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Garden shed theft

A garden shed in Bristol Road, Congresbury, was broken into between March 21 and 23.

The offender/s ripped off the lower section of the shed door and stole three chainsaws and a hedge cutter before making off.

Police urge people to take care of your gardening equipment and keep it secure in a locked shed.

Consider running a chain between more expensive items and securing the shed with a padlock. Mark your property so it can be identified and consider additional options such as security lights (even solar lights) and rounding screw heads on hinges.

Any information please contact the Police on 101 quoting Ref number: 5221061972 stating NHW Release or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Sweet success

Families gathered to buy sweets from a stall set up outside the Old Inn on Saturday. The pub’s friendly staff offered a refreshingly novel activity that proved extremely popular.

Youth Club damaged

Congresbury Youth Partnership leaders are extremely angry and disappointed that someone has recently caused a considerable amount of damage to the Youth Club. 

In trying to gain entry to the building the intruder or intruders damaged the door lock and broke two of the windows. The bill for these repairs is going to be considerable.

The Parish council has also had to deal with incidents of vandalism around the ball court and on the Millennium Green including clearing up glass bottles that have been deliberately smashed on the children’s slide.

CYP leaders say that they appreciate that everyone is feeling fed up with the present lock down rules — but this sort of behaviour helps no one. The CYP has limited funds and money spent on repairs to the Youth Club impacts on the activities and experiences the CYP can provide in the community.

 If you have seen or know of any criminal activity around the Youth Club area please let the CYP know or report it to the police. The local PCSO has been informed of the various incidents and is keen to stop such anti-social behaviour.

Avon & Somerset police says that the damage could be either anti-social activity or a failed attempt at gaining entry.

Any information please contact the police on 101 quoting Ref number: 5221058869 stating NHW Release or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Call to oppose new homes plan

Many villagers will know of the years of frustration suffered by residents of Wrington Lane with seemingly endless schemes by land agents Gladman and construction firm Bovis Homes to build on a field off the lane.

Plans to build 50 houses have been  thwarted by the foresight of North Somerset councillors – and Tom Leimdorfer in particular – when outline planning permission was granted subject to a continuous footway being provided along the lane before construction could begin.

Over the years, Gladman have tried several wheezes to get round this perfectly reasonable condition but have failed because the lane in several places is just too narrow to allow a proper pavement alongside the carriageway.

Now there is a new effort following a merger between builder Bovis and Linden Homes. Enter the Vistry Group with new pretty drawings of houses and trees and hedgerows, and details of wild flowers and play areas. 

Their tactic is to ignore the question of access. It is as if the site exists in splendid isolation where real-life problems do not happen. In their fantasy world, practicalities like access to and from the site for construction, service and emergency vehicles, along with the safety of pedestrians and cyclists are banished.

But the firm is not stupid – it must be assuming that the rest of us are so busy worrying about Covid that we would not notice that it has included the application under Reserved Matters in a previous application made two years ago.

Says CRAG’s Mary Short: “This is clearly an attempt to get approval before residents have time to object by the deadline of 15th March – please don’t let them get away with it.”

To register objections to this cunning plan, go to North Somerset Council’s website and under Planning Applications, go to 19/P/1657/RM. When you’ve found the application, scroll down to find “make a comment.”

If you do want to comment we would suggest that you look at a document called the Design and Access Statement – DAS Rev A published on the web site on 17th February.

We suggest that any comments are focussed on issues or concerns about the latest drawings and the site layout.

There is no need to comment about access from Wrington Lane because as you will recall  this is a separate issue. In 2017 when Gladman secured outline planning consent North Somerset Council stipulated that no residential development would be allowed until the works detailed in an agreed roadways scheme to improve the footway and carriageway along Wrington Lane had been completed. 

John Mills

Attempted theft of motorbike

A motorcycle was damaged during the early hours of February 23rd between 00:00 and 7am while parked on the owner’s driveway in Weetwood Road, Congresbury.

Avon and Somerset police report that the offender or offenders had attempted to move the bike but would have found this very difficult with a rear lock on the wheel and break. Giving up halfway down the driveway, the motorcycle was dropped on its right side damaging the handle grip, brake lever and pedal.

