It’s great news that NSC have arranged for three new bus services to be introduced to service the Blagdon and Churchill area. These services have been procured on an emergency three month basis, in order to allow the services to be launched while permanent contractual arrangements are put in place.
The launch of these services is great news for our villages, adding additional public transport options to support residents to make more sustainable travel choices while helping residents without access to cars to remain mobile.
Route 51 will operate on broadly a 2 hour frequency on a Mon-Fri basis, commencing Tuesday 6 April 2021. This service will be supported by a shorter journey for school pupils only between Churchill Academy and Winscombe (51s).
The service has been planned to connect with new local community feeder minibus services 991 (Langford-Wrington) and 992 (Langford-Blagdon) to give further journey opportunities, with discussions ongoing with another operator on how to further expand the offering for onward journeys at Langford.
Routes991 & 992 will operate on broadly a 2 hour frequency on a Mon-Fri basis, commencing Tuesday 6 April 2021. These services will be supported by a shorter journey for school pupils only between Churchill Academy and Winscombe (991s). 991s will provide a link from Winford & Felton as well as two journeys from Wrington into Churchill Academy.
The service has been planned to connect with new service 51 (WsM-Langford via Churchill Winscombe, Banwell and Haywood Village) to give further journey opportunities, with discussions ongoing with another operator on how to further expand the offering for onward journeys at Langford.
Responding to the results of the vote on the Coronavirus Act extension, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey MP commented:
“This vote hands Conservative Ministers a blank cheque to use draconian powers they don’t need. I am proud that Liberal Democrats voted against it.“
We continue to support all necessary measures to contain the spread of the virus and keep people safe, but none of them rely on the Coronavirus Act. The Prime Minister even had to resort to lies to persuade MPs to back him today.
“Despite all their talk about freedom, the Conservatives have shown they have no intention of restoring people’s civil liberties once the need for restrictions has ended.
“Liberal Democrats will remain vigilant to stop the Government abusing these powers, and to make sure that everyone’s rights and freedoms are fully restored once this crisis is over.”
Noes to EditorThe full text of the speech by Ed Davey MP is below.
Madam Deputy Speaker, Renewing the Coronavirus Act is about extra powers for Ministers. Powers which have serious implications for people’s freedoms, but are not crucial to help the fight against Covid. So of course Liberal Democrats will vote against this Bill tonight.
We have supported any necessary powers to keep people safe throughout this crisis. Indeed, a year ago we supported the original Coronavirus Bill, albeit with a very heavy heart. But while we’ve sometimes had to accept that such public health actions were needed to preserve people’s liberty to survive this pandemic, we have always sounded a liberal warning. A year ago, in the debate, I said about this Bill: the powers must be used only when absolutely necessary during this emergency, and not for a moment longer. The experience of the last year shows that many of these powers the Government still wants to keep have proved totally unnecessary – including the extraordinary powers for police and immigration officers to detain innocent people, potentially indefinitely. The Govt itself says such powers haven’t been used once in the whole of the pandemic. Yet they’re still asking MPs to renew them for another six months. And these unnecessary powers are causing enormous confusion for police and prosecutors. The Crown Prosecution Service’s review reveals that, as of the end of February, 252 people had been incorrectly charged under this Act – with not a single person correctly charged. Now I do welcome that Ministers at last accept that a few of the provisions should expire – especially the reduction in people’s rights to care. I warned at the second reading last year that these were some of the most alarming provisions in the Bill and we called on the Government to remove them last September. We showed that they were illegal under international law. So I’m glad they’ve gone. But the Government still seems determined to keep most of these unnecessary, draconian powers. Indeed, what’s disturbing, Ministers are now resorting to desperate, false arguments to persuade MPs to vote for this motion. Ministers said voting it down would end furlough. It won’t. Yesterday, the Prime Minister said it was needed for people to carry on volunteering in the NHS. That’s not true. This is fake news, and this House shouldn’t fall for it. Now there are some parts of the Act that are needed, but that’s not justification for renewing all these sweeping and intrusive powers for another six months. Not least because there’s an alternative. Liberty has published a Protect Everyone Bill to replace the Coronavirus Act. It contains the laws necessary to protect both public health and human rights. That’s the law we should be debating, as our amendment calls for. Conservative Ministers are asking for a blank cheque for another six months. So I really hope that Conservative backbenchers, and indeed Labour and SNP colleagues and others across the House, will do what the Liberal Democrats are going to do, and that’s not support this Bill. We will vote against this motion. And I hope Conservative Ministers go away and think again, and put liberty first.
While North Somerset Council voted in favour of my motion to support people caught up in the #CladdingScandal, Weston’s Tory MP has once again let down local residents by voting against proposals that would have saved leaseholders in our area from huge fire safety bills.More and more tenants and leaseholders across the country are facing huge bills for remedial fire safety work. This is usually due to the owner cutting corners on safety rather than being any fault of their own. This has left thousands of people anxious about the safety of their houses in the event of a fire, at serious financial risk and unable to sell their leasehold and move on.
