At the end of the Journal’s first calendar year of publishing, we take a look back at the main events of 2008 in Bradley Stoke.
Check out our Bradley Stoke Review of 2008 Slideshow (broadband recommended) on PicasaWeb.
January saw the first concrete poured for the new town centre site. Foundations were laid for the new petrol filling station and the main building of the new shopping centre. A temporary white marquee was installed behind the existing Tesco store and work began to demolish the loading bay of the store, which overlapped the footprint of the new centre.
Demolition of the Tesco loading bay progressed through February, once high winds had abated to allow a giant crane to remove machinery from the roof. Installation of a new sewer caused traffic queues on the access road to the old store, while the new filling station began to take shape. The projected opening date for the new development was said to be “late autumn”.
March saw Bradley Stoke Town Council (BSTC) announcing that a new ‘Beacon Playground’ is to be built at the Jubilee Green in Savages Wood Road. Details were sparse and nothing more was heard until September.
Back at the town centre, a 3.1m high ‘acoustic barrier’ was erected around two sides of the site while work progressed on the construction of the new access road.
The previously proposed ‘Council Drop-In Centre’ at the new town centre mysteriously disppeared from the revised plans, with BSTC refusing to offer any comment, only to reappear in a Tesco brochure distributed in the old store.
Health provision in Bradley Stoke suffered yet another setback when South Gloucestershire Council refused planning permission for expansion of Bradley Stoke Surgery on Brook Way. The Surgery management appealed the decision and the government’s Planning Inspectorate was called in to adjudicate.
UPDATE: A consultation meeting for the ‘Beacon Playground’ will finally take place on Wednesday 7th January 2009. A Council presence at the new town centre remains in doubt as Councillors examine the option of moving to the Jubilee Centre instead.
News that Tesco had abandoned plans to hold a public competition to choose the name of the new town centre surfaced in April – the provisional name of “The Brooks Centre” was to become permanent. BSTC responded rather childishly by objecting to a planning application for signage at the new site, which would have incorporated the “Brooks Centre” identity; they also claimed the name was too similar to that of the Council’s own Brook Way Activity Centre. Cllr Robert Jones and Tesco representative Dan Bramwell were interviewed on Radio Bristol, where Cllr Jones described the proposed name as “heartless and soulless” and Mr Bramwell denied that Tesco had ever promised a public name-choosing competition.
Over at the new town centre, the new petrol filling station opened on Monday 7th April, closely followed by the new access road on Sunday 13th April. Pedestrians and bus passengers weren’t happy though – bus services into the site were stopped and pedestrians had to access the old Tesco store from Bradley Stoke Way.
Developments in the long-running dispute between the Town Council and North Avon Bowls Club led to the Council padlocking the gates to the club’s Baileys Court bowling green. Later in the month, infuriated bowls club members invaded the site after a padlock was mysteriously severed. The Council called in the police, who responded with seven officers and four squad cars, much to the amusement of the national media, who featured The Journal’s photos in their reports.
UPDATE: The Council is still at loggerheads with the bowlers. It now looks as if the club will disband, as many members have joined other clubs. Unfortunately, this leaves the Council with a bowling green that is expensive to maintain and has few (if any) users.
May saw a fractious Special Meeting of the Town Council at which the thorny topics of the bowls club dispute and town centre naming were discussed. The meeting had to be temporarily adjourned after repeated interruptions from the public, many of whom were members of the bowls club and were incensed at not being allowed to address the meeting. Councillors resolved to give the bowls club ten days to accept the previously proposed rental agreement. Tesco’s Dan Bramwell then made an astonishing U-turn when he announced that there would, after all, be a residents’ competition to choose the name of the new town centre.
Community action inspired by members of the Jubilee Centre Youth Club saw the pond on the Jubilee Green cleared of rubbish. Sadly, more junk appeared in the pond just a few weeks later.
The end of the month saw North Avon Bowls Club remove its belongings from the Baileys Court ground after the Town Council had issued it notice to quit.
The Community Festival in June was once again blessed with glorious sunshine and residents flocked to the Jubilee Green to see, amongst other attractions, Queen tribute band Monarchy and the James Dylan Stuntworld motorcyle riders. Youngsters took part in a skateboard competition, while local athletes contested a Fun Run over a 10km course through the town.
The name “The Willow Brook Centre” was selected as the winning entry in the competition to choose the new town centre. The victorious resident chose to remain anonymous and donated his/her prize to the Mayor’s charity, the National Association for Colitis and Crohn’s Disease (NACC).
Plans for a dental practice at the new town centre were confirmed by the local health authority, but it was also revealed that the projected opening date had slipped from December 2008 to April 2009.
July saw the government’s Planning Inspectorate overrule a decision by South Gloucestershire Council to refuse planning permission for revised expansion plans at Bradley Stoke Surgery.
The BP Pension Fund took a 50% share in the new town centre development, allowing Tesco to release funds for expansion elsewhere. Meanwhile, on the jobs front, a recruitment centre for positions at the Tesco Extra store opened at Aztec West.
Plans for a sixth form centre and dance studio at Bradley Stoke Community School were submitted to South Gloucestershire Council. The school stated that it would like to have the sixth form centre up and running by September 2010.
UPDATE: Six months on, Bradley Stoke residents are still waiting to hear when the enlarged facilities at Bradley Stoke Surgery might come into service. Construction has not yet started and the surgery has released no information into the public domain.
The resignation of Cllr Caroline Charlton (Conservative) in August led to a vacancy on the Town Council, which the Council didn’t see fit to publish on its own website. Despite that, a sufficient number of local electors were moved to demand an election, which was duly called for Thursday 2nd October. The election is said to have cost rate payers £4,500 – and we never did get an explanation as to why Ms Charlton left after serving for just one quarter of her elected term.
September saw news emerging about new tenants of the Willow Brook Centre and The Journal was very active in advertising job vacancies at the new town centre, which was now scheduled to open on Monday 13th October.
A new orienteering and nature trail opened in the town’s Three Brooks Local Nature Reserve and 180 people particpated in the launch event.
Campaigning for the Town Council’s Meadowbank by-election turned nasty when local Conservatives were forced to make a last-minute apology for a slur on Lib Dem candidate Jon Williams’ stance on the proposed new sixth form.
The Town Council announced that it would be moving its offices, current located on a business park in the north of the town, to the Willow Brook Centre. The relocation is expected to take place in 2009.
The Meadowbank by-election in early October saw Lib Dem candidate Jon Williams defeat Conservative Paul Turner by just nine votes. After his victory, Mr Williams told The Journal that he looked forward to bringing “independent thought and challenging ideas” to the table.
There was a frantic rush to complete the Willow Brook Centre in time for its official opening on Monday 13th October. The Journal carried the latest news as the big day approached and recorded the centre’s opening moments as shoppers rushed in to visit the new Tesco Extra store.
With the new centre open, work began on demolishing the old Tesco store (a building that was just 15 years old) to make way for more car parking and a bus lane into the development.
November saw residents of Manor Farm Crescent call a meeting to consider forming a Neighbourhood Watch Group following a spate of anti-social behaviour in the area. Problems were said to have arisen after a new access point into the Willow Brook Centre site was opened earlier in the year.
News emerged that mobile food traders could soon return to the car park of the Baileys Court Activity Centre. A previous trader had to leave the site during its redevelopment, but the Town Council said it had received approaches from two concerns wishing to operate there.
A police raid in early December on a house in Juniper Way uncovered a cannabis “factory” consisting of around 450 well-grown plants. The crop was said to have a street value of £180,000.
Local MP Steve Webb and a group of local electors called on Bradley Stoke Town Council to provide allotments for local residents, as required by the Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908. A recent decision by Patchway Town Council to charge non-residents three times the standard (residents’) rate for use of its allotments is understood to have triggered the Bradley Stoke petition.
South Gloucestershire Council announced that a Sure Start family support centre is to be established at Bradley Stoke’s Bowsland Green Primary School.
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