The history of D&BH Parish Council
|2003 – 2006||Councillor Graeme Riley|
|2006 – 2007||Councillor Gill Higgins|
|2007 – 2008||Councillor David Upjohn|
|2008 – 2011||Councillor Elizabeth Shepherd|
|2011 – 2014||Councillor Graeme Riley|
|2014 – 2015
2015 – 2016
21/01/2016 – May 2017
May 2017 to date
|Councillor Elizabeth Shepherd
Councillor Graeme Riley
Councillor Janet Biggin
Councillor Ben Burton
Downend and Bromley Heath Parish Council was set up in May 2003, following a special review and consultation. Twelve Parish Councillors joined the Council. The Parish is divided into five wards – Downend East, Downend West, Bromley Heath East, Bromley Heath West and Leap Brook. Each ward elects Members to serve on the Parish Council for a period of four years.
Since its inception, the Parish Council has been proactive in evolving and moving forward at a time of change, both nationally and locally. All Parish Councillors are encouraged to take advantage of any relevant training offered by either South Gloucestershire Council or the Avon Local Councils Association. In addition, the Parish Council itself organises ‘Away Days’, coordinated by an invited facilitator. This is an opportunity for members to get together outside the normal meeting situation and agree ideas on the way forward for the Parish Council.
In partnership with South Gloucestershire Council, Downend Centre was regenerated in 2005. Part of this scheme was a complete repaving of the area and the installation of numerous seats, litter bins, benches and cycle parking stands throughout the parish. Street lighting was updated, including the installation of a light in the lane by the Britannia Building Society. The toilets also had a complete refurbishment, which included a fully accessible toilet for use by disabled persons. The Scout War Memorial was cleaned and repaired. The Turnpike Trust Marker along Cleeve Wood Road (on the bridge at the bottom of the hill) and the Mileage Marker at Downend Road (opposite Downend Cricket Ground) have both been fully restored.
The photograph shows the lighting column purchased by the Parish Council now ensuring good lighting in the lane leading to the Co-op car park.
In 2005, we held our first Christmas event when Christmas lights were purchased and put up in Downend Village. Over the years, this event has grown. We also make arrangements for, and fund, the erection of the Christmas tree outside the Horseshoe Pub. Other events held include organising an annual Carol Service, various public meetings, an annual cycle ride and the Parish Annual Assembly, in addition to supporting events run by local organisations.
Aside from Christmas, one of the largest and most prestigious events held was on 3 November 2007 – a day of remembrance for those on board the Britannia airliner which, in November 1957, crashed in Britannia Wood with the loss of life of all on board. The aircraft was on a test flight from Filton. A plaque commemorating this event was unveiled by Mrs Statham, the widow of the pilot. This was followed by a lunch in Lincombe Barn, together with an exhibition to mark the subsequent success of the Britannia aircraft.
The Parish Council has fought hard over the years both to improve and maintain bus services. This includes sponsoring the N47 Night Bus since June 2006 and a shoppers express bus (service 462) since 2011.
D&BH PC has funded the installation of bus shelters at appropriate bus stops within the parish. We now maintain a total of 29 shelters which are cleaned on a monthly basis, in addition to our 8 notice boards and 3 Information Boards.
You will see from our web page on Open Spaces that over the years the Parish Council has funded significant improvements to our parks, play areas and footpaths, as well as maintaining the skate park at Bromley Heath. Fingerpost signs have been installed and detailed Community Walks have been designed for residents of all ages and ability.
In September 2005, after a great deal of research by D&BH PC, the Parish Council facilitated the opening of the Downend Farmers Market which was an outstanding success. This continued until 2007 but unfortunately had to close due to dwindling sales.
Over the years, the Parish Council has contributed to various youth projects in the parish, including outreach work at Badminton Road Methodist Youth Centre and financially supporting the new pavilion at Pomphrey Hill which is used by many groups from the parish. Our most recent youth project we have supported has been the new Youth Hub at Christ Church. The Parish Council has also championed the achievements of various youngsters through our newsletters.
In 2007 the Parish Council was instrumental in setting up the Community Plan Steering Group. This group carried out a detailed consultation with residents and the Community Plan was published in May 2011. Since this time, much of the feedback raised by residents has been achieved and other matters are being addressed. Many issues have also been taken forward in the Parish Council’s Business Plan which was formally adopted by Council in August 2016. The Community Plan group was formally wound up in May 2018 but the document that was created is still available for residents to review and realise the outstanding work that was achieved as a result of this project.
2009 saw the Chairman and Vice Chairman attend one of Her Majesty’s Garden Parties at Buckingham Palace. This was a great honour for the Parish Council to be selected to represent all the town and parish councils of Avon Local Councils Association whose members come from Bath & North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.
