The Parish Council meeting on 3rd May started with the co-option of a new councillor, Dorothy Baker, usually known as Dot. She was warmly welcomed onto the Council, and we hope her time on the Council will be happy and productive.
The Council’s fight to demonstrate that the Joint Spatial Plan is not fit for purpose – this contains the proposal that 700 houses are built up at Grove Farm- continues. An ecologist has been consulted, as well as a highways expert and a transport consultant. MP Liam Fox has written a letter in support of the Council’s position, as well as that of, surrounding parishes which is a positive step. However, there is no doubt that challenging the JSP will cost a great deal of money, and the funding assistance offered by the Backwell Resident’s Association and hopefully Backwell Resistance, will be well used.
Concerns about the expansion of Bristol Airport were raised by a member of the public, who set out very clearly all the potential and actual problems that will arise if the Airport get permission to go ahead with its plans. Everyone was very worried about what this will mean to the residents who live up at Downside, both now and in the future. There were comments that illegal parking sites for the airport might spring up and cause problems as has happened in the past. Cllr Steve Mitchell, who attends Airport meetings on behalf of the Council as well as being the lead on highways matters, promised to keep a close eye on what was proposed, and report back to the Council. There will be a consultation period between 14th May and 6th July and the Council hopes that everyone will have their say.
Councillors had been invited to go to a workshop on bullying at Backwell Junior School in June. This is something that the Council feels is very important for the welfare of Backwell youngsters, particularly since the increase of such problems on social media, and several councillors hope to attend to give the workshop their support.
The new Backwell Parish Council website is now live! It can be visited at backwell-pc.gov.uk and the new layout is far clearer than before.
The Annual Audit of the Council’s governance and finances has been completed, and yet again the Auditor gave the Council a clean bill of health. Much appreciation was shown to the Clerk, Jane Stone, for keeping all the administration in order.
The Council was delighted to hear that the top part of Farleigh Fields had been designated a ‘Local Green Space’ by North Somerset Council. This gives it some protection when it comes to planning matters. However, if Backwell wants to keep it, residents must use it regularly, so people are asked to get out there, have fun, walk the dog and generally enjoy the fields.
A letter had been received from a concerned resident about Station Road and the foliage which hangs over and encroaches on to the pavements, reducing their width and getting in the way of pedestrians walking up and down the road. Cllr Taylor explained that the Council had no power to cut the hedges back, and had spoken to the owners of the bushes to try to get them to co-operate, with a mixed response. He is meeting with North Somerset Council’s Streets and Open Spaces Officer for Backwell in 3-4 weeks time.
As part of the Council’s efforts to make Station Road as safe as possible for everyone who uses it, they are looking into the accessibility of the bus stop by Waverley Road. There may not be much that can be done about its location, but the Council will ask the Integrated Transport Team to take a look. Also, there is the possibility of Station Road and surrounding roads having a 20mph speed limit introduced, but if this is found to be a helpful approach to the issues around that area, there would still be a lot of hurdles to surmount.
There are still concerns being expressed by residents about the junction of Moor Lane with Station Road, both now and when the houses are built on Moor Lane in the future. The Council is doing its best to ensure that the junction is as safe as possible, and are in regular contact with both the developer and North Somerset Council Planning, who will have the final say.
The Council unanimously decided to fund the ‘Lollipop’ person who sees the children across Dark Lane near the junction with Church Lane. This is something that a local firm could subsidise as well if they wished, a good opportunity for some positive PR.
There was a review of the situation of the missing waste bins, removed by North Somerset Council without local consultation. At the moment there isn’t any apparent increase in litter, but the Council will keep their eye on the situation.
The next full Council Meeting is at 7.30 pm on Thursday, 7th June at the Parish Hall.