Thursday, 23 December 2010

Season's Greetings from your local Focus Team!

Merry Christmas
and a
Happy New Year
to all our readers

Best wishes from the
Sodbury, Yate and Dodington 
Liberal Democrat
Focus Team

Abbotswood shops - Councillors welcome emergency action on lethal walls

Crumbling brickwork falls onto walkway below

Local councillors have welcomed emergency action by South Gloucestershire Council to deal with falling brickwork at Abbotswood shopping centre, Yate. Since May South Glos has been called out on a number of occasions to deal with reports of damage and hazards to public safety.

The ownership of the walkways and stairs to the flats is in dispute, so the council has stepped in to carry out emergency works. So far they have put up temporary boarding and safety barriers at a cost of £800.

The problem is still getting worse as a result of frost damage and coping stones being removed, possibly by vandals, so that the wall cavity is exposed. The wall is 4 metres high, and falling brickwork could be fatal for anyone walking underneath.

The emergency work will be carried out as soon as the freezing weather finishes – mortar won’t set properly in the current temperatures. South Gloucestershire will then consider legal action to recover the costs from the owner, once identified.

Councillor Alan Lawrance (Lib Dem, Dodington) said “The Abbotswood community welcome South Gloucestershire’s recognition of the maintenance and health and safety problems within the shopping area and their willingness now to take action”

“Local councillors and the Abbotswood Action Group have sought to bring the absentee landlord to task for a number of years and will continue to strive to make the area a fit place for our community”

Alan was interviewed on the Steve le Fevre breakfast show on Radio Bristol this morning - listen again here (starting just after 1 hour 8 minutes, available for the next week)

This is one of the busiest accesses to Abbotswood

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Nibley Lane closed

Nibley Lane has been closed both ways except for access between Westerleigh Rd and Badminton Rd due to ice.

Planning for our future - where we are now

Last week the Cabinet and Council approved the Core Strategy, the planning blueprint for South Gloucestershire until 2026, with a number of changes. These have now been published. There will not be a formal consultation but there will be an opportunity to make comments up until Friday 18 February, only on the changes. The following documents can be accessed on the South Glos website:

  • Schedule Summary Report, December 2010 - the main issues raised in representations to the Pre-Submission Consultation Draft Core Strategy and the Council's response;
  • Schedule of Proposed Changes to the Core Strategy, December 2010;
  • The proposed changes version of the Core Strategy, December 2010;
  • The South Gloucestershire Core Strategy Sustainability Appraisal and Appendices, dated March 2010 with December 2010 updates; and
  • Changes to the Proposals Map, December 2010.
The Council will not formally respond to any further comments received, but any comments, together with earlier representations and other information, will be submitted to the independent Inspector appointed to hold the Examination into the Core Strategy, as matters to be taken into consideration. The Council expects the Core Strategy to be formally submitted to the Government no later than March 2011 for independent examination.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Snow latest

South Glos have a severe weather page where you can find out the latest on Council services during the current snowy weather. Tonight, we've been told that:

All roads are currently open and South Glos Council will continue to work around the clock to keep main roads open and routes into all communities.
Waste Collections
Most collections have been completed despite the slippery conditions and there will be an extra vehicle out tomorrow to help catch up with the properties that haven't had their food waste collected today. Providing the situation doesn't detoriorate further, they hope to be back on track by the end of tomorrow. SITA say:
If the bad weather has prevented us from collecting your waste and/or recycling please take your materials back in and present them on the next scheduled collection day. Should the bad weather continue beyond week commencing 27th December we will review this arrangement. To check the latest arrangements over the Christmas and New Year period please check the Council website or listen out on local radio for any further updates.

Day Care Centres
Currently only Downend and Chipping Sodbury Day Care centres have closed. Other arrangements are being put in place to give people appropriate support.

Libraries closed at 4pm today but are scheduled to resume normal services tomorrow unless there are further weather problems.

You can find out more about helping you and your family cope with severe weather on the South Glos website. If you know of any vulnerable people who may need extra help in these conditions, for example because their heating has broken down, let the Council or your local Councillor know.