Any information please contact the police on 101 quoting Ref number: 5221039389 stating NHW Release or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Airport appeal over expansion refusal

Bristol Airport has submitted an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate against North Somerset Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for the expansion of the airport. To find out more, click on this link

If anyone wishes to make further comments to PINs, or modify/withdraw previous representations, can do so online at https://acp.planninginspectorate.gov.uk or by emailing Leanne.palmer@planninginspectorate.gov.uk. The deadline is Monday 22nd February.

Village starts 20mph campaign

Sandford villagers have launched a 20’s Plenty For Us campaign with the aim of asking North Somerset council to bring in a 20mph speed limit for residential areas throughout North Somerset. The group is asking for Congresbury to join the scheme.

20’s Plenty is a not-for-profit organisation which was formed in 2007 to help communities who want a more liveable street environment by setting a mandatory 20mph limit for most roads.  Around 25 per cent of the UK population now live in local authority areas where most streets have a speed limit of 20mph.  More information can be found at www.20splenty.org

 Sandford organisers note that Bath,  Bristol, Oxford and Cardiff are among the authorities which have successfully adopted 20mph limit schemes. Sandford’s campaign leaflet which contains contact details, can be viewed here or downloaded

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Sports centre campaign takes off

Residents of Congresbury and other Mendip villages have shown huge support for a scheme to save Churchill Sports Centre. An online survey of residents has received more than 1,000 responses in just one week. 

Calling themselves Mendip Villages Fitness, the group of ex-members of the Centre, instructors, councillors and residents, wants to test the level of support for its reopening after lockdown.

“We are delighted by the huge response” said one of the organisers, Churchill’s Jill Maycock. “It shows how much the sports centre is wanted in our locality.

“Many of our kids learned to swim at Churchill pool, and recently it was an important community centre. If it remains closed, what’s the alternative for children wanting to learn to swim or keep fit? 

“The nearest pools are either Clevedon or Hutton which means greater car use, which North Somerset Council wants to discourage,” said Jill.

The group believes that if support continues to grow, North Somerset will have to find a way to fund the reopening.

John Mills

Residents can complete the survey at: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/MendipVillagesFitness. The deadline for completion is March 7th.

New homes plan – reasons to object

Congresbury residents should know that there is a substantial development in the pipeline for our neighbours at Wrington.

Objections to the scheme for 71 houses at Butt’s Batch have to be with North Somerset Council by 26 January.

Although it falls outside the remit of CRAG, there is little doubt that if it succeeded, the addition of at least another 150 cars on our roads would add to the ever-increasing traffic problems in this corner of North Somerset.

Details of the scheme, planned for a field off the road between Wrington and Langford, can be found on the Keep Wrington as Wrington website accessed via CALRAG’s page.

The Wrington site lists a number of planning reasons why people might want to object including:

contribution to urban sprawl

unsustainability in that residents would use cars to travel to work and access local services

increase pollution and contribute to the climate emergency which is against council policy.

Says CRAG: “This is another example of a development scheme which is undesirable for many reasons.

“It would obviously contribute to greater car use because there is no public transport to support an influx of commuters. And that goes against the council policy of reducing pollution. 

“Such a development would have a detrimental impact on the Wrington Vale landscape; would increase hazards to pedestrians and cyclists and have an adverse impact on an area already subject to regular flooding.”

John Mills

Scam scare

Police warn vulnerable elderly people to be alert to a scam, after incidents in North Somerset.

Between Wednesday 25 November and Thursday 3 December there were five incidents reported, with four happening on Tuesday and Wednesday. All have involved calls to people in their 70s, 80s or 90s living in Clevedon or Portishead.

In each case someone has telephoned impersonating a police officer. They claim the householder’s bank account has been used for crime and insist on cash being withdrawn, which they say they need as “evidence” and is collected from the house.

Telephone fraud alert

Two elderly residents in the Clevedon area have been the subject of serious fraud.

Both received telephone calls today, December 2, from people claiming to be police officers – one from Luton and the other allegedly from Bristol. The supposed officers were very persistent and even asked one of the victims to call 191 to check their identity with a colleague. This was a clever ploy, as the line had not been disconnected and the phone was merely handed to an accomplice.

