Monday, 31 January 2011

What's a bus station for?

Fundamentally, a bus station should let people catch public transport and stay reasonably dry while they're waiting for it.

The new Yate Bus Station fails on both counts.

It's just been revealed that independent coach operators - who always used the old bus station - have been banned from the new one. They've been told to use the car park at the back of the Leisure Centre - no raised kerbs, so harder for older people to board the coach - or block roads while they load up at ordinary bus stops.

South Glos Council said "The new Yate Bus Station is intended to be an important public transport hub for the area and high volumes of buses will use its bays. Therefore, the Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) proposes to restrict use of the new station to buses only. We are still within the consultation process prior to applying for the TRO and to date the council has received just one objection"

"Private coach companies are able to pick up and drop off at various suitable locations across Yate and Chipping Sodbury, including the overflow car park the other side of Link Road."

It is expected that local councils will object to the Traffic Regulation Order when it comes out for consultation in February. And why has South Glos only received one objection? Because they didn't tell anybody about the "consultation".
And there's more - the fancy but silly awning that is the only protection from the elements. As the old village fete saying goes "If wet, in the marquee". Nobody likes the cover, it looks lovely in design, but it provides no protection from the weather and very little space for people to sit and wait.

Let us know if you want to get involved in the campaign we are developing to get it improved. South Glos, who are in charge of transport, should never have agreed this.

On a more positive note, the traffic lights at the exit from the car park onto Link Road, plus the "no right turn" into the car park, seem to be working well and should avoid the accidents and near misses that we've previously seen on that stretch of road.

Yate rail shelter repair just in time as temperatures tumble

Yate rail campaigner Chris Willmore with fellow
Town Councillors Wully Perks and Mike Drew

New glazing for station shelters was put to the test this weekend. As we reported recently, First Great Western have finally followed local rail users' suggestions and replaced the broken shelter glass with the metal mesh with small holes that has been used successfully on bus stops for years.

And just in time too! Even during this weekend's plummeting temperatures, the renovated shelters were still warm enough for passengers to sit down instead of wandering around stanping their feet to avoid frostbite.

And they're secure too - just look at the photo above. It's even possible to see right through TWO layers of the mesh, so people waiting needn't feel unsafe.

Which bus stops need real-time information?

Which bus shelters should be fitted with equipment to tell you when the next bus is really likely to arrive, rather than the time printed on the timetable? That is the question being asked by one local Councillor after South Glos Council announced there wasn’t enough money to fit all the new bus shelters with the equipment.

Cllr Linda Boon (Lib Dem, Chipping Sodbury) said, “I was disappointed to learn that only a small proportion of the new bus shelters will actually be getting the 'real-time information' kit and I think it’s really important to install it in the right places. The Council is proposing to fit the kit on the shelter in Wickwar Road, but not on any of the ones along St John’s Way which is where all the houses are. If we want to encourage more people to use the bus, it’s important for them to be able to go to their nearest bus stop and see when the next bus will really be arriving.”

The same applies throughout Yate and Dodington - some sites are apparently too expensive to lay power cables to, even though they've spent thousands of pounds replacing the shelters.

Please comment here to let us know YOUR views about the stops which need the real time information.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Appeal after WW2 veteran's bank card stolen in store (Yate)

Police are appealing for witnesses and information after a man in his 80s had his bank cards stolen.

It happened at about 11.20am on Saturday January 15 2011 while the man – a World War 2 veteran – was in Lloyds at Morrisons, Yate.

The card was used at 11.34am to withdraw money from a cash machine at Tesco in Station Road.

Police are keen to trace a man described as being of mixed-race appearance, 6ft 2ins tall, thin, with short black spiky hair who was seen running from Morrisons towards Poole Court at the time of the theft.

