Archive for the ‘General News’ Category

Have you received a ‘fine’ for driving through Bristol Parkway?

Posted on Saturday 16th February 2019 at 7:27 pm by SH (Editor)

Composite image showing a photo of a 'No through road' sign superimposed on a photo of Bristol Parkway Station.

Are you sure it’s not just a parking charge notice (PCN) that may have been issued in error?

Motorists who have recently received ‘fines’ in the post for what they have assumed is an ‘offence’ of using Bristol Parkway Station as a through road or ‘cut through’ are urged to double-check their notification letter to see if they have instead been wrongly accused of a parking violation.

The station can be accessed from both the west side (off Hatchet Road) and the east side (Hunts Ground Road) but is clearly signed as a ‘private road’ that is also a ‘no through road’. However, station management company Great Western Railway (formerly First Great Western) confirmed to a member of the public back in 2015 that the rule was not currently being enforced (see below). Furthermore, numerous people have reported driving through on a regular basis over many years, right up to the present time, without any issues.

However, reports on social media suggest that early January saw a flood of letters sent to people who regularly drive through the station without stopping (or who only stop for a moment to drop off or pick up a passenger) notifying them of a £50 ‘fine’.

Analysis of these reports by the Journal reveals that most of the ‘fines’ relate to the period 6th to 9th December 2018 and that they have been received by people who make regular ‘through and back again’ journeys through the station, for example to take a child to school in the morning and to collect the child in the afternoon.

The clearest sign that they are, in fact, not a ‘fine’ for violating the ‘no through road’ condition can be seen in the title of the letter: ‘Parking Charge Notice’ (PCN). However, anyone overlooking this might easily be misled by the fact that the letter, instead of stating both the entry and exit times for the alleged parking offence gives just a single event time. Furthermore, the letter includes two photographs of the offending vehicle entering and leaving the car park, but does not state the locations at which the photos were recorded. Because the backgrounds of the photos inevitably look different (as there as separate cameras pointing in opposite directions at each end of the car park), the reader can easily assume that they were recorded at different ends of the car park, thereby reinforcing the assumption of a ‘drive through’ violation.

More: Check the details of your PCN online »

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Afterschool club rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted

Posted on Thursday 14th February 2019 at 9:37 pm by Laura Mortimore

Photo of staff and children at Play House Afterschool & Holiday Club celebrating their recent 'outstanding' Ofsted grading.

A Stoke Gifford afterschool and holiday care provider is celebrating after being awarded the highest possible grade of ‘outstanding’ following a recent Ofsted inspection.

The Play House, located next to St Michael’s Primary School on Ratcliffe Drive, impressed the Ofsted inspector during its first inspection since the facility opened in September 2016. It received the ‘outstanding’ grading in all three of the areas that were judged, with the report describing the Play House as a “highly stimulating and very well organised environment”.

The report praised the centre’s leadership, stating: “Experienced and well-qualified leaders have exceptional knowledge of the early years foundation stage requirements and are excellent role models to well-motivated staff. Highly focused professional development and incisive evaluation of the provision successfully drives improvement.”

Key findings of the report also included praise for the exemplary support for children’s well-being, excellent partnerships with the school to ensure activities compliment the delivery of the early years foundation stage and an incredible vigilance of children’s safety.

The report also complimented the centre on its quality of teaching, as well as the excellent behaviour of the children, stating: “[The] Staff’s positive interactions support children’s communication and language skills very well. There are regular opportunities for children to converse and staff are excellent at questioning children to consolidate their understanding. Staff interact exceptionally well, encouraging children to gain confidence in number and early calculation. Children test their ideas very well and solve emerging problems.”

“Children develop strong attachments to very approachable and friendly staff who show genuine interest in their well-being. This helps to build children’s self-esteem exceptionally well. Children understand routines that keep them safe and healthy extremely well.”

More: Manager "delighted" to have achieved ‘outstanding’ so soon »

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Petition launched to increase Stoke Gifford By-Pass speed limit

Posted on Friday 8th February 2019 at 7:32 pm by SH (Editor)

30mph sign on the Stoke Gifford By-Pass.

Mobile police speed cameras trap over 300 motorists exceeding speed limit in less than four months

It’s a wide stretch of road with good visibility, sweeping across open countryside for half-a-mile from its junction with Hambrook Lane to the A4174 Ring Road, yet it has a speed limit that is lower than the main road through densely populated parts of nearby Bradley Stoke.

Travelling south from Parkway North Roundabout (near Nuffield Health), the Stoke Gifford Transport Link (SGTL, now officially named Rosedown Avenue, but more commonly known as the ‘by-pass’) initially has a 40mph speed limit before changing to 30mph shortly before the traffic light-controlled junction with Hambrook Lane.

Between Hambrook Lane and the Oxleigh Way traffic lights (entrance to Highbrook Park) the road has the appearance of one which might be expected to have a higher speed limit of at least 40mph, save for the presence of street lighting columns, and it seems that many motorists are choosing to drive at or above this speed. Anyone who attempts to stick to 30mph risks being tailgated or subject to dangerous passing manoeuvres, as witnessed by one driver writing in the newsletter of the Bristol Advanced Motorists group: “Driving at 30mph, I had flashing headlights behind, then a car overtook me on the right, as another overtook in the bus lane on the left!”

However, anyone taking a chance by exceeding the speed limit risks being snared by a police mobile speed camera van, which has been paying visits to the site since September 2018. A recent Freedom of Information request has revealed that 307 notices of intended prosecution have been issued for speeding offences on this stretch of the road in the last four months. Of those threatened with prosecution, 182 have been offered the alternative of attending an education courses.

More: "Council are [setting] speed limits that won’t be taken seriously" »

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Local resident offers support to parents with disabilities

Posted on Saturday 26th January 2019 at 7:36 pm by Laura Mortimore

Photo of Mitch Coles with his partner, Alice, and their two children, Aubrey and Ethan.

Stoke Gifford resident Mitch Coles has been living with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) since he was two years old. At the age of 18, he was told that he would not live past the age of 21. Now 26, Mitch has a partner and two children and is living his life to the fullest. He wants to show others that it is possible to parent with a disability and he provides support to those doing this through his blog ‘Two Doughnuts’.

DMD is a genetic disorder characterised by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness. It is caused by an absence of dystrophin, a protein that helps keep muscle cells intact. Muscle weakness can begin at an early age, first affecting the muscles of the hips, pelvic area, thighs and shoulders, and later the skeletal (voluntary) muscles in the arms, legs and trunk. By the early teens, the heart and respiratory muscles also are affected.

Mitch now uses a wheelchair to get around and is looked after daily by a carer as he is unable to move any of his limbs.

Even with these difficulties, Mitch is still able to parent his two children, Aubrey and Ethan. He said:

“I have always wanted to have children. I knew it would be difficult and before we started our family I was worried about what I wouldn’t be able to do. Some people told us that it wasn’t a good idea, but that just made me more determined! A lot does come down to my partner, Alice, but she still gets some time to herself while I look after the kids with the help of my carer.”

“The hardest thing about parenting with DMD is not being able to do some things, such as picking my children up, taking them swimming or for bike rides. However, I can’t imagine my life without them. I haven’t let my disability stop me from having a normal life and I certainly haven’t let what that doctor told me at 18 hold me back.”

More: "There are different types of families and different dynamics" »

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