Friday, 27 February 2009

Lib Dems launch Freedom Bill

The Lib Dems have published their new Freedom Bill to roll back authoritarian laws. You can read more on the Freedom Bill website and sign the petition here.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Frome Vale Area Forum tonight

Tonight (Thursday 26th February) is the Frome Vale Area Forum. It kicks off at 7pm in Chipping Sodbury Town Hall and items on the agenda include anti-social behaviour, a Street Care update, a decision by the area committee on small grants and an open session for you to talk about the issues that concern you.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Time for a spring clean?

South Glos Council are urging schools, businesses and volunteer groups to help clean up their neighbourhood or open spaces as part of the national Big Spring Clean Campaign 2009, which runs throughout April. Free gloves, refuse sacks and skips are on offer to groups who organise a community Spring Clean event but supplies are limited so anyone interested needs to register early. The council will also arrange to collect all the litter as long as it is bagged and locations for collections are agreed in advance.

You can read more and get copies of the booking forms from South Glos Council's Big Spring Clean campaign web page. Booking forms must be returned by Friday 6 March.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

More chances to have your say on health locally

The LINk is a network of local people, organisations and groups that want to make health and social care services better. Anyone who receives health or social care services in South Gloucestershire can participate in the LINk.

The LINk’s interim steering group meetings are open to anyone who wishes to attend. The next meeting will be on Monday March 2nd from 7pm until 9pm in the Greenfield Centre, Park Avenue, Winterbourne. This meeting will be attended by Mike Henessey from South Gloucestershire Council who will be talking about the new Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) for South Gloucestershire. This is the paper that will set out the local authority’s strategy for providing services to everyone living in South Gloucestershire. To hear more about it and how you can voice your views during the consultation come to this meeting.

Other meetings include:

  • Community Care and Housing Group on Thursday February 19th from 2pm until 4pm at the Shire Way Community Association, Shire Way, Yate

  • Acute and Community Hospitals Group on Friday February 20th from 10am until 12pm at Emersons Green Village Hall, Emersons Way, Emersons Green. This group will be looking at the acute and community hospital services being developed across South Gloucestershire, including developments at Cossham Hospital in Kingswood, Yate, Thornbury and of course Frenchay hospital.

  • NHS South Gloucestershire (South Gloucestershire Primary Care Trust) on Tuesday February 24th from 2pm until 4pm in Shire Way Community Association. This will assess all the services that NHS South Gloucestershire is responsible for (including chiropody services, dental services, local physiotherapy services, vision services and the 5-year strategic plan) and take the views of the local community back to NHS South Gloucestershire.

  • Direct Payments on Wednesday February 25th from 2pm until 4pm at The Park Centre, High Street, Kingswood. Some changes are being made to the way direct payments are being funded. If you receive direct payments, care for someone who does or are involved in any way this group would value your participation and input. This group will run for a limited time only until individualised budgets are in place.

  • Mental Health Services Group on Monday March 9th from 10am until 12pm at Filton Folk Centre, Elm Park, Filton.

There is also the C-LINk Group specifically for the Chinese community in South Gloucestershire.

If you would like to join any of these groups or find out when they're meeting again please contact Sarah Booker on 0117 9589349 or email

Council budget set

Today South Gloucestershire Council met to set a budget for the next three years. Last year the Lib Dems persuaded the Tory administration to accept a 3 year budget that largely reflected Lib Dem priorities. The first two years of this year's budget were the same as the 2nd and 3rd years of last year's budget, with added savings from efficiency that the Administration assure us are deliverable without loss of frontline services. Lib Dem Leader Cllr Ruth Davis said, "I would like to emphasise that we are in no way accepting any of the proposals for savings in the service reviews at this time, as we believe they need further investigation and should go through the process as described in the report."

One recommendation that was in earlier papers on the transport review was a proposal to cut some school transport, including that from Westerleigh to Pucklechurch and from Tytherington, Itchington and Earthcott to St Helen's in Alveston.

Cllr Claire Young, who spoke against the proposals at a recent meeting of the Council's Cabinet, said, "I’m glad to see that proposal was dropped from the transport review details provided for today’s meeting but I for one will be watching very closely the £75,000 of savings that are still to be developed.”

