Wednesday, 30 March 2016

More rail news - autumn disruptions, May and August bank holiday changes

As we recently reported, the Severn Tunnel will be closed from 12 September until 21 October due to electrification works. Rail services will run via Gloucester and journeys will therefore be longer.  GWR will also provide a comprehensive schedule of bus services between Newport and Bristol for local journeys.

While the work is some time away GWR have started to alert customers so they can plan for the changes. This includes a dedicated web page

As well as the work in the Severn Tunnel, Network Rail will also be carrying out improvement work around Filton which will affect Bristol, South Wales and Gloucester services in the late May Bank Holiday (28 to 30 May) and the August Bank Holiday (27-29 August). A dedicated web page has also been created for this piece of work

Shire Way - Network Rail plugging the gap at last

Local people have been complaining for months about the gap left where a Network Rail access gate used to be. There have been reports of dogs running out onto the road and of cyclists taking a short cut onto Shire Way, at the risk of colliding with the traffic. There could of course be even worse consequences if it's a child cyclist.

The gap was left there because of a planning dispute between Network Rail and South Glos Council about the access. presumably this has now been solved - railway contractors are now on site. We understand that they are installing a double access gate onto Shire Way, blocking the gap. This will line up with another set of double gates in the railway compound. When access is needed for heavy plant, the gates will swing across the path to provide a safety barrier for path users.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Disruption for rail users

Local rail passengers face disruption in the autumn, as the Severn Tunnel will be closed for electrification work.

The tunnel will be closed from 12 September until 21 October. Rail services between South Wales, Bristol Parkway and London and also between South Wales, Patchway and Bristol Temple Meads and beyond will be diverted or curtailed for the duration. There is more information on GWR's website.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Easter Holiday activities in libraries

During the Easter holidays there are a range of fun activities planned in our local libraries. These include for primary aged children:

Tuesday 29 March
Boats, trains & planes
Emersons Green Library, 2pm to 4pm
Transport themed crafts and activities.

Sunday 3 April
Get creative
Emersons Green Library, 11am to 2pm
Craft activities.

Monday 4 April
Pirate pranks
Thornbury Library, 11am to 12pm
Pirate themed crafts and stories.

Tuesday 5 April
Monsters and bunny rabbits
Yate Library, 10.30am to 12pm
Craft fun.

Wednesday 6 April
The great eggscape
Winterbourne Library, 10am to 11.30am
It’s not just chicks that come from eggs… join us to make some snapping, slithering and stomping crafts.

Thursday 7 April
Feathered friends
Emersons Green Library, 2pm to 4pm
Bird themed crafts.

There will also be Rhymetimes and Story times for pre-schoolers - for further details visit

Visit to find your nearest library and for details of events. And if you value your libraries, don't forget to respond to the council consultation here and sign our petition here.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Nibley Lane to close for cleaning on 29 March

Nibley Lane is expected to close for cleaning from 9.30am until 2.30pm on Tuesday 29th March.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Launch event for South Gloucestershire Stronger IN Europe Alliance Thursday 31 March

The non-party campaign to keep Britain IN Europe will be launched at Little Stoke Community Hall, Little Stoke Lane, Bristol BS34 6HR on Thursday, March 31, 2016 from 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM.

Speakers from some of the alliance partners will introduce themselves, then there will be breakouts round tables facilitated by partners to discuss issues and make plans, followed by feedback.

Pro-Europeans of all parties or none are warmly welcomed. Refreshments will be provided.

Click here to register for the event

Monday, 21 March 2016

Yate, Dodington and Chipping Sodbury Safer Stronger next Tuesday

Following the changes to the Safer Stronger Community Group boundaries, a new group has been formed that covers the whole of Yate, Dodington, Chipping Sodbury, Old Sodbury, Little Sodbury and Horton.

The first meeting of the new group is on the 29th March at 7pm in Yate Library and will include information on the current consultation on Library Services.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Great Easter Egg Hunt in Kingsgate Park on Easter Monday


The ever-popular  Easter Egg Hunt and Easter Bonnet Parade will take place in Kingsgate Park from 10.00 am on Easter Monday, 28th March. See you there?

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Calling local Liberal Democrat members

Are you a Lib Dem member, but you're not sure what the party does locally? Here's your chance to find out!

