Sunday, 30 November 2014

Abbotswood Christmas event a big success!

Nearly 400 people attended last night's Abbotswood Christmas Event. The Abbotswood Primary School Choir set the mood by singing beautifully. Father Christmas arrived in a police car - fortunately, there was no sign of handcuffs!

We discovered that government ministers make very good elves - we had two surprise visitors, our local MP Steve Webb, and Ed Davey the Minister for Energy and Climate Change. Steve Webb was particularly pleased when he was introduced to Santa's Dad!

It was lovely to see so many people at the event - the community feel is really starting to return to Abbotswood. Many thanks to all the organisers - here are a few photos from the evening:

Update on Westerleigh cycle path "missing link"

Work is currently under way to widen the carriageway on the northern side of Westerleigh Road near on the the Kidney Hill junction to accommodate a new refuge for the cycle route crossing. If you've driven out of Westerleigh towards Bristol recently you will have encountered the temporary traffic lights we warned about a couple of weeks ago.

The funds currently available for cycling schemes won't cover much more work, however. The major part of the scheme will be to bypass Westerleigh on a largely off-road track that will emerge under an unused arch of the railway bridge near the Shire Way mini-roundabout. We talked about the reasons for this strategic scheme in our blog post back in August when we launched our petition to get the final section of the route done as soon as possible.

Two lots of money will be needed - one lot for the detailed design work, consultations with residents and legal work, and one lot to carry out the actual construction. Probably the trickiest part of the design will be the last leg through to Shire Way, but it also brings opportunities to sort out the notorious Nibley Lane / Westerleigh Road junction, which will benefit motorists, and to get better pedestrian crossing facilities across Westerleigh Road near the bungalows so that local people can cross between the bus stops more easily.

We think South Glos are now well aware of the need to carry out proper consultations for schemes like these, but we'll keep on their case to make sure that they do.

So whether you're a cyclist, a motorist or a pedestrian - and lots of people are all three - please sign our online petition here: to make sure that the "missing link" is completed soon as possible.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Chipping Sodbury Victorian Day 5 December, now with added parking!

The ever-popular Chipping Sodbury Victorian Day is on Friday 5 December, from 2.00 pm until 9.30 pm.

And there will be lots of extra parking in the Bowling Hill area, at the Merlin Housing Association and Jelf car parks.

It's a really fun, atmospheric event - well worth a visit!

Elswick Park proposed waiting restrictions - Mulberry Crescent and Normandy Drive

There have been a lot of problems with vehicles parking inconsiderately in these roads, and blocking access for refuse lorries, emergency vehicles and deliveries. Yes, the developers should have thought of that...

South Glos Council is consulting on proposed waiting restrictions - in essence, a lot of double yellow lines within the development. The consultation is open until 4 December.  You can:

Big switch-on at Abbotswood this Saturday

There will be a Christmas Event at Abbotswood this Saturday (29 Novermber) from 4.30 pm onwards. The Christmas Tree will be switched on, Father Christmas will appear, and a choir from Abbotswood Primary School will be performing. 

This event is largely being organised by Jacobs Well along with a working group from the Abbotswood Action Group.  Donations of a tree plus lights have been made by local residents and the group has funded the installation of an electricity point for use on occasions such as this.  Dodington Parish Council has awarded grants towards the event along with a very generous donation from a former local resident.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Wapley footbridge update

A quick progress report on Network Rail's work to raise the footbridge in connection with the electrification of the Great Western main line.

On the Wapley side of the bridge they have now laid stone along the green lane to the point where the temporary footbridge will be positioned. On the Shire Way side contractors Murphys have been removing excess soil prior to constructing the temporary bridge. If the track to or from the "ash track" is blocked for lorry movements, they will let you through if you ask - the track isn't closed.

The temporary bridge will go up in the fairly near future, and they will then start work on the accesses to the new bridge. Subject to the weather it is planned to crane the old bridge out and crane the new bridge in over a VERY long day on Boxing Day.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Healthwatch issues report on Southmead Hospital

Healthwatch, the consumer group concentrating on health and social care, has been consulting patients and the public about their experiences at Southmead Hospital - their report is available here.

North Bristol NHS Trust has responded in fairly general terms - for example, they say "Parking is an area of continuous improvement for us whilst waiting for the completion of the phase 2 development in spring 2016"

The report concentrates on matters within the hospital, so it doesn't really touch on issues such as bus services. Please let Pat Hockey know about any excessive delays or missing services on the Southmead routes.

