Friday, 29 March 2013

Wind turbine refused

Campaigners at the site visit
An application for a wind turbine at Wapley, south of the B4465 between Westerleigh and Codrington, was yesterday refused by the DC (East) planning committee on the grounds that the special circumstances of the need for renewable energy did not outweigh the harm to the Green Belt.

The applicant said this was the first stage in a project to create a low carbon dairy business, but the application referred only to the wind turbine and officers advised that possible future proposals could not be given weight when determining the application.

Concerns were raised by residents about possible noise and flicker effects at their properties, the nearest of which were less than 300m away.  One neighbour had obtained an expert report which challenged the applicant's noise report and suggested an additional condition be applied. Speaking as the local member I asked whether it would be possible to apply this extra condition if permission were granted to ensure that any noise fears were addressed.

However,  it was not the concerns about noise or flicker that led to the refusal, but the impact on the Green Belt. When a development is proposed in the Green Belt that does not fall into one of a small category that are considered appropriate, the applicant has to show that there are special circumstances to justify it. The need for renewable energy is, according to national planning guidance, a special circumstance. As I said in my comments, many of us agree on the importance of renewable energy, including wind turbines. The issues residents raised were about the specifics of the application.

The committee was being asked to balance this special circumstance against the impact on the Green Belt.  As this was central to the decision,  I had asked the committee to visit the site, rather than simply relying on paper plans. Residents at the site visit (see picture above) felt the harm to the landscape and openness of the Green Belt was significant. After a long debate, a majority of the committee agreed.

The applicant can appeal against the decision to the Planning Inspectorate.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Core Strategy – the latest from the Inspector

Following the extra session of the Examination in Public for South Gloucestershire Council’s Core Strategy on 7th March, the Inspector’s further Modifications have been published. There will be a 6 week consultation on these, closing on 3 May 2013. You can view information on this consultation at:

The timing of the Appeal regarding Engine Common was very unhelpful as it took place during the same week as the extra EIP hearing. The Inspector made it clear that any proposals coming from the latter would not be taken into consideration by him and would not influence his decision.

The new proposed Modifications to the Core Strategy designate Morton Way in Thornbury as the site to accommodate the shortfall in provision for housing which the Inspector identified. This, however, does not mean that Woodlands Farm is safe from the development proposed by Barratts. In the Modifications he proposed earlier the Inspector saw 30 dwellings as the maximum for villages in the rural areas. He has now deleted this. The impact on the character of the village and the landscape will be important. Developers will continue to make the case that all the sites identified in the Core Strategy are not yet capable of being developed in the required timescale and that other sites should gain planning permission.

Bid for funding for youth activities

South Gloucestershire Council has set up a new grants programme to encourage young people to participate in positive activities across South Gloucestershire. At the recent area forums, money was awarded to support work at a number of existing youth clubs in the area. The remaining money will be allocated at meetings later in the year.

Funding from the Positive Activities Subsidy Grants Programme is available for organisations working with young people aged 13 to 19 years old (or up to 25 years old for young people with learning difficulties and disabilities). Priority will be given to:
  • Organisations who can demonstrate that young people have been involved in the decision making process and in selecting activities
  • Applications from young people who may experience additional barriers to accessing positive activities. The council would like to encourage applications from young people from different equality groups
Quartet Community Foundation has been appointed by the Council to manage and administer fund. Applications forms can be downloaded from their web site. When applying for a grant you also need to include:
  • A copy of your organisation’s constitution or set of rules
  • A copy of your organisation’s most recent accounts or financial information
  • A list of the names and addresses of the management committee
  • A copy of your child protection policy if you work with children and young people
For further information and a full set of funding criteria please contact Quartet Community Foundation on 0117 989 7700 or visit

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Planning committee to visit Woodlands Farm

The DC (West) planning committee will be visiting Woodlands Farm at about 11.30am on Friday 5th April. The plan is to meet at the gate between Park Farm and Woodlands Farm. You can read the both the officer’s report and the full agenda online.

Council Tax guide

This year the council is saving money by not including a printed council tax guide in every council tax bill. Instead you can find it online or you can write to the council or call 01454 868003 for a printed copy.

Disability Equality Network conference

The South Gloucestershire Disability Equality Network (DEN) and Action Group Conference will take place from 10-3pm on Friday 12th April at Turnberries in Thornbury.

