December, 2016 Issue 21
FREE EVERY MONTH IN YATE, CHIPPING SODBURY & SURROUNDING VILLAGES
Academy in turmoil A NEW trust is being sought to run Yate International Academy and its partner school in Winterbourne - a move which could see them being separated. The revelation by trustees of the Ridings’ Federation of Academies came as it was also announced that chief executive principal Adam Williams had left after only taking up the post in February. The latest developments at the federation follow the discovery that it faces a potential £1 million deficit by the end of the academic year. Despite looking at ways of dealing with the financial crisis, it has now been decided that the schools could not sort out their problems quickly enough on their own and “re-brokering” was necessary. Three potential sponsors have come forward with expressions of interest with Greenshaw Learning Trust only bidding for Yate. The Ridings’ trustees said Yate and Winterbourne academies would transfer, either together or separately, no later than the start of the next academic year in September 2017. Full story Page 3.
Ofsted dissapointment Brimsham Green still requires improvement PAGE 3
Green light for restaurant Controversial Chipping Sodbury plans get go ahead PAGE 4
Top of the class Yate teacher wins award PAGE 6
Want beauty treatment at a snip? Go back to school! PAGE 9
Rugby rebound First away win for Chipping Sodbury PAGE 30
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Potential for new Yate link with study into extra M4 junction A FEASIBILITY study into an extra junction on the M4 has been given the go-ahead - with hopes that it could lead to a new link to Yate. South Gloucestershire Council has accepted £500,000 of Government funding for the study into linking the motorway with the A4174 ring road via a new junction 18a at Emersons Green. A key aim of the scheme is to ease traffic congestion in that area and provide better access to employment sites such as the Emersons Green Enterprise Area - home to the Bristol and Bath Science Park. Work on the study is due to be completed in 2018. Westerleigh councillor Claire Young said clarification was sought on whether the study would also look at having a link road to Yate. But although councillors were told the funding was specifically for a motorway junction and link to the ring road, the study would consider other potential schemes such as a route to Yate.
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Approval given for homes on former quarry social club HOUSE builders have won permission for their scheme to demolish the former Hanson Social Club in Chipping Sodbury and replace it with nine homes. The club closed in January after operating for some 45 years, during which time the facility was enjoyed not only by staff of quarry firm Hanson but also many local people. They had been able to meet up for a drink or play skittles, while the venue was hired out for parties, weddings and other functions. However, the building would not meet new standards due to come into effect in 2017 and the club could not afford to keep going after losing a subsidy. Despite options being considered for the relocation of the club, it was reported that none were viable. Now Newland Homes has been told it can go ahead with a proposal to build three and four-bedroom houses on the site in Barnhill Road, in an area which has already been developed with housing and the Waitrose supermarket.
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MP thanks Post workers in run up to Christmas Luke Hall MP has visited Royal Mail’s Yate Delivery Office to see firsthand the work of delivering Christmas post. Mr Hall was shown around the office by Delivery Office Manager, Graham Wilkes, and was introduced to the postmen and women, who will deliver mail in the Yate area over the Christmas period. Mr Hall said: ““At no other time is the hard work and dedication of postmen and women clearer than during the festive period.” “This is now my second visit and it is clear the extraordinary lengths that everyone goes to to ensure Christmas cards and presents are delivered to loved ones on time.” The last recommend posting dates for Christmas are: Second Class – Tuesday 20 December 2016 First Class – Wednesday 21 December 2016 Special Delivery – Thursday 22 December 2016
Problems pile up for Yate academy UNCERTAINTY is continuing at Yate International Academy after the federation that runs the school lost its second chief executive principal in the space of a year. Trustees of the Ridings’ Federation of Academies also announced they were seeking a new sponsor, with three potential candidates coming forward with expressions of interest. Claire Emery, chairwoman of the trustees, said “re-brokering” the Yate academy and its partner school in Winterbourne was necessary because the schools, which are facing a potential £1 million deficit by the end of the academic year, could not sort out their problems quickly enough on their own. In a letter to parents, she said: “It is in everyone’s interest that the Ridings’ Federation can secure rapid and sustained improvement for the benefit of
our students within the necessary timescale.” The trustees are working with the Regional Schools Commissioner, Rebecca Clark, and said the Yate and Winterbourne academies would transfer, either together or separately, no later than the start of the next academic year in September 2017. The first two potential sponsors to come forward were Greenshaw Learning Trust and the national chain Oasis. The third multi-academy trust to express an interest is a collaboration of the two local trusts Olympus and Castle School Education Trust (CSET). CSET was established in 2013 when the Castle School in Thornbury became an academy and it now consists of seven South Gloucestershire schools. Olympus has the same number of schools, including
