Highlights from Westbury Community Forum, 16 October 2018

The Meeting was attended by approximately 35 residents, plus our three local councillors – Geoff Gollop, Liz Radford and Steven Smith – and Beat Manager PC Steve Harding, with PCSO Katie White.

Below is a brief résumé of the main points raised during the Meeting, including relevant external links:

  1. Police Update
    Our new Beat Manager, Steve Harding, talked through the crime statistics for the last three months. David Mayer also produced a table showing the totals for the nine months ending 30 September which, when compared to the same period last year, continued to show a marked decrease in the number of recorded offences in most categories. One complication was that the latest figures included several new categories which, presumably, were previously recorded under one of the other headings. A request was made from the floor for more information on outcomes, such as the number of arrests and convictions, to be presented at the next Forum.
    Two indoor Beat Surgeries are planned for 25 October; from 4pm to 6pm at the Groupo Lounge and from 6pm to 8pm at Stoke Lodge. The previous surgery in Stoke Lane last Sunday was cancelled due to inclement weather. 
  1. Update from Councillors

2.1 Planning Regulations: Liz Radford has met with Council Officers to discuss procedures for residents enquiring about Building Regulations and highlighted the following links:
a) For general information on building regulations
b) To specifically report a potential breach of building regulations
c) For home owners considering domestic works at their property.
d) Also, a recommended read regarding Party Walls, if your neighbour is planning to carry out work in the vicinity of your property

2.2 Traffic Issues: Traffic volumes on Falcondale Road, the A4018, are likely to be affected by various developments, including:
a) The decision to locate the Bristol Arena at Filton
b) The overturning of the plans to expand The Mall
c) The removal of tolls on the Severn Bridges
d) 8,000 additional new homes on our border, within South Gloucestershire
A long-awaited report from the Council on proposals to upgrade the A4018, due in March 2016, is now due to be delivered this November. Councillors anticipate that the principal recommendation is likely to be the provision of a bus lane from Cribbs Causeway to the top of Black Boy Hill, where the road width permits.
There is a consultation in progress which asks people to comment on various traffic proposals for Bristol, including a possible charge on vehicles entering the city centre. There was some discussion of the pros and cons of this proposal – reducing pollution and congestion v reducing customers to the shopping centre. Residents were advised to respond to the consultation document (before the closure date of 2 November) and use the comment boxes to amplify their views. For more information about Clean Air Zones, visit Clean Air for Bristol. However, the 84-page Draft Strategy published with the Consultation only states (page 72) that “a feasibility study is currently underway on implementing a Clean Air Zone in the city, which could include a charge for vehicles.”

2.3 Parking on The DownsThe Councillors confirmed that parking motor vehicles on the roads surrounding The Downs is not illegal – provided that the vehicle is taxed, insured, has an MOT and it is not contravening parking restrictions or causing an obstruction. Traffic officers do visit the roads with parking restrictions in place and do issue parking tickets.
With regard to overnight stayers parked on the highway, these fall into two categories (a) those deemed by BCC to constitute a community and  (b) those not deemed by BCC to constitute a community.
BCC has confirmed that they will (and have) acted to remove encampments that they consider do constitute a community. If you become aware of such a situation, please advise your Councillors so that they can raise it with BCC officers.
With regard to individual perennial overnight stayers that do not constitute a community, they must have all the legal paperwork listed above in place, must not be in contravention of any civil restrictions and importantly must not cause a nuisance, including disposal of litter and ‘waste’, be sanitary and not pose a risk to public health, not pollute the environment either by noise or fumes. Once again, if you become aware of such a situation, please advise your Councillors so that they can raise it with BCC officers.
With regard to parking vehicles and caravans on the Downs, notably by Travellers, PC Steve Harding confirmed that this was a very delicate situation because travellers are well aware of their rights and they do time their arrival to take advantage of the inertia to respond within the local authority and the Police. He did acknowledge that the Police anticipate, and plan for, an increase in crime when Travellers are in the area.
He also confirmed that it was difficult to follow through with vehicle offences committed by travellers because many of their vehicles are not taxed and by extension not insured and because they are listed as company vehicles and not registered to an individual – this makes it very difficult to bring an individual to court. He did confirm that they can, and do, impound vehicles and have them destroyed but that this did not act as a deterrent, as the offenders had no problem obtaining a replacement vehicle.
Cllr Gollop confirmed that where there was a large community response to both the Police and the Local Authority, it did have a positive impact on the time taken to have Travellers moved on. He did say that it was helpful to also confirm why residents were complaining about illegal encampments i.e. anti-social or threatening behaviour etc.
The Council website has information on Gypsies and Travellers.

