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Residents ‘furious at road closure plan’

Residents of Congresbury are up in arms about a decision to close a road for up to five months to accommodate work on a controversial housing scheme.

More than 200 householders will be affected by the temporary closure of Wrington Lane, due to be imposed next week by North Somerset Council.

Members of Congresbury Residents Action Group (CRAG) reported that homeowners in the lane and surrounding roads are “incandescent” with rage over the notice issued under provisions of section 14 of the Road Traffic Act 1984.

Work is scheduled in three phases. The first phase, due to start on 3rd October includes the section down to Cobthorn Way. Phase Two covers the section from Cobthorn Way to Wrington Mead with Phase Three from Wrington Mead to the junction with the A370.

Residents have individually expressed their anger to MP John Penrose, district councillor Phil Neve, North Somerset Council and contractor Vistry Homes.

CRAG chair Mary Short said the action by North Somerset Council was totally unreasonable. “There are people with limited mobility, elderly folk and parents with young children who will become virtual prisoners in their homes if they cannot use their cars. Many residents in the area rely on their cars to get to work, to go for appointments and shopping etc. and have no idea what access they will have.”

The planned road closures would operate from 8am to 5pm weekdays with “occasional Saturdays from 8am to 1pm.”

Apart from Wrington Lane itself, the closure would directly affect access for residents of Cobthorn Way, Weetwood Road, Wrington Mead, Ward’s Hill, Verlands and Furnace Way.

The Council responded to one resident: “I am sorry that you are concerned about the works that are proposed to take place in Wrington Lane. Please be reassured that access is maintained for residents and emergency vehicles. The works are programmed in a phased manner so access can be maintained.”

The background to this case, which has blighted residents for more that six years, involves a dispute over land ownership. The housing project was only granted on condition that the developer provided a footway in the Lane before building work began.

The Council claim that that the footway can be built on public highway land. Residents dispute this, and have evidence that the footway will need land which is part of their property and has never been adopted as public highway land. 

John Mills

CONGRESBURY GUIDE GROUP TO REOPEN TUESDAY 4TH OCTOBER 2022 7.00PM

The Second Congresbury Guides are delighted to be reopening their Group meetings on Tuesday 4th October, 2022 at 7pm in the Scout & Guide Hut in Mill Leg.

We will be working through the Guide Program whilst having lots of fun and if you know any girls aged 10 – 14 years who would like more information, or to join us, please contact Sonya on 07715 876827.

For more information regarding Girl Guides – please visit www.girlguiding.org.uk

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

21 April 1926 to 8 September 2022

Following the announcement of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Congresbury Parish Council would like to express our sorrow and deepest condolences to the Royal Family. 

Congresbury Parish Council joins people across the United Kingdom, Commonwealth and the world in paying tribute to Her Majesty The Queen.  

A Book of Condolence will be opened from Monday 12th at Orchard House, The Old School Rooms, Station Road, Congresbury, BS49 5DX.  

An electronic Book of Condolence is also available on the Royal Family website.

Floral tributes can be laid at the Prayer Garden, St Andrews Church, Station Road, Congresbury, BS49 5DX.

If you are leaving a floral tribute please remove the cellophane, ribbons and any wire, this is so North Somerset Council can compost the floral tributes and plant a tree in memory of the Queen.

Chief Constable’s statement following death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

The following statement is from Chief Constable Sarah Crew, following the announcement that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has died

“We are deeply saddened by the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Her devotion and extraordinary public service have been a continual source of pride and inspiration to us all.

“On behalf of our officers, police staff and volunteers, we offer our heartfelt condolences to the Royal Family, as well as to the public we serve at this time of national mourning.

“Now is the time for communities to come together for a period of remembrance and reflection, as we pay our respects to a monarch who has faithfully and stoically served us during her historic reign.

“We will be flying our flag at half-mast across Avon and Somerset as a mark of respect at our Police Headquarters in Portishead, as well as other police locations.

“Memorial plans will be announced by local authorities in due course.

“A book of condolence is being set-up and details of how members of the public can sign it will be announced as soon as they have been finalised.”

Motorhome stolen in Congresbury

A motorhome was stolen from Well Park in Congresbury during the night of Tuesday September the 6th. The missing vehicle is an Adria Matrix Access, which has the registration number WX66BYO.