The Liberal Democrats first introduced an amendment in the House of Commons to protect tenants and leaseholders from these costs which was voted down by the Conservatives. Liberal Democrat members of the Lords reintroduced this amendment to the Fire Safety Bill – but once again the Tories, including Weston’s MP, voted against these measures.
This comes despite North Somerset Councillors voting in favour of a motion tabled by LibDem Councillor Patrick Keating to find ways to support the several hundred people in our area who are struggling with the impact of the Cladding Scandal.We need an MP that supports local people – even if it means standing up to the Government.
The Conservatives’ plans to crackdown on protests are dangerous and draconian.
The appalling scenes on Clapham Common at the weekend only confirm this.
The Liberal Democrats will fiercely resist anti-democratic attempts to silence protest.
This is why I wrote yesterday to Weston’s MP asking him to vote against the Government on this crucial piece of legislation.
I am writing to you to express my concerns about the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and to request that you vote against its passage. This bill contains unacceptable restrictions on the right to protest.
Allowing restrictions to be imposed on protests that could create noise, disrupt an organisation or cause nearby people “serious unease alarm or distress”. This gives the police the reason to shut down a protest on the basis of just one person’s response – Section 54 (2) and (3)Allowing the police to intervene in a protest to prevent “impact”, despite this being the very purpose of a protest – Section 54 (2)Allows prosecutions where protests “ought to know” of restrictions in place rather than requiring the police to inform and engage unaware protestors prior to making arrests – Section 56 (5)Allows for a maximum sentence of 10 years for causing “serious annoyance” – Section 59.
Among these provisions and numerous other draconian measures, restricting people’s civil liberties, are provisions for the Secretary of State to “make provision about the meaning” of “serious disruption”. This allows the Secretary of State to impose their will, under the pretext of interpretation of the law, and avoid parliamentary scrutiny.
This bill comes mere days after the suppression of a protest that drew condemnation from across the political spectrum. Voting for this bill on Monday expresses a belief that the police should have more powers to act in that way and indeed to go further.
Transport shouldn’t just be about the car. We want to make our roads safer spaces where active travel is encouraged, and empower residents to feel they have some control over how they can travel around their local community.
So, in the recent North Somerset Council budget we set out a vision for the future of our area – a future that is better connected, cleaner, greener and safer than ever before with new transport projects that will stand the test of time and help safeguard the future of our planet.
North Somerset Council Executive Member for Finance, Ash Cartman, set out our plans for this ambitious new transport investment scheme:
“I want residents of North Somerset to take back control of their public spaces, this includes our roads, cycle paths, and public rights of way. We want to make it safer to cycle and walk, slow traffic in our villages, and help residents with parking problems.
“We’re investing an additional £1.25m in fixing potholes, approved funding to help introduce 20mph zones and residents parking schemes, given the go-ahead to a new Clevedon to Weston Pier 2 Pier cycle path, and pushing ahead with the Portishead Railway of course.”
With leadership from LibDem councillors, North Somerset Council will be investing £2.09m in the pier to pier cycleway between Clevedon and Weston, enhancing our section of the England coastal path and delivering more improvements to the Strawberry Line.
And that’s just the beginning of the cycling investment. The Council will establish a quiet lanes network of cycle and pedestrian routes between Yatton, Clevedon and Nailsea, all while maintaining essential and farm accesses.
We’ll make improvements to Hill Road and The Beach in Clevedon with a one-way system to allow better pedestrian access and cycling.
We’ll create a cycling corridor on Baker Street and Milton Road in Weston-super-Mare, introducing a 20mph limit, preventing rat-running of cars and offering better links from residential areas to the town centre.
We’ll introduce a segregated cycling route over Hildesheim Bridge to the town centre in Weston-super-Mare, and we’ll deliver several new school schemes that offer safe cycling and walking routes to school for children and parents.
For those with cars, we know that parking is a challenge. So we’re working to give communities the control they need with residents parking schemes. After a very popular test run in Leigh Woods, we’re providing extra funds to accelerate other schemes across North Somerset.
This package of travel investment will be vital as we plan for a future in North Somerset out of lockdown, where being able to travel safely in climate-friendly ways will help to boost our local recovery.
North Somerset Council has made the difficult decision to introduce an annual charge of £50 per bin for garden waste collections from 1 April 2021.
I have thought long and hard about the charge, but in the end I think it is the right thing to do – even if it proves unpopular with some residents.
Council finances are under a great deal of pressure and garden waste is not a statutory service. To protect essential services, we need to introduce an annual charge to cover the costs of the garden waste service and make it self-financing.
