Saturday, 28 February 2015

It's Fairtrade Fortnight - Yate event Sat 7th March

Fairtrade Fortnight runs until Sunday 8th March. Lots of information is available at

Our local event is "Get Fit for Fairtrade"  on Saturday 7th March, 10am – 2pm, in Yate Shopping Centre. there will be a "Smoothie Bike" making Fairtrade fruit smoothies (great fun for kids!) and people talking to shoppers about Fairtrade. If you are in the area do come and look them up!

If you would be interested in volunteering for an hour or so please do get in touch with Lydia Nash (South Gloucestershire Fairtrade Coordinator) on 01454 863119 or 07824 081058.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Wapley Bridge - latest update

Residents will be aware that work on the bridge has slowed down dramatically over the the last few weeks. This was due to problems with the finish on some of the precast concrete units, but these have now been solved.

Another difficulty has been how to get the large tracked vehicle (the orange one in the photo) across to the other side of the line, because of the traffic restrictions on Besom Lane.

It is now planned to take the big vehicle across the railway track at night this Saturday (28 Feb).

Work should then proceed quickly. The concrete sections will still be brought round to the other side on a trailer pulled by a large tractor, via Wapley Common as previously planned.

Most of the parking area at the Besom Lane end of the Common will be coned off for the week to allow the tractor and trailer in and out.

Brimsham Park Big Spring Clean 7 March - Come and join us!

Yes, it's that time of the year again, and the Big Spring Clean at Brimsham Park will be on Saturday 7 March.

Meet in Coopers Road car park at 10 am for gloves, black bags, etc.  Please wear suitable clothing.  If you are unable to come along at 10 o'clock but are able to join us later, we will be glad to see you.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

South Glos businesses offered Broadband Connection Vouchers

Small to medium size enterprise businesses (SMEs) in South Gloucestershire may be entitled to take advantage of the Government’s Broadband Connection Voucher scheme.

The scheme has been extended to include eligible SMEs within South Gloucestershire who have until the end of March this year to apply.

Applications for the scheme can be made now and the benefits include a connection voucher worth up to £3,000 towards faster, better broadband.

Upgrading to superfast broadband brings real business benefits, offering better services to more satisfied customers and enhancing the way businesses communicate and collaborate online. Hundreds of UK businesses are already benefiting from the vouchers scheme.

To check eligibility and for more information visit

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

What's in the future for YOSC?

Various stories are going around about what might happen to Yate Outdoor Sports Centre.
Circandian’s contract to run it ends this October, and South Gloucestershire Council can’t take it back in house.

The Focus Team are determined to make sure it stays open. We’ve got South Glos to commission experts to work out how it could be run - and are now working with users to try to come up with a scheme to save it - which would involve users and Yate Town Council jointly running it.

So - if you use it - don’t panic. As soon as we have got a deal we’ll make an announcement. One way or another, The Focus Team will make sure YOSC doesn’t close.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Help Spring Clean Yate!

Dates for your diaries... If You want to help make a difference, the Spring Clean of Brinsham Park is 7th March 10am, and on 12 April there’s wildflower planting.

Interested? Contact John Ford for details.

If you know of other local Spring Clean or planting events, please email so that we can advertise them here.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Dementia friendly town progress

As a result of Sue Walker’s campaign to get action on dementia here we’ve raised money to pay for someone to work part time to lead the change. The worker has been appointed, Tony Davis has been trained as a dementia champion, and more than £100,000 has been raised in grants for action across the area.

Sue and Tony are now working on the big agenda of ideas YOU ‘ve given us for making Yate more dementia friendly. If YOUR group would like a talk about dementia awareness, please contact Tony or Sue.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Threat to land between Cambrian Drive and Wellington Road kickabout area

Remember when developers tried to get the go ahead back in 2006? Together the Focus Team and Cambrian Drive Residents stopped them. Now new developers are trying. They’ve bought a house in Cambrian and plan to knock it down, put a road through, across the footpath from Wellington Road to Mountbatten and then build 18 houses.

They’ve knocked on doors in Cambrian to try to win support, but Focus got a warning out to residents and we’re working with residents to stop the plan. It would wreck the footpath’s safety, make traffic worse in Cambrian - and eat up land that’s been open for 40 years. The developers say they’re planning public meetings - make sure YOUR views are heard.

If you want to help the fight or make sure you find out the meeting dates and times, give Chris Willmore your email, and she’ll tell you as soon as the developers announce them!

