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Burglary at outbuilding

An outbuilding in Southlands way, Congresbury has been broken into somewhere between midnight on January 22 and 6am on the 23rd.

The thieves have levered the locks out of the frame to gain access and once inside have stolen a selection of tools, including a Makita SDS battery drill, Makita corded drill, Makita cordless drill, Makita drill and impact driver set, Mega continuity tester, Bosch hole cutters, rucksack containing tools, three sets of mega testers and a Bosch jigsaw.

If you contact the Police about this incident, please call 101 and quote reference number: 5220017619 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Police find stolen power tools

Police are appealing for help following a series of burglaries in the North Somerset area. 

A large number of electrical tools have been recovered from a garage in Weston-super-Mare, which police want to reunite with their owners. 

The garage is in Severn Road and it is believed that the items could have resulted from more than one burglary incident. 

There have been a series of van break-ins in the North Somerset area over the past 12 months, where electrical power tools have been targeted.

The tools include: a Stihl chainsaw; a Kennedy professional retool tool box, a Makita holdall; angle grinder; a Makita cordless screwdriver; Makita circular saw; a JD Sports bag containing various items; a Stihl disc cutter; a Makita nail gun; a Makita jigsaw; a Makita disc sander; Paslode nail guns, plus other items. 

Avon and Somerset Police are keen to hear from anyone who has had similar tools stolen.

Images of just some of the items are on the attached PDF file.

Please contact us on 101 quoting reference 5219287205.

stolen-tools

Police warning

There have been reports of “Nottingham Knockers” operating in the Congresbury area. One of which has been particularly rude to one resident recently. These are cold callers who usually tell residents that they are ex-offenders trying to go straight, then try and sell poor quality and over-priced cleaning products. The police want to remind residents they are under no obligation to answer the door to anyone they don’t know or aren’t expecting. If you do talk to them, they are supposed to be able to provide a valid Pedlar’s Certificate and should leave your property when asked.

Police always recommend using a door chain and asking to see the identification of unexpected callers.

• If you are suspicious of a caller ring 999 straight away • keep your cash in the bank, not at home • keep windows and doors secured if you’re not in the room • set up a No Cold Calling Zone – contact your local Council Trading Standards Office

The Strawberry Line in December

After weeks of rain and more rain the sun peeped out on Sunday afternoon. Not for long !

I don’t need to be persuaded to get out of the armchair and go for a bike ride when the sun is shining. Christmas came early. The Strawberry line was pure magic, it might be winter but there is so much to see that you don’t see in the summer when the leaves are on the trees and the hedgerows are bursting with fruit and colour.

The winter sun seems to be more gentle and picks out the Mendips as the clouds rush past. I love the shapes and silhouettes of the trees in winter. The branches are like lace and the veins of the trees. The willow tree below was glowing – almost had its own fairy lights.

The colder weather and high winds has driven the fieldfares and redwings from Scandinavia to spend the winter in England. They don’t need to worry about visa’s and work permits. Until a month ago the red berries of the Hawthorns were fat and ripe for eating. The early birds have cleaned up and stripped the trees bare. There are some sloes and rose hips as well as the white mistletoe left, but they are all being avoided. Its probably too late to make sloe gin for Christmas !

Image result for Fieldfares and redwings

Thatchers Cider Orchards near Sandford are being pruned and made ready for next year. At first I though that I may have at long last seen the ‘Beast of Sandford’ a large puma stalking the orchards. But it turned out to be an exceedingly large black and white cat. He or she was about a mile from the factory and well fed. Maybe Pat the Postman left it to look for Katy !

Most of the cattle are now in the barns – the fields have huge lakes of water and the Rhynes are full to the brim. Some sheep are waddling around in the wet grass looking very forlorn. No sign of Shaun !

I did see two rather plump and bushy tailed squirrels. They were enjoying the sun before spending the cold weeks ahead in their drays and hibernating until spring.

Image result for Grey squirrels

No sign of the badgers, but they are furiously digging under the railway track. The are serious diggers and are shifting tons of stone. Seems a bit strange as its hard work digging out stone compared to soil, but perhaps the railway track is well drained and its nice and dry to set up home. 

There were some small flocks of long tailed tits hopping along the hedgerows. They look like puff balls on a stick. A few swans were sat in the fields and lots of crows all feeding away on chafer grubs. Doing a great service to the farmers.

See the source image

Now everything has stopped growing the seed heads of the old man’s beard, ivy and cow parsley are beautiful and add to the splendour of this lovely place.

With the shortest day about to happen we can all look forward to another season of colour, flowers and fruit adorning the Strawberry Line like a bouquet around our village.

Michael Greaves

Action needed on drain clearing

The Community Resilience team is asking residents of Congresbury to help keep clear gutters and kerbs outside and around their properties. 

This will help the flow of rain water to drains in heavy storms and manage the risk of flooding.  Unfortunately North Somerset Council cuts have meant that this is a job that is no longer a priority, but it is essential for Congresbury as we live on a flood plain. 

Volunteers from Community Resilience North Somerset flood team (who are all residents of Congresbury) carry out quarterly checks on the gullies in all the roads in Congresbury. Our volunteers clear what they can and we report to North Somerset Council any blocked or damaged drains/gullies. If you would like to volunteer for the team or find out more please take a look https://communityresilience-ns.org.uk/join-us-now/ or send an email to congresburyflood@gmail.com

Police call on public to sign-up for counter-terrorism training

An award-winning counter terrorism training course – originally devised in partnership with Marks and Spencer – is being made available to the public for the first time and Avon and Somerset Police is calling on members of the public to sign up and help protect the UK.

The ACT Awareness eLearning package was previously only available to staff working in crowded places like shopping centres and entertainment venues and participants needed to be signed up by their employees.

Now Counter Terrorism Policing has decided to open up the training to anyone who wants to become a CT Citizen so they can learn how to spot the signs of suspicious behaviour and understand what to do in the event of a major incident.

The decision to offer the training to the public was not made in response to the recent attack in London. However, that tragic event, when two people lost their lives to terrorism, was a stark reminder of the ongoing threat and the need for vigilance.

Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Cullen said: “ACT Awareness eLearning is especially useful for anyone working in or regularly visiting crowded places.

“Developed alongside industry experts more than one and a half million modules have already been completed.

“The course has been so popular, with nine out of 10 users saying they would recommend it, we want to open it up to as many people as possible.

“The threat level remains at Substantial – meaning an attack is likely – so giving everyone the chance to be extra eyes and ears for police and local security teams help to keep all communities across the Avon and Somerset area safe.

“The festive period is obviously a very busy one – so this is a good time to join up and become a CT Citizen.”

ACT Awareness is made up of seven modules that take a few minutes each to complete. You can pause and re-join at any time. In total it takes just 45 minutes – so less than an hour of your time could help to prevent an attack or help save lives if one was to happen.

The course is hosted by online training specialists Highfield. To register and start learning, click here.

Shop charity boosts junior cricket

Congresbury Cricket Club has received a £100 donation towards junior cricket from the charity Making a Difference Locally. The money will go towards improving the junior cricket nets.

Ben Payne hands over the cheque to cricket club treasurer Colin Edwards

The cheque was handed over to CCC treasurer Colin Edwards by Under 11 player Ben Payne (pictured).


CCC’s Under 11 manager Nick Clifton thanked Pinky Patel from the village shop Welcome Congresbury in The Precinct and Ben and Claire Payne for making the donation happen.

Making a Difference Locally is a charity that supports local communities served by local independently-owned convenience stores that are members of Nisa, a buying organisation (http://www.nisaretail.com).

Avon & Somerset Police statement

“We’re supporting the latest Counter Terrorism Policing campaign to help keep crowded places secure over the festive period.

The campaign calls on the public and those who work in our busy towns and cities to remain vigilant and report any concerns to staff, security or – in confidence – to Counter Terrorism police at gov.uk/ACT. It also asks everyone to be the extra eyes and ears of the police, so we can work together to tackle terrorism”. Read more

Advice from Neighbourhood Watch

With just 23 days to go until Christmas, we want to share with you some top tips to protect yourselves during this festive period so you can all enjoy the festivities & have a happy new year. We all know there are so many scams around at the moment and these appear to change on an almost daily basis, but please do not be alarmed. Common sense always prevails and as they always say “if it seems too good”.

The Golden Rules:

Never give out your bank details (Pin / Password) EVER.

Not sure don’t answer the door, it’s your home!

Be very wary of following links you are sent via email, go through your own trusted sites.

Don’t be bullied on the phone, HANG UP

Please do not advertise what’s in your home, only put waste out on collection day.

Leaving your home unattended? Put the lights on a timer or ask a friend to visit or park on your drive.

(And please check on your neighbours, if you see papers / post building up on the doorstep, just check)

Click here for full Christmas Security advice

Community café raising funds for air ambulance

Congresbury community café is following its successful Macmillan coffee morning when it raised £650 for Macmillan Cancer Support by raising funds for the Great Western Air Ambulance.

The café is supporting two paramedics who live in the village, Helen Hart and Greg Leach, to  host a fundraising event on Saturday 23 November from 9 – 1pm, all proceeds will go to the air ambulance charity.

Meanwhile, on Saturday 30 November the Big Quiz is back at the Old School Rooms at 7.30pm raising funds for the community café. Teams of 4 – 6, tickets cost £8 per person including a light supper and are available from Ron Hall: 01934 830085 and the café on Wednesday and Friday mornings.

The Nottingham Knockers are back!

There have been reports of “Nottingham Knockers” operating in the Congresbury & Churchill areas. These are cold callers who usually tell residents that they are ex-offenders trying to go straight, then try and sell poor quality and over-priced cleaning products. The police want to remind residents they are under no obligation to answer the door to anyone they don’t know or aren’t expecting. If you do talk to them, they are supposed to be able to provide a valid Pedlar’s Certificate and should leave your property when asked.

Police always recommend using a door chain and asking to see the identification of unexpected callers.

• if you are suspicious of a caller ring 999 straight away • keep your cash in the bank, not at home • keep windows and doors secured if you’re not in the room • set up a No Cold Calling Zone – contact your local Council Trading Standards Office

Remember, genuine callers: • expect you to check their identification before opening the door • would never try to rush you by claiming there’s an emergency • will happily make an appointment to come back when you can have a relative or friend with you

Villagers back Neighbourhood Plan

The Neighbourhood Planning Steering group would like to thanks residents for voting in the referendum on Thursday. The Old School Rooms was the venue for the vote on the question ‘Do you want North Somerset Council to use the Neighbourhood Plan for Congresbury to help decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?’

The result was that 86 per cent of those that voted were in favour of the Neighbourhood Plan. Turnout was just under 28 per cent. The next stage is that North Somerset council formally adopt the plan at a council meeting scheduled in November.

Several members of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group and councillors attended the count as observers including Di Hassan, Tom Leimdorfer, Dawn Harrison, Ray Clarke and Mike Greaves.

Liz Greaves, clerk to the parish council, noted that the Neighbourhood Plan is very ambitious in its content and it was very important that the community responded and voted in favour of the plan which covers the period up to 2036.

Both North Somerset and the parish council will now take the plan into consideration when making planning decisions and the parish council can start working towards the community actions outlined. Any additional Community Infrastructure Levy from any future developments can be put into funding some of the projects.

“Many thanks again to all those who supported the plan which has taken almost four years of hard work to get to this stage. North Somerset council planning officers must also be thanked for advising and supporting the steering group throughout all of the development stages,” said Ms Greaves. If you have any queries with regard to the plan please contact the Parish Office.

Fire in workshop

Fire crews tackled a blaze in a workshop off the A370 in the early hours of Thursday.
Avon Fire & Rescue issued the following statement: At 2.41am, crews from Clevedon, Winscombe, Yatton, Weston and Southmead fire stations were called to a fire in a private workshop on Bristol Road in Congresbury.
On arrival, firefighters used one high pressure hose reel and two ground monitors to extinguish the fire.
They also removed four cylinders for cooling and evacuated three people. The cause is thought to be accidental.
Photo: Courtesy Clive Burlton

Burglaries update

Security advice from our PCSO’s
Please note that the 3 burglaries in Congresbury were all committed at the rear of the properties. All 3 had side gates but unfortunately they were unlocked and allowed easy access. This is the same method used in other villages in North Somerset. I recommend that all side gates are locked / bolted top and bottom and preferably solid in structure. Please make it as hard as possible for opportunist thieves to succeed. If you would like any specific Crime Prevention advice please contact: PCSO Marie Broomfield – 8879@avonandsomerset.police.uk or
PC Paul Morris – 2955@avonandsomerset.police.uk

Village burglaries

A number of homes were broken into at Brinsea Road, Congresbury, on Monday 9 September. One property was entered between 2.45 and
4.30pm after the offender(s) kicked in the back door. An untidy search
was then made before cash and jewellery were stolen. If you contact the Police about this incident, please quote Reference number: 5219208198

A window was prised open to enter another home, thought to have been between 10.30am and 3.15pm. Jewellery was targeted and keys to a car were taken in order to steal the car from the driveway. The blue Jaguar was found a short distance away although the keys are still missing. If you contact the Police about this incident, please quote Reference number: 5219208091

While investigating these burglaries, police have come across a third offence in Brinsea Road. In this case a search of the main bedroom has been made, but it is unsure what has been stolen at this time. If you contact the Police about this incident, please quote Reference number: 5219208226

If you have any information regarding these incidents, contact the Police on 101. Alternatively you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111

CRAG’s report from Parish Council meeting

CRAG was well-represented at Monday’s meeting (19 August) of Congresbury Parish Council’s planning committee. The agenda item which attracted CRAG members was the appeal by Gladman to the Planning Inspectorate against North Somerset Council’s rejection of the scheme for changes to Wrington Lane.

Committee chair Michael Greaves summarised the council’s objection to the scheme, stating that Wrington Lane was totally inadequate for more traffic, a situation that would be exacerbated by the development at Cobthorn Way. Read more

Cricket book captures 175 years of village life

A new book celebrating 175 years of village cricket opens up a window on life in Somerset through the Victorian and Edwardian eras to the present day.

