Friday, 30 January 2015

Early warning of Nibley Lane closure

Nibley Lane will be closed from its junction with Badminton Road for a distance of 120m south towards Westerleigh for 10 days from 9 February 2015. This is to enable cables and ducts to be laid.

So during that time drivers will not be able to use this popular cut-through. there will only be access to the properties on Nibley Lane itself.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

St Nicks Youth Centre to reopen Friday 13 Feb

Focus Team members celebrate the good news

Some great news about St Nicks Youth Centre - thanks to a lot of work by members of the Focus Team and Yate Town Council, the Youth Centre will reopen on Friday 13 February. They've raised the funds, found a leader and recruited the staff.

The session will run from 7 pm to 9 pm, for ages 11 to 18, entry 50 pence.

And there will be free pizza at the opening night!

You can take part in lots of activities - football, cooking, arts and crafts - or just chill with your mates.

For any further information please contact Cath Challinor on 07909 744853.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Lifeline for local Post Offices

Post offices in towns and villages across South Gloucestershire were thrown a lifeline in December by local MP and pensions minister, Steve Webb.

One of the major items of ‘over-the-counter’ business for small sub post offices is the payment of pensions and benefits, particularly to people using the special “Post Office card account”. This account is accessed using a plastic card and PIN number and was set up some years ago particularly for those for whom a traditional bank account was not suitable. However, the contract to provide these accounts was due to expire in March 2015 and there were concerns that if it was not renewed it could result in a major loss of business to the post office network. But on 16th December Steve Webb told MPs that a new seven-year deal has been agreed between the Government and Post Office Limited which will provide a long-term guarantee of business for local sub post masters.

Commenting on the announcement, Steve Webb said, “I have always fought hard to support local town and village post offices across my constituency, so it was great to be able to use my role as a minister to make sure that the Post Office Card Account is continued for at least another seven years. This means convenience for local pensioners and others who want to use the post office and a boost for local postmasters who had told me of their concerns if the service were to be ended.”

The news has been welcomed by local sub postmasters, including Sue Baines of Cromhall post office who said, “The Post Office Card Account is well used by many pensioners who come in to my post office. I am delighted to hear that it is going to be continuing, as many local people have no other place where they can access their cash easily and with privacy as in a local post office”.

In addition to the handling fee which postmasters receive for each transaction, post offices and shops also benefit from the increased ‘footfall’ as people spend some of the cash which they have withdrawn in the local shop, helping to keep them open.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Chipping Sodbury Baptist Church Seniors Lunch

The Baptist Church has some capacity for people to attend the Thursday Luncheon Club for frail and elderly people living alone. They can provide transport, a freshly cooked meal, someone to talk to and an opportunity to meet other elderly people.

Please follow this link for details

If you know of anyone you think could benefit please contact the Church directly on or by phone on 01454 313023.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Anyone for tennis? Court upgrades for Yate

Yate Town Council's tennis courts at Sunnyside Lane have been resurfaced and repainted. The fencing has been improved, plus a path to the courts from the car park to improve access to the courts for all members of the community.

Yate was awarded a £31,150 funding boost from SITA Trust, and worked with tennis experts to get the courts completely refurbished.

Councillor Sue Walker said "The newly surfaced courts are available for hire - why not come along and give tennis a try its a fun way of keeping fit and losing those few pounds you may have gained over Christmas? The courts are in a lovely situation near the common can be accessed by turning into Moorland Rd from Station Rd and continuing to the end where there is a free car park"

A local tennis coach also holds coaching sessions at the courts for various ages and abilities.

For details of how to book the courts please ring Yate Town Council on 01454 866506 or check out the council web page.

The hire rates are rates are currently as follows:
  • Adults - £6.40 per court per hour
  • Children - £3.20 per court per hour
  • Older people - £ 5.20 per court per hour
The photo shows Cllrs John Ford, John Davis, Sue Walker and Mike Drew checking out the upgraded courts.

Friday, 23 January 2015

FREE basketball sessions to start at Abbotswood next Wednesday

Are you aged 14+ and want to play basketball?

Then join these sessions on Wednesdays at St Nics Youth Centre (Abbotswood) from 28 January

The sessions run from 6.30 to 7.30 pm - learn basketball skills and play friendly games.

The sessions are completely FREE so come along and join in!

For more information contact or call 01454 865821

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Are YOU registered to vote?

The way we register to vote has changed and with the General Election and local elections in May you should make sure you’re registered.

