Friday, 31 October 2014

Grants for community groups

Local voluntary organisations, community groups and Parish Councils have until Wednesday 26th November to apply for a range of grant funding from South Gloucestershire Council - Community Grants, New Homes Bonus (NHB) and Positive Activities Subsidy (PAS) grants.  The final decisions on all three will be made by councillors at the area forum meeting in March.

Community Groups are aimed at projects that benefit local people. Generally the grants are less than £3,000 but more can be awarded if the Forum thinks it is justified.

New Homes Bonus funding is a grant which the council receives annually from central government, based on the number of homes built or brought back into use. This money would typically be used for larger projects. It's worth contacting your ward councillor to find out more, as the number of new homes built has varied greatly between the wards.

The Positive Activities Subsidy grant funding is to help local young people aged 13 to 19 (up to 25 for disabled people) to take part in, or initiate, activities.  Applications should be for projects which are accessible, affordable, wanted and valued by young people. Frome Vale has very little of this funding left to allocate.

To apply visit (free internet access is available at all South Gloucestershire libraries). For more information call the grants helpline on 01454 865865 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm) or email

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Valuing You event

"Valuing You" is an event for people with learning difficulties, their families, carers and service providers. It's being held at BAWA in Filton on Wednesday 26 November, from 10am to 3pm, and you can book your place now.

The event will be opened by Paralympian Karen Baxter and give you the chance to find out about activities and opportunities for people with learning difficulties in South Gloucestershire. Activities will include fencing, dancing, boccia, knitting and drumming. There will also be an art competition, and you can find out more information about Dementia Friends and shared reading.

There is no charge to attend the event but you will need to book your place and choose the workshops you might like to take part in:

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Work to start on next stage of "Yate Spur" cycle path

Work is due to start on the next stage of the Yate Spur cycle path next month.

People living near the Kidney Hill junction are receiving letters telling them that work to widen the carriageway on the northern side of Westerleigh Road to accommodate a new refuge is expected to start on 17th November and last for four weeks. Temporary traffic lights will be used during the work and access to properties will be available at all times.

Your Focus Team is still campaigning for the Yate Spur to be completed. You can sign our petition online at or we can supply paper copies if you would like to help collect signatures that way. 

Resurfacing at Hambrook lights

From 5th to 12th November 2014 major resurfacing work will take place at the Hambrook lights junction. The work will start at approximately 8pm and finish at 6am each day. The road will be closed and all traffic will be diverted. Bad weather or other problems could change the plans so keep an eye on the travel news.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Henfield Road proposals

Earlier this year the Frome Vale Area Forum agreed that one of this year’s highway investigation schemes should look at the problem of speeding traffic on Henfield Road within the Quiet Lanes Scheme. Recently representatives of Westerleigh Parish Council and ward councillor Claire Young met highways officers to review their findings.

Officers have made two proposals. The first is for some “signing and lining” measures (plans available here) which can be implemented this financial year from existing budgets.

If you have any comments please contact Claire or the Parish Clerk, Fiona Thornton, before Monday 10th November. Alternatively, you can attend the Parish Council meeting that evening, at 7.15pm in the Manor Hall, Coalpit Heath, where the councillors will be agreeing their response to South Glos. Note that the SLOW markings could be closer to the bend but not further away.

The second proposal is for a gateway treatment, high friction surface and a cycle lane along part of Henfield Road. This proposal has been added to the Local Transport Priority List and will be considered for funding along with all the other schemes for the area at the Frome Vale Area Forum meeting at 7pm on Thursday 5th March in Shireway Community Centre (venue subject to change). Residents would be very welcome to attend to explain why they think this scheme should be funded, as a number of local people did earlier this year when the investigation scheme was chosen.

Edited 1st November 2014 - We've had a complaint that the plans aren't viewable in some browsers so have uploaded the signing and lining proposals and the more comprehensive scheme to an alternative cloud storage service. If you are still having problems, please email Claire and she will email them to you.

Temporary road closure at Henfield Viaduct in January

Henfield Road is expected to close between 10pm and 5am for three nights from 20th January 2015 between the Station Road and Ram Hill junctions. This is to allow the bridge to be inspected.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Street lights and the clock change

When the clocks changed last autumn, the photocells controlling the switching off of some of our street lights in the early hours fell out of sync due to a fault. This meant that the lights switched off earlier than intended, at approximately 10.45pm.

