Friday, 30 December 2016

Drop-in exhibition for Yate Spur cycle path

As we told you before Christmas, South Gloucestershire Council is consulting on plans for the next stage of the Yate Spur cycle path to link our area to the Ring Road cycle path and the Bristol and Bath railway path.

The plans propose changes to the Westerleigh Road / Nibley Lane junction and creating a joint pedestrian / cycle path alongside the length of Westerleigh Road between the mini-roundabout and the big Rodford Way roundabout.

South Glos has arranged a drop-in at Shire Way Community Centre on Thursday 5 January from 4pm to 8pm to give an opportunity to see a display of the plans and to discuss them with the StreetCare Team.

You can also click this link to see the plans and comment online

When you’re reading the plans, please bear in mind that they’ve mislabelled the section between the roundabouts as part of “Shire Way”, when it’s actually Westerleigh Road.

The consultation closes on Sunday 15th January.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Still time to nominate for Chair's Community Awards

There's still time to nominate a "local hero" for a Chair's Community Award. Do you know an unsung hero who is contributing in areas such as community development, promoting equality, arts, sports, play, environment, working with older or young people, advice and advocacy and being a good neighbour? Or a group doing the same? For the first time in 2017, the council is taking group nominations as well as individual ones.

You can find out more and download an application form on the South Glos website. The deadline is 16th January 2017.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Spring Clean 2017

It might seem a little early to be talking about spring, but it's not too soon to sign up for the annual Spring Clean.

You can help clean up your neighbourhood this spring by organising a litter pick. The Spring Clean will run from 18 February to 14 May 2017. South Glos is teaming up with Keep Britain Today's new Great British Spring Clean, which will focus on encouraging events over the weekend of 3rd-5th March. However you can organise an event at any time during the three-month campaign and the council is more likely to be able to lend you equipment if you avoid popular weekends.

To get involved, go to the Spring Clean 2017 page and register your event using the booking form. The council can provide free bin bags, recycling bags and gloves and a limited number of litter pickers and hoops. They can also collect the bags if you can't dispose of them.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Merry Christmas from your Focus Team

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our readers from your Focus Team. We hope you have an enjoyable festive season.

You can find useful information about local services over Christmas and the New Year in our recent blogpost and information about council services here

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Westerleigh lights raising money for charity again

Father Christmas last year
Once again people in Westerleigh are raising money for charity with their Christmas lights - and not just in Mill Crescent. This year they are supporting Southmead Intensive Care Unit and Cystic Fibrosis. Don't forget to drop something in the donation bucket at the end of Mill Crescent.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Campaigners interviewed on Coalpit Heath housing plans

On Monday, members of the VALID campaign group and local councillor Claire Young were interviewed by Made in Bristol TV about the proposals for 1,500 homes to be built at Coalpit Heath. You can view the interview on their catchup service - it starts at about 3:26.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Latest statement from The Ridings Federation Trust

The Ridings Federation have announced that from 3rd January 2017 Dave Baker, CEO of Olympus Academy Trust (OAT), and Will Roberts, CEO of Castle School Education Trust (CSET), will jointly provide interim leadership support for Winterbourne International Academy, with a view to appointing an Interim Principal before the end of January. You can read their full statement here.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Time running out to have your say on housing plans!

Don't forget, you only have until the end of Monday 19th December to have your say on plans to build thousands of homes in our area.

The West of England Joint Spatial Plan (JSP) proposes:

  • 1,500 new homes at Coalpit Heath
  • 2,600 around Yate and Chipping Sodbury
  • 1,000 homes at Charfield 
  • 600 homes at Thornbury 
  • 2,200 homes at a new garden village at Buckover near Thornbury
Although the final plan will only talk about broad locations, as part of the supporting evidence the West of England has produced a series of "dashboards" showing where they think the development could be accommodated at each location.You can view those here.

We know it's a very busy time of the year but it's vital that as many local people as possible have their say on these plans. To do that, go to the JSP consultation home page. From there, you have two options. You can view an interactive version of the document, where you can make your comments  as you go along. Alternatively, you can download a PDF of the whole document and fill in the online survey

You don't have to answer all the questions. If you think there are reasons why the houses could not be built at a particular location, you can put those in answer to question 5. For example, people in Coalpit Heath are concerned about the old mines under the fields. If you think the West of England is taking the wrong approach to deciding where all the new houses should go, you can explain why in answer to question 6. This would also be the place to suggest an alternative strategy.

At the same time, the West of England is also consulting on a Joint Transport Study (JTS). This proposes transport improvements for the different parts of the West of England. To view the plans and make your comments, go to the JTS consultation home page. Again, you can view an interactive version of the document or download a PDF and fill in the online survey.

On Saturday a large crowd of people braved the rain to protest about the plans for 1,500 houses to be built in the Green Belt around Coalpit Heath. The VALID campaign was set up earlier this month after local councillor Claire Young brought together people who had told her they wanted to campaign on development plans in the area. They have been extremely busy in the short time since they started, delivering a leaflet to houses in Coalpit Heath to let people know how to have their say and getting media coverage. Email if you would like to get involved, help them deliver future leaflets or simply want to be kept updated.

Useful information this Christmas

With the festive season getting underway, here is some information you might find useful over the Christmas and New Year period.

Christmas Last Posting Dates

Tuesday 20 December - 2nd Class and Royal Mail Signed For®
Wednesday 21 December - 1st Class and Royal Mail Signed For®
Thursday 22 December - Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed®
Friday 23 December - Special Delivery Saturday Guaranteed

Waste and Recycling

There are some changes to waste and recycling collection over the Christmas period.

If your collection should be on:   It will instead take place on:
Monday 26 December Tuesday 27 December
Tuesday 27 December Wednesday 28 December
Wednesday 28 December Thursday 29 December
Thursday 29 December Friday 30 December
Friday 30 December Saturday 31 December

You can check your precise date and what will be collected on the South Glos website.

Your tree might not even be up yet, but once the festivities are over you can recycle real trees in a number of ways:
  • If you have subscribed to the garden waste service, you can put your tree into or next to your green bin.
  • You can buy a single use garden waste sack for £2 from your nearest library and attach it to the tree.
  • You can take it to one of the Sort It recycling centres and put it in the garden waste (not wood waste) skip.
Whichever you do, don't forget to remove all the decorations, pots and stands first and if it's over 6ft tall you must cut it up into smaller sections if you're having it collected. 

