Highlights from Westbury Community Forum, 9 April 2019

1. Present and Apologies:
The Meeting was attended by approximately 35 residents, plus our beat manager and his colleague, Steve Harding and Rob Cole, and two of our local councillors – Geoff Gollop and Steve Smith. Liz Radford had sent her apologies that she would be unable to attend on this occasion. Below is a brief résumé of the main points raised during the Meeting, including relevant external links:

 2. CIL Funding Applications:
6 applications had been received by the Council for projects in Westbury and Henleaze by the deadline of March 15th. These will be considered by the councillors and three will be passed on to Council officers for further evaluation and costing. These will then be taken to the October meeting of the Area 1 group, which comprises 13 councillors representing 6 wards, including Sea Mills and Lawrence Weston. This group will then agree which, if any, of the 18 proposals should receive funding. The likely funding for Area 1 this year will be £117,000. This forum provided an opportunity to feed back to Councillors which projects were seen as priorities for the area, and this would be combined with similar feedback from other groups. Geoff Gollop added that the final decisions would be the result of discussions with the other Group 1 Councillors and with Council Officers, in what was likely to be a lengthy and complicated process.

2a Crossing points on Canford Lane:
Proposal is for three crossing points, the most important of which would be the one opposite the Crematorium. Residents had carried out a traffic survey which showed a rate of almost 1000 vehicles per hour at peak times, or an average gap between vehicles of 4 seconds. The traffic density makes it very difficult to cross the road to reach bus stops, etc While pedestrian crossings would be preferred, the provision of central refuges might be an acceptable alternative.
Geoff indicated that, in his opinion, this should be provided by the Council under Health and Safety for residents, rather than having to use local funds; however, he accepted that such council funding may not be forthcoming. Given the cost of installing crossings, he also suggested that there would be more chance of looking at the provision of one crossing per year, rather than all three in one go.

2b Pavement Improvements in Westbury Village:
Proposal is to increase the size of the pavements by Barclays Bank and by Lloyds Bank towards the Post Office, and to provide “Continuous Pavement” across Stoke Lane at the roundabout and across Westbury Court Road to the Post Office. Continuous Pavement is a way of indicating that pedestrians have right of way over vehicles which are turning into a minor road, either by raising the road to the level of the pavement with a ramp section or just by painting signs on the road. Incidentally, the Highway Code says that pedestrians have right of way in this situation, although I have never tested it personally! A 2013 survey by WoTBA (the WoT Business Association) showed that 50% of shoppers walk to the village. A recent walkability survey highlighted the difficulty of travelling by foot, by wheelchair or mobility scooter through the village, particularly along the High Street.

2c Signposts and Noticeboards in and around Westbury Village:
Proposal is to provide signposting and wayfinding notices indicating the location of Shops, Cafes and Restaurants in the village centre, along Stoke Lane, the High Street and Westbury Hill, as well as other buildings, such as the Churches, Post Office, Library, Village Hall, etc. The use of a hoarding to cover the front of the disused toilets would improve the look of the area, as well as providing space for a village map and notice board.

2d Halo Lights for Zebra Crossings on Henleaze Road:
Residents have experienced difficulty using two of the crossings on Henleaze Road and the proposal is to amend one or both of the crossings to improve safety. A possible solution at the junction of Henleaze Park Drive would be to add Halo lights to the belisha beacons, enhancing visibility.

2e Air Quality Monitoring and Vehicle Charging Points:
One likely outcome of the increase in housing in North Bristol / South Gloucestershire and the traffic reviews of the A4018 and A38 is increased traffic flow through Henleaze. The proposal is to set up air quality monitoring points in Henleaze and other areas, and to provide dedicated charging points for Electric vehicles.

2f Tree Planting in Henleaze:
The proposal is for the planting of three trees, two to replace trees which have been cut down in Owen Grove and one in Old Quarry Park. A question was raised about the maintenance of existing trees and Geoff clarified that CIL funding could not be used for this, but that the costing of any new trees would include funding for 10 years of maintenance.
The question was raised about lack of progress on implementing projects which had previously been approved for funding. While agreeing that all Council projects seem to take much longer than originally promised, there did appear to be some progress, for example with the Westbury Parking  proposals, and some of the promised trees have been planted.
Stephanie French informed the forum that there is also an Area 1 – wide proposal for tree planting, which includes 6 trees for Stoke Lane and 1 for Stoke Grove.
Councillors then asked for an indication of support for the various proposals, with people limited to a maximum of 3 votes.

