like to offer your help in any way - from doing some gardening to coffee drop-ins, there is something for you to do. To offer, please contact St Nicholas Family Centre - or Tony Davis will pass on your details. A good way to find out more is to go to Abbotswood Apple Day on 18th October 11-3pm and try jam making, apple pressing and lots more.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Have your say on pharmacies

The local Health and Wellbeing Board is consulting on pharmaceutical service needs in our area.

Anyone who uses local pharmaceutical services is encouraged to comment on a draft Pharmaceutical Needs Assessment (PNA) by completing an online survey. The Board would like to hear what you think services including local pharmacy or chemist shops, pharmacy services in supermarkets, GP practices that dispense medicines for their patients and online pharmacies. Local pharmacies also provide healthcare help and advice and are often the first point of contact when people are concerned about their health.

Your views will help the Board to develop a Pharmaceutical Needs Assessment (PNA), which will look at the need for pharmacy services in the area, the level and accessibility of pharmacy services and how these will be maintained and developed in the future. The consultation is available online and is open until 14 November.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

World Mental Health Day event

South Glos Council is holding an informal event in Bradley Stoke to mark World Mental Health Day on Friday 10 October. The event, to be held at Bradley Stoke Leisure Centre between 10.30am and 2pm, will provide practical advice and information about mental health and give visitors the chanceto try out various sporting activities that help lift the mood, including table tennis, badminton, swimming and exercise classes. The physical activity sessions will be followed by talks about mental health and associated issues from a range of experts including Anthony Lacny and Maria-Paloma Sequeiros from the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (AWP).

Throughout the event there will also be a marketplace of stalls and information available so you can find out what’s happening locally and where you can go for help and support. There will also be a performance from the South Gloucestershire Carers Choir who will be performing uplifting songs. Children are welcome and there will be activities to keep them entertained taking place throughout the day. For more information or to book please call 01454 868274, 01454 865473 or email

Friday, 3 October 2014

Drop-in session for the retired

"Now I'm retiring" is a drop-in marketplace of clubs, volunteering opportunities and hobbies to inspire people who have retired or are about to do so. It's being held on Saturday 18 October between 11am and 2pm at Yate Library. For more information please email or call 01454 862356.

Quarry Stockpile Battle Latest

For 18 years, Focus, and local residents have been fighting to get a commitment to move the Stockpiles from the top of the hill between Wiltshire Avenue and Barnhill Quarry. Despite every attempt to manage the problems it creates, residents still suffer dust and noise. When Wiltshire Ave was planned environmental experts said the houses were too close to the stockpiles. They were ignored. So with residents we have been fighting to get a plan to move the stockpiles.....

In the latest round of the battle, Council officials were planning to give in to Hanson and let them stay for ever. But Chris Willmore from Focus spoke passionately at both Planning Committee and then Full Council. She persuaded the Councillors to tell officers to think again. So, Hanson and the Officers have been sent off to see if they can find a solution.

But Hanson have threatened to claim massive compensation from the Council if the Council even asked for a phased plan to move them...... There’s a complex legal test that decides if they could claim compensation - they have been told to come up with evidence to show they actually meet that test - rather than just asserting it! Lawyers are now involved on all sides.

All that we are asking as residents is a commitment to keep as much of their stone as possible in one of their holes (where it comes from) not move it up onto the hill top!

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Apply online for school places

If you have a child due to start in reception, move to secondary school or move to a school that has its first admission in year 10 (for example, the Bristol Technology and Engineering Academy), you can apply online now. The closing date is 31st October for secondary school applications and 15th January for primary school applications.

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.

Pond life - Exercise in the open air

The Wildlife Trust will be holding a workday on Saturday 4 October at the Kennedy Way Pond, which recently won an award in South West in Bloom for its range of flora and fauna. Volunteers will be carrying out general management works including vegetation clearance at this local wildlife haven.

Meet at the Kennedy Way Pond, Link Road, Yate Shopping Centre at 10.00am (parking is available at the Yate overflow car park also on the eastern side of Link Road, BS37 4AY).