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Cabinet Office Minister visits Armadillo

Cabinet Office Minister Mr Francis Maude visited the Armadillo Yate Youth Cafe on Thursday, February 12 to look round and to meet Yate councillors and young people to learn about youth engagement in the area.

MP Steve Webb also attended the visit to the social space for young people aged between 11 and 19,  and was shown a short film made by young people from the cafe called ‘Yate is Great’, a documentary promoting Yate.

Mr Maude was clearly impressed. He described the Armadillo as a "fantastic place" and said how important it is for towns to have social enterprises like this.

Steve Webb said:”I think it was a great opportunity for Francis to come and see what’s going on here and especially talk to some of the volunteers and young people. It was great to hear feedback from them, and what really came across was the mutual respect here between all the young people and the staff and a sense of ownership"

To find out more about the venue visit

If you haven't looked around the Armadillo, it's well worth a visit. Even if you're over 19,  you can look around on Saturday mornings when it is open for refreshments and a film, and on Thursdays you can have coffee and cake group with a film show.


Wednesday, 18 February 2015

UWE students WOW Abbotswood

It was good to meet the UWE students who joined volunteers from Abbotswood Action Group and Jacobs Well on Monday working on smartening up the shopping precinct and the car park.

The students are taking part in the WOW project - Widening Occupation Weeks - which gives Occupational Therapy students ‘hands on’ experience of engaging in and with the community through the local voluntary sector.

Well done to all involved!

Profit before people as trees chopped down on Rodford School site

If you live near the former Rodford School site, your local landscape has changed. Many of the trees on the site have now been cut down to clear it for the housing development.

The developers were given permission for this even though some of the trees had Tree Preservation Orders - many of the trees and hedges were there since before the estate was built.

All our local councillors voted to retain the trees with TPOs, but they were outvoted by the Tory and Labour councillors who don't even live around here. 

Edit 18/02/2015, as suggested by a knowledgeable reader: It's also important to make sure that the correct tree protection fencing is erected BEFORE any construction works start - if not they'll be in breach of planning condition. If anyone reading this sees diggers on the site before the fencing is up, please email and we'll make sure it's reported. Thanks!

Residents and councillors watched the trees being cut down
Local councillors Tony Davis and Gloria Stephen.
You can see that they weren't impressed!

Wapley tree workshop very fruitful

Mr Fruit explained how to prune fruit trees to get the best shape in the future

Mr Fruit checking up on some of the pruning carried out by the volunteers
Wapley Bushes Conservation Group were very pleased by the turnout for their Fruit Tree Pruning Workshop at Wapley on 15 February. Twenty people attended, representing eight environmental groups from across South Gloucestershire and a number of private landowners,

The workshop was run by "Mr Fruit" Graham White who has advised the Conservation Group and Dodington Parish Council ever since they planted the "Orchard For The Future" on Wapley Common in March 2011.

"We were very glad to offer this training opportunity to other groups like ourselves" said Cllr Paul Hulbert, who is a regular volunteer at the Nature Reserve. "This area used to have a lot of small orchards, but most have been lost. We're keen to get lots of community orchards started again, and we need to spread the skills needed to maintain them"

Wapley Bushes Conservation Group's next practical event will be a woodland work morning and spring clean on Saturday 14 March from 10.00 am to enhance the biodiversity of this precious nature reserve.

"Everyone is welcome" said Cllr Hulbert. "Please wear stout footwear, but we will provide the tools. We shall be meeting at the Shire Way entrance to the woodland, south Yate, BS37 8US"

4G phone signals interfering with Freeview - an easy solution

As the latest 4G mobile phone systems are rolled out across our area, some Freeview viewers may experience interference. There's an easy and FREE answer to this. The mobile operators have set up an organisation called at800 (website link here) who can advise, send specialists to deal with the problem, or post you a free filter to fit yourself.

Houses that may be affected should receive a postcard from at800 explaining these free services. Even if you haven't had a postcard, you can contact at800 if you've recently started getting interference.

Here's a useful short video to explain this:

Care Minister visits Minor Injuries Unit

Minister of State for Care and Support Norman Lamb met local councillors at Yate's West Gate Minor Injuries Unit recently. Norman is a keen supporter of health integration, advocating a single service rather than separate health and care services.

Local councillors told him that they were pleased with the new facility but felt it could be better used. Examples given included opening weekend afternoons to cater for sporting injuries, and providing a dressing changing service when local doctors' surgeries aren't open.

Norman then went on to Yate Library to hear about the Memory Café run by the Alzheimers Society.

