Thursday, 31 January 2008

Phone mast - good news!

The planning committee agreed with local residents and voted overwhelmingly to object to a mast being erected where Vodafone proposed, beside Badminton Road near the junction with Woodside Road. Many thanks to all who have campaigned so hard for this, especially to those who carried out the petition, delivered leaflets telling people about the proposals or who spoke for the residents at the committee meeting.

Now we will have to wait and see what Vodafone's next move will be.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

This Thursday is decision day for mast application

The fate of Vodafone’s application to erect a 12m 3G mobile phone mast beside Badminton Road in Coalpit Heath will be decided when the planning committee meets on Thursday (31st).

Members of the public can attend the Development Control (West) Committee meeting, which will start at 3pm in Thornbury Council Offices. You can view the agenda online. As you can see, this will be the first application to be considered, the previous item being simply noted.

There is limited parking at the offices but there are free public car parks nearby in the town centre.

Local residents will present a petition to members of the committee and urge them to object to the siting of the mast just metres from neighbouring houses. Claire Young will also have a say as the local Councillor.

Vodafone have informed Claire that they are still considering alternative sites but are letting this application take its course.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Parish Plan Open Day a Massive Success

Frampton Cotterell's Parish Plan Open Day proved a great success, with over 250 local residents of all ages taking the time to view the displays and make constructive comments.

“The sun shone on us on Saturday in more ways than one," reports Jen Dunford, a member of the Parish Plan Steering Group that organised the Open Day. "Even before the designated opening time, residents were already eagerly thronging through the door. The cafe was filled to overflowing for a brief explanatory talk of what Parish Plans are all about and the coffee and bountiful home-made cakes were a sell-out."

She added, “The large numbers attending were beyond our expectations. The comments they attached to the Happy Hedge and the Weeping Wall have certainly made a challenging start for the Steering Group to inform our Parish Plan.”

“It was wonderful to see so many residents from Frampton Cotterell and Coalpit Heath getting together and sharing their interests, hopes and concerns with other parishioners” said Steering Group Member Bob Thomson. “The Parish Plan is about having a stronger, better and safer community in which people can live, work and play."

Dave Hockey, who currently Chairs the Steering Group, said, “It was great to see the members of the Brockeridge Youth Group serving refreshments in the cafĂ©. The takings were £112, enough to cover the cost of the pool table they want”.

He went on to add, “Let’s hope we get a very high turnout for the special meeting at Crossbow House at 8pm on Thursday to find a way to keep our Community Centre open and flourishing. This is the first major challenge to be tackled for our villages."

Jacqui Ward from Community Action, who supports Parish Plan Projects in rural areas across the former Avon area, is analysing the feedback from Saturday’s Open Day. Ten residents came forward on Saturday to join the Steering Group, doubling its size. The next stage is to seek further input from hard to reach groups in the community and to draft a report identifying priority improvements for consultation with residents.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Frampton Cotterell Parish Plan Open Day tomorrow

Don't forget the Frampton Cotterell Parish Plan Open Day is happening between 10.30 and 3.30 on Saturday 26 January at the Brockeridge Centre. If you live in Frampton Cotterell or Coalpit Heath (which is split between Frampton Cotterell and Westerleigh Parishes) come along to have your say on what you love about the area and what you'd like to see improved.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

In-Vessel Composting plans now online

You can view the plans for the proposed In-Vessel Composting facility here.

Crossbow crisis meeting

Frampton Cotterell and District Community Association's Crossbow House have arranged an extraordinary general meeting on January 31 in a last ditch attempt to save it from closure. You can read more here.

Flooding update

Following the recent flooding in The Quadrangle, Westerleigh, on Monday Claire Young met with a local resident, the Chair of the Parish Council and South Glos officers to look at the problem on site. It proved a very useful meeting, the officers recognise that The Quadrangle is a "hot spot" and propose putting in new gullies and dealing with a blocked drain as a first attempt at fixing the problem. Fingers crossed this does the trick.
Picture - flashback to the flooding last summer

Friday, 18 January 2008

SITA propose new composting plant near Westerleigh

South Gloucestershire Council's Waste contractors, SITA, are planning to build an In-Vessel Composting Facility in the green belt, near the M4 motorway. The access would be down Batchfield Lane, opposite the Crematorium.

Claire Young attended a briefing on the plans last week. The facility would be able to take up to 30 000 tonnes of food, cardboard and garden waste a year.