Out of Hours Pharmacies Times

Over the Christmas and New Year period, many pharmacies are closed. You can find out which ones are open here.

As we posted earlier this month, from Saturday 24th December until Thursday 29th December London Paddington will be closed to all rail services.

This will mean that GWR rail services will start and finish at Ealing Broadway, from where you can take the underground or a bus. However, the station does not have step-free access. So if you are travelling with heavy luggage or find steps difficult for any reason you will need to change at Reading and use services from there to London Waterloo. Unfortunately that will mean a longer journey.

You can find out more on the GWR website.

Bus services
Over Christmas and the New Year some buses will be running to different timetables from normal. You can find out more on the TravelWest site.

Views wanted on Dodington Road traffic calming

Back in September, we reported that South Glos Council had asked Network Rail to install traffic calming measures on Dodington Road. Highways officials were concerned about reduced visibility caused by Network Rail raising the parapets on the bridge ready for the electrification of the railway line.

The work will be carried out by the council but Network Rail will pay for it. There is a legal process to go through to install speed cushions and the consultation on the proposals has now started. You can view the plans and comment online until 11th January 2017.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Caravan storage at Beech Hill Farm allowed on appeal

Last year, to the dismay of hundreds of local people who'd signed a petition, the planning committee refused the application to allow land at Beech Hill Farm, Westerleigh to continue to be used for storing caravans. The applicant appealed and this week it was announced that the appeal had been allowed and the use can continue.

To read the decision, go to the planning applications search page and search for the reference number PK15/1339/F. Select the documents tab and click on the image of a document next to "APPEAL DECISION AND COSTS".

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Have your say on next stages of Yate Spur cycle path

Earlier this month, we gave you an update on progress on the Yate spur cycle path. The promised consultation on the next stages has now started. South Glos Council is looking for your views on them providing a shared use cycle/pedestrian path along the western side of Westerleigh Road between the mini-roundabout and the Common and a refuge on the Nibley Lane arm of the Nibley Lane/Westerleigh Road junction. Depending on the feedback, construction of both is expected to take place next summer.

Of course the Nibley Lane junction is tricky for all road users, this consultation isn't just for cyclists. You have until 15 January to have your say.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Action group on housing set up

Residents have set up an action group, VALID (Villagers Against Local Intended Development), to
campaign against the proposals for 1,500 homes to be built at Coalpit Heath and the "Blackberry Park" plans for Woodlands Farm. To get involved or to ask to be kept updated, email

VALID are organising a group photo to be taken at 2pm on Saturday 10 December at the entrance to the Roundways fields near the Manor School. Everyone welcome.

Another 82 bus service cut

First Bus has announced yet another cut to an important bus service. This time the No. 82 service from Southmead Hospital via Cribbs Causeway to Yate will lose its last journey of the day. From 8 January the last bus will leave Southmead at 7.15 pm from Monday to Friday, almost an hour earlier and well before the end of visiting time.

This impacts people who work at Cribbs causeway too, not to mention shift workers boarding at other points along the route, and anybody who attends SGS Filton College in the evening. It makes it very hard for young people and those on minimum wage who work at the Mall, for example - their last bus will now be 7.30 pm instead of 8.24 pm.

If you use this service, please contact First and ask for the later journey to be brought back.

Claire Young has spoken  to a South Glos transport officer, who said it was a decision made commercially by First Bus and he would be speaking with them about the changes at their next review meeting.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Response from National Schools Commissioner

Today Claire Young received a response from the National Schools Commissioner, Sir David Carter, to her email of last week regarding the problems at The Ridings Federation. You can read her original email here and his response here.

Christmas rail disruption

From Saturday 24th December until Thursday 29th December London Paddington will be closed to all rail services.

This will mean that GWR rail services will start and finish at Ealing Broadway, from where you can take the underground or a bus. However, the station does not have step-free access. So if you are travelling with heavy luggage or find steps difficult for any reason you will need to change at Reading and use services from there to London Waterloo. Unfortunately that will mean a longer journey.

You can find out more on the GWR website.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Oasis withdraw Winterbourne International Academy bid

Oasis Community Learning has withdrawn its bid to take over Winterbourne International Academy. You can read their statement here.

This is welcome news for the many local people who have been campaigning to stop their bid. Last Saturday, hundreds of parents and students were joined by teachers and community representatives, at a peaceful demonstration outside Winterbourne International Academy. Well done to all involved in the campaign.

This is not the end of the story. Last month, the Education Funding Agency sent The Ridings Federation a Financial Notice to Improve. The Federation must get a recovery plan in place within the timescales set out. It's important that everyone locally comes together to ensure a bright future for both Winterbourne International Academy and Yate International Academy. The commitment shown in recent weeks suggests they will.

This process has also thrown up wider issues about the process for "re-brokering" academies that face difficulties, which lacks transparency and formal routes for parents to have their say . Earlier this week, before the announcement from Oasis, Claire Young wrote to the National Schools Commissioner asking questions about this situation but also asking for him to feed the wider concerns into the review of Multi-Academy Trusts currently being conducted by the Commons Select Committee on education.

Yate spur cycle path update

Consultation is expected to start soon on new parts of the Yate spur cycle path. South Glos Council will be looking for your views on them providing a shared use cycle/pedestrian path along the western side of Shire Way between the mini-roundabout and the Common and a refuge on the Nibley Lane arm of the Nibley Lane/Westerleigh Road junction. Depending on the feedback, construction of both is expected to take place next summer.

The engineers are awaiting results from ground investigations before starting the design of the section going under the Shire Way railway bridge in early 2017. They are liasing with Network Rail, who they hope will approve the design in the spring so construction can take place in the summer. Progress is also being made on a legal agreement with the landowner to enable the Westerleigh Road to Cornerways section to be completed, hopefully next spring.

That leaves the section from Dodmoor Crossing to the Nibley Lane junction. The engineers aim to approach landowners, process legal agreements and develop the design during 2017, so it can be constructed in 2018 if funding is available.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Calling all business owners - let's hear YOUR views on Brexit

The Liberal Democrats are asking business owners across the country about what impact they think Brexit will have on their businesses and what they are looking for from Government to reduce any negative impacts. Out and about in Chipping Sodbury earlier this week, we found that some had already felt the impact of the slump in the pound, with the cost of imported goods rising rapidly. If you're a local business owner, please complete our survey online before 12th December.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Huge turnout at Save our School demo

On Saturday hundreds of parents, students, teachers and community representatives, including local councillor Claire Young, attended a peaceful demonstration outside Winterbourne International Academy.