Anyone with any information which could help police is asked to call Chipping Sodbury police station on 0845 456 7000. Alternatively contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or through They never ask your name or trace your call.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Heavy traffic fear in village as bridge reopens

Cllr Sue Hope at the restructured
Badminton Station Railway Bridge

The re-opening of a railway bridge is good news for Badminton residents, but people living in Acton Turville fear the return of heavy traffic to their village.

Cllr Sue Hope (Lib Dem, Cotswold Edge) said, “Badminton residents will be pleased to see the Badminton Station Railway Bridge reopen after a complete restructuring. The contractors have worked closely with residents during the works to ensure everyone has been kept informed, but the road has had restricted access for over two years and been closed completely for a year.”

“However, Acton Turville Parish Council has voiced concerns that with the reopening of the bridge, heavy traffic will return to using the narrow street through the village as a main transport route. Local people are still awaiting the results of a consultation on a traffic management scheme to tackle this. I have pressed South Gloucestershire Council to include this scheme as part of the Bridge Works.”

The Bridge will be fully open next week – 31st January – and includes the reinstating of an unearthed old mileage sign.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Rail shelter fixed at last as First Great Western see sense

We have won! The Yate Station shelter has been repaired! OK, it has taken from September until this week - but First Great Western have listened, thanks to Lib Dem Cllr and train user Chris Willmore.

Instead of replacing it, yet again, with glass or plastic that gets broken, we told them to spend to save, and put in the metal mesh with small holes that Lib Dem Yate Town Council has been using successfully on bus stops for years.

They have listened. This is far harder to vandalise (and no, that is NOT a challenge) and people can still see in and out so it feels secure - so with luck our train users should get shelter for a long time. And perhaps First Great Western might even learn the lesson and use this mesh in other places.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Free bus travel for local young people

South Gloucestershire Council is offering free travel for one weekend to Youth Unltd card holders to raise awareness of the youth discount fares scheme.

The card, which your local Focus Team campaigned for, was introduced in April last year and usually offers tickets for half the adult price on local bus services after 6pm weekdays and all day on weekends and school holidays. But for one weekend only, the 29 and 30 January, Youth Unltd card holders can travel for free on all local bus services (excluding Stagecoach) for any journey which starts and/or finishes in South Gloucestershire.

You can find more information on the South Glos website

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Flood alert for River Frome from Chipping Sodbury to Bristol

The Environment Agency has issued a Flood Warning Alert for the River Frome and tributaries between Chipping Sodbury and Bristol Floating Harbour.

There is already localised flooding on minor roads in our areas - the Ruffet Road/Coalsack Lane junction, for example - so be prepared for your journey to work to take longer on some routes.

For further updates, keep an eye on the Environment Agency website. You can find lots of other useful information there too about preparing for flooding and can sign up to the Flood Warnings Direct service.

Update Friday 14/01/2011: It's been pointed out that we should have referred to a flood alert rather than warning - an alert is less serious (though there was in fact a flood warning at one point from Nibley down to Bristol). The flood alert is still in force as at 0845 today.

Watch out, there's an Armadillo about - and a cinema comes with it!

Yate's new Youth Cafe building finally has a name. It's going to be called Armadillo, because of its unusual shape. The £1.3 million project will open in April. And it will have a small CINEMA too - Yate's first for many years!

The 60-seater cinema will be funded by £35,000 that was left over when Merlin Housing Society took over South Gloucestershire's council houses in 2007. Each South Glos councillor had a share of the fund, and the Yate councillors decided to pool theirs and pay for the cinema.

Yate Town councillor Chris Willmore, who has been leading the campaign to bring cinema back to Yate, said it was great news."It won't be a commercial cinema but it will show the latest movies and will offer Saturday morning films for children, discounted mid-week films for pensioners and mother-and-baby showings. It will be run as an enterprise venture by young people and will be an income stream for the running costs of the cafe"

The youth cafe project is a joint venture between Yate Town Council and South Gloucestershire Council, and local young people have been heavily involved throughout the project.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Developer tries to save money at community expense, but Lib Dem councillors put their foot down

Builder tries to cut contribution to community facilities

A national housing developer as been forced to wake up and think again about their contribution to a planning application for homes houses in Yate. Prior to the South Gloucestershire Council’s Development Control East meeting Taylor Wimpey had tried to back out of its Section 106 agreement with the council, which included a contribution of £150,000 towards a community building. However, Lib Dem members were in no mood to accept the revised plans which were presented and convinced the committee to hold the builder to their original more sustainable proposals.