The Downend Business Community (DBC) was set up in Spring 2010 as a result of D&BH PC working in partnership with South Gloucestershire Council to form a business partnership for the area. The DBC has now gone from strength to strength. For additional information, please visit their website, http://www.downendbusiness.org/.
Open Spaces – much has been achieved here especially with regard to facilitating and setting up Friends Groups. The Friends of Bromley Heath Playing Fields was established in 2005, with the Friends of Lincombe Barn Park & Wood and Britannia Wood being set up in 2008. This has been followed by the Friends of King George V in 2012 & Friends of Hill House Park in 2013. D&BH PC has been able to provide significant funding towards all the play equipment at King George V in addition to that in Leap Valley. Autumn 2013 saw parish councillors, with the help of local groups and residents, plant over 4000 spring bulbs at various locations throughout Downend & Bromley Heath as part of its ‘Blooming Downend’ project.
In 2009 the Parish Council launched its website which is our main point of contact and contains much information and links to other useful websites. 2012 saw Downend & Bromley Heath Parish Council come into the 21st century with a corporate email address for both parish councillors and the Clerk.
2013 saw the creation of a new committee for D&BH PC – Active Seniors. ‘Downend Connect’ was launched in September when a retired persons fair was held. As a result of this initial meeting, computer courses have been set up for the elderly and other activities are in the pipeline, all being financially supported by this Parish Council.
2014 saw the Parish Council enter into a “buy-back” contract with South Gloucestershire Council to take responsibility for some services – verge grass cutting, maintenance of shrub beds, provision and maintenance of floral displays on highways land and the provision, maintenance and emptying of dog bins. The Boy Scout War Memorial was also cleaned and research carried out on the names of those local scouts who died in the World War.
Jenny Jones’ achievement at the Sochi winter Olympics was recognised and a plaque was set into the pavement in Downend Centre to mark her winning a bronze medal.
The Parish Council was instrumental in facilitating the setting up of the Downend & Bromley Heath in Bloom Group. With the assistance of South Gloucestershire Council, the area in front of the toilets in Westerleigh Road was transformed into a Community Garden which is being maintained by this group.
We undertook a survey among young people to identify what facilities they would like to see in the Parish. This work is ongoing.
Two information boards were purchased, one for the Cleeve Wood area and the other for Downend High Street. Another at Quakers Road was installed during 2015.
2014 also saw the formation of the Friends of Hill House Park.
The Active Seniors working group set up a ‘Knit and Natter Group’ with some financial assistance from this Parish Council. In 2016 another group of the Active Seniors, ‘Downend Men in Sheds’, was created and they will be carrying out a range of woodwork projects, the group being based at the pavilion at Badminton Road Playing Fields.
Also in 2016, Downend & Bromley Heath Parish Council received a prestigious award as part of the Local Council Award Scheme (LCAS). This achievement recognises that the council achieves good practice in governance, community engagement and council improvement. Moreover, Downend & Bromley Heath Parish Council goes above and beyond their legal obligations, leading their communities and continuously seeking opportunities to improve and develop even further. The photograph below shows Dr Jonathan Owen, National Association of Local Councils (NALC) CEO congratulating Downend & Bromley Heath PC on achieving the Foundation Award.
On 20 December 2016, D&BH PC moved into an office within Downend Library. The Parish Clerk had worked from home prior to this and with all the extra responsibilities and transfer of services from South Gloucestershire Council, it was felt that the time was right to have a central location where members of the public could speak directly to the Council. The office is currently open to the public on Monday and Wednesday mornings, 9.30am-midday. The sports pitches and pavilions at King George V, Badminton Road and Bromley Heath Playing Fields came under the Parish Council’s control from 1 April 2017, so a central location will enable the user groups of the facilities to approach the Parish Council directly. An on-line booking system is up and running where the facilities can be booked 24/7.
In the spring of 2017 a tree in memory of Cllr Graeme Riley was planted in the area of open space by Britannia Wood. The Parish Council also organised a memorial plaque in Graeme’s honour.
From 2 July until 2 September 2018, 67 uniquely designed sculptures of Nick Park’s Academy Award®- winning characters Wallace, Gromit and Feathers McGraw hit the streets of Bristol and the surrounding area to raise money for Bristol Children’s Hospital. Downend & Bromley Heath Parish Council sponsored the sculpture ‘Champion’ by Mike Ogden, which was located in the heart of Downend village as part of Gromit Unleashed 2.
It is hoped that in 2018/19 the Parish Council will be able to move forward with ensuring new pavilions at our playing field sites.