All members are welcome to come to the Sodbury, Yate and Dodington Liberal Democrats Executive meeting from 7.30 pm this coming Thursday at Poole Court, Yate.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Paving repairs under way at Abbotswood

It's good to see that the paving slab repairs are well under way at Abbotswood Shopping Centre. The takeover of the outside area by Yate Town Council is showing benefits already. The many cracked slabs are being replaced, and lots more wobbly ones are being reseated to make them safe.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Change of diversion route for Dodington Road railway bridge works

The council have listened to the concerns about the diversion route for the Dodington Road railway bridge works that Claire Young raised on behalf of residents at the Area Forum. They asked Network Rail to change the route and it is now confirmed as:

via Bowling Road, Culverhill Road, Rounceval Street, Bowling Hill, Station Road, Link Road, A432 Kennedy Way, A432 Cotswold Road, A432 Smarts Green Roundabout, A432 Badminton Road, A46 Bath Road, Wapley Road, Sodbury Lane and vice versa

Don't forget that there's a drop in for you to ask questions from 4pm – 8pm on Tuesday 15 March in Chipping Sodbury Town Hall.

At the Forum Claire also raised residents' concerns about how the Dodington Road and Kingrove Lane bridge works would interact. They will overlap, as they will be working on Dodington Road bridge between 23 May and 3 June and Kingrove Lane between 13 April and 8 August. However, both bridges will remain open to pedestrians and (dismounted) cyclists and horse riders. Also traffic flows across Kingrove Lane bridge are expected to be low enough to be marshalled.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Station Rd street lighting proves that it pays to complain

A resident complained about the dark patches between lights in the wet along Station Road, Yate. Result! there's a simple fix. South Glos engineers have visited the location and reckon the area would benefit from an increased lighting level.

They have re-assessed the design calculations and can increase the light output with a simple LED board change (60 to 72 LEDs). The change is in hand.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Reporting child abuse

A national awareness campaign has been launched highlighting the crucial role people can play in reporting child abuse and neglect.

Child abuse is any action by another person – adult or child – that causes significant harm to a child. It can be physical, sexual or emotional, but can just as often be about a lack of love, care and attention.

Neglect covers the ongoing persistent failure to meet a child’s basic needs. It may include failing to provide adequate food, shelter, clothing, or medical treatment. It can also include failure to protect a child from harm or danger and failing to ensure proper care or supervision.

Emotional abuse can include bullying, making a child feel worthless or unloved, inadequate, deliberately silencing them or frequently causing a child to feel frightened or in danger.

You can report child abuse or neglect in the following ways:

  • Call South Gloucestershire Council on 01454 866000 Monday to Friday during usual office hours, 8.45am to 5pm Monday to Thursday and 8.45am to 4.30pm Fridays. Outside of office hours and at weekends contact 01454 615165.
  • Report it online at where more details on the campaign will also be available.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Consultation events at libraries

If you'd like to speak to someone about the library cuts, there will be drop-in sessions at the libraries, including:

  • Thornbury - 9 March, 2pm to 7pm
  • Bradley Stoke - 12 March, 10:30am to 1pm
  • Chipping Sodbury - 19 March, 9:30am to  1pm
  • Yate - 2 April, 9:30am to 1pm
  • Emerson's Green - 7 April, 2pm to 7pm
  • Winterbourne - 19 April, 2pm to 7pm   

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Bridge near Chipping Sodbury School - major works coming

Do you use the Dodington Road bridge near Chipping Sodbury School? Do you realise that it will be closed for a couple of weeks later this year?

At the Frome Vale Area Forum, Network Rail gave a brief update on their plans for increasing the height of the parapets on the railway bridge on Dodington Road, near Chipping Sodbury School.

The bridge will be closed to vehicles from 23 May to 5 June 2016 to enable them to safely carry out the work. This will followed by a series of Saturday night closures, on 28th May, 4th, 11th, 18th and 25th June and 2nd July. A pathway will be kept open for pedestrians and cyclists - we don't know about horses yet.

Network Rail are holding a drop-in for you to ask questions from 4pm – 8pm on Tuesday 15 March in Chipping Sodbury Town Hall.

At the meeting local councillors once again challenged the Network Rail representatives on how the increased height will impact on visibility for motorists and suggested they should explore alternative options. However, subject to approval of the materials for the top section of the parapet extensions they have permission to carry out the work. Claire Young also raised the question of whether it was appropriate for the official diversion to go down Dodington Lane. Officers agreed to look into this.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Don't forget to register your vehicle to use the Sort It recycling centres

South Gloucestershire residents who want to use the Sort It recycling centres now need to register their vehicle to access the sites. You don't need to sign up straight away, just make sure you register at least 24 hours before your next visit. You can sign up at any time of year and you only need to do it once, unless you change your address or vehicle.

There are two types of registration:

Standard vehicle registration for vehicles of any size (up to 3.5 tonnes) that have rear and/or side facing windows including cars of any size, campervans, people carriers etc.