They sent a clear message that they want a say in the future of their school. They want transparency and local accountability, not a huge national chain of academies imposed on them by the Department for Education.

Having written to the Secretary of State and the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State last week, Claire has now written to the National Schools Commissioner to raise parents' concerns about the re-brokerage process.

Friday, 25 November 2016

"Save our school" campaign

Over 300 parents, teachers and community representatives attended a meeting in the Zion Church on Tuesday to discuss the current problems at the The Ridings Federation. Claire Young and Pat Hockey were there from your Focus Team.

The Ridings Federation, which runs Winterbourne International Academy and Yate International Academy (including Woodlands Primary School and Nursery) is looking for a new Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) to take over to tackle its leadership and financial problems. The Federation is projected to have a £1million deficit at the end of the academic year and is currently without a Chief Executive Principal.

There have been three expressions of interest - from Oasis Community Learning, The Greenshaw Trust and a joint bid from Olympus Academy Trust and Castle School Academy Trust. Oasis have made it clear they are only interested in taking over WIA.

Parents are unhappy about the speed of events and a lack of transparency. Many at the meeting were particularly concerned at the prospect of Oasis taking over. They have launched a "Save our school" campaign - you can sign their petition here and find out more on their website. If you are a parent, you can request to join their Facebook group. On Saturday 26th November they will be holding a peaceful demonstration outside WIA at 12 noon.

Claire has written to the Secretary of State, Justine Greening MP, and the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System, Lord Nash.

The Federation have published a survey that has to be completed by 3pm next Wednesday. Parents are unhappy that it does not cover the issues they would like to raise and are making extensive use of the other comments box.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Broadband campaign success - villages to get future-proof solution

Flashback to February: Claire Young and Terry Barnaby with
the petition for better broadband in Codrington
We are delighted to be able to report success in the campaign for better broadband in Codrington.

Back in February, local resident Terry Barnaby presented a petition to South Gloucesterhire Council calling for better broadband in and around the village. Residents and small businesses were suffering speeds a fraction of those available in well-served urban areas. Worse still was the poor reliability, with some losing internet access for weeks because of rainwater affecting the copper wires. BT had upgraded the green cabinet to which their homes and businesses were connected, but thanks to the long copper wires between them and the cabinet they hadn't seen much improvement if any.

In July, local councillor Claire Young welcomed an announcement from South Glos Council of an extra £1.49m investment in better broadband, which was likely to benefit villages like Codrington. However she challenged the Tories running the council to get the technology right, calling for a "Fibre to the Premises" (FTTP) solution for rural areas, instead of Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC),

Now South Glos has announced that for the first time it will be investing in FTTP and one of the villages that will benefit is Codrington. Well done to everyone who helped collect signatures on the petition and especially to Terry for organising the campaign.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Yate fire station to lose full-time status?

Avon Fire and Rescue Service needs to save £5million a year thanks to cuts in the funding it gets from Government. They are now asking you to have your say on their proposals on how to do this. They include Yate station losing its full-time status - instead of it being staffed by crews 24 hours a day, it will only be staffed in the day time with "on-call" firefighters at night.

 You can find out more and have your say on their website until the end of December.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Good turnout at drop-in

Despite heavy rain, many local people attended the drop-in on the housing and transport proposals for Coalpit Heath. Concerns raised included the impact on congestion and local services, such as schools and doctors. 

The risks presented by the mine workings under the fields next to Roundways proved a topical concern. Residents reported the rain had caused an overnight drop in the ground level at one point. Claire contacted the Coal Authority, who sent an inspector out Tuesday morning. As a precaution he arranged for fencing to go up on Wednesday to stop access to the affected area.

You can read and comment on both the JSP and JTS consultations online. The detailed maps are in this technical paper

Changes to boundaries proposed

There is still time to comment on the Boundary Commission proposals to change the constituency boundaries for electing our MPs. These are a result of the Conservative Government's plans to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 and make sure there are roughly the same number of voters in each constituency.

Under the proposals, most of the existing Thornbury and Yate constituency will join with part of Gloucestershire, taking in areas such as Berkeley, Can, Dursley and Wotton-under-Edge, to form a new constituency of Dursley, Thornbury and Yate. Westerleigh ward would remain in this new constituency but the wards of Frampton Cotterell and Boyd Valley (the area including Pucklechurch, Wick and Marshfield) would move into neighbouring constituencies.

While the Boundary Commission is independent, it has to work with the strict rules set by the current Conservative Government. The 2 million people who registered to vote prior to the EU referendum are not included in these plans and they are not allowed to take into consideration any proposed new housing developments. The new constituencies could be wildly different in size by 2020.

You can read the full proposals and submit a response online until 5th December.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Don't forget - housing drop-in on Monday

From 1pm to 7pm on Monday 21st November in Coalpit Heath Village Hall (The Miners), South Gloucestershire Council are holding a drop-in event on the Joint Spatial Plan, which proposes 1,500 houses on land east of Roundways and more around Yate in the next 20 years. There will also be a chance to ask planning officers about the transport proposals in the Joint Transport Study. This is your chance to have your say on the future of our village.

If you want to read up ahead of the event, you can find both the JSP and JTS consultations online. The detailed maps are in this technical paper.

And if you have a spare half hour, you might like to watch this Dispatches programme about how the big house builders are fuelling the housing crisis.

Parents concerned as academies seek new sponsors

The Ridings Federation, which runs Winterbourne International Academy and Yate International Academy (including Woodlands Primary School and Nursery) is looking for a new Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) to take over to tackle its leadership and financial problems. The Federation is projected to have a £1million deficit at the end of the academic year and is currently without a Chief Executive Principal.

Concerned parents and staff from WIA are holding a public meeting on Tuesday 22nd November from 7-9pm in Zion United Church, Woodend Road, Frampton Cotterell.

Meetings were held at both secondary schools this week at which the Chair of the Board answered questions from parents, teachers, students and community representatives, including local councillor Claire Young. Three MATs have expressed interest - Oasis, Greenshaw and one as yet unnamed as they wish to communicate with the parents at their existing schools first. The Chair explained that after the Board had decided to "re-broker", it was the Department for Education that sought the expressions of interest, not the Board, and it was up to the MATs whether they made proposals for one or both schools.

