Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Next chance to apply for grants

Community groups have until 10th April to apply for grants to be awarded at the July meetings of the Area Forums.

Frome Vale Area Forum, which covers an area including the Yate, Dodington and Sodbury wards, has £21,450 left for community grants. It is also possible to apply for New Homes Bonus and Positive Activities Funding (the latter is for provision for young people).

More information and links to the online application system are available from this page.

Applications can be made throughout the year, which decisions being taken in July, September, December and March, but the money available will reduce as the year goes on. The amount available will be updated on the Grants page after each meeting.The closing date for the current round is Friday 10 April 2015.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Progress in Severn Bridge tolls campaign

Local MP Steve Webb has welcomed the announcement in the Budget of plans to cut tolls when the Severn Bridge returns to public ownership in 2018.  But he has said that his ‘no more tolls’ campaign will continue until the whole charge is scrapped.

You can read more on Steve's website and sign the petition at www.stevewebb.org.uk/nomoretolls

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Reminder - World Autism Awareness Week 2015 starts this Friday

There are lots of activities and ways you can help raise funds for the National Autistic Society, whether it’s at school, at work, on your own or with friends and family - and it all helps promote awareness of autism.

Please check out the National Autistic Society's website for details of how to take part in World Ayutism Awareness Week (27 March to 2 April)

Monday, 23 March 2015

Photo clubs to benefit from Community Grants

And the last of our round-up from the recent Frome Vale Area Forum, which awarded two grants to local photographic organisations:

Photographers with Disabilities £2820

PWD was formed to enable people with disabilities to practice the Art of Photography. They run two regular weekly workshops and every fortnight they have a photoshoot with a model. They welcome both disabled and supportive non-disabled members. The grant will cover half the year's rent of the dedicated studio they need - unlike clubs aimed at non-disabled people, they cannot pack up their equipment and take it away after every session.

Sodbury and Yate Photographic Club £700

This club has been running for over 40 years, and welcomes young and old people alike. They run a disabled people's project in conjunction with Paul's Place. This grant will enable them to buy a digital projector to allow them to display each other's work and provide construtive criticism to help members improve their skills.

You can find out more about applying for South Glos Community Grants here.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Wapley workday deals with water, planting and rubbish

The Wapley Bushes Local Nature Reserve work morning last weekend attracted 26 Wapley Bushes Conservation Group volunteers and friends, including family groups and a community work party from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

The Group tackled a wide range of tasks. One party planted trees to form a barrier at the edge of the picnic area, while others cleaned up around the main paths and public areas, gathering around 15 bags of litter (plus a carpet from a roadside ditch)

Eager volunteers get a safety talk before all the planting and clearing
The third and probably heaviest job of the day was clearing silt from the water channel out of the top pond to stop it overflowing. A vital part of managing the Nature Reserve is controlling the flow of the water to conserve the various habitats. It was interesting to find a quantity of frogspawn in one part of the the top pond, something that had not been seen there before but which accounts for the frogs that are seen in the meadows.

"I think the water's going down" - Paul Hulbert checks the depth

This video gives some idea of the amount of silt in the stream

We're glad to report that the mud from railway works we mentioned recently has been partly cleared up, and arrangements have been made to reinstate the area concerned. The contractors now expect to be off site by the end of April.

P.S. If anyone still has two litter-picking tools from Saturday, please ring Paul on 07771 562505 to arrange to return them.

Some progress on protecting Rodford School site trees

All the relevant South Glos officers went to the site yesterday to meet the Bellway Homes planning manager and specialist consultants dealing with the ecology matters and tree protection. Local residents have been very concerned about what has been happening on the old Rodford School site - see our previous post "How much is a tree worth?"

They talked about the Ecological and Landscape Management Plan, which still hasn't been provided, to protect the boundary hedgerows and  provide  biodiversity enhancements.  It was agreed that there is minimal risk from the work to removing the hardstanding, so this can carry on over the next 6 weeks while the ELM Plan is being sorted out. Bellway has given assurances about protecting the protected trees during the work on the hardstanding.