Collection vehicles would bring waste to the site between 7am and 5pm and 40T articulated lorries would take the compost away. Vehicle movements are expected to be in the region of 24-30 a day. Claire drew SITA's attention to the recent decision to implement the Westerleigh village weight limit, meaning that waste could not travel through Westerleigh itself.

Claire also asked SITA to consult with the public. They have promised to hold a drop-in session for local residents to see and discuss the plans.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Frampton Cotterell Parish Plan Open Day

Frampton Cotterell are holding their Parish Plan Open Day next Saturday (26th January) between 10.30am and 3.30pm in the Brockeridge Centre, Woodend Road. This is a chance for residents to have their say (and eat home made cakes).

If you're travelling by car, please use the Zion Church car park. Jacqui Ward from Community Action will be making brief presentations at 11.30am adn 2.30pm to explain what Parish Plans are about.

Phone mast - what next?

Unless Vodafone find an alternative site and withdraw the Badminton Road application, a decision will be made by the planning committee, DC (West), on Thursday 31 January. The public are very welcome to attend this meeting, which will start at 3pm in Thornbury. Usually if people have turned up to comment on items they will be dealt with early in the meeting.

In the meantime, our local MP, Steve Webb, has written in support of residents to both Vodafone and the Council.

Friday, 11 January 2008

Good news for Westerleigh

The decision has now been made to go ahead with the 7.5T weight restriction in Westerleigh village, despite the objections.

Flooding today

Today's rain and snow brought flooding to our villages. Claire Young requested sand bags for residents in The Quadrangle, Westerleigh and reported highway flooding in the main street through Westerleigh, Mill Crescent and on the A432 Badminton Road.

Earlier in the year, the Council's Street Care department cleaned the drains on The Quadrangle and through the village after similar floods. Claire will be asking that once the current emergency situation is over the problems are investigated further to try to stop this happening again.

More from Wednesday's drop-in

You may have seen the coverage of Wednesday's Vodafone drop-in in the online version of the Gazette.

Here are the answers to some of the questions that came up at the session:

  • When asked if the fact they could put the mast on the land rent-free was a factor in the choice of site, they said Vodafone would be spending more on putting in a telegraph pole style mast than their standard 12m mast so it wasn't a cheap option.

  • The tri-sector antennae will broadcast in all directions, not just one.

  • Their website shows the outdoor coverage. The aim of the proposed mast is to improve the level of indoor coverage, hence the apparent difference between what their website says about coverage and what they say in the planning application

  • The coverage plots are all theoretical rather than measured

  • Coverage is calculated by taking the contours, type of land usage, antennae details etc and overlaying them.

  • The power output of the mast varies depending on the number of users using it, but the limit is 20W and it's very rare that it will operate at that level

  • The site is next to the highway so they are confident they do not need to do a mining search

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Glimmer of hope in phone mast battle

Vodafone have promised to look again at alternatives to erecting a mast on the Badminton Road in Coalpit Heath after a busy drop-in session in the Manor Hall yesterday.

Throughout the afternoon, local people arrived to voice their concerns to the company’s representatives. Some asked Vodafone to reconsider sites they had discounted while others suggested new options.

Towards the end of the session, a crowd of residents gathered to see Andy Somerset, whose house is next to the site of the proposed mast, present a petition with over 590 signatures to Vodafone’s Dr Rob Matthews. Dr Matthews said he could make no guarantees but that he would go away and ask the company’s engineers to investigate the alternatives suggested.

Vodafone can be in no doubt now about the strength of feeling locally. As of today, the Badminton Road application still stands and will go before the planning committee on 31st January, but this is the first glimmer of hope for residents.

Claire Young went to Thornbury today to deliver a copy of the petition and ten more letters of objection safely into the hands of the case officer.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Radio mast

The proposed phone mast on Badminton Road has not been the only mast causing concern in the area. There has been a great deal of concern about the effect of the proposed radio mast at Tubb's Bottom on the local landscape. Claire Young has asked that the matter go before the planning committee should the planning officer recommend approval.

Vodafone drop-in session today

Don't forget that Vodafone and their agents will be running a drop-in session for residents concerned about the phone mast proposals from 2pm to 7pm at the Manor Hall.