Academies are regulated by the Government, not the Local Education Authority, so South Glos has no role in deciding what happens next. Normally the decision about which MAT should take over would be taken by the Regional Schools Commissioner, but due to a conflict of interest the decision is being made by one from another region. There is no formal consultation and parents will not see the proposals from the MATs. The Board will be putting out a questionnaire for parents and concerned members of the community to feed in their views through them. The decision is expected to be made before Christmas, with the new arrangements in place by September 2017 at the latest.

Police plea for information

Avon and Somerset Police are appealing for information about the following incidents in our area:
  • At some point between the 1st and 10th of November, a residence on St Anne’s Drive, Coalpit Heath, was burgled, when the offenders have smashed a key safe from the wall. It is not known at this time if anything has been stolen.
  • Between 7 and 7.30pm on Thursday November the 10th, unknown person(s) have used items in the rear garden to smash the rear patio doors and gain entry, and have then stolen property from a residence on Lower Chapel Lane, Frampton Cotterell.
The Police recommend that residents restrict access to the rear of their properties whenever possible and lock away any tools or other items that could help a burglar get into your home.

If you have any information regarding these incidents, please contact the Police on 101. Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

The police are also asking for residents to report any suspect vehicles that appear to be checking out possible burglary targets on 101.

Devolution set to go ahead

Despite the opposition of your Focus Team, on Monday South Glos Council voted to go into the new devolution deal, where a single Mayor will make decisions covering a wide area of the West of England, but without North Somerset. The Metro Mayor will be elected on the first Thursday in May next year.

We were not against a combined authority for the West of England, but thought it was a poor deal that gives us only a fraction of the money needed to fix our transport problems, let alone anything else. We saw no need for the imposition of a Mayor and thought it made no sense without North Somerset on board. We wanted to work with the Government to bring them back in, because none of the problems facing our region - housing, transport and skills issues - end just south of Bristol.

To give one example of the problems of North Somerset being excluded, the Joint Spatial Plan that is setting out where thousands of new homes should be built covers the whole of the West of England but the Mayor is required to have a spatial plan of their own covering only the area of the Combined Authority. The last thing we need is any more planning uncertainty while that is resolved.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Study into new motorway junction

At last Wednesday’s Environment and Community Services committee, it was agreed that South Gloucestershire Council would accept £500,000 funding from the Government to carry out a feasibility study into linking the M4 with the Avon Ring Road (A4174) with a new junction 18a. The study has to be completed by spring 2018.

Ahead of the meeting, we asked officers to clarify whether this would also look at the link road to Yate proposed in the Joint Transport Study (JTS). We were advised that the offer of funding from the Department for Transport is very specifically for a new motorway junction and link to the ring road, but the study would consider interaction with other potential schemes emerging from the JTS, such as a link to Yate. We tried unsuccessfully to get an amendment clarifying this but it will have been minuted.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Time to have your say on housing plans

It's now time to have your say on the proposals for thousands of new homes in our local communities.

You can find the Joint Spatial Plan (JSP) consultation at:

and the Joint Transport Study (JTS) consultation here:

We have been pressing for more information about where the houses would go and have been told repeatedly that this is a high level planning document talking about broad locations only, more detail would come in future consultations. We were therefore somewhat surprised to find at the drop-in exhibition in Chipping Sodbury a map of Yate and Chipping Sodbury with the countryside around it divided into sections and text headed “Potential Development Areas”. On further investigation, we found that maps were available for all the areas identified for housing.

The information is also available online, hidden away in a document at the end of the list of technical papers. You can find it here:

On the page for Coalpit Heath it says:

Given good proximity to employment opportunities and other services in the North & North East Bristol Fringe, Yate rail station & the Badminton Road, there is considered potential on relatively unconstrained land from the rail line northwards, west of Roundways to Frog Lane at Coalpit Heath for up to 1,500 dwellings and supporting facilities

Given that west of Roundways is in the existing village, we can only assume that is a typo and they mean east.

On the page for Yate/Chipping Sodbury it says:

  • Northwest Yate has good proximity to the rail station, Badminton Road and existing employment areas, hence there is considered potential in a broad band sweeping from fields north of Yate Town Football Club & south of Mission Road around to the B4059 and turning south to Nibley Lane and the river Frome and continuing south across the Badminton Road including fields west of the Business Park. 
  • Chipping Sodbury remains relatively compact with good proximity to the High Street from the periphery. Fields either side of Trinity Lane (north of St.Johns Way) but respecting the common and recreational facilities, and south of the railway between Dodington Road/Claypit Hill and north of Kingsgrove Common are therefore also considered to offer potential. 
  • In total it is considered up to 2,600 dwellings could be delivered in these 3 locations within the plan period.
There are also maps for Charfield, Buckover and Thornbury.

It's also important to understand that although the JSP and JTS are being consulted on together, they are two separate documents. If you want to see what they think are the transport mitigations needed to support the development, they are set out in the JSP in Table 1: Strategic Development Locations and the rationale for inclusion in the emerging spatial strategy. For the Yate/Chipping Sodbury development, those are:

  • Station improvements 
  • Metrobus 
  • Park and Ride 
  • Pinchpoint schemes and junction improvements 
  • Winterbourne Frampton Cotterell bypass 
For Coalpit Heath the list is the same, but minus the station improvements. There is no mention of the new M4 motorway junction or the link road from there to Yate being needed to mitigate the development. However in the Joint Transport Study it says: “The new road to Yate and the MetroBus extension form a package, with road space on the A432 prioritised for public transport and cycling.”

Don't forget there will be a drop-in at Coalpit Heath Village Hall (The Miners) from 1pm to 7pm on Monday 21st November where you can speak to planning officers.

Woodlands Farm drop-in

On Monday, many residents and your Focus Team attended the drop-in exhibition at the Manor Hall on Barratt Homes' "Blackberry Park" proposals for up to 215 homes on Woodlands Farm.

The plans on display differed from those posted through people's doors. You can download a PDF of all the exhibition boards here.

Barratt Homes are hoping to submit an outline application by the end of November.

Police appeal for witnesses to Bonfire Night crash

Avon and Somerset Police are appealing for witnesses after a collision on Westerleigh Road, Westerleigh, on Bonfire Night.

The single-vehicle collision involved a red Vauxhall Omega and was reported at about 8.50pm on Saturday 5 November. A passing motorist called the emergency services after being alerted by two young men who were waving their arms and then coming across the car on its roof. No one was in the vehicle but a man was standing nearby.