If you have any information about this incident, please call the Police on 101, giving reference number 5222215943. Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111

A370 crash appeal

Police are appealing for witnesses and dashcam footage following a collision on the A370 at Congresbury on Friday afternoon

Officers are investigating the circumstances around a collision between a motorcycle and a car, which happened at around 12.30pm near the Esso garage.

One person has been taken to hospital by air ambulance with injuries which are believed to be life-threatening. Their family are aware and being supported by specialist officers.

Police are asking any witnesses, or drivers with dashcam footage, to come forward and call us.

If you can help, please call 101 and give the call handler the reference number 5222212042, or complete our online appeals form.

Alarm scares off burglars

A garage was broken into around 2am on Saturday (August 20th) in Duck Lane, Langford. Six male offenders, all wearing dark clothing, forced entry to the garage via the main door with bolt cutters and crow bars. Once inside they conducted an untidy search until an alarm was sounded, they then made off on foot. 

Any information please contact the Police on 101 quoting reference number: 5222200333 stating NHW release. Or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. 

Burglar steals jewellery and cash

A home in Cobthorn Way, Congresbury, was burgled on Saturday afternoon (August 20th) between 12:30pm and 4:30pm. The offender gained access by forcing a downstairs lounge window and once inside conducted a messy search of the upper level. A safe containing cash, jewellery and documents were stolen before the offender made off via the patio doors.

Any information please contact the Police on 101 quoting reference number: 5222200753 stating NHW release. Or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Building consultants’ claims ‘laughable’, says CRAG

Congresbury residents are angry at the “dismissive and bullying” tone adopted by consultants working for a firm of developers.

Following more than 800 objections to the plan for a new housing estate behind Park Road, consultants employed by developers M7, claim to have answered all the objections. 

They now want North Somerset Council to give outline planning permission to the scheme for up to 100 houses on fields leading down to the River Yeo.

Congresbury Residents Action Group (CRAG) disputes the claim by consultants Lichfields and has written to the council’s planning office pointing out the anomalies in their case.

Said CRAG chair Mary Short: “This plan has attracted more objections in this village than any other. Apart from challenging their assumptions on specifics such as environmental and wildlife damage, transport and highways, we contend that this site itself is just not suitable for new housing.

“There was a scheme for building a quarter of the number houses on this site 20 years ago and a public inquiry turned it down on the grounds that it would destroy the traditional landscape of a pastoral scene leading down to the river. 

“If 25 houses were though to damage a view of rural tranquillity, how much worse would four times that number be.?”

“Such a scheme would be viewed by future generations as nothing less than architectural vandalism. We cannot allow this to happen when there are other more suitable sites for development.”

Some of the claims by the consultants are almost laughable – they mention transport links like a “ghost” bus service along Brinsea Road and include reference to a village GP surgery which has been closed for nearly two years. 

This is another example of a firm of land agents trying to make money by putting housing schemes where they are not wanted, are completely unsustainable in terms of employment opportunities and which if built would lead to more car use, more pollution and even greater traffic jams, said CRAG.

Courier Fraud

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Local Police have sent us this information to help keep you safe, as several people in North Somerset have been caught out by these fraudsters.

Car tyres slashed

A car has been damaged overnight on Sunday while parked on Chestnut Close, Congresbury. The owner was notified of the damage by a neighbour and upon checking all four tyres had been cut through.
Any information please contact the olice on 101 quoting reference number: 5222183264 stating NHW release. Or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Appeal for crash witnesses

Police are appealing for witnesses and information after a motorcyclist was injured in a collision with a car in Congresbury.

It happened just after 9.10am on Sunday 10 July on the A370 at Rhodyate Hill near the Star pub.

A man riding a black Honda motorcycle was involved in a collision with a black Volvo XC60 which was turning onto the road.

The motorcyclist went to hospital by ambulance for treatment to serious injuries which are not believed to be life-threatening or life-changing.

Police are keen to hear from anyone who witnessed the collision or who has any dashcam or other footage of that stretch of road at the time. Please get in touch if you can help.

If you can help, please call 101 and give the call handler the reference number 5222169655, or complete our online appeals form.

Plans for new Rec Club finalised 

Exciting new plans to rebuild Congresbury’s ageing Recreation Club pavilion have been submitted to North Somerset planners.

The plans involve a two-storey building on the same footprint as the existing club which is now 60 years old and in a poor state of repair.

These revised plans follow feedback from both North Somerset planners and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to initial pre-planning submissions made in November 2021.