Monday, 17 November 2014

No More Bridge Tolls - sign the petition!

A new campaign by local MP Steve Webb and the local Liberal Democrats to scrap the tolls on the two Severn Bridges has got off to a strong start.   The ‘no more tolls’ campaign is calling for the toll to be scrapped on the two bridges once the construction costs of the bridges have been paid off in a couple of years’ time.  At that point the bridges will return into public ownership and Steve Webb is arguing for remaining maintenance costs to be transferred to the Highways Agency budget so that the tolls can be completely scrapped.   An online petition calling for the tolls to be scrapped attracted over 1,000 signatures within a week, with support coming from both sides of the bridge. Speaking to campaigners, Steve Webb said:

“We have always known that the tolls would be needed to pay for the construction of the two bridges.  But once the bills are paid, there is no longer any need for a separate maintenance charge for the bridges.  We already pay through our taxes for the maintenance of the rest of the highway network, including local motorways, and there is no reason for local people to go on paying for routine maintenance for the bridges"

“We have had a huge positive response to this campaign with people keen to see the tolls scrapped to make it easier for people who live and work on different sides of the bridge, or for those who have family and friends on each side of the Severn.  Scrapping the tolls would be good for local businesses and the local economy and we will be stepping up our campaign in the coming months to get the tolls ended”

To sign the petition, or for more information on the campaign visit

Friday, 14 November 2014

Calling all community heroes

It's time to make your nominations for the Chair's Community Awards 2015.

The annual awards recognise and celebrate the huge contribution local unpaid volunteers make to our communities. The celebration will take place in March and you have until Friday 9th January to nominate your local "community hero". You can do it online at, call 01454 863019 or email

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Another Living Well with Dementia Roadshow

Another ‘Living Well with Dementia’ roadshow is being held, this time at Turnberrie’s Community Centre in Thornbury next Monday, 17 November. These roadshows offer practical, emotional and health advice aimed at anyone who has recently been diagnosed with dementia, their carers or relatives of people with dementia.

The free event runs from 10.30am to 1pm however places must be booked in advance by using one of the following methods:

For more information and details of future roadshows visit

Police and Crime Commissioner Forum Wed 3rd December

Sue Mountstevens our Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) will be holding her next public forum on Wednesday, December 3rd from 1845 - 2100 at The Shire Way Community Centre, Yate, Bristol, BS37 8YS.

It's a chance for you to hear from North East's Area Commander Chief Superintendent Caroline Peters, and to ask any questions to the PCC, C/Supt Peters and other senior police officers.

If you would like to attend please register here , email or call 01275 816377 so they can ensure a seat is reserved for you.

If you have questions please email them ahead of the event. This will enable the PCC and senior police officers to bring the relevant information to the meeting and give those who cannot attend an opportunity to have an input.

You can also tweet your questions to @AandSPCC using the hashtag #YPCCYV.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Barn fires in Chipping Sodbury area - police ask landowners to be alert and appeal for information

Poloice are asking farmers and landowners to be on alert after three deliberate barn fires in the Chipping Sodbury area early yesterday morning. (Tuesday Nov 11). They are also appealing for anyone who saw any suspicious vehicles or people in the area to call them on 101.

The fires were all started sometime around 2am. The first was at Ten Acre Farm on Horton Road in Chipping Sodbury where a stone barn was destroyed, including 350 bales of hay and a number of cars and farm vehicles.

The second fire was at nearby barn at Colts Green. An empty caravan was set alight which then spread to the barn, destroying it and farm machinery and vehicles inside.

A short time afterwards a third fire was reported at Ostland Farm in Wapley Road in Codrington. A barn and its contents were destroyed.

Anyone who has any information about the arsons, or who may be responsible, should call police on 101 quoting reference number 117280/14.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Could YOU help stop speeding?

The Chipping Sodbury Community Speedwatch team are seeking further members to assist their activities on Kennedy Way and Cotswold Road.  This would boost their ability to monitor speeds now that the statutory limit has dropped to 40mph (but is still often being ignored).  

Speedwatch training by the Police is a very simple operation. If you're interested, please phone the local organiser John Pearce on 01454 778418.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Bus fare changes improve travel into Bath area

First bus fares changed a couple of months ago. As regular bus users will already know, apart from a few exceptions like Park and Ride, there are no longer any return fares. Instead you can buy a Day Ticket for the zone involved, or buy a 10 Journey ticket for ten journeys. Week, month and year tickets are also available if you're going to be travelling regularly.

