Cycle and walkers path gets new website

The Churn Valley safer cycle and walkers route, which runs between Stratton and North Cerney, has been a talking point for residents this year.

Paul (right) with members of the Churn Valley cycle group at the start of the route in Bowling Green Lane

The route uses the existing bridlepath starting at Bowling Green Lane, Cirencester and running via Baunton and Perrotts Brook to North Cerney and is suitable for horses too.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson chairs the group which has been bringing the path up to the correct standard. The group has now produced a website to show residents a map of the route along with updates on progress. The group was set up in 2008 and has made great progress in updating the bridlepath.

The website is at: http://churnvalley.blogspot.com/

Paul says, “A lot of people are interested in this – I’m always being asked where the route is and what progress is being made. The public meeting we held in North Cerney to tell people what we were doing in March attracted 60 people.”

“Our next aim is to extend the route from North Cerney to Rendcomb and we are at the moment talking to the Wills estate at Rendcomb and the County Council’s rights of way officer to see how existing footpaths can be used.”

Christmas waste collections announced

Cotswold District Council has announced its arrangements for waste collections over the Christmas and New Year period.

NO AREAS OF THE CHURN VALLEY WILL SEE A CHANGE IN COLLECTION DAYS OVER THE CHRISTMAS PERIOD.

As in previous years the Council will be operating a side waste amnesty for all household’s first full collection after Christmas Day. This will allow residents to present additional amounts of non-recyclable waste in bin liners next to their grey wheeled bin/beige refuse bags – everything will be collected.

Leckhampton Hill Road Safety Campaigners help with cut-backs

Local road safety campaign group S.A.F.E.R. (Salterley Action Force to Enhance our Roads) today worked with Gloucestershire County Council Highways Department to set up a real example of the ‘Big Community’ by bringing together a volunteer work force to cut back the excess foliage on the sharp bends in the 3/377 Leckhampton Hill road (formerly B4070) between Hartley Lane and Salterley Grange, in order to improve road-users’ visibility.

Paul (2nd right) with Ullenwood residents and Star College employees - all of whom gave their time to make the road safer for drivers.

In recent years, these bends saw numerous serious accidents, but thanks to a concerted effort by S.A.F.E.R., a number of key measures implemented by GCC Highways and a raised media profile in the Gloucestershire Echo, the last 12 months have seen a dramatic improvement.

Now, with the support of GCC Highways, the campaigners set to work to cut back the overhanging shrubbery, branches and dense undergrowth to give improved visibility across the bend and along the road from the Hartley lane junction in order that drivers can be more aware of on-coming traffic and take extra care.

“We are really pleased that the number of incidents has reduced so significantly over the last 12 months, – but we must strive to keep it that way” said Duncan McGaw, Coberley Parish Councillor and S.A.F.E.R. member. “And as we move into the winter months, we must remind drivers of the need for raised awareness and extra caution. We believe better lines-of-sight are key factors to a safer driving environment”. “S.A.F.E.R. volunteers can provide the labour to get the job done with Highways providing health and safety guidance as well as the necessary traffic management signage. A great co-operative effort!”

And Paul Hodgkinson, Cotswold District Councillor and part of S.A.F.E.R. added, “From the outset, this community has been determined to see improvements in safety on this road and the fact that it has been prepared to get physically involved to achieve it, speaks volumes. I hope that drivers using this road get the message they are sending out, respect it and keep their speeds down”.

Extra cash for Cotswolds schools

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson has welcomed a scheme promoted by the coalition government that will pump nearly £450,000 of extra funding into schools in the Cotswold district.

North Cerney School is one of those benefiting from the extra cash

The extra cash – amounting to nearly £500 per child under the Pupil Premium initiative – will be used to help children from less privileged backgrounds reach their full educational potential. All children receiving free school meals qualify and the money will be given to their school heads who can decide how to spend it on their behalf.

Primary and secondary schools in Cirencester will see the most benefit with Chesterton Primary receiving a total of more than £18,000, Watermoor Primary £19,000 and Deer Park school £32,000. In the Churn Valley, North Cerney Primary School will benefit by £7320 this year.

The Pupil Premium was a major manifesto commitment by the Liberal Democrats at the 2010 general election, playing a key role in the negotiations that led to the coalition agreement.

Original plans for an extra £430 per pupil have now been boosted by £100m, pushing the amount paid per qualifying child to just under £500.