The  major change to the external appearance is the addition of a pitched roof, recommended by North Somerset.

An artist’s impression of how the rebuilt Rec Club will look, built on the same footprint as the existing clubhouse

The ECB supports a two-storey building with a viewing balcony because of the constraints of the site. This allows for four separate unisex changing rooms and showers for both the cricket and tennis clubs for men, women and children to use on the upper level.  This layout creates far more space for the social activities of the club on the ground floor. 

The decision to press ahead with the redevelopment of the Rec Club was taken by the Trustees of The King George V Playing Fields when plans to build a new village hall on land adjacent to the Rec Club and tennis courts were halted through lack of funding despite the huge efforts of those involved.

Echoes of the original new village hall plan can be found in this redevelopment with the ground floor social area capable of being divided into two so both private and members’ use is possible at the same time.

The Trustees are submitting the plans for the new building which will serve the needs of the cricket, tennis and football clubs as well as the social members of the Recreation Club.

Chairman of the trustees Les Owen explained that the pandemic had caused some inevitable delays to the project. “We consulted villagers on our plans more than a year ago and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

“Since then we have spoken to North Somerset planners and been in regular contact with the ECB to make sure our plans are acceptable to them since they are potentially a key grant funder. I’m confident that the plan we now have will not only meet the needs of the sports and recreation clubs but also the whole village.”

The cricket club wants to provide first class facilities for its members with a particular focus on the development of women’s and girls’ cricket and improving facilities for juniors. 

The club regularly hosts junior county matches but has had to turn down requests to host junior county girls’ matches because of the current inadequate changing facilities. 

“New changing rooms are essential for us to meet the demands of the modern game, increase participation and attract the calibre of players we need,” said chairman Geoff Wilcock. ‘’Four flexible use changing rooms will enable us to grow our girls’ and women’s section and to increase the amount of girls’ and women’s cricket played through the ability to host away teams.’’ 

For the tennis club, which has ambitions to build a fourth ‘pay and play’ court, a new pavilion with more flexible changing rooms and enlarged social facilities would allow it to recruit more players while raising additional funds through more social events. 

“We want to increase junior coaching, offer cardio tennis and walking tennis for injured, less mobile and older players, and provide disabled access to the courts with the potential for wheelchair tennis,” said chairman JL Hagger.

Stu Smith, chairman of the football club, believes that wider community participation in the Recreation Club “can only bring the football club to more people’s attention and would hopefully lead to more support in terms of volunteers, spectators or players and may even help in the formation of new teams.” A lack of volunteers means the club does not at present run junior teams but it is keen to reintroduce them as well as adding women’s and veterans’ teams. 

Could bats stop Park Road development?

Winged cavalry in the shape of horseshoe bats have joined forces with CRAG in an effort to thwart the building of a new housing estate behind Park Road, Congresbury.

In a review of the developer’s Ecological Impact Survey, the Natural Environment Service office finds that more information is needed to comply with UK wildlife law and both national and local policy. The office states that before determining the outline application for 90 houses on land north of Mulberry Road, developer M7 must show clear proposals for “replacement horseshoe bat foraging habitat to be provided.”

If that was not enough to stop the development in its tracks, the review continues: “Lighting strategy to be provided demonstrating habitats retained as dispersal corridors and foraging habitat for horseshoe bats will remain unlit.”The office also wants to know how the developer will create a wildflower grassland on site; the location of a reptile receptor site, and the location of compensatory hedgerow planting.

The office concludes that: “An application should be refused (or withdrawn) if there is insufficient information to form an evidence-based assessment or if it cannot be demonstrated beyond reasonable scientific doubt that there will be no significant negative impacts on the SAC (Special Area of Conservation).It sounds to CRAG as if the best way to meet all these requirements, is to leave the field exactly as it is.

John Mills

Cricket club launches crowd-funding appeal

Congresbury CC is a thriving cricket club at the heart of the village and is a big part of the community.  With the expansion of junior, women’s, girls and senior men’s cricket the training facilities are of vital importance to the club. 

The club’s practice facilities/ nets are no longer fit for purpose, with one of the two original nets completely unusable. The current nets have been in place for well over a decade and they are dangerous to use and will be replaced with two brand new, state of the art bays. The club has worked hard over the last couple of years to secure various grants, including one from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

However, the club will need to raise £10,000 to reach its target. The impact of a new net facility will be felt throughout the club and hopefully within the community. It will provide a safe environment for the junior teams to train and will give individuals the opportunities to improve their cricket. The nets are also vital for senior and women’s cricket as they will provide somewhere for players to practice while other matches are going on. There will also be opportunities for members of the public to book and make use of the modern facilities. 