The South Glos Street Care team has replaced thousands of faulty photocells ready for the clock change this Sunday (26th October). The units have been replaced by the manufacturer at no charge to the council and 9,000 will have been installed by the time the clocks change. Unfortunately, there are 3,000 units still to replace, which are due to be done by the end of November, and some of those units are in the Ladden-Frome area - in Cromhall, Dodington, Falfield, Iron Acton, Rangworthy and Westerleigh. This means the street lights there will switch off at around 10.45pm and will slowly come back into line over two weeks (unless the units are replaced sooner than that).

Church Road bridge on track

The Church Road bridge works are currently on track to be completed by the end of November. Most of the council works are completed and the various utility companies now need to re-divert all their apparatus before the footways and road can be resurfaced.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Get your reading passport

Do you fancy reading something new and sharing your favourite books with others? If so, why not take part in the South West Reading Passport challenge.

Everyone who takes part gets a South West Reading Passport to record and reivew the books they read. The passport highlights six authors from the area for inspiration and provides reading lists to give you ideas of new books to try. Find out more at

 If you are a library member aged 16 and over and you review your reads, you can enter two prize draws. There will be a regional prize of a £150 book card gift, plus a South Gloucestershire Libraries draw for a £50 book gift card. The closing date to submit any prize draw reviews is 30 December 2014.

For details of your nearest library visit

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Making food recycling easier

You can now use ordinary plastic bags to line your food recycling caddy, thanks to new mechanical sorting techniques that separate the bags from food waste.

This will hopefully make it easier and cleaner to use the kitchen caddies and so encourage more people to do so. At the moment, about a fifth of the waste put in black bins is food that could be recycled. Not only is this bad for the environment, it also costs taxpayers' money - money that could help protect front line services as our central government funding reduces.

Further information is available at and you can also find out more at roadshows including:
  • Waitrose Chipping Sodbury, 25 October, 8am to 4pm
  • Sainsbury’s Emersons Green, 27 October, 9am to 6pm
  • Yate Town Centre, 31 October, 9am to 4pm

Monday, 20 October 2014

Free children's activities for half term

As usual, our local libraries will be running activities for children in half term. All are free drop-ins for 4 to 10 year olds. They include:
  • 10.30am to 12pm, Tuesday 28th October, Yate library - Monstrous monsters (craft activity)
  • 10-11.30am, Wednesday 29th October, Winterbourne library - Autumn antics (making scarecrows, pumpkins and bats)
More information is available on the South Glos website.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Out and about finding out your views

Thank you to everyone who returned our survey in Coalpit Heath, Mayshill and Park Lane, Kendleshire. Steve Webb and Claire Young really appreciate you taking the time to let them know your views.

It was no surprise that protecting the local countryside, in particular Woodlands Farm, was a high priority. Also that both the volume and speed of traffic on our roads is a worry.

One concern raised by a number of people was the future of Coalpit Heath Pre-School. As a parent, Claire appreciates the importance of good childcare. We are very lucky in Coalpit Heath to have both an outstanding-rated pre-school and a community facility like the Manor Hall and as the local councillor she has offered her help to both sides in finding a resolution. Those involved need to be able to sit down and talk together, with appropriate mediators, to find a solution, as happened when a similar sort of issue arose at Crossbow. Claire has been talking to organisations that might be able to help.

Council celebrates gymnast's success

On Wednesday, South Gloucestershire Council held a civic reception to celebrate the success of local gymnast Claudia Fragapane at the Commonwealth Games.

Chairman Howard Gawlger congratulated Claudia on behalf of the council and presented her with flowers and a shopping voucher in recognition of her four gold medals at the games in Glasgow this summer. The medal haul put her in the record books as the most successful English woman at the Commonwealth Games for 84 years.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Nibley Lane to close for cleaning

Nibley Lane between Badminton Road and Westerleigh Road is expected to close for cleaning from 9.30am until 2.30pm on 24th October.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Electricity works in Westerleigh

Yesterday Claire Young contacted Western Power Distribution after a Westerleigh resident complained that their contractors had stopped her accessing her drive and that the bus stops were suspended. I was reassured by a council officer that the bus services are still operating, picking up and putting down as close to the original stops as it is safe to do so.

Today Claire has spoken with the person responsible for the works in Westerleigh village. Normally the contractors would have notified residents verbally if they were doing work that would obstruct access, so he will follow up on this. He also explained that the purpose of the work is to reinforce the network, to increase capacity and make it more robust. These works are part of a wider programme covering a wide arc from Coalpit Heath via Henfield, Ram Hill and outlying areas around the abattoir, through Westerleigh and ending up at Says Court Farm. Hopefully it should mean fewer power cuts in future, though you can never eliminate problems entirely.