News of the extra money for the Cotswolds comes after, Liberal Democrat Children’s Minister, Sarah Teather recently announced that the total Pupil Premium funding for next year will rise to £1.25bn, double the amount in 2011-12. Thanks to Liberal Democrats, it will rise again each year until 2014-15 when it will be worth £2.5bn.

Paul commented; “It is shocking that, nationally, pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds are three times less likely to achieve five good GCSEs than their more well-off classmates. This extra money finally reverses this worrying trend which was allowed to continue under the previous government.”

“We now look forward to working with our schools in the area to help overcome the barriers to achievement that some of the pupils in our community currently face.”

Care village plans rejected

A proposal to build a care village on part of Cirencester Golf Club was rejected yesterday.

The Planning Committee of Cotswold District Council voted unanimously to refuse a planning application which would have seen the building of a care home and village in Bagendon parish, adding 50% to the parish’s population.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson attended the meeting as ward member for the area and afterwards commented, “The Committee was particularly concerned about the building of so many homes in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The visual impact of the development would have been marked and the Committee followed the planning officer’s recommendation to refuse the application.”

“There was clear support from the Committee to see the clubhouse redeveloped but the proposed adjoining care village was seen to contravene the Council’s planning policies and Government guidelines and was therefore a non-starter.”

Safer cycle and walkers route up and running!

The safer cycle and walkers route between Stratton and North Cerney has been well used over the summer.

Cycling, riding and walking the route - l to r; Lois Eyre and 'Lakin', Cllr Andy Lichnowski, Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Jane and Sam Wilkinson

The route, which follows the existing bridleway from Cirencester to the heart of North Cerney village, has been the focus of much activity over the last three years.

New ‘furniture’ along the route (styles and gates) along with scraping of the surface in places has resulted in a much more user-friendly route for all to use.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson has led the group which has been working on the route, “It’s great to see that the route is also being used widely by horse riders and many residents locally have now been using it as a more pleasant way of getting from village to village by foot or bike.”

Public consultation about reducing pollution at Air Balloon roundabout

Cotswold District Council is consulting the public on actions that could be taken to improve the air quality at the Air Balloon Roundabout near Birdlip, and is keen to hear the views of residents, Parish Councils and other organisations about reducing pollution at the site.
Tests have shown that levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) at the busy junction exceed recommended thresholds. This prompted the Council to designate the site an Air Quality Management Area in 2008 with the aim of reducing the effect of this pollutant.
The Council is required to develop and publish an Action Plan setting out the measures that could be taken to reduce levels of NO2 at the roundabout and it is now consulting the public about the Plan over a two-month period.
Although the Council is responsible for the Action Plan, it doesn’t manage the highway network. This means that any reduction in pollution can only be achieved by other agencies including Gloucestershire County Council as the Highways Authority, the Highways Agency and Road Management Services (Gloucestershire) Ltd. Councillor Paul Hodgkinson welcomed the new Action Plan, “Residents living near the junction are concerned about the effects of pollution, and this acknowledges that actions are required to improve the situation.” Anyone interested in finding out more about this consultation can contact the Council’s Environmental Protection Team on 01285 623000 or email aqm@cotswold.gov.uk. More information can be found on the Council’s website at www.cotswold.gov.uk. The consultation closes on Friday 30 September 2011.

Large turnout at public meeting

Residents of the Churn Valley and Stratton turned out en masse yesterday to hear about the work completed on the safercycle and walkers route.

60 people came to the North Cerney Memorial Hall to hear how a group of volunteers has been working since 2008 to provide a safer route for those on foot, bike and horse to go between Cirencester and North Cerney.

Mike Barton (standing) talks to residents at the North Cerney Memorial Hall

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson set up a team of residents, councillors and GCC/CDC officers three years ago to look at the viability of a safe route along the Churn Valley. Now, the route has been fixed as following the River Churn. Residents at the meeting heard how the volunteers have worked with landowners and the Bridleways officer at GCC, Mike Barton, to bring the existing bridlepath up to the correct standard.

Paul took residents through the ‘story’ of how the group had worked voluntarily and with a very small budget to make the project come to life, “It’s a real story of the Big Society in action. What we’ve achieved here is a safer route for people to use, replacing worn out gates, making the surface more even and clearing undergrowth. There’s still more to do, but residents left the meeting enthused about what has been done. I would like to thank the volunteers for working so well together for the good of the community.”

GCC Officer Mike Barton showed residents ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures of the route and maps were on hand for people to view. 

Now, the next step is to find a way for the route to be extended to Rendcomb so that villagers there and College students can benefit too.