Developer forced to wake up to sustainable housing

The developer also wanted to reduce the environmental standards of the new housing, but councilors rejected this too. Councillor Linda Boon said after the meeting, “Outline approval for the development was given just last September, but Taylor Wimpey wanted to go back on issues agreed at the time because they say the site is no longer economically viable. However, it’s vitally important that we don’t let sustainability and environmental standards slip just because a developer opportunistically claims the recession means they can’t keep their side of the deal.”

She continued, “To those not involved in planning matters it might not seem much difference but we all know and understand how cold the weather can be and it’s essential that new properties are built with better energy efficiency in mind. We want to make sure people who buy the new homes are helped to keep their bills down as well as avoiding wasting energy by it going straight out through the roof or windows. It’s a great day for the environment and planet when will these developers wake up to the new world"

Development contribution is not a voluntary tax

Councillor Alan Lawrance, who is also on the committee, said, “The Community and future residents needed defending against a national building developer seeking the kind of support Gordon Brown gave the banks. The Council doesn’t make unnecessary demands it just asks for a fair and sustainable deal for South Gloucestershire residents and communities. If there’s been a contribution requested then that is because it’s needed to maintain the services and facilities for the existing residents when under pressure from increased numbers of those moving in or it’s because it is needed in order to provide additional services or facilities for the new inhabitants”

He continued, “Having signed an agreement a few months ago in September the developer now wanted to break promises and save money at the expense of the Community, including breaking pledges to support the library, a new community hall contribution and reducing a commitment to pay for maintenance costs on open spaces. What the developer wanted to save would have in time had to be paid for by local people."

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Deadline for applying for school places looms

If you have a child due to start infant or primary school in September 2011 (born between 1 September 2006 and 31 August 2007) you need to get your application in by 15 January. You can make your application online and also view the Council's Admission to Schools booklet, which gives more advice on the process.

If you do not submit your application by the closing date of 15 January 2011 your application will be treated as late. This will mean that all on-time applicants will be considered before your application is considered, which may make it less likely that your child will gain a place at your first choice school.

Instant supermarket, just add Tesco! But parking problems ahead...

Work on building the new Tesco temporary store at the Yate Shopping Centre will start on Monday, 24th January with the store scheduled to open on Monday, 28th February. First they will lay the foundations for the temporary store next to the existing toilet block in East Walk., then they will start assembling it on Saturday 29th January. Putting it together will take just two days as the store will be delivered pre-fabricated on a fleet of over 20 lorries.

It's bound to cause parking confusion because the north car park adjacent to Link Road and Station Road will be out of use. The new car parking spaces on the site of the former Swan public house will still be available, as will all the other spaces in the Shopping Centre including the overflow car park in Link Road.

The toilets in East Walk will be open for customer use throughout the construction programme.

Meanwhile surfacing work for the new bus station and on the Link Road is going on, and Link Road will re-open fully on Monday 17th January. The new bus station is scheduled to open on 31st January.

Commenting on the works, Yate Shopping Centre Manager, Andrew Lowrey, said: “We are entering the most critical phase of the works as we head towards the demolition of the existing Tesco store. However they will continue to trade throughout the construction period from the temporary store.

“By Christmas 2011, the Shopping Centre will have a new Tesco Extra store and more additional retail units coming on stream shortly after. The works will cause some disruption but it’s for the long-term benefit of the traders and the town’s residents.