Please contact Sue Walker or Tony Davis if you want to know more about making Yate a dementia-friendly town, or if you have ideas about extra services the Minor Injuries Unit should provide.

Norman Lamb with Sue Walker and Tony Davis, who are
spearheading the campaign to make Yate a dementia-friendly town.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Better recycling services for flats, changes to recycling banks

South Glos is now offering people living in flats with communal recycling facilities an improved standardised service.

Following the changes, waste will be collected from four types of bin stored in the communal areas:
  • Paper and cardboard
  • Plastic, cans, aerosols and foil
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Black residual bins will still be available for those materials that cannot be recycled.
These changes do not affect flats that receive the normal household collection service.

The current bins used in communal waste facilities will be changed over to the new bins during the weeks beginning 2 and 9 March. The new bins are actually recycled themselves as they are the surplus unwanted bins that have been collected over the past few months. These new bins will be clearly marked with colour coded labels for the new recycling service.

The new collections will start the week beginning 16 March. Residents will get an information pack delivered when the bins are changed over.

Following the roll out of the flat changes, the public recycling banks serviced by SITA on behalf of the council that are located in supermarket car parks, village hall car parks, social clubs and sports clubs will be removed. They will no longer be needed as everyone will now have kerbside collections and the savings have been used to provide the improved service for flats. This does not effect banks run by charities.

For further information please visit, telephone on 01454 868000 or email

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Fly tipping law has teeth - successful prosecution

South Glos has had its first successful fly tipping prosecution of the year, when a man from Winterbourne pleaded guilty to fly tipping, not having a waste carriers licence, no waste transfer note and failing to supply information relating to the vehicle used in committing the offence.  He was fined £183 and ordered to pay £380 costs and a victim surcharge of £20.

The offence took place at  the former community composting site at Shire Way, Yate. Over a period of years the site has been subject to numerous criminal offences of fly tipping either by commercial landscapers dumping their commercial green waste or builders and paving firms fly tipping increasingly significant amounts of builder’s rubble and waste at the site.

 Because of the abuse of the site increasing amounts of preventative measures have been put in place including CCTV and signage making it absolutely clear that the site is only for garden waste and any other waste will be seen as fly tipping and a criminal offence. Despite this fly tipping of all types of waste has continued at the site. The site has now ceased to operate.

A flatbed lorry fully laden with earth, mud and hard-core enter the car park and drive straight to the composting area. It dumped the spoil and drove off immediately, but not before a witness had noted the lorry registration number.

The owner failed to appear in court for his first hearing so a warrant for his arrest was issued by the court. He was subsequently arrested at his home address by police and attended Northavon Magistrates court on 22nd January, where he pleaded guilty to all charges.

So the law has some teeth, but when you add it up the lorry owner may still have made a profit. Perhaps he will be deterred from doing it again.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Armadillo Senior Cafe and free film on Thursdays

The Armadillo Cafe will be open at 9.30 am for the Senior Coffee Morning every Thursday - serving all the hot & cold drinks, cakes/biscuits and lots of other goodies! As part of the Senior Coffee morning they will be showing a FREE film at 10.30 am for anyone interested in watching a film.

You can join the Armadillo Events Club group on Facebook to find out the films that will be on each week.

If you would like to reserve a seat, please call the office on 01454 869441

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Southmead hospital buses - first sight of new timetables

As we reported recently, First Bus are planning to change the timetables on the 81, 82, and 83 routes with effect from 29th March. You can now search for journeys after that date on the Traveline South West website, and the correct details will show up.

In case you want to compare the old and new timetables - for example if you want to find out the effect of the changes on your journey to work - we've captured the current and future timetables as they stand now.

Important - these versions will not be updated if First Bus make any later changes, so please check the Traveline site before you actually intend to travel.

Click here for a PDF copy of the new timetable from 29 March
Click here for a PDF copy of the current timetable until 28 March

Monday, 9 February 2015

Fruit trees for the future

Gloria and Malcolm Stephen with Mr Fruit
Councillors and friends recently planted some fruit trees in the Quiet Corner at Lilliput Park, to inprove the diversity of plants in the park. In future years they will provide welcome shade in the summer and fruit for local people later in the year.

If you would like to find out more about fruit trees, there will be a free Winter Fruit Tree Pruning Workshop at Wapley Bushes on Sunday 15 February.

The workshop tutor will be local fruit tree expert "Mr Fruit" (Graham White), who supervised the Lilliput Park planting. Advance booking is not needed - just turn up on the day. Meet at the southern Besom Lane entrance to Wapley Bushes Local Nature Reserve, Besom Lane, Westerleigh, BS37 8RW, starting at 10am.