They are keen to trace anyone who was travelling along the Westerleigh Road on Saturday night between about 8.30pm and 9.30pm who may have seen a red Vauxhall Omega being driven before the crash. They would also like to hear from the two young men who were alerting approaching traffic, anyone else who stopped and anyone who may have seen a man walking along Westerleigh Road at about that time.

Anyone with any information which could help is asked to get in touch through their website, or by calling 101, quoting reference 5216246855. Alternatively ring the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. They never ask your name or trace your call and you could qualify for a reward.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Westerleigh road closure for Rembrance Sunday

The roads around the Village Green in Westerleigh will be closed between 10.50 and 11.20am on Sunday for the annual Westerleigh Remembrance Day service.

20mph near Chipping Sodbury School

As part of its programme to introduce 20mph limits around schools, South Glos is proposing to reduce the speed limit to 20mph on the following roads:

  • Lilliput Court
  • Lilliput Avenue
  • Bowling Road
  • Gullivers Place
  • Dodington Road
  • Claypit Hill

You can view the plans and have your say here.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Have your say on children's mental health strategy

South Glos Council is asking for your views on a strategy for Children and Young People's Mental Health and Wellbeing.

They are looking for views from a whole range of people - service users, their families, carers, the general public, current and potential future providers, care workers, health partners and other stakeholders. You can find out more and have your say online until 6th December.

Talk on mining book

D P Lindegaard is giving a talk about her new book “Killed in a Coalpit” at Kingswood Heritage Museum  at 3pm on Tuesday 29 November.
The Museum will be open from 2pm to 5pm and for that afternoon admittance will be free (normal price is £3). They will be exhibiting extra mining items above their normal displays specially for the afternoon.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Drop-in events on housing proposals

The consultation starts next week on the proposals for up to, 1,500 new homes at Coalpit Heath, 2,600 around Yate and Chipping Sodbury, 1,000 at Charfield, 600 at Thornbury and 2,200 at a new garden village at Buckover near Thornbury, along with a range of transport proposals. South Gloucestershire Council will be holding drop-in events in the five areas most directly affected:

WHERE: Chipping Sodbury Town Hall
WHEN: Thursday 10 November, 1 – 7pm

WHERE: Charfield Memorial Hall
WHEN: Tuesday 15 November, 1 – 7pm

WHERE: Coalpit Heath Village Hall
WHEN: Monday 21 November, 1 – 7pm

WHERE: Armstrong Hall, Thornbury
WHEN: Friday 25 November, 1 – 7pm

WHERE: Falfield Village Hall
WHEN: Monday 28 November, 1 – 7pm

Even if your village is not specifically mentioned in the proposals, it is well worth getting along to one of the events. For example, the housing proposals at Yate, Chipping Sodbury and Coalpit Heath would involve the release of Green Belt land, which could mean building out towards these villages like Westerleigh, Nibley, Wapley, Dodington and Codrington. Transport proposals such as a link road between the M4 and Yate could clearly have an impact on these communities too.

If you live in the Coalpit Heath and Frampton Cotterell area, don't forget that Barratt Homes are holding a drop-in at the Manor Hall on Monday 7th November from 3.30pm to 8.30pm on their proposals for 215 houses at Woodlands Farm ("Blackberry Park").

Grants for community projects

The old Community Grants have been scrapped and replaced with a scheme where each councillor has a pot of money to spend on projects that benefit communities in their ward. Each councillor has £3,000 to spend this year. If you’ve got an idea for a project, please contact your local councillor.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Have your say on budget and council tax

South Glos Council is asking for your views on its budget and council tax for 2017/18. You can view the consultation and have your say here until 23rd January 2017.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Tell us your views on housing

Thank you to everyone who came to our public meeting last week on the proposals for up to 1,500 homes at Coalpit Heath and 2,600 at Yate/Chipping Sodbury. Claire has produced some notes on the meeting and you can let us know your views by filling in this survey.

Since the meeting, Barratt Homes have announced new proposals for Woodlands Farm, so we have added in a question about that. Any homes at Woodlands Farm could be in addition to the 1,500 proposed for the Green Belt around Coalpit Heath, because there is also a requirement in the JSP proposals for 1,000 homes at "windfall sites" around South Gloucestershire.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Woodlands Farm - new planning application

Barratt Homes have written to councillors and people living near Woodlands Farm to say that they will be putting in a new planning application.

The proposals, which they call "Blackberry Park", would involve building up to 215 homes on the site. The above plan is scanned from the document sent out on behalf of Barratt Homes. They say that more information will be available at - Claire Young contacted them as it wasn't available when the letters arrived and has been assured the site will be updated soon.

There will be a public exhibition from 3.30pm to 8.30pm on Monday 7th November in the Manor Hall, Coalpit Heath.

More overnight ring road closures

The west bound carriageway of the A4174 ring road between Wick Wick roundabout and Hambrook traffic lights/Bristol Road junctio will be closed overnight from Monday 31 October to Friday 18 November. The closures will run from 8pm to 6am. The eastbound carriageway will remain fully open during this period, but with no access to Bromley Heath Road towards Downend. Both the westbound and eastbound carriageways will remain open at weekends and all other times.

The work is part of the Challenge Fund project, and will involve removing the existing road surface and laying a new one. Full diversion routes will be in place and will be clearly signed. Once this work is completed, further overnight closures will be put in place for two weeks to resurface the eastbound carriageway towards Yate.

You can find out more about the project and diversion routes at

Monday, 24 October 2016

Next Community Engagement Forum for Frampton Cotterell, Coalpit Heath, Westerleigh and Iron Acton

The next Community Engagement Forum for Winterbourne, Frampton Cotterell, Westerleigh, Coalpit Heath, Iron Acton, Hambrook and Frenchay is at 7.30pm on Tuesday 8th November in the Greenfield Centre. All local residents and organisations welcome.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Blindfold walk in Yate

Cllr Tony Davis and Claire Young with Guide Dogs' representatives and three dogs in Yate Shopping Centre

On Wednesday, Cllr Claire Young, Cllr Tony Davis and Yate shopping centre manger Andy Lowrey got an appreciation of some of the problems faced by visually impaired people when they went on a blindfold walk round Yate Shopping Centre with a trainee guide dog called Vince. You can see how Claire got on here.

They also discussed the challenges of A-frame signs outside shops, vehicles parked on pavements and taxi drivers not wanting guide dogs in their vehicles. They found out how people with visual impairments use smartphones and what the council needs to bear in mind when providing services online.