Bradley Stoke Community School. However, a recent meeting organised for parents, staff and students of Winterbourne International Academy was told that Greenshaw was only bidding for Yate, while the other two had expressed interest in Winterbourne. A series of shock announcements from the federation lately included the predicted big deficit and the departure of Adam Williams as chief executive principal. Mr Williams only joined in February and had been off sick since the start of the current term. He had replaced Beverley Martin, who left after about seven months, and took on the task of improving Yate and Winterbourne academies after they were both judged by Ofsted to require improvement. Progress was being made
under Mr Williams and earlier this year, the Yate academy’s own principal, Paul Skipp, said changes made to get back on track were making a big difference, leading to positive comments from Ofsted. Local MP Luke Hall has become involved in the situation, pledging to meet with the Education Secretary. He said: "The issues currently facing Yate and Winterbourne Academy require urgent attention, and I am hence in on-going discussions with neighbouring MP’s, and other local academies, to determine the most appropriate and effective way forward to ensure that our schools are delivering the best possible education. I will also be meeting with the Secretary of State for Education next week in the hope of finding a speedy solution.”
Petition fails to stop Chipping Sodbury restaurant getting green light A CONTROVERSIAL plan to convert outbuildings at a 17th century house in Chipping Sodbury into a restaurant and function room has been approved, despite large scale opposition from neighbours and town leaders. A petition of more than 200 names, as well as 50 letters of objection, were submitted to South Gloucestershire Council in response to the scheme for listed Vayre House in Hatters Lane.
Opponents said the proposal would affect people living in homes surrounding the premises, including elderly residents in retirement bungalows, as they would be disturbed by customers and staff leaving the site, especially at night. Parents said children could also be woken up by vehicles coming and going during the evening. Sodbury Town Council said such a business should be in the
town centre, not in a residential area, and feared an increase in traffic in the locality. But planners gave the proposal the go-ahead, although they drew up a list of nine conditions to be met. They include a restriction on opening hours of 11am-11pm from Monday to Saturday and 10am-4pm on Sundays and bank holidays. An extraction and odour abatement system also has to
be approved, together with the submission of an acoustic report on the system to prevent noise disturbance. The plan involves keeping Vayre House itself as a private home, with the outbuildings and a swimming pool altered to provide the new facilities. Petitioners were disappointed at the outcome of the planning debate and said they felt their objections had been ignored.
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Disappointment at Ofsted’s rating for Brimsham Green School BRIMSHAM Green School has been told it is still in need of improvement, despite two key areas being described as good. After a recent visit, education inspectors maintained the same overall rating for the Yate school as they gave in 2014 - an outcome described by head teacher Kim Garland as disappointing. Mark Jenner, the lead inspector from Ofsted, said the effectiveness of leadership and management, as well as the personal development, behaviour and welfare of pupils were both good. He also praised Ms Garland for her determination to appoint the right leaders to further improve the quality of teaching, learning and assessment. He said: “She has successfully established
senior and middle leadership teams who are promoting a clear culture of improvement.” The inspectors said governance had got better since the previous inspection but although teaching and learning were also improving, inconsistencies within and between subjects had not yet been overcome. Their report said: “A number of parents and pupils highlighted this as a concern to the inspection team. “Pupils reach national average standards but their outcomes should be better.” The report said Ms Garland and the governing body had created a strong vision and an inclusive ethos, with leaders beginning to make improvements in securing more consistently good teaching. Pupils also felt safe due to the great care
of staff, while homework developed learning skills well. In a letter to parents, Ms Garland said the two areas assessed to be good showed a “highly significant” improvement from the school’s 2014 report. She said: “It is extremely rare that schools are judged to be well led and managed when outcomes are judged to require improvement.” But she said the overall decision that the school had to improve was a disappointment. She said: “I speak on behalf of all staff ad governors when I say that we are incredibly disappointed by this outcome. “I am confident that at our next inspection we will be recognised as a good school and we continue to work hard and urgently to secure better outcomes for our students.”
