Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Doorstep collections update

Update on the doorstep collections item - they didn't QUITE remove all the charity references. The smaller print on the bag still says: "The more clothing you give the more the charity will benefit".

The Advertising Standards Authority has recently (July 11th) told Helping Arms to remove this wording from their bags - details here.

Helping Arms' lawyers told the ASA that the company was applying to become a charity. The ASA has also been told that they have given a donation of £200 to University College London Hospitals. That doesn't sound like much for a fairly large operation to give, but we leave it to your own judgement.

Monday, 16 July 2007

Dubious doorstep collections

Houses in our area have been receiving blue plastic collection bags from an organisation called "Helping Arms", asking for clothing, toiletries, toys and so forth. They describe themselves as "A collecting company which proved people in need in Eastern Europe and African countries with affordable clothes..." etc.

They quote a company number – but NOT a charity number. This is a commercial enterprise, not a charity. The goods are sold for private profit.

We’ve spoken to Trading Standards about it. This particular collection is legal because it doesn’t pretend to be a charity, but a lot of people still assume that it is.

Our advice is – if you don’t know the charity name, wait for a genuine charity collection or donate good quality items to one of our many local charity shops.

Contact Paul Hulbert or Mandy Sainsbury for further information or to check out particular collections.

Wapley Bushes - a very special place

A recent survey by experts has confirmed just how special the Lower Meadow at Wapley is. Its wide range of species puts it in the national top grade of grassland - in fact it's SSSI standard (Site of Special Scientific Interest). It will not be officially declared as an SSSI because that is only done if a site is at risk. One species that has been recorded officially for the first time is the Bee Orchid (though it has been seen occasionally in previous years).

Paul Hulbert, a member of the Wapley Bushes Conservation Group, said “This is great news, and confirms that our management plan is working”.

“However, some local people have asked why the Lower Meadow has been cut earlier than usual. This is based on expert advice to stop the spread of meadowsweet and other invasive plants. It's a compromise - some of the valuable species have only partly set seed, but they could be in danger of being strangled”.

The next Wapley work morning will be on Sunday 2 September – for further details contact Paul Hulbert on 01454 315851 or Isabel Ryan on 01454 313055.

Wapley Bushes also has its own blog (online diary) with lots of photos of the reserve – see www.wapley.blogspot.com.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Railway planting plans “inadequate”

Paul Hulbert points out the bald slope of the railway embankment

Network Rail’s plans for replanting the rail embankment near Rodborough and Chedworth have been criticised as “woefully inadequate” by local councillors. All the trees were removed recently during work to stabilise the slope.

“It looks like the Bare Mountain now” said Cllr Paul Hulbert. “All they’re proposing to do is to spray the embankment with grass seed with some shrub seed added. And some of the area they’re talking about seeding is just rocks – cacti might work there, but not trees!”

“What we need is proper replanting. We appreciate that they can’t plant large trees on the slope, but they can plant whips instead of shrub seeds, like they did at Coalpit Heath – that way the bare slopes will be covered a lot quicker”.

“What’s more we need a decent planting scheme – reasonable size tree - for the road verge, to restore some of the view from Rodborough”.

Network Rail’s environmental vision commits them to ensuring that “habitats under our care make a positive contribution to the quality of life in this country” and “taking action to avoid or reduce adverse impacts to a practicable minimum”.

“I’ve said it before, Network Rail are not good neighbours” said Cllr Hulbert. “The least they can do is live up to their own environment policy".

Councillor suggests new approach to car sales nuisance

Cllr Alan Lawrance checks out some of the cars for sale at Westerleigh Rd roundabout.

A South Glos councillor’s “homework” could pay dividends with a new approach to the nuisance of cars for sale around the Westerleigh Road roundabout, Yate. The cars occupy spaces intended for people visiting the Common.

Alan Lawrance recently attended a training session on Street Trading, where it was explained that if streets were zoned, trading in a particular area would need a licence. What is more, several court cases in London mean that selling a single car could be regarded as street trading.

Dodington Parish Council’s Environment and Planning Committee has now written to South Gloucestershire Council asking for the Westerleigh Rd roundabout to be designated as a no-trading area.

“This could be a way to stop this long term nuisance” said Dodington Parish Cllr Paul Hulbert. “If these spaces aren’t occupied for hours or days at a time, visiting cars won’t block up the nearby streets”.

A mast too far - or One plus Two equals "3"

In a shock double decision mobile phone company “3” has been given permission for two mast sites in South Yate. Within days of a government inspector allowing 3’s appeal for a site on Scott Way next to Merlin Way, South Gloucestershire Council has given permission for their alternative site on Rodford Way, near Harescombe.

“Residents in Harescombe are disgusted at this latest South Glos decision,” said Dodington Parish Cllr Mandy Sainsbury. “They don’t see why their local Planning Authority has so spectacularly failed to support their objections. Even if 3 choose not to use the Harescombe site, if we’re not careful another company could grab the location”.

“One of the reasons given for the Harescombe site was that there is already another mast a few metres away next to Blaisdon”, said fellow councillor Paul Hulbert. “We’ve been promised that South Glos will review its procedures for dealing with these masts. Legally the mobile phone companies have massive powers, but even so South Glos needs to get its act together to try to protect the local area from this sort of overdevelopment”.

The mobile phone companies’ legal powers were granted by the 1980s Conservative government. Private Members Bills backed by Steve Webb MP to remove the powers have been repeatedly blocked by the current Labour Government.

If you want to back Steve Webb's campaign, please visit Steve's web page and sign the "Mast Madness" petition.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Cotswold Way and Kennedy Way consultation - reminder (updated)

Don't forget, South Gloucestershire's display is next Tuesday (17 July) in the Drama Hall at Chipping Sodbury School from 4 pm to 8 pm.

This also affects Kennedy Way, so if for example you live off Heron Way this could well affect YOU.

The idea of the scheme is to reduce the number of injury accidents. The proposals include:-

  • Reducing two traffic lanes to one for part of Cotswold Road
  • Reducing the speed limit from 50mph to 40mph
  • Introducing cycle lanes
  • Introducing marked parking bays
  • Installing two vehicle activated speed warning signs (similar to those in Shire Way)
Details are on the South Glos consultations web page - look down the list for "A432 Cotswold Road/Kennedy Way Scheme".

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Mini roundabout, 30 mph limit for Westerleigh Rd, Yate?

South Glos is consulting about a proposal to put a mini-roundabout at the junction of Westerleigh Rd and St Briavels Drive and to reduce the speed limit on that stretch from 40 mph to 30 mph, so as to cut the accidents on the junction and that part of the main road.

Full details are on the South Glos website - look down the list and and click on "Yate - Proposed 30 mph Speed Limit Order - Westerleigh Road". You can look at the plans and see the paperwork.

You can send in comments up until 23 July. - address them to Head of Legal and Democratic Services, The Council Offices, Castle Street, Thornbury BS35 1HF, for the attention of Dean Shepherd, quoting reference L3/DS/STOP/PT.3175.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Fallen tree - quick response by Streetcare

A very quick response by South Glos's staff avoided potential traffic jams in this evening's rush hour. A tree had snapped off and was blocking half of Shire Way just on the approach to the mini-roundabout. We reported it to Streetcare just before 4pm, and when we went past shortly after 5pm the road was clear. Well done South Glos!