Monday, 30 March 2009

Safer Stronger Community Group on Wednesday

The latest Frampton Cotterell and Westerleigh Safer Stronger Community Group is on Wednesday 1st April at 7.30pm in Westerleigh Village Hall. Come along and raise issues that are affecting you and your community.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Green scheme will lead to lower bills

Money-saving “Smart Meters” will soon be available to borrow free from libraries across South Gloucestershire, thanks to a successful proposal made by the Liberal Democrats at the South Gloucestershire Council meeting this week.

Smart meters measure the electricity being used by home electrical appliances and enable users to find ways to reduce their electricity consumption. When a library loan scheme was introduced last year in York, the overwhelming demand for the meters meant that the number available for hire had to be doubled.

Bringing the scheme here was the brainchild of local Councillor Dave Hockey (pictured right with a smart meter). Speaking after the meeting he said, “I am delighted that South Glos Council unanimously backed this Lib Dem proposal which has proved to be so popular with local residents in York. Residents will now have the chance to borrow a smart meter for a week to check which of their appliances are the heaviest users of electricity in time to take action and cut both their bills and their carbon footprint - brilliant!'”

Friday, 27 March 2009

Lib Dems keep up the pressure on bus cuts

Local Lib Dem Councillors kept up the pressure for action on the recently announced bus cuts at Wednesday's meeting of South Glos Council.

They won cross-party support for a motion calling on the Tory Cabinet Member responsible for transport to negotiate with all bus operators to achieve a number of key improvements and to recognise the importance of improving public transport in the area in time for the opening of the new Badminton Road Council offices.

But Tory and Labour Councillors voted against an amendment suggesting a timescale for implementing Nibley Park and Ride and criticising the delay in passing on information about the cuts.

Local Councillor Claire Young, who proposed the motion, said, “We are seeing a vicious downward spiral in the bus services in the Yate area. People in places like Iron Acton and North Yate face being cut off not only from employment and services in Bristol but also in central Yate. Nibley and Coalpit Heath saw cuts last summer and will now lose the only remaining daytime express service.”

“Against this background of dwindling services, the Council will be introducing hundreds of employees at the new Badminton Road Council offices. Local residents are very concerned about the impact the new offices will have on them, whether through increased parking in residential roads or greater congestion.”

Claire reminded fellow Councillors of the shelved Nibley MMI project. “Had this been implemented as planned, it would already have been taking cars off the local roads and supporting the viability of the bus services. Instead services have been slashed, fares increased, congestion worsened, while the Executive Member apparently waits for new services to appear so that the site can be implemented without subsidy.” She urged the Executive Member to look at the problems in the area as a whole rather than trying to fix issues in isolation.

Yate Councillor Ian Blair, who proposed the amendment, said that the Executive Member met with First Bus in early February. "I believe he should have told members and the public about the bus cuts sooner. The first local Councillors knew was a letter from First Bus only a day before the announcement. This simply isn’t enough time to enable Councillors and residents to mount a proper challenge.”

Earlier in the meeting, Lib Dem transport spokesperson Pat Hockey challenged the Executive Member on the action he was taking to deal with the cuts.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Bus cuts - more of your comments

The "Save Our Bus Services" petition is still open - please click here to sign the petition - and ask your friends to do the same.

Here is another selection of your comments - you can read the latest ones on the petition web page.

I am a 17 year old female and i live in Iron Acton i rely on the bus to travel to Yate as my school and friends are based there. When i herd about the bus being stoped i was very worried as too how i would travel to Yate. I live with my grandmother and so it is difficult to get a lift.

What a selfish decision First Bus has made with no consultation with the people who use the bus as their only means of transport, especialy when we are being encouraged to leave our cars at home and use public transport.