Thank you to the Guide Dogs charity for arranging the walk. They are always looking for more volunteers to do everything from puppy walking to setting up stalls at fundraising events. For more information on the local branch, see their Facebook page.

Half term events in libraries

If you're looking for something to do with your children or grandchildren during half term, there are a range of free drop-in activities for 4-10 years at the local libraries. These include:

Monday 24 October
Magic mayhem, Thornbury Library, 11am to 12pm

Tuesday 25 October
Ocean commotion Yate Library, 10.30am to 12pm

Spook-tacular Bradley Stoke Library, 10.30am to 12pm Spooky themed craft fun.

Hats off Emersons Green Library, 2pm to 4pm Craft and activity fun.

Wednesday 26 October
Leaf it out Winterbourne Library, 10am to 11.30am Autumn themed fun and crafts.

For more information, contact the libraries by telephoning 01454 868006 or visit There will also be rhyme times and story times for pre-school children, visit for more details.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Housing and transport questions asked of West of England leaders

Last week Claire Young asked the West of England leaders questions about their housing and transport proposals for our area.

Claire submitted written questions about the Joint Spatial Plan and Transport Study (JSPTS) to the Strategic Leaders Board. This is made up of the Mayor of Bristol and the Leaders of South Gloucestershire, Bath and North East Somerset and North Somerset Councils. On Friday the Board was agreeing to the JSPTS going out for consultation. You can read the questions with the answers given here and the statement Claire submitted here

What's clear from the answers is that planners and residents see the world in quite different ways. In her follow-up question, Claire asked the leaders to commit to bridging this gap, so local people can have a say.

South Glos respond to bus petition

South Glos Council has given Claire Young the following response to the petition she submitted calling for the council and bus operators to work together to reinstate the bus links to Southmead, Bristol Parkway and UWE:

I am writing in response to the Petition that you presented to the SGC public Transport Forum on the 10th October 2016 in respect of the changes to the local bus network that were implemented in September 2016.

The petition raised the concerns of the petitioners in relation to cuts to bus services from Yate and the Chipping Sodbury area to Parkway Station, Southmead Hospital and UWE, in particular the loss of direct services and the reduction in frequency of those services that remained. The Petition called upon South Gloucestershire Council to work with local bus operators to reinstate these bus services.

I am able to confirm that South Gloucestershire Council will continue to work with the commercial sector to try and deliver as comprehensive as possible network of bus services to the whole of the South Gloucestershire area. Where public funds are used to provide financial support to services (either entirely or in part) the Council will always seek to obtain the maximum benefit possible within the available funding; it may be that in some cases the most effective use of the funding available is to develop the network by making use of the available interchange points rather than by direct routing.

Where services receive financial support from the Council, we will work with the commercial operator to encourage the development and growth of the service with the aim of making it more sustainable for the longer term.

It is not possible for the Council to automatically replace commercial services that have been withdrawn. Where services are withdrawn we will work with operators and other key stakeholders to identity and investigate possible alternatives, albeit this will need to within the available funding.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Latest libraries consultation launched

When we reported recently on the library cuts, we said there would be a further consultation coming up. That consultation has now started - you can find it here and have until 2nd January 2017 to respond.

There will also be a public meeting in Yate Library at 7pm on Tuesday 1st November and you can also hear more at the next round of Community Engagement Forums. You can find out more details about those here.

Mobile library scrapped

The proposals include scrapping the mobile library. If this will affect you and you'd like to do something positive to help, please get in touch.

Chipping Sodbury Library not saved yet

Contrary to what you may have read in the Bristol Post, there are no plans to build a new Chipping Sodbury Library. What is proposed is that the council would pay for the costs of running the existing building but only if there is a commitment from a group of volunteers to run it. The council would not pay for any staff. Last week Claire Young attended a meeting of Friends group. It was spelt out there by the head of the library service that the council  are looking for volunteers to staff it for at least 15 hours a week, it cannot be a totally unstaffed library.

Have your say on phone box removal

BT is consulting on removing 93 phone boxes across South Gloucestershire. You can see a full list in the consultation document and a map of the approximate locations here. In the Ladden-Frome area these include:
  • Henfield Road, Coalpit Heath
  • Wotton Road, Charfield
  • Dodington Ash
  • North Road, Yate
  • High Street, Iron Acton
  • Bagstone
  • New Road, Rangeworthy
  • Manor Road, Rangeworthy
  • Ruffet Road/Badminton Road, Kendleshire
  • Church Road, Frampton Cotterell
  • Park Lane, Frampton Cotterell
  • Lower Stone Close, Frampton Cotterell
  • Sundays Hill Lane, Falfield
  • Court Road, Leyhill
  • Longcross, Cromhall
  • Heathend
  • Stover Road, Yate
  • Codrington
  • Duck Street, Tytherington
  • Buckover
  • Gloucester Road, Rudgeway
You have until 7 November to make comments, after which they will issue an initial decision, which will be open for another 4 weeks, with a final decision on 15th December.

You can find more information here.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Bus petition handed to First Bus and Council

On Monday, Claire Young handed over our petition to First Bus and council officials at the Public Transport Forum, calling on them to work together to reinstate direct bus links to Southmead Hospital, Bristol Parkway Station and the University of the West of England. The petition contained over 240 signatures.

The withdrawal of the 81 service has left people living in Yate, Coalpit Heath and Frampton Cotterell with fewer buses to Southmead and Parkway. Terminating the 82 at Yate means those living in Chipping Sodbury, Wotton-under-Edge and the villages in between have no direct link at all. In addition, there are now almost no direct buses from the Yate area to UWE.

Claire and others also gave examples of the poor reliability of the 82 service. Having to change buses is bad enough, especially if you are infirm, but it's even worse if you're not sure the other bus will turn up. People will only use a service if they can rely on it.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Public meeting on new housing

Last week, we reported on the publication of the "Towards an Emerging Spatial Strategy" plan, which proposes thousands of new homes in our area. On Wednesday the Conservatives and Labour voted to endorse it for consultation starting next month. Your Focus Team raised our concerns and voted against.

It's important to understand that this document does not say where exactly the development will go. It just talks about broad locations, for example saying there will be up to 1,500 homes at Coalpit Heath, which will require some land to be released from the Green Belt. All the open countryside around Coalpit Heath, except Woodlands Farm, is in the Green Belt. The consultation will be your chance to have your say on the principle of building the new homes in the areas identified, as well as the transport proposals for our area.

