Highlights from Westbury Community Forum, 9 July 2019

  1. Present and Apologies
    The Meeting was attended by approximately 23 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 sent her apologies that she would be unable to attend on this occasion, as did Jenny and Steve Hodges and Graham Donald. Below is a brief résumé of the main points raised during the Meeting, including relevant external links. 
  1. Police Update
    Steve Harding is our Beat Manager, while Rob Cole is the PCSO for Westbury and Henleaze and can be contacted by email at robert.cole@avonandsomerset.police.uk or by phone on 07889 656840
    Steve began by talking through the crime statistics for the last three months. Overall, the figures were similar to those for the previous three months, although this was variable, with more cases of burglary (up from 18 to 33) but less of theft (down from 43 to 31). There was a notable increase in public order offences in June (up from 6 to 12) several of which related to incidents on the Downs.
    Steve reported that there had been several cases where cars had had their catalytic converters removed, possibly for reuse of possibly for reclamation of the valuable metals they contain – this will have involved jacking the car off the ground, so please contact the police if you see anything suspicious.
    He also talked briefly about the volunteers who tour the downs in the area near the Suspension Bridge and the Sea Walls, checking for people who may be contemplating suicide and then contact the police with details.
    As many people will be aware, a group of travellers have recently returned to the area and this has given rise to a number of calls to the police, who regularly patrol the area. However, they find it difficult to take action unless it is possible to identify a particular individual or group who may have been responsible for any particular antisocial behaviour.
    Rob then talked about the fact that there are a number of people selling items door-to-door in the area, saying that they are supported by a charitable organisation, but with no official licence. As they might become aggressive when confronted, he advised people to close the door and then ring 999, as the police are keen to catch up with them as quickly as possible.
    Councillor Geoff Gollop questioned the number of antisocial offences recorded, as he and his colleagues had received many more complaints than were indicated in the police statistics and the people concerned had all confirmed that they had also reported their concerns to the police.
    Steve then referred to a numbe of complaints they have received about a company called Prestige Patios and the quality of the workmanship carried out. Steve Smith then commented that the person running the company had previously been convicted of frauds while running a similar business. On the issue of flyposting, the Council is taking down the posters as quickly as they can, but they have to observe health and safety when doing so, (which the operatives obviously don’t when putting them up!) and so have to use a “cherry picker” vehicle… The Council is also seeking legal enforcement action.
    The new police station in Westgate House, on the Southmead hospital site is now officially open, serving Henleaze and Westbury, Stoke Bishop and Sea Mills, Horfield and Lockleaze, Avonmouth and Shirehampton. The office will be open Monday to Friday 10am to 6pm. It is situated to the left of the Southmead Road entrance to the hospital site.
  1. Update from the Councillors
    Clean Air Consultation
    A consultation has been launched on a Clean Air Plan for Bristol. There are two options proposed: A charging scheme for the central area of Bristol, which would not include cars, but would cover commercial diesel vehicles over a certain age, such as buses, taxis, vans and lorries or a scheme which would ban all diesel vehicles, including cars, from entering a smaller area based on the area of Marlborough Street, around the hospitals between 7am and 3pm. It is generally accepted that we have a major pollution problem in the centre. The question is, what about other areas where the air quality is not being monitored?
    Carlton Court
    Steve Smith managed to talk to the letting agent and discovered that Lloyds Pharmacy have been paying rent for the empty unit until the end of June. A new let has now been agreed, and the only thing known about the new business at this stage is that it isn’t a butcher! Lanes Carpets have moved out of the other unit, but there have been several expressions of interest and it is hoped that Canford Court may be fully occupied quite soon.
    Other Village Ventures
    Planning permission has been granted to convert the Britannia Building Society premises into a dentists’ surgery. There is a plan to convert McColls store and the British Legion premises behind the store into a micro-pub by the owner of a similar venture in Chandos Road. His stated aim is “a venue where people can come for a chat and a drink with no television, no canned music and no wifi”
    Brabazon Hangar Open Days
    An opportunity to see what is being planned and also to see the original hangar before changes are made. Details are on Steve Smith’s facebook page and will also be circulated via the Forum newsletters.
    Traveller-related Issues
    Different groups involved, including Council officers, the courts and the police, each of which seem to be doing their jobs properly, but there are delays in moving from one stage of the process to the next one. A recent meeting of all the groups involved produced a commitment that more effort will be made to speed up the processes. The point was made again that the police will find it difficult to prosecute antisocial behaviour if they have unable to identify the individuals involved. Councillors have been pressing for the use of blanket eviction orders for the whole of the Downs or for specific areas, such as near to dwellings. Other councils have such orders, but there has been no response from the Mayor to date.
