Friday, 31 July 2015

Safety check on bad decisions removed

At the last South Gloucestershire Council meeting the Conservatives used their majority to remove the rights of opposition councillors to force a rethink on bad decisions.

Previously the lead member for any of the political groups on a committee could “refer up” a decision to full council for further debate, if they felt a mistake had been made or more information was needed to make a properly informed decision. Only a few months ago this safety check was used when the planning committee initially decided to approve the planning application for Top Yard in Westerleigh. Given the chance to review their report and consider case law, officers changed their recommendation from approval to refusal and the application was eventually refused. If our former colleague Alan Lawrance had not had the opportunity to refer up the original decision the application would have been approved and there would have been no way to overturn that.

By referring a decision up to council it also gave a chance for concerned members of the public to go along and have their say. Almost every council in the country has some ability for minority political groups to force administrations to think again. Obviously ultimately the majority view will prevail, as you would expect in a democracy. Sometimes though, having heard differing views or got more information, they make a different decision from their original one. Isn’t that also something you would expect in a democracy? As we saw with Top Yard, referring up was one way to help the council make better decisions. Why is the new administration afraid of that scrutiny?

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

South Glos show this weekend

The 2015 South Gloucestershire Show takes place this Saturday and Sunday (1st and 2nd August). The show is held at the Windmill Fishery Showground situated just off the Westerleigh Road between the Henfield cross roads and Westerleigh. More information can be found on their website.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Planning committee to consider caravan storage site

The application to continue caravan storage at Beech Hill Farm  is to be considered by the South Glos planning committee later this summer. Officers have recommended refusal on Green Belt grounds. A site visit is expected to take place on Friday 28th August.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Changed circumstances? URGENT if you're claiming Single Person Discount on Council Tax

If you're claiming Single Person Discount on your Council Tax but your circumstances have changed, you have until Saturday 1st August to take advantage of a short amnesty to tell the council.

Maybe you are a single parent and one of your children has turned 18 or you've started renting a spare room out to a lodger. If you tell the council about this before Saturday 1st August the change will not be backdated to 1 April 2015. If you don't, action will be taken on any discount incorrectly claimed.

If you think this might apply to you - or if your circumstances have changed the other way and you think you could now be claiming Single Person Discount where you weren't before - you can call 01454 868003, email or call into one of the council's One Stop Shops.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Success again for Wapley Bushes

Wapley Bushes Local Nature Reserve and the Orchard for the Future have won the Green Flag Community Award for the third year running - the only Green Flag Award in South Gloucestershire.

The Green Flag Award scheme recognises quality parks or green spaces. In total, 1,582 parks, cemeteries, universities, shopping centres and community gardens in the UK have met the high standard needed to receive the Green Flag Award or the Green Flag Community Award.

The Green Flag Awards are judged by an army of more than 700 green space experts, who volunteer their time to visit applicant sites and assess them against eight strict criteria, including horticultural standards, cleanliness, sustainability and community involvement. The Green Flag Awards Scheme is run by the environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy.

Obviously Wapley Bushes Conservation Group, who manage the Reserve, and landowners Dodington Parish Council are very pleased with this success. They are now looking forward to hearing the results of their South West in Bloom award entries.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Progress report on Rodford Way traffic issues

Flashback - Paul Hulbert and Tony Davis
at the Abbotswood junction
Proposals are being developed to reduce accidents and hazards at the Rodford Way / Abbotswood junction and the offset junction between Shire Way, Rodford Way and Sundridge Park. Ideas on the table at the moment are as follows:
  • Prohibiting U-turns on Rodford Way near the Abbotswood junction, with a short length of central island being put in the mouth of Abbotswood (to reduce the near-misses between U-turning traffic and vehicles continuing along the road)
  • An advisory 20 mph limit on Rodford Way near the Kelston Close junction, marked by flashing lights, at school opening and closing times (to avoid the dangers to families crossing at these busy times)
  • Changing the slip lane priorities at the offset junction and making the cycle lanes more obvious there (to reduce the unacceptable rate of cyclist casualties at this junction)
 These ideas may change as the plan is worked up - we'll keep you informed.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Kelston Close changing rooms upgrade under way

A major upgrade is now under way to Dodington Parish Council's changing rooms at the QE2 Playing Fields, Kelston Close. The £84,000 project has been helped considerably by a £25,000 grant from community programme Barclays Spaces for Sports, partnered with sports charity The Football Foundation. A further £7,000 contribution is coming from South Gloucestershire Council’s New Homes Bonus scheme, and Dodington Parish Council is funding the balance of £52,000.

The new funding for the QEII Playing Field follows previous grants totalling £68,000 from Barclays and the Football Foundation since 2006. These grants were used to pay for a multi-use games area (MUGA), to deliver a three-year sports development plan and to organise holiday sports tournaments for young people.

The changing rooms, which are mainly used by football players on the Parish Council's very popular pitches, date from many years ago when the facilities were the playing fields for King Edmund School (now Yate International Academy)

The works include new showers, accessible toilets, landscaping and general building improvements. At the moment the layout is mainly designed for male players, but Dodington is also aiming to make the changing rooms suitable for any female teams they may have in future.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Free learning opportunities for people over 50

Are you over 50, and interested in getting back into learning, and maybe progressing on to further study? This innovative taster programme run by South Gloucestershire and Stroud College may be for you.

There are two courses: Monday 13th July – Wednesday 15th July and Wednesday 15th July  - Friday 17th July. Each day will start at 9.30 and finish no later than 4pm.

Both sessions will take place at SGS's state of the art WISE campus, New Road, Stoke Gifford. Bristol, BS34 8LP (plenty of free parking available)

Click here for details of the programmes
  •     Free Lunch each day
  •     Free tea/coffee with biscuits/cakes
  •     Free Maths qualification
  •     Option of choosing 3 fun and interactive sessions
  •     Sessions include
  •             2 Art options – Painting/Photography
  •             Sport options – Gentle gym (strength and conditioning) or bowls/Table tennis/Golf
  •             First Aid at home
  •             Technology – Tablets, Skype, Emails/Using the Internet to save time & money – Ebay, Uswitch, Online shopping, On line banking, Booking trips
  •     A chance to have an amazing 3 days, meet likeminded people and just have fun!

Frome Vale Area Forum next week

The Frome Vale Area Forum (which covers Yate, Dodington and Chipping Sodbury) takes place on Thursday 9th July at 7pm at Shireway Community Association, Yate.

As well as the usual open session where you can have your say on local issues, the agenda includes the allocation of community grants, presentations about food/waste recycling plus a presentation from BT about broadband.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Lib Dem leadership contender visits Yate

Tim Farron MP, one of the two contenders for the Leadership of the Liberal Democrats, met local party members at Poole Court this week for a no-holds-barred question and answer session.

He answered a wide range of questions from the crowded meeting, ranging from the economy and defence to how to rebuild the Lib Dems after the disappointing result at the General Election.

The other leadership contender is Norman Lamb MP, who visited Yate in February. The result of the election will be announced on 16 July.

In line with the national trend, local membership of the Liberal Democrats has risen considerably since the General Election.