Restricted vehicle registration for:
• vans of any size without rear facing windows including minibuses, campervans and cars
• 4×4s, pick-up trucks or people carriers (MPV) without rear seats and/or windows or with an open back
• flatbed vehicles, box vans, horse boxes with integrated cab and agricultural vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes.

Restricted vehicles are limited to 12 visits a year. Access times for large vehicles (Monday to Friday – 10am to 2pm, Saturday – 8.30am to 12pm) will continue to apply.

To register your vehicle visit You can also sign up over the phone on 01454 868000 or at the One Stop Shops.

For information about what can be accepted at the Sort It centres, where to find them and opening times visit

Friday, 4 March 2016

Budget - council tax up, services cut

Council tax will go up by 3.99% in the coming year, but services such as youth provision and libraries face cuts.

After funding from the Government had been slashed more than expected, at the last minute they offered South Glos some additional one-off money. The Liberal Democrats proposed using some of it to protect youth services and Chipping Sodbury library.

Instead, the Tories funnelled the cash into a 50p a month cut in the green bin charge, less than the price of a chocolate bar.

The Liberal Democrat amendment proposed maintaining the Positive Activities Fund for youth services at the current level, instead of the quarter million pound cuts proposed by the Tories. The youth fund will be cut for each of the next three years, meaning fewer sessions and activities for young people across South Gloucestershire. The amendment would also would have kept Chipping Sodbury Library open for an extra year, giving the local community more time to find a long term solution.

The Liberal Democrats believe in enabling everyone to fulfil their potential in life, whatever their background. Universal youth services are a vital part of this - reaching out to teenagers who may be alienated from school, offering health advice and emotional support and giving our young people a positive focus. The wider community also benefits from supporting our young people. Libraries too are about more than just access to books - they offer many other activities and services, including access to computers for people of all ages to use for studying, applying for jobs and accessing services.

The Conservative councillors largely remained silent, refusing to explain why they felt a small reduction in the green bin charge was more important than youth services, libraries, PCSOs on the beat and a whole string of other ways the money could have been spent. Before the election, we challenged them to explain what they would cut instead, now we know.

You can read how our local paper covered it here.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Rodford Way safety schemes under way

You may have seen the road works going on in Rodford Way last week - these are the first stage of the road safety project that was consulted on recently. Most of the proposals put forward by your local Focus Team met with general agreement by local residents:

1. Abbotswood U-turn prohibition and splitter island (8 against, 47 in support)

The island has now been installed. The proposed Traffic Regulation Order required for the prohibition signs will be advertised for potential implementation later in 2016.

2. Advisory 20mph speed limit for Abbotswood and Culverhill Schools (17 against, 36 in support)

This will go ahead. Times of operation will be designed to suit both schools and nursery drop off and collection times.

3. Cycle safety measures (5 against, 50 in support)

The Rodford Way / Shire Way cycle track visibility improvement will definitely go ahead. The Rodford Way / Sundridge Park part will be reviewed along with the vehicle crossover and will depend on how much money is left.

4. Shire Way and Sundridge Park junction markings (25 against, 31 in support)

The main vehicle crossover changes are to be delayed pending a detailed review of concerns raised during consultation. In particular this will look at potential queuing onto Rodford Way and whether changes might reduce visibility for emerging vehicles at peak traffic times.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Have your say on One Stop Shops and South Glos customer contact centre

In another of the consultations on cuts, the council is asking for your views on how to save money on the One Stop Shops and customer services it provides.

The ruling Conservatives' preference is to close the Thornbury One Stop Shop and replace it with a  "digital by default" option. This despite previously saying that the council was committed to retaining a presence in the town. The alternatives suggested are keeping Thornbury open part-time and making either Yate or Patchway also part-time or cutting more staff from the customer service team. Anyone who has struggled to get through to the council on the phone recently will be concerned about the last option.

You can find out more and have your say here.

Area Forums abolished - last chance to have your say this week

This week could be your last chance ever to have your say at an Area Forum, after the ruling Conservatives scrapped them.

Not that anyone reading the council press release would have any idea they are being abolished. They talk about everything the public can do there and all the reasons to come along but don't let on what's planned. There is one innocuous looking line: "There will be an update on the future of the Area Forums." That future is gone, because the Tories and Labour recently voted to get rid of them.

Why not come along and make your views known, not only on local highway schemes and community grants, but also on the decision to scrap the forums themselves? You will also be able to hear from Sirona Care and Health about community health care services. The Frome Vale Area Forum will have an update from Network Rail on their forthcoming work on the Dodington Road railway bridge and the Severn Vale Forum will have a bus service update after concerns were raised at previous meetings.