In both instances they were asked to attend their banks, and were advised by the fake police how they could get around the security measures / questions. On arrival the victims withdrew thousands of pounds between them, which was later collected from their homes by a courier. A password was given by the fraudster to use when handing the money over to the courier to make it even more convincing.

Avon and Somerset police say that this type of fraud can occur anywhere, so always be wary of unexpected calls. Never give out any personal details, especially financial account numbers or passwords. If you have any concerns, hang up immediately. Contact the bank or organisation they claim to represent using a mobile or different phone in case the offenders are still on the line. Never use any telephone numbers provided by the fraudster. Police will never ask you to attend your bank or withdraw cash.

Bats, balls, bullets and bombs – Congresbury remembers

 With the sound of the Last Post quietly fading on the North Somerset breeze following last week’s understandably muted commemorations, history group member and cricket club vice-president, Clive Burlton wondered just how the members and families associated with Congresbury Cricket club fared during World War One and its aftermath 100 years ago

Click here to read the full story.

Advice about Halloween

This Halloween, we’re encouraging people to have fun at home so they can stay safe and help control the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). We want you to have fun this Halloween, but please consider how you might do things differently this year and plan ahead so that you can celebrate safely:

  • If you can, celebrate at home
  • Remember the rule of 6 for indoor and outdoor gatherings
  • If you go out trick or treating, wear a mask and keep 2m apart
  • Always go trick or treating with an adult, don’t knock on doors where there is a sign saying ‘no trick or treat here’ and only go to houses where you know the residents
  • Remember road safety, always look carefully before crossing the road and be visible
  • Don’t take sweets from communal bowls, only accept sweets that are in wrappers and keep your hands clean
  • Throwing eggs and flour at houses causes criminal damage. You could be arrested
  • Although Halloween is supposed to be spooky, be considerate to those who don’t take part and be careful not frighten vulnerable people

There are plenty of ways people can have fun at home, from pumpkin carving to watching scary movies or trying some spooky recipes. You could create a themed display, have a trick or treat hunt at home or host a virtual Halloween costume contest.

Halloween can be unnerving for people who are elderly, vulnerable or live alone. They may be at a higher risk of becoming victims of crime if they feel isolated or alone, but there are lots of things you can do to help your neighbours feel safe:

  • Start by just saying ‘hello.’
  • Ask if they would like you to check if they are ok on Halloween with either a visit or a call
  • Ask if they would like you to download and print on of our ‘sorry, no trick or treaters here’ posters below so they can display it in their window

If you’re a shopkeeper please remember not to sell eggs or flour to young people and selling fireworks to under-18s is an offence.

Click here for no trick or treaters poster

Click here for eggs and flour shopkeepers poster

Warning of phone scams

The Police have seen a vast increase in the number of telephone scams in recent weeks from fraudsters claiming to be from HMRC, TV Licencing, Amazon, Utility Companies and many others. What do most of these have in common? When they call you be it an automated call or a person on the phone, most will eventually ask you to press number 1 on your keypad to be connected to a particular department (Please do not do this). 

Why did that department not contact you in the first instance? Because they need you to press 1.

The most likely outcome is you will be connected to a premium rate phone line charging an extortionate rate for absolutely nothing at all. 

Please take care and be wary of any unexpected phone calls.

If you receive a call and you think it is fraudulent then please report it to Action Fraud at this link below:

https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/contact-us

Bigger, better Rec Club plan for village

Plans to upgrade Congresbury Recreation Club to provide better sports and social facilities have been launched.

The move comes as ambitious plans for a new village hall have been shelved. The new hall would have replaced the existing Rec Club.

Called Project Construct, the Rec Club plan is being backed by the trustees of the King George V Playing Field whose chairman Mike Greaves notes have “a primary duty to support and enable sport and recreation on the fields. 

“The trustees are aware that the existing recreation and changing facilities have deteriorated and are in need of upgrade or replacement,” said Mr Greaves.

A project sub-committee of the Rec Club has already carried out a feasibility study and is now looking to produce detailed plans and costs and develop a funding strategy.