Green Dog Walkers to tackle dog fouling

Cllr Claire Young (right) with Cllr Linda Boon and her dog Cocoa

Dog owners could soon be helping to tackle dog fouling in a scheme that would see responsible owners wearing armbands and carrying extra bags to hand out to other dog walkers.
At a meeting of South Gloucestershire Council last week, the Liberal Democrats won backing for a proposal to investigate a Green Dog Walkers scheme for South Gloucestershire. One such scheme, which originated in Scotland, has spread across the UK and even won an award from the Kennel Club.

Local Councillor Claire Young, who proposed the idea, said after the meeting, “Dog fouling is not just unpleasant, it is a health hazard, particularly for young children. It’s also a difficult issue to tackle, with only two dog wardens to cover the whole of South Gloucestershire. That’s why I think it’s important to get responsible dog owners involved in tackling the irresponsible or ill-prepared minority who give everyone else a bad name. By wearing an armband or putting a special collar on their dog, and carrying extra waste bags, owners can not only be a visible reminder to their fellow dog walkers but also make sure they have no excuse not to clean up after their dogs.”

Cllr Linda Boon, said, “As a dog owner, I always carry extra bags for picking up mess left by other dogs as well as my own, and I know there are others who do the same. I would be very happy to hand out a spare bag to someone caught out without one. A Green Dog Walkers scheme would make our commitment more visible and send a message to other owners that everyone has to clear up after their dogs.”

Chipping Sodbury Town Councillor, Adrian Rush, said, “Some people seem to find it embarrassing to pick up the mess and carry it in a bag to a bin, but surely it is far more embarrassing to leave a mess that could put children at risk. A green dog walkers scheme is about changing attitudes in a friendly, non-confrontational way.”

Claire got thinking about how to involve the responsible majority of the dog owning community in tackling the problem after taking part in a community litter pick on the Manor School playing field. She was interviewed on Radio Bristol this morning - listen again here (starting just after 42 minutes) or read the article on the BBC website.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Yate Sports Centre - how about clearing some snow?

It was quite noticeable today that Yate Shopping Centre had cleared paths, and South Glos had cleared footways to the Library and the One Stop Shop building.

But there was no route cleared to the Sports Centre from the shops. Obviously it takes manpower, but you would think they could come to an arrangement with somebody to clear a safe route to their entrance.

Update 20th Dec - Pathways have now been cleared to the Sports Centre. Well done!

Friday, 17 December 2010

Link Road - weather causes further delay

Link Road in Yate will remain only partially open for the time being. The unusually low temperatures are preventing the contractors from laying the final surface on the road. With temperatures due to remain low over the Christmas period it is unlikely the works will be finished in the next couple of weeks.

It's been evident that they contractors have been working long hours in cold, dark conditions to make progress - we've felt quite sorry for them when we've gone past recently. They're obviously doing the best they can in the circumstances.

The works on the new bus station will continue until the end of January when work starts on the new Tesco store.

Mobiles, wi-fi and more at South Glos libraries

South Gloucestershire libraries have become exciting technology hubs. Free wi-fi access is available at Emersons Green, Bradley Stoke, Yate and Staple Hill libraries, it is free for the public to use with their own laptops or mobile phones.

So next time you need to use your laptop or wi-fi enabled mobile whilst you’re out and about, why not drop in to one of these libraries?

In addition to the wi-fi access at these libraries, all libraries in South Gloucestershire provide free access to the internet through library PCs.

And there's more - puzzled by that new mobile phone? Every Friday during January libraries in South Gloucestershire will also be offering residents lessons on how to use their mobile phones. Although the service is principally aimed at older residents, anyone is welcome to come along and get some free advice at how to operate their new (or old) mobile phones.

The staff providing the advice will be the Future Job Fund trainees from South Gloucestershire Council, who are young people working in the council to gain work experience to help them find a job.

Cllr Heather Goddard, executive member for communities, said: “Over Christmas many people may be given a mobile phone or own one that they don’t really know how to use. Mobile phones are very helpful for emergencies or to keep in contact with other people whilst away from your home. It is great that we are able to use the skills of these young people to help residents get the most from their mobiles.”

