Wednesday, 29 July 2015

South Glos show this weekend

The 2015 South Gloucestershire Show takes place this Saturday and Sunday (1st and 2nd August). The show is held at the Windmill Fishery Showground situated just off the Westerleigh Road between the Henfield cross roads and Westerleigh. More information can be found on their website.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Success again for Wapley Bushes

Wapley Bushes Local Nature Reserve and the Orchard for the Future have won the Green Flag Community Award for the third year running - the only Green Flag Award in South Gloucestershire.

The Green Flag Award scheme recognises quality parks or green spaces. In total, 1,582 parks, cemeteries, universities, shopping centres and community gardens in the UK have met the high standard needed to receive the Green Flag Award or the Green Flag Community Award.

The Green Flag Awards are judged by an army of more than 700 green space experts, who volunteer their time to visit applicant sites and assess them against eight strict criteria, including horticultural standards, cleanliness, sustainability and community involvement. The Green Flag Awards Scheme is run by the environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy.

Obviously Wapley Bushes Conservation Group, who manage the Reserve, and landowners Dodington Parish Council are very pleased with this success. They are now looking forward to hearing the results of their South West in Bloom award entries.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Planning committee to consider caravan storage site

The application to continue caravan storage at Beech Hill Farm, which we reported on in April, is to be considered by the planning committee later this summer. Officers have recommended refusal on Green Belt grounds. A site visit is expected to take place on Friday 28th August.

Friday, 24 July 2015

New garden at Winterbourne Library

If you use Winterbourne Library, you may be pleased to know that the new garden is now officially open for visitors to enjoy. It will be used as an extended library space for storytelling, outdoor crafts and play activities.

The library is on the look-out for volunteers of any age to help look after the garden and contribute ideas for using the space. Pop in to the library and talk to the staff if you would like to be involved.
For further information contact the library on 01454 868006, email or speak to a staff member next time you visit.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Changed circumstances?

If you're claiming Single Person Discount on your Council Tax but your circumstances have changed, you have until Saturday 1st August to take advantage of a short amnesty to tell the council.

Maybe you are a single parent and one of your children has turned 18 or you've started renting a spare room out to a lodger. If you tell the council about this before Saturday 1st August the change will not be backdated to 1 April 2015. If you don't, action will be taken on any discount incorrectly claimed.

If you think this might apply to you - or if your circumstances have changed the other way and you think you could now be claiming Single Person Discount where you weren't before - you can call 01454 868003, email or call into one of the council's One Stop Shops.

Protecting access to Sort It centres

At Wednesday night's Communities committee, anyone who uses a works van as their only vehicle was nearly banned from using South Gloucestershire’s Sort It centres for their personal waste. Fortunately we were able to change the Conservative's proposal.

It originally said that vehicles will need to be registered to use the Sort It centres and “any vehicle registered to a business will be declined”. If this had passed, anyone who owns or works for a small business who has their work van as their only vehicle would have been stopped from using the Sort It centres. They would have had no way to dispose of their personal household waste.

Claire Young successfully proposed an amendment asking officers to come up with a scheme to enable those people to continue to use Sort It centres. They will only be allowed to transport household waste, not business waste, but it's right that they should be able to access these services like other residents. Your Focus Team thinks it's important to stand up for the people who run and work for our local small businesses.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Councillor emails inaccessible this weekend

Once again, your South Glos councillors will be unable to access their emails this weekend as work is being done on the servers. We should have access again on Monday.

Have your say on Henfield Road proposals

Back in March, the Frome Vale Area Forum agreed to back the second phase of the traffic calming proposals for the rural part of Henfield Road. Warning signs and road markings were installed last year as part of the first phase. The second phase proposes further measures to increase driver awareness - a gateway feature and cycle lane.

Now is your chance to have your say. You can see the plans and make comments via the South Glos website. You have until Sunday 9th August to respond.

Safety check on bad decisions removed

At Wednesday’s South Gloucestershire Council meeting the Conservatives used their majority to remove the rights of opposition councillors to force a rethink on bad decisions.