Same proposals as last year only we had a 'consultation' that time. This year no consultation, we'll just put thru' last years plans. It was said that other bus companies are available or will be available, that's okay especially when you have already paid First over a thousand pounds for your current ticket. I doubt there would be a refund. Additionally because of long term problems we have to go regularly to the eye hospital at various times of the day, absolutely no chance for services to arrive on time to get us there for 0845am- this means leaving currently at the latest 0720 otherwise you catch the fishponds downend/frenchay/hambrook and m32 traffic - thanks First

We need a good public transport service to reduce car use and support our communities.

I catch the X27 in peak commuting times and the bus is always packed. I find it hard to believe that the route is not affordable at peak times. The times of buses on the alternative 327 are not suitable due to childcare arrangements. It is ridiculous to cut bus services, introduce CPZ parking in inner Bristol areas and then talk about a congestion charge.

This is my only means to arrive at work on time - please please reconsider!

We are already .8 mile from bus stop now will be 2-3miles.

This is the result of Tory deregulation of bus services, bring bus services back in to the public sector

We have just started using the bus again for reasons of conservation of energy & reducing stress - & now you make it impracticable



The bus service is being cut yet again! I am annoyed about this and need your influence to sort this out.

I am incensed about this issue! I fought for years to get a bus service to Brimsham Park/North Yate and now that it is there, they're going to take it away. It is my only means of transport and without it, I will lose my independance.

This bus service is very important to the community of Yate - I use it to get to work, as well as recreationally because I want to a) save money on parking and b) help reduce congestion and emissions, and without it, this is impossible!

I think this is absolutely disgraceful that First Bus can just cancel a bus service which a lot of elderly, young people and workers rely on to get them into the Town Centre and Bristol. It has left my 70year old mother with no public transport at all, this is not acceptable.

A cheaper regular service is needed urgently,not cancelling a service altogther. I caught the X27 today & the bus was full, so how do we commute to Bristol centre now?

I use the X27 to get to and from work in Bristol. Without this bus I am going to face a half hour walk very early in the morning to catch a bus from the centre and a half hour walk back at night. Adding an hour onto an already long day.

The X27 is well used and on the return journey is almost completely full.

I think it is atrocious that these cuts are being made in an age where we are constantly being encouraged to leave our car at home - we can't do that without a decent transport system!

The X42 is not a suitable alternative as I will have to use my car to get to it being unable to walk the distance to access it. Also it will be full before it leaves Yate.
No promised Metro, no promised park and ride - now no bus. Pushed back into our cars we will then get slapped with congestion charge at some point. Great planning everybody!!

This decision is unacceptable and against the Public Interest and isdicriminatory to people who have to use public transport especially the elderly

My daughter gets the X27 into college each day and would have to leave much earlier to get the 327. She is in her final year of A levels and works long hours in the library. Getting into college quickly makes her long day much more bearable. The X27 is a vital service for many students like her- it gets them into college on time without long delays travelling through half of north Bristol(which is what the 327 does- painfully). Over two years of poor time keeping, often rude and aggressive drivers and overcrowding on the X27 we have spent a considerable amount of money investing in First Bus. A company with such a poor name for service should be doing its utmost to improve customer relations, not anger its client group of travellers.

Please do not reduce the X42 service to peak times only, 342 journey is a nightmare.

After being pleased with the recent improvements made to the X27, news that it will be cancelled is very disappointing. I will lose ~6hrs a week, most of which will be spent on an unpleasantly overcrowded bus. I will also have to cancel one of my classes as I won't be home early enough to go. It is a shame that South Gloucestershire buses cannot take over.


The X27 and X42 are the buses I use to get to college every day, the X27 being the one closes to where I live.

If these services go in May, then the annual bus pass I bought in September is effectively useless as I'll never be able to get into college on time in the mornings on the 342.

I was outraged although not shocked when I was informed of this move by First Bus. It frankly does not shock me what a truly below average service First provide, (in fact they are not worthy of the name First).

I left North Yate eight years ago, and even back then the service was abmysmal. My mother and grandmother live in the area where the service will be cut. It is not safe for lone females or children to walk in the dark to the shopping centre to catch the bus.

