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  SEG Home > News List > 2020 News Archive


2020 News Archive

The latest stories are on our home page.

As this is an archive some older links may no longer connect due to changes in web page URL addresses etc.

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An early story in 2020 was about the community's wish to protect the riverbank in Mead Lane from heavy boat moorings that were inadvertently damaging the bio-engineered stabilisation of the riverbank and in turn putting at risk vital infrastructure.

Click on each story link or scroll down the page (most recent appears first):-

Our special COVID-19 NEWS SECTION (link) can be found after the monthly news stories.

December 2020

Building new homes in the right places

Have your say on recycling plans for Pixash Lane

Saltford Golf Club re-opens Weds 2nd Dec

November 2020

"Just the Job" - film showing 1950s Saltford

New 'retrofit' installers directory for energy efficient homes

Help shape the region's future development

An Ethical and Fairtrade Christmas

October 2020

Lockdown 2 - support in Saltford

Single use plastic straws & cotton buds banned!

Saltford Parish Council's new website & logo

Planning White Paper : Local Democracy & Environmental Protection

Green Homes Grants - complete work & apply by 31.3.2021

Mead Lane - B&NES Cabinet agrees to end moorings by Dec 2022

September 2020

Government commits to protect the recovery of nature

World Textile Day West at Saltford Hall (3 Oct)

Saltford's air quality improving

Help us live up to our Saltford Village Fairtrade Status

Keynsham furniture & bike giveaway event (4 Oct)

I Love Local - I Love Saltford

Wildlife in catastrophic decline warns WWF

Nearly 600 say NO to more houses between Keynsham & Saltford

Saltford Calendar 2021

How porous is your front garden?

August 2020

Countryside Code & visitors to Saltford

SEG against more congestion on A4

SEG rejects plans for 200+ houses...

B&NES declares 'Ecological Emergency'

July 2020

Riverbank safety concerns at Mead Lane

COVID-19 support in Saltford: Update

Protecting hedgehogs (not rats)

Big butterfly count (17 Jul - 9 Aug)

New Saltford Watch initiative

June 2020

SEG support grant to Saltford Wombles

SEG thanks all the young people who care

Anti-social behaviour in Saltford continues as lockdown eases

May 2020

Concerns for Saltford's safety & wildlife from lockdown mayhem

Developers trying again for another 200 houses between Keynsham and Saltford!

Oldest image of Saltford Brass Mill & The Shallows

B&NES opposes Bristol Airport application for year-round slots

Saltford's Trees

Saltford Golf Course re-opens Weds 13th May

Police warn wood poacher stealing wood from Saltford's Longwood!

WARNING: Giant Hogweed is back

Hedgehogs in Saltford

April 2020

Residents asked to count wildlife (24-27 April)

The Swallows are back!

Planning application for 9 homes on Saltford/Keynsham border refused

West of England & Local Planning - latest

Activity & ecology at Saltford's medieval fishponds

2020 Big Garden Birdwatch results: House Sparrow remains top

March 2020

Wombles: Group litter picks cancelled until further notice

Help the EA design enhanced flood warnings

B&NES & the Climate Emergency - update

How to easily report dog fouling

Is there hope for our planet? 29 Mar, Corston

February 2020

Keynsham environment exhibition, 14 Mar

Hurricane Dennis & climate resilience

Saltford Wombles : Sunday 23 Feb

Stories of Fairtrade, Bath Library 3 Mar

'Heading for Extinction' talk 26 Feb

Bus, Walking & Cycling Consultations

Saltford's air quality improving!

Parish Council resolution on Mead Lane (4 Feb)

Fairtrade Coffee morning 28 Feb

Archaeology Store Guided Tours 20th Feb

January 2020

Joint Local Transport Plan - Saltford

Wildlife at Saltford Brass Mill

Saltford Wombles: 26th Jan

Mead Lane moorings ban

Immediate mooring ban in Mead Lane sought

Energy at Home advice

Saltford station - latest

Wombles 2020: Diary dates

Birdwatch 25-27 Jan


News stories start here (most recent appears first):-


December 2020

Building new homes in the right places

December 2020

Following proposals from HM Government earlier in December to tackle the housing shortage in urban areas by enabling commercial premises to be converted into new homes through a fast-track planning permission process, on 16 December the Ministry of Housing Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) announced plans for an updated method to help councils to enable the delivery of 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s, while prioritising brownfield sites and urban areas.

According to MHCLG, under the proposals "cities will be encouraged to plan for more family homes - which are the right size and type for families to live in - and to make the most of vacant buildings and underused land to protect green spaces." The plans "will encourage more homes to be built in England's 20 largest cities and urban centres, boosting local economies by supporting jobs in the building sector, and revitalising high streets with the footfall new residents bring."

Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said "The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated and magnified patterns that already existed, creating a generational opportunity for the repurposing of offices and retail as housing and for urban renewal. We want this to be an opportunity for a new trajectory for our major cities - one which helps to forge a new country beyond Covid - which is more beautiful, healthier, more prosperous, more neighbourly and where more people have the security and dignity of a home of their own."

This announcement provides rural areas like Saltford with a supporting case for resisting development in the Green Belt and other green spaces. That will be key when responding to the next round of proposals from B&NES in its Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (HELAA) that are due out anytime now and will inform the Local Plan and West of England Spatial Development Strategy.

SEG has consistently maintained the sustainable development approach that retaining green space for nature, food production and recreation has to be a top priority when taking a strategic approach to land management and responding to the constant demand for new housing.

"Don't blight the land that feeds you!"

Link to the MHCLG press release announcement on: gov.uk website.

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Have your say on recycling plans for Pixash Lane

December 2020

B&NES Council is proposing what the Council describes as a "state-of-the-art" waste and recycling centre at Pixash Lane, Keynsham, which will expand public recycling provision, make it easier for people to recycle and help reduce general waste and operational costs.

The proposals also aim to assist with one of the Council's core policies of tackling the climate and ecological emergency. As a neighbour of the site, we would like to hear the views of Saltford residents. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the public consultation is being held online from the consultation website where you can see the proposals and how to comment by the (short) deadline of 21st December.

If anyone is unable to access the information online, they can telephone B&NES on 01225 423400 for assistance and support.

All feedback from the consultation will be considered as part of the council's formal planning application which will be submitted next year (2021). There should be a further opportunity to comment then.

There are separate plans being developed for handling the recycling of domestic waste for the city of Bath where the Midland Road site is being closed.

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Saltford Golf Club re-opens Weds 2nd Dec

December 2020

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Saltford Golf Club have asked us to pass on this information about public access:

Once again many local people have been exercising across the golf course during the latest four week lockdown. The club knows how much people enjoy being able to do this and the golf club is happy to provide this amenity during these difficult times. Once again people have been very respectful and despite the wet conditions there have been no problems. However the golfers are reclaiming their course back and golf restarts on Wednesday 2nd December. Please do not come on to the golf course after Tuesday 1st.

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November 2020

"Just the Job" - film showing 1950s Saltford

November 2020

The 1956 short (6.5 mins) silent cine film "Just the Job" is about a Wolf Cub from the 1st Saltford Scout Group who whilst out during Bob-a-Job week tracks down some burglars and brings them to justice. Made in Saltford by Bristol Cine Society it features Saltford Cubs, Scouts and Brownies.

The film features several village locations that have since changed substantially. Click here to to view Just the Job (external website - Vimeo).

Many thanks to SEG member Ruth King (Bristol) for bringing this fascinating film record of 1950s Saltford to our attention.

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New 'retrofit' installers directory for energy efficient homes

November 2020

B&NES Council has announced that the council's Energy At Home Information Service is creating an Installers Network for tradespeople who fit energy efficiency home improvements to existing buildings, often referred to as 'retrofitting'.

Residents who contact Energy At Home will be able to access the network to find qualified traders who can install a range of energy saving measures in their homes.

The council is looking for sole traders and businesses in the local area to come forward to join the network if they are qualified to install: loft, floor and wall insulation, draughtproofing, double or triple glazing, solar panels and low carbon heating such as air source heat pumps.

You can ring the Energy at Home information service on freephone 0800 038 5680 or visit www.energyathome.org.uk for information.

For future reference SEG has a link to the B&NES "Energy At Home" information service on our Energy page.

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Help shape the region's future development

November 2020

The West of England Combined Authority (WECA) is developing a Spatial Development Strategy (SDS), replacing the previously rejected draft Joint Spatial Plan, to "make sure our region remains a thriving, successful and innovative place for the future". The objective will be to make sure the development of homes, spaces for employment and transport links happens in the right places giving all residents access to opportunities and a better quality of life. It will help WECA meet our area's "aim to be carbon neutral by 2030 and ensure that nature and wildlife can also benefit".

To help inform the drafting of the SDS, people living and working in the West of England can give their views on a WECA online survey that can be accessed through WECA's website (link) until Monday 14 December 2020. If you would like a paper copy or the information in an alternative format, you can telephone 0117 428 6210.

The survey is quite simple and should take around 10-20 minutes to complete. The questions seem to imply that nature and the environment has the potential to be given greater priority in new plans than hitherto. We can only hope this will be the case.

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An Ethical and Fairtrade Christmas

November 2020

With Christmas around the corner the Saltford Fairtrade Group would like to get everyone thinking about where the produce they buy comes from and how ethical it is. That lovely chocolate, coffee, tea and many more items we enjoy come from developing countries where farmers and their workers can often experience poor working conditions and receive 'below market price' for their products meaning they don't get a fair living wage for their produce.

Fairtrade requires participating companies to provide their farmers a guaranteed fair wage. This must never be below the market price with the added bonus of a premium which the farmers jointly decide what their greatest needs are. The cost to us may be a little higher but the cost to the farmers and producers means healthy happy workers and a new generation of educated children.

Take a look at the Fairtrade website to see for yourself the benefits of being a Fairtrade producer (and consumer)! You can also find out above sourcing a wide range of Fairtrade goodies. We would also recommend you look at Traidcraft's website for their collection of handcrafted ethical gifts, homeware, toys, fashion, and hand-harvested foods - all sourced from fair trade co-operatives, traditional artisans, and small-scale growers around the world. Our Saltford Village Fairtrade Group have an ordering service with Traidcraft and you can order items through us (saving on delivery costs) by emailing your list to kath.mccarthy@hotmail.co.uk. If you would like more information, please ring Kath on 01225 344066.

See the list below to help you find some different Fairtrade products that you may not have thought of. Look out for them when you are out shopping to help you whip up a veritable feast for Christmas. Keep a look out for the green/blue and black/white Fairtrade logo in all our local supermarkets and in independent traders in Keynsham like W F Buss and Conscience.

   Herbs; Spices; Liqueur; Vodka; Cocoa powder; Vanilla Bean Extract; Vanilla Pods; Packets of nuts - brazil, pecan, peanuts/peanuts and raisins, cashews; Olive oil; Fridge coffee based drinks; Flowers; and Cotton wool.

Thank you for choosing Fairtrade.

Saltford Fairtrade Group

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October 2020

Lockdown 2 - support in Saltford

October 2020

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Just a reminder as a 2nd national lockdown commences on 5th November that help is available via the Saltford Support Hub for Saltford residents self-isolating or needing assistance. Help can be provided by local volunteers with picking up shopping, posting mail, a friendly phone call, walking the dog, delivering urgent medical supplies, meal distribution, small emergency cash sums where needed, etc.

To access this assistance ring the Saltford Support Hub helpline number 01225 632216.

For COVID-19 information including support see useful COVID-19 links and telephone numbers on our Links page >>

NOTE: The restrictions and what you need to know as published by HMG can be seen on the gov.uk website from this link.

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Single use plastic straws & cotton buds banned!

October 2020

The ban, originally intended to start last April but delayed due to COVID-19, which came into effect this month, makes it illegal for businesses to sell or supply single-use plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds.

This is welcome news, especially to those who litter-pick in and around Saltford and have been alarmed at the amount of plastic and other waste carelessly discarded into our environment since lockdown without any thought of the consequences. We can hope further bans on single-use plastic items will follow and that the throw-away culture will be addressed too.

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Saltford Parish Council's new website & logo

October 2020

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At the end of October Saltford Parish Council (SPC) launched its new look and easy to navigate website and a new logo (see above) which is a caricature that draws on key views and sights. SPC's website is designed to meet the latest accessibility requirements for official websites and can be viewed from this external link.

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Planning White Paper : Local Democracy & Environmental Protection

October 2020 (updated 2.11.2020)

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Our Chairman, Phil Harding, has written to our local MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg, on behalf of SEG to lobby him about the Government's proposals for reforming planning. The main text of that letter (26.10.2020) was as follows :-

   There are, as I am sure you are aware, many concerns that the Government's plans for reforming the planning system to speed up the delivery of new homes will remove local democracy and decision making from the planning system. Giving developers the ability to build more or less what they like where they like within only the broad parameters of a "Growth" or "Renewal" zone designation is a serious departure from the current system as local communities will have no say on the individual developments that take place in those zones.

   This removal of democratic control and participation in the planning process to protect the Green Belt and other local green spaces will help to undermine the Government's recent commitment via the UN "Leaders' Pledge for Nature" to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 against the background of the WWF's report "Living Planet Report 2020". That showed that the world's population numbers of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles have fallen by 68% (i.e. over 2/3rds!) on average in less than 50 years, from 1970 to 2016. Wildlife is in freefall and this catastrophic decline shows no signs of slowing; land management including where we build new homes has to help reverse that decline, not contribute to an ever faster destruction of nature with dire consequences for us all.

   Undeveloped land within and outside the Green Belt has a far higher real value to the economy and society than short term economic gain from its development. Our quality of life depends on such land not just for the open spaces for recreation it provides but the potential eco-system support for nature and biodiversity that in turn underpins our nation's food production and food security.

   The UK is Europe's third most densely populated nation yet lacks any strategy to address the many problems for society and the natural environment that comes from that situation. The UK can therefore ill-afford to reduce its resilience to climate change and future food shortages by blighting the land that feeds us and enables the UK to trade in international food markets.

   By removing decision making from local planning authorities, the proposals will also make delivery of much needed affordable homes more difficult than easier. More imaginative ways of providing new and affordable homes are necessary such as the re-development of retail spaces, and, for example, a housing association approach for delivering social housing that allows equity to be accrued during tenancy yet is affordable for meeting social housing needs. Furthermore, it is far too early to know if the fallout from COVID-19 will reduce demand for home ownership compared to other, more flexible, options for a modern workforce. Likewise, there may be a glut of unused over-provided student accommodation with the transfer to more online learning.

   Handing over planning decisions to those with short-term economic interests rather than securing a sustainable future for the wider community will not ensure new housing connects to the appropriate services necessary for low impact lifestyles. To quote from the last Conservative election manifesto, we need "homes built where they are needed not determined by a one size fits all formula".

   I hope you can use your influence to help ensure decisions on where and what houses are built remain the responsibility of democratically elected local planning authorities who consult and listen to their communities and that the Green Belt and other green spaces retain proper and full protection from development to enable a healthy future for everyone.

   In the current climate of rising environmental awareness, made higher as people have spent more time observing nature during COVID-19, a Government will retain more support from implementing policies that protect and enhance our environment and nature than policies that hand over planning control to vested short-term interests that will do the opposite.