Claire Young has called a public meeting for 7.30pm on Thursday 20th October in the Jubilee Room, Manor Hall to help Coalpit Heath residents prepare their responses.

Ring road resurfacing this weekend

The westbound carriageway of the A4174 will be closed between the Hambrook traffic lights and the Wick Wick roundabout this weekend, from 8pm on Friday 7th October to 6am on Monday 10th October. This is so that essential resurfacing work can be carried out.

You can find further information on the project and diversion routes at

Have your say on home care and 1:1 services

South Glos Council is asking for your views on how home care and one-to-one community-bases services should be provided in the future. If you or a member of your family receive such care or you are involved in providing care in any way, you can find out more and have your say on the council's website. You have until 5th January to comment.

Network Rail traffic calming for Dodington Road railway bridge

On Wednesday, Claire Young attended the Network Rail drop-in about the traffic calming they are carrying out around Dodington Road railway bridge. You can view the plans here.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Walking beat surgery for Coalpit Heath

The local police beat team will be carrying out a Walking Beat Surgery in Coalpit Heath from 4pm to 6pm on Sunday 23rd October. You can find out more here.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Thousands of new homes in our area?

A plan that could change the character of our area has been published this week.

The "Towards an Emerging Spatial Strategy" plan proposes:
  • 1,500 new homes at Coalpit Heath 
  • 2,600 around Yate and Chipping Sodbury
  • Up to 1,000 homes at Charfield
  • Up to 600 homes at Thornbury 
  • 2,200 homes at a new garden village at Buckover near Thornbury 
The plan, drawn up by Conservative-run South Gloucestershire Council in collaboration with the three other West of England Councils, will go out for consultation in November.

This will come as a huge shock to many local people. It's striking that under these proposals most of the new homes we need are being concentrated in just a few communities to the north of Bristol.

Will these proposals create places where people want to live, where they can access services like doctors, dentists and schools and where they can easily get to the places they need to go? Will there be truly affordable homes for those who so desperately need them? Do you think the loss of the Green Belt, which is already very narrow, is a price worth paying for new roads? How does this fit with the Conservatives' promise to protect the Green Belt?

You can view the plan here.

The plan also talks about transport infrastructure, in the tables on pages 26, 29 and 30, where it includes mention of a "Coalpit Heath distributor road", and later on page 46. It says of the Yate to Bristol corridor:

"We are proposing a package of highway and public transport schemes including a link to a new junction on the M4 from the A4174 Ring Road (along with smart motorway management), park and ride, a new road north from this junction to Yate, and a MetroBus extension to Yate from Bristol along the A432. The new road to Yate and the MetroBus extension form a package, with road space on the A432 prioritised for public transport and cycling."

A map on the same page suggests the new road could impact on Westerleigh village. On the other hand it could provide a route for the articulated lorries instead of going via the Latteridge and Wotton Roads

It's vital we all have our say on these plans.There will be a consultation from 7th November to 19th December - we will let you know then how you can make your views known.

View plans for Dodington Road traffic calming

There will be a drop-in event on plans for traffic calming around the Dodington Road railway bridge on Wednesday 5th October from 4pm to 7pm in the sports classroom at Chipping Sodbury school, Bowling Road.

 In August we reported that such a scheme might be on the cards after a reduction in visibility due to the railway bridge works was identified.

Network Rail have now agreed a solution with South Gloucestershire Council with the following features:
  • Single speed pillows on the north and south approaches to the bridge
  • Road markings to be repainted where necessary
  • An additional “SLOW” painted on the road on the south approach
  • New solid centre line to be painted on the carriageway
  • Post-mounted signs warning of speed pillows
Network Rail will pay for these works, which will require a road closure.  This will then leave them free to erect the parapet extension on the west side of the bridge, which they haven't been able to complete due to the visibility concerns.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Works at Westerleigh abattoir

Tulip Ltd, the owners of the abattoir at Westerleigh, have informed local councillor Claire Young that as part of their commitment to improving any potential impact they have on the local area and their neighbours, they are upgrading their effluent treatment plant.

The first set of works will take place on the weekend of 1st and 2nd October. The main effluent tank will be emptied, cleaned and installed with new aeration pumps to help control and limit the production of odour in the tank. There is an increased risk of odours in the area while this work is being carried out. Tulip ask for your continued patience during these essential works and apologise in advance for any inconvenience caused.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Our local heritage - can you help?

On Wednesday, members of your Focus Team attended a heritage briefing in Yate. There were presentations from a whole host of local heritage projects of all sizes, including the £90 million Aerospace Bristol and ones even closer to home like Winterbourne Medieval Barn, Yate Heritage Centre and the South Gloucestershire Mines Research Group. They are always keen to have new people involved so if you have an interest in local history, do get in touch with them.

The Know Your Place mapping project is currently asking for your help in two ways. Firstly, they'd like you to visit their site and give them feedback by answering their survey. Secondly, they are challenging all researchers, volunteers, museums and heritage organisations across the area to add 10 records on to Know Your Place in 10 days to help them build a rich, shared map of our local heritage.

We were also told about a project bringing QR codes to War Memorials. A QR (or Quick Response) code is like a 2 dimensional bar code that you can scan with your phone or tablet. The idea is to place QR codes next to each war memorial, which you can scan with your phone or tablet to take you straight to a website where they are gradually placing as much family and military history as possible about each person named. The research is being undertaken by volunteers from the various South Gloucestershire museums, heritage centres and local history groups. Anyone interested in helping should contact their local group or email

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Living Well with Dementia roadshow

If you or a member of your family has recently been diagnosed with dementia, you are invited to a ‘Living Well with Dementia’ roadshow on 27 September. The event, which is free to attend, will take place from 2pm until 4.30pm at Ridgewood Community Centre, Station Road, Yate (postcode for Sat Nav: BS37 4AF).

The roadshow will offer practical, emotional and health advice and is intended to provide people with the information they need to understand their diagnosis, find out what support is available to them and learn how to live well with dementia. During the roadshow, experts will be on hand to answer questions, and attendees will receive a guide to the services and support available. There will also be talks on managing your affairs and the help that’s on offer from Age UK, the Alzheimer’s Society and the Memory Service.

