Speed gates come to the Churn Valley

Road safety has been an ongoing concern for residents who live along the A435 in the Churn Valley.

key_northcerneygates

In particular the speed of traffic going through North Cerney. There have been regular speed checks by the police and community which show a small but persistent number of drivers exceeding the 40mph limit.

The centre of the village sees pedestrians including school children crossing the road to catch buses, a busy junction into the village and accessing the pub and primary school.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson discussed these issues with North Cerney Parish Council last year and – after meeting Highways on site – agreed to jointly fund a set of 4 gates at either end of the village. These gates are a feature of some other villages in the Cotswolds and the aim is to alert drivers to the fact they’re entering a village environment and a lower speed limit.

The gates have been jointly funded by Paul with the small pot of money he gets each year to fund highways projects, North Cerney Parish Council and Gloucestershire Highways.

The good news is that all 4 gates are now in place.

Further up the A435 heading to Cheltenham, two trial gates have been installed approaching the turning into Rendcomb. The aim of these is once again to slow traffic after numerous complaints about difficulties in exiting the junction there safely. These gates have also been jointly funded with Rendcomb Parish Council.

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.

Rendcomb

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.

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.

Future of Cotswold post offices secured

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (Churn Valley), opposition group leader at Cotswold District Council, has welcomed moves by the Liberal Democrat Postal Affairs Minister, Edward Davey, to secure the future of the Post Office under a 10-year deal which will give certainty to local postmasters.

Paul (right) with Eric and Pam Dukes of Rendcomb post office and stores

The Coalition Government has secured long-term arrangements between the Post Office and Royal Mail before the two are separated under controversial privatisation plans.

The move – just announced – has been widely welcomed by sub-postmasters because it will give them the confidence to make long-term investments in their businesses.

Cllr Hodgkinson commented: “This is a tremendously good result for sub-postmasters in the Cotswolds and it has to be good news for everyone in the district, especially those who rely upon village post offices which could well have been threatened if this deal had not been done.”

“This has protected the Cotswolds from the sort of devastating closures we saw under the last government when we lost 7,100 post offices nationally and the losses we have faced locally. In 2008 we campaigned hard with residents to save the local post offices which were under threat. Those campaigns resulted in both Rendcomb and Colesbourne keeping their post office facilities. Last year, Stratton got its post office back – a move which many in Cirencester and neighbouring villages very much welcomed.”

” The Liberal Democrats in the Coalition Government have played a vital role in stopping the closures and helping put both Royal Mail and the Post Office on a sound footing.

“The arrangement demonstrates our commitment to ensure a sustainable future for both organisations. Post offices play a vital role in our local communities with residents in many villages, especially pensioners, relying heavily on the services they provide.”

Mr Davey said: “Concerns people had about the Post Office becoming independent from Royal Mail were always misplaced as that separation is part of our cure, but the 10-year deal struck between Royal Mail and the Post Office will give sub-postmasters and others greater confidence. Coupled with winning new contracts and the successful pilots of new operating models, the signs are extremely encouraging for the future of the Post Office.”

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.”