   Phil Harding

UPDATE 2.11.2020

In his reply dated 30.10.2020 Jacob Rees-Mogg said the Government's proposals continue to protect the Green Belt and AONBs whilst placing higher regard on quality, design and local vernacular. The reply makes no reference to the need to protect and recover nature through appropriate land management; we can only hope that the combined effect of lobbying by many and the constant raising of these evidence-based concerns will encourage the Government to proceed with more caution than might otherwise be the case. SEG believes that strong national and local policy reasons to resist development of the Green Belt around Saltford will remain when the consultation outcome and new planning policies are announced.

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Green Homes Grants - complete work & apply by 31.3.2021

October 2020

Homeowners and residential landlords can apply for a Green Homes Grant voucher towards the cost of installing energy efficient improvements to homes. Improvements could include insulating your home to reduce your energy use or installing low-carbon heating to lower the amount of carbon dioxide your home produces.

Vouchers will cover two-thirds of the cost of eligible improvements, up to a maximum government contribution of 5,000. If you, or someone in your household, receive certain benefits you may be eligible for a voucher covering 100% of the cost of the improvements. The maximum value of the voucher is 10,000.

You must redeem the voucher and ensure improvements are completed by 31 March 2021.

Further details from this link to the gov.uk website: green homes grant scheme from where you can also make enquiries about the scheme.

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Mead Lane - B&NES Cabinet agrees to end moorings by December 2022

October 2020

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At its monthly meeting on the evening of 8th October B&NES Council's Cabinet decided the future of moorings in Mead Lane. Before taking its unanimous decision, the Cabinet received deputations from residents, Saltford Parish Council, Saltford Ward Councillor Duncan Hounsell and live-aboard boaters.

The Cabinet discussed the findings of the "Atkins riverbank mooring assessment report (28.9.2020)" and agreed a long-term aspiration to relocate moorings from Mead Lane with a target date of no later than 31.12.2022 whilst asking Officers to create a charging mechanism for moorings in Mead Lane from 1.3.2021. The Cabinet agreed to remove the 48-hour moorings at Mead Lane from 1.11.2020, on a permanent basis, so that this part of the riverbank can be reallocated as open space for other leisure purposes. It also agreed to no winter moorings from 1st November to end February on safety grounds.

Other specific actions agreed included to identify alternative sites for 14-day moorings along the watercourse before ending 14-day moorings in Mead Lane and to create a joint River Warden post with the Canal and River Trust (CRT).

Future decisions on Mead Lane/moorings were delegated to the Cabinet Member for Community Services, Cllr Paul Crossley, in consultation with the Director of Environment. The Cabinet Members for Transport and Director of Environment, in consultation with Avon and Somerset Police, would review the parking restrictions along Mead Lane.

SEG RESPONSE

The Atkins survey of the riverbank lacked a full condition survey of the rock armour below the water level so whilst Atkins found that the riverbank was stable at present (from only a visual surface inspection) it is not known how long it will hold throughout its full length. It is inevitable that the mooring of boats including narrow boats will gradually damage and reduce the lifespan of a rock armour stabilisation scheme designed and installed at a 45o angle.

As was acknowledged by Cllr Crossley at the meeting, the Mead Lane riverbank is very close to a narrow single-track road and to residential housing whilst the lane provides sole road access to Wessex Water's Sewage Treatment Works including Wessex Water's Scientific Services laboratory for testing drinking water and wastewater/effluent samples where 24/7 access is essential. Those factors together with the design aspects of the bio-engineered rock armour stabilisation scheme that protects the roadway and key utility service pipes including a pumped sewer main beneath the road, means that Mead Lane is unsuitable for moorings; B&NES Cabinet has by its mooring ban decision unanimously accepted that.

SEG supports B&NES Council's objective to identify alternative 14-day mooring sites for the live-aboard community along the watercourse before ending 14-day moorings in Mead Lane. However the 2+ year timescale does mean a prolonged period of risk to the riverbank's rock armour and stability and other factors that have made this such a contentious issue that has been difficult to resolve. The continuation of the parking ban should help keep the lane open at all times.

The effectiveness of the new River Warden will therefore be key to ensuring the temporary re-commencement of 14-day moorings from 1.3.2021 does not lead to the problems caused by a minority of boaters since moorings started to occur in Mead Lane from 2015 when boats first started to moor there and then became much more numerous from the B&NES 2017 mooring trial that served to attract more boat moorings at this location.

It is therefore to be hoped that rapid progress can be made in finding new and suitable moorings for boaters well before 31.12.2022, preferably in 2021, so that moorings can end in Mead Lane and the riverbank can revert to being an open space sooner rather than later - including as a Local Nature Reserve as SEG and others have called for - and the rock armour can be repaired and be the subject of a regular inspection, care and maintenance programme.

A positive outcome from all this can be more and better mooring provisions for the live-aboard community whilst Mead Lane riverbank reverts to being a public open space with excellent wildlife habitat enjoyed by the local community and visitors alike.

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September 2020

Government commits to protect the recovery of nature

September 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson committed on 28 September to protect 30% of the UK's land by 2030. Existing National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and other protected areas already comprise approximately 26% of land in England. An additional 4% - over 400,000 hectares, the size of the Lake District and South Downs national parks combined - will be protected to support the recovery of nature.

The announcement came as the Prime Minister was set to sign the Leaders Pledge for Nature at a virtual United Nations event on 28 September, committing to put nature and biodiversity on a road to recovery by 2030. Addressing the UN event, Boris Johnson said "We cannot afford dither and delay because biodiversity loss is happening today and it is happening at a frightening rate. Left unchecked, the consequences will be catastrophic for us all."

The Leaders' Pledge for Nature was to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 for Sustainable Development and saw leaders pledging to undertake urgent actions over the next ten years as part of the UN Decade of Action to achieve Sustainable Development.

Earlier this month we reported on the WWF's report "Living Planet Report 2020" showing that the world's population numbers of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles have fallen by 68% (i.e. over 2/3rds!) on average in less than 50 years, from 1970 to 2016. Wildlife is in freefall and this catastrophic decline shows no signs of slowing. It can be only hoped that the PM's pledge to protect protected areas for nature can help us protect the Green Belt surrounding Saltford for nature and from development that compromises the ability of the Green Belt's future use for food production and/or supporting nature and biodiversity.

Time will tell how serious this pledge from the UK government is in practice.

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World Textile Day West at Saltford Hall (3 Oct)

September 2020

On Saturday 3 October Saltford Hall will once again host the annual return of World Textile Day West. As always there will be free admission to the exhibition of woven, printed and embroidered textiles from around the world. All are worldwide fair traded, purchased directly from the makers.

Please enjoy the day and do understand that there will be additional precautions to keep everyone safe:-

  • Hall capacity restricted - please be patient
  • Monitored entry and exit
  • One way system
  • Social distancing and face masks required

Doors open from 10 am till 4 pm and SCA will operate the Community Cafe alongside, selling bacon rolls and homemade cakes with tea/coffee.

COVID-19 - TRACK & TRACE

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The Government has recently launched its new track & trace initiative via an App. To help slow down the spread of the virus in Saltford SCA are asking that you please download the NHS COVID-19 Track & Trace App on your phone. Then before you enter either Saltford Community PO & Library or Saltford Hall scan the QR codes at the entrance. Then SCA doesn't need to take your name and address for Track and Trace.

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Saltford's air quality improving

September 2020

B&NES Council has published its Annual Status Report on Air Quality (it can be seen from this external link).

The final 2019 data, i.e. before the COVID-19 pandemic, is showing that the nitrogen dioxide concentrations on the A4 in Saltford are remaining below 40 micrograms per cubic metre (g/m3), with The Crown (DT075) at 30 g/m3 and 562 Bath Road (DT077) at 26 g/m3.

The provisional 2020 data for Jan-July (un-bias corrected) is: The Crown (DT075) at 24 g/m3 and 562 Bath Road (DT077) at 23 g/m3.

B&NES Council is currently drafting the final Air Quality Action Plan for Temple Cloud; once that has been completed B&NES will complete the report for revoking the Saltford AQMA which will then be taken to public consultation. Work is due to start on this in early 2021.

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Help us live up to our Saltford Village Fairtrade Status

September 2020

We may not have had coffee mornings and stalls throughout these difficult days but we have been supporting Fairtrade and Traidcraft and enjoying their tea, coffee, bananas and other products.

We have now also restarted our monthly Traidcraft on line shopping service again which has lots more Traidcraft products and gifts - visit www.traidcraftshop.co.uk to choose your items, email kath.mcarthy@hotmail.co.uk with your order, or ring Kath on 01225 344066 if you have any queries. Fairtrade and Traidcraft also received 100 each from money raised by you at our last coffee morning.

Reduce, reuse and recycle - we are all trying to reduce our food waste and think more carefully about waste and resources in the clothing industry etc. and so are Traidcraft. As supporters of Fairtrade we would invite you to rummage around your jewellery boxes for those bits and pieces (one earring we keep, just because...) or something that 'needs fixing but never get around to doing it' and donate them to Traidcraft to be recycled. Foreign coinage, old UK bank notes (any age) and broken watches are also valuable to Traidcraft. Let us add to the 43,000 raised so far together.

When you've searched let us know by email saltfordfairtrade@hotmail.co.uk and we can arrange to send them off or we can send you a prepaid label to put on an A5 envelope for which we have a template. There are two good links to look at that explain the Traidcraft campaigns and aims:- Recycle for Traidcraft Exchange (link) and Fairtrade - because justice matters (link).

Thank you all for choosing Fairtrade.

Saltford Fairtrade Group

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Keynsham furniture & bike giveaway event (4 Oct)

September 2020

The waste team at B&NES Council is planning to hold a furniture and bike giveaway event on Sunday 4 October 1pm-4pm at the Old MOD building, Pixash Lane Keynsham.

There will be second-hand furniture and adult bicycles (for spares and repairs) available for the public to take away for free at this event. B&NES will promote the Dept for Transport's bike repair voucher scheme. Although the first batch of vouchers has been allocated, a further release of 50 repair vouchers is expected.

Other furniture items available include bedside tables, retro coffee tables, dressing tables, chest of drawers and pictures. All items have been brought to the Recycling Centres by residents and are in good enough condition for re-use.

B&NES Council is offering furniture items free of charge at this event to help clear the MOD ahead of demolition works, whilst they scope alternatives for further interim reuse.

B&NES Council has considered the health and safety of the public and staff in relation to COVID-19. For example to help maintain social distancing the number of people entering the building will be restricted to 15 at a time; children (persons under 18 years old) will not be allowed entry; masks must be worn; there will be no parking on site; and staff/volunteers cannot help with loading of items into vehicles.

DO NOT VISIT IF YOU OR ANYONE FROM YOUR HOUSEHOLD HAVE COVID-19 SYMPTOMS, ARE IN THE SHIELDING CATEGORY OR THOSE WHO ARE 14 DAY SELF ISOLATING.

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I Love Local - I Love Saltford

September 2020 (updated 19th Oct)

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The 'I Love Local' campaign from B&NES Council is funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Reopening the High Streets Safely Fund and aims to reinforce public health messaging around social distancing and hand hygiene at the same time as encouraging people to shop locally by championing local shops and businesses.

Saltford Business Network (SBN), SCA and SEG are naturally keen to promote the 'I Love Local' campaign so that we here in Saltford use locally provided services and source locally produced products wherever possible. SBN is seeking to work with as many local businesses and organisations as possible to bring 'I Love Local' to the Saltford area.

On Thursday 24th September at 7pm SBN are hosting a ZOOM meeting to be led by Shannon D'Arcy and colleagues from the Business and Skills Team at B&NES. They will give attendees an outline on how their team can enable SBN and partners to bring 'I Love Local' to the Saltford area.

This will be a public meeting open to anyone interested. If you email SBN (email link) you will be sent joining instructions nearer the time.

There is more information about the campaign on the B&NES I Love Local (link) website.

UPDATE 19th OCT

Following the SBN ZOOM meeting on 24th September the development of the campaign in our area is being led by B&NES Business and Skills Team with our two Saltford Ward Councillors, Duncan Hounsell and Alastair Singleton. SBN will be working with them and other local groups to develop the campaign in the area.

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Wildlife in catastrophic decline warns WWF

September 2020

The alarming headline arising from the WWF's report "Living Planet Report 2020" published in September is that the world's population numbers of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles have fallen by 68% (i.e. over 2/3rds!) on average in less than 50 years, from 1970 to 2016. Wildlife is in freefall and this catastrophic decline shows no signs of slowing.

The following is quoted directly from WWF in the summary of its report:-

   Humanity's destruction of nature is having catastrophic impacts not only on wildlife populations but also on human health and all aspects of our lives. While more food, energy and materials than ever before are being supplied to people in most parts of the world, the overexploitation of plants and animals is increasingly eroding nature's ability to provide them in the future.

   The loss of biodiversity is not only an environmental issue but a development, economic, global security, ethical and moral one. It is also a self-preservation issue. Biodiversity plays a critical role in providing food, fibre, water, energy, medicines and other genetic materials; and is key to the regulation of our climate, water quality, pollution, pollination services, flood control and storm surges. In addition, nature underpins all dimensions of human health and contributes on non-material levels - inspiration and learning, physical and psychological experiences and shaping our identities -that are central in quality of life and cultural integrity.

   Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in millions of years. The way we produce and consume food and energy, and the blatant disregard for the environment entrenched in our current economic model, has pushed the natural world to its limits. COVID-19 is a clear manifestation of our broken relationship with nature, and highlights the deep interconnection between the health of both people and the planet.

   It is time we answer nature's SOS. Not just to secure the amazing diversity of life we love and have the moral duty to coexist with, but because ignoring it puts the future of nearly 8 billion people at stake.

   The Bending the Curve Initiative [from WWF] used multiple state-of-the art models and scenarios to investigate whether we can reverse terrestrial biodiversity declines - and if so, how.

   The Bending the Curve modelling tells us that, with transformational change, we can turn the tide of biodiversity loss. It is easy to talk about transformational change, but how will we, living in our complex, highly connected modern society, make it a reality? We know that it will take a global, collective effort; that increased conservation efforts are key, along with changes in how we produce and consume our food and energy. Citizens, governments and business leaders around the globe will need to be part of a movement for change with a scale, urgency and ambition never seen before.

   WWF have invited thinkers and practitioners from a range of fields in many countries to share their views on how to bring about a healthy planet for people and nature.

Sir David Attenborough, who presents a BBC TV documentary on extinction later this month (BBC One, Sunday 13 September at 8pm) said :-

"Achieving a balance with the natural world so that we become stewards of our planet will require systemic shifts in how we produce food, create energy, manage our oceans and use materials. But above all it will require a change in perspective. A change from viewing nature as something that's optional or 'nice to have' to the single greatest ally we have in restoring balance to our world."

SEG RESPONSE (LOCAL WILDLIFE HABITAT)

A UN report in May 2019 said that 1 million species are threatened with extinction, many within decades, from the devastating impact of humans on nature. We continue to lobby for habitat protection in our local area and repeat the statement we made on our website after the UN report came out last year :-

Looking at how we can respond at the local level to this alarming report and with particular reference to land-use planning, the report illustrates how the modest objective of "Net Environmental Gain" in the planning system is nowhere near good enough when new housing developments are planned for the West of England and for Bath & North East Somerset. What we need is "Significant Ecological Gain".

Not only should the Green Belt surrounding villages and towns like Saltford and Keynsham be fully protected from development, but new developments should be planned in a way that enables a significant increase in the local ecological habitat to start to redress the ecological infrastructure losses incurred from the housing and other developments of recent decades.

We need to design nature back into our local area as we "think global, act local".

NOTE:
"Living Planet Report 2020" is published by the WWF at livingplanet.panda.org (link to English language version).

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Nearly 600 say NO to more houses between Keynsham & Saltford

September 2020

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595 objections were submitted to B&NES Council to planning application 20/02673/OUT for c.213 dwellings and associated development etc. on Green Belt land safeguarded in the B&NES Core Strategy, i.e. land "safeguarded to meet longer term development needs".

In addition to a robust objection from SEG (reported by us on our website in August), Saltford Parish Council and Keynsham Town Council also submitted objections.

Significantly, the B&NES Council's own Planning Policy Officer objected as "the site is located outside the Housing Development Boundary and does not form an element of Policies K2, KE2, KE2a, KE2b, KE3a and KE4; it is therefore contrary to Policy KE1 and the site is safeguarded for development but the Local Plan has yet to be reviewed; local and national planning policy is clear that planning permission will be granted only when it is proposed for development following a review of the Local Plan and it is therefore contrary to Policy KE3b and the NPPF."

Furthermore, in the view of B&NES Council's Planning Policy Team "the benefits of the proposal would not outweigh the harm identified and so would not accord with the presumption in favour of sustainable development set out in Policy SD1 of the Core Strategy and the NPPF."

It is hard to imagine in what circumstances this totally inappropriate planning application would be permitted against so much local and strategic policy opposition. The decision from B&NES Council is scheduled to be made by 29 October.

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Saltford Calendar 2021

September 2020

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The Saltford Calendar 2021 featuring some stunning photographs by local photographers is now available from Saltford Post Office* at 7 each.

As in previous years the calendar has been produced by Saltford Community Association and Saltford Environment Group. All net proceeds will be split between SCA, SEG and the Saltford Community Library and Post Office to help further their work supporting the community.

By purchasing your copy or copies (it makes a great gift!) you are helping support the community, including helping to keep the Post Office open, whilst celebrating the village and its rural setting.

*Saltford Post Office is open 9am - 1pm & 2pm - 5pm on Monday to Friday, closed on Thursday.

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How porous is your front garden?

September 2020

The heavy rainfall experienced in August and flash-flooding occurring around different parts of the UK reminds us of the need to be prepared for similar or more extreme episodes of weather arising from climate change. Surface flash-flooding is exacerbated by the extensive paving-over of open ground for roads, footpaths, driveways, and even paved gardens. In many cases localised flooding in relatively small areas can occur because drains cannot cope with the amount of rain water flowing to them.

As a result of the serious flooding in the UK in the summer of 2007, from 1st October 2008 amendments to permitted development rights affecting the paving over of front gardens came into effect.

From October 2008 householders have not required planning permission if a new or replacement driveway of any size uses permeable (or porous) surfacing, such as gravel, permeable concrete block paving or porous asphalt, or if the rainwater is directed to a lawn or border to drain naturally. However, if the surface to be covered is more than five square metres (5m2 is smaller than the footprint of a small car!) planning permission is needed for laying traditional, impermeable driveways that do not allow for the water to run to a permeable area.

Some may consider this a burdensome requirement of the planning system. Looking at it this from the perspective of homes positioned downhill (or downstream!) in the same road or local area, the risk of surface water entering those homes during flash floods has been increased by the collective effect of homes higher up the same road losing permeability for their front gardens as a result of hard-standing non-permeable surfaces rather than permeable driveways or planted areas of grass, shrubs and hedging etc.

The Government has issued "Guidance on the permeable surfacing of front gardens" (2008) and any competent builder engaged to construct or renew a front garden driveway should be aware of the need and reasons for adhering to these planning requirements. Ultimately, however, it is the landowner's responsibility to ensure that any new front garden driveway meets planning requirements.

Don't forget, you can check if you need planning permission - visit the B&NES Council website from this link: check if you need planning permission.

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August 2020

Countryside Code & visitors to Saltford

August 2020

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Saltford welcomes visitors who come to enjoy our green spaces and riverside location and keep to the Countryside Code. Please show respect, protect the environment and enjoy your visit safely.

Thank you.

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SEG against more congestion on A4

August 2020

NOTE: See also SEG's planning objection for another 200+ more houses nearby in the news story reported immediately before this story.

On 5 August SEG submitted objection comments to B&NES Council concerning planning application 20/02479/OUT (Parcel 1991, Bath Road, Keynsham). This is an outline application for up to 5,950sqm of flexible use commercial development with primary access onto the A4 Bath Road submitted by Places for People Strategic Land. It is part of plans covered by the B&NES 2014 Core Strategy and is on former Green Belt land.

SEG's objection comment was as follows:

Saltford Environment Group shares the concerns of Saltford Parish Council and Keynsham Town Council over the impact these proposals will have on access to and from the A4. The transport planning element of the draft Local Plan if adopted would provide additional road infrastructure to relieve pressure on the A4 yet these proposals for Parcel 1991 do not appear to take account of that but would make the A4 more dangerous for pedestrians including school students and cyclists whilst contributing to traffic congestion and thereby air and noise pollution in a residential area. That congestion has a knock-on effect for surrounding communities including Saltford.

Any further new development between Keynsham and Saltford should be preceded, not followed, by new transport infrastructure to prevent further congestion and gridlock at peak periods as economic activity recovers after COVID-19 when more local car journeys may be a consequence of increased home working and possibly less use of public transport.

SEG also considers the removal of the refuge island on the A4 and layby, the only layby between Keynsham and Saltford, to significantly reduce safety for road users and pedestrians and asks that such plans be rejected.

The concerns expressed by B&NES Council's Landscape Team on 28.2.2020 should be addressed. The need to mitigate the development's landscape and visual impact, compensatory tree planting provision, enhancement of green infrastructure and the retention and strengthening of existing boundary vegetation are a necessary requirement of B&NES Council's declaration in July 2020 of an 'Ecological Emergency' and the corresponding commitment to planning that was made with that declaration. The loss of agricultural land or land that can be re-purposed to provide wildlife habitat that in turn provides ecological support to farmland should be minimised wherever possible. It therefore follows that previously developed land should be considered and developed for commercial use before green field or (former) Green Belt land whilst new commercial development should only proceed if it continues to be required as a result of changes to economic activity subsequent to the aftermath of COVID-19.

[END]

Those wishing to comment on this planning application (deadline is 20 Aug 2020) can follow this link and key 20/02479/OUT into the B&NES Development Control web page search box: LINK. If you encounter difficulties with the B&NES website you can email your objection/comments to: [email link] but make sure you include the reference number for this planning application (20/02479/OUT).

On the evening of 4th August Saltford Parish Council (SPC) agreed its response, also an objection, to this planning application.

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SEG rejects plans for 200+ houses between Keynsham & Saltford!

August 2020

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On 4 August SEG submitted a robust objection to B&NES Council concerning planning application 20/02673/OUT for c.213 dwellings and associated development etc. on Green Belt land safeguarded in the B&NES Core Strategy, i.e. land "safeguarded to meet longer term development needs".

SEG's objection said:-

SEG strongly objects to this outline planning application for 213 houses etc. on Green Belt land safeguarded in the B&NES Core Strategy, i.e. land "safeguarded to meet longer term development needs". The purpose of safeguarded land has been to consider it for development (i) AFTER the other developments identified in the Core Strategy have been completed, not before, and thus when infrastructure is already in place and found to be coping with existing and new demands placed on it, AND (ii) if a genuine demand for additional new housing remains after the other Core Strategy developments have been completed.

SEG notes that this is the second attempt by Mactaggart And Mickel Homes Ltd to attempt to circumvent local plans by building c.200 homes at this location, the previous application 18/010509/OUT having correctly been refused by B&NES Council followed by an initial appeal by Mactaggart And Mickel Homes Ltd that it subsequently withdrew.

Government planning policy (NPPF 2018, para. 15) makes it clear that the planning system is to "be genuinely plan-led" and those local plans are created to meet local needs identified by local authorities as "strategic policy-making authorities" on behalf of the local communities they represent. It thus follows that:

   (a) it is not appropriate for developers to attempt to decide where or when houses should be built by applying pressure through lobbying, constant challenging and other means to the plan making process or when making planning applications that fall outside the plans, requirements, limitations or restrictions of a local plan - even if the local plan is going through a revision or update, and

   (b) developers do not have a strategic policy making role other than to say where they can build houses when invited to do so.

Saltford Environment Group therefore asks B&NES Council to continue to strongly resist this unwelcome attempt to undermine local plans.

SEG refers to the objection comments it made to 18/010509/OUT which still apply since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is far too early to determine how demand for new housing or travel patterns will change after COVID-19. These changes may include (a) the Government's relaxation of planning rules to encourage the conversion of office and retail buildings in city centres to housing thus reducing the pressure on green field sites whilst rejuvenating city centres that have lost retail outlets; and (b) increased or reduced use of public transport or private vehicles including for additional local journeys by those working from home. Our concerns expressed in 2018 therefore continue to apply.

SEG also requests that any new development between Keynsham and Saltford must be preceded, not followed, by new transport infrastructure to prevent further congestion and gridlock at peak periods as economic activity recovers.

SEG welcomes and supports B&NES Council's declaration of an Ecological Emergency on 28 July 2020. The declaration by B&NES Council referred specifically to "the loss of habitats and the connectivity of habitats; the decline in pollinators that are crucial to food supply and a decline in the health and quality of soil" and included the commitment to "resist the destruction of habitats through planning policy and development management". SEG's Sustainable Development statement (below) for the original 2018 version of this planning application, 18/010509/OUT, illustrates how refusing this premature planning application would be appropriate and in line with B&NES Council's new commitment to respond to the Ecological Emergency and "protect our wildlife and habitats, enabling residents to benefit from a green, nature rich environment".

For ease of reference those comments in 2018 that still apply were as follows:-

To allow this to proceed before other developments that were very regrettably allowed in the B&NES Core Strategy on Keynsham's Green Belt would put undue and additional pressure on transport infrastructure and public services. Those services and infrastructure already struggle or fail to cope with the existing housing density before the proposed Core Strategy developments have been built and supporting infrastructure for those developments put in place beforehand.

It is thus far too premature to even consider giving outline planning permission to this application and to permit this would make a mockery of the purpose for safeguarding land in the Core Strategy for longer term development needs when those needs have not yet been assessed and the effects caused by existing plans for development of the Green Belt have not been experienced, assessed and remedied where found to be negative.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

SEG has in other submissions concerning the Local Plan to B&NES Council made its concerns known that development on Green Belt land in B&NES would be contrary to the principle of sustainable development. 81% of B&NES is farmland compared to the national average of 57% yet only 5% of B&NES is natural or semi-natural land (heathland, natural grassland etc.) compared to a national average of 35% (data source: Dr Alasdair Rae, University of Sheffield, using Co-ordination of Information on the Environment (Corine) land use codes, 2017). That is already a huge deficit. Farmland requires the eco-system support (e.g. habitat for pollinating insects) of surrounding Green Belt and natural/semi-natural land to function. It would be irresponsible not to protect B&NES' natural/semi-natural land that underpins the economy of the B&NES and wider West of England area and our future food security in a changing climate made more critical by unmanaged population growth.

The principle of net environment gain for housing and infrastructure development was announced by the Prime Minister when launching the Government's 25 year plan for the environment in January 2018. It follows that only in exceptional circumstances where a genuine need, not desire, for affordable housing is identified at the location under consideration AND where a net environmental gain can be provided, should development on the Green Belt be considered. In such exceptional circumstances safeguards to protect the affordability of such housing should also be implemented otherwise the housing built will not support local employment or remain affordable; it is affordable rather than unaffordable housing that is needed due to failed policies that have created that need.

[END]

SEG members and others wishing to comment on this planning application (deadline is 4 Sept 2020) can follow this link and key 20/02673/OUT into the B&NES Development Control web page search box: LINK. If you encounter difficulties with the B&NES website you can email your objection/comments to: [email link] but make sure you include the reference number for this planning application (20/02673/OUT).

Make sure you include in your objection your own personal planning reasons for why you do not want this development to be permitted, for example:

  • the traffic congestion you already experience (incl. effect on air quality);
  • COVID-19 makes current traffic data unreliable;
  • protection of local green spaces is important for quality of life - especially with more home-working during and after COVID-19;
  • this land was safeguarded for future use IF after the existing planned developments had been completed a review by B&NES Council found further development in this area was needed or appropriate;
  • etc.

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B&NES declares 'Ecological Emergency'

August 2020

At the end of July B&NES Council declared an Ecological Emergency in response to the escalating threat to wildlife and ecosystems.

The declaration recognises the essential role nature plays in society and the economy and provides a statement of intent to protect our wildlife and habitats, enabling residents to benefit from a green, nature rich environment.

It builds on the council's declaration of a Climate Emergency last March and recognises that the two threats, caused by the over-exploitation of the earth's resources and poor land management, are having a devastating impact on the planet and our wellbeing.

Councillor Sarah Warren, joint cabinet member for Climate Emergency, said: "I'm delighted the council unanimously backed the motion to declare an Ecological Emergency. It is a sobering thought that 15% of the UK's wildlife is now at risk of extinction. This is largely a result of a critical decline in biodiversity: the loss of habitats and the connectivity of habitats; the decline in pollinators that are crucial to food supply and a decline in the health and quality of soil. We must address these issues. We're already making a difference, for example through the promotion of grassland habitat diversity and additional tree planting, but there's much more work to do."

In declaring an Ecological Emergency, the council has made a number of commitments, including:

  • working with partners locally and regionally to drive coordinated leadership and collaborative action
  • resisting the destruction of habitats through planning policy and development management
  • reviewing the Bath and North East Somerset Green Infrastructure Strategy
  • identifying appropriate areas for habitat restoration
  • continuing to collaborate with communities, businesses and other organisations, existing networks and partnerships, schools, colleges and universities, to improve ecological literacy and encourage greater biodiversity, tree-planting and management.

Information source: B&NES Council media release 28.7.2020

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July 2020

Riverbank safety concerns at Mead Lane

July 2020

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Early morning peace and tranquility at Mead Lane (May 2020)

SEG members and other residents have raised concerns that boats are mooring again in Mead Lane despite the mooring ban that came into effect on 7th February. Initially during the spring and early summer the riverbank vegetation was recovering (see photograph) and wildlife returning to the riverbank including Reed Warblers that sadly have disappeared since the unauthorised mooring of boats.

Quite apart from damage to the riverbank and wildlife habitat there are safety concerns for both the boaters themselves and others, residents or visitors, that step onto the riverbank itself, the stability of which is now uncertain in several places.