Previously the lead member for any of the political groups on a committee could “refer up” a decision to full council for further debate, if they felt a mistake had been made or more information was needed to make a properly informed decision. Only a few months ago this safety check was used when the planning committee initially decided to approve the planning application for Top Yard in Westerleigh. Given the chance to review their report and consider case law, officers changed their recommendation from approval to refusal and the application was eventually refused. If our former colleague Alan Lawrance had not had the opportunity to refer up the original decision the application would have been approved and there would have been no way to overturn that.

By referring a decision up to council it also gave a chance for concerned members of the public to go along and have their say. Almost every council in the country has some ability for minority political groups to force administrations to think again. Obviously ultimately the majority view will prevail, as you would expect in a democracy. Sometimes though, having heard differing views or got more information, they make a different decision from their original one. Isn’t that also something you would expect in a democracy? As we saw with Top Yard, referring up was one way to help the council make better decisions. Why is the new administration afraid of that scrutiny?

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Have your say on Church Road safety improvements

When we reported back in March that the Frome Vale Area Forum had selected the first phase of the Church Road safety proposals for funding, we said there would be further consultation. That consultation is now underway. You can view the proposals and make comments at:

The deadline for comments is 31st July.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Council web services and email down this weekend

Major electrical work is taking place across South Glos Council offices this weekend. Many systems including the website, telephones and planning applications will be unavailable from 5:00pm on Friday 10 July until 6:00pm on Sunday 12 July. Apologies if you are trying to contact your Focus Team using our council email addresses.

Wickwar Community Centre get money for redecoration

Wickwar Community Centre was awarded £1000 at last night's Frome Vale Area Forum towards its redecoration.

Crossbow Pre-School win funding for shelter

At last night's Area Forum, Crossbow Pre-School was awarded £1000 towards building a canopy over the main entrance to St Peter's Hall. This will protect the children and their parents or carers when they are waiting to go in or collect the children and will also be used by other users of the hall.

Merlin hold summer celebration

Another event taking place this Saturday is the Merlin summer celebration at 35 Ridings Road, Coalpit Heath.

Until 14th July, this house is open on weekdays from 10am to 6pm as the Coalpit Heath Memory House. You can see what a typical front room would have looked like in the 1950s when the houses were new and hear stories of what life was like in the village back then.

On Saturday it's open 11am to 2pm for the summer celebration. You can enjoy children’s activities, hedgehogs and slow worms, a splat the rat game and a house painting competition.

You can also get a glimpse of what the future holds with a 3D printed model of the new homes Merlin is building.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

More events this weekend

On Friday 10th July, Coalpit Heath Cricket Club is holding its Summer Fair with bar and barbecue 5pm-9pm at the Cricket Club (Serridge Lane, BS36 2TT). Free Cricket practice will be open to all children from 6:30pm.
This Saturday, 11th July, Paul's Place is holding its Summer Fayre on the Manor School playing field from 12 noon until 6pm. More information here.

Also on Saturday, Watermore Primary School is holding its Summer Festival, which this year takes on the theme of a tropical beach party. The festival runs from 2.30-5pm with an after party from 5-7pm.

Don't forget the following Saturday, 18th July, is the Frampton Festival.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Have your say on review of Keep Clear markings outside local schools

South Glos Council has just started a consultation on making changes to the Keep Clear markings outside some of our local schools:

In our area both the Manor School and Watermore Primary School are included. You have until 24th July to have your say.

Friday, 3 July 2015

More on the Local Green Space consultation

A number of people have asked questions about the informal consultation on proposed Local Green Spaces. These are sites that local people have nominated for special protection from development. The aim of the consultation is for residents and landowners to comment on the current list and provide further justification for why they should be designated. No new sites can be proposed at this stage.

What land has been nominated?

The first thing to do is to check the list of pieces of land nominated. There are over 500 in the spreadsheet but you can sort them by Parish.

There has been a lot of focus on sites like Woodlands Farm and Engine Common but there are many others proposed locally. In Westerleigh Parish for example:
  • Ram Hill Colliery
  • Kingshill, Westerleigh
  • Logger Steps, Westerleigh
  • Bitterwell Lake/Newman Field
  • The Pound, Westerleigh
  • Fields to edge of settlement boundary between Roundways and the Railway (Coalpit Heath)
  • Mayshill
  • Village green and war memorial, Westerleigh
  • Westerleigh Playing Field
  • Ivory Wood
  • Pansy Vale
  • Pansy Vale and Broad Lane RUPP
  • Green area at top of Mill Crescent
  • Triangle of land at top of Shorthill Road
How do I comment?

