Friday, 29 January 2016

Don't lose your vote

Next week is National Voter Registration Drive week. If you want to have your say in future elections - including the Police and Crime Commissioner elections to be held on 5 May - and haven't yet registered, now's the time to do it.

It only takes a few minutes to register at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

Budget cuts published

The Conservatives have published their draft budget, which will be discussed at a meeting on Monday. You can read the detail in the meeting papers but some of the headlines are:
  • Council tax is proposed to rise by 3.99%, made up of a 1.99% rise towards general services and a 2% rise specifically for adult social care.
  • By the end of 2015/16 the council will have saved £56m from its annual budget, with another £23m per anum of savings planned for the next four years - but even that leaves an £8m hole in the budget for 2019/20.
  • Funding for services including youth provision, libraries, transport and the council tax support scheme will be cut.
  • There will be no New Homes Bonus money to support the areas that take new housing - instead it will all be used to prop up the central budget.
One thing you won't find is any reference to green bins - despite their pre-election promises, the Conservatives have said nothing about them in their 3 year budget.

Local forums to go

For many years, decisions that affect our local communities on things like smaller highway safety schemes and community grants have been taken by local councillors at Area Forums. This gave local people a chance to go along and have their say and meant the decisions were made by the councillors who knew the area and understood the issues.

Now the Conservatives are proposing to take away those decision making powers and merge the Forums with the Safer and Stronger Community Groups. The decisions would instead be made by central committees, which themselves are being merged, reducing the opportunities for people to have their say. More decisions will be taken by officers behind closed doors, rather than by elected councillors out in the open where they can be held to account by the public.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Ha’penny Bridge and Broad Lane

Broad Lane, Westerleigh is expected to close for 4 days from Monday 8th February for resurfacing and the Halfpenny Footbridge is expected to close for approximately 6 weeks from 20th February due to the electrification works.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Fly tipper prosecuted

A Staple Hill man has been ordered to pay £1,240 in fines and costs after admitting fly tipping waste in Besom Lane, Westerleigh.

Sean Burnell, 29, of High Street in Staple Hill appeared before North Avon Magistrates’ Court on Friday 15 January and pleaded guilty. He was fined £400 with costs of £800 and a £40 victim surcharge.

The court heard that a Yate resident had been in contact with Burnell who agreed to remove some cardboard and packaging waste for the resident for £40. The waste was subsequently found dumped in a lay-by on Besom Lane. Burnell had claimed that he was driving along Besom Lane a few days after collecting the waste, when he saw some litter, including a mattress, dumped in a lay-by on the side of the road. He admitted dumping the Yate residents’ waste there as well.

If you have unwanted goods and household or garden waste, you are advised either to dispose of it at no cost via the council's Sort It centres or to give it to an Environment Agency registered waste carrier. Otherwise you could be held liable if waste is subsequently fly tipped. There are some simple steps you can take:
  • Ask for a copy of the company’s waste carrier registration certificate and ask where the waste is being taken. Legitimate firms will be happy to provide this information.
  • Do not be tempted to use people offering cheap waste clearance on sites such as Facebook and Gumtree unless you have confirmed that they are registered with the Environment Agency. You can check by calling the Environment Agency on 08708 506506 or by checking the public register of waste carriers
  • Ask for a registered trading address and contact telephone number for the trader and get a receipt.
If you see illegal fly tipping, please report it using this online form or by contacting the Street Care helpdesk on 01454 868000 or streetcare@southglos.gov.uk

Hiring a hall in Coalpit Heath

The Manor Hall trustees have announced new reduced charges for Westerleigh Parishioners and organisations based in Westerleigh Parish - you can find out details on their hire fees page. Much, but not all, of Coalpit Heath is in Westerleigh Parish. If you vote at the Manor Hall, you're in the Parish. The reduced rate is of course also available to people living in other parts of the Parish - Henfield, Ram Hill, Kendleshire, Westerleigh, Nibley and the Stover Road area on the edge of Yate.

Coalpit Heath is lucky to have a choice of community halls with different facilities so whatever the type of event you're trying to hold there is likely to be a hall suitable. As well as the Manor Hall, you can hire St Saviour's Church Hall and Coalpit Heath Village Hall (The Miners).

Friday, 22 January 2016

Reminder - have your say on the future shape of our area

Time is running out to have your say on future housing and transport infrastructure for our area.

You have until 29th January to comment on the Joint Spatial Plan and Joint Transport Plan for the West of England (Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire).

The JSP will eventually say where the 85,000 homes currently predicted to be needed in the region between now and 2036 should go. That’s an extra 29,000 homes over those already planned by the four councils.

At this stage they are asking how the homes should be provided - Urban Intensification, Urban Extension, Town Expansion (for example Yate), New Settlement, Other Settlement Locations (Winterbourne, Frampton Cotterell and Coalpit Heath are named as examples) or Dispersed (adding a small amount to all our villages). Planners will use the answers to help draw up the Draft Joint Spatial Plan for consultation next summer.

Still time to have your say on council budget

You have until 31st January to have your say on the council budget.