Bellway will now provide South Glos with a detailed timetable (within the next few days) of key stages over the coming months including:
  • When tree protection will be completed including additional fencing and signage. This is vital before any more sub contactors come on site to start the foundations.
  • When the hard standing around the trees in the centre of the site will be undertaken. Bellway have confirmed that a method statement has been prepared for this work, and the contractor on site has been given clear instructions.
  • When all the outstanding information will be submitted.
South Glos will be keeping a close eye on the site.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Peg Hill Skate Park - Help Yate Town Council check out the repairs, and lighting coming soon

Do you use Peg Hill Skate Park? If so come along to the park at 4 pm on Monday 23rd March to have your say about the recent repair works.

What's more,  the ground work for the extra lighting will start next week. The lights will be fully installed by the summer, so they will be in place ready for use in the autumn when the evenings get darker again.  The work has taken longer than planned because getting extra power to the site has been challenging, but work will start on Monday. The plan is to keep the disruption to the skaters minimal, so one section of the park will be closed at a time while it is being worked on.

How much is a tree worth?

How much is a tree worth? Or a historic hedge, or local wildlife? Not much, some developers seem to think.

Take the Rodford School site, for example, which is being redeveloped into housing. We've already reported how valuable trees and habitat were considered less important than profits - at the planning stage local councillors were outvoted by others who don't live anywhere near here, and the developers were allowed to squeeze extra units onto the site despite the concerns about significant trees and hedges.

Now a second threat has revealed itself. Local environmentalists spotted that the builders were not complying with a lot of the habitat protection conditions required by their planning permission. A South Glos inspector visited the site, thought he had sorted them out, and went away. The local experts soon realised that the builders had started doing the same thing again, and had to ask the inspector to go back again.

We're now waiting to see what happens next. It's possible that the builders could be told to stop work altogether if they won't comply with their legal obligations.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Social initiatives grants from Frome Vale Area Forum

Some of the Community Grants from the Frome Vale Area Forum will go towards what could broadly be called "social initiatives" - projects to make people's lives a little bit better:

Yate Town Council's Dementia Friendly Towns Initiative and Community Car Share Scheme £3000

This grant will extend the work of the Development Worker in the areas of promoting dementia awareness and organising a community car scheme to provide a much needed resource for frail and vulnerable people.

Armadillo Youth Venue and Cafe - Apprenticeship £3000

The grant will contribute towards an already successful apprenticeship  scheme, part funding the cost of a Business Administration Apprentice for a year while they study for an NVQ level 2/3.

Sodbury and District Twinning Association - Youth Petanque project £475 

This money will part-fund an imaginative project for Key Stage 3 students and their families. It provides sport, French language and social skills, including pupils with special educational needs. Young people in Chipping Sodbury and Cesson are taking part in a project to talk about common topics and their cultures.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Local Area Forum grants for events and culture

The March Frome Vale Area Forum has given Community Grants to four well known events and organisations:

Chipping Sodbury Festival £1500

This grant will support activities that encourage participation by children and young people - the display boards for the Schools Art Exhibition, insurance for schools and other groups in teh Carniva, and a contribution towards the running costs of the Battle of the Schools bands and Music in the Street.

Yate and District Heritage Centre Trust - Yate International Festival £2080

Last year this very successful event attracted over 2000 visitors, bringing together many different groups and cultures through music and dance, food and activities.

Yate and District Archeological Group - Medieval Archaeology Day £1496

This event will allow visitors to learn about archeology and history through hands on activities, try out modern techniques such as geo-phys and learn new skills. Hopefully some will be tempted to take part in future archeological work with the Group.

Three Parishes Tourism Group £1400

The Tourist Infomation Office and its enthusiastic volunteers provide a wealth of information and help, not just for visitors, but for local people too. This grant will fund a reprint of the popular Chipping Sodbury Circular Walk and Treasure Hunt leaflet and provide heating so that the TIC can remain open throughout the winter months.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Grants agreed for local sports

The recent Frome Vale Area Forum decided to give Community Grants to a range of local sporting organisations. These grants were aimed at providing sporting oportunities for local young people.

Dodington football tournaments £2730

Dodington Parish Council has been running football tournaments for 7 to 11 year old boys and girls at QE2 Playing Fields, Kelston Close since 2009. There are two tournaments in each of the Easter, May, October and February half terms - 8 days of free sporting fun for local youngsters, led by professional coaches.