Basic instructions will be given on answering, making a call, saving useful phone numbers and sending text messages - South Gloucestershire libraries lk 4wd 2 cn u.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Please save those stamps!

Most of our local charity shops collect used stamps - foreign, UK commemorative or just plain "ordinary" stamps - and sell them on to dealers. Please keep all those stamps you get at Xmas or indeed any time of year and take them in.

Alternatively you can drop them off to Paul Hulbert at 35 Blaisdon (he's collecting them for Cancer Research) or leave them at Dodington Parish Council for him to collect.

Don't be put off clearing snow and ice

Last winter there were reports in the media that people were put off clearing snow and ice for fear of being sued if someone later fell. The Government has tried to reassure the public - you can find their advice online.

Fun for children at our local libraries

If you're looking for something to entertain the children this Christmas, take a look at what's going on in our local libraries.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Yet more recycling - you can now recycle envelopes

At tonight's South Glos Council meeting it was announced that you can now put envelopes of any colour in the paper recycling, providing you remove any plastic windows from them.

Recycling over Christmas

With Christmas Day falling on a Saturday this year, there will be no change to your bin collection day, everything will be collected as normal. This also means that no extra waste will be collected. If you haven't received any of your new containers or have any concerns about the new recycling scheme, please call the Council's Contact Centre on 01454 868000. You can find some tips on the Council's website.

Yate SORT IT! centre

The Yate SORT IT! centre will be CLOSED on the following days during the holiday period:

Saturday 25 December
Sunday 26 December
Saturday 1 January

and the following days are treated as Bank Holidays with reduced opening hours:

Monday 27 December – 8.00 am – 4.00 pm
Tuesday 28 December – 8.00 am – 4.00 pm

For all other days the site will be open as usual:

Weekdays: 8.00 am – 4.15 pm
Saturdays: 8.00 am – 4.00 pm
Sundays: 9.00 am – 1.00 pm

Christmas trees

If they are not too big, Christmas trees can be chopped up and put into your green bin. The trunk or branches must be no more than 4 inches in diameter and the bin lid must close. Please remove all decorations. If your tree is too big then it can be taken to your nearest SORT IT!* Centre where it will be separated out for composting.

Christmas cards

Christmas cards cannot be recycled as part of the normal collections due to the plastic, tinsel etc attached. The Woodland Trust card recycling scheme this year involves TK Maxx, Marks and Spencer and Homesense and locally, you can recycle cards at these stores:

ASDA Longwell Green - Starting 29/12/10 until 21/01/10
ASDA - Cribbs Causeway - Starting 29/12/10 until 21/01/10
Sainsbury's - Emersons Green - Dates to be confirmed

Wrapping Paper

Wrapping paper cannot be collected as part of the kerbside collection service for the same reason as cards cannot be collected.

£371,000 extra for schools in Thornbury & Yate constituency

The government has unveiled further details of the Pupil Premium – a key Liberal Democrat policy which will ensure the most disadvantaged children in our country get the help they need.

From April next year every school in England will get £430 for each child in their school on Free School Meals. Based on latest estimates from Sarah Teather MP, Minister of State at the Department for Education, this will mean at least an extra £371,520 for schools to spend on the students who need it most in the Thornbury & Yate constituency.

Each year between now and 2015 the amount spent in our constituency will rise – by 2015 we will be spending a total of £2.5bn nationally on the pupil premium.

This is money on top of what is already being allocated for schoolchildren – no school will lose money as result of the Pupil Premium. And it will be given to Head Teachers to spend at their discretion on what they think works best for their school – be it extra one-to-one classes, breakfast clubs or after-school clubs.

The Pupil Premium was one of four key front page manifesto commitments on which the Liberal Democrats fought the last General Election. Making it a reality will help improve the social mobility and life chances of hundreds of thousands of children from less privileged backgrounds over the coming years.

That is the real difference our party is making in government.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

More things to recycle!

South Glos Streetcare have just confirmed that teabags and eggshells can be put in the food waste bins.

And don't forget that they still take textiles, clothes, batteries, shoes etc for recycling in the green box.

