Archive for March, 2013

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BTE Academy celebrates construction milestone with ‘topping out’ event

Posted on Wednesday 27th March 2013 at 6:50 am by SH (Editor)

BTE Academy Principal Rhian Priest, pictured at the 'topping out' event.

The Bristol Technology and Engineering Academy (BTE Academy) being constructed on the site of the former Filton High School in New Road, Stoke Gifford, has reached a significant milestone with a “topping out” event being held to mark the building reaching its highest point.

Once complete, the building will house large workshop areas needed for increased levels of vocational project work as well as smaller classrooms, laboratory areas and indoor sports facilities. Externally, there will be a multi-use sports area and parkland where ecological studies can be undertaken.

Speaking about the Academy, College Principal, Rhian Priest said:

“Applications for the academy have far exceeded our expectations and we will be full when we open in September 2013. I look forward to welcoming students from a wide catchment area which covers from Weston-super-Mare in the South to Dursley in the north of the region.”

“I am also delighted that we have appointed two new members to the Academy’s senior team, Mark Kennedy as Vice Principal and Joseph Mulligan as Assistant Principal.”

More: High demand for places in Year 10 »

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Prison sentence for Stoke Gifford benefits cheat

Posted on Thursday 21st March 2013 at 10:37 am by SH (Editor)

Scales of justice.

A benefit fraudster from Stoke Gifford has been sentenced to five months in prison after being found guilty of fraudulently claiming £35,000 in benefits.

Troy Owen, 30, was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court on Tuesday (19th March) following a joint investigation by South Gloucestershire Council and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Owen first claimed Housing and Council Tax Benefit from the council in 2009 while also receiving Income Support from the DWP. Owen was paid these benefits on the basis that he was a single person who had no savings or capital

A DWP investigation in early 2012 identified that Owen had apparently failed to report savings held in undeclared accounts.

When interviewed by investigators, Owen admitted that he had not declared his savings. He also admitted that he had not declared ownership of two properties and that his lodger was actually his wife. His claim to all benefits was found to have been false from the outset.

On 12th February 2013, at North Avon Magistrates’ Court, Owen entered guilty pleas to two charges of dishonesty brought under the Fraud Act 2006. He was remanded to Bristol Crown Court, where, on 19th March he was sentenced to five months imprisonment.

Summing up, His Honour Judge Julian Lambert commented:

“You cynically cheated the public purse and fraud of this sort has a corrosive effect on society.”

Owen had been overpaid £16,487.08 Housing Benefit and £3,157.68 Council Tax Benefit for the period 17th July 2009 to 6th November 2011, and £15,732.26 Income Support for the period 30th April 2008 to 1st October 2011.

A Proceeds of Crime hearing will be held later with a view to recovering the overpaid benefits.

Source: Press release from South Gloucestershire Council

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Housing Society plans demolition of houses on seven local roads

Posted on Monday 18th March 2013 at 7:00 pm by Nikki Hallur

Merlin Housing Society properties in Collins Avenue, Little Stoke.

Merlin Housing Society, the largest provider of social housing in the area, has informed residents that around 65 properties in Stoke Gifford (including Little Stoke) might require demolition as part of its redevelopment plan. The total number of houses to be redeveloped across South Gloucestershire is over 400.

The properties have been identified as having various structural problems such as poor insulation and damp. Merlin Housing has justified the need for its redevelopment programme by the fact that the houses were constructed after World War II as a quick and temporary solution for the many people that needed accommodation. The deteriorating condition of the buildings now requires restructuring. Over the next seven years, the housing society aims to refurbish some of the old houses and completely reconstruct others. Merlin has said that the demolition notices to residents are a legal requirement, but some of the notified houses may not be redeveloped.

As part of the redevelopment process, Merlin will compensate residents with a payment of £4,700 as well as provision of temporary accommodation elsewhere. Whilst most residents will come back to the same home, Merlin has said it cannot guarantee that everyone will be placed back in the same building because restructuring may mean that a different home in the housing society is more suited to residents when they move back.

More: Reaction from a resident affect by the plans »

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Ratcliffe Drive property denied permission for conservatory

Posted on Wednesday 13th March 2013 at 9:35 am by SH (Editor)

House under construction in Ratcliffe Drive, Stoke Gifford, Bristol.

The developers of a new detached house currently being constructed on a plot in Ratcliffe Drive have been refused planning permission for a conservatory after a local councillor said there was “deep concern both locally and within [Stoke Gifford] Parish Council” regarding the effect of the development on the locality.

The property, although fronting onto Ratcliffe Drive, is being constructed on a plot of land that belongs to no. 13 Cerimon Gate, a small cul-de-sac off Ratcliffe Drive.

Planning permission for the controversial development was finally granted in May 2012, after two previous applications for outline permission had been turned down by South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) in 2010 and 2011.

Complaints that the new house was not being constructed in accordance with the approved plans, followed by investigations by SGC’s Planning Enforcement Team, led to a further planning application being made in December 2012, to “regularise the situation” with respect to the repositioning of side windows and the construction of a conservatory on the side of the property.

The latest application attracted 26 letters from occupiers of neighbouring buildings, who complained that the repositioned windows would invade privacy and the conservatory would use amenity land allocated to the dwelling. There were also allegations that the developers had breached working hour restrictions and harassed neighbours.

SGC’s Development Control (West) Committee considered the latest application at its meeting in February and arrived at a ‘split’ decison, whereby the repositioning of the side windows was approved but permission for the conservatory was refused, because of its “detrimental impact upon the amenity of the occupants of nearby dwellings” and “the loss of [a] significant amount of the residential amenity space for the existing dwelling to the detriment of the amenity of its future occupants”.

Related link: Minutes of the February planning committee meeting (SGC) [PDF, 127kb]

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