King Edmund Acrogymnastics £3000 

The number of young people involved in this popular sport is increasing, so there is a need to progress volunteer coaches to higher levels. This grant will pay for the coaches' training, safeguarding and welfare courses.

Southwold Swimming Club £1134

Swimming is a demanding sport, particularly at competitive level. This grant will pay for a highly respected and qualified physiotherapist to screen all the Club's competitive swimmers for probelsm that could lead to significant injury.

Chipping Sodbury Golf Club £1500

The Golf Club provides a 6 hole academy course on Chiping Sodbury Common that is available free of charge to the public.  There is free junior coaching on this course and practice area, both for members and non-members. The money will provide new wires around the greens to keep the cattle off the playing area.

Sodbury Tennis Club £1500

This money will be half of the cost of upgrading and improving a Mini-Tennis court and providing a dedicated children's fitness area.

Yate cinema well under way as Steve Webb digs in

Steve Webb MP joined local councillors and representatives of Yate Shopping Centre owners Crestbridge and contractors ISG at Friday's ground-breaking ceremony to celebrate the start of serious work on the Yate Riverside site. The site preparation work is complete, and construction of the cinema and shop units has now begun.

The Shopping Centre owners expressed their appreciation of the local community's support in the long process of bringing a cinema complex to Yate. Crestbridge appointed Group Property Controller, Mark Hull, said: “I always promised the people of Yate we would deliver a cinema for the town. It is has been a long and often tough ride but it is great news that work is starting onsite. This project is the fruition of many years work by the Member of Parliament, local councillors, and local stakeholders. We are aware that Steve has  been campaigning for a cinema in Yate for well over 12 years and it is only right that he and the local community come together to celebrate the start of works. ”

Steve Webb,said: “This is indeed a historic day. It seems many years since we first launched our ‘Cinema 4 Yate’ campaign in response to the strong views expressed by local residents and particularly young people that they wanted Yate to have its own cinema. This major step forward is the product of joint working and partnership over many years between the shopping centre owners, local councillors and local residents.  We have persevered through many ups and downs and it is great to be present for the formal beginning of construction works.  We look forward to the completion of the project and to a new boost to the economy for the people of Yate and the surrounding area”

The Mayor of Yate, Councillor Wully Perks said: “A cinema has been one of the town’s long held aspirations and is one of the key elements of the town plan. This will be another significant day for the town and will be a major step in the town’s growth. With so much new housing scheduled over the next few years, it is important Yate can offer residents all the facilities that are expected in a town of this size. It will also be a major boost for the local economy bringing jobs and preventing people having to drive further afield for evening entertainment”.

The major fashion store Next is already confirmed to occupy one of the three large retail units in the new Yate Riverside leisure development. Also confirmed as tenants are two popular restaurants, Italian chain Prezzo and American themed Deans Diner. There will be a further six restaurants and cafes.

The first retail units are scheduled to open later this year and the Cineworld six-screen cinema by Spring next year.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Environment grants from Frome Vale Area Forum

Three local environmental organisations did well out of the first round of the Forum's Community Grants:

Friends of Yate Common £1061

A proper, professionally prepared environmental plan is essential for well-used natural spaces. This grant will pay for a five-year management plan to identify priorities and projects to maintain and enhance this popular open space.

Friends of the Beehive £1003

The Friends of the Beehive tend the honeybee colony at the Chipping Sodbury Community Orchard Apiary. The bees are essential for pollination of orchard trees and other plants. The beekeepers aim to educate the public and hopefully encourage them to set up hives of their own. This money will pay for protective suits for adults and children, tools and a hive for swarm control and demonstration purposes.

Sodbury Parish Plan Steering Group £1500 

There are very few places to sit down in Chipping Sodbury main street. The Parish Plan Steering Group has identified locations for the two seats that will be paid for by this grant.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Help design the changes at Witches Hat Play Area!

Yate Town Council is running an interactive workshop for all ages at Witches Hat this coming Monday 16 March from 3 pm until 6 pm, with lots of fun activities aimed at planning the changes, and exploring the design of the skate park with a pro skateboarder.