You can register to vote here – it takes about five minutes. You'll need to have your National Insurance number handy, if you have one. That's all there is to it.

The same page has a link to instructions for registering by post, if you prefer this.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Scouts to launch new youth provision at Abbotswood

The Gazette has reported that the young leaders at 1st Abbotswood Scout Group are launching a programme with new ideas and monthly activities to attract newcomers. This is against the background of youth services recently stopping at St Nicholas Youth Centre due to lack of funding.

See the Gazette report here for full details.

We previously reported the St Nix youth centre closure here - we'll update you on this blog as soon as we have news about replacement provisions.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

World Autism Awareness Week 2015 is coming!

There are lots of activities and ways you can help raise funds for the National Autistic Society, whether it’s at school, at work, on your own or with friends and family - and it all helps promote awareness of autism.

Please check out the National Autistic Society's website for details of how to take part in World Ayutism Awareness Week (27 March to 2 April)

Monday, 19 January 2015

You can now get First Bus tickets on your smartphone

You can now get adult First Bus tickets on your smartphone using their mTicket app. Download the free app (search FirstBus mTickets) and you’ll be able to buy, store and use tickets on your phone - no need for cash and no need for a paper ticket.

You’ll be able to buy mTickets for Bristol and Bath Inner and Outer Zones, Weston-super-Mare and the West of England. The tickets available in each zone are as follows:

Bristol Inner, Bristol Outer, Bath Inner, Bath Outer, Weston-super-Mare and West of England

Bristol Inner, Bristol Outer, Bath Inner, Bath Outer, Weston-super-Mare and West of England 

10 Journey
Bristol Outer, Bath Inner, Bath Outer, Weston-super-Mare

Carnet of 5 day tickets
Bristol Inner, Bristol Outer, Bath Inner, Bath Outer, Weston-super-Mare and West of England

Click here to find out how it works

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Rodford Way crash site in the cold light of day

Tony Davis at the bus stop -
it's still standing, but very badly danaged

We thought you might like to see the extent of the damage to the Rodford Way bus stop following Thursday evening's crash. It doesn't look too bad as you drive past, but when Cllr Tony Davis visited site to check it out it was clear that it's a write-off. We will report back when we know a bit more about the circumstances of the accident.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Wapley bridge - the next phase

Local people will have seen the concrete path sections being placed on the ramp down from the bridge towards Shire Way. It's now time for the concrete sections to be put in on the other ramp, towards Wapley Common.

This is rather little more complicated, and will involve a 3.4 metre wide caterpillar track vehicle (effectively a digger without the bucket) being brought in along the Common roadway. Steel plates, track mats and bog mats will be used as applicable to spread the load. It will take most of a day to get this large vehicle over the Common into position.

The prefabricated concrete sections will be transported across the Common on a trailer, pulled by a tractor, which will distribute the weight and reduce the risk of damage to the tarmac pathway. The sections will be brought in individually as they are needed.

Dodington Parish Council and Wapley Conservation Group met the contractors Murphy this afternoon and talked through the process in detail. Public safety issues were discussed thoroughly, including what would happen if we have significant snowfall - if the children are off school and come over to Wapley to go sledging, the contractors appreciate that they will have to suspend particular parts of their work.

This phase of the work is expected to take a week to two weeks, starting shortly.

MP challenges bus bosses over local services

Local MP Steve Webb has hosted a meeting in his constituency office at Yate to raise with First Bus managers the many concerns of local residents about the quality of bus services in this area.

James Freeman, the new Managing Director of First in the West of England, attended the meeting along with Commercial Manager, Simon Ford.   The two heard from Steve a range of complaints about services including those from Yate to Southmead Hospital. They also heard from X49 user and Westerleigh resident Mrs Carol Moore, whose account of the service was described by James Freeman as “a chapter of horrors”.   Issues raised included buses being cancelled or running late, inexperienced drivers making mistakes over routes and the lack of reliable information at bus stops.

First Bus said that they recognised that the service needed to be improved and were planning a range of improvements for the timetable which takes effect at the end of March 2015. This included ensuring that the first bus of each day gets to its starting point on time, adjusting timetables to make sure that they give a more realistic indication of journey times, recruiting more drivers to reduce dependence on agency and temporary staff and trying to make better use of the existing fleet of buses as well as bringing in new vehicles and more double decker buses to increase capacity.