It will cover upcoming changes to the state pension, the transition from DLA to PIP and changes to housing benefit. The keynote speaker is local MP Steve Webb, Minister of State at the Department of Work and Pensions, and benefit advisers will be there to answer questions. For information or for a booking form email or call 01454 865205 before 3rd April.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Energy advice

If you missed the recent Energy Day in Westerleigh, the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) have kindly provided some information that you might find useful:
 More information on CSE's work with community groups and the free resources they offer can be found on their website.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Calling all carers

This year the South Gloucestershire Celebrating Carers Event is on 13th April. If you are a carer, why not go along for a day of information and advice about what is available to carers locally as well as the chance to have some fun and some time for yourself. You can find out more and book a place on the South Glos website.

Nibley Lane closure

Nibley Lane is expected to be closed for cleaning between its junction with Badminton Road and its junction with Westerleigh Road from 9.30am until 2.30pm on 28th March 2013.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Grants for local groups

At the recent Frome Vale Area Forum, the following local groups were awarded grants:

The Manor Hall Trust Community Play Area - £500
Dodington Parish Band - £750
South Glos Mines Research Group - £500

Friday, 22 March 2013

Spring into activity

The Community Sport Partnership that covers South Gloucestershire, Wesport, is currently running "Spring into Activity", your chance to give sport a go for free. To find out more go to their website. The event runs until 15th April.

Have your say on buses

South Gloucestershire Council is currently asking your views on those bus services that it supports that are up for tender this year. These include a number of services in the Ladden-Frome area. To find out more and have your say visit the consultation page before Friday 12th April.

Money to help communities cope with new development protected

The New Homes Bonus grant from government is meant to help communities facing new development to plan projects to help them cope. Many councils have just rolled this money into the central budget, to pay for everything, but last year, Liberal Democrats persuaded the council that Area Forums should decide how some of this money is spent in the areas that have actually had the new development. At Wednesday's full council, it was confirmed that this money has been protected for 2013/14.

As Lib Dem group leader Ruth Davis explains, "Our communities are taking the hit and seeing hundreds of new homes built. It’s essential to protect this funding to make sure that the growth we're having is sustainable. Liberal Democrats in South Gloucestershire will always fight to make sure that local people have a say in their communities."

The recent area forums were the first chance for councillors to put this into practice. A number of projects in the Ladden Frome area benefitted. In Charfield, money was given to the Memorial Hall and the Charfield in Bloom project. In Frampton Cotterell, funding was allocated for access to allotments and new equipment for teenagers.

If there has been new development in your community and you have an idea for a project, get in touch with your local Focus Team.

Yate Safer Stronger Community Group meets on Monday

The next meeting of the Yate Safer Stronger Community Group, which includes the Dodington Parish part of Westerleigh ward, is at 7pm on Monday 25 March 2013 in Shire Way Community Centre.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Decision on wind turbine next Thursday

Next Thursday (28th March) the DC (East) planning committee will decide whether a wind turbine can be built south of the B4465 at Wapley. You can view the agenda and the officer's report online.

Campaigners win funding for Frampton End Road scheme

At the recent Frome Vale Area Forum councillors awarded funding for a scheme to close Frampton End Road/Mayshill at three points and introduce a 20mph speed limit on the lanes.

Lead petitioner Nick Carver said, "After many years of campaigning for the closure of Frampton End Road by a dedicated team of people, it was fantastic that the members of the Frome Vale Area Committee approved the funding for the closure of the road to motor vehicles. This will now enable many local people to more safely enjoy the area for recreational purposes".

Marilyn Wright from Algars Mill on the Frome Valley Walkway at Frampton End Road, Iron Acton said, “So many users of this road have supported it's closure for many years and I'm delighted that the Frome Vale Area Committee gave their full backing for completion of the scheme. Algars Mill, a Grade II listed building, has been damaged by a heavy goods vehicle and many residents of the road have endured continual damage to their properties and dry-stone walls. Several users of the road have reported terrifying 'near misses' and there have been many accidents and numerous deaths of pets, including a horse. The road will be able to be used much more safely for the benefit of walkers, horse-riders and cyclists.”

Gary Weeks, Frampton Cotterell, said, "I am delighted and relieved that this project is now coming to a successful conclusion after seeing an increase in traffic and lorries using this lane due to sat-nav directions. I was pleased to discover that after personally consulting with local residents at the Frampton Cotterell end of Frampton End Road, 74% were in favor of the road closure. We will all be able to enjoy this rural area whilst the traffic remains on the main roads."

Alan Bracey from Coalpit Heath, representing the cycling fraternity said, “This is a huge step forward in making these roads very much safer to cycle. Over the years it has become increasingly dangerous while riding a bike only to be met by large and sometimes speeding vehicles whose only thought has been to get to their destination as quickly as possible with little regard for other road users. I particularly pay tribute to Nick Carver, Marylin Wright and Gary Weeks for their efforts in organising the 760 name petition to begin the process of closing these roads to motorised traffic. This is an example of well organised local people striving to improve their local area.”