 3. Police Update:
Steve Harding started by introducing Rob Cole, PCSO for Westbury and Henleaze. Rob can be contacted by email at robert.cole@avonandsomerset.police.uk or by phone on 07889 656840 Steve then talked through the crime statistics for the last three months. Overall the number of offences had dropped by 30% compared with the same period last year, with major reductions in robbery, theft and handing stolen goods, arson and criminal damage. There was also a 10% reduction when compared with figures for the previous three months, although this was more variable, with 12 less burglaries but 22 more cases of theft or handling stolen goods.
Steve reported that vehicles had been observed parked facing the wrong way in the one-way section of Canford Lane and warning notices were placed on the windscreens. No other action can be taken unless the vehicle is seen actually driving in the wrong direction.
A white transit van has been observed in the Henleaze area with the occupants asking people if they want their roofs checking and/or repairing One person gave them a large sum of money for scaffolding and they promptly vanished. If you see them, please note their registration number and call the police. If they turn up at your house, please ring 999.
Responding to a question about illegal parking, It was confirmed that monitoring and ticketing was carried out, and owners of illegally parked cars would be prosecuted but that, in many cases, drivers stopped for only a few minutes, and the likelihood that an officer would be there at that moment was small.
Concern was raised over the speed of some vehicles, particularly motorcycles, along Canford Lane past the Park and Crematorium. For a while the police operated a speed watch on the road, but this was discontinued. Steve Smith said that residents could contact the Council to borrow a speed monitor to carry out their own community speed survey. If this showed that significant evidence of speeding, this could then be forwarded to the police for further action.
It was noted that crime figures for categories such as robbery and arson are combined for domestic and business premises and the question asked as to whether these could be separated. Rob responded that the only statistics they could obtain from the system were those shown, and that the way forward would be to request the breakdown by way of a Freedom of Information request.
Rob talked about a group of people who go door-to-door, selling items such as dishcloths and tea towels and presenting themselves as part of a charity organisation. Police expect them back in the area in May. Again, if they turn up at your door, please ring 999.
Discussion of other suspicious activity in the area included a white transit van driving slowly around with driver and passenger studying houses as they passed; again the police would like us to note the registration, and contact them on 101
A number of thefts in the area have been of bicycles or power tools, taken from outdoor sheds. Police advice is to record all such items on a website such as www.immobilise.com or www.bikeregister.com . There used to be a system whereby police would mark property with postcode, but this no longer operates – instead police now put a code into the stem of the saddle for bicycles.
Two or three cases of damage to cars have been reported recently and are being investigated. If anyone suffers something similar, please ring 101 and police can look for CCTV footage.
Concerns were raised about vehicles parking on the pavement. A useful rule of thumb for determining whether a vehicle is causing an obstruction is whether it would be possible to get a pushchair, wheelchair or mobility scooter along the pavement.

The timetable for moving into the new police station is still mid summer…

4. Library Engagement Meetings
A number of meetings were held across Bristol, with our two taking place at the Greenway Centre in Southmead. There was a short introduction from Kate Murray, Head of the Library Service, who confirmed that there were no plans to reduce the service in the coming financial year, and that this breathing space provided an opportunity to talk to groups about what short-term and long-term developments which could take place to enhance the role of the library within the community The list of ideas suggested to date are shown on the council library website, www.bristol.gov.uk/libraryideas and you can submit additional ideas until April 30th. There is a small sum of money available, but it is likely this will go to supporting community centre developments.
One proposal from users of Westbury library was to provide evening activities for teenagers, possibly including revision time, homework clubs, computer coding clubs, craft activities.. While this is not straightforward to set up, Kate Murray was very supportive of the idea, and we are looking into ways of overcoming the various obstacles.
Reference was made to the current and future use of the Extended Access system, and the view of library staff is that it has been very successful in its operation, with only three days of use lost (because of an electrical problem) and no incidents of misuse or bad behaviour reported. It was suggested by Kate Murray that the Extended Access hours could be further extended if that would be helpful for the running of evening activities. While the number of people making use of the provision each day is relatively low – probably about 15 to 20 people on most days – it is proving a useful resource which may become increasingly important in the future.