The latest change will be of interest to people who travel from Yate or Chipping Sodbury to the Bath area. Yate and Chipping Sodbury are now within the Bath Outer Zone, as well as the Bristol Outer Zone. So you could buy a Bath Outer Zone Day Ticket for example, and get return bus travel from Yate or Sodbury via Bath to Frome or Chippenham.

More details on the Bath fares are shown here

The main First Bus website fares page is here but it hasn't caught up with the "Bath Outer Zone" change yet.

These tickets only apply to First Bus services - if you want to mix and match with other operators, you will need an AvonRider ticket.

Roll on fully interchangeable bus tickets - it's about time that this restriction was removed.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Police and Crime Commissioner visits Abbotswood

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens visited Abbotswood yesterday and met members of Abbotswood Action Group, Jacobs Well, local residents and councillors to discuss plans for improving the area.
She was shown the recently-launched Abbotswood Action Plan and heard about projects that are already under way and community events such as the recent Abbotswood Apple Day.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Free childcare for 2 year olds - find out more!

Yate Children’s Centre, Cranleigh Court Road, is holding weekly surgeries for parents who would like to find out more about this Government funded scheme.

A maximum of 15 hours per week per child can be claimed for 38 weeks per year if your child is entitled to a free place.

Eligibility Criteria:
  • The family meet the eligibility criteria also used for Free School Meals
  • The family receive Working Tax Credits and have an annual gross earnings of no more than £16,190
  • The family receive Universal Credit and have an annual gross earnings of no more than £16,190
  • The child has a current statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN) or an Education, Health & Care Plan
  • The child attracts Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • The child is looked after by the Local Authority
  • The child has left care through a special guardianship or adoption or residence order. 
Your child must be resident in South Gloucestershire.

Please call on 01454 864154 to book an appointment.

Surgery dates: 11th November; 18th November; 25th November; 2nd December; 9th December; 16th December, between 1.00 and 2.00pm. Friendly advisor Claire will be able to explain the process, check eligibility and inform you about how to apply for funding.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Local advice agencies join forces to improve money advice in South Glos

Talking Money and North Bristol Advice Centre (NBAC) are working in partnership to ensure everyone has access to specialist money advice throughout South Gloucestershire; advice sessions have been increased and are now running in Patchway, Kingswood, Yate and Filton.

Drop in advice sessions operate Tuesday to Thursday throughout the county. For up to date information on where and when you can access advice please visit

Talking Money say “Money problems are complex and are often caused by other personal issues, like long term ill health, family break down or loss of employment. By working together we can offer specialist advice and support on debt and welfare benefits”.

In addition to offering face to face advice at sessions throughout South Gloucestershire both agencies offer the same service through telephone and email. NBAC comments “We know that high quality advice can change lives and are pleased to offer weekly drop in sessions, as well expert advice by email, phone or online so that everyone can now access our services. We urge people to get in touch, no matter how desperate the situation may seem, because there are so many ways we can help.”

Monday, 3 November 2014

Making food recycling easier

You can now use ordinary plastic bags to line your food recycling caddy, thanks to new mechanical sorting techniques that separate the bags from food waste.

This will hopefully make it easier and cleaner to use the kitchen caddies and so encourage more people to do so. At the moment, about a fifth of the waste put in black bins is food that could be recycled. Not only is this bad for the environment, it also costs taxpayers’ money – money that could help protect front line services as our central government funding reduces.

Further information is available at

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Checks stepped up at Sort It! recycling centres

Every tonne of waste tipped at Sort It! Centres by people who don't live here or commercial traders costs the council £100 to process. That's something the council can't afford with the increasing pressure on finances. Unauthorised use can also create delays for genuine residents using the site.

To try to stop unauthorised use, SITA are stepping up residency checks at the site. From 1st October, you may be asked for proof of residency - one or more official documents that together prove who you are (photographic ID) and that you live in South Gloucestershire.  Suitable documents include driver's license, utility bill, Council Tax bill and passport.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Valuing You event

"Valuing You" is an event for people with learning difficulties, their families, carers and service providers. It's being held at BAWA in Filton on Wednesday 26 November, from 10am to 3pm, and you can book your place now.

The event will be opened by Paralympian Karen Baxter and give you the chance to find out about activities and opportunities for people with learning difficulties in South Gloucestershire. Activities will include fencing, dancing, boccia, knitting and drumming. There will also be an art competition, and you can find out more information about Dementia Friends and shared reading.

There is no charge to attend the event but you will need to book your place and choose the workshops you might like to take part in: