IN THE first of a new monthly column, Cllr Matthew Riddle, leader of South Gloucestershire Council shares some of his September diary commitments.

Friday September 2, I met with the chairmain and chief fire officer of Avon Fire and Rescue at Patchway Fire Station. It was good to tour the station, meet staff and see how they are promoting fire prevention.

Saturday September 10, I visited two Discover Festival events – an exhibition by Severn Beach Local History Group to mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Severn Bridge and then on to an open day at Stoke Gifford Church. The Discover Festival presents a showcase of South Gloucestershire groups, events and places and continues into October

Monday September 12, I made a presentation to the Avon Local Councils Association, South Gloucestershire Group AGM on devolution. The government has confirmed that due to the size of the £900 million devolution deal, elections for a directly elected mayor will be held in May next year.  Once elected, the new mayor would work with the three council leaders in South Gloucestershire, Bristol and Bath & North East Somerset in the new West of England Combined Authority.

Friday September 16, I met up with Sue Turner, Chief Officer of the Quartet Community Foundation group who hold and distribute charitable funds to a range of local groups across the West of England. They will be launching their Vital Signs report that “takes the temperature” of social needs in communities across the West of England.  Annually they make over £2.5 million in grants across the West of England. If you have money to put into local charity work it is worth getting in touch with the foundation, who can manage the fund for you.

Saturday September 17, I attended the Yate International Festival. A great event with many different cultures taking part along with dancing, music, singing and other performances.

Wednesday September 21, I chaired a business breakfast at Falfield with local businesses and organisations. This event provided an opportunity to update people on the council’s strategic economic projects like devolution, the Joint Spatial Plan and the Joint Transport Study. These last two pieces of work will be out for further consultation soon. It was also good to hear from local business leaders on their current issues.

Friday September 23, I visited the Bristol Robotics Laboratory at the University of the West of England, to test drive the new Wildcat, an automated driverless vehicle that is driven by a computer and not the driver. There continues to be a lot of cutting edge projects like this happening here in South Gloucestershire.