The reason for the mooring ban was that in October 2019 SEG received and, realising the seriousness of the evidence, quickly published technical design details from the construction works to stabilise the riverbank undertaken in 2005. The reports by consulting engineers revealed that as the river constantly scours out the riverbank along the length of Mead Lane, if the riverbank was not stabilised part of the roadway would be in the river within 5 to 10 years.

The bio-engineered rock armour scheme (rock armour secured with riverbank vegetation) installed in 2005 was not designed for mooring boats and, despite spending in the region of 400K at Council Tax Payer's expense on the stabilisation scheme and highway repairs in 2004/5, B&NES Council subsequently overlooked the need to prevent boat moorings, permitted mooring and then encouraged it with the 2017 and 2018 mooring trial.

Realising those mistakes, on 16th January 2020 the B&NES Cabinet took the unanimous decision to urgently remove all moorings from Mead Lane on 7th February and that a structural survey would be undertaken to inform the decision on repairs and the long term use of the riverbank.

The structural survey is likely to be delayed by a combination of the unauthorised moorings obstructing riverbank access and Covid-19; the latter makes it more difficult for B&NES Council to move boats on which further exacerbates the situation.

Inspection by SEG members of the riverbank during December 2019 revealed that in most places along Mead Lane the rock armour was missing. Furthermore a trench on the far side of Mead Lane, dug by Wales and West Utilities in December 2019 to repair a leaking gas main, filled with water simultaneously as the river level rose during flood, providing disturbing evidence that river water was able to penetrate under the whole width of the road at that location. This suggests that in places the riverbank may be in the process of being undermined and could give way near the water's edge.

SEG therefore remains concerned that there is a safety issue associated with the ongoing unauthorised mooring of boats. B&NES Council has stated on its web page about Mead Lane (link) that "Moorings at Mead Lane remain closed until further notice" and that "Boaters are requested not to moor on Mead Lane until further notice".

SEG is monitoring the situation with interest and concern.

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COVID-19 support in Saltford: SCA Update 26 July

July 2020

Saltford Community Association (SCA) are hugely grateful to VansGB of Marksbury for providing a free delivery van throughout April, May, June and July 2020 to enable us to deliver Waitrose shopping to elderly or vulnerable Saltford residents.

With the lockdown easing and Waitrose reopening their cafe shortly SCA have now ended this delivery service. We have ensured that the few remaining residents who were still using this facility have alternative means of getting their supplies. We are very grateful to Waitrose for their wonderful help with this service over the last 4 months and to the volunteers who have been delivering it 3 times a week throughout.

At the request of Saltford School SCA have now started delivering food parcels to a number of families once a week throughout the school holidays and we are once again very grateful to VansGB for providing a van to enable this to happen every Friday.

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Protecting hedgehogs (not rats)

July 2020

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In May we reported on the welcome increased sightings of hedgehogs in the village during lockdown. However other garden visitors that are not welcome are rats and it may be that increased sightings of rats are a direct result of the increased feeding of birds in our gardens.

Feeding the wild birds that visit our gardens need not attract, and therefore indirectly feed rats, if unsuitable food for birds such as bread (no nutritional value to birds and the uneaten bread can attract rats) is avoided. Also keep areas underneath bird tables or bird feeding stations swept clean or allow ground feeding birds including Dunnocks, Sparrows and Pigeons to eat up seed dropped by other birds feeding from bird feeders thereby reducing the availability of food for rats.

Hedgehogs are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (Schedule 6). That makes it illegal to kill or capture them using certain methods. They are also protected in Britain under the Wild Mammals Protection Act (1996), prohibiting cruelty and mistreatment. Anyone setting a trap to catch rats, for example, is obliged to take all reasonable precautions to avoid catching non target species including hedgehogs. The effect of legislation is that whoever sets a rat trap is at risk of prosecution if a hedgehog is caught even if the injury or death of the hedgehog was unintentional.

If residents use rat traps in their gardens, hopefully of the humane variety, they should be aware of the need to reduce the risk of a hedgehog getting trapped when attracted by the bait left in the trap for the rats. This could include keeping the trap out of the reach of hedgehogs, for example well off the ground with a high step or two (not a ramp).

Anyone wanting to know more about hedgehogs should visit www.hedgehogstreet.org. There are lots of tips and ideas for making your garden more insect and hedgehog friendly.

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Big butterfly count (17 Jul - 9 Aug)

July 2020

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Speckled Wood, Painted Lady and Peacock. Elizabeth Cooksey

The Big Butterfly Count is a UK-wide survey aimed at helping us assess the health of our environment simply by counting the amount and type of butterflies (and some day-flying moths) we see.

This year's big butterfly count is from 17 July to 9 August and could be something to also get younger members of the family engaged in over the summer holidays. Participants choose a place to spot butterflies and moths. Watch for 15 minutes. Then record which species they see.

There's even a free smartphone app for the big butterfly count so that you can carry out and submit your count all in one go while out and about watching butterflies. Details at www.bigbutterflycount.org.

To coincide with this year's big butterfly count SEG has updated its wildlife page so that it now has photographs of all 25 butterflies that occur and have been observed in Saltford in recent years - see wildlife page - butterflies.

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New Saltford Watch initiative

July 2020

Helping the police keep Saltford and its visitors safe

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SEG has been asked to bring to our members' attention the formation during June 2020 of Saltford Watch. The following is the June 2020 public statement from Saltford Watch:-

   Saltford Watch has been established to respond to the dangers facing Saltford, just like many other attractive riverside locations during these challenging times from large party activity by the river ignoring social distancing, the significant use of Nitrous Oxide canisters by young people which can prove fatal, and other inappropriate activity.

   This urgently created Neighbourhood Watch initiative is simply collaboration between existing NHW members of different NHW groups from across the village. It has been carefully developed in just two weeks. This is a response to the urgent need to help the police keep safe our residents and those visitors who come to enjoy not spoil our village. The huge volumes of litter being left behind by a minority of visitors can also be deterred. The negative impact of that minority is disproportionate to the effect they are having. The intention is to save the police time on identifying culprits as the scheme is constantly fine-tuned and adjusted.

   Saltford Watch is registered with the Avon & Somerset Police and has B&NES Council's endorsement of its village-wide NHW approach and the use of "We are watching you!" signs at litter, nitrous oxide, and dog fouling hot spots.

   It is important to underline that residents and visitors should not feel that privacy is being threatened. There may be a few Wildlife Camera Traps that tend to be placed at different interesting locations for observing wildlife but may also record images of anti-social behaviour; these are generally installed on private property. Other than that, no new surveillance equipment over and above what already exists will be observing people as they go about their daily lives in Saltford. The "We are watching you!" signs are part of work to help the police deter and prevent crime in Saltford, rather than let it happen unrecorded and deal with the consequences later.

   The "night vision eyes" approach of the signs have been tried and tested and found to be very effective for reducing dog fouling offences, for example, by local councils elsewhere working with the Keep Britain Tidy Group - see this link for further information.

   Saltford Watch has its own means of researching social media, gathering information and forwarding important intelligence gathered to the police NHW team or B&NES Council. Some of the existing CCTV cameras in the village have already been updated and improved; these cover private and publicly owned property around Saltford. Saltford Watch is not installing any CCTV itself but after the problems of recent weeks some venues may be; that is for them.

   Residents should continue to report incidents of crime to the police via 101 (or 999 during an actual emergency that threatens life and limb), or B&NES Council's excellent "Fix My Street" service for reporting fly-tipping and similar offences. For practical and security reasons Saltford Watch cannot accept direct correspondence or tip-offs from residents.

   Saltford Watch is independent of any Saltford organisation (e.g. SCA, SPC, SEG, Saltford Wombles). This is a privately funded initiative, established by concerned residents who belong to existing Neighbourhood Watch groups. It uses no public funds, just small cash donations from residents to help with sign making costs etc.

   Saltford Watch has the backing of the Avon & Somerset Police Beat Manager for the local area, who considers the co-ordination of NHWs across a village like Saltford to be an appropriate response to the current crisis. The B&NES Council Cabinet member with responsibilities for community safety and related matters also supports the project.

FURTHER NOTE FOR SALTFORD RESIDENTS

   There are already "We are watching you!" signs as part of a trial by Saltford Watch at a few locations where problems have been experienced at an unspecified Saltford location (image overleaf). These signs will appear at problem areas where property has been vandalised during party raves etc. or other anti-social behaviour is occurring. If you see a member of Saltford Watch erecting such signs please do not draw attention to what they are doing. This is for everyone's safety and also that of our visitors. Saltford welcomes all visitors who show consideration to our wildlife habitats, open spaces, the river, woodland areas, public footpaths, private and public property and especially to residents, some of whom are self-isolating on health grounds.

   Saltford's natural beauty as a riverside rural location with stunning flora and fauna attracts visitors in warm weather, so let's keep it attractive, healthy and safe for everyone. Thank you.

SALTFORD WATCH (est. June 2020)
Helping the police keep Saltford and its visitors safe


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June 2020

SEG support grant to Saltford Wombles

June 2020

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   A day's work for Saltford Wombles when littering was at its peak!

Many in Saltford would agree that the volunteers of Saltford Wombles are doing a magnificent job picking and clearing the huge volumes of litter in and around our village on a daily basis during the Covid-19 crisis as the lockdown eases, particularly near the river that can attract many visitors.

The Wombles now have more volunteers than ever helping them with this important work. SEG has therefore made a support grant payment to Saltford Wombles of 150 for the purchase and issue of additional litter-picking equipment.

In addition to thanking the Wombles for their hard and enthusiastic work, SEG would also like to thank the excellent team from B&NES Council Waste Services who collect and remove the many bags of litter that the Wombles have amalgamated and placed at collection points ready for removal.

Most people don't drop litter!

Fortunately the overwhelming majority of visitors who come to enjoy Saltford, its natural environment and stunning landscapes take their litter home to recycle or use the litter bins that have been provided. It is only a minority whose littering (including the dropping or throwing of litter from vehicle windows) makes a disproportionate impact on our village and the wildlife habitats we seek to protect and enhance.

Saltford Environment Group welcomes visitors to our village, but not litter!

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SEG thanks all the young people who care

June 2020

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We would like to thank all the young people who have expressed their concern and sorrow and helped to clear up the mess left by a minority of people in Saltford and other areas around the country.

You are amazing and have so many different talents that will benefit society and the natural environment that sustains life. Our shared future really is safe in your hands.

Thank you!

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Anti-social behaviour in Saltford continues as lockdown eases

June 2020

Saltford residents would like to thank the parents of the group of about 20 charming children who visited our village yesterday (2nd June) in the late afternoon ignoring any semblance of social distancing.

Not only did they attack a passing innocent cyclist, breaking his nose, and trespass in the back gardens of several residents, but when they returned to the shops before getting on the bus back towards Bristol, to buy their ice lollies and sugary drinks, they kicked and damaged a car door, smeared food waste over another car, and used foul expletives back at people who asked them to pick up their litter which they had dropped as they finished their snacks.

SEG has provided to the police some photographs of these children that were taken by shocked residents.

Their parents must be so proud of them(!) but do they know or even care what their children do when they are out with their mates?

SEG does of course acknowledge that this is a serious problem for numerous rural and coastal areas across the country, not just in Saltford. We have to stop this dangerous nonsense before more people are harmed.

We know the police do a fantastic job in very challenging circumstances, they are our local heroes, but they are struggling to cope at times which puts residents and visitors alike at serious risk. It is no wonder therefore that people are asking if they can have some badly needed support from the army.

This is not to declare some sort of martial law and policing by consent must be maintained as a principle. However there can be collaborative working to enable the police to spend more time in the front line preventing criminal behaviour as well as finding and charging those who think they are beyond the reach of the law and any semblance of public decency.

Let's hope the Government is listening and deploys the military in some practical and supportive way to enable the police to protect our rural villages and beauty spots more effectively from a significant minority who are using the easing of lockdown to cause unrestrained mayhem and criminal damage at will. Enough is enough!

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May 2020

Concerns for Saltford's safety & wildlife from lockdown mayhem

May 2020

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Will visitors to Saltford in cars during the easing of lockdown restrictions please consider the need for emergency vehicle access at all times, and will all visitors please take your rubbish (litter) home with you!

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Many shy species of wildlife that are particularly sensitive to human activity, for example the Kingfisher photographed recently in Saltford by one of our members, are under severe threat from the mayhem currently descending on Saltford's riverside areas during the sunny weather as visitors flout lockdown social distancing laws and bring and leave behind huge volumes of litter.

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Social distancing..?

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WARNING!
Weil's disease, from rat's urine in river
water, can cause jaundice & kidney failure...

The lack of public toilet facilities is adding to the problem as some visitors choose to use the fields, roadside verges and riverbank as a public loo.

With key residential side roads blocked for hours on end, including the narrow High Street (only space for single file traffic in most places), The Shallows, Beech Road and Norman Road during peak visiting times (sunny afternoons and in particular at weekends) there are real concerns from residents that emergency services will be delayed from assisting residents and visitors needing their assistance. Some of Saltford's residents are key workers (e.g. NHS Doctors) who when on-call are at risk of finding their vehicles blockaded in their homes.

The magnificent volunteers, Saltford Wombles, assisted by landowners and others have litter picked and collected huge volumes of litter, filling well over 300 full size bin bags in May alone. Alarmingly, 4,000 nitrous oxide canisters (known as "Hippy Crack" but potentially very dangerous* for the person inhaling the gas via a balloon) in one early morning clearance (Sunday 31st) from the day/night before alone!

   * Nitrous oxide can be fatal for the inhaler: There were 8 deaths in England and Wales in 2016 from nitrous oxide abuse; in extreme cases the gas can cause nerve damage, sudden unconsciousness and paranoia.

Contacting the Police and B&NES Council

Saltford Parish Council (SPC) has been in contact with the police who have responded immediately and positively to SPC's request for a greater police presence in Saltford's riverside and conservation areas. The Beat Manager has confirmed that the number of regular patrols will be stepped up, and that the entire team has been informed of the extra vigilance required in this area. SPC reminds residents to contact the police if required (101 if urgent, 999 if an emergency). SPC also asks residents to continue to use the www.fixmystreet.com website to report excessive littering, overflowing bins and dog fouling.

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Developers trying again for another 200 houses between Keynsham and Saltford!

May 2020

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Members may have seen coverage in The Week In (online, 20 May 2020) that Mactaggart and Mickel Homes Ltd are looking again at trying to get planning permission to build 200 homes on 25 acres of safeguarded Green Belt land between Saltford and Keynsham next to Crest Nicholson's new Hygge Park development after their failed attempt in 2019. SEG and Saltford Parish Council (SPC) submitted robust objections to those proposals that so clearly ignored any informed knowledge of what sustainable development actually is and means.

There were more than 300 objection comments to the application last time and B&NES Council refused planning permission having decided that the site was not currently allocated for development and that the existing road network didn't have the capacity to accommodate the increased traffic likely to be generated from such a development. This went to Appeal and an Appeal Inquiry was scheduled for August 2019. After SPC and SEG had submitted their evidence to the Inquiry, the developer withdrew its appeal.