The Lib Dems also reiterated their commitment to the introduction of kerbside plastic recycling but said that in the present economic crisis it would be imprudent to move forward with such a project when so many things are in a state of flux. Cllr Davis said, "The indicative budget for year 3 has no allowance made for possible credit crunch issues, as assumptions in the report are based on a credit crunch buffer for 2 years only."

Nibley Lane roadworks

It's a busy time for roadworks on Nibley Lane. From the 18th to 24th February there will be temporary traffic lights outside the Old Mill for cable pulling and on Wednesday 25th February the section between Badminton Road (A432) and Westerleigh Road will be closed from 9.30 to 2.30 for street cleansing and drainage maintenance work.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

More comments on Gypsy and Traveller sites

Following the Westerleigh drop-in and a meeting last week with residents concerned about the transit site between the business parks, Claire Young is finalising an additional response to the Gypsy and Traveller consultation. Unfortunately the Council's email system had problems at the weekend so if anyone has sent an email to Claire and hasn't had a response, please get in touch again as soon as possible.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Perrinpit Lane resurfacing postponed by a week

You may have seen the signs warning of the closure of Perrinpit Lane from Tuesday 17th February due to resurfacing work. Because of the bad weather, this has had to be put back until 24th February. The work is expected to take 4 days.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Reminder - health centre event this Wednesday

Yate's new community health centre is being built at the moment and should be ready by the autumn. It will provide outpatient appointments, hopefully a minor injuries service, X-rays and so forth, plus an integrated families' and children's advice and information centre.

The project team want to hear from people who have been helped by particular services so they can find out how best to meet their needs. There will mock-ups of the building and workshops on specific services.

Workshops will cover areas such as cardiology, diabetes, general surgery, audiology and respiratory conditions.

The event will be held in Chipping Sodbury Town Hall on Wednesday, February 11 from 2.30pm to 5pm and from 6pm to 8.30pm, with presentations at 3pm, 4pm, 6.30pm and 7.30pm.

People interested in attending can phone 330 2408 to register.

For more details about the Health Centre please see this Evening Post article.

Gypsy and Traveller sites

Claire Young attended the Gypsy and Traveller sites drop-in run by Westerleigh Village Residents Association on Saturday. There was a good turnout despite the weather and there were some very interesting discussions.

Some people were unhappy that they hadn't received acknowledgement of their responses to the consultation, so they couldn't be sure they had been received and accepted. Claire has raised this with one of the officers leading the consultation and she says she will be sending out acknowledgements once all the responses have been recorded in their system.

One Lib Dem Councillor was told in an email that some sites in South Glos were being withdrawn from the list and others added, but when she asked which sites at Cabinet neither officers nor Cabinet members could tell her. We wait to see what this means for Westerleigh.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Don't forget waste consultation event on Monday

The consultation event on proposals including the option of siting a waste facility on Stover Industrial Estate or Great Western Business Park is taking place on Monday 9 February from 3pm to 7pm in Chipping Sodbury Town Hall. Find out more at

Friday, 6 February 2009

Yate Centre refurbishment complete

Yate Leisure Centre has become the first of the major projects in Yate to be completed. Read more on the Gazette website.

All schools closed due to snow (Fri 6 Feb)

All council-run schools in South Glos are now closed for Friday, a priority service is operating for community meals, there will be no refuse collections and all Sort IT centres are closed.

Check the Council's website for more news.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

More on Besom Lane flooding

As well as the work that will hopefully be undertaken by Network Rail later this year, South Gloucestershire Council are taking steps to tackle the problem of flooding on Besom Lane. An obstruction in the culvert under the road has been investigated and partially cleared. There remains an obstruction in the culvert at the edge of the road and this will hopefully be excavated and rectified next week (weather permitting).

Gypsy and Traveller meeting

Westerleigh Village Residents Association have kindly invited Claire Young along to their open day regarding the Gypsy and Traveller consultation on Saturday (10am to 2pm in the Village Hall). The consultation formally finished last week but the Residents Association have secured extra time for their response and will be holding an exhibition using materials supplied by South Glos Council.