New mayor for West of England set to be elected after devolution green light A MAYOR for the new organisation at the centre of a £1 billion devolution deal for South Gloucestershire and two neighbouring areas is set to be elected next May. The West of England Combined Authority will go ahead after South Gloucestershire, Bristol and Bath and North East Somerset (BaNES) councils gave their consent for the parliamentary order for the deal. It will be led by the new West of England mayor, with a cabinet consisting of the South Gloucestershire Council leader, Matthew Riddle, Bristol’s mayor Marvin Rees and BaNES leader Tim Warren.
Once established, the authority will manage new powers, funding and responsibilities handed from central Government to the region as part of the deal. The purpose behind the move is for more decisions to be made locally rather than nationally, including on spending for regional transport, housing, adult education and skills. Councillor Riddle said: “Our deal is among the best negotiated in the country and will bring tangible benefits to people who live and work across the region. “It will mean more local decision making on spending
in key areas such as transport, housing and skills.” The process will now involve an order being laid before Parliament and considered at Commons and Lords committees. It will lead to royal assent to the order, which is expected to be given before the Christmas recess. But South Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats have criticised the devolution deal, saying a single mayor would make decisions for a wide area of the West of England - although without North Somerset, which voted against it. Frampton Cotterell
councillor Pat Hockey (Frampton Cotterell) said: “We are not getting powers, we’re losing them. We’re not gaining democracy, it’s being taken away from us.” Yate councillor Mike Drew said the money involved wasn’t index linked and claimed no government would be able to bind its successors to it. He also said the Government should be working with the other areas to try and bring North Somerset into the fold. He said: “I’m not against a combined authority but we need to take the time to get it right.”
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n YOUTH & EDUCATION
Opposition to pub demolition and new flats plan
Teacher Steve goes to the top of the class YATE teacher Steve Clayson is celebrating after being presented with an award given to recognise excellence in eduction. Mr Clayson, who works at St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School in Bristol, received a silver award in the annual scheme that honours outstanding teachers and teaching. The Pearson Teaching Awards were established in 1999 by Lord Puttnam, the Oscar-winning film producer and educator, with an event held each autumn to put the spotlight on all the silver winners and reveal ten of them as winners of the top gold award. This year the event was hosted by comedian and actor Hugh Dennis at the Guildhall in London. In the nomination to the judging panel, one of Mr Clayson’s students said the assistant head was the best teacher he had ever had in 13 years of schooling - someone who loved to see people learn and grow. The student said: “You have been a great influence on the school and a huge influence on me as I have grown up.”
OPPOSITION is growing to outline plans for the demolition of the Tern Inn in Chipping Sodbury and the building of 28 flats on the site. The scheme also includes the loss of a car park that although private, has been used for many years by parents of children at Raysfield School to avoid parking on busy Heron Way, as well as customers of local shops. About 100 residents attended a meeting of Dodington Parish Council to protest about the proposal and a petition was launched as part of their action plan. The parish council said it strongly objected to the scheme and urged South Gloucestershire planners to reject it when the application is determined. Those opposed to the plan said the pub was an active business and community hub, with locals calling for investment in the business rather than closing it down. Residents also said losing the car park would result in more parking on Heron Way, increasing the dangers for road users.