It seemed likely at the time that the developer was waiting to see the implications arising from the West of England Joint Spatial Plan after the Government's Inspectors cancelled continuation of the examination hearings on 1.8.2019. But we now live in a very different reality.

In SEG's view national plans for economic recovery after the COVID-19 crisis are highly unlikely to support the case for building homes in the wrong place, especially while we will not know the medium-long term affects on the UK's housing market until things become much clearer after the Covid-19 lockdown. Attempts to bring forward housing and related developments where they are not appropriate are extremely likely to be strongly resisted by local communities such as ours.

At the time of the appeal withdrawal in August 2019 SEG commented:-

   "The local community understands better than anyone what the consequences are of poorly conceived and wrongly located new housing developments. What a welcome change it would make if developers sought to work with the local planning authority rather than against, the effect of which is to disrupt local plans. This latest appeal against a planning application refusal, a refusal that had been strongly supported by the local community, highlights the flaws in our planning system."

   "For developers to try at will to influence where and when new housing developments are built regardless of sustainable development principles and the wishes of the local community and their local planning authority does not contribute to good planning and ignores the Government's declared policy that new developments should be genuinely plan-led, i.e. not developer-led."

Our 550+ members should be assured that SEG is monitoring developments, our Green Belt Campaign Team is on standby, and SEG is waiting to see if the developer submits another planning application to build houses where the local community most definitely does not want them.

SEG is aware that many residents in Keynsham feel as strongly as Saltford residents about this issue and we hope that both Keynsham Town Council and B&NES Council will respond accordingly in resisting this attempt to leap-frog the local planning process.

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Oldest image of Saltford Brass Mill & The Shallows

May 2020

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With permission of the Saltford Brass Mill Project, an interesting black and white photograph of an early 19th Century painting of Saltford Brass Mill has been published this month by SEG on our Online Museum (SEG's History of Saltford project). The picture surfaced from the Joan Day archives. Joan Day conducted extensive research into the Bristol Brass Industry and published a number of papers on the subject in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

Pre-dating the building of the Great Western Railway through Saltford and the opening of Saltford station (opened in 1840), this is the oldest known depiction of the Brass Mill and The Shallows including the old Ferry Cottages, now Willow Cottages, that can be seen on the right hand side of the image. Also depicted near the centre of the image is the ferry that took people across the river when making their way on foot from Saltford to Kelston.

A larger image of the painting can be viewed in our Online Museum from this link: 19th Century.

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B&NES opposes Bristol Airport application for year-round slots

May 2020

An application by Bristol Airport to increase the number of night flights that take off and land at the airport year-round has been objected to by B&NES Council according to their press release of 15th May.

The airport is currently allowed 3,000 night flights in summer and 1,000 in winter and has applied to increase this to 4,000 throughout the year from Summer 2021, but the council says the disadvantages outweigh the benefits and will have a negative effect on Bath and North East Somerset residents living in towns near the airport.

In a response to a Department for Transport consultation on the application Councillor Sarah Warren, cabinet member for Climate Emergency, expresses concerns over increased traffic in surrounding villages and points to an increase in carbon emissions that would be felt locally as well as worldwide.

In March 2019 the council opposed the expansion of Bristol Airport on the grounds that it was incompatible with its climate emergency declaration to make Bath and North East Somerset carbon-neutral by 2030.

Councillor Sarah Warren said:

   "Even before coronavirus, increased awareness of the climate emergency looked set to influence travel behaviour and now the pandemic's impact has made the future of the airline industry uncertain. Therefore it seems highly unlikely that passenger increases projected by Bristol Airport to reach 12 million passengers per year will be met in 2020 or in the future."

   "We do not believe that Bristol Airport should be permitted to increase its slot allocation on a year-round basis but should remain with its current summer and winter scheduling."

   "The disadvantages of more night flights would primarily be borne by Bath and North East Somerset and North Somerset residents living in villages and towns close to the airport who would experience more airport traffic. The other major issue is the increase in pollution and carbon emissions. Approval of this application would lead to the airport having a wider impact on our environment that outweighs any economic benefits."

Councillor Warren also pointed to the likely worsening of existing parking problems in towns and villages on the airport bus route including Newbridge, Bath, Corston and Keynsham.

The Department for Transport's consultation can be viewed from this link: DTp - Bristol Airport. Replies must be submitted to DTp by Friday 26 June 2020.

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Saltford's Trees

May 2020

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Longwood in the early morning light

"For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver"
- Martin Luther

The lockdown exercise walks around the village footpaths that many residents have been taking since 23rd March has helped remind us of the role trees have not just in providing essential food and habitat for wildlife, but also in making Saltford such an attractive rural village. Our native trees contribute to our sense of well-being just as much as the wild flowers, wild birds, fields, hills and the river.

With this in mind and in particular the threat to our trees and the habitat they provide whether from wood poachers (see earlier news story) or from disease such as Ash dieback or Sooty Bark Disease, we have updated the tree section on our website's wildlife page to assist you in finding the information that might interest you. The tree section includes some special feature items including an important new item published this month on Sooty Bark Disease and how, in particular, it affects Sycamore trees here in Saltford:-

  • Know your trees
  • Planting tree species ecologically appropriate to Saltford
  • The value of deadwood to our local ecosystems
  • Sooty Bark Disease Cryptostroma corticale
  • Remaining vigilant for ash dieback

You can find this information and much more about the wildlife we can all support and enjoy in Saltford on our wildlife page >>

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Saltford Golf Course re-opens Weds 13th May

May 2020

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Saltford Golf course during lockdown (May 2020)

The Chairman of Saltford Golf Club has asked SEG's Chairman to advise SEG members who are Saltford residents of the following information:-

   Dear Saltford Resident

   As many of you are will be aware, since the lockdown started on 23rd March, Saltford Golf Club has been closed. During that time many local residents have taken the opportunity to use the golf course as a place to exercise in line with the government guidelines. I hope that those of you that did, were able to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the course and also to take in the beauty of the environment and the stunning scenery.

   The club was happy to be able to provide this facility to our local community during these difficult and testing times. I would like to thank you all for treating the golf course with respect, our team of greenstaff have reported no significant problems during this time.

   However, I am happy to report that the club will be reopening for golf on Wednesday 13th May. Therefore, the course will no longer be available for people to walk over. Quite apart from the land being private, there is a significant safety issue and we would ask that you refrain from entering the course from that date.

   On behalf of the whole golf club, thanks for your support and cooperation. I wish you and your families good health as we continue to find our way through these difficult and unprecedented times.

   Best wishes, Keith Taylor, Chairman, Saltford Golf Club

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Police warn wood poacher stealing wood from Saltford's Longwood!

May 2020

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Undamaged area of Longwood

SEG and Saltford Golf Club working together have assisted the police in identifying the man cutting and stealing considerable quantities of wood from Longwood in the early hours over several days during the Covid-19 lockdown. He has received a visit and appropriate warning from the Avon & Somerset Police.

Longwood is a long-standing wood of high ecological value to our local wildlife and this total disregard for Saltford's natural heritage is unacceptable to Saltford's residents and SEG's membership.

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Vehicle being used for unauthorised removal of wood, 26.4.2020.

If anyone notices unauthorised removal of trees or tree branches from Longwood or other wooded areas of Saltford they are advised to inform the police at the earliest opportunity and if possible provide photographs of the culprits and/or their vehicle(s) if it is safe to do so. The Golf Club has decided not to prosecute the offender on this occasion but a repeat offence would make this a different matter.

SEG and Saltford Golf Club are very grateful to the local police for successfully responding to our concerns and dealing with this matter during these challenging times.

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WARNING: Giant Hogweed is back

May 2020

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Giant Hogweed - leaves in May prior to the production of flowers.

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Giant Hogweed - view of stem containing many bristles.

The highly toxic Giant Hogweed plant has been found again by SEG in a public area of Saltford and this has been reported to B&NES Council for prompt attention.

This is on the grass verge of the railway path between Saltford and Bitton (on the right hand side shortly after the old bridge over the path when walking towards Bitton); anyone taking their daily lockdown exercise on the path should be extra careful to avoid touching the plants on the verges of the path. Whatever you do, DON'T TOUCH THIS PLANT - see our wildlife page where we have information about the hazards associated with this plant and images etc. to help you identify it (link).

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Hedgehogs in Saltford

May 2020

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Why did the hedgehog cross the road..?

The photograph above shows a very healthy looking hedgehog. This was taken in a Saltford residential road by our Chairman whilst out on an early morning dawn chorus exercise walk on 30th April (as permitted under the Covid-19 lockdown requirements).

Nationally it is recognised that the lockdown has helped the hedgehog population greatly with less road casualties due to the reduction in traffic. This also helps make the case for trying to keeping our own vehicle speeds down to within the 20 mph limit when driving on Saltford's residential roads.

Hedgehogs do a great job eating garden slugs so don't forget to leave small gaps under your fences to allow them access and exit; they need a large area to roam to get the food they need. Anyone wanting to know more about Hedgehogs should visit www.hedgehogstreet.org. There are lots of tips and ideas for making your garden more insect and hedgehog friendly - something to involve and enthuse children in perhaps during the lockdown.

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April 2020

Residents asked to count wildlife (24-27 April)

April 2020

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Gatekeeper, Marbled White, and Meadow Brown.

B&NES Council has issued the following statement encouraging residents to count wildlife from their own homes:-

The third annual global City Nature Challenge begins at the end of April and residents across Bath and North East Somerset are invited to spot wildlife from home and help the region keep the title of 'top observers in Europe'.

Seeking volunteers at home in every neighbourhood, the free event by the Natural History Consortium asks people to spot wildlife from their windows, gardens and balconies and is ideal for something people can do at home during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Bristol and Bath city region currently holds the title for most observations in Europe and residents are asked to join the challenge between April 24 and 27 to help keep the top spot for the third straight year.

People can take part by downloading the free iNaturalist app and take photos of the plants, insects, animals, birds or fungi they spot from their windows or garden. No expert knowledge is needed and the app will help identify findings, or photos can be shared with the global community.

Full details can be found from this link www.bnhc.org.uk/.../ and the challenge runs from April 24 to April 27. All sightings taken during this time will count towards the region's international rankings.

Councillor Paul Crossley, cabinet member for Community Services, said: "Although we are living in an extraordinary time, it might be a chance for people to notice the natural world around them more than they normally do. The City Nature Challenge is a great example of something we can all do from home to celebrate the natural world and improve our wellbeing too."

Other resources including a Working from Home challenge, a Homeschooling challenge, and mini-missions to do alone or with people you live with are also on the website.

Find out more and take part from this link www.bnhc.org.uk/.../ or contact (by email) savita@bnhc.org.uk.

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The Swallows are back!

April 2020

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Barn Swallow (juvenile)

Swallows and House Martins are now being observed in Saltford and the surrounding area again by residents out during their Covid-19 lockdown exercise walks etc. - a wonderful sign that summer is on its way.

Swifts will follow soon but if you are not familiar with how to identify the different species, check out our identification guide on our Wildlife page >>

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Planning application for 9 homes on Saltford/Keynsham border refused

April 2020

On 14 April B&NES Council refused planning permission for the planning application from the Pegasus Group for 9 homes in Keynsham East brought forward separately from Crest Nicholson's Hygge Park development (ref. 19/04542/FUL). The main reason given for refusal on this former Green Belt land between Saltford and Keynsham was that the development will not provide the required 30% affordable housing provision.

Although Keynsham Town Council had supported the application, SEG and Saltford Parish Council had both objected to this application and SEG's objection was reported on our website in November 2019.

SEG's self-explanatory objection response last November was as follows:-

   Saltford Environment Group notes at paragraph 5.6 of the Planning Statement associated with this planning application the statement that the provision of affordable housing "should not be sought" for smaller developments. This strongly suggests that (a) this development of 9 dwellings is planned to be additional to the 250 houses allocated in the 2014 Core Strategy for the Strategic Site Allocation at this location, and (b) that a piecemeal approach to sub-developments like this is being used to reduce the affordable housing provision within the overall strategic site as intended by the policies within the Core Strategy (30%) and/or the forthcoming Local Plan.

   The local community is already concerned about the implications and prospect of 250 new houses at Keynsham East that would put undue pressure on transport infrastructure and public services which affects neighbouring communities including Saltford. Those services and infrastructure already struggle or increasingly fail to cope with the existing housing density in the local and wider area before the proposed Core Strategy developments have been completed and supporting infrastructure for those developments put in place.

   It is prudent therefore for B&NES Council to: (a) prevent smaller housing developments within this strategic site being used to exceed the overall plans set out in the Core Strategy (i.e. if this approach is permitted other developments at the same strategic site will need a corresponding reduction), and (b) prevent a piecemeal approach to sub-developments like this being used to reduce the affordable housing provision within the overall strategic site thereby missing both the NPPF (2018) objective of creating mixed and balanced communities and the affordable housing needs of the area.

   The close proximity of retained vegetation, as identified in the Core Strategy, to this proposed development is also a consideration. SEG reminds B&NES Council of the NPPF (2018) policy for new developments to achieve net environmental gains.

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West of England & Local Planning - latest

April 2020

WEST OF ENGLAND

Many will recall that the four West of England councils (B&NES, Bristol City, North Somerset, and South Gloucestershire) submitted the West of England Joint Spatial Plan (JSP) to the Secretary of State for examination in April 2018. The plan had set out proposals for future development in order to meet the region's housing, employment and transport needs to 2036, but the plan proved unsatisfactory.

The two Planning Inspectors holding the examination hearings in July 2019 had fundamental concerns about the soundness of the plan and the hearings ended. They indicated that withdrawal of the plan from examination was likely to be the most appropriate option.

On 7th April 2020 the four councils wrote to the Inspectors to confirm the withdrawal of the Joint Spatial Plan from examination.

In line with Regulation 27 of The Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations (2012), all documentation relating to the Joint Spatial Plan, including the representations made during the consultations on the Plan, will now be removed from the public domain, and will no longer be available online. NOTE: SEG has retained copies of its consultation responses and evidence.

The West of England councils have stated that they remain committed to working positively with the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) to address the region's strategic planning needs, and will be jointly commissioning strategic evidence to inform future development.

BATH & NE SOMERSET

B&NES Council is now working on a partial update of its Local Plan. The partial update is not a new Local Plan but is an update to the Core Strategy & Placemaking Plan (together comprising the adopted Local Plan for B&NES). The update will not change the plan period of the adopted Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan. The most urgent issues that the partial update will address include:

   1. The need to update particular policies to address changes in circumstances and national policy & legislation since the Core Strategy was adopted in 2014, particularly the Council's declaration of a Climate Emergency.

   2. Update and replenish housing supply in order to ensure the Core Strategy requirement can be met.

   3. Review and update policies relating to the development of the Universities and the impacts of student accommodation on our communities.

In order to help inform the partial update of the Local Plan the Council will also be undertaking another 'call for sites'. This will build upon previous 'call for sites' and they will be asking communities and other stakeholders to submit sites they consider to be potentially suitable for development for housing, employment uses or renewable energy development. The 'call for sites' will commence on 20th April.

B&NES Council has advised that during the COVID-19 crisis the government has made it clear that the planning system should continue to function as best as possible and progress made. Therefore after careful consideration by B&NES Council this consultation is taking place and will be held online only.