Such a shame a reliable customer focused company can't overthrow First.

Commuters in Yate have my sympathy. I really hope First have a change of heart and leave the service in place.

Just why are they cutting this vital link?

keep the bus !

Surely this service has seen a smaller number of passengers during off peak times due to the very hard winter and this will certainly pick up during the warmer weather. Every bus service is bound to have peaks and troughs during the day. I wonder what Justin Davies would do if he lived on this route and used the bus to get to work? Regarding the bus fares how can First justify putting fares up due to the price they paid for fuel and yet now fuel prices have drastically reduced we have not seen a reduction in fares. Perhaps they should put the customer and not shareholders first -they should be supplying a PUBLIC SERVICE. How on earth did we get to this situation. Most other major cities have a very good, affordable and efficient service e.g. Cardiff,why not us?

From Winterbourne there are currently three X27s between 7 and 8 am, at 7:09, 7:26 and 7:41 - this is too much, but could be reduced instead of stopped completely. Whenever I took the 327 it took an extra half an hour (at least) to get home because of the traffic through Frenchay at around 5 pm.

Im a regular user of the buses from yate to bristol, as i work as the bristol kids. I am outraged that, once again, first are cutting the services. Just when things are working down, another change!!!

I absolutly agree with everything the petition says. First is an horrendous service but, unfortunatly for its citezen's, it is the main public transport in the Bristol area and so is relied upon by large amounts of people. Cutting a number of buses is just adding to thier already extremely bad name! Why, at this time of huge enviromental concern, does it feel like those who are trying to help are constantly being pushed to just give up and get a car. First buses truly are Worst buses!!!

If first cut this service there is a chance I will lose my job!

I live on the east side of brimsham park. Now they have removed this service it's pretty much an equal distance for me between the shopping centre or the train station. And the train is a lot cheaper than the busses. The only reason I used to get the bus was for the convenience but they have removed this now and they certainly don't win on cost.

First Bus and Rail to axe hundreds of jobs

The Western Daily Press reports on major job cuts within First:

"Some 1,100 bus jobs will have gone by March next year in the UK and a further 600 jobs will go in the rail division, which includes the South West-serving First Great Western, which operates out of London Paddington"

Is First imploding, we have to ask? Is its management in panic mode? Our local service cuts are just part of a national programme to slash services and reduce costs. The same day as our cuts were announced, more services were axed from Ipswich to East Lothian.

First's share price halved over the last 6 months - like many others - falling from £5.50 to £2.00. Was management action a reaction to this?

News of the cuts has meant that the shares have gone back up to £2.50. The volume of shares traded has shot up - someone is buying First. Their management must be pleased.

Last Thursday First gave a major briefing to financial institutions. There are 21 pages of statement and questions and answers. And what did they say about our buses? Just "Outside London it’s a flexible business. We can closely match services to demand in a pretty short time if we need to"

But what will the share price do when the loss of public goodwill becomes obvious? And shareholders realise that First's market share is contracting?

Monday, 23 March 2009

Homelessness consultation event

South Glos is currently consulting on its Homelessness Review. Tomorrow (Tuesday 24th March) there will be an open meeting from 2pm - 5pm at the One Stop Shop in Yate to discuss any issues or concerns.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Bus cuts - have your say!

The "Save Our Bus Services" petition is attracting some interesting comments - here is a selection.

Click here to sign the petition - and please ask your friends to do the same.

"This story is a perfect illustration of the folly of bus de-regulation carried out so naively by the Conservatives: at the time, Labour promised to re-regulate the buses when they returned to power - just like they promised to re-nationalise British Rail after the Tories botched the privatisation.
First are just a money-making organisation: public service is quite irrelevant to their leadership and their management"

"Why are we being marooned ?
Why are you stopping us supporting the new Cabot Circus ?
Why have you just recently installed new bus stops on Brimsham Park and upgraded all the others?"