Watch out for bogus Council officials

South Glos Trading Standards warn that suspected Rogue Traders are posing as Council officers and purporting to carry out property surveys and asking for personal financial details. Trading Standards advice on keeping safe is:

  • Council officers will have identification, which can be verified by contacting the relevant local authority
  • Never give personal or financial details to strangers unless you are satisfied you know who you are giving them to
  • Do not allow anyone to enter your home unless you know who they are
  • Remember, it is your front door! It is not rude to close it on someone if you feel uncertain or unsafe.

If you would like to report a scam or would like further advice on this or any other consumer issue, please contact Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06. If you feel you have fallen victim to such a scam, report it to the Police.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Cold weather delays completion of Link Road works

The realignment works on Link Road, Yate have been delayed by one week due to the recent severe cold weather.

The road was due to reopen fully this coming Monday, 13th December. However, with the sub-zero temperatures it was impossible to lay the tarmac and set some of the kerb stones in concrete.

The aim now is for the road to be fully re-opened fully on Monday 20th December.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Nibley Lane closed Tuesday 14 December

Nibley Lane, from Badminton Road A432 to Westerleigh Road, will be closed for the day for deep cleaning and drainage maintenance.

Previously we've tried to get them to sign it before the Shire Way mini-roundabout, but most times drivers only find out when they get to the Nibley Lane junction. By then it's too late, and people have to take a long detour. We wish they would think these things out...

Update: According to the road sign, the lane will be closed from 9.30 am to 2.30 pm.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Fast broadband - we're getting left behind in the slow lane!

You may remember that we told you a few weeks ago about BT's Race to Infinity survey to see which communities are most interested in fibre-optic broadband.

We've just heard that Almondsbury has got 800 requests, but we've still only got 139 people who seem to be interested, out of more than 15,000.

If you've got a landline and you think our area could benefit from having faster broadband, please visit and fill out  the form before the end of the month!

Update: Please note that this survey is now closed - please see update here 

Monday, 6 December 2010

Christmas fun at Yate Library

South Gloucestershire Libraries are once again holding festive events during the school holidays.  Events at Yate Library (all free) are as follows:

Sunday 12 December

Festive fun - drop in between 11.30am and 2pm. Suitable for three to seven-year-olds.

Tuesday 21 December

Christmas Chill Out: Crafts and games for all the family - drop in between 2 and 4pm. Suitable for all ages.

Thursday 23 December

Stories around the Christmas tree. 6 - 7pm. Suitable for four to nine-year-olds

Plus, win a Blu-ray player and other Shrek Forever After goodies with the Shrek Forever After quiz.  Simply pick up a quiz sheet from any library and correctly answer all the questions, closing date 4 January 2011.    

For more information, contact the Libraries on 01454 86006.

Link Road, Yate - parking and turning restrictions

South Glos Council is consulting about the revised parking and turning restrictions on Link Road, Yate. The planning permission for the Tesco redevelopment required improvements such as better access to Yate bus station, and safer pedestrian links and routes for cyclists on the B4059 Link Road.

If you haven't seen the plans for this area before, these are worth a quick look - for example, you can see the new bus station layout, and what the road layout will look like when the current works have been finished.

Drivers coming out of the Shopping Centre car park at the exit between the petrol station and the new bus station will still be able to turn either way. Right turners will now have a refuge in the middle of the road so that they don't have to cross both lines of traffic at once, which should make that manoeuvre a lot safer.

The consultation is open until 22 December.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Grants for local groups

Are you involved in a local group that would be interested in applying for a small grant from South Gloucestershire Council? The latest round of Small Revenue Grants opened for applications on Wednesday 1st December with a closing date of 4th January 2011. If you are are interested, you can find out more on the South Glos website.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Reading Station closed over Christmas

Reading Station will be closed for redevelopment between December 27, 2010 and January 2, 2011 - this will affect many regular passengers. You can find out more on the First Great Western website.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Anti-bullying campaign

The UK Youth Parliament are launching a huge new survey for children and young people across the South West who are or have ever been bullied, as part of their regional anti-bullying campaign. You can fill in the survey online. It closes on Friday 17th December 2010.

Snow information

With the possibility of more snow on the way, now would be a good time to bookmark South Glos Council's snow page, which gives up to date information about any services affected by the weather.