3.Public Open Forum

3.1 Iron Bridge (on Kings Weston Road): A question was asked as to why the necessary restoration has yet to take place. Councillors replied that the bridge was outside their Ward but that their understanding was that work had been delayed, at least in part, because of the Listed status of the bridge.

3.2 Local Bus Services: Disquiet about the reliability of the number 1 and particularly number 2 services. Liz has had discussions with the company, who say that the need to provide drivers for the MetroBus has caused shortages elsewhere but they are working to rectify the situation. It was pointed out that the Council has no direct control over the service, as it is run by a commercial company and receives little or no subsidy.

3.3 Canford Park Tennis Courts: Resurfacing work is now completed and the marking-out of the courts will take place in the spring. When reopened to the public, the courts will be part of a new “pay and play” scheme.

3.4 Cleaning the Trym: SusWoT and their volunteers have been carrying out a lot of work to clear the Trym of vegetation and other debris, meeting from 11am to 1pm on the last Sunday of each month. More details are available on their website.

3.5 Parry’s Lane: The issue of cars parking and blocking the cycle lane continues. The council is in discussion with the University and PCSOs have been issuing tickets to vehicles which park in the bus lane. Parking Officers cannot issue tickets, as there are no parking restrictions (eg double yellow lines) in force.

  1. Community News

4.1 Allocation of Local CIL and S106 Funds: David reconfirmed the basis on which CIL and S106 funds are allocated to the various Wards across the city. The council allocates most of the money centrally but 15% must be spent on local capital infrastructure improvements and this is allocated by one of six “Area Committees”. These Committees replaced the previous 14 Neighbourhood Partnerships. For this year’s round of funding bids, £377k was available and, at a meeting on 3 October, our Area Committee of 13 councillors provisionally approved seven projects, totalling £267k. These will now be passed to council officers to progress their implementation.
Our Area committee will need proposals for the next round of funding by the beginning of January. An overview of the process is available and details of the qualifying criteria can be found at funding local projects.
In discussion, it was suggested that most projects should involve sums between £10k and £50k. Residents and local amenity groups were encouraged to consider suitable capital projects and discus them with one of our Ward Councillors prior to the end of December 2018, so that they can be brought to the next Forum (8 January 2019) for discussion.

4.2 Tree Report: Two of the projects approved by our Area Committee on 3 October (Item 4.1, above) were for replacing 14 trees in the Stoke Bishop/Westbury/Henleaze area and 46 trees throughout our wider Area. Our local “Tree Champion”, Stephanie French, had submitted more information on this and details are included in the Meeting Slide Show (Slides 17 to 21) and a more detailed synopsis is also available online. In subsequent discussion, it was confirmed that the funding covered the purchase and planting of the trees, the initial intensive watering, and ten years maintenance. Councillors asked to be informed if residents feel that new trees are not being maintained, or dying. More funding would be available in future but Stephanie needed two or three people to act as “tree wardens” for our area, to help identify trees in need of replacement. Anybody willing to help, please contact her by email. Bristol Tree Forum were also promoting a “Bristol Tree of the Year Competition” – closing date 15 November 2018.

4.3 Electoral Register: Those present were reminded of the legal requirement for their details to be included on the electoral register. This can be done online, or by contacting the council on 0117 922 3400 for a registration form.

4.4 Westbury Library: Malcolm Neave provided an update on recent Council activities regarding the future of Bristol Libraries, culminating with their announcement that there would be a series of 27 meetings to be held between November and March to garner each community’s views on the role of the library service and the future of their library buildings. These will be followed by 3 area meetings and there will also be the opportunity for submitting your views online. Those present were encouraged to make use of the library and, in particular, to join the Extended Access scheme The Westbury Library Group had recently set up a new website.