"I pay £104 monthly by direct debit for my season ticket. I am seriously considering cancelling this arrangement as the loss of the X27 will mean a 15-minute walk in all weathers to the Shopping Centre. At least I am fit enough to do this. What about those for whom the X27 is the only way of getting from North Yate into Bristol or to the Shopping Centre? Shame on you, Justin Davies and your company, you have returned us to the dark ages when only those who can drive have the freedom to get about and live their lives!"

"If First won't serve North Yate, S. Glos Council needs to find a company that will (bet it would be cheaper too!"


"Choosing the right course for your future career sometimes means young people taking courses at City of Bristol College. This demands a huge commitment.It means an early start and late finish to their day travelling from Yate into Bristol; they must find means to pay the high cost of bus travel into Bristol. Having made that commitment they have the rug pulled from under them as the bus they rely on is cut. They must now extend their day by making their way to find the nearest bus stop or rely on parents or friend drive them into Bristol for their classes or as some may do give up their courses. This action by First will have a catastrophic effect on some of our young people"

"Withdrawal of the X27 will mean residents of north Yate and Brimsham Green will have to walk well over a mile to reach an alternative bus route into Bristol.Residents of Iron Acton will have no buses passing through their village at all.
Surely First Bus have a duty to provide a service to the public in the more rural areas and not concentrate only on their more profitable inner city routes.
First Bus say that they are trying to encourage more people to use the buses. How can this be possible when they are withdrawing and restricting services??
Come on First bus,what on earth are you thinking of in trying to axe such a major route as the X27??"

"This is horrendous, leaving many people unable to get around as they have no access to a car for essential travel. How can we cut congestion when the alternatives are taken away without any consultation? What use are free bus passes for the elderly if there are no buses!?!"

"Cutting the X27 bus service will leave the majority of North Yate without any buses. This will mean that unless people are willing and actually ABLE, to walk for at least 20 minutes to the nearest bus stop at Yate Shopping Centre, they would have to either pay for a taxi or those who have cars, add to the congestion on the roads to get in to Bristol.
What about people who go to the eye hospital - who are told not to drive their car - has anyone thought about how they will have to manage?
It was bad enough when the service from North Yate, which went past Yate Railway Station was cut last year, but to have no buses at all is totally unacceptable"

"This leaves a massive area - around 10000 people - without any bus to work or any means to get to health appointments unless they have a car. That is contrary to every reasonable policy - it is vital either First Bus gives us the bus back or South Glos comes out quickly and agrees to fund an alternative provider. I note Justin from First Bus is saying it is because of the recession, less people shopping - yet I see no sign of the bus to Cribbs being cut. It is ridiculous for North Yate to have a bus to Cribbs but not to Bristol. I am sure the £4.40 single is the real problem. Too expensive. Lower prices will mean more passengers and therefore more income / use"

"The X27 bus service is vital and if it withdrawn North Yate will be without any public transport. Many people will be house bound and not able to get to Yate or Bristol. Dreadful The slogan on the First Bus signs is "Transforming Travel" They are transforming it to "no" travel for people in Yate and areas. We have a right to public transport"

"Please do not cut the X27 I will be totally unable to get an alternative bus as I am 84 and this is the olnly bus which goes from outside where I live. I cannot walk to get any other bus to take me into Bristol and then from there onto other places. I will be unable to gan anywhere which is very depressing"

"First bus have recently announced huge profits for 2008/2009. Using these "huge profits"...why not put passengers as priority?"

"It's disgraceful that First Bus can get away with this sort of behaviour. This situation is the result of Conservatives deregulating the buses"

"Yet again First Bus treats Yate in its customarily shabby way. They fail to appreciate that people living in Yate and Chipping Sodbury whose place of work is in Bristol need a daily express service to get to/from home/work. The prospect of having to use the slow all-around-th-houses No 342 service is dismal to say the least!"