Linda Boon - she had  the best soil to dig in!

Paul Hulbert and Pat Cotterell had to use
a crowbar to get rid of the rocks in this spot.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Southmead bus service timetables to change, but services safe

There was concern locally when some eagle-eyed people spotted that First Bus were deregistering the 81, 82 and 83 bus services. However, Pat Hockey, the Lib Dem Transport lead member, has investigated and all is well.

Pat said, "I spoke to First’s Managing Director, James Freeman. In order to make bus services more reliable the timetables have been investigated and some of them found to be totally unrealistic in view of the traffic congestion. This has resulted in changes to timetables. The new timetables have to be registered with the Traffic Commissioners and will start on March 29th. The existing services have to be deregistered to accommodate this."

"There is absolutely no intention to stop the Southmead services. The aim is to make them reliable.
Before the changes come in I am assured there will be full publicity."

We'll tell you about the new timetables when we hear more news.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Celebrate National Libraries Day on Saturday

Our local libraries have a range of fun activities planned to mark National Libraries Day on Saturday 7 February.

As well as events and activities all library members who visit their local library on the day can:
  • reserve up to two items from the LibrariesWest catalogue free of charge
  • hire a DVD for half price
  • enter a free prize draw with the chance to win a tablet computer, a £25 voucher for a well-known online retailer and a range of bestselling books if they borrow at least three physical items
If you're not a member yet, why not join?

The council is also launching a Facebook eAudio reading group for people who find it difficult to attend a reading group but would still like to read the same book as others and share their thoughts afterwards. All the titles being discussed are available to download for free at Visit the LibrariesWest Facebook page to find out how to get involved

Activities taking place on National Libraries Day (Saturday 7 February) include:

Storytime fun with Elmer
Chipping Sodbury Library, 10am
Yate Library, 11.30am
Storytime session for young children with Elmer the Patchwork Elephant. (Also at Yate Library on Sunday 8 February, 11.30am)

Get singing Thornbury
Thornbury Library, 10am to 11.30am
Hear the community choir performing outside Thornbury Library.

Many libraries will also be running a treasure hunt for children and a fun literary quiz for adults - pick up free treasure maps and quiz sheets from your library on the day.

Visit for more details on what’s happening at your library on Saturday 7 February. You can also get in touch on the day via Twitter (@LibrariesWest with the hashtag #NLD15) and ‘like’ them on Facebook to share what you love most about your library

Young people's project at Lilliput Park

Several projects have come to fruition recently at Lilliput Park. Dodington Parish Council and local young people have been celebrating the success of projects in the local community. SAY - the Social Action Youth Project - has involved young people working with residents to enhance the local area.

Around 15 young people from Chipping Sodbury School consulted local people about enhancements to Lilliput Park, and then they designed and painted benches which have been sited near the play area, and created a mosaic as a new entrance feature for the park.

Other young people have been working with residents in an elderly people's home in Yate.

The SAY Project was organised and led by Southern Brooks partnership, and some of the young people have used the project to gain qualifications in Youth Work. Dodington Parish Council provided practical support in installing the mosaic and the benches.

At a celebration event in Dodington Parish Hall, Cllr Paul Hulbert told the young people "We were very impressed by your imagination and hard work. You really engaged with the people who live near the park, and you've carried the concept through to a very pleasing result. You should be very proud of what you've achieved"

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

A chance to put your views over to First Bus managers - Mon 9th Feb

If you have problems with or questions about First's local bus services, you may be interested in this online event next Monday. It shows a certain perverse planning regarding the timing, as a lot of the potential participants will be on the bus on the way home. Still, if you're on a bus that has WiFi...


Online Meet the Manager session being held on Monday 9 February

Following the success of its previous Online Meet the Manager sessions First West of England will be running another virtual event for customers on Monday (9 February) between 5 and 7pm.

The two-hour online Meet the Manager event will give people the chance to talk directly to First’s management team via the power of the internet, either asking specific questions about local bus services or offering direct feedback. It is being held in addition to the normal Meet the Manager sessions, which are generally held every few months at various locations throughout the West of England.

Between 5 and 7pm on Monday 9 February customers will be able to ask First West of England managers anything they like via Twitter or Facebook. They will have the option to either post a message onto the Facebook wall (, send a direct private message via the Facebook Page, or tweet the company, at @FirstBSA, using the hashtag 'tweetboss' ie #tweetboss. Messages will be answered on the night by First West of England’s Managing Director, James Freeman and the business’ Regional Customer Services Manager, Natacha Tagholm.