Putting the necessary Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) in place involves a fairly lengthy formal process. Work will start on this in the new financial year. We'll keep you informed on progress.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Local youth services saved

At last night’s Frome Vale Area Forum, your Focus Team voted to protect youth funding for the Frampton Cotterell, Coalpit Heath and Westerleigh area and support a new project at Transition Skate.

Following the controversial closure of the Brockeridge Youth Club at the end of last May, Frampton Cotterell Parish Council has had to hand back more than £3,000 they were granted by the Area Forum to provide the service throughout 2014/15. Your Focus Team won the backing of their colleagues to earmark this money for youth provision in 2015/16 in Frampton Cotterell, Coalpit Heath and Westerleigh, rather than being spent elsewhere.

Dave Hockey said, “Having been closed for nearly a year, it’s going to take a real effort to kickstart the new club. This is likely to need some outreach work to make contact with young people when they are out and about around our villages. Frampton Cotterell Parish Council has invested in local young people since the Brockeridge Youth Club was opened in May 2000. The working group was hugely impressed by what we saw at Chipping Sodbury Youth Club, I hope it’s opened my Parish Council colleagues’ eyes to what can be achieved and that they will put in a really strong application to make best use of the funding that we agreed to earmark.”

Claire Young said, “Last year I investigated where the young people from my ward were going for youth activities, so I know the Brockeridge Youth Club was attended by people from Coalpit Heath as well as Frampton Cotterell. It would be fantastic if outreach work could help the young people in the surrounding rural areas too.”

Councillors also voted to give £3750 to Transition Skate, based in the old Fromeside Youth Centre, to run a project working with local schools and providing a mentoring service. The project would engage with young people with challenging behaviour or at risk of being excluded.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Revitalising the rural economy

On the same afternoon that the Westerleigh Village Energy Day was taking place, delegates at the Liberal Democrat Conference voted to support a motion "Revitalising the Rural Economy" which touched on some of the same issues, such as high fuel prices.
The motion set out a clear Liberal Democrat vision to build thriving rural communities and called for:
  • Investment in rural high-speed broadband
  • Fair trade for British farmers, through a more transparent market and further reform of the Common Agricultural Policy
  • A sustainable rural jobs fund
You can find out more on the party's website. If you share the same aims and would like to get involved in setting party policy, you can join the party online.

Parking problems to be tackled

Parking restrictions around the Station Road area of Yate are to be reviewed after the Frome Vale Area Forum awarded funding last week.

A resident of North Road spoke at the meeting about the problems she had experienced since the no waiting areas on the roads around the Badminton Road council offices had been extended. With staff no longer able to park on the trading estates, many were opting to park on North Road instead, leaving the residents who have no off-road parking unable to park near their homes. The resident spoke of having to leave her car a mile or more away and then walk two young children along a treacherous route to her home. She asked councillors to back the scheme so that either the restrictions on the estate could be removed or a residents' parking scheme introduced for North Road.

Local councillor Claire Young said, "I'm pleased we were able to fund this review. It's only right that if the council is contributing to a problem it does what it can to tackle it. Changing parking restrictions involves a lengthy legal process. I will make sure residents are kept informed on progress."

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

North Road closed on Sunday

North Road, Yate is expected to be closed on Sunday 17th March so that utility works can be carried out.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Safer Stronger Community Group tomorrow night

The latest Frampton Cotterell, Westerleigh, Coalpit Heath and Iron Acton Safer Stronger Community Group meeting is at 7.30pm on Wednesday 13th March in St Saviours Church Hall, Coalpit Heath. Items on the agenda include a presentation on the First Contact Scheme and a chance to discuss local community issues.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Westerleigh Energy Day success

Kieran Highman (centre) of the Centre for Sustainable Energy discussing renewable energy with a Westerleigh resident
There was a good turnout for the Westerleigh Village Energy Day. It kicked off with a workshop where Keiran Highman of the Centre for Sustainable Energy used a large model to illustrate different types of sustainable energy that communities could consider. This was followed by a drop-in where people could get advice on installing solar panels and wood burners, getting grants to improve their insulation and keeping warm and well in their homes.
Local Councillor Claire Young (pictured on the right in the picture above) said, "It was good to see so many local residents at the event. Rising home fuel costs are a concern, especially for those living in communities like Westerleigh with no mains gas supply. The workshop and stalls sparked a number of ideas and I look forward to supporting residents with any future energy projects. Thank you to everyone involved in organising the day."