"Let's ask Wessex Connect to take over"

"It is unbelievable to think you can take away the X27 completely cutting off North Yate and Iron Acton from all the facilities of Yate and Bristol. Take some of the funding from your profitable routes in Bristol City and keep us moving"

Monday, 16 March 2009

Footpath closed near Westerleigh

Footpath LWE/16/20 is to be closed for 6 months from 19 March as necessary to carry out works on the footbridge over the stream. (To reach this footbridge from the Nibley Lane junction on Westerleigh Road, you would follow the track to the railway line, cross the railway line, and continue for a short distance.)

Friday, 13 March 2009

Save our bus services - online petition launched

Liberal Democrat councillors have demanded immediate action to counter drastic service cuts by First Bus.

The cuts mean that some areas including Iron Acton and North Yate will have no daytime buses at all. Other areas such as South Yate will have one less bus per hour, and journeys from Yate to Bristol will be at least 10 minutes longer because they will stop many more times along the way.

Liberal Democrats have called on South Gloucestershire Council to arrange adequate alternative bus services for the areas affected by the cuts.

“These services are vital” said Cllr Ian Blair (Lib Dem, Yate North) “These cuts means more cars on our roads, and more congestion. Fewer people will take the bus, and First will want to cut services again”

Councillors are also asking First Bus to reduce their fares to a level at which public transport becomes an attractive alternative to cars.

“Every few months we get an increase in fares and a reduction in the services” said Cllr Paul Hulbert (Lib Dem, Dodington). “I can foresee a time in the not too distant future when our only buses will be to Yate Shopping Centre, and people in this heavily built-up area will have to walk a mile or more to catch the nearest bus. We need to break this spiral of higher fares and fewer passengers”

Councillors have set up an online petition at
asking for immediate action by South Gloucestershire Council to restore adequate bus services for the areas affected, and for First Bus to reduce their fares to a level at which they encourage people to use public transport instead of cars.

Buses should be efficient and affordable, and should serve the needs of the public.

Bus service cuts - Steve Webb speaks out on BBC TV

BBC News has done a good report on the proposed cuts by First Bus, including an interview with Steve Webb.

If you missed it on Points West or the evening news, check out the BBC website report here, or click here for a larger version of the film.

Works on M4 Overbridge, Westerleigh Road

On 16 March there will be two-way temporary traffic lights in action on the M4 Overbridge on Westerleigh Road near the Folly Public House so that work can be carried out on the bridge deck.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Anger at latest bus service cuts

Your local Focus Team is protesting about the latest cuts announced by First Bus:

  • The X27 service will be cut completely, leaving places like Iron Acton and North Yate without a bus service and other areas facing less frequent, slower bus journeys.
  • Outside of peak times the express X42 will be replaced with the slower 342 service
  • Service 327 and Service 329 (an evening and Sunday service subsidised by South Gloucestershire Council) will continue to run.
Last summer, we persuaded First Bus to back down on some of their planned cuts (the picture above shows Lib Dem Councillors with a petition against those cuts), but now they seem to be using the recession as an excuse to make them anyway.

Cllr Ian Blair, who led the campaign last summer, said, “This time they haven’t even tried to consult bus users, they have just told us out of the blue that these cuts are happening whether we like it or not. Yet again Yate is getting second-class treatment at the hands of First Bus.”

Cllr Pat Hockey, the Lib Dem transport spokesperson said that an earlier promise from First Bus to give more warning of future changes and more time for consultation had been an empty promise.

She also attacked the loss of the X27 which will leave Iron Acton without a daytime bus service and said she would be talking to the Cabinet Member responsible for transport to see if the evening and weekend service supported by South Gloucestershire Council can be extended during the daytime.

Cllr Claire Young challenged First Bus's claim that the 342 service that is replacing the direct X42 during the day will only be 6 minutes slower. We told First Bus boss Justin Davies some months ago that these services are regularly upwards of 20 minutes late because of the large number of stops they make in the suburbs of Bristol.