You can just turn up, there's no need to register, but if you would like more information please phone Yate Town Council on 01454 866506 or email them at info@yatetowncouncil.gov.uk

Flying start for Yate dementia project

There has been an excellent public reaction to Yate Town Council's "Make  Yate a Dementia Friendly Town" initiative, which Lib Dem Councillors Tony Davis and Sue Walker have been organising. Since recruiting Dementia Community Worker Debbie Woolley, they have convinced Yate Leisure Centre to train their staff, and the project team itself will be training the security and caretaking staff at Yate Shopping Centre and many others. The sessions only last an hour, but people who attend have found them really valuable.

Steve Webb MP says: "I and all of my staff have already been trained. I would really recommend this - in just an hour it opens your eyes to do many small things that can make a massive difference to family, friends, neighbours, customers and people we encounter every day"

If you are involved in an organisation or group that would like this free training, please email Tony Davis on tony.davis@southglos.gov.uk. Please contact Tony as well if you are an individual who would like to attend a public session.

As Tony commented "This is a really good start for Yate as a Dementia Friendly Town. Let's keep the momentum going and get as many people involved as we can"

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Brimsham Park improvements

The Friends of Brimsham Park and Lake and local councillors
celebrate their grant - and their haul of rubbish!

The Friends of Brimsham Park and Lake and local councillors rolled their sleeves up last Saturday and did a really good spring clean of the park. What's more, the bulbs that were planted last autumn are popping up now, so the Park is well worth a visit, particularly on a sunny day. There's a lovely walk around the lake and good play facilities. Children love looking at the wooden fish sculpture - see whether they can spot the baby fish!

The Friends had something to celebrate too - a grant of  £2558 from last week's Frome Vale Area Forum for works to control erosion of the lake banks. Coir coils will be used to hold back erosion while providing a habitat for marginal vegetation. (Coir is natural coconut fibre)

Over the next week we'll cover a few more local grants from the Area Forum, and a bit about the organisations who are receiving them.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Rodford Way accident blackspots to be tackled

Paul Hulbert and Tony Davis at the Abbotswood junction on Rodford Way
Last week's Frome Vale Area Forum approved expenditure on two of the accident blackspots on Rodford Way.

One of the worst spots is the offset junction between Rodford Way, Shire Way and Sundridge Park. As Paul Hulbert explained to the meeting, drivers are confused by the lack of clear priorities at the junction. South Glos investigated and found that most of the casualties are actually cyclists - the drivers are obviously too busy looking out for other cars that they don't see the cyclists. The proposal is largely road markings to make the priorities clear and make the cycle lanes much more obvious.

A liitle further down Rodford Way, at the Abbotswood junction, there have been quite a few "near misses" as vehicles do U-turns in this very wide road mouth. As Tony Davis told the Forum, this partiularly happens during peak times when drivers want to get into Kelston Close, where the schools are (and where a new housing development is planned). The intention is to put an island in the mouth of the road to prevent U-turns.

Both schemes should be put in over the next year.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Update on Westerleigh road surfacing problems

Last autumn the council patched Westerleigh Road through Westerleigh village, in preparation for it being resurfaced this summer.

Soon after residents reported the surface was already breaking up and officers informed Claire Young that lab tests were being carried out to identify if there was a problem with the materials. They now have the report back and it has identified some irregularities with the quality of material supplied. Discussions are ongoing with the supplier on how to resolve the problems.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Mud, mud, glorious mud

Network Rail's contractors have caused more damage to the grass than we anticipated, but we're on the case.

As you can see, the big tracked vehicle and the tractor and trailer have been taken further into the mouth of the Lower Meadow than we had anticipated, and the whole entranceway is just mud.

There are also tracks on the near corner of the Common and to the side of the roadway in between.

The big tracked vehicle will be removed from the Common side of the bridge on Saturday night, crossing the railway track to get back to the compound. The tractor and trailer will finish their work on Monday. On Tuesday there should be a pavement sweeper on site to clean the mud off the tarmac roadway.

