New funding gives Hall a boost

A welcome cash initiative from Cotswold District Council has given a Churn Valley landmark building a new lease of life.

Hall Committee Chairwoman Denise Ewbank (left) with Paul Hodgkinson (2nd left) and the Community Payback Team who have been working on the Hall’s renovation

The funding for community projects has allocated £10,000 to the North Cerney Memorial Hall to help with its renovation.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson has worked with the Hall’s management committee to get the grant from the Council. The money will be pooled with cash raised from other fundraising events, grants and generous donors to bring the Hall back to its former state for the benefit of local villages:

“The Hall’s committee – along with other local people – has been working like stink to raise money to make the building a really welcoming, warm and attractive venue for everyone to use. It’s got a lot of history and is already looking great with new decoration inside. I know the toilets will be replaced soon and the heating upgraded later in the year so the place is going to look splendid!”

“Along with the excellent village hall at Rendcomb, the Churn Valley will soon have two community buildings which we can use and be proud of.”

Paths, potholes and plastics!

All of the parish councils in the Churn Valley have just held their Annual Parish Meetings and various issues have been raised.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (right) with Cllr John Hughes (Shadow Environment Spokesman) - plastics was a hot topic at the annual parish meetings

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson spoke at each meeting with a report back on what had been happening both locally and CDC-wide in the last 12 months.

Paul said, “It was great to see lots of people at North Cerney, Baunton, Rendcomb, Coberley and Bagendon parish council meetings in the last ten days.”

“Locally, I spoke about littering of verges along the A435 and the Whiteway in particular and how people can call CDC on 01285 623623 to get the are cleared quickly. Also, the state of some roads is appalling! Potholes are an ongoing bugbear and I report them as I see them, but residents can do the same direct to GCC. I can get on the case if they aren’t fixed promptly.”

“People also wanted to know how the Churn Valley Safer Cycle and Walkers Path is developing. I told them about how the existing bridlepath is being brought up to the correct standard and how the route could now be extended to Rendcomb from North Cerney.”

“There was lots of good feedback on the news that CDC will be introducing kerbside hard plastics recycling from the autumn – something I’ve campaigned for vigorously for the last 5 years. The poor decision of CDC’s administration to recommend 24/7 car parking charges across the district was also discussed and there was relief that in the end they had only gone ahead with this in one car park.”

Colesbourne has a parish meeting rather than a council and no date has yet been fixed for their annual meeting.

Rendcomb Cycle Path – options heard

The Churn Valley Safer Cycle and Walkers Path was up for discussion last week.


A meeting of the volunteers group which has been working on the path for four years was held at Rendcomb College on May 1. The meeting – chaired by Cllr Paul Hodgkinson – heard about a number of options for extending the path from North Cerney to Rendcomb.

Cllr Hodgkinson said, “The path at the moment runs along the existing bridlepath between Stratton and North Cerney, winding its way through Baunton and Perrotts Brook. Now, we are considering a number of potential routes so that walkers and mountain bikers can safely go to Rendcomb without having to use the more dangerous A435.

Members of the group will walk various routes shortly and are working with Glos County Council Rights of Way officer Mike Barton to find the best route.

Paul added, “We’re talking to landowners to make sure that any route is fine by them. Using existing bridlepaths means we keep the costs to an absolute minimum whilst getting something in place which will be of real value to the local villages and College.”

We will keep you posted on the route when more has been agreed.

Pothole hell

After the frosts of the winter, very low temperatures in February dipping to minus -13c in the Cotswolds and recent rain the roads have taken a battering.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson at one of the offending potholes in the Churn Valley

Lots of residents are reporting damaging potholes on roads in the area.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson is concerned about the way potholes are mended, “My observation is that – although Glos County Council Highways repair the damage when requested to – alot of repairs seem to quickly turn back into potholes again.”

Surely in the longer run it would be better value if the Highways crews patched the bigger area around the pothole to make sure it doesn’t crumble so quickly. The patching of areas seems to be much more effective than simply filling the pothole with tarmac.”

If you spot a bad piece of road you can contact Glos Highways direct via or ring 08000 514514.

Alternatively, if you don’t get the response you’re looking for, contact Paul direct and he’ll ask Highways to sort it.

All that litters is not gold

Have you noticed how much litter is accumulating on the verges in our area?

The verges along some parts of the A435, A436 and other country lanes are full of discarded plastic bottles, cans and crisp packets.

If you see any ‘grot spots’ contact Cllr Paul Hodgkinson or ring Cotswold District Council direct on 01285 623123.

Paul says, “I’ve contacted CDC about litter along the Whiteway, the A435 at Coberley and also at Perrott’s Brook. They have sent a crew out within days to clear it up. I urge people to do the same or let me know and I’ll make sure the area is cleaned up.’

Have bins had their chips?

You may not know it, but in your black bin there’s a tiny microchip in the lid.

These chips were inserted four years ago and little has been said about them, not it seems has much been done with them.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (Churn Valley) has therefore submitted the following question to the CDC Council Meeting next Tuesday 28 February:

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson to Cllr Fowles:

‘In 2008 when the new waste service was introduced, your administration endorsed the decision to insert microchips into every resident’s black bin at a cost of £40,000. In subsequent years I have asked your predecessor for what purpose the chips have been used – answers have varied from ‘monitoring the performance of the bin contractors’ to ‘being ready for any pay as you throw legislation’.

Now, four years later, can you please confirm:

-how many time the chips have been used and for what purpose?

-what information the chips have provided and on whom?

-how will they be used in the next year?’

Update 28/2; at today’s Council meeting, the Conservative Cabinet member for waste services answered this question and confirmed that the chips have NEVER been used that there is no plan to use them at the moment.

Cllr Hodgkinson replied, “Given that these chips cost the taxpayer £40,000, would you agree that purchasing them was an indulgent shopping trip and that it is an inexcusable waste of public money which could have paid for other valuable services?’

Route to Rendcomb?

The Churn Valley safer cycle and walkers route is making progress to linking with Rendcomb.

Paul (right) with keen cyclist and ex Cirencester College prinicipal Nigel Robbins at the Baunton stage of the path

At present, the route follows the existing bridlepath between Bowling Green Lane and North Cerney via Baunton and Perrott’s Brook.

Now, the group responsible for bringing the path up to the required standard is actively researching how it can carry on from North Cerney to Rendcomb.

Chair of the group Cllr Paul Hodgkinson says its important for the route to carry on as far as possible, “We undertook a survey of Rendcomb students a while back and there was a lot of support for a safer route for mountain bikes and walkers to avoid the A435 which is dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists.”

“As a group we’ve been talking to landowners and walking the possible routes from North Cerney, using Conigre Woods and possibly the Whiteway before dropping down into Rendcomb. However, it is still early days and we want to make sure everyone is happy with this before communicating to people. Having the consent of landowners is paramount.”

Please watch for further updates.

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.”