More villages to have access to faster broadband TWO villages near Chipping Sodbury are among rural areas that will benefit from superfast broadband to be provided via fibre connections straight to subscribers’ premises. Codrington and Little Sodbury will have access to the system, which is claimed to be a better solution than the alternative method of running fibre optic cables from a phone exchange or distribution point to street cabinets and then connected to a standard phone line. South Gloucestershire Council said the development would bring superfast broadband coverage to 95 per cent of the district by 2017.
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Bags give-away with town calendar to help promote Chipping Sodbury SHOPPING bags promoting Chipping Sodbury are being given away by business leaders in a drive to bring more trade to the town. The hand-out of bags, which carry the slogan I love Chipping Sodbury, is the idea of the town’s chamber of commerce. It will also help the organisation and its 55 members sell more 2017 calendars that feature then-and-now photographs of the town. The bags will be given to anyone buying a calendar and will be available at the chamber’s stall on Victorian Day, which this year takes place on Saturday, December 3, from 1pm-7pm. Joanne Cox, chairwoman of the chamber, said: “We are pleased to be able to support both Small Business Saturday and Victorian Day. The calendars and bags will make great stocking fillers this Christmas.”
The bags are available while stocks last while the £6.50 calendars are also on sale at many outlets in the town, including the tourist information centre.
House builder gives £10,000 boost to Barnardo’s
A Chipping Sodbury-based company has given an early Christmas present to a children’s charity. Redcliffe Homes recently presented a £10,000 cheque to staff at the Barnardo’s regional office in Bristol. The money will be used to support some of the UK’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people.
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Art Club to Exhibit at Poole Court Yate, Sodbury & District Art Society, better known as Yate Art Club, are having an exhibition of their work at the town’s Registrar Offices. The club’s paintings and pottery will be on show until the New Year. Poole Court is open to the public Mondays – Friday. The club will also be taking part in the ‘Christmas Festival of Light’ at Ridgewood Community Centre on Friday 3rd December from 6.30 – 9.00 pm. The society meets every Tuesday and Wednesday evening at the Ridgewood Studio in Yate. More information can be found by contacting Roz on 0794 194 6412 or the website: yateand sodburyartsociety.weebly.com
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New tea dance for people with dementia A SERIES of tea dances for people with dementia are being launched in Chipping Sodbury. The Alzheimer’s Society, with support from South Gloucestershire Council and the Rotary Club of Chipping Sodbury, held the first tea
dance at the end of November at Chipping Sodbury Town Hall. There are further dances scheduled for 25 January and 29 March next year. The tea dances provide a social atmosphere that aims to help people with dementia keep
physically and mentally active as well as helping people express themselves. Lynn Cross, Services Manager for Alzheimer's Society in South Gloucestershire said: “We’re really excited to be launching this new tea dance in Chipping Sodbury. Activities like this can make a huge difference to people’s sense of wellbeing,
helping people keep fit, have fun and socialise.” As well as the tea dance, The Alzheimer’s Society run a number of services including Memory Cafes, Singing for the Brain and Activity Groups. To find out more about the new or existing groups contact 0117 961 0693 or visit alzheimers.org.uk/ localinformation.
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Write to Luke at: Luke Hall MP, 26 High Street, Chipping Sodbury, BS37 6AH t: 01454 311267 e: email@example.com w: lukehall.org.uk Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Itâ€™s a snip! Students offer treatments at academy hair and beauty salon
HAIR and beauty students are welcoming the public into their salon in Yate to offer a range of treatments as part of their training. The Cotswold Edge sixth formers are studying for vocational qualifications at Yate International Academy (YIA) and the experience of dealing with customers helps them in their aim of developing a career in the industry. People will be able to make use of the new service once a fortnight every other Thursday between 11.30am and 5pm, with a small charge imposed to cover the cost of the products used. On the first day of the scheme, students offered treatments such as eyebrow shaping, facials and eyelash tinting. In the coming months, they will also include spray tanning, ear piercing, waxing, manicures and pedicures for customers. A hair and beauty salon was established in 2012 as part of the new building at YIA and anyone who would like to make use of the service should email Kirsty.email@example.com to make a booking.