Unsure? Close the door

A nasty scam, this one...

Age UK South Gloucestershire has been made aware of an incident where a bogus caller, claiming to be one of their representatives, cold called an older person offering to undertake some home decorating and repairs.  The rogue caller then asked for money to buy materials.

Age UK South Gloucestershire want to remind older people across the area that they never make unsolicited cold calls to people’s homes.  Their representatives help many older people, either their volunteers who offer a befriending service or their Information and Advice workers who help with benefits advice and form completion.  However, their visit will never be unexpected.  Age UK's professionals always make appointments and never cold call.

In addition Age UK South Gloucestershire will never ask for any money for their advice.  Neither will they ask if you keep money in your home.

Their professionals carry official identification and will encourage you to scrutinise it.  If you are ever unsure about a caller who claims to be from Age UK South Gloucestershire please close your front door and call Age Concern's office number.  The professionals will not be offended if you are cautious.  If you feel unhappy or intimidated please call the police on 999.

If you think that you or someone you know has been a victim of a bogus caller please contact Trading Standards, Age UK South Gloucestershire or the police on 101.  However if you feel a crime is in progress call 999.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

NEWS FLASH - Buses still running in Westerleigh despite bus stop suspension

Due to work being carried out on behalf of Western Power Distribution (WPD), some bus stops in Westerleigh village have been suspended with very little notice. The bus services are still running though and will be picking up and putting down as close to the bus stops as they can.

Local councillor Claire Young has contacted WPD to find out why no notice was given to householders who are affected by the works. We will update as soon as we can.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Nominate your sporting heroes

There is just over one week left to nominate for the 2014 South Gloucestershire Council Sports Awards. These recognise the achievement, dedication and contribution of local people involved in playing, coaching and organising sport across South Gloucestershire.

The closing date for nominations is Sunday 19 October. If you know someone who deserves to be recognised for their achievements please visit to nominate them.

Reading Well success

In a week where Nick Clegg announced new mental health waiting time standards, there was also positive news closer to home. Today is World Mental Health Day and the council announced that over 1,000 people locally have benefitted from the ground-breaking Reading Well Books on Prescription programme.

This involves the library service working closely with LIFT Psychology, part of the South Gloucestershire Wellbeing therapies service, to offer book-based therapy for common mental health conditions. GPs and health professionals prescribe books through the scheme, but they are also available for anyone to borrow from any public library.

South Gloucestershire Council was the lead authority for the bid to the Arts Council England which resulted in the national scheme being implemented and then rolled out to public libraries across England. Since launching in June 2013, the national Books on Prescription scheme has reached around 275,000 people across England and has played an important role in helping to meet the huge need for mental health support.

Following the success of the programme, a new Reading Well Books on Prescription for dementia scheme will be launched in South Gloucestershire libraries in January 2015.

For more details of the scheme pick up a leaflet from your local library or visit

Young people join in the political debate in Yate

A packed house attended a special meeting in Yate to discuss getting young people more involved in politics. The visiting speaker was Cardiff Central MP and Government minister, Jenny Willott, who was first elected to Parliament at the age of 31, and at the time was one of the youngest MPs in the country.  In addition, the meeting also heard from Eva Lily Fielding, aged 20, from Alveston, and Liam Monsell, also aged 20, from Thornbury who explained how young people see politics and why they believe it is important for them to get involved.

Jenny Willott talked about her experiences of campaigning as an MP in a university town with a predominantly young electorate, and the need to make political campaigning fun and a social activity as well as tackling serious issues.  The meeting featured a lively question-and-answer session where a number of people said that they felt that schools were not doing enough to prepare young people to understand politics and how government works.  A number of the young people who attended the meeting were already members of the local Liberal Democrats and others joined on the night.

The meeting was chaired by Thornbury and Yate MP Steve Webb who said, after the event, “It was great to hear not only from a fellow MP but also from local young people about their passion for getting involved in politics.   Although we keep hearing that young people are not interested, I find that many local young people care very strongly about a range of issues, from the very local to the global.   I think that politicians have sometimes put people off from getting involved when instead we should be making it easier for people to try to change things”.

The meeting was organised by the local Liberal Democrats as part of an annual series of events in memory of former Avon County Councillor, Heather Larkins, which raises funds to enable a local young person to attend the Lib Dem conference and learn more about politics. 

Manor Hall Open Day

On Saturday 18th October, the Manor Hall will be celebrating the latest stage of their £100,000 renovation with an Open Day. Doors open at 10am, with a short ballet performance at 11am. Local MP Steve Webb will be officially unveiling the refurbishments at 2pm. Why not come along, enjoy the refreshments and find out what the Manor Hall can offer?

