Closes: 17:00 hrs. Wednesday 24th December 2014

NB Our four one stop shops will close at 15:00 hrs on Christmas Eve
Re-opens: 09:00 hrs. Tuesday 30th December 2014

Closes: 17:00 hrs. Wednesday 31st December 2014
Re-opens: 09:00 hrs. Friday 