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Free Christmas mince pies for Chipping Sodbury residents
PEOPLE living in Chipping Sodbury are being invited to to enjoy free Christmas coffee and mince pies whilst helping to raise funds for Alzheimers research. The event at the Baptist Church on Friday December 9 has been organised by Bluebird Care, an organisation that provides care and support to people living in their own homes, and coincides with national Christmas Elf Day. Jo Craythorne, Customer Quality Manager at Bluebird Care South Gloucestershire, said: “ Too often people, especially the elderly, feel isolated and lonely in their own homes – which is why it’s important to have events like this that people can attend As this is the Christmas Elf Day, in aid of Alzheimer’s Society our care workers and staff will be dressed as Christmas Elves as well, and we’ll have a collection box available for any donations.” Free Christmas coffee and mince pies cake, along with a Christmas sing-a-long with a local school choir, will be served on from 11.15am – 12.45 pm at Chipping Sodbury Baptist Church.
Yate rider seriously hurt and horse fatally injured A MAN from Yate was seriously injured and his horse had to be destroyed in an incident in Hawkesbury Upton. A car driven by a local man was in collision with the horse and rider on Highfield Lane, which runs between Hawkesbury and Horton, near Chipping Sodbury, on November 7. Two of the horse’s legs were broken and it was put down at the scene. The rider, in his 60s, was taken to hospital by ambulance and later underwent surgery. He was still in hospital as Yate and Sodbury Voice went to press.
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decisive, positive A NEW era of is and careful management the federation underway within Winterbourne and that runs Yate academies, the international has pledged. head of its trusteesstaﬀ and While parents, to terms with trustees come million deﬁcit a potential £1 Federation of at the Ridings’ the end of August Academies for plan has been 2017, an action ﬁnancial the with deal started to problem. Voice As Yate and Sodbury the board went to press, expecting of trustees was support from the of conﬁrmation Agency. Education Funding chairwoman Claire Emery, said that support of the board, form of what’s would be in the deﬁcit known as a repayable payments funding - advanced be repaid when which have to a surplus. the trust generates Emery has Meanwhile, Mrsacademies are both stressed that with a “bright open for business, ahead. and positive future” the trustees She also said through were part way how the federation investigating the diﬃcult found itself in in the ﬁrst ﬁnancial positionshare their place and wouldcourse. ﬁndings in due 3 More on Page
acad Funding boost for
for Campaigners push of services reinstatement Page 7
CHeck out our website:
Moving dayVictorian Chipping Sodbury’s on a Saturday Day to be held Page 13
n Never forgotte to be marked Day Remembrance Sodbury in Yate and Chipping Page 17
Ringing the changes removed Phone boxes to from service Page 33
to gone from yellow the staff in Yate have Workers at Construction cancer research. their Pretty in pink: money for breast at Autumn Brook swapped pink to help raise fundraising Homes development and hats as part of the David Wilson jackets gear for pink regular hi-vis effort.