4.5 Stoke Lodge Playing Fields: On behalf of “We Love Stoke Lodge” (WLSL), Helen Powell provided an update on proceedings and started by making the point that, thanks to the efforts of the “Save Stoke Lodge Parkland” (SSLP) group, we have had an extra 10 years use of the land with no fence!
Helen explained that WLSL was formed in 2018 following the result of the TVG Judicial Review as a Face Book group, is committed to preserving free public access to Stoke Lodge, and currently has over 900 members. Helen confirmed that WLSL was working in harmony with SSLP.
WLSL have arranged a number of activities on Stoke Lodge to underline community use and free public access including: – walks, picnics, children’s “floss not fence” party, and a forthcoming Halloween Party. Please see photos included in the Meeting Slide Show (Slides 25 – 37) and the WLSL website.
At the behest of WLSL, our MP Darren Jones has arranged two meetings (May & July), chaired by him, to try and reach a sensible compromise between all parties including Cotham, SSLP, SB Councillors, and WLSL. At each meeting, Cotham were both intransigent and confrontational and no progress was made. Minutes of the meeting and a letter from Darren Jones expressing his findings can be seen on the WLSL website.
WLSL are opposed to, and are fighting for the removal of, the replacement signs erected by Cotham which they consider do not meet planning legislation.
WLSL are opposed to the proposal by Cotham to erect a 2m high metal fence around the perimeter of Stoke Lodge to deny free public access. BCC has confirmed to Cotham that the playing fields are included within the curtilage of the grade II listed building and, as such, Cotham do not have “permitted development rights” to install a fence without full planning permission.
WLSL have also submitted a second Town or Village Green Application for a later 20-year period than the previous application which they are confident will overcome the single impediment to the previous application.
Helen also referred to the Public Rights of Way application that had been submitted by concerned residents and confirmed that this was not an impediment to TVG2.

4.6 Westbury Business Association: Alan outlined the highlights of a recent public meeting organised by the Chairman of the Westbury Business Association (Amanda George) for a new “Regeneration Project” initiative. Discussions were being held with business owners and local interest groups to address issues such as the means to achieve increased footfall, reopening empty shops, parking problems and crime. It was suggested from the floor that Business Rates in Westbury might be higher than other areas such as Clifton. Sue Boyd referred to an extensive survey carried out previously (“Benchmarking Report – 2013”) and offered to pass a copy on to Amanda if she did not already possess one.

  1. Any Other Business
    Given the range of topics already discussed, no-one offered anymore!
  1. Date and Venue for Next Meeting
    Tuesday 8 January 2019 at Coombe Dingle Sports Complex (Old Pavilion), Coombe Lane, BS9 2BJ – commencing at 7.00pm.

The slides displayed during the Forum can be seen here: Slide Show

This entry was posted in NP3, W-o-T Notes, Westbury-on-Trym. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Highlights from Westbury Community Forum, 16 October 2018

  1. David Moore says:

    Thanks for such a Meeting, Oct 16, 2018, of such sound worth & good efforts onwards.
    Such is to be very thankful for and promoted & upheld further.
    Thanks to our local organisers of the Forum..and all onwards good inputters into it and the results for all it helps work. David Moore. WoT village centre resident since 1962 ..on and off at periods, .during the years…but back here being very thankful for such as the Forum, at the present. All the very best for it further..to help all…as can succeed to do.

  2. Max says:

    Quick clarification on point 3.4 Cleaning the Trym. As one of the organisers of these volunteer events, I would like to point out that ‘vegetation and other debris’ should in fact read ‘large quantities of long-term fly-tipped man-made waste’. To date this has included: two motorbikes, several bicycles and scooters, an axle trailer, car batteries and other car parts, shopping trolleys, huge quantities of discarded clothing, scaffolding poles, road signage, concrete blocks, lawnmowers, vacuum cleaners, large numbers of tyres, a safe, toys, plastic bags, bricks, tins of paint and oil, glass and plastic bottles, endless unidentifiable bits of rusty metal and yes, an actual kitchen sink.

    Many of these items have been in the river for a long time (we even found a stove-top iron kettle and a hob-nailed boot!), and the water quality will be much-improved by their removal. Profound thanks to all who have volunteered their time and energy to help achieve this.

    We have removed very little actual vegetation, as this is what provides habitat for invertebrates and fish, as well as contributing positively to storm water management. We have seen eels, trout and other fish in the river, and regularly see a kingfisher (and last spring, a pair). Many people have commented on how much they appreciate the visible improvement to the state of the river and surrounding woods. Next year we hope to build on our work, and would be delighted to hear from anyone keen to get involved. Details will appear on the website in due course http://www.suswot.org.uk/. Thanks!

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