You can read more on Steve's website.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Yet another accident at Yate blackspot

At around 8.25 pm this evening (Thursday 15 January) a car collided with a bus stop on Rodford Way, Yate near the Abbotswood underpass. The car appeared very badly damaged and the bus stop was a write-off. The Police, Ambulance Service and Fire and Rescue attended but it is not known what the extent of injuries might be or whether anyone else was involved.

There have been numerous accidents at this spot, including one child fatality in 2008.

South Gloucestershire Councillor Tony Davis (Lib Dem, Dodington) said "Whatever the cause of this particular accident, the number of serious incidents along this short stretch of road means there could be serious underlying issues"

"When the circumstances of this accident become clearer we shall be calling for a full joint review of this road by the Highway Authority and the Police"

Update 16/01/2015: The Gazette reports "A man was treated at the scene for minor injuries" - sounds like a lucky escape.

Major improvements on the way for Witches Hat Play Area

Focus Team members "hanging about"
at Witches Hat Play Area

Yate councillors have raised £148,000 to refurbish the Witches Hat play area at the corner of Westerleigh Road and Rodford Way, and to put in skateboarding facilities.

The council's youth survey in 2013 discovered that many young people wanted facilities for skate boarding, BMX and scooters in South Yate.

Yate Town Council hope the development will be completed by April. The total cost of this development is around £148,000 in total and the council has secured £100,000 of funding from South Gloucestershire Council from the New Homes Bonus, with the remainder coming from a variety of sources.

Councillor John Ford, who has led the project, said: ' We've spent over a year working with young people and residents to design exactly what they wanted - to make sure we use the money effectively".

The play area is owned by Yate Town Council. The new scheme will add to the current equipment at this well used play area. It will include new fencing between the play area and nearby housing, an entry level skateboard circuit, new equipment for toddlers, a sandpit and teen shelter.

"The biggest call from young people was for skateboarding - for younger users, Peg Hill is too far away for beginners to travel so we've worked with users to design a local entry level scheme."

The development of the plans for both the skate park and the refreshed play area were developed in conjunction with local residents and park users across a total of six informal consultation events.

After public consultations, the plans will include a small entry level skate circuit, new toddler equipment set into a sand pit, a teen shelter and a fence around the park which can be locked at night.

In early 2004, the Witches Hat Play Area was refurbished with new equipment, and access routes were improved. Some of the equipment caters for wheelchair users. In addition, a kickabout/basketball area is located adjacent to the play equipment.

Weather permitting, the development is planned to be completed by Easter.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Shock as St Nick’s Youth Club Closes

Local Focus Team members - not happy about
the situation, but trying to find a solution
Despite today's very good news there are still problems the community is working on at Abbotswood. With less than 2 days warning on the Friday before Christmas the SGYI charity running the youth club at St Nicholas Family Centre closed - after 45 years of service to our community. We owe a massive debt as a community to all those who have run it in that time.

We were devastated to get the news it was closing - and were only told the day before it closed its doors. Young people, and generations of young people before them have relied upon this facility.  People should not blame the charity - we know they did not take this decision lightly, and they found it a painful decision. The most important thing is to think about the young people and to focus on getting the place open again as soon as possible.

As soon as we were told, members of the Focus Team set about looking for another organisation who could get the doors open again and before Christmas had got Yate Town Council lined up to help. Because of all the legal issues it is going to take a while, but we really hope youth work can be restarted at Abbotswood with Council help.

The church have kindly agreed to provide the premises, and the Town Council has agreed to make money available.   We are looking for a new organisation who will re-open it as soon as possible and will be doing all we can to make that happen. If any readers can suggest organisations who could do so, please ask them to contact the Town Council quickly on 01454 866506. 

Meanwhile, we’ve asked for the Detached Youth Team and the Urbi bus to spend all their time at Abbotswood - so young people at least have someone to turn to there, whilst this is sorted out.   And of course young people are welcome at the Armadillo.

If you know of an organisation who might be willing to help, in the short or long term, please call Tony Davis or Paul Hulbert.

Abbotswood - some excellent news

Yate Town Council has announced that they have reached agreement with the absentee landlord of Abbotswood for the Town Council to buy the "public" space. The Council and Abbotswood Action Group will now be able to do a lot more to improve the area.

The land being bought includes the paved and grassed areas at the front of the shops and some of the rear. 

Residents and councillors have been frustrated that they cannot invest in the area to do it up because the land is privately owned. Purchasing this land is the key to being able to raise money to do up the area.