To help the club reach its target, please follow this link.

Burglary in Wrington Lane

A home has been burgled between 7:30am and 4:20pm on Thursday (April 28th) in Wrington Lane, Congresbury. The offender gained entry via a rear door, without the apparent use of force. Once inside a messy search had been conducted with all cupboards being searched, the only obvious item being stolen was a jam jar containing foreign currency. The offender made off via the same method of entry.

Any information please contact the Police on 101 quoting reference number: 5222100605 stating NHW release. Or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Burglary in High Street

A home in Congresbury’s High Street was burgled late on Wednesday night.

It happened between 11:20pm and 11:30pm. The vulnerable resident was awoken by noises downstairs and went to investigate. The offender had gained access via the garage door and onwards through an integral doorway, where they then stole a wallet from a coat hanging in the hallway. The wallet contained cash and bank cards. It is understood they made off the same way they came in.

If you have any information please contact the Police on 101 quoting reference number: 5222093715 stating NHW release or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Community cafe supports new charity

The community café’s ‘Supporting the community initative’ with Debbie Fortune estate agents has raised £400 for the Little Rascals baby and toddler group. www.facebook.com/littlerascalscongresbury

FND Hope UK

For the next two weeks the cafe in Broad Street is supporting a small charity, FND Hope UK. Dr Helen Bolter who lives in the village, is a trustee of the charity, and asked for help to raise money and raise awareness. The charity is supporting a couple of villagers.

Functional Neurological Disorder (FND) is a problem with the functioning of the nervous system which does not send and receive signals to or from the body correctly. It can affect men, women, and children. It produces disability and impairment of quality of life that is similar to that seen in people with Parkinson’s or epilepsy. 

The following is from a patient detailing how FND is affecting them:

“In late 2020, I had a mild head injury.  I was unable to walk and had other symptoms so the doctors thought I had had a stroke, but my brain scan was normal. My left leg was weak and shaking so bad that I couldn’t stand or walk.  I was diagnosed with FND.  I sometimes need a wheelchair, have pain and feel very tired on most days but I have found not being able to continue the job I enjoyed as the worst part of having FND.  I have physio and am waiting for a place on a neurology rehab unit. I have not given up hope of getting better but I wish more people knew about FND so more people understood me.”

https://i0.wp.com/www.fndhope.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/FND-Header-final-1.jpg?w=1600&ssl=1

Protesters say No to Park Road plans

CRAG was out in force at The Precinct on Saturday, demonstrating against the proposed new housing estate behind Park and Mulberry roads. Leaflets were distributed to shoppers explaining why the 90 house estate on Park Farm field is socially and environmentally a bad idea. Resident Amie Price-Bates summed up the feelings of many: “The importance of green space, both socially and mentally has become clear since the pandemic.”
CRAG believes the scheme is unsustainable because of the distance from surgeries, schools and public transport links which will encourage greater car use. Amie stressed the need to get objections registered by April 7. Go to North Somerset Council’s website, search for planning applications and enter the reference 22/P/0459/OUT.

Petition to save X2 bus service

Local mum Leonie Hart has launched a petition to try to stop First Bus from axing the X2 service.

She says: “It’s hard to begin to express the impact that the loss of the X2 will have on my life. I have a chronic health condition, ME which has a considerable effect on my mobility, and thus the bus to Yatton is a lifeline to get to the dentist, doctor, vet, shops and the station plus social groups. I have primary aged children and often use the bus with them as my mobility means it’s impossible to get any further than the immediate Congresbury village amenities otherwise. 

“There needs to be more focus on sustainable transport options for environmental reasons plus the rising cost of fuel especially with such limited transport options already serving rural areas. The loss of this service would not only mean that local people are more dependent on their cars to access local amenities, but that those for whom driving isn’t an option will be increasingly isolated and unable to live independently.”

Congresbury Parish Council will discuss the matter at its next meeting.