Project Construct is being chaired by cricket club president Les Owen and includes representatives of the tennis, cricket and football clubs as well as the Rec Club.

Its remit is to consult widely with the sports and recreation clubs as well as the wider community to make sure that, wherever possible, the project meets their needs for the provision of sports and social facilities in Congresbury.

The current Rec Club was built in the 1960s and is now well past its best with outdated changing rooms that don’t have separate female facilities. This has, for example, prevented the cricket club hosting some county junior matches.

Initial plans envisage a new changing block shared by cricket and tennis clubs with the old changing rooms incorporated into the rebuilt Rec Club to give a much larger footprint allowing for a multi-use communal area.

Illuminated Pumpkin Trail

Middlecombe nursery are raising money for Feed The Homeless having built an all day illuminated Pumpkin Trail at the nursery. It’s an ideal visit for young and young at heart to see illuminated pumpkins donated by local business displayed in a theatrical setting. Free entry but donations to the charity encouraged!

The Trail is open 10am—7:30pm.  from Wednesday this week at Middlecombe nursery, Wrington road.

New Village Hall Project To Close

The new village hall project has struggled over the last year or so and that has now come to a head. The George V trustees (Parish Council cricket, football and tennis clubs, British Legion and St Andrews school) who manage the playing fields, feel it is time for a change of approach.  The Recreation club who have been working on an alternative plan have been given up to two years to progress their plan.

Ian Sheppard for the project said ‘Pre covid we were making progress with potential grant funders and a construction company provided budget costing of just over £1,075,000, for a community hub with a floor area 616m2 including a large hall, which was a priority. This would have allowed significantly more sport and recreation and broader range of activities for the people of the village.’

‘It has taken a long time to get here but a combination of the lease conditions, the King George V Trustees decision which means our planning permission will lapse during the initial period of the alternative plan, the Parish Council’s reluctance to set aside s106/CIL monies for a future building and possible limitations of grant funding as a result of Covid means we are closing the project down.’

‘Whilst we have not managed to fulfil the vision for a community hub catering for all age groups to meet the needs of the village, villagers will still be able enjoy a range of freshly brewed coffees and delicious home-made cakes in the community café, set up originally to raise funds for the project.’

‘We would like to thank our volunteers for their efforts, the people who made financial pledges and the local business who supported the project. We wish the Recreation club well with their endeavours’. Ian Sheppard

Community Cafe new opening times.

Situated at the rear of Debbie Fortune estate agent in Bridge House, Broad Street, and generously donated by Debbie, the cafe is attractively furnished and is totally manned by volunteers. Offering a variety of speciality teas, coffees, and other drinks, together with a choice of delicious homemade cakes, baked by villagers.

The cafe is now open on Wednesdays and Fridays 9 – 1pm and alternate Saturdays 9.30-1pm. Approached through the high double wooden gates on Broad Street, there is a charming enclosed courtyard, with 4 tables in the gazebo and 4 not under cover.  Dogs are not allowed in the café but may be left in the courtyard where water and tying up facilities are available.

Saturday dates are – 31st October, 14th November, 28th November, 12th December, 9th January 2021, 23rd January, 6th February, 20th February.

Successful Coffee Morning

The community cafe and Debbie Fortune estate agent’s coffee morning on Friday 25th raised £610 for Macmillan cancer support.

Thanks go to the volunteers who manned the cafe, covered the cafe’s costs, and donated the homemade cakes as well as those who donated throughout the day.

If you missed it there is the option to donate online through the website – https://www.macmillan.org.uk/donate.

New Scam

Police have been made aware very recently of a new scam.

An email is titled HM Courts & Tribunals Services and will state in the subject “Your Fixed Penalty Notice Ref:” followed by a series of numbers.

In the actual email itself it will explain the total cost is £25 with a delivery date of 7am to 7pm.

The location for the supposed offence simply states “United Kingdom”

the “Click here to Pay” link has been deactivated.

Please, if you receive this in your inbox do not fall for it and advise others that may be unaware.

COMMUNITY CONNECT

Community Connect is a free Council funded service in North Somerset for people over 50 offering information. It offers advice and support to help people live independently at home, improving well being and addressing social isolation and loneliness. The service is provided by the local village agent.