All our neighbouring authorities already have this charge in place, as do two-thirds of councils in England, some of which charge up to £100 to collect green waste.
Home composting is the cheapest and most environmentally- friendly way to deal with garden waste. To support residents we have discounted compost bins for sale for just £10, free online courses and lots of information on our website at www.n-somerset.gov.uk/composting
This is an optional charge: anyone who chooses not to pay for garden waste collections can either home compost or take their garden waste to a household waste recycling centre.
The income from charging for garden waste will make the service self-financing and free-up resources to protect essential services including care and support for the most vulnerable people in our community.
Anyone who signs up for the new service by Sunday 28 March will receive a 10% discount off the cost of their first bin.
The Government has set out its route map for exiting Covid-19 national restrictions in England with a number of steps that will be followed over the next few months providing the virus remains under control and the vaccine programme continues apace.
In Step 1, all children and students will return to face-to-face education in schools and colleges from 8 March.
Childcare and children’s supervised activities can also resume where necessary to enable parents to work or engage in similar activities.
Twice-weekly rapid testing for secondary and college pupils – in addition to regular testing for all teachers – will be introduced.
Higher Education students at English universities on practical courses can also return from 8 March.
People will be allowed to leave home for recreation and exercise outdoors with their household or support bubble, if they are eligible for one, or with one person from outside their household.
Care home residents will also be allowed one regular visitor.From 29 March outdoor gatherings (including in private gardens) of either 6 people (the Rule of 6) or 2 households will also be allowed.
Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts, and open-air swimming pools, will also be allowed to reopen, and people will be able to take part in formally organised outdoor sports.
The ‘stay at home’ rule will end on 29 March but many restrictions will remain in place.
People should continue to work from home where they can and minimise the number of journeys they make where possible, avoiding travel at the busiest times and routes.
Travel abroad will continue to be prohibited, other than for a small number of permitted reasons.
Holidays abroad will not be allowed, given it will remain important to manage the risk of imported variants and protect the vaccination programme.
The government has launched a new taskforce to review global travel which will report on 12 April.
Step 2, which will be no earlier than 12 April, will see the opening of non-essential retail; personal care premises such as hairdressers and nail salons; and public buildings, including libraries and community centres. Indoor leisure facilities such as gyms will also reopen (but only for use by people on their own or in household groups); as will most outdoor attractions and settings including outdoor hospitality venues, zoos, theme parks, and drive-in cinemas.
Self-contained accommodation such as campsites and holiday lets, where indoor facilities are not shared with other households, can also reopen.
Hospitality venues will be allowed to serve people outdoors at Step 2 and there will be no need for customers to order a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks and no curfew, although customers must order, eat and drink while seated (‘table service’).
Wider social contact rules will apply in all these settings to prevent indoor mixing between different households.
While funerals can continue with up to 30 mourners, the number of people able to attend weddings, receptions and commemorative events such as wakes will rise to 15.
As part of Step 3, no earlier than 17 May, the government will look to continue easing limits on seeing friends and family wherever possible, allowing people to decide on the appropriate level of risk for their circumstances.
This means that most legal restrictions on meeting others outdoors will be lifted – although gatherings of over 30 people will remain illegal. Indoors, the Rule of 6 or 2 households will apply – we will keep under review whether it is safe to increase this.
As soon as possible and by no later than Step 3, they will also update the advice on social distancing between friends and family, including hugging. But until this point, people should continue to keep their distance from anyone not in their household or support bubble.
Most businesses in all but the highest risk sectors will be able to reopen. In all sectors, COVID-Secure guidance will remain in place and businesses may not cater for groups bigger than the legal limits.
Indoor hospitality will reopen – and as in Step 2, venues will not have to serve a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks; nor will there be a curfew. Customers will, however, have to order, eat and drink while seated.Other indoor locations to open up in Step 3 include indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas and children’s play areas; the rest of the accommodation sector, including hotels, hostels and B&Bs; and indoor adult group sports and exercise classes.
The government will also allow some larger performances and sporting events in indoor venues with a capacity of 1,000 people or half-full (whichever is a lower number), and in outdoor venues with a capacity of 4,000 people or half-full (whichever is a lower number). In the largest outdoor seated venues, where crowds can be spread out, up to 10,000 people will be able to attend (or a quarter-full, whichever is lower).
Up to 30 people will be able to attend weddings, receptions and wakes, as well as funerals. This limit will also apply to other types of significant life events including bar mitzvahs and christenings.Finally, before Step 4 begins, the government will complete a review of social distancing and other long-term measures that have been put in place to cut transmission. This will inform decisions on the timing and circumstances under which the rules on 1 metre plus, the wearing of face coverings and other measures may be lifted. This will also inform guidance on working from home – which should continue wherever possible until this review is complete.
