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Counting the true cost of the Forty Acres traveller encampment

Posted on Friday 13th October 2017 at 8:34 pm by SH (Editor)

Photo of reinstated boulders at the Hatchet Road access gate to Forty Acres.

Local councils in the Stokes have been counting the cost of a recent unauthorised traveller encampment in the Forty Acres area of Stoke Gifford and considering measures for increasing security at vulnerable sites.

Around thirty traveller caravans and associated vehicles entered Forty Acres after a lock and chain was cut on the vehicular access gate from Hatchet Road, opposite Meade Park, on 9th August. The travellers were eventually evicted by bailiffs on 18th August after Stoke Gifford Parish Council obtained and served a court order.

A meeting of the parish council on 12th September was informed that the legal costs associated with the securing the eviction, including legal advice, court charges and bailiff fees, were estimated to be in the region of £2,500.

Local residents were commended for assisting the parish council with litter picking and clearance work after the travellers had left, but it was nonetheless still necessary to use the services of South Gloucestershire Council’s grounds maintenance team to remove large quantities of white goods, mattresses, green waste and general rubbish that had been left behind, at a cost of just over £3,000.

Questions were asked about why boulders which had previously protected the Hatchet Road entrance to Forty Acres had been removed a number of years ago and never replaced. It is thought that this happened when either the Environment Agency or SGC were working on the site but no conclusive answers were forthcoming. Needless to say, the boulders have now been reinstated.

More: Bradley Stoke town clerk injured in repelling traveller vehicles »

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Travellers evicted from Stoke Gifford make short trip to Patchway

Posted on Friday 8th September 2017 at 11:44 pm by SH (Editor)

Unauthorised traveller encampment at Forty Acres, Stoke Gifford.

The issue of unauthorised traveller encampments, last seen locally during 2014 and 2015 on two sites in Bradley Stoke, hit the headlines again during August when around 30 caravans pitched up on Forty Acres in Stoke Gifford.

An area of rough grassland and scattered woodland, Forty Acres is located on the right side of Hatchet Road when travelling from Bradley Stoke to Stoke Gifford, on the opposite side of the road to Meade Park.

On Wednesday 9th August, local residents reported that around 15 traveller caravans and associated vehicles had entered the site. A statement appearing later on the Stoke Gifford Parish Council website reported that access had been gained “by cutting a bollard lock and gate chain on the vehicular access gate on Hatchet Road opposite Meade Park”. It added: “It is anticipated that the travellers will be removed within seven days, but any resident concerns about the site should be reported to the police.”

A South Gloucestershire council spokesperson was quoted as saying: “We are aware of the encampment and we have visited the site and we are currently in the process of organising the necessary welfare checks. We are working with partners at the police and parish council to negotiate with the families, in line with our standard procedures.”

Hopes were raised when the parish council announced that a Section 77 notice had been served requiring the site to be vacated by 3pm on Friday, but the deadline came and went and more caravans arrived over the weekend.

Local residents complained that vehicles had blocked paths through the site, dogs were being allowed to roam free and youngsters riding motor bikes were causing a nuisance.

More: Magistrates grant eviction order and bailiffs move in »

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Summer concert success for Stokes Singers

Posted on Friday 14th July 2017 at 10:18 am by SH (Editor)

Photo of the Stokes Singers choir at their 'Midsummer Medley' concert.

Stokes Singers performed their summer concert, ‘A Midsummer Medley’, to an appreciative audience at Little Stoke Primary School at the end of June, writes Sue Callow, publicity officer.

With a programme including songs from films and musicals and classics such as ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ and ‘Fields of Gold’ there was something for all tastes. The Eric and Ernie classic ‘Bring Me Sunshine’ brought a smile to everyone’s face whilst the choir’s favourites were the South African folk songs ‘Shosholoza’ and ‘Thina Simunye.’ A concert would not be complete without a piano solo from Co-Musical Director Philip Lawrence and this year it was a beautiful arrangement of ‘It Had to Be You’. It was good to have the added skills of Sue Juggins (percussion), Matt (bass guitar) and Lisa Rush (flute and piano) to accompany the voices.

The evening was also a great success for Freewheelers Emergency Voluntary Service who sent a motorbike and two riders, Nick and Chris, to talk about the valuable work they carry out transporting urgent medical supplies to support the NHS. An amazing £307 was raised from programme sales and refreshment donations to help the Freewheelers with their vital service.

The choir are now taking a well-earned break until September when they meet up to rehearse for a ‘Voices for Hospices’ concert at Holy Trinity Church, Bradley Stoke on Saturday 14th October. The Christmas Concert will be at the Church of Christ the King, Bradley Stoke on Saturday 9th December. Look out for posters and details in the local press in the autumn or contact Liz on 01454 614148 for further details.

If you would like to join the choir, Liz can also give you further information about the Thursday evening rehearsals at Coniston Community Centre, Patchway. There is room for more singers in all sections and men or ladies with lower voices would be very welcome to join the baritones. Sian Walters, also Co-Musical Director, assures you of a warm welcome and the opportunity to try the choir for two rehearsals free of charge to see how you get on.

More: Choir will soon celebrate 25th anniversary of founding »

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Citizens Advice comes to Stoke Gifford

Posted on Thursday 11th May 2017 at 9:02 pm by SH (Editor)

Photo of Yvonne Parks from Citizens Advice South Gloucestershire.

Help is on hand for residents of Stoke Gifford and the wider Bristol North Fringe who are seeking information and advice on a wide range of issues following the news that Citizens Advice South Gloucestershire has started drop-in advice sessions at a new venue in the area.

Citizens Advice provides advice and support on life’s most common problems, and all the advice given is free, independent and impartial.

Yvonne Parks of Citizens Advice South Gloucestershire said:

“Our goal is to help everyone find a way forward, whatever problem they face. People come to us with all sorts of issues such as money, benefits, housing, family or employment problems.”

Anyone can go along to the drop-in sessions at The Stokes (Youth and Community Centre), which is located next to Little Stoke Primary School, Little Stoke Lane, Little Stoke BS34 6HY.

The sessions, which started at the end of April, are held every second and fourth Friday of the month, from 10am to 12pm.

Yvonne (pictured) said:

“No appointment is necessary, so just come along. An experienced and qualified advice worker will be there to help.”

The sessions in Stoke Gifford are being supported by local South Gloucestershire ward councillors through the Member Awarded Funding scheme and will be reviewed in 12 months’ time.

• Citizens Advice also holds drop-in sessions at the Jubilee Centre, Bradley Stoke, from 10am to 12pm every Wednesday.

This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on page 34). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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