If an area of land is of interest to you, make a note of the "Green space code" in the first column and then look along to the row to see whether it meets the criteria and whether further evidence is needed.

You then need to download and complete this form and email it to  - you need to use a separate form for each space you want to comment on.

What if I can't answer all the questions on the form?

Don't be put off if you can't answer all the sections. In many cases the council already has the information it needs for sections A to C (who owns the land and so on). What the council needs help with is the evidence for why the space should be designated a Local Green Space. Fill in those parts and leave the others blank.

How much detail should I provide?
As much as possible! Your local South Glos councillors have been attending meetings with Parish Councillors and South Glos planning officials to go through the lists. The planners stressed how important it is to provide details. So for example, don't just say a green space is used for recreation - detail the type of activities, who does them and how often. If it's got historical significance, spell out exactly what that is.

South Glos provided the following suggestions at their meeting which could be useful to consider to demonstrate the significance of a particular nominated local green space to the local community:
  • Use by local organisations – e.g. Scouts/Cubs/Brownies, youth groups, exercise groups, religious groups
  • Use by schools
  • Use by local sports clubs
  • Informal use – is the site publically accessible? Who uses it e.g. by dog walkers, children, general public - how busy is it?
  • Local events held in the space – e.g fetes, carnivals, bonfire, heritage/wildlife talks
  • Any local groups involved in managing the space e.g. friends groups,
  • Allotments – is there a waiting list? Is there a management committee? Are all plots in active use?
  • Investment in the space by the council, parish or voluntary groups etc – any improvements e.g tree/wildflower/other planting, new equipment, seating, works to steps, footpaths.
  • Lottery/Heritage/other grant funding
  • Any play equipment on the site including teen shelters,
  • Facilities on site – e.g benches/seating, pavilions, band stand, shelters, information boards
  • Is it a well-used route? E.g. safe route to school or route to the shops
  • Ecological value – any nature conservation interest e.g. pond, stream, veteran trees, rare species, wildlife corridor
  • Historical value – historic buildings (e.g church/cemetery), archaeology ( e.g remains of village pound) or historical association (something historically significant happened there e.g. Hanham Mount)
  • Important in views/landscape/townscape – does the space provide a viewpoint out of the area or is it important in views into the area/settlement? Does the site make a contribution to the character and distinctiveness of the local area or streetscape e.g. provides the setting to an historic building/area.
If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to contact your Focus Team.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Step back in time

Merlin Housing Society is giving you the chance to step back in time at the Coalpit Heath Memory House.

From 8th-14th July, 10am-6pm weekdays and 11am-2pm on Saturday 11th (not open Sunday), there will be an exhibition at 35 Ridings Road, Coalpit Heath BS36 2RX. It uses sound, pictures and a recreated living room from the 1950s to give you a glimpse of the changing face of Coalpit Heath. Listen to the voices of the villagers talking about their homes, the village’s mining history and see how the village has changed.

Busy weekend for local events

It's a busy weekend for local events.

On Saturday 4th July:

  • The Frampton Cotterell C of E School Summer Fete starts at 1.45pm.
  • The Manor School, Coalpit Heath is holding its Summer Fayre from 3pm-6pm.
  • In Westerleigh the Neighbourhood Watch group is holding its annual Boules and BBQ event from 3.00pm on the village playing field. No need to book, just pay on the day (£1/person in a 2 or 3 person team). BBQ food is available separately in the Olde Inne. There's even a trophy to be won!
On Sunday 5th July the Coalpit Heath Steam and Vintage Ralley takes place, starting at 10am at Frog Lane Farm, at the end of Woodside Road.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Frome Vale Area Forum next week

The Frome Vale Area Forum (which covers Frampton Cotterell, Ladden Brook and Westerleigh wards) takes place on Thursday 9th July at 7pm at Shireway Community Association, Yate.

As well as the usual open session where you can have your say on local issues, the agenda includes the allocation of community grants, presentations about food/waste recycling plus a presentation from BT about broadband.