The Village Agent can help with a wide range of issues including accessing care support, claiming benefits, providing safety equipment in the home, support for carers, transport issues, befriending and issues of social isolation.

This free and confidential service can be accessed by contacting Congresbury’s Village Agent, Maxine Gilman, on 0796 734 4766 or by email on maxine.gilman@curo-group.co.uk.

Warning over tax office telephone scam

Police warn that fraudsters continue to contact residents claiming to be from HMRC (the Tax Office) telling them that they owe money and that an arrest warrant will be issued if they don’t hand over payment.

A Keynsham resident received a voicemail asking them to call back on a certain number, and when the resident called he was told that he owed money to HMRC and that he would be sent to court if he didn’t pay. The victim was told to purchase Amazon gift cards as the tax office was closed due to the Covid-19 virus and they couldn’t accept debit card payment. Sadly these were purchased and the codes and reference numbers were handed over during another call at significant cost. There has been a similar incident in Cheddar but this time the scam was spotted by a Neighbourhood Watch member.

These offenders are very convincing, using the fear of arrest to panic their victims into handing over payment for the non-existing debts. They may give passwords and fake identity names and “badge” numbers.

HMRC will never telephone to threaten court proceedings as a first contact, and they certainly don’t take gift cards as a means of payment. If you receive one of these calls, hang up immediately. If you are concerned contact your local tax office using a phone number from previous printed communication or from the phonebook. Never use a phone number provided by the scammer.

Yatton man charged with assault

A 48-year-old Yatton man has been charged with racially aggravated assault following an incident on Monday morning.

Richard Penny, of Mendip Road, has also been charged with possessing a knife, threatening a person with a knife and using threatening/ abusive words likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

The charges relate to an incident in a café at approximately 8.50am in which a woman in her 40s was assaulted and another woman, an off-duty detention officer, was threatened. Attending police officers were then threatened with a knife.

Penny has also been charged with another count of using threatening/ abusive words likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress. This charge relates to an incident on High Street, Yatton at about 12pm on Friday, 4 September in which two women were verbally abused.

Penny appeared via video link at North Somerset Magistrates’ Court yesterday where he was remanded in custody pending a hearing at Bristol Crown Court at a date yet to be set.

Rogue Traders / Gardeners (Tree Specialists)

Take care as we have been made aware that there has been a sharp increase in calls relating to bogus “Tree Specialists” who have been preying on the older population within our communities, offering to carry out gardening work. Several residents are reported to have paid vast sums of money for poor quality work to the so called “Specialists” who have also taken the money and never returned to complete the work. 

There are a few things that you should be wary of before allowing anyone into your home or garden.

1. Did they put a leaflet through your door claiming to offer discounts for OAPs? 

2. Do they offer 20 / 30 / 40 % off for calling within a particular time scale of receiving your leaflet?

3. Do they offer Tree work and then claim to offer a host of other services seemingly unrelated?

4. Does it look like a professionally printed leaflet?

5. If you speak to an operator, do not be bullied into committing to their services or an appointment.

6. If they are in your home, phone a friend and ask them to come round.

7. You can ask them to leave at any point during their sales pitch.

These are just a few points to look out for, but the best rule to go by is that if you require any work you should find the person yourself or go by the recommendation of others that you trust.

There are plenty of websites that can steer you in the right direction to find the right company. 

And of course there are some genuine, honest companies so make an informed decision, but remember:

“If you’re not sure, don’t open the door”

Warning on Amazon scam

Police are warning of a potential scam involving automated telephone calls claiming to be from Amazon stating that you have opened an Amazon Prime Account.

You are then told if you wish to cancel you should press 1 on your keypad.

The call is then transferred to a fraudster posing as an Amazon operative who will then advise you the purchase went through as a result of a “Security Flaw” on your computer.

They will then ask for remote access to your computer to “rectify this problem”. This is to steal your personal information.

Remember never allow anyone to remotely access your personal computer if they have contacted you.

The helpful guidance attached has been sourced from the Genuine Amazon Website – click here to read it.