We are meeting the site manager on Monday morning to discuss the RADAR gate and ground reinstatement. The site manager appreciates that we're not best pleased, while we do understand the practical difficulties of manoeuvring such large vehicles in such tight quarters.

On a related local note, we have also met South Glos this morning about the boggy patches on the "Ashtrack" footpath from Wapley Bridge towards Goldcrest Park. They have measured it up and agreed the necessary works, and they anticipate doing the work in June/July when Network Rail are well clear and the ground has dried up. Some parts of the path will just be topped up, the worst parts will be reconstructed and drainage will be put in at one or two points.

More details on bus timetable changes from March 29th

First Bus have announced details of their proposed timetable changes, which will reflect more realistic travel times taking traffic and Bristol's 20 mph zones into account. In some cases extra journeys are being added on Sundays and Public Holidays and in the late evening.

Local headlines are as follows:

Service 46/X46 (Bristol – Yate / Chipping Sodbury):
  • The timetable is being adjusted to improve the overall punctuality and reliability of buses.
  • Extra time is being added in, especially during the morning and afternoon peak period.  
  • Some early morning commuter journeys are also being brought forward slightly, making the first Monday to Friday departure from Yate at 0540 hours (arriving into Bristol at 0635 hours).  
  • There will an extra Service 46 journey from Yate to Bristol on Sundays and Public Holidays (at 0905 hours).

Service 82 (Southmead Hospital – Yate / Chipping Sodbury - Wotton-under-Edge): 
  • A number of Monday to Friday peak time journeys will have more time to complete their journeys, however, this means that a number of departure times – at both ends of the route - will be revised.
  • In addition to this some extra journeys – running during the evening – are being added to the timetable. It means that the last bus from Southmead Hospital will leave later, at 2055 hours Monday to Friday, while the last bus from Wotton-under-Edge will be at 1930 hours Monday to Friday.

Service X49 (Bristol – Yate): 
  • The timetable is being adjusted to improve punctuality and reliability
  • The route will also be operated by double deck vehicles wherever possible, helping to substantially increase the capacity of the service at peak times.
  • Some improvements are also being made to the Sunday and Public Holiday timetable, with a more consistent two-hourly frequency brought in.
More details, including changes for the wider area, are available from the First Group website for Bristol, Bath and the West

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Check your blood pressure, improve your health

High blood pressure is a condition that many people have without being aware of it. If you haven't had your blood pressure checked in the last five years, you really should so so now.

Each year the Rotary Club of Chipping Sodbury organise a Know Your Blood Pressure Day with this year’s event taking place on Saturday April 11. Full details are available from the Gazette article on the event.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Family health activities coming soon

Would you be interested in activities like these for 4-15 year olds and their families? If so, please email healthylifestyle.southglos.gov.uk or 01454 863947 to ask about the Reach programme (Rethinking Eating and Activity for Childhood Health)

In the meantime, how about a simple healthy "Sugar Swap"? Just google "Change4Life" for lots of ideas and free gifts to help you.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Become a Community Fire Safety Volunteer and help save lives

Help Avon Fire and Rescue Service prevent devastating home fires by encouraging social groups to sign up free Home Fire Safety Visits. Gain experience, training and references, and provide a valuable life-saving service in your community. Help make a difference.

Contact the Volunteering Team at The Care Forum  - you can phone them on 0117 9589308 or email them at  volunteering@thecareforum.org.uk

Monday, 2 March 2015

Next chance to have your say at Frome Vale Area Forum

The next Frome Vale Area Forum meeting is this Thursday 5th March at 7pm in Shireway Community Centre, Yate.

There will be a presentation from Avon Fire and Rescue raising awareness of carbon monoxide poisoning - very necessary, as shown by the recent tragedy in Cherington (Gazette report here - Yate couple killed by toxic gas boiler leak).

Other items on the agenda include decisions on community and New Homes Bonus (NHB) grants and consideration of youth funding. The Forum will also be deciding which highway schemes are a priority.

The next round of meetings will take place in July. If you would like to receive details of meetings in your area contact Democratic Services on 01454 864425 or visit www.southglos.gov.uk/areaforum

Further information regarding grant funding is available on 01454 865865 or via www.southglos.gov.uk/grants