By Step 4 which will take place no earlier than 21 June, the government hopes to be in a position to remove all legal limits on social contact.They hope to reopen remaining premises, including nightclubs, and ease the restrictions on large events and performances that apply in Step 3. This will be subject to the results of a scientific Events Research Programme to test the outcome of certain pilot events through the spring and summer, where we will trial the use of testing and other techniques to cut the risk of infection. The same Events Research Programme will guide decisions on whether all limits can be removed on weddings and other life events.
Plans for the future of development in North Somerset have taken an important step forward with the publication of the council’s response to the latest round of consultation.
North Somerset Council is in the process of developing a new Local Plan for the area. Once adopted, the plan will identify where development can and cannot take place in North Somerset as well as which supporting services and infrastructure are required.
Over 1,600 people took part in the six-week Choices consultation, which focused on the possible approaches to the location of future development in North Somerset.
Four approaches were put forward for discussion and people were asked what they liked or disliked about each, or whether there are any alternative ways of distributing the proposed growth.
Cllr James Tonkin, executive member for planning, said “The responses to the Choices consultation have been so useful in helping the council understand local people’s priorities for development in North Somerset, so thank you to everyone who took the time to have their say.
“The government’s housing target for North Somerset is currently 20,475 new homes over the next 15 years. Without a Local Plan we could end up with unplanned growth in the wrong places, with no supporting facilities.
“The final agreed approach is likely to be a combination of the various different options. We are determined to produce a Local Plan which provides high quality places, in sustainable locations, with all the facilities communities need to flourish.”
The results of the Choices consultation will be used as a starting point for developing a draft Local Plan, which will be consulted on this autumn. To view the results go to www.n-somerset.gov.uk/newlocalplan.
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The first in a series of new electric vehicle charging points is now ready for use in Sand Bay. Located in Beach Road car park, the charging point is well situated for electric vehicle owners visiting Sand Bay as well as local residents and businesses.
The project, to install charging points across North Somerset, will see both fast chargers (7 and 22kWh) and rapid chargers (50kWh) installed as part of the West of England-owned Revive network, which is free to join and will include use of the flagship rapid charging hub soon to open in Portishead Marina.
Other proposed sites which are being explored as part of the new series include:
Nailsea and Backwell Station car park
Worle Parkway Station car park
Great Western Road car park, Clevedon
Hutton Moor Leisure Centre, Weston-super-Mare.
Along with the Portishead Marina Rapid Charging Hub, which will come complete with solar panels, the start of the new series of fast chargers underlines the council’s strong commitment to the Climate Emergency and to creating more sustainable travel options for residents and visitors. The £7.1m investment from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) for the Go Ultra Low West project will deliver approximately 120 EV charging bays across the Revive network, with 30 of these located in North Somerset.
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The results of my New Year Resident’s survey are clear: Development, roads and drainage are the key concerns for Blagdon and Churchill residents.
20% of respondants want North Somerset to do more to improve our local roads and drainage, with a similar number stating that the main focus should be on development and housing. Improving public transport and cracking down on littering and improving waste collection were the next most popular themes.
The good news is that these are areas that I am working with officers and Council colleagues to deliver progress in the coming months:
Roads and Drainage:
A significant amount of investment has gone in to improving and updating drains across the ward. This has delivered improvements, but there is still a lot more to do – particularly towards Blackmoor where a lot of water ends up from further upstream and in parts of Blagdon where there are ongoing problems. I will continue to put pressure on the Council to continue to invest in drainage – and to keep up a regular program of maintainance to avoid blockages.
On roads, residents are concerned about the quality of the road surfaces, as well as speeding and safety on a number of our lanes. Investment is going into upgrading the quality of the road surfaces, not least a £227,000 in upgrading the A38 in Churchill. But again, more needs to be done to undo years of neglect under the previous administration and I will be working with officers and executive members to ensure that investment comes to the villages – and will be keeping a close eye on the Banwwell bypass to make sure investments are made to mitigate any negative impact on our villages.
Speeding is a concern for many – this is mainly a police matter – but I have been talking to residents and working with officers to understand if there is a case of new 20MPH zones and to carry out traffic surveys on the areas of greatest concern.
Many respondents were keen to see additional support for improving active travel and making cycling and walking safer. This is something we will see progress on soon – so watch this space!
Housing and Development:
A clear message came through here that residents are concerned about new development and housebuilding in the ward, although there is a reasonable degree of support for more affordable housing. We were successful in fending off the inappropriate development at Dinghurst Lane and I continue to fight to make sure the new local plan which is currently under development protects the character and special nature of our villages and rural areas.
Waste and Recycling:
The service levels provided by Biffa – particularly in Blagdon – have been unnacceptable. This is why I was strongly in favour of the decision taken by the Council last year to end the contract and set up a new, more accountable waste and recycling service. I will be keeping up the pressure to make sure the new company delivers improved levels of service – particularly for residents who use assisted collection.