This week the Tories approved a consultation on cutting libraries. Their 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 2 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. We'll let you know how to comment when the consultation starts.

They also cut the 9 council-funded PCSOs, resisting the option of delaying until they've published their budget proposals so we could make a well-informed decision on whether the savings could be found elsewhere.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Police warn of car key thefts

The police are warning that since the start of the year there has been a significant number of both dwelling and non-dwelling car key offences in our area and in most cases vehicles have then been stolen, with many being used to commit further crimes.

The theft of car keys usually takes place during the evening or overnight. The police ask you to report anything suspicious immediately.

If you would like to speak to the local beat team, they are holding their next beat surgery from 4pm to 5pm on Saturday 6th February in the Brockeridge Centre, Frampton Cotterell. More info here

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Parking problems outside Sainsbury's

Before Christmas residents reported a lorry parked on Badminton Road outside Sainsbury's unloading, instead of in the designated lorry bay. This made it difficult to exit the car park safely because of reduced visibility.

Claire Young raised this with both the council and the local beat manager. PC Simmons talked to the store manager, who in turn made the drivers aware of the problem. He trusts there will be no further problems from his side, however he has expressed a concern that drivers who may be customers rather than suppliers may park in the same location.

Council officers confirmed that they secured a commitment from the Sainsbury’s developer to fund a permanent TRO if parking issues developed on Badminton Road as a result of the development. However, the original expectation was that the problem would be with customers parking on Badminton Road either for convenience or because the car park was full, which could be addressed by the introduction of double yellow lines. The incident reported involved a vehicle unloading, which yellow lines would not legally prevent. That could only be done by introducing a loading/unloading ban during the store opening hours. The council could promote such a ban but it could impact on local residents.

The first step is to see whether this is a regular occurrence or a rarity. To help with that, if you see an incident, please report it to Claire so she can put together an incident log for the council. It would be helpful if you could also say if the lorry was unloading/loading or just parked, but the most important thing is to know when lorries are parking on Badminton Road near the store.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Station for Coalpit Heath or Winterbourne?

FOSBR map showing possible new stations

FOSBR, the Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways, is a group that campaigns for rail improvements. They have been consulting local people and have put forward a rail map showing possible new stations, including Coalpit Heath and Winterbourne. They are proposing to submit the map as their comment on the draft Joint Transport Plan.

Do you see Coalpit Heath or Winterbourne having the potential for a new station? If one of them does, our area could be one with potential for “transport-focused development”. That’s one of the scenarios suggested in the Joint Spatial Plan consultation to identify land for an additional 29,000 homes in the next 30 years.

It’s important you have your say. FOSBR have a survey to give them your views. You can also attend their AGM on Friday 29th January 6pm-9.30pm at Halo CafĂ©, 141 Gloucester Road.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Changes to the 86 bus service

South Glos is asking for your views on changes to some bus services, including the 86, which would operate between Yate and Longwell Green, going via Coalpit Heath and Greenacres Park. It should provide a more frequent service and school journeys will still be provided, although times may alter slightly. You can have your say here before 11th February.

South Glos funding cut more than expected

We were already expecting that South Glos Council would have to make significant cuts in the coming year but the news from the Conservative government was even worse than had been planned for. The council will be getting less money than expected from the Government to provide services.

The council can now charge a levy of up to 2% towards rising social care costs, on top of the up to 1.99% council tax rise allowed without a referendum. Even if council tax did go up by 3.99% including the social care levy, there is likely to be a shortfall in 2018/19 of around £6m and in 2019/20 of £8m - which would require more cuts on top of the £34m already planned for.

Due to these and other changes since the council's budget consultation was launched, the deadline for comments has been extended until 31st January. You can find out more and have your say here.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Planning updates

DC (East) committee approved the application for an extension and detached double garage at 19 Heath Gardens, despite residents' concerns about the impact on the street scene and on their properties.

They also gave Prior Approval for the application to alter the parapets of the railway bridge on Dodington Road, but with a revised condition that asks them to look at using mesh for the top part rather than the perforated steel suggested in the plans. Local residents had expressed concern that the proposals would reduce visibility even further on a bridge where there have been a number of accidents.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Nibley Lane to close for cleaning

Nibley Lane between Badminton Road and Westerleigh Road is expected to close for cleaning 9.30am until 2.30pm on Tuesday 12th January.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Nominate a community hero

South Glos Council would like you to nominate your local ‘community heroes’ – people who have made a difference to their community. Suggested areas of contribution include community development, promoting equality, arts, sports, play, environment, working with older or young people, advice and advocacy and being a good neighbour.

Complete and return the Community Awards nomination form by 31 January 2016. The chosen nominees will notified un the week ending 19th February and will be invited to a prestigious awards ceremony on 17th March to receive their awards.

You can read more on the council's website.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Time running out for primary school applications

If your child is due to start primary school in September, you only have until 15th January to apply for a place. You can find out more about applying here and apply online here.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Happy New Year

Your Focus team would like to wish you a happy new year.

If you've mislaid the tag telling you when your bin will be collected in the next couple of weeks, you can find the information here. You can also get more information on how to recycle your Christmas tree.