If you want to join Leonie and sign the petition click on this link  https://chng.it/jKqZhGgjsc 

 

Developer Gives Land for Bats

A celebration of the transfer of land from Strongvox to Yatton and Congresbury Wildlife Action Group (YACWAG) was held on Friday 18thMarch on site at Cobthorn Way, Congresbury, with the Chair of North Somerset Council, Cllr Richard Westwood, unveiling the site interpretation board with Bill Richardson, Planning Manager for Strongvox , and Tony Moulin, Chair of YACWAG.

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Left to right Tony Moulin (YACWAG), Bill Richardson (Strongvox), Cllr Richard Westwood (Chair, North Somerset Council)

YACWAG’s new Cobthorn Reserve in Congresbury is being created especially for bats. This ground-breaking new project has been facilitated by North Somerset Council working with Natural England through the planning process, and has resulted in the developer Strongvox giving a field of about two and a half hectares to YACWAG to manage for bats forever.

When 38 new houses were built in Furnace Way, a larger area of farmland was lost as a feeding ground for bats. In order for Strongvox to gain planning permission on this sensitive site, North Somerset Council ruled that the developer had to compensate for lost habitat by creating a nature reserve on part of the site to give the bats continuity. There are only about 12,000 Greater Horseshoe Bats in the UK – which is their stronghold – and amazingly 500-1000 of them are living close to Congresbury. Their preferred landscape is one with grazing animals and tall, wide hedges with scattered flowering trees that attract insects. The Cobthorn Reserve will provide this kind of habitat. Grazing by livestock is especially important in this project because young bats need a particular kind of dung beetle to feed on. YACWAG members have been busy thickening up the hedges with additional hedge plants and their graziers, Jo and Andy Milward, will be providing the animals to produce the essential dung.

Councillor Mark Canniford, Executive Member for Business, Economy and Employment at North Somerset Council, said: “I’m pleased to see the Cobthorn Reserve in Congresbury come to fruition. It’s a fantastic example of how planning can be used to have a positive impact on wildlife. This type of protection is important to North Somerset Council and is carefully considered throughout our Local Plan.”

YACWAG Chair, Tony Moulin, said, “We are very excited and immensely proud of the achievement for wildlife at Cobthorn. Local people can be assured that the nature reserve will never be built on, that they will always have ‘nature as their neighbour’. We hope that more such schemes will follow this excellent example of planning gain for biodiversity. It is exciting that we will be able to give these rare bats a handy ‘eat-in restaurant’ on our new reserve with plenty of dung beetles on the menu.”

Local people will be able to find out more about the reserve at an Open Day to be held on Saturday 14th May.

For more information please contact Tony Moulin 01934 834282 or 0744 384 35

Portrait of a Greater Horseshoe Bat by Daniel Hargreaves

Village plans thank-you gift for Post Office stalwarts

Jagtar and Sukhvinder Seehra  provided us with our Post Office for the last 35 years, and have now successfully negotiated with the Post Office for the village to have a continuing service.   To mark their retirement, villagers are planning to make a gesture of gratitude in the form of a gift and some kind of presentation event towards the end of April (date to be decided).


If you would like to contribute a small amount to this, there is a collecting box for cash in the Community Cafe in Broad Street (open Wednesdy and Friday mornings).  If you are not able to get to the Cafe, the treasurer has kindly offered to handle donations made by BACS.Please pay Congresbury Community Cafe Ltd   08 92 99  65923326  and put POSTIE in the reference box to identify the payment.

Alex Ballard

Thank you, say Sukhvinder and Jagtar Seehra

We have received this message from the Seehras who retired earlier this month after running the Post Office in Congresbury for 35 years.

“We are overwhelmed by lots of lovely responses and kind words. We would also like to thank everyone for the cards, flowers and generous gifts they personally brought to the Post Office.” 

Consultation on local planning

Message from CRAG: ‘Here’s an important date for your diary, which could be of special interest to residents of Park and Mulberry Roads.

‘This Thursday, 17 March, North Somerset Council is starting its local plan consultations with a drop-in event at Hangstones Pavillion, Yatton from 3pm to 7pm.

‘This event is specifically for residents of Congresbury and Yatton, where concerned villagers can quiz council officers on how the local plan will shape the development of our villages over the next 15 years.

‘Social media will be used to publicise the events which will take place at various venues around North Somerset over the next six weeks. Formally known as the Preferred Options Local Plan, it is the council’s way of best meeting the development needs for North Somerset up to 2038.

‘Meanwhile, residents of Wrington Lane are still awaiting a response from Vistry/Bovis to CRAG’s legal challenge to their controversial scheme.’

John Mills