The book, published by Congresbury Cricket Club in association with Congresbury History Group, tells much more than the story of cricket in the village over the generations.

“The more research I did, the more people I spoke to, the more I realised how the fabric of village life and the development of cricket were intertwined,” said local historian and author Clive Burlton.

The book, with 112 pages, 60,000 words and 250 images draws on the archives held by both the cricket club and the history group as well as recounting the memories of villagers and players, past and present. 

Clive, a club vice president, explained: “Among the many nuggets we’ve found is a photograph and an account of a 1907 men v women cricket match in the village with men batting left-handed with broomsticks!

“We also found recipes for all sorts of cakes and pies written by village ladies with known links to cricketers of the time which sparked the idea for a cricket tea bake-off at the Congresbury Fete on June 29.”

The oldest document uncovered is the scorebook from 1919. The first match after World War One was against Weston-super-Mare – the two clubs met again in April this year in a pre-season friendly almost 100 years later. 

The book tells far more than the story of Congresbury CC, looking at the development of cricket in North Somerset from the middle of the 19th century with extensive use of newspaper archives since the 1850s.

175 Years of Village Cricket will be launched at The Old School Rooms in Congresbury on Friday June 21 with a presentation by Clive Burlton starting at 7.30pm. Doors open at 7pm.

The book was designed and produced by Bristol Books and can also be obtained online at www.bristolbooks.org

Celebratory Tea for Tom and Di

A celebratory party was held on Sunday at the Old School Rooms, to thank Tom Leimdorfer and Di Hassan for the immense amount of work they have done for the village. Tom was Ward Councillor for 16 years and Di was a parish councillor for 10 years, 6 of which she served as chair. They steered the community through some very difficult times and were thanked during a tea party of over 100 people. Liz Greaves arranged the planting of trees for the occasion and the party processed to the Community orchard and paddock at the Milllennium Green, where they were photographed at the field maple for Tom, and the Quince for Di. It was a very memorable and happy occasion for all who attended and just shows what a special village this is. 

We wish Stuart Treadway (the new ward councillor) and Arthur Hacking (the new chair of the parish council) the very best in their endeavours.

Somerset Methodist Circuit Spring Harvest 2020 in Minehead

Congresbury Methodist Church is hoping to take a group from the Circuit to Spring harvest at Minehead for 4 nights from 13th – 17th April 2020. The theme next Easter will be ‘Unleashed – the Acts Church for Today’. Over the 5 days there will be a programme of worship, speakers, workshops, bible study and leisure activities, including full use of all the Butlins entertainment on sight, including the swimming pool and rides! Read more

Village hall project ‘to move forward’

Congresbury Parish Council and the new village hall project team have reviewed the 418 responses to the recent survey, which showed 266 respondents did not support the council taking out a public works loan. 

The survey generated a lot of comment but only 28 per cent of households responded. Obviously this is disappointing and the Development Committee have confirmed their commitment to move the project forward. The project has come so far and many villagers, village organisations and businesses have put a lot of time and effort in support of the project. We can now focus on other funding options.

The project is in a good place with:
– grant funding helping us to progress the community share offer and up to £100,000 of matched equity funding available, subject to a formal application.
– an expanding pool of volunteers.
– the community café making such a promising start we are going to open on the third Saturday of each month – 18 May, 15 June, 20 July & 17 August – until the end of the summer, from 9 – 1pm.

Congresbury needs a new village hall and community centre which not only provides a ‘home’ and supports our sports clubs but will provide a broader range of modern facilities and activities for all age groups in a growing village. As an example in the 2007 Parish survey, young people said they wanted somewhere to meet and chat with their friends. The new building will provide that.

The new village hall is a part of the Council’s Neighbourhood plan and we will continue to work with them to make the new building happen.

Ian Sheppard

Fish return to the River Yeo

Three years ago the River Yeo lost most of its fish to cormorants using the river in Congresbury as a fast food outlet on their way to Blagdon Reservoir.

Cormorants are blamed for loss of fish in the Yeo

Once again, the miracle of nature has happened and fish are back in our river. Over the Easter weekend we were blessed with sunshine and clear water in the River Yeo. Looking over the Millennium Bridge the sunshine illuminated the river bed and to my delight and surprise, there were shoals of roach! Some of the fish appeared to be 12 inches long, but there were dozens of smaller fish enjoying the fine weather and no doubt the water insects emerging from their winter hibernation.

Roach return

The River Yeo was once one of the best rivers in the area for coarse fishing and several fishing clubs leased fishing rights for their members. We even had a trout fishing club who stocked the river from the Tumbling Weir to Iwood Bridge. Regretfully, poaching and predators such as minx and cormorants as well as pollution brought about their demise. 

As the old saying goes ‘One swallow does not make a summer’ but a few fish might mean our river is returning to its former glory. Please don’t tell the cormorants.

Michael Greaves