The Manor Hall management committee is always looking for new volunteers to become trustees. If you think you would find it rewarding to help take responsibility for this Grade II listed building and manage it for the benefit of the local community, please contact Jean Butler.

We're aware of concerns about the future of the Coalpit Heath Pre-School, which is held in the Manor Hall. Both the hall and the pre-school are very much valued by local people and local councillor Claire Young has offered to help them both with any issues they may face. We have been reassured that the Manor Hall committee has not given notice to the Pre-School.  The committee has offered the Pre-School a new contract and are hoping that this issue will soon be resolved by mutual agreement. If you have any concerns, please do get in touch.

Flu jab reminder

Free flu jabs are available for:
  • Pregnant women
  • Children aged two, three and four years old on 1st September 2014 (via a nasal spray)
  • People with certain health conditions
  • People aged 65 and over
  • Frontline healthcare staff.
The World Health Organization recommends people in the vulnerable groups above should be vaccinated to prevent the virus being able to circulate at a harmful level. You can find out more on the NHS Choices website and the South Glos website.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Extra commitments on broadband

Some parts of our area are broadband "not spots", where residents struggle with connection speeds slower than 2 Mbps. The picture varies massively, sometimes even within communities. Some places have been helped in the first phase of the Government's Broadband UK project - it was recently announced that businesses at Westerleigh Business Park  should be able to order superfast Broadband from next spring. Others, such as Tytherington and Tortworth, have been prioritised for the second phase, although there are no guarantees.

It's clear that even Phase 2 of the project won't give everyone fast broadband though and that's why when we came to vote on it earlier this week, the Lib Dems made some additional proposals, which Westerleigh ward councillor Claire Young was pleased to second. These included looking into the possibility for DIY/community broadband schemes, with the use of grants or vouchers.

Our colleague, Sue Hope, drafted the proposals. She said afterwards, “We have secured promises from the Council to work with BT to improve communication with residents and to investigate alternatives schemes and technology so that rural areas are not entirely dependent on BT’s plans. We have also asked the Council to lobby government to ensure that future public contracts of this kind are more transparent, so that residents know what is happening with their services."

There is understandable frustration that, while some in South Gloucestershire are now enjoying access to superfast broadband, many rural residents are stuck in the slow-lane. We're pleased we were able to get these extra commitments from the Council but there is still a long way to go. To back our 'mind the gaps' campaign for improved broadband coverage, sign up on the website:

Friday, 3 October 2014

World Mental Health Day event

South Glos Council is holding an informal event in Bradley Stoke to mark World Mental Health Day on Friday 10 October. The event, to be held at Bradley Stoke Leisure Centre between 10.30am and 2pm, will provide practical advice and information about mental health and give visitors the chanceto try out various sporting activities that help lift the mood, including table tennis, badminton, swimming and exercise classes. The physical activity sessions will be followed by talks about mental health and associated issues from a range of experts including Anthony Lacny and Maria-Paloma Sequeiros from the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (AWP).

Throughout the event there will also be a marketplace of stalls and information available so you can find out what’s happening locally and where you can go for help and support. There will also be a performance from the South Gloucestershire Carers Choir who will be performing uplifting songs. Children are welcome and there will be activities to keep them entertained taking place throughout the day. For more information or to book please call 01454 868274, 01454 865473 or email

Review of Discretionary Rate Relief

The Discretionary Rate Relief scheme supports voluntary and community groups in South Gloucestershire by paying part of their non-domestic rates bill. It's in addition to the mandatory rate relief awarded to registered charities/community amateur sports clubs.

South Gloucestershire Council is consulting on possible changes as part of the savings it needs to make. You can find out more online and have until 24th December to comment.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Badminton Road surfacing postponed

You may have seen the large electronic notice boards or read my earlier blog post saying that Badminton Road was going to be closed over a number of nights for resurfacing. This work has now been postponed.

The road was originally resurfaced in 2013 but the new surface failed, so the contractor was asked to fix it at no cost to the council. This was scheduled for October, however a technical dispute between the material supplier and the surfacing contractor has led to the postponement. The work will now take place in spring 2015, as problems can occur if the work is done during bad winter weather. The sites have been inspected and remain safe.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Drop-in session for the retired

"Now I'm retiring" is a drop-in marketplace of clubs, volunteering opportunities and hobbies to inspire people who have retired or are about to do so. It's being held on Saturday 18 October between 11am and 2pm at Yate Library. For more information please email or call 01454 862356.