SEG will be keeping a close watch on this in view of our need to protect our Green Belt from housing or other development which we continue to maintain would be inappropriate and unsustainable under a correct application of sustainable development principles.

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Activity & ecology at Saltford's medieval fishponds

April 2020

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The upper medieval fishpond, 5.4.2020 SEG

Some residents may have noticed, perhaps whilst out taking their daily exercise on Saltford's footpaths during the COVID-19 lockdown (when the photograph above was taken), excavation and related work by the medieval fishponds north east of St Mary's church.

SEG has been in discussion with the landowner who is creating some obstacles within the landscape for non-competitive trials motorcycle riding by members of his family, particularly during the COVID-19 lockdown whilst other trials facilities are not available.

A motorcycle trial is a non-speed event where a participant rides through an obstacle course while attempting to avoid touching the ground with the feet; this requires fine throttle, balance, and machine control demonstrating skill in balancing the motorcycle over difficult terrain. Motorcycles, like quad bikes, are of course a commonly used means of transport for getting around farmland.

SEG's wildlife adviser, Will Duckworth, advises SEG that there will be a net positive effect on the ecology at the medieval fishponds and this is described in technical detail in the ecological footnote below.

ECOLOGICAL FOOTNOTE

BACKGROUND

Despite being phenomenally rich in species and ecosystem services, ponds and other small wetlands are among the most threatened wildlife habitats in the UK. As well as outright loss, they are threatened by habitat change. To understand these threats, it is important to think of the pre-human landscape: the arrival of people in the UK is a small instant on the timescale in which animals, plants and fungi evolve. These species evolved in pre-human conditions, and wherever the humanised landscape does not provide a substitute, they die out.

The arrival of people in Britain was followed by rapid population crashes and often national-level extinction of all the herd-forming wild ungulates (large mammals with hooves). The Aurochs (ancestor of the domestic cow), Red Deer and Wild Pig have been absent from lowland England for centuries. Across the world, large herding ungulates are 'ecosystem engineers' in that they change the habitats in which they live. They have particularly strong effect on small waterbodies, which they visit to drink, to graze around the margins, and (particularly the Wild Pig) to dig up roots, tubers and other food sources.

This means the 'natural' state of small wetlands - the state to which hundreds of wetland-living species are adapted - is to have around their margins patches of churned-up ground with much trampled, grazed and uprooted vegetation. The mix of unshaded water, open mud, sparse vegetation, and the gradient from almost water to almost dry getting further (and higher) from the water's edge supports a rich variety of specialist plants and invertebrates which occur in no other habitats.

For the first few centuries after the lowland megafauna had been hunted out from southern England, its role in wetland habitat maintenance was echoed by livestock; nearly all farms before the 1950s kept ungulates. But in the last 70 years, the replacement of draught animals by tractors and the widespread demise of the mixed farm has left large tracts of lowland southern England without the 'background' automatic maintenance of small wetlands with the rich mix of microhabitats needed to support the wetland edge species.

In situations where deployment of domestic stock for conservation purposes is unrealistic - such as at individual small ponds - vehicles offer a time-efficient way to mimic the ground-churning and vegetation-opening effects of herding ungulates. Vehicles are problematic where there are shy species present (various wetland birds), but in situations where there are multiple passes per day by people and, especially unleashed dogs, shy species are no longer present anyway.

SALTFORD'S MEDIEVAL FISHPONDS

In the specific case of Saltford's medieval fishponds, the upstream-most pond has steep sides and therefore lacks wetland margins. It is important in its own right as a deep, permanent waterbody for aquatic species; the 'dead-hedge' constructed in autumn 2019 to shield it from people and dogs is resulting in increasing water-bird use. The stretch below its downstream retaining wall is the best part of the entire complex for wetland edge habitat as it is not covered by trees (unlike the downstream stretches) and has gently sloping waterlogged sides to the stream.

Over the last few years this stretch has annually held a thick growth of coarse plants with very little exposed sediment or low, sparse vegetation. Without reversing this situation, many invertebrate and some plant species are at risk of being lost. While the effect of riding motorbikes through the stream and adjacent mud may look dramatic and thus damaging, their effects mimic those of the extirpated herding ungulates.

Integral to this small area's importance is its sunken position open to the south-west and with a thick band of tall bushes and small trees to the north-east. This means particularly in early spring and late autumn, it is warmer than the surroundings and provides important start/end of season basking and feeding areas for insects including butterflies and dragonflies.

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2020 Big Garden Birdwatch results: House Sparrow remains top

April 2020

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The results for the 2020 Big Garden Birdwatch held on the weekend of 25/27 January are out. Do they match what was in your garden? The top ten most commonly observed birds across the UK were (change on 2019 position in brackets):-

   1. House Sparrow (=)
   2. Starling (=)
   3. Blue Tit (=)
   4. Wood Pigeon (+1)
   5. Blackbird (-1)
   6. Goldfinch (=)
   7. Great Tit (=)
   8. Robin (=)
   9. Long-tailed Tit (+ joined top 10)
   10. Magpie (=)

While House Sparrows and Starlings may be the UK's most commonly sighted birds, a closer look at Big Garden Birdwatch data shows that numbers have in fact dropped dramatically since the Birdwatch began in 1979. House Sparrows are down 53%, while Starlings are down 80%. It's a pattern echoed by two more garden favourites, with Blackbirds and Robins down 46% and 32% respectively.

The reasons behind these declines are complex and continue to be investigated, but fewer green spaces, pollution and a changing climate are just some of the challenges faced by garden birds.

More information on the results of the 2020 Birdwatch can be found on the RSPB website. You can also find more information on social media using the hashtag #BigGardenBirdWatch.

Why not take the opportunity during the Covid-19 Lockdown to take a closer interest in the birds that visit your garden and when taking your daily exercise, the birdlife of Saltford?

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March 2020

Wombles: Group litter picks cancelled until further notice

March 2020

Keep Britain Tidy has advised Saltford Wombles that in light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis they are suspending the Great British Spring Clean until September. As such, we are taking their advice on group litter picks and cancelling all Saltford Wombles group litter picks until further notice.

We can, of course, still carry on with our individual litter picking whilst we are out and about walking the dog or getting our allowed daily dose of fresh air, should we wish to, making sure to keep a safe distance from people met along the way! If anyone would like to borrow equipment in order to do this, please contact Barbara at saltfordwombles@gmail.com and Barbara will arrange for it to be dropped off to you, or you can collect from her.

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Help the EA design enhanced flood warnings

March 2020

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River Avon flooding the highway at Mead Lane, 17 February 2020.

The Environment Agency is collecting information via a 2-5 minute online survey on citizen needs for enhanced flood warning services so that responses can help them shape its design.

The online survey can be found from this link: EA online flood survey. The link also allows you to sign up for free Flood Warnings by the EA.

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B&NES & the Climate Emergency - update

March 2020

B&NES Council has issued a detailed update to Councillors on its action plans to help the area become carbon neutral by 2030.

It highlights the Council's focus on three priorities:

  • to make buildings more energy efficient and to have zero carbon new build;
  • a shift to mass transport, walking and cycling; and
  • rapid and large-scale increase in renewable energy.

This would see large-scale challenges such as retrofitting 65,000 homes to make them more energy efficient, large-scale tree planting, the installation of renewable energy technology and introducing low traffic neighbourhoods as well as shift in the way people travel around the area.

Councillor Sarah Warren, Cabinet Member for Climate Emergency, said:

   "A significant amount of very complex and detailed ground-breaking work has been done since we declared a climate emergency last year."

   "We have been listening and working with partners and have set out three substantial carbon reduction priorities to help us achieve our ambitious 2030 goal. While radical action is needed, it takes time to meet huge challenges such as retrofitting 65,000 homes in order to make them more energy efficient."

   "We are also focusing on a large-scale increase in local renewable energy generation, a major shift to sustainable methods of transport, energy efficiency improvements to most existing buildings and zero carbon new builds. We've also recognised the close interdependency between the climate emergency and nature and so are also committing to address this."

The Council was planning a community led climate emergency event on 9 April; this may now be a virtual (online) event in view of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crises. It has also invested in:

  • 323k to provide leadership to the whole of Bath and North East Somerset to achieve zero carbon 2030 plus an additional 64k boost in 2020/21;
  • 50k for initial work to mitigate the levels of nitrogen dioxide in the Temple Cloud and Farrington Gurney Air Quality Management areas;
  • 200k to support projects such as low traffic neighbourhoods which prioritise pedestrians and cyclists in residential areas;
  • 150k to deliver cycleways and footpaths across B&NES;
  • 60k to support the council's tree and woodland strategy and tree planting; and
  • 25k for improving guidance to householders on energy efficiency.

Councillors on the Climate Emergency and Sustainability Policy Development & Scrutiny Panel will consider the report when they meet on March 16th.

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How to easily report dog fouling

March 2020

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The recent growing issue of dog fouling in Saltford was discussed at Saltford Parish Council's monthly meeting on 3rd March with the B&NES Council Dog Warden. The Dog Warden confirmed that to issue a Fixed Penalty Notice a witness statement would be required. If residents supply dates and times of dog fouling in a particular area she stated that she would aim to visit and monitor the places stated.

She also advised that to help identify hot spots of dog fouling, so that targeted action might be taken, residents should report fouling at www.fixmystreet.com. Stickers to discourage dog fouling (see image above) to display on lampposts can now be collected from Saltford's Post Office.

FOOTNOTE: The selfish and ignorant practice of discarding dog poo bags in bushes etc. is particularly disturbing and highly dangerous. Horses are attracted to the cereal content of dog poo but the bags can block their gut leading to serious health consequences including death of the horse (or foal).

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Is there hope for our planet? 29 Mar, Corston

March 2020

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UPDATE: The Church of England has suspended church services during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

A 3-villages service at All Saints Church, Corston has been organised for 29th March (starting at 6pm) to reflect on and discuss our planet's future in the light of the climate and ecological emergencies we face (see poster above). All are welcome to attend.

Rev Kevin Durrant, the main speaker, is the Minister-in-charge at Keynsham Baptist Church. Kevin is reputed to be well-informed about environmental issues locally and nationally.

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February 2020

Keynsham environment exhibition, 14 Mar

February 2020

Keynsham is holding an Environment & Climate Change Showcase, on Saturday 14th March 10am - 2pm at The Space above Keynsham Library. The showcase exhibition will enable you to find out what is happening in Keynsham to combat climate change and what you can do to look after the planet.

More information, e.g. if you want to exhibit at the event, is available by email from deputytownclerk@keynsham-tc.gov.uk

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Hurricane Dennis & climate resilience

February 2020

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River Avon flooding the highway at Mead Lane, 17 February 2020.

The arrival of heavy rainstorms and high winds from Hurricane Dennis this month reminds us of the need to make our community more resilient to the effects of climate change - see the flooded highway at Mead Lane above.

SEG's Climate Change page describes some actions we can take to make our homes, gardens, business premises and business activities more resilient and less vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather (from heatwaves to extreme rainfall events). We provide an extensive range of guidance, tips and advice as well as sources of other online information and advice.

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Saltford Wombles : Sunday 23 Feb

February 2020

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Our next group litter pick is on Sunday 23rd February, 2.00-4.00pm, meeting outside The Little Coffee Shop on Manor Road. Please do come along.

If you have litter pickers, gloves and high viz vest please do bring them, but if not we can provide them. We have bags provided by B&NES Council.

As with any Saltford Wombles litter pick, everyone takes part at their own risk and it is essential that children are supervised at all times by a parent/carer (young children will be allocated an age appropriate area of your choice to litter pick).

If you would like to attend this litter pick, or find out more about the Saltford Wombles, please contact Barbara at saltfordwombles@gmail.com.

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Stories of Fairtrade, Bath Library 3 Mar

February 2020

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'Heading for Extinction' talk 26 Feb

February 2020

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Dr Paul Reid-Bowen (Bath Spa Uni) and Jess Johannesson are coming to speak at Keynsham Baptist Church, Keynsham High Street on 26th February. This will be an opportunity to hear the latest climate science on where our planet is heading, discuss some of the current psychology around climate change, and solutions offered through the study of social movements.

It will be an opportunity to hear more about the scientists' view that the planet is in ecological crisis and Extinction Rebellion's approach to the situation and the sixth mass extinction event this planet is in the midst of experiencing. They believe we may have entered a period of abrupt climate breakdown.

Whatever your views you are invited to come and hear more about this. Everyone is welcome and there will be plenty of time to ask questions and discuss afterwards.

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Bus, Walking & Cycling Consultations

February 2020

Local people are being encouraged to give their views on new plans to substantially improve walking and cycling in the West of England. The West of England Combined Authority (WECA) is running consultations on a regional Bus Strategy and a Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) between 3 February and 15 March 2020.

The Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan outlines 400m of infrastructure projects that could dramatically improve cycling and walking across the region and help to make active travel the preferred choice for shorter trips.

WECA together with Bristol City Council, B&NES Council, North Somerset Council and South Gloucestershire Council, is also simultaneously consulting on its Bus Strategy which outlines how the West of England authorities intend to double bus patronage by 2036. Both consultations can be accessed via this external link: travelwest transport consultations >>.

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Saltford's air quality improving!

February 2020

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The Crown in 1789 when traffic fumes were not a problem.

B&NES Council has informed Saltford Parish Council that due to the air quality monitored* on the Bath Road (A4) in Saltford having improved since an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) was established in Saltford in 2013, it is likely that the AQMA will be revoked later this year (2020).

   *Monitored near (i) the Crown PH and (ii) the Library/PO.

The provisional 2019 data (un-bias corrected) is showing that the nitrogen dioxide concentrations are remaining below 40 g/m3, with The Crown (DT075) at 33 g/m3 and Bath Road (DT077) at 29 g/m3. The final data will be available later in the year when the results have been fully confirmed.

As the results are remaining below 40 g/m3 the Annual Status Report is likely to recommend removing the AQMA in Saltford.

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Parish Council resolution on Mead Lane (4 Feb)

February 2020

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At its meeting on the evening of 4th February Saltford Parish Council discussed the B&NES Cabinet decision concerning the need to ban moorings in Mead Lane to protect the stability of the riverbank and passed the following resolution:-

Saltford Parish Council welcomes the B&NES Cabinet decision on 16th January to remove moorings at Mead Lane by 7th February and to undertake a structural survey of the river bank to enable repairs to the bio-engineered rock armour stabilisation scheme as soon as possible to protect vital infrastructure.

SPC also welcomes the Council's decision to request that officers undertake further analysis of residential mooring arrangements along the river, to include arrangements for boaters and their families. SPC recommends that B&NES Council investigates with key agencies including the Canal and River Trust and the Environment Agency how best to support, manage, and enforce the use of moorings on the River Avon to make the river safer for all users including the live-aboard community whilst protecting the river as an important Site of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI).

SPC asks B&NES Council to install without further delay effective physical measures to protect the riverbank and the highway edge itself from vehicle damage. If necessary temporary measures should be taken before the riverbank stabilisation scheme is repaired.