Up for the cup Rugby get Chipping Sodbury ways back to winning Page 37
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n NEWS TWO detectives who led an investigation into the death of vulnerable Yate man Jason Betts have received crown court commendations. Detective Sergeant Matthew Lloyd and Detective Constable Peter Fowler were presented with their awards by Avon and Somerset chief constable Andy Marsh and the High Sheriff of Bristol, Helen Wilde. Mr Betts, 38, was found unconscious at his flat in Celestine Road in March 2015 by a friend and put on a life support machine in hospital. It was switched off the following day, with a postmortem examination concluding he had suffered a head injury which had caused a bleed to the brain. Police said Mr Betts had been exploited by a group of London drug dealers who used his flat as a base to sell drugs. He was subjected to systematic mental and physical torture and it was after a particularly vicious attack that he died. Detectives investigating the death were faced with a number of challenges - no CCTV, no
Commendations for detectives in investigation into Yate man’s killing
apparent witnesses, challenging pathology, difficult forensic recovery and a community that led chaotic lifestyles and didn’t trust the police. But the team’s hard work and dedication paid off and resulted in two men being jailed earlier this year for their involvement in the incident. Nathan Skeen, 29, of Lewisham, London, was found
guilty at Bristol Crown Court of manslaughter and wounding with intent. He also admitted charges of being concerned in the supply of class A drugs, including heroin and cocaine. He was jailed for 20 years. Nixon Apire, 31, of Great North Road, Barnet, admitted wounding with intent in connection with an assault on
Mr Betts about a week before his death, as well as being concerned in the supply of class A drugs. He was jailed for 15 years. The awards to DS Lloyd and DC Fowler recognised the “excellent performance of their duties, overcoming a difficult inquiry, particularly in respect of potentially problematic witnesses”.
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Yate man fined for fly-tipping hairdressing items in town A MAN from Yate who dumped a quantity of hairdressing items on a site in the town has been ordered to pay more than £1,892 in fines and costs. Harry Curness, 27, of Lansdown, admitted fly tipping and carrying waste without the required paperwork when he appeared at Bristol Magistrates’ Court. He was fined £1,254.75 and ordered to pay costs of £580 plus a £58 victim surcharge. The court heard that sometime in June, Curness dumped controlled waste consisting of cardboard, paper, plastics and hairdressing related items, including hair extensions, at Watery Lane, Yate. He was traced after some of the items identified a local hairdressing business, from where he’d removed some of the waste. When interviewed by council officers, Curness admitted fly
tipping and transporting waste without a registered carrier’s licence and waste transfer note. He said he had been on his way to the local recycling centre but realised it would be closed before he could get there so fly tipped the material. Heather Goddard, South Gloucestershire Council’s environment and community services committee chairwoman, said there was no excuse to flytip as Sort It! centres were open from 8.30am-4.30pm seven days a week. She said: “Fly tipping is an issue that affects our communities and harms the local environment. “Unregistered waste carriers undercut legitimate operators, offering to pick up waste on the cheap and fly tipping what they collect. This will not be tolerated in South Gloucestershire and offenders will be prosecuted.”
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Contact Mark Rozelaar A Georgian chest of drawers. Sold for £4,400
Contact Stuart Maule Contact David Lord Baccarat close pack millefiori Australia 1916 Kangaroo £1 glass paperweight. Sold for £1,300 Sold for £1000
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Yate salutes the fallen at Remembrance Day parade HUNDREDS of people of all ages marked Remembrance Day in Yate by attending a service in St Mary’s Church. Many of them also joined a parade to the church from Poole Court, which was led by a Royal British Legion standard bearer. Town residents joined local councillors, Thornbury and Yate MP Luke Hall and the Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire, Dame Janet Trotter, in the act of remembrance. Army and air cadets, cubs, scouts, brownies and guides were also involved, together with representatives of community organisations. The service was led by team rector, the Rev Ian Wallace, with wreaths later laid at the memorial lych gate and at the Parnall grave, which names the 55 people killed in bomb attacks on the former Parnall aircraft factory in 1941.
