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Mixed reactions to Willow Brook Centre’s new speed bumps

Posted on Wednesday 17th April 2019 at 9:51 pm by SH (Editor)

Photo of one of the new full-width speed bumps.

The replacement of a number of cushion-type speed bumps on the access road of the Willow Brook shopping centre with new, more severe, full-width bumps sparked extensive debate on the Journal’s Facebook page during March.

The reader who started the discussion remarked on the “large traffic queue” that had formed because of drivers slowing to a crawl as they passed over the “overly harsh” speed bumps, noting that this had resulted in the roundabout near the Three Brooks pub becoming blocked.

Scores of other readers added comments complaining about the severity of the bumps, expressing fears that their vehicles’ suspension and/or wheel alignment might be damaged as a result of passing over them.

Others complained about the discomfort experienced by vehicle occupants, particularly the elderly or disabled and those with sensitive medical conditions such a back pain.

On the other hand, the new bumps were strongly supported by readers who are concerned about the safety of pedestrians using the zebra crossing or have experienced issues with vehicles swerving into the centre of the road to avoid the previous cushion-type bumps.

Speed bumps were first installed at the centre in September 2011 following a series of accidents that had been attributed to speeding. The centre management later claimed that the number of reported incidents had reduced from 58 in the 35 months prior to installation of the bumps to zero in the subsequent 12 months.

Responding to a statement request from the Journal, Andy Wynn, manager of the Willow Brook Centre, said:

“The new speed bumps have been installed following a review of safety in the area, in light of a number of near misses for both pedestrians and vehicles. The speed bumps are designed to be driven over between 5 miles per hour and the speed limit of the car park, which has always been 10 miles per hour. The same make and model of speed bump is in place in several car parks around Bristol and has been for some years.”

More: Selected reader comments from our Facebook page »

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Trust CEO’s “lack of representation” gibe triggers schools minister visit

Posted on Tuesday 16th April 2019 at 10:57 pm by SH (Editor)

Photo of schools minister Nick Gibb MP (centre) on a visit to Patchway Community School.

Schools minister Nick Gibb MP has paid a flying visit to several South Gloucestershire schools, including Patchway Community School, following criticism from a local academy trust leader that the district’s MPs aren’t doing enough to push for an increase in the level of school funding.

The visit came just three weeks after Dave Baker, CEO of the Olympus Academy Trust (OAT), appeared to be critical of Filton and Bradley Stoke MP Jack Lopresti for not attending a debate held in parliament to discuss a public petition titled ‘Increase funding for schools’, which had attracted over 100,000 signatures.

Mr Baker tweeted: “We are in the lowest-funded local authority area in the country and our MP was apparently not present for the debate about school funding. Looking forward to meeting with Jack Lopresti on Friday to talk this through.”

Following his subsequent meeting with Mr Lopresti, Mr Baker wrote in an article published on the OAT website that he had shared his “concerns about our lack of representation in regard to inadequate school funding in our area”.

Mr Baker went on to report that Mr Lopresti had “committed to requesting a meeting with Nick Gibb (minister of state for schools) in the coming weeks to share the serious concerns of school and trust leaders in South Gloucestershire.”

He also reported that Mr Lopresti had pledged to liaise with other local MPs, including Luke Hall and Chris Skidmore, “so that they can show a united front in highlighting concerns from across the education sector in South Gloucestershire”.

Noting that the Castle School Education Trust had recently been awarded £14 million in additional capital funding, Mr Baker added that he was looking forward to “an update in regard to the financial support also urgently required for schools within the Olympus Academy Trust, and specifically at Patchway Community School”.

More: Minister invited to "discuss the challenges of funding…" »

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McDonald’s and Starbucks drive-through plans refused for second time

Posted on Friday 12th April 2019 at 6:12 pm by SH (Editor)

Photo of the Spatial Planning Committee meeting in progress.

Proposals for two new 24-hour drive-through food units and new retail space at Bradley Stoke’s Willow Brook Centre have been refused permission by councillors for a second time.

South Gloucestershire Council’s (SGC’s) Spatial Planning Committee, meeting at Brook Way Activity Centre on 19th March, had been tasked with “re-evaluating” the application after councillors on a lower-level committee had ignored the case officer’s recommendation and refused permission by five votes to two.

The proposals have proved controversial because of the proximity of the drive-through units to residential properties in Wheatfield Drive, with the single-storey Starbucks being just 22m away from the nearest dwelling. The adjacent two-storey McDonald’s building would be 50m distant.

Further concerns had been expressed over the plans to realign the main access road into the Willow Brook Centre, which would bring it much closer to the rear of residential properties in Dewfalls Drive.

In a re-run of the previous meeting, a packed hall first heard from the applicant’s agent who said the proposals represented a “significant investment” that would “enhance the vitality and viability of the centre” and create 85 full- and part-time jobs.

Although an earlier ‘acoustic report’ submitted by the applicant indicated that there would be no significant increase in night-time noise associated with the food units, the agent indicated that they would be prepared to accept a condition restricting the opening hours of the food units to 6am-11pm for Starbucks and 6am-midnight (Sun-Thu) / 6am-1am (Fri & Sat) for McDonald’s.

Opponents of the scheme were then given a chance to speak, including Steve Moir (headteacher at Bradley Stoke Community School) who said the proximity of the fast food units would add to the “challenges and temptations” faced by students and undermine teaching on healthy lifestyles.

More: Refusal based on South Glos and national planning policies »

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School kicks off 20th anniversary celebrations

Posted on Thursday 11th April 2019 at 9:44 pm by SH (Editor)

Photo of current headteacher Phil Winterburn and former heads Lois Haydon and Chris Dursley cutting an anniversary cake.

On Saturday 16th March, Bradley Stoke’s Wheatfield Primary School opened its doors to ex-pupils, families and members of staff for an open day to celebrate the school’s 20th anniversary.

Over 200 people attended the event and took the opportunity to explore the school and catch up with old friends and colleagues.

The hall was decorated with pictures from throughout the school’s history and videos of key events were played in classrooms.

The day was organised by Hazel Boyes, a teaching assistant who has been in post for 19 years.

It forms part of a series of events throughout the school year to mark the 20th anniversary.

The culmination of these events will be ‘Wheatfest’ on Saturday 13th July, which will be a day of activities, rides and performances to celebrate this important time for the school.

Photo of guests mingling in the hall.

More photos from the event »

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