To end the year, we take a look back at some of the main Bradley Stoke news stories of 2009:
January saw changes to the route of the 73 bus service, meaning that it would no longer visit the MOD complex at Abbey Wood or the Aztec West Business Park. Journey times to Bristol city centre became a few minutes quicker, but some residents complained that they would no longer be able to get to their places of work using public transport.
A burst water main on Brook Way cut supplies to thousands of homes in the town. The saga began at around 2pm on 27th January and supplies were only restored around 9pm after Bristol Water admitted repairs were “taking longer than expected”.
After a concerted campaign by the Editor of The Journal, Bradley Stoke Town Council finally agreed to publish draft minutes within ten working days of each of its meetings. Previously, residents had to wait for up to two months (or even more) before being able to read of their representatives’ decisions, leading to the Council being branded one of the most secretive in the country.
[Ed: I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Cllr Jon Williams for tabling the matter for discussion and Cllr Brian Hopkinson for proposing the motion.]
Local anti-porn campaigners hit the national headlines in February, when then they staged a demonstration outside blue movie producer James Edwards’ house in The Coppice. Later in the month, the same group was given the cold shoulder at a meeting of the Bradley Stoke Safer and Stronger Community Group, where police refused to discuss the matter in public.
Two waves of heavy snow hit the town, causing numerous school closures and the suspension of all bus services. Rubbish and recycling collections were also hit.
Youth club provision in the town was thrown into crisis when it was revealed that South Gloucestershire Council would be unable to take on responsibility for the service on 1st April (as had been previously planned). A special meeting of the Town Council was held, where councillors decided to give Southern Brooks Community Partnership (the current provider) a six month extension.
A shocking overnight arson rampage in March saw three cars destroyed in the area surrounding the Jubilee Centre. Police put a cordon around the town and arrested two 17-year-old men in connection with the incident.
The first staging of the Bradley Stoke Aquathlon, centred on the Leisure Centre, was deemed a great success by organiser Thornbury Running Club and the event looks set to become a regular on the local sporting calendar.
April saw Dave Dace, the Town Council’s newly appointed litter picker, take up his duties. The enthusiastic Mr Dace later organised two “big clean ups” in the town and has even started his own Bradley Stoke Street Carers website.
Community groups were angered when Town Clerk David Chandler announced that they would have to relocate from the Brook Way Activity Centre when the youth club moved in. Petitions were organised and the Council later back down, saying it would be OK for day time users to remain.
Bus services returned to the town centre in May, after a long break caused by the construction of the Willow Brook centre. The 71, 72 and 73B services now visit a new stop at the side of the Town Square, but there is no news of the extra service required by a clause in the centre’s planning consent.
Bradley Stoke’s first NHS dental practice opened at the Willow Brook Centre following years of frustration for residents, during which time they have had to travel to practices in neighbouring towns.
The Community Festival in June attracted World Cup hero Sir Geoff Hurst to present the prizes for the annual youth football tournament. Music and dance acts entertained visitors in the main arena, while children were enthralled by numerous attractions on the Jubilee Green.
The Bradley Stoke 10k grew again in stature, with electronic timing being used for the first time and a record field of 334 runners contesting the race.
A new £160,000 play park was finally opened on the Jubilee Green in July, after a series of delays meant it missed the original target of being open for the Community Festival. The park was embarrassingly closed by the Council just a few days later, “to enable completion of the site”. It re-opened a couple of weeks and now has a very active friends group that will oversee its further development.
The tendering process for a new youth provider in the town turned into a farce when the existing provider, Southern Brooks Community Partnership (SBCP), turned out to be the only bidder. The net result is that the Town Council, which has never seen eye to eye with SBCP, is giving the group more money than ever before. It is also losing income from community groups displaced from the Brook Way Activity Centre after the youth club moved in.
The town once again hit the national headlines in August, with the Evening Post breaking a “Teen attacked by Bradley Stoke gang brandishing snake” story. It turns out that the incident occurred in The Avenue, Patchway – which doesn’t say much for the accuracy of the Post’s local reporting!
Local politicians turned out in force for the turf cutting ceremony at Bradley Stoke’s new post-16 centre, eager to claim credit for the success of the long-running campaign for a sixth form in the town.
The Town Council was forced to admit in September that its efforts to get utility companies to provide faster broadband connections in the town had come to nought. Similar efforts made by South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) have also ended in frustration, we understand. Maybe our local candidates in the forthcoming general election will take up the challenge?
South Gloucestershire Council quietly abandoned plans for a bus priority scheme at the Aztec West Roundabout. The move followed First Group’s decision to scrap the peak-hours diversion of its 73 service into the Aztec West Business Park.
The police team in Bradley Stoke was strengthened in October by the addition of a new PCSO and an extra part-time officer. PCSO Paul Baxter’s position is funded by South Gloucestershire Council, while PC Claire Fletcher returned to the beat thanks to 50% funding from the Town Council.
The Town Square at the Willow Brook Centre hosted a colourful celebration of Diwali, staged by Radio Mast FM, an Asian radio channel in the South-West.
November saw ladies-only gym Curves mysteriously shut up shop. The franchise had opened its doors in January but financial difficulties led to it becoming the first Willow Brook Centre business to fail.
A by-election in the Meadowbank parish ward saw Ernie Brown (Conservative) elected to the Town Council to replace David Skeet (also Conservative), who had resigned his seat at the end of July.
A public consultation opened on plans for a major new transport scheme that could see Bradley Stoke linked to Bristol city centre by a bus rapid transit system. If the plan comes to fruition, new dedicated bus lanes will be constructed along the full length of Bradley Stoke Way. The scheme also involves the provision of a by-pass around Stoke Gifford.
Bradley Stoke Community School was classed as “outstanding” by Ofsted inspectors. The report praised the high standard of leadership and teaching at the school and said that pupils’ achievements are “above average”.
Parking fines were introduced in December at the Willow Brook Centre. The measure is intended to stop people parking around the perimeter of the Tesco filling station, which management say hinders deliveries to businesses.
A new pedestrian crossing is to be provided on Brook Way, between Courtlands and Wheatfiled Drive. The investment was agreed after parents of children at Wheatfield Primary School complained of the difficulty in crossing Brook Way at peak hours. The announcement sparked a political squabble, with both Conservatives and Liberal Democrats claiming credit for securing the new crossing. Some things never change!
A happy and properous New Year to all our readers from The Journal team!
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