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Crew changes proposed for Yate fire station with fulltimers to only work in daytime FULL-time crews will only be on duty at Yate’s fire station during the daytime under changes planned to come into effect in 2017. Part-time firefighters, also known as retained staff, will be on call at night to provide cover once the new system is introduced. The proposal will see the fire station revert to a staffing rota that operated before 2009. For the past eight years it has been crewed around the clock by full-time firefighters, with retained staff also called in during periods of high demand. But Avon Fire and Rescue Service wants to return to the pre-2009 set-up, which involves having full-timers on duty just in the day and using retained crews at night. The change is among a number of proposals drawn up by the service, which faces making £5 million of annual savings up to 2020 due to a cut in the central government grant it receives. Fire authorities are also being pressed to reform their services. A document detailing the proposals can be read online through the service’s website, with any comments to be made by December 31. Detailed plans for Yate fire station will also be on display in the town’s library for a week from Monday, November
28, with an open event being planned at the station itself for later in December. Yate’s 2009 crewing change was made due in part to an anticipated increase in emergency incidents and demand for services as a result of the town expanding. But that predicted increase has not materialised and the greater housing development in the area has not had any significant effect on the demand for fire and rescue services. The station also has the highest cost per call-out of all Avon Fire and Rescue’s full-time stations, coupled with the lowest operational activity level for those wholetime stations. The plan document said: “Yate fire station will continue to provide 24-hour operational cover but in a different way.” It said with Yate having a large number of commercial premises, together with a need to provide community safety activities, the continued use of full-time firefighters during the day could be justified rather than switching entirely to retained crews. It also recognised plans for a “substantial” increase in housing in the Yate area but said those homes would comply with latest building regulations, including fire safety measures such as hard-wired smoke alarms.
Five-day crib festival set to bring in visitors to popular exhibition MORE than 150 cribs from around the world will be on display in Chipping Sodbury when St John’s Church hosts one of the town’s most popular annual events. The Nativity Crib Festival features exhibits made from a large variety of materials and from many different cultures which have been loaned or gifted to the organisers. Local schoolchildren have also made their own entries for the free five-day festival, which runs from Wednesday, November 30, to Sunday, December 4. A cafe will be open throughout the event and activities such as craft workshops and storytelling organised for children. Visitors can also have a go at making lanterns on the Friday and Saturday evenings, with pupils from Chipping Sodbury School providing entertainment for festival-goers at 6pm on the Friday. During Chipping Sodbury’s annual Victorian Day on the Saturday, a handbell workshop will be held in the church during the morning, while a dancing display has been planned for the afternoon. Festival opening times are: November 30, 10am-5pm; December 1, 11.15am-5pm; December 2, 10am-7pm; December 3, 10am-7.30pm; December 4, 11am-4.30pm.
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Festival organisers line up the stars AWARD winning folk singer Cara Dillon, the comic capers of the Reduced Shakespeare Company and foot-tapping band Stringfever are included in the line-up for the next Thornbury Arts Festival. Professor Lord Robert Winston, antiques expert Judith Miller and Thornbury Choral Society will also feature in the nine-day festival, which brings in audiences from a wide area of South Gloucestershire and Bristol. The event will be launched by former shadow home secretary Ann Widdecombe - now also known to many as a past Strictly Come Dancing contestant and pantomime star. She will get the festival off to a flying start with a talk about her life, which still involves serious debate and regular TV documentaries. The team of volunteers behind the festival has been working since the end of the 2016 event on the next programme, which again features a mix of music, comedy, drama and a range of talks. The concert by Cara Dillon, whose legion of fans include Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith, is expected to be a sell-out, with the Reduced Theatre Company set to attract a big audience to see its production William Shakespeare’s
Long Lost First Play. Professor Winston - one of Britain’s best known scientists and a leading fertility expert
- will give a talk on genetics and has also agreed to give a separate talk to students at the town’s Castle School. Other festival highlights include Thornbury Choral Society singing Mozart’s Requiem and Handel’s Coronation Anthems, BBC Antiques Roadshow regular Judith Miller giving an illustrated talk on collecting antiques and Squashbox Theatre’s The Sea Show, which is aimed largely at children and families. Among the topics for lunchtime talks are the work of the Bristol Film Office, the restoration of Dyrham Park’s gardens, the Badminton railway line and the history of the Women’s Institute. After the success of a guided walk in the last festival, there will also be a two-hour ramble around the Purton hulks - abandoned boats and ships deliberately beached next to the river Severn near Sharpness. The festival, which runs from May 5-13, will be brought to a close by Stringfever, which mixes electric instruments and beatboxing with musical skill. Visit the arts festival website for further details.