You can book your free place at, by emailing or ringing 01454 862356. For more information and details of future roadshows visit

Monday, 19 September 2016

Sprint Triathlon for charity

On Sunday 2nd October, the Players Sprint Triathlon will be taking place at The Players Golf Club near Codrington. Consisting of a 750m open water swim, 20km bike ride and 5km run, it will be raising money for the West of England MS Therapy Centre. For more information visit

Friday, 16 September 2016

Have your say on 20mph speed limits in Frampton Cotterell

South Glos is consulting on introducing a 20mph speed limit on the following roads within the Meads:
  • Wylington Road 
  • Seymour Place 
  • Syms Avenue 
  • Green Crescent 
  • Walter Road 
  • Christy Close
You can view the proposals and have your say online before 26th September.

The council is also consulting on having a 20mph limit around Frampton C of E Primary school on the following roads:

  • Beaufort Road
  • Brookside Drive
  • Foxe Road
  • Meadow Mead
  • Mount Close
  • Park Row
  • Prospect Close
  • Rectory Road
  • Robel Avenue
  • School Road
  • Thornhayes Close
  • Western Avenue
  • Winchcombe Road
  • Witney Mead
You have until 6th October to comment on these proposals.

Anti-social behaviour in Boundary Road area?

Local councillor Claire Young has received a complaint about anti-social behaviour in the Boundary Road area and on Thursday found this empty canister lying on Ridgeway at the junction with Boundary Road. If you have any information, you can contact the local police beat team via their web page. You can also report a crime online but if a crime is ongoing or someone is in danger you should call 999 for an urgent response.

Westerleigh Parish Council meeting re-scheduled

The Westerleigh Parish Council meeting that was due to be held on Monday 12th September was cancelled. Instead the Finance and GP Committee meeting that was due to be held on Monday 19th September has been replaced by a Full Council meeting, preceded by a Planning Committee meeting at 7pm. More information about meetings can be found on the Westerleigh Parish Council website.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Winterbourne Medieval Barn - drama to commemorate the Battle of the Somme, Sunday 18 September

'A Day’s Work' - Sunday 18 September, 3pm

A Musical drama to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.  Using original songs, spoken verse, monologue and dialogue, ‘A Day’s Work’ tells the story of a group of farm labourers, members of a mummers’ team, who join up, or refuse to join up, and meet finally on the first day of The Somme.  The show examines war, love, courage and cowardice through this new script and songs with a cast of highly respected performers.

Refreshments will be available to purchase during the interval.  Visitors are welcome to bring a picnic to eat in the grounds from 12.30pm.  Tickets cost £15 adults, £5 for under 16s, and are available from Daisy's Cafe, Flaxpits Lane, Winterbourne, or on the gate subject to availability.

More information is available on their website

New phone number for power cuts

There’s a new FREE number to call if you have a power cut
105 is a new number that you can call to report or get information about a power cut. It will put you through to your local electricity network operator – the company that manages the cables, wires and substations that bring electricity into homes and businesses in your area.
105 is a free service for people in England, Scotland and Wales, and you can call the number from most landlines and mobile phones. It doesn’t matter who you choose to buy your electricity from - anyone can call 105.
You can also call 105 if you spot damage to electricity power lines and substations that could put you, or someone else, in danger. If there’s a serious immediate risk, call the emergency services too.
Don’t be left in the dark.  Call 105.
To find out more, visit
What should I do during a power cut?

  • Switch off all electrical appliances that shouldn’t be left unattended, ready for when the power comes back on.
  • Leave a light on so you know when the power cut has been resolved.
  • Check to see if your neighbours are okay.
  • Wrap up warm.
  • Contact your electricity network operator to report the power cut, either by calling 105 or via their other channels. for details of your local network operator.
  • Keep a torch handy – it’s much safer than using candles.
  • Get a battery-powered or wind-up radio (useful for keeping up to date with relevant local news).
  • Keep warm – keep a blanket and warm clothing handy, and fill a vacuum flask or hot water bottle.
  • Stock your cupboard with food and drink that doesn’t require electricity to prepare it.
  • Keep your mobile phone and laptop fully charged.
  • Check your network operator’s website or social media channels for updates.
  • Cordless phones probably won’t work during a power cut. They take their power from the mains and most don’t have battery back-up.
  • Traditional corded phones will work – you might want to keep one handy so you can plug it in and make phone calls if you have a power cut.
  • In most cases, mobile phones will work if they are charged.

How can I prepare for a power cut?
Can I use my phone during a power cut?
I’m on the Priority Services Register. Should I now call 105?
The Priority Services Register is for people who might need extra support during a power cut; for example, people who need electricity for vital medical equipment. If you are on the Register and you have a power cut, you should continue to call the phone number that you have been given.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Partial reprieve for libraries but mobile library to be scrapped

After a consultation which attracted 3,600 responses, the Conservatives were forced to rethink their original plans for library cuts but unfortunately the new plans are very much a mixed bag.

The good news is that people in Chipping Sodbury have come together to save their library as a volunteer-run service and several other communities have offered to run libraries in village halls and other venues.

We also welcome the use of new technology to open library buildings for longer. Those aged 16 and over will be able to register to access libraries with their library card when staff aren't present. Children will have to be accompanied by an adult.

Unfortunately staff hours will still be cut significantly and the mobile library service will be scrapped altogether. That currently serves over 50 communities, many in our rural areas. The council says it can support up to 10 community libraries. If you will be affected by the loss of the mobile service, please let us know.

Back when the budget was set in February, your Focus Team made it clear we felt services like libraries were more important than shaving a small amount of the green bin charge. Many people have told us they agree. Unfortunately when we backed an amendment to that effect, we were outvoted.

There will now be a consultation on the proposals for each library, for example on which days and times staff should be present. We'll let you know when you can have your say. The changes are due to be made in October 2017.

Reminder - Severn Tunnel to close on Monday

The Severn Tunnel will be closed between Monday 12 September and Friday 21 October but Great Western Railway are keen to reassure you that their services will still be running  - with trains being diverted or replaced by buses.

Alternative timetables will operate throughout the work, with journeys to London taking about 35 minutes longer and Bristol 45 minutes longer. This is essential work towards bringing electrification through to Cardiff and Swansea.

Full details of the changes are on their website.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Discover festival launched

The Discover Festival is running again this autumn. It gives you a chance to discover and enjoy something new in our area.

This weekend there will be a series of Heritage Open Days. Over the coming weeks there will be over 280 events, many of them free, on the themes of Crafts, Nature, Learning, Heritage, Food, Arts, Active and Wellbeing.

To find out more visit or like