Threat to Westerleigh-Pucklechurch transport

On Monday, Claire Young and other Lib Dem Councillors asked South Gloucestershire Council’s ruling Tory cabinet to abandon proposals to cut school transport for primary school pupils from a number of villages including Westerleigh.

Claire had spotted that the figures for the Transport review, published in the papers for the most recent Planning, Tranport and Strategic Environment Select committee, included a saving of £75,000 by ending some rural school transport. After it became clear that the officer presenting the report at the meeting had no further details, Lib Dem Councillors pursued the issue with officers outside the meeting and eventually discovered that the routes in question were:

Westerleigh - Pucklechurch Primary
Tormarton - Trinity Primary, Acton Turville
Badminton - Trinity Primary, Acton Turville
Tytherington, Itchington, Earthcott - St Helens Primary, Alveston

At Cabinet, Claire called on the administration to honour the commitment made by a previous Council to provide the Westerleigh-Pucklechurch service, highlighting the benefits both for pupils and the school of continuing the service and the problems that would be caused if the parents used cars instead or had to remove their children from the school at short notice.

One very important fact that appears to have been overlooked is that if the service to Pucklechurch was stopped, the Council would have to provide free transport to the nearest schools in Yate instead. This may well cost as much, if not more than, the current service as multiple schools may be involved. Certainly the Council could not expect to save anything like the whole cost of the current service.

Although initially the Executive Member for Planning, Transport and the Strategic Environment said the cost per pupil was huge and it needed to be looked at, after a lengthy discussion, the Leader of the Council promised that all parties on the Council would be consulted on the details of how savings would be made before the Cabinet made a decision. Watch this space for further updates.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

More snow forecast

South Glos have put some advice on their website and promise to update it regularly with information for the public if the snow arrives as forecast tomorrow. The page includes links to the GWR and Radio Bristol websites, where you can find a list of school closures.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Have your say on waste plans

The West of England Partnership, which is made up of the four unitary authorities in the old Avon area, is working on a Development Plan to set out policies which will help planners make decisions about where waste facilities should be located. They are currently consulting on their “Preferred Options”. You can read more at There will also be a drop-in session from 3 to 7pm on 9 February 2009 in Chipping Sodbury Town Hall. The consultation runs until 12th March 2009.

One concern is that unlike all the other locations proposed, where a specific site is identified, in Yate they have only gone as far as identifying two areas in which to look, Stover Industrial Estate and Great Western Business Park. This does not give people a proper chance to comment on the suitability of any site.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Conservation volunteers work with Europe to defeat elm disease

On Saturday Claire Young (right) joined members of the Wapley Bushes Conservation Group to plant new elm trees on Dodington Parish Council land.

Over the last few decades Dutch Elm Disease, a fungus spread by bark beetles, has devastated the British elm population to the extent that many people have never seen a live mature elm tree.

Now however a multinational project involving Wapley bushes may hold the key to repopulating elms in the UK. Members of the Wapley Bushes Conservation Group discovered a a native Wych Elm on the reserve that has remained unaffected by the disease, and they have have sent seeds from to the French national State Forestry Nursery for analysis to assess the extent of disease resistance.

The aim of the European project is to identify types of elm that are resistant to the disease so that eventually the resistant specimens can be planted out to repopulate the European countryside and help the many species that are dependent upon elms.

Tim Fairhead (also pictured above) of the Conservation Group explains “In return we received seeds from ancient elm trees in a French Nature Reserve, and these were grown on at Portsmouth University. These particular trees contain high levels of unique bark compounds that deter feeding by the beetles so they are less likely to get infected in the first place. We hope these trees will go on to provide a resource and home for threatened and vulnerable species like the White-letter Hairstreak butterfly”

This is the only elm repopulation project of its type in the South West and one of only four sites in the UK.

Could you donate timber offcuts?

Woodwise is a local not-for-profit initiative that collects timber off-cuts from local joineries and timber merchants and turns them into wood chip fuel. The wood chips are then delivered, free of charge, to local schools that are fitted with biomass boilers.

You can find out more on the Woodwise website.