Local MP Steve Webb, who held a meeting with the boss of First Group at the time of the last round of changes, said, "It is outrageous of First Group to try to pass on to hard-pressed council taxpayers the cost of running vital bus services from South Gloucestershire. They need to understand that running a bus service is a long-term business and that people make plans for work and leisure based on the existing bus timetables. They do not expect the bus company to rip up the timetable just a few weeks after the last round of changes. Councils have recently been given new powers over bus companies in the Local Transport Act, and I expect to see South Gloucestershire taking a tough line with First Group. It's time that the Council stood up to the bullying behaviour of the bus companies".

More time for would-be litter pickers

South Glos Council have extended the deadline for applying to take part in the Big Spring Clean from 1-30 April. For more information see the South Glos website.

Waste consultation deadline today (Thursday)

The waste consultation ends today! You can comment online at

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Tories attempt to veto residents parking schemes

On Monday South Gloucestershire Council’s ruling Conservative administration were told to talk to residents before ruling out residents parking schemes. Lib Dem and Labour Councillors made the recommendation at the Select Committee meeting responsible for looking at transport policy.

There are already free schemes running in Thornbury and Kingswood, the Thornbury one having been set up to resolve parking problems created when the Council offices were built. The Cabinet Member appears to have considered only two options - introducing a policy with an extremely high charge for a permit, which he insisted would have to apply to the existing free schemes, or not allow any more parking schemes to be created.

The meeting was chaired by Pat Hockey, who said the Cabinet Member had failed to get full information on other schemes in other places or to ask the public for their opinion on what they wanted for their areas. Amazingly, the high cost proposed seemed to be based on recovering all start up costs in the first year.

Lib Dem Councillors said the Council had a moral duty to deal with parking problems created by its own offices. Claire Young said that it would be unfair for the administration to say to residents who might be affected by the new Badminton Road offices at Nibley that they couldn't have the option of a scheme like the one already working so successfully for Thornbury residents.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Temporary traffic lights at Westerleigh Rd / Nibley Lane junction, Monday

On Monday 9 March there will be three way temporary traffic signals while work is carried out on a fire hydrant.

This is a busy road so there may be some delays.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Email and internet problems at South Glos

Earlier on Wednesday, a power outage took out some servers at Thornbury Council offices. This left people unable to access the Council's website and employees and Councillors were unable to access their emails. Although the website is now back, the online planning applications were still inaccessible on Wednesday evening.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Campaigners celebrate funding for Post Office

Tytherington residents were celebrating after last week's Area Forum where local councillors awarded a grant which will enable the post office to reopen. The £3,000grant will complement money raised on the Tytherington council tax and from central council funds to cover the annual running costs for a re-opened post office. The post office closed in Autumn 2008 when it was included on a national list of closures but following a concerted campaign led by local MP Steve Webb, Tytherington parish leaders, the village shop and local councillors, a funding package has been put in place which should enable the post office to reopen later in the Spring.

Commenting on the decision, Steve Webb said, "This is excellent news. Over a period of several months we have been meeting government ministers, post office officials and the local council to put together a funding package to rescue Tytherington post office. I am delighted that local councillors have allocated this grant to Tytherington post office and will continue to work with local residents to see this project through to completion".

Cllr Howard Gawler, whose ward includes Tytherington, said, "The village shop is at the heart of the community in Tytherington and the post office was a hugely valued service. I am grateful to my fellow councillors for awarding this grant as I know that they understand how village shops and post offices help to keep a community together".

Final financial details are now being agreed with the post office and then work will be needed to reinstate computer and other equipment at Tytherington post office before the service can finally be restored.

Other organisations in the Ladden-Frome area also won grants:

Frampton Cotterell Over 50s Computer Group - £910
South Gloucestershire Mines Research Group (Frog Lane 2009) - £900
Wickwar Playing Fields Association - £700
Friends of Ram Hill Colliery - £1000
Brockeridge Youth Club - £899

Traffic lights near Box Hedge Lane

There will be temporary traffic controls on Westerleigh Road near Box Hedge Lane on either the 4th or 5th March.