SSCG - latest priorities

Tuesday's meeting of the Safer Stronger Community Group identified the following top three priorities:

  1. Anti-social behaviour and drug abuse in Frampton Cotterell

  2. Mud on roads/pavements following football matches

  3. Speeding on Frampton End Road

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Packed public meeting rejects phone mast proposal

It was standing room only at the Manor Hall, Coalpit Heath on Monday evening, as residents unanimously opposed Vodafone’s application to erect a 12m high 3G mast on the Badminton Road near the junction with Woodside Road.

Around 85 people turned out to voice their opposition to the plans and add their signatures to the 500+ already collected for a petition by residents. Some raised their health fears, while others questioned the need for the new mast and criticised the visual impact it would have in the village. To date there are approximately 140 objections registered on the South Gloucestershire Council website, with more expected.

Neither Vodafone nor their agents attended the meeting. Instead they are holding a drop-in session between 2pm and 7pm on Wednesday 9th January, also at the Manor Hall, Coalpit Heath.

Local Councillor Claire Young, who organised and chaired the meeting, said, “I am backing residents in opposing the proposals. The people of Coalpit Heath have sent a clear message to Vodafone that this application is completely unacceptable. It is not too late for them to withdraw this application and find a more suitable site.”

She added, “I urge concerned residents to attend the drop-in session on Wednesday and to make objections via the Council website or in writing to the Council Offices at Thornbury before the deadline on Thursday.”

The meeting also called on South Gloucestershire Council to take a co-ordinated approach to mobile phone mast applications.

The story has been taken up by the Bristol Evening Post.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Don't forget

  • Phone mast public meeting, 7.15pm tonight (7th) in the Manor Hall, Coalpit Heath

  • Safer Stronger Community Group, 7.30pm tomorrow (8th) at the Manor School, Coalpit Heath

  • Phone mast drop-in session run by Vodafone and their agents, 2pm-7pm Wednesday (9th) in the Manor Hall, Coalpit Heath

Thanks to all those who helped deliver flyers for the two phone mast meetings over the weekend.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Phone mast - two chances to have your say

Coalpit Heath residents will have two opportunities next week to voice their concerns about plans for a 3G phone mast in the village.

Claire Young has arranged a public meeting starting at 7.15pm on Monday 7th January in the Newman Room, Manor Hall, Coalpit Heath. This will give people a chance to raise concerns and sign a petition started by local residents.

Vodafone and their agents were unable to provide suitably qualified representatives for this meeting, but instead have agreed to hold a drop-in session from 2pm-7pm on Wednesday 9th January in the Manor Hall, Coalpit Heath. Mark Walters of Needham Haddrell, Vodafone’s agents and Dr. Rob Matthews, the EMF Advisory Unit Manager for Vodafone, will be available to answer queries and discuss alternative sites.

Don’t forget... you can view the application online and make comments by clicking on the "Comment on application" link.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Public meeting latest

Vodafone's agents have withdrawn from Monday's meeting, saying that it was impossible to find someone from Vodafone with sufficient experience to attend at short notice. They have offered to set-up and run a drop-in session later in the week or the following week so that residents can view the proposals, ask questions, suggest alternative sites and voice concerns.

Claire Young will be going ahead with Monday's meeting, so she can hear residents views to help her represent them better. Residents will also be able to sign the petition if they have not already done so.

Phone mast - your chance to ask questions

Claire Young will be chairing a public meeting at 7.15pm on Monday 7th January in the Newman Room at the Manor Hall, Coalpit Heath. Mark Walters of Needham Haddrell, Vodafone's agents, has said he will be happy to be there to answer residents' queries and listen to their concerns.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Phone mast - time ticking by

If you wish your views to be taken into account when the phone mast application is determined, you only have another 9 days in which to make comments. Today Claire Young was out delivering letters to more households in the area explaining how they can make comments.

It might be useful to explain how we got to this point. The Government encourages mobile phone operators to carry out informal consultations before making a formal planning application. There are no laws governing how this is done and the Council's planning department is not involved at this stage. For this proposal, Claire asked Vodafone's agents to contact local residents and they agreed to delay making a formal application while they did this.

Unfortunately Vodafone's agents used the wrong addresses for around half those they tried to contact and then pressed ahead with the formal planning application.

Once a planning application has been registered, it has to go through the formal planning process, which is covered by legislation. There are time limits, for example, so with the application having been submitted just before Christmas the deadline for comments is 10th January. There are also rules about who the Council's planners should inform about the application. As far as Claire is aware, everyone who should have been notified by the Council has been and, unlike Vodafone's agents, they have used the correct addresses. However if anyone is concerned, please do contact Claire.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year from your local Focus Team.