Waste Forum - another chance to have your say

Tomorrow night's Waste Forum gives you another chance to have your say on the South Glos draft waste strategy.

The meeting starts at 7pm on Tuesday 12th March in Thornbury Council Offices. If you cannot make the meeting, you can have your say online or in writing or attend the Frome Vale Area Forum at 7pm on 16th May in Frampton Cotterell Primary School.

Planning committee to visit wind turbine site

The Development Control (East) planning committee will visit the site of the proposed wind turbine near Codrington on Friday (15th March) at approximately 9.55am. You can read the officer's report in the agenda papers.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Sewage still getting into River Frome

Dave Hockey has been campaigning for over 10 years now to get Wessex Water to stop their sewage discharges into the River Frome.
Their first attempt about 6 years ago to install a fine mesh filter at a bend in the river near Cog Mill, Iron Acton failed completely and we continued to get sewage debris strewn over the river banks whenever floodwater subsided following heavy rainfall.

Wessex Water carried out a major multi million pound scheme last year next to the ford at Cog Mill on a straight part of the river. As the picture on the right shows, that has clearly also failed to stop the problem.

Local residents are horrified that in 2013 they still have to suffer this appalling problem along our much loved and used Frome Valley Walkway. Dave Hockey will be asking Wessex Water what they are going to do now to fix the problem.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Don't forget - energy day this Saturday

Don't forget that there will be a workshop and drop-in event in Westerleigh village hall this Saturday (9th March). Come along and find out how you can stay warm and save money.

From 2-3pm, the Centre for Sustainable Energy will be holding a workshop on the future of energy supplies in Westerleigh village. Communities around the country are setting up renewable energy schemes which help them save fuel costs, protect the environment and potentially generate an income that can be used on community projects. This is particularly important in villages like Westerleigh where there is no mains gas, forcing people to use expensive alternatives. If you think this is something you might like to be involved in or you are just curious about the possibilities, do come along.

From 3-4.30pm there will be a drop-in exhibition where you can get advice on making your home more energy efficient and generating renewable electricity.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Reminder - extra Core Strategy hearing day tomorrow

Tomorrow(Thursday 7th March) is the additional hearing day of the Examination in Public for South Gloucestershire Council's Core Strategy. It starts at 10.00 am and will be held in the Kingswood Civic Centre, High Street, Kingswood.

Although South Glos Council has accepted the Inspector's requirement for 28,355 homes by 2027 it has objected strongly to his request for at least 8,493 of these to be available in the first 5 years. The council has, however, reluctantly put forward extra sites. The session will allow public discussion as the Inspector considers whether, if he insists on his requirement, these sites are better than the others considered at the inquiry last summer.

Members of the public can attend the hearing. You won't be able to join in the discussions but when you sign in you can say what your interest is on the form.

You can find out more about the Examination in Public at the Council's website. You can read the Council's full response to question 1 and question 2 and view the maps of the sites online. You can also view the submission on behalf of Barratt Homes about Woodlands Farm, a submission on behalf of Bloor Homes including Engine Common and a combined submission which includes Woodlands Farm and Engine Common.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The Frampton Collection

This photo was taken today by Dave Hockey on the Frome Valley Walkway, just 20 metres from a dog bin next to Parsonage Bridge, Rectory Road. Please bag it AND bin it!

Have your say on local spending

Come along to Frome Vale Area Forum at 7pm on Thursday 7 March at Shireway Community Association, Yate and get involved in decisions about our area.

As usual there will be an open session where you can raise any issues you have. Local community organisations will be there to speak up for their grant applications and councillors will also be listening to residents and making decisions on New Homes Bonus spending, funding for youth activities and local highways schemes.

The Frampton End Road closure scheme, recently approved for inclusion on the priority list by the Planning, Transport and Strategic Environment committee, is among the schemes under consideration.

You can view the agenda for the meeting online. Join the debate on Thursday and have your say on where local funding is spent.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Burglary in Frampton Cotterell

Police are searching for a man who broke into a house in Frampton Cotterell on Monday 25th  February.

The elderly householders disturbed a man in their home at about 9pm. He claimed to be from the police and said there had been a burglary. The couple later found cash missing. The man was described as white, about 5ft 4ins tall, wearing a black hat and scarf pulled over his face.

Similar burglaries were reported earlier in February in Almondsbury, Cadbury Heath, Kingswood, Little Stoke, Stoke Gifford and Bath. Police are asking everyone to look out for their neighbours, especially if they are frail and elderly, and call 999 straight away if they see anyone acting suspiciously at doors or windows.

If you have any information please call South Gloucestershire CID on 101. Alternatively ring the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. They never ask your name or trace your call.