On completion of the stabilisation scheme repairs, SPC asks B&NES Council to take forward the proposal for designating Mead Lane riverbank as a Local Nature Reserve to protect the vegetation that underpins the stabilisation scheme whilst providing public amenity benefits - leisure, recreation and education.

B&NES Council is asked to recommence senior officer dialogue with SPC and to discuss with the local community its implementation plans for the above measures and actions.

[END]

SPC also discussed the possibility of the local community under the auspices of SEG setting up a group to take an active interest in looking after the flora and fauna of the riverbank(s), e.g. "Friends of Saltford Riverbank" or similar. SEG will investigate and discuss this with residents soon; in the meantime the priority is for the riverbank to be surveyed and repaired by B&NES Council.

UPDATE 10.2.2020

On 10th February SEG's Chairman hand-delivered to B&NES Council at The Guildhall, Bath photocopies of the original options design, plans and environmental reports for the 2005 Mead Lane riverbank stabilisation works. Digital copies were also supplied to SPC for its records.

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Fairtrade Coffee morning 28 Feb

February 2020 (updated March 2020)

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To celebrate Fairtrade Fortnight there will be a Fairtade coffee morning at Saltford Hall in Wedmore Road on Friday 28th February from 10.30am-12.30pm.

The theme this year follows on from 2019, 'She deserves a fair wage', but our Fairtrade group has learnt so much more about how Fairtrade is trying to tackle the ever present climate change issue and other important factors to make Fairtrade farming more sustainable.

By enjoying Fairtrade products and hearing how the Fairtrade Foundation are making valuable inroads to help Fairtrade farmers we would like to arm everyone with practical helpful facts to take away and help spread the Fairtrade ethos with us. No coffee morning would be complete without home made cakes and we look forward to sharing a warm welcome to everyone.

AFTER THE EVENT

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The Saltford Fairtrade Group would like to say a big thank you to everyone who supported our campaign during Fairtrade Fortnight. Our stall at Saltford Hall was designed to pass on information about the Fairtrade Foundation that most people wouldn't know about. Aspects such as sustainable farming and adaptation to crops to cope with climate change. Cakes, cakes and more cakes, well it was a coffee morning after all.

Thank you to everyone who joined us. Friends bought friends and made new friends and all shared the Fairtrade ethos. A special thanks goes to the SCA who let us set up our stall and donated the tea, coffee and sugar for the coffee morning. All this adds up to a caring Fairtrade village and we are delighted to announce that we have been awarded Fairtrade Village status during Fairtrade Fortnight.

We would also like to thank Tesco and Waitrose for their kind contribution towards our Fairtrade Fortnight coffee morning.

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Archaeology Store Guided Tours 20th Feb

February 2020

B&NES Council's Heritage Services team is putting on Guided Tours of the B&NES Archaeology Store in Pixash Lane, Keynsham on Thurs 20th February 2020 at 11am & 2pm. The Roman mosaics and other finds from Keynsham are kept there; this is a rare opportunity to see them.

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January 2020

Joint Local Transport Plan - Saltford

January 2020

The draft Joint Local Transport Plan 4 (JLTP4) - led by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), working with B&NES, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire councils - was launched on 28th January. The plan looks at transport up to 2036. It sets out how WECA "aims to achieve a well-connected sustainable transport network that works for residents, businesses and visitors across the region; a network that offers greater, realistic travel choices and makes walking, cycling and public transport the natural way to travel."

The plan includes an intention to consider a new rail station at Saltford and to "undertake further work to assess options to provide bus priority on the approaches to Saltford before a decision on a Saltford Bypass is made". A road bypass has been strongly resisted by SEG and the Parish Council.

The relevant extracts from JLTP4 concerning Saltford are as follows:-

SALTFORD STATION

During the life of JLTP4 and the Strategic Rail Programme, we will consider extending services beyond Henbury and new stations at Charfield, St Annes Park, Saltford, Ashton Gate and Constable Road, and new links to Thornbury, Pilning and Bristol Airport. We will also work with planning colleagues to review the need to safeguard disused rail lines where they could have a future role to play.

MAJOR SCHEME DETAILS - Early investment schemes under development

E4. Passenger Rail Service and Capacity Improvements, Station Upgrades and New Stations Package

New railway stations at the following locations: Constable Road, Bristol; Ashton Gate, Bristol; St Annes, Brislington, Bristol; Saltford, Bath & North East Somerset. Stations to be delivered with associated infrastructure: passenger waiting facilities, bus stops, cycle stands, car parking, real-time information and be fully Equality Act compliant. Westerleigh junction upgrade.

BYPASS

The A4 corridor, which runs through Saltford, is one of the busiest routes in the region. The JTS notes that bus priority on the approaches to Saltford would improve bus journey times and punctuality through the village and benefit longer distance journeys along the A4 corridor between Bath and Bristol.

A bypass for Saltford has been considered previously to reduce congestion through the village and enable road space reallocation to public transport. We will undertake further work to assess options to provide bus priority on the approaches to Saltford before a decision on a Saltford Bypass is made. Consideration will be given to the potential conversion of bus priority measures in future to accommodate other forms of mass transit, such as light rail.

FURTHER INFORMATION
The JLTP consultation is now closed. The full version of the JLTP4 and its associated Summary Report can still be accessed via the Travelwest website.

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Wildlife at Saltford Brass Mill

January 2020

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Bethany Sewell, a photography student at Falmouth University, has used Saltford Brass Mill for the basis of a coursework project. The project involved making a photographic record of the wildlife in and around the mill and producing a magazine article which discusses the relationship between conservation of the mill and the conservation of wildlife. The article also looks at the fascinating history of our famous mill. Bethany has kindly given SEG permission to publish her article in our online history project Document Library.

You can find Bethany's article from this link to our Document Library:- 'Marina Magic' by Bethany Sewell (2019)

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Saltford Wombles: 26th Jan

January 2020

Our first group litter pick is on Sunday 26th January, 2.00-4.00pm, meeting outside The Little Coffee Shop on Manor Road. Please do come along.

If you have litter pickers, gloves and high viz vest please do bring them, but if not we can provide them. We have bags provided by B&NES Council.

As with any Saltford Wombles litter pick, everyone takes part at their own risk and it is essential that children are supervised at all times by a parent/carer. (Young children will be allocated an age appropriate area of your choice to litter pick).

If you would like to attend this litter pick, or find out more about the Saltford Wombles, please contact Barbara at the following email address: saltfordwombles@gmail.com.

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Mead Lane moorings ban

January 2020

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At its meeting on the evening of 16th January the B&NES Cabinet took the unanimous decision to urgently remove all moorings from Mead Lane in 21 days' time - this gives time to enable 14 days' notice to be given to those presently moored there.

The Council agreed with SEG, SPC our Ward Councillors and residents that Mead Lane was not suitable for moorings due to the 2005 riverbank stabilisation works that were not designed for mooring boats which cause damage to the bio-engineered scheme comprising rock armour secured with riverbank vegetation. The riverbank protects vital infrastructure from river erosion so a structural survey will be undertaken to inform the decision on repairs and the long term use of the riverbank.

In the discussion before the vote was taken Councillors agreed the Council would need to work quickly and carefully; the longer they leave it the bigger the repair bill.

The Cabinet also agreed that officers should undertake further analysis of residential mooring arrangements along the river to include arrangements for boaters and their families. SEG greatly welcomes the decision on moorings in Mead Lane and recognises the urgent need to improve facilities for the mooring of boats on the river that provide safe and appropriate moorings for the live-aboard community and other boat users whilst protecting the natural environment.

You can read the joint deputation from SEG and Saltford Parish Council given at the meeting to the Cabinet by SEG's Chair Phil Harding in the previous news item. A representative of Mead Lane Neighbourhood Watch and Ward Councillor Duncan Hounsell also addressed the Cabinet pressing the case for a mooring ban for the same reasons given by SPC and SEG.

SEG is grateful to Ward Councillor Duncan Hounsell for his strong support and also to the B&NES Cabinet for its full support for the case made by SEG, SPC and the community for protecting Mead Lane's riverbank. We hope it can now return to being a public space once more, preferably as a Local Nature Reserve or similar, after the repairs have been completed but those repairs must be a priority.

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Immediate mooring ban in Mead Lane sought

January 2020

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Riverbank stabilisation work in Mead Lane, 2005. We understand that the project took approx. 6 months to complete including 8 weeks for construction.

On 16th January Saltford Parish Council (SPC) and SEG will be asking B&NES Cabinet for an immediate mooring ban to protect the stability of the riverbank from further damage and the key infrastructure it protects and other related measures including structural repairs to the riverbank and the creation of a Local Nature Reserve to protect the vegetation that underpins the riverbank's bio-engineered stability.

A report by Council officers put to B&NES Cabinet for its 16th January meeting recommends commissioning a range of response options concerning the future of moorings at Mead Lane including a structural survey to establish the condition of the riverbank and if it is suitable for moorings to continue and if so for what time durations (48 hours and 14 days, just 14 days, or leave the existing arrangements in place). In October last year a consultation was held by B&NES Council using the independent consultants Lemon Gazelle - this involved a series of events with residents, boaters, and stakeholders that generated a total of 1,251 responses.

In a joint deputation from SPC and SEG to the Cabinet, SPC's Chair of Planning and SEG Chairman Phil Harding will say:-

   In October he had received and quickly submitted to B&NES Council technical design information concerning the 2005 bio-engineered stabilisation of the riverbank in Mead Lane. The scheme, rock armour secured with riverbank vegetation, was installed to "protect the highway from becoming dangerous". Loss of part of the highway was then predicted by Halcrow to occur within 5-10 years if no action was taken. The scheme was not designed to take boat moorings including narrow boats that typically weigh 20+ tonnes. SEG also took professional advice from a Bath-based coastal and inland civil engineering consultancy who agreed that Mead Lane's bio-engineered riverbank is not suitable for boat moorings which damage the scheme.

   Mead Lane provides the only road access to Wessex Water's Sewage Treatment Works as well as to residential properties and businesses; 24/7 access is imperative. The lane has beneath it a pumped sewer main and other buried services. Wessex Water were therefore alerted to the danger posed to their facilities; they share SEG's concerns and have made representations to the Council.

   During December a brief survey by SEG including a geologist concluded that rock armour is missing in several places. On 20th December a trench dug by Wales and West to repair a fractured gas main filled with water as the river rose on the other side of the roadway to near flood level; river water was rising beneath the roadway across its full width. The integrity of the scheme that originally had a 40-50 year design lifespan has clearly been compromised by a "fix and forget" approach to asset management.

   Moorings commenced a few years after the 2005 works straightened the riverbank. The 2017 and 2018 mooring trial by effect advertised Mead Lane as a free mooring thus attracting a growing number of boats causing ever more damage. The longer B&NES Council delay a mooring ban the more extensive and expensive the repairs; this increasing waste of public funds and risk to infrastructure needs to stop. As the B&NES Cabinet's background report recognises, climate change is creating more extreme weather including heavy rainfall events. The resultant increase in river flow accelerates the erosion of riverbank stabilisation schemes like Mead Lane's.

   Saltford Parish Council and Saltford Environment Group implore B&NES Cabinet to agree to implement an immediate mooring ban to protect the stability of the riverbank from further damage and the key infrastructure it protects.

   They also ask B&NES Cabinet to:-

   (i) install effective physical measures to protect the riverbank and the highway edge from vehicles;

   (ii) instigate an urgent structural survey of the riverbank with a view to repairing the rock armour before the end of the summer and autumn floods put the undefended highway at further risk;

   (iii) designate Mead Lane riverbank as a flood defence asset that protects important infrastructure requiring care and maintenance; and

   (iv) to take forward the proposal for designating Mead Lane riverbank as a Local Nature Reserve to protect the vegetation that underpins the riverbank's bio-engineered stability whilst providing public amenity benefits - leisure, recreation and education. This has strong local support.

   B&NES Council should discuss with the Parish Council and residents implementation plans for those works.

   The Lemon Gazelle report highlights the wider social and environmental issues associated with boat moorings on the River Avon, a Site of Nature Conservation Interest. As a separate case to Mead Lane, B&NES Council can use the Lemon Gazelle report to inform an investigation with key agencies on how best to support, manage, and enforce the use of moorings on the River Avon. The objective would be to make the river safer for all users including the live-aboard community whilst protecting this important Site of Nature Conservation Interest, a key ecological asset.

FURTHER INFORMATION

SEG letter to B&NES Council re. 2005 stabilisation works

SEG's letter of 20.10.2019 to B&NES Council containing technical design information on the 2005 stabilisation works can be downloaded here:-

The Case for a Local Nature Reserve at Mead Lane

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View from Mead Lane, May 2018

You can download SEG's September 2019 paper on the case for a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) at Mead Lane from the link below.

Please note this paper was written before SEG knew about the nature of the 2005 riverbank stabilisation works but the vegetation associated with an LNR at Mead Lane and protection from vehicle damage could be part of the repairs to the riverbank stabilisation scheme:-

Our 2009 News Archive includes further news stories (October & November) on this long running issue.

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Energy at Home advice

January 2020

B&NES Council's Energy at Home advice service will be at the locations listed below to give residents advice about how to save energy through heating and insulation improvements, answering questions about smart meters as well as information on lowering fuel bills by switching energy suppliers. Residents can simply drop in, no pre-booking is necessary.

  • Tues 21 January at Keynsham Library 10.30-15.30
  • Weds 29 January at Bath Central Library 10.30-15.30
  • Tues 25 February at Midsomer Norton library 10.30-15.30
  • Weds 26 February Bath Central Library 10.30-15.30
  • Weds 18 March at Keynsham Library 10.30-15.30
  • Weds 25 March Bath Central Library 10.30-15.30

Further information on the Energy at Home Service is available from: www.energyathome.org.uk.

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Saltford station - latest

January 2020

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Image SEG

An audience of 50 residents and others interested in re-opening Saltford station including the B&NES Council Cabinet member for Transport, Cllr Neil Butters, attended the talk on Saltford station by Saltford Parish Council Cllrs Chris Warren and Duncan Hounsell on Sunday 5th January at Saltford Hall. Chris Warren gave a talk on the history of Saltford's railways and Duncan Hounsell described SPC's actions to achieve the re-opening of Saltford Station, and the latest updates about making this a reality for the future.

Duncan Hounsell quoted from the latest position of WECA (West of England Combined Authority) on the re-opening Saltford Railway Station:-

"Saltford is included as a potential new station in the West of England's draft Joint Local Transport Plan 4 (JLTP4) 2019 to 2036 because WECA recognises it has a role to play in tackling existing and future transport challenges particularly around Bath. As with all our new station proposals, they must be feasible, deliverable and demonstrate a good business case with funding identified and secured. The current costs for Charfield station (which is comparable to Saltford with requirements for two platforms, accessible footbridge, shelters and access routes) are put at between 14m and 20m.

"There are major network capacity issues on the railway line between Bath and Bristol and finding the capacity to stop trains at a new station is going to be challenging. The Greater Bristol Area Rail Feasibility Study (GBARFS) commissioned by the Department for Transport and WECA looked at future services and stations and the infrastructure/capacity required to deliver them. The study found that the new infrastructure required to deliver enhanced MetroWest services on the line to Bath Spa could provide the additional capacity required to enable additional stops at Saltford. It also suggested that it may be possible to introduce a skip-stop pattern (i.e. miss out stops at Keynsham or Oldfield Park) to facilitate a stop at Saltford. This would, however, create an irregular service pattern at each of the stations.