“We are encouraging traders and their staff to use public transport to get to work and shoppers to use the overflow car park in Link Road. It is imperative that we all work together to get through what is going to be very challenging times and we hope that everybody will look at alternative means of getting to the centre other than by car.”

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Beware of "Water Board" doorstep scam

South Gloucestershire Trading Standards would like to warn residents to be extra vigilant when dealing with unexpected callers at the front door.

There has been an increase in the number of distraction burglaries where offenders are claiming to be from the Water Board to gain entry into people’s homes. In one instance the offender claimed there was a problem with the water supply and that they had put colouring in the system to identify the fault, and he needed to check it was running clear in the victim’s home. Whilst he was in the kitchen with the resident, another offender entered the property and stole an amount of cash.

Other excuses offenders have used have been that there has been dirt in the water supply and burst water mains.

These stories may seem genuine following the recent icy weather we have had, which is what offenders are relying on.

The advice being offered by Trading Standards and the Police to stay safe includes:

  • Always treat unexpected callers with suspicion.
  • Install and use door chains;
  • Ask for identification and check its authenticity with the company. You can register a password with all your utility companies – any genuine employee will know what your password is.
  • Do not keep large amounts of money in your home.
  • Never allow anyone into your home that you do not know.
  • Remember, it is your front door so close it if you are not happy!

If you, or anyone you know, has fallen victim to such crimes, call the Police.

For advice on this or any other consumer issue, contact Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Police Authority urgently looking for people...

The police authority will be running a focus group on the police budget in the Yate area on Tuesday 11th January 2011.

Their focus groups bring together a group of 6-8 local people in a meeting room, to participate in a discussion led by a facilitator. The facilitator puts questions to the people in the focus group, encouraging open debate and discussion between everyone present. The discussions are recorded and the conclusions are fed back to the 17 Members of the Police Authority to inform their decision making.

If you would be interested in participating please contact the Police Authority as soon as possible:

Telephone - 01275 816377 Email -

Engine Common - bid for new homes fails again

South Gloucestershire Council has approved its draft Core Strategy, for the period 2010-2026, which will include the building of approximately 21,500 houses. At the Council meeting on December 15th, Bloor Homes once again tried to get the Council to include their site, in the area surrounding the Yate Town Football Club, for houses and light industrial use. This was not agreed, and is therefore not in the draft Core Strategy.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Fast broadband - we're not in the first batch

BT has announced the results of their Race to Infinity competition, and unfortunately we're not among the winning communities. It's hard to get official figures but it seems that we only had a couple of hundred votes out of more than 15,000 households.

The communities they've named will be first in the queue, but there will be other opportunities. In fact we've been talking about this in a meeting today, saying that we have to use any new developments as a lever to get broadband speeds increased.

Thank you everyone for getting in touch - we'll keep up the pressure on your behalf!

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Free electric blanket testing available

Residents in South Gloucestershire are encouraged to get their electric blankets tested for free on Tuesday 18 January at Patchway Fire Station.

South Gloucestershire Council is providing the free blanket testing in partnership with Avon Fire and Rescue Service to help prevent the risk of fire caused by old or faulty blankets. Nationally, it is estimated that old or damaged electric blankets can cause 5,000 house fires a year and older people are at greatest risk according to the charity, Age UK.

So if you, or a family member need to get your blanket tested, please book an appointment by calling 01454 863632. Testing will take place between 10am and 3pm.

Top tips for those electric blanket essentials:

1. Have your blanket checked at least every three years
2. Look out for danger signs such as fraying fabric, scorch marks, exposed elements, wetness and loose connections
3. Store blankets flat or rolled up, never folded
4. Switch blankets off at night unless they have a working thermostat control.
5. Electric blankets should carry the British Standard Kitemark and the British Electotechnical Approvals Board (BEAB), or the European safety mark
6. Never buy a second hand electric blanket.

Patchway Fire Station is on Rodway Road, Patchway.

Saturday, 1 January 2011