Talking about the event, Natacha Tagholm, Regional Customer Services Manager, says: “This event, like the others we run, will give our customers a way of directly engaging with us. It’s not intended to replace the traditional Meet the Manager events, but it broadens the appeal to those people who perhaps don’t have the time to come to something in person.

“This event has been timed to coincide with the commuter period. If people are travelling home on our services then there will be the chance to use our free WiFi (where available) to take part in this online session.

“This really is the opportunity to ask whatever you like. If we can answer it we will. We'd also welcome any general or positive feedback people have too – for instance if you've had a good journey or an especially friendly driver then please let us know that as well!”

To take part in the Online Meet the Manager session, customers should include the hashtag #tweetboss when tweeting the company.

New housing proposal for Wapley Court site

Developers are having a second stab at redeveloping the Wapley Court site, the former elderly persons home adjoining Rodford Way. The latest proposal is for 15 houses and 9 flats.

Dodington Parish Council has commented that this is over-development, with the flats being the only three-storey buildings south of Rodford Way. They are very concerned about the traffic aspects, because the access to the site would be off Kelston Close, along with two schools, a pre-school and the playing fields. They have asked for a traffic survey to be carried out on this busy road during normal "school run" times, and not at half term.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Yate Cinema construction starts next week, but Overflow Car Park closed March to September

It has been announced that work on Yate Riverside, the cinema and  leisure development, will start next Monday, 9th February.

The first steps will be to establish the contractor’s compound and start removing the trees and shrubbery in the development area, an operation that will take around four weeks.

The developers and Yate Shopping Centre  been working closely with South Gloucestershire Council officers and Natural England to minimise the impact on any wildlife. We understand that the outstanding tree issues have been sorted out, and the badgers have been successfully moved to their new sett nearby. What's more they have started to reoccupy and extend an old sett next door.

Because of the works, the overflow car park off Link Road will be closed from early March until the end of September. Shopping Centre retailers will be assigned 100 special parking spaces in the main car park for their staff so as to ensure the vast majority of spaces are still available for shoppers - short term pain for long term gain.

At least it's not the Christmas shopping season, but there will be some inconvenience at peak times. The Shopping Centre has asked shoppers where possible to come on foot or cycle, or public transport.

The retail and restaurant units are scheduled to open in early December. The cinema is now scheduled to open by Easter 2016. Not quite as soon as we had hoped, but it's all happening!

New telephone scam - don't fall for this one!

South Gloucestershire Trading Standards would like to remind residents to remain vigilant and suspicious of unexpected telephone calls. Some local residents have received unsolicited telephone calls about crime prevention and alarms. The caller claims to be ringing on behalf of the local ‘Safe and Strong’ group.

South Gloucestershire Council’s Safer and Stronger Community Groups DO NOT contact people unexpectedly by telephone to offer crime prevention advice or sell equipment such as alarms. THIS IS A SCAM.

If you receive a call claiming to be on behalf of the Safe and Strong group please hang up immediately.

If a telephone number is recorded on the 1471 facility, please report this to Trading Standards by contacting the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm)

Monday, 2 February 2015

More collections of unwanted green bins

South Glos has already been round collecting in some areas, but in other areas residents didn't hear about it until it had happened.

Details of the green bin removal day will be provided on a tag secured to your black bin around one to two weeks before the collection. This is a one off service and if you no longer want your green bin it must be put out for removal on the date on the leaflet you receive.

The latest local collection dates are as follows:

Chipping Sodbury - Wednesday 4 Feb

Yate - Tue 17 Feb
(This includes the Dodington Parish off Shire Way roads and along Rodford Way)

Apparently the houses on the Birds estate were correctly notified and their bins were collected in December, so if you live on the Birds don't expect a collection unless you've already had a tag to tell you. We've done our best to clarify this with South Glos and this is what they've told us.

You may well ask what is happening to all the bins that are being collected - they're not being scrapped, they are being cleaned out and reissued to new houses and to people who decide to take up the paid-for garden waste collection later on.

All green bins for removal must be outside by 7 am on the appropriate day and must be empty. They will not take any bins that contain waste, including garden waste.

If you currently receive help putting out your bins and require assistance to put your unwanted green bin out, please contact 01454 868000 or e-mail prior to your removal day.

If you are using the bin for another use you can continue to do so.