"The findings of GBARFS will now be used to draw up a 10 Year Delivery Plan and 25 Year Strategic Outline Business Case with Network Rail for rail investment in the West of England. Saltford will be part of this work as a possible future station site. In terms of station location previous work has focused on the previous station site. As part of the work on the 10 Year Delivery Plan and 25 Year Strategic Outline Business Case we may need to consider other possible locations for Saltford."

The text of Duncan Hounsell's talk can be downloaded from this link:-

The text of a similar talk by Chris Warren during the Saltford Festival in June 2017 is published on this website and can be downloaded from this link:-

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Wombles 2020: Dates for the diary

January 2020

Thank you to everyone for keeping the village tidy over these wet, cold and windy winter months.

Our next group litter picks will be on :-

  Sunday 26th January

  Sunday 23rd February

  Sunday 29th March (as part of the Great British Spring Clean)

  Sunday 26th April

Meeting places (and times) will vary depending on the litter hot spots, but will be advised beforehand.

For more details about the Wombles, or to join in a group pick, please contact Barbara at saltfordwombles@gmail.com.

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Birdwatch 25 - 27 Jan

January 2020

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The RSPB's annual Big Garden Birdwatch will be from 25 to 27 January 2020. It's a great chance to sit back, relax and watch birds and other wildlife for an hour - and to encourage younger members of your family to develop an interest in the local wildlife. By taking part, you'll find out all about the fascinating wildlife that flutters, crawls and hops in your garden or local area. And with a simple hour of mindful watching, you could have an hour to yourself, too.

Details including access to the RSPB's 'Big Garden Extra' can be found on the RSPB website from this link:- RSPB Birdwatch. You can also find more information on social media using the hashtag #BigGardenBirdWatch.

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SPECIAL COVID-19 NEWS SECTION

This was on our home page for the first 10 weeks of the lockdown from March 2020. Each story was updated as the situation developed.

ASSISTANCE IN SALTFORD

Someone to turn to when times are hard

Hardship Support

Saltford surgery to be coronavirus assessment area

Local Food Provision

NHS 'high-risk/shielded' list

Inspiration during lockdown

Gov't Info. Service on WhatsApp

UK LOCKDOWN

Walking (& reading) in Saltford

Saltford FOODBANK's current wants & financial donations

Preparing the local response

COVID-19 advice


COVID-19 - ASSISTANCE IN SALTFORD

1st published March 2020, latest update: 1 May 2020

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This is updated as assistance etc. develops - latest update 1.5.2020.

Key community leaders/representatives* are liaising to deliver Saltford's response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation via a support hub that has been specifically set up to manage communications and assistance to residents.

   *This includes representatives of Saltford Parish Council, Saltford Community Association, Saltford Primary School, St Mary's Church, the Saltford Day Centre, Saltford Community Post Office and Library, Day Lewis Pharmacy, Saltford Food Bank, Clarkson's Independent Funeral Directors as well as the B&NES Saltford Ward Councillors.

Help for self-isolating Saltford residents can be provided by local volunteers with picking up shopping, posting mail, a friendly phone call, walking the dog, delivering urgent medical supplies, meal distribution, small emergency cash sums where needed, etc.

This support can be accessed from the Saltford Support Hub telephone number 01225 632216 or email help@saltfordhub.org.

If you can help deliver this service please ring the same number or use the email address to volunteer.

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(From household leaflet's front page)

You can download the latest (2nd) version of the information leaflet that is being delivered to every household in Saltford here (click on link to open pdf):-

LOCAL FOOD PROVISION

During the crisis, a useful food suppliers and outlets list for home food deliveries can be downloaded from the home page of the SCA website: saltfordhall.co.uk.

It is the kindness and mutual support that we give to each other that helps us get through challenging times.

During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic we have links to key official websites on our Links page >>. This includes a link to the B&NES Council web page with updates on their services as affected by the pandemic.

HARDSHIP SUPPORT

The Covid-19 lockdown situation is clearly going on for some time to come and SCA and other participants steering the Saltford Contact Hub are therefore looking at additional plans for supporting residents suffering hardship at this time. Hardship could take the form of looking after our most elderly, those with highest health risk and shielding for a minimum of 12 weeks and those financially struggling (there are a lot of people falling through the Government safety net schemes).

In response SCA etc. have decided to provide free hot meals, basic food supplies and small emergency cash sums where needed within the village.

To enable this to happen, the SCA has set up a hardship fund and initially donated the sum of 1000. In addition SCA have already received donations to add to this fund and they are aware of others in the community prepared to make donations at this time of crisis to help others.

Anyone wishing to make a financial donation to support the Hardship Support Fund should visit this link to the SCA website: Hardship Donations.

If any resident in Saltford needs emergency food or cash then they should ring the Saltford Support Hub helpline number of 01225 632216.

Please see the news story re. Saltford Food Bank's current food needs (wants) further down the page.

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COVID-19 - Someone to turn to when times are hard

May 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown is a cause of great anxiety for many people, of all age groups and from all backgrounds. It affects us all in many different ways.

Here in Saltford St Mary's Church pastoral care team can provide a listening ear & friendly voice with appropriate support for those in Saltford who may be grieving the loss of what is familiar & settled, finding social isolation hard, worrying about the future in respect of job losses/finances, or dealing with the physical grief of having lost a loved one.

This pastoral support in Saltford can be accessed directly by phoning 07310 156982.

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COVID-19 - Hardship Support

20 April 2020

The Covid-19 lockdown situation is clearly going on for some time to come and SCA and other participants steering the Saltford Contact Hub are therefore looking at additional plans for supporting residents suffering hardship at this time. Hardship could take the form of looking after our most elderly, those with highest health risk and shielding for a minimum of 12 weeks and those financially struggling (there are a lot of people falling through the Government safety net schemes).

In response to the prolonged nature of the Covid-19 lockdown, SCA etc. have decided to provide free hot meals, basic food supplies and now small emergency cash sums where needed within the village.

See the updated news item COVID-19 ASSISTANCE IN SALTFORD.

Anyone wishing to make a financial donation to support the Hardship Support Fund should visit this link to the SCA website: Hardship Donations.

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COVID-19 - Saltford surgery to be coronavirus assessment area

April 2020 - posted 6.4.2020 updated 8 & 9 April 2020

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To help the local area deal with the pandemic, the Saltford branch surgery is temporarily becoming a local coronavirus assessment area.

Separate clinics for patients with and without coronavirus symptoms will help people to continue accessing care and treatment. This link provides further information: www.bswccg.nhs.uk.

All St Augustine's surgery patients requiring a non-coronavirus related face-to-face appointment will now be seen at the Keynsham site. Residents can contact the surgery via the Keynsham phone number 0117 986 2343.

St Augustine's website link: www.st-augustinessurgery.co.uk.

IMPORTANT - PLEASE NOTE

For resident information, the surgery at Saltford has been designated as a 'hot' clinic, which is not the same as a testing site.

Any patient in the local area who may need a GP appointment and has symptoms which may be associated with coronavirus will be directed to contact Saltford surgery (this is true whether the underlying reason for their GP appointment is coronavirus or not - e.g. if a patient has poorly controlled diabetes and needs a GP appointment to sort that out, but also have respiratory symptoms they would still go to a 'hot' clinic like Saltford).

Everyone should continue to abide by the government's social distancing (incl. 2m minimum) and hand hygeine advice to minimise the risk of spread, and that the designation of Saltford surgery as an assessment area does not incur risk to the local population so long as those visiting (and all of us) abide by the official advice.

Patients who do visit with symptoms should not be attending any other location but returning home to isolation immediately after their visit.

FURTHER CLARIFICATION FROM THE NHS

B&NES Enhanced Medical Services, who are part of the NHS and are running 'hot' clinics in the B&NES area have contacted Saltford Parish Council stating:

   "We're aware that local communities may be anxious about having hot hubs on their doorstep so we're trying to be as sensitive to that as we can.

   Our staff are asked to change into work clothes when they arrive and then change back into their day clothes before they leave, taking their work clothes home in an orange bag to wash ready for their next session.

   We have a 'clean' room for the staff to use for breaks, viewing patient notes, inputting to patient records etc.

   We're keeping the time patients spend in the building to an absolute minimum and are cleaning the clinic rooms between each patient. The whole building is deep cleaned and 'fogged' at the end of every day so it is completely clean for the start of the next day. Staff are basically sequestered in the building until their session ends. At all of our sites no-one has left the building for any reason other than to collect the patients from their car.

   In terms of the Saltford site, we're not using the front entrance at all to ensure our patients aren't mixing with shoppers and local residents. We're escorting patients in and out of the building."

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COVID-19 - Local Food Provision

April 2020 - posted 6.4.2020

To help those self-isolating/shielding and to help reduce the number of times we need to go out for food, and to support local businesses, SCA are publishing on their website details about the delivery services offered by suppliers and outlets in and around Saltford.

The list be downloaded from the home page of the SCA website: saltfordhall.co.uk.

SCA have also had wonderful support from Waitrose and VanGB to helping volunteers deliver essential food to doorsteps.

We hope as many residents as possible will support local businesses and continue to do so when the crisis is finally over.

NOTE: If you need to know about the assistance available in Saltford see our news story COVID-19 - ASSISTANCE IN SALTFORD.

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COVID-19 - NHS 'high-risk/shielded' list

March 2020

The Government has written to most of the 1.5m people on the NHS 'high-risk/shielded' list. If you should be on this list, or if you know of a resident, friend or neighbour who should be, and haven't received a letter by today (31st March) please visit the gov.uk website using this link: coronavirus extremely vulnerable for more information and to register.

NOTE: If you need to know about the assistance available in Saltford see our news story COVID-19 - ASSISTANCE IN SALTFORD.

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COVID-19 - Inspiration during lockdown

March 2020

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Since the commencement of lockdown during the pandemic on 23rd March, SEG's Chairman has been posting on social media a daily quote to help others stay positive and think through the implications for a better world thereafter as we reset our lifestyles and our place in society.

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You can see these from the following link: philharding.net/c19.

NOTE: If you need to know about the assistance available in Saltford see our news story COVID-19 - ASSISTANCE IN SALTFORD.

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COVID-19 - Government Information Service on WhatsApp

March 2020

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A new free to use service that aims to provide official, trustworthy and timely information and advice about Coronavirus (COVID-19), and will further reduce the burden on NHS services, was launched by HMG on 25 March.

This will help combat the spread of Coronavirus misinformation in the UK, as well as helping ensure people stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.

The GOV.UK Coronavirus Information Service is an automated 'chatbot' service which will allow the British public to get answers to the most common questions about coronavirus direct from government.

The service will provide information on topics such as coronavirus prevention and symptoms, the latest number of cases in the UK, advice on staying at home, travel advice and myth busting.

The service will also allow the government to send messages to all opted-in users if required.

To use the free GOV.UK Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp, simply add 07860 064422 in your phone contacts and then message the word 'hi' in a WhatsApp message to get started.

A set of menu options is then presented which the user can choose from and then be sent relevant guidance from GOV.UK pages as well as links to GOV.UK for further information.

NOTE
The GOV.UK announcement of this service is here: gov.uk/...whatsapp.

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COVID-19 - UK LOCKDOWN

March 2020

The text of PM's full address to the nation on 23rd March is here: PM address (gov.uk) >>

The PM's address said:

"...people will only be allowed to leave their home for the following very limited purposes:

  • shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible
  • one form of exercise a day - for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household;
  • any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person; and
  • travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.

That's all - these are the only reasons you should leave your home."
- PM Boris Johnson, 23.3.2020

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COVID-19 - walking (& reading) in Saltford

March 2020

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Saltford residents walking for exercise whilst keeping a very important 2-metre isolation distance from others might like some ideas for where to walk. Check out SEG's 8 history walking guides on the 'History of Saltford' section of our website: Walks of Saltford - you can learn about Saltford's fascinating past while you walk!

Whilst stuck at home and in need of some interesting online reading material for a break from pandemic news, why not browse around our 'History of Saltford' Online Museum - it is full of interesting facts and images from Saltford's illustrious past.

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COVID-19 - Saltford FOODBANK's current wants & financial donations

March 2020 (last updated 20 April 2020)

Supplies are needed at the Saltford Foodbank. Donations of longer life products would be appreciated, especially items on the following list:

Fruit juice cartons
UHT milk cartons
Tinned tomatoes & potatoes
Tinned peas, carrots & other veg
Tinned rice pudding & custard
Tinned meat & fish
Beans with sausages
Rice
Sponge puddings
Coffee
Sugar
Toilet rolls
Washing powder

Saltford donation points are:

Saltford Hall - inside external door (Wedmore Road BS31 3BY) open 24/7
The Rectory (porch), Beech Rd (St Mary's Church & Church Hall are closed)
Tesco Express (Bath Road)
Waitrose and Tesco in Keynsham also have Food Bank donation bins.

FINANCIAL SUPPORT - People wishing to help with financial donations (e.g. unable to get to a supermarket) can give via: keynsham.foodbank.org.uk.

DELIVERY SERVICE - In late April the Foodbank is changing to a door delivery service locally rather than a turn up and collect service. Those in hardship will be able to obtain vouchers from the normal support channels - Saltford residents can ring the Saltford Contact Hub (01225 632216) for information.

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COVID-19 - preparing the local response

March 2020

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Key community representatives met on Tuesday 17th March to discuss Saltford's response to the COVID-19 situation. A leaflet detailing a single point of contact for any resident requiring help - and for residents to use to volunteer their help - will be circulated online shortly. Printed copies of the leaflet will be delivered to each residence as well as other locations in the village ASAP.

Those present at the meeting included representatives of Saltford Parish Council, Saltford Community Association, Saltford Primary School, St Mary's Church, the Saltford Day Centre, Saltford Community Library & Post Office, Day Lewis Pharmacy, Saltford Food Bank, Clarkson's Independent Funeral Directors and SEG as well as the B&NES Saltford Ward Councillors.

Do share the information above with friends and neighbours, especially those who may not be online, so that they are aware of this co-ordinated response and know to look out for the leaflet.

Thank you.

During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic we have links to key official websites on our Links page >>

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COVID-19 advice

March 2020 (last updated 8 April 2020)

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Rather than duplicating official advice and guidance, which is subject to constant change as the UK's response to the pandemic develops, SEG shall provide helpful links with our news articles on Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Key members of the Saltford community have arranged to meet in week commencing 16th March to plan how to support residents, especially those who are more vulnerable, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Any outcomes, actions and information will be shared by Saltford Parish Council (SPC). The meeting will be chaired by SPC Chair Cllr Chris Warren.

Useful links (during the pandemic these are listed also on our Links page):-

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SEG as an independent, non-profit making body takes a politically neutral stance. We are committed to the highest editorial and ethical standards in the provision of all the content and related services for our website.


The Editor is Phil Harding (SEG Chairman) and Phil can be contacted via our home page.