Yate Town Council has been working carefully behind the scenes to achieve this.  Email agreement was reached yesterday and lawyers have now been instructed to carry out the conveyance as soon as possible. The Town Council statement says "Once completed, we will see a steep change in the sort of things the Action Group will be able to do and we look forward to working with them"

Massive thanks are due to the councillors and the council staff who have worked so hard on the negotiation. This is a key moment in securing Abbotswood's future.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Happy birthday to us! (LocalFocus)

The LocalFocus blog is now EIGHT! Eight years, nearly 1400 stories, and 100,000 hits.

Obviously most of the hits are local, but we've had readers from 186 countries. Here's a big hello to our one reader each in Kazakhstan, Burma and Belize - we hope you found the blog interesting.

If you know anyone in Greenland, please tell them what they're missing.

The countries where the LocalFocus blog has readers

Seriously, please comment below or email the editor on to tell us what you particularly like reading about on this blog, and what you would like us to cover more.

You can make sure that you don't miss local news by:

Sunday, 11 January 2015

This video could save a child's life - #TheChokeables

Please watch and share this video. Find out how to save a choking baby with #TheChokeables – the new advert from St John Ambulance:

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Free fun and social fitness classes for teenage girls in Yate and Chipping Sodbury

Click picture to enlarge poster
These teen fitness sessions could be just what you're looking for! Each session consists of a fun fitness routine e..g. aerobics, toning, yoga, running, dance. Bring along your own music!
  • Mondays 6-7 pm at Yate International Academy (Activity Studio)
  • Wednesdays 6-7 pm at Chipping Sodbury School (Sport Centre) 
Sessions start next week (week commencing Monday 12 January)

For more information email or phone 07534 241644

You can also check out:

Friday, 9 January 2015

Turn your Christmas cards into trees

The Woodland Trust is again running a "cards for trees" campaign with Marks and Spencer - you can drop your Christmas cards into the recycling bins in local M&S branches. For every 1,000 cards dropped for recycling throughout January, a new tree will be planted in the UK.

Last year more than 8 million cards were collected, funding more than 8,000 trees throughout the UK.

Three years ago local volunteers planted 400 Woodland
Trust trees at Wapley Bushes Local Nature Reserve

Update 12/01/2015:  M&S at Yate haven't got a box for people to put the cards in, but you can hand them to a staff member at the Customer Service / Collection desk just inside the door. I did that this morning - Editor.

New courses from Community Learning

Community learning works with adults aged 19 and over who have few formal qualifications to engage local residents back into learning with the specific aim of improving their skills for personal development, to find and succeed in work and to participate in family and community life.

New courses for January 2015:

Functional Skills - Maths and English. Start date to be confirmed - Yate Library 20 weeks.

IT for Work (TBC) Tuesday and Thursday 7-9pm. Start date to be confirmed - Yate Library 10 weeks

Introduction to Office Skills, started Thursday 8th January, Thurs 7-9pm - Yate Library 10 weeks

Please contact Community Learning for further information:
Tel. 01454 864613 or email

Thursday, 8 January 2015

The police are after you! (To help them)

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens would like to appoint three local, independent people to contribute to the work of the Independent Residents' Volunteer Panel. Members of the Panel are an important means of enhancing public trust and confidence in the handling of complaints against Avon & Somerset Police and supports the governance role of the Police and Crime Commissioner.

You can find out more on the PCC website. The closing date for applications is 16th January.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

South Gloucestershire Stroke Café has moved to a new venue

The Stroke Café is now held at Badminton Road Methodist Church, Badminton Road, Downend BS16 6NU on the second Friday of every month between 11 am and 1 pm.

New year, new business? Free training session

Are you starting a new business, or thinking of working for yourself? Cool Ventures offer introductory sessions to help you understand what it means to work for yourself or start a new business. Starting with an enjoyable and interactive two hour session they introduce you to the basic concepts of running a business and help you decide whether it is right for you.

There's a FREE one-evening session at Emersons Green on Monday 2nd February. Check out this link for details and to book your place

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Wapley bridge - side panels added

The side panels were added to the replacement Sergeants Farm Bridge last night, and the very large crane has now left site.

Presumably the next step will be to establish the bridge deck, and then build up the approach ramps.

Work is anticipated to take until some time in March to complete.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Spot the story - a video look back at 2014

How many of these 2014 picture stories can you identify from
Local Focus for Sodbury, Yate and Dodington?