In future, instead of decisions about things like highway safety schemes and community grants being made by the councillors who live in and know the area, they will be made by council committees that have themselves been merged. One committee will now cover everything from waste to strategic planning, libraries to traffic schemes - and make decisions on community grants. The Conservatives have suggested that some of the community grant money could be given to individual councillors but couldn't explain how this would be administered efficiently and transparently.

Frome Vale Area Forum (which includes Frampton Cotterell, Ladden Brook and Westerleigh wards) meets at 7pm on Thursday 3rd March in Chipping Sodbury Baptist Church. Severn Vale Area Forum (which includes Charfield ward) meets at 7pm on Wednesday 2nd March in Turnberries Community Centre, Thornbury.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Help Brimsham Park get a big Tesco grant!

The Friends of Brimsham Park are applying to Tesco for a grant towards a big project:
  • To re-establish  a Wildlife Pool in the park, provide a pool liner, pollard the trees and clear the scrub to let in the light.
  • Re-introduce frogs, toads, newts and small fish such as minnows and stickleback. 
  • Provide a Dipping Platform for small children and put the pool at the disposal of local infant schools. 
  • Plant the area with wildflowers to attract pollen gathering insects like bees and butterflies, along with waterborne insects that the pool will attract this should increase the wild bird population visiting the Park.

Yate Tesco customers will decide which of three local community projects in our area will receive the lion's share of the money donated through the Government's 5p plastic bag charge. 

Customers will receive a token at the till to vote for the local project they think most deserves the bumper £12,000 grant, and have until 6th March to make their vote count. You don't seem to get a token from the self-service tills - maybe you have to ask for it.

A total of £11.5 million raised from the sale of Tesco bags in the UK since October 2015 will be donated through the Bags of Help scheme.

Have your say on extending Badminton Road South Glos Council offices

Cllrs Claire Young and Ruth Davis at Badminton Road.
The site reserved for the Park and Ride is on the left

South Gloucestershire Council is looking to make more savings on office space. The Conservative administration's preferred option is to extend the offices (and parking) at Badminton Road, Nibley and move staff there, so they can close Kingswood Civic Centre.

Councillor Claire Young has raised concerns about the impact extending the offices could have on traffic and parking in the local area. She also sought, and was given, reassurance that any plans would not affect the ability to deliver the Nibley Park and Ride in the future. Last year we made sure plans for the solar farm would not restrict a future Park and Ride, we need to make sure the same is true of any office extension. We were told they were also looking at whether solar panels could be put over any new parking area.

Now it's your chance to have your say on the proposals. At this stage, it is still on the principles of the different options, not on any detailed plans for an extension. You can find out more and have your say here until 13th May.

If you're including the protected Park and Ride site in your comments, please mention that it needs to be big enough for the expanded town - not just the original area. We suspect that South Glos might think they can use the extra area for staff parking.

Libraries at risk?

South Glos Council is consulting about the future of our public libraries. Last week the council launched a consultation on cuts to libraries of £650,000.

The ruling Conservatives' preferred option would involve closing the Mobile Library that serves our rural communities along with Chipping Sodbury Library and cutting smaller libraries like Winterbourne to two days a week opening funded by South Glos. Main libraries like Yate and Thornbury would have their hours cut by 8 hours per week on average. They would then look to local communities and volunteers make up some of the lost hours.

They're not giving people in Chipping Sodbury a lot of choice - all the options presented involve closing Chipping Sodbury Library, or possibly making it volunteer-staffed. Likewise all the options would scrap the ageing Mobile Library and replace it by a volunteer service to pick up books for individuals.

There are some flaws in the evidence they produce. Although the cost of running Chipping Sodbury Library is less than the South Glos average (in fact it's the cheapest library of all per opening hour), they say that the vast majority of users also use another library. After all, Yate Library is only a mile down the road. But perhaps people are using Yate as well because it caters more for their needs, or relatives or friends are picking books up for them? It's not clear - they haven't analysed why people use several libraries - in fact almost half of library users in South Glos use more than one library.

The other potential flaw is the equalities assessment - the number of older users at Chipping Sodbury is much higher than average, and the proportion of disabled users is the highest of any South Glos branch library. Another point is that they make almost no use of volunteers to support the service provided there.

The libraries might also be impacted by a review of council buildings.

So what can YOU do?
  • You can find out more, including information packs for each individual library, and make your comments here until 13th May. Individual comments are VERY important - tell South Glos how these changes would impact you.
  • Your Focus Team thinks that protecting services like youth provision and libraries is more important than cutting 50p per month off the green bin charge. If you agree, please sign our petition as well as responding to the council. 
  • If you are particularly concerned about Chipping Sodbury Library, please sign the 38 Degrees petition against the closure
  • Share the campaigns on social media - Twitter, Facebook etc.