    A question was raised about the money spent on consulting on proposals, many of which then receive a very negative response – like the A4018 improvements.. The response was that Councils are required to consult on their plans, but they don’t have to take any notice of the responses they receive!
    Some bad news is that Lloyds Bank is planning to close its branch in Henleaze, leaving no banking facilities in the area. Concern was raised that this may have an impact on banking in Westbury with a possible reduction of hours. Some good news is that proposals to change the Number 2 bus route so that it would not stop near the Waitrose store in Henleaze have now been reversed.
    Bristol Bowling
    There is a Council proposal that Bristol Bowling Clubs will have to pay more rent for the premises they occupy plus Council rates for having their greens maintained, which may mean that smaller clubs may find them unviable.
    Canford Park Flower Garden
    The various flower areas are in full bloom and the grass is being cut on a regular basis. Proposals for a water tap have been agreed, and work was started but has been delayed because the Water Board will need to install a one-way valve. The fountain in the centre of the pond appears now to be operational, although in need of having its filtered cleaned.
  2.  Consultation Updates
    A4018 “Improvements”
    Most of the unwelcome changes have been removed. Two contentious issues remain:
    A Entry from Downs Road onto Falcondale Road will be left-turn only
    B The provision of a 24-hour bus lane from Charlton Road down to Greystoke Avenue which will require the widening of the road in the area next to St Monica’s. This in turn will require the removal of all the trees along that section, together with the (possibly compulsory) purchase of land from St Monica’s. There are expected to be a number of protests about the proposal!
    South Gloucestershire have yet to release details of their plans, including location of Park and Ride schemes.
    Westbury Parking Review
    Consultation has been completed, but nothing has been made public as yet. In response to concerns raised about illegal parking, it was confirmed that wardens do patrol, but that many of the incidents are short-term and the cars have gone before they are seen by a warden. It was also pointed out that, unless it would cause a danger, cars displaying a disabled badge are allowed to park on double-yellow lines.
    Public Toilet in Village
    Not really a consultation, in that the announcement in the Voice that the Public Toilet in the High Street had been sold was the first information that those present, including the Councillors, had had of the situation. What will replace the toilet block is anybody’s guess at this time!
    Library Update
    The Library Service held meetings earlier in the year to collect ideas for improving the local libraries and enabling the communities to make more use of the buildings. One of the outcomes for Westbury is that the library is now open on Sunday afternoons, from 1pm to 5pm, for library users who have signed up for the “Extended Access” scheme. Changes are also being made to the library furniture to enable the space to be used for group meetings, both within and outside opening hours. A list of the ideas suggested can be seen on the Council Website www.libraryideasbristol.co.uk and more details are available at www.westburylibrarygroup.org A meeting with Paul Walker of the library service was being held to discuss the ideas, at which he would provide a summary of the initial responses of Council officers which will also be posted on the library group website.
    A number of the proposals would require major structural changes to the existing bulding, or its demolition and replacement by another building, either on the same site or elsewhere. These plans have been around for some time, but would require the commitment of large sums of money. Steve Smith said that, in discussions with Councillor Asher Craig, she confirmed that she would support such a development and that the money raised would be ring-fenced for a new library.
    Geof Gollop pointed out that no information is yet available regarding budgets for the coming financial year and its likely impact on the future of the libraries in Bristol.
  1. A O B
    Concern had been raised about the volume level of music being played at a sports day being held at the Sports Centre. Management at the Centre did respond to the complaint and the volume was then reduced. If the problems recur, the suggestion was that complaints are followed up in writing and a copy sent to one of the councillors.
    There have been incidents of fly-tipping in Canford Lane. The registration of a car involved had been noted and reported and councillors were asked whether they could follow up on any action that was being taken.
    Councillors were asked what was happening about the damage caused to the perimeter of Canford Cemetery by a lorry over a year ago. They have been told that repairs are on hold until the Council receives a cheque from the insurers – why they can’t get the cheque is unknown!
    One of the flower planters around the War Memorial roundabout was demolished by a car on Sunday night. The police have been informed but have decided that no CCTV evidence is available and so they will not be pursuing the incident further.
    There is a plan to set up a new Forum website over the coming months, with a view to providing a link to organisations within and around Westbury. This is at a very early stage at the moment but hopefully more news will be available at the next meeting.
  1. Date of Next Meeting
    The next forum meeting will be held on Tuesday 8 October, at Coombe Dingle Sports Complex, Coombe Lane, BS9 2BJ, commencing at 7.00pm.The slides displayed during the Forum can be seen here: Slide Show, July 2019


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