'Secret talks' spark concerns over Filton's future

July 10 2015

Could Filton become a part of Bristol? This is the question on many residents' lips as reported “secret talks” are being had over the town's future.

Could Filton become a part of Bristol? This is the question on many residents' lips as reported “secret talks” are being had over the town's future.

Many locals have expressed their concerns over the rumours, saying that council tax and insurance could increase, and that they would not want to be governed by a mayor.

It was reported in the Bristol Post that talks are going on in government about expanding the city's boundary to encompass neighbouring areas, including Filton and Kingswood. 

This is because of new developments, north of Bristol, having an impact on the city, and therefore should be the responsibility of the city council.

The expansion could secure more funding for transport in Bristol, the Post reported.

Filton was previously part of Bristol until 1996, when it became under the authority of South Gloucestershire.

Local resident, Delia James, 87, says that she is not very pleased about the news, as she would lose access to the Four Towns and Vale Link Community Transport – a vital service which takes elderly residents out on shopping trips and regular excursions.

“If Filton becomes part of Bristol, it would be lost. It's because of this service that I can get out and about.

“Besides shopping trips, I get taken out once a month for tea, cake and entertainment – lots of people use it. But we'd lose all of that. I'm not very happy at all.

“I think elderly people are going to lose out more than anyone else – we'd be a damn sight worse off.”

Ms James added: “I don't see why we should be caught up in this. Speaking on behalf of the majority of Filton residents, we don't want to become part of Bristol, and I feel very strongly about it.

“Bristol City Council just wants to make money by taking our council tax. They're not thinking about anyone else, just themselves.”

Brian Smith, of Third Avenue, says that he does not want to be under the authority of BCC, and is urging Filton folk to oppose the potential plans.

Besides a possible hike in council tax, Mr Smith says that building, content and car insurance would also be “much higher” – around £200 more a year, he believes.   

Residing in the BS7 postal area of Filton, Mr Smith is already familiar with paying higher insurance rates than the rest of the town, which falls under the South Glos postcode, BS34.

Insurance prices are more expensive in BS7 because it was previously deemed a hot-spot for burglary claims.

“We don't want to become a part of Bristol, and I think South Glos should oppose these plans immediately – why should the rest of Filtonhave to pay more in insurance and tax?”

Four years ago, Mr Smith was part of a campaign, organised by former councillor Bill Moore, to get roads listed as BS7 – a Bristol postcode – moved to BS34.

“We didn't get a say over who's elected in as the mayor of Bristol, so why should we have the BS7 postcode?”

According to Mr Smith, of the 1,700 Filton residents with a BS7 postcode surveyed, 90 percent of them wanted to be listed as BS34.

However, a request to Royal Mail to change the code was rejected due it being too expensive, says Mr Smith.

Leader of South Glos Council, councillor Matthew Riddle, told the Filton Voice that the authority's boundaries are “sacrosanct”.

“In South Glos we've always recognised the importance of working at a strategic level with our neighbouring authorities and the local business community, and believe this can deliver real benefits for local people.

"We are committed to preserving the strong working relationship we have with our neighbouring authorities and are engaging with them to push forward discussions around devolution. However we are very clear that the boundaries to the authority area of South Gloucestershire are sacrosanct.

"We firmly believe that the partnership model we've developed in the West of England LEP and its associated bodies is the right foundation for moving forward and are unconvinced of any need for wholescale reorganisation with all its associated costs, which we view as an unnecessary distraction."

Residents' views: 

Roger Taylor, from Clyde Road, said: “I wouldn’t be very happy at all. I’m not from Bristol, I’m from South Glos. I’m really happy with how South Glos runs and manages funds. None of the things Bristol do, I’m happy about, like their recycling is quite hit and miss.”

Keen Baker-Dias, from Filton, said: “We should be part of Bristol. We pay lots of council tax, but we get left out.

“Transport links are not good – it’s really difficult for me to get to work. And the shops [along Gloucester Road North] have all closed down – there’s been no help or recognition.

“Although people might not want to become part of Bristol, we don’t have any choice.”

Facebook responses:

Fran Read said: “No no no no no - absolutely NOT! South Glos may not be everyone's friend but ultimately preferable to being run by Bristol City Council!”

Elizabeth Jane Clark said: “Really would not bother me. Have lived in both and to be honest there are good and bad to both.”

Helen Whitby said: “I moved to get out of Bristol!”

Samuel Foote said: “I would like to be part of Bristol, I grew up in Horfield as part of Bristol and it just feels weird that Filton isn't part of it as it blends seamlessly into it. Then again although in Filton, Bristol is only about 100 yards from my house.”

Ruth Alder said: “Hands of Filton!! I would hate to be part of Bristol, the council tax would go up & South Glos Council do things better anyway.”

Melanie Drewitt said: “If it means street lights staying on then I could possibly be converted! The powers that be at South Glos did vote after all to sell off our much needed historic Airfield and cause future traffic chaosm, so could it be any worse?”

Amy Atkinson said: “I just want someone to put their foot down and stop building more flipping houses everywhere!”

Emily Cassons said: “Want to stay South Glos. Not part of Bristol. Bristol just wants the business rates from the Mall and Aztec greedy monkeys.”

Fiona Cantillon said: “No I do not want to be part of Bristol. We chose South Glos as we do not pay the high premiums on house and car insurances. We also have more support for families in the way of play on prescription etc...”