This indpendent website, founded in January 2012, aims to bring you a comprehensive round up of stories from the police, local councils and community groups in Stoke Gifford.

Hatchet Road bus lane plan scrapped amid concerns of overspend on ‘MetroBus 2’

Posted on Saturday 6th January 2018 at 8:20 pm by SH (Editor)

Cribbs Patchway MetroBus Extension route map.

A controversial plan to construct a new southbound bus lane on Hatchet Road in Stoke Gifford, as part of a scheme to extend the currently under-construction North Fringe to Hengrove Package (NFHP) MetroBus network, has been scrapped after South Gloucestershire Council’s Conservative-led administration announced a “change of policy”.

The move appears to have been driven by a fear that the Cribbs Patchway MetroBus Extension (CPME) project may already be heading for a significant overspend before a spade has even touched the ground.

The CPME will provide a MetroBus route between The Mall at Cribbs Causeway and Bristol Parkway Station. It will also serve the new developments planned for the former Filton Airfield site.

The Hatchet Road bus lane had formed part of the scheme since its inception, yet was overwhelmingly opposed during a public consultation exercise in winter 2015/16. In their responses, many local residents criticised the plan to uproot mature hedgerows and trees from both sides of Hatchet Road and there were calls for an alternative route to be used along Winterbourne Road and Great Stoke Way, accessing Parkway Station from the east.

When the proposals first came to an SGC committee for approval in May 2016, a report prepared by officers showed that the Hatchet Road bus lane would cost £2m to implement and yet save only 29 seconds on MetroBus journey times (and this at just one time of day). One alternative option involving the implementation of lay-bys at bus stops instead of a bus lane, came out cheaper and more effective, but officers insisted that the bus lane option was better because it offered “consistently reliable” MetroBus journey times.

More: U-turn prompted by a "divergence of views" »

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Volunteers step in to provide community library service after council axes van

Posted on Tuesday 19th December 2017 at 10:08 am by Laura Mortimore

Photo of volunteers who run the community library.

A new library has opened in the St Michael’s Centre in Stoke Gifford, providing a range of books for adults and children in the local community.

Located in the mezzanine above the coffee shop, which has step free access, the community library has replaced South Gloucestershire Council’s mobile van service which ceased running in October due to cuts in library services.

The library is run by a team of three volunteers who give up their time to provide this service to local residents, many of whom are unable to travel to the main library in Bradley Stoke. Jack McGinley, one of the volunteers, states that they are “here to serve the community” and describes the library as “a nice, warm, friendly environment where you can meet other people”. Peter Day, another volunteer, adds that “you can also enjoy a cup of coffee while you’re here!”

The community library is open every other Tuesday from 2pm to 4pm, opening this month on 5th and 19th December. The library will be open again after Christmas on 2nd January. The volunteers are hoping to extend the opening hours once the demand for the service increases.

The library provides a changing collection of adults’ and children’s books, large print, spoken work and DVDs. Members of the public are also able to request books, for which there is no charge, which will then be delivered to the library for them to collect. An ‘Active’ card is needed to borrow any books or DVDs but these can be issued at the Stoke Gifford library for anyone who does not already have one. Having the Active card also means that books taken out at other libraries in South Gloucestershire can be returned at Stoke Gifford.

More: Additional volunteers sought to help run the library »

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Major work continues at Bristol Parkway

Posted on Wednesday 13th December 2017 at 6:59 pm by Laura Mortimore

Work on installing a new fourth platform at Bristol Parkway Station.

Network Rail has been continuing its Railway Upgrade Plan by carrying out some major work at Bristol Parkway Station, causing the station to be completely closed during the first three weekends of November.

As part of the Railway Upgrade Plan, Network Rail is electrifying the railway between London Paddington and Cardiff with the aim being to provide passengers with quieter, more frequent and more reliable services. After the closure of the station for two weeks in September, the first two ten-carriage IETs (Intercity Express trains) entered service on 16th October, travelling through both Bristol Parkway and Bristol Temple Meads stations. They have since travelled over 30,000 miles along the Great Western Railway network, providing 20,000 more seats into London Paddington than the trains they replaced.

During the first three weekends of November, Network Rail continued the work that they started in September. The work they were undertaking involved:

  • Continuing work on the construction of a fourth platform
  • Extending the existing three platforms to accommodate the new IETs
  • Continuing work to improve the track layout to allow more trains to use the station
  • Carrying out further piling (installing foundations along the route to support the overhead electrification equipment)

Part of the electrification works also involved closing the M4 near junction 19 overnight for what was anticipated to be the first two weekends in November. This was to allow Network Rail to install the overhead line equipment needed to run electric train services. Dean Shaw, media relations manager at Network Rail, said: “The work that took place over the M4 at the ‘Blue Bridge’ was a huge success. The work was completed much quicker than we anticipated, which meant that the motorway was only closed for the first weekend.”

More: Weekend piling work to continue through to February 2018 »

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New figures produced to justify Hatchet Road bus lane but cost pressures might just kill it off

Posted on Sunday 3rd December 2017 at 5:35 pm by SH (Editor)

Indicative artist’s impression of proposals on Hatchet Road (looking north).

The future of a controversial plan to construct a new southbound bus lane on Hatchet Road in Stoke Gifford looks set to be finally decided, without further public consultation, at a meeting of South Gloucestershire Council’s (SGC’s) Cabinet on Monday 4th December.

The move is likely to anger local campaigners who collected more than 3,300 signatures on a petition that called for the original decision to be reviewed, leading to the council resolving in July 2017 to bring forward alternative proposals for consideration and carry out further consultation.

The proposed new bus lane will form part of the Cribbs Patchway MetroBus Extension (CPME) scheme, which will link The Mall at Cribbs Causeway with Bristol Parkway Station and serve the new developments planned for the former Filton Airfield site.

Local residents and councillors have expressed strong opposition to the bus lane because it will require mature hedgerows and trees to be removed from both sides of Hatchet Road. They also claim it is a waste of money, costing £2m to reduce bus journey times by just 29 seconds (revised to an average of 93 seconds in a new report prepared for this month’s meeting).

The overall cost of the CPME scheme is estimated at £35m, a major part of which will be spent on replacing the railway bridge on Gipsy Patch Lane with a much wider concrete structure that can accommodate a bus lane and a general traffic lane in each direction.

Members of the Hatchet Road Action Group have previously expressed preference for an alternative scheme involving the implementation of lay-bys at bus stops, which they claim would facilitate better traffic flow for all road users. This was substantiated by figures in SGC’s original report, which showed that it would achieve improved bus journey time savings in comparison to the bus lane option. However, officers advised against it on the grounds that it “would not necessarily deliver consistently reliable bus and MetroBus journey times”.

In the latest report, consultants say they have revisited the original analysis and identified shortcomings, such as a too pessimistic view being taken of the chance of MetroBus vehicles having to wait at pedestrian crossings and behind other buses at non-MetroBus stops. They also claim insufficient allowance was made for delays faced by buses re-entering the main traffic flow from lay-bys. The net result, it is claimed, is that the bus lane option can now be shown to perform better than lay-bys.

More: Hints that cllrs might nonetheless scrap bus lane to save money »

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