5. A4018 “Improvements” Consultation:
These plans included provision of 24-hour bus lanes along much of the A4018, the replacement of the Crow Lane roundabout with traffic lights, a number of restrictions to left and right turns onto and off the A4018 and the pedestrianisation of Westbury High Street. The Council arranged three meetings for residents to discuss the plans and make their views known. The first two were held at the library, with over 750 turning up during the Saturday and a similar number on the following Monday. The third meeting was moved to the Methodist Church and also attracted a large number of respondents. Since then, the Councillors have held three meetings at the Village Hall and the area MP, Darren Jones also held two sessions locally. The general consensus was that the three council meetings were largely a waste of time, with the officers present completely overwhelmed by the number of people and largely unable to comment on the concerns being raised, while the Councillors’ and MP’s meetings were successful in letting people raise issues, voice opinions and gain a clearer understanding of what was being proposed.
The Council has indicated that they received over 3,000 responses to the consultation, but the opinion of councillors was that this was almost certainly a considerable underestimate, and probably did not include written responses.
Geoff Gollop suggested that one possible response would be that the Council would withdraw most of the proposals and concentrate on the provision of the bus lanes, and also that the timescale for the next stage of “consultation” might be short. As such, he suggested that people who wanted to be kept informed of developments could contact him by email at cllr.geoffrey.gollop@bristol.gov.uk. We will also put any further details on the website and communicate them by email as soon as we have them.
There are proposals for Park and Rides to be placed near the Brabazon Arena on the A38 and the new Henbury Station on the A4018. and it is anticipated that these would increase the number of buses travelling along the A4018. However, it is unclear why these bus lanes would need to be 24 hour and it appears that no discussions have yet been held with First Bus.

6. Update from the Councillors and Local News
Geoff Gollop gave the background to various council issues, including:

  • The severance payment authorised by the Mayor to the former Chief Executive after getting three legal opinions.
  • The legal opinion obtained by the Mayor that the fence erected on Stoke Lodge playing fields is not a structure.
  • The Mayor has approved payments of up £30 million in cash and more in guarantees to Bristol Energy to keep it afloat and proposes to transfer various assets, such as wind turbines and solar panels from the Council to the company

The current arrangements of the mayoral system mean that the mayor can make decisions regardless of the opinions of the councillors. Currently the Mayor is supported by a majority of the Council, but even if this were not the case, it would not change the situation. There will be a referendum after the mayoral system has been in place for 10 years, ie in May 2022.
Stephanie French raised an issue relating to land behind Barclays Bank. Three sycamore trees were felled in 2017 and then a planning application was made for the land. The Tree Forum managed to invoke a retrospective clause in the Bristol Tree Preservation Standard and so a condition was placed on the planning consent that they would have to provide three replacement trees. It appears that the land has been sold on to another developer who has applied for the condition to be removed from the planning application. The Tree Forum’s view is that if you take on the application, you take on responsibility for its conditions. You can make your comments by searching for planning application 19/01018.
Councillors have tried to find out information regarding the now disused Lloyds Pharmacy, but have received no information whatsoever from the owners of the property. Contradictory rumours abound, from Lloyds being unwilling to relinquish the permit which would allow someone else to use the premises as a dispensing chemist, to the landlord being unwilling to release Lloyds from the tenancy agreement. All that appears to be clear is that the situation is unlikely to be resolved quickly.

7. Date of Next Meeting
The next forum meeting will be held on Tuesday July 9th, at Coombe Dingle Sports Complex, Coombe Lane, BS9 2BJ, commencing at 7.00pm. Dates for the October and January meetings will be confirmed in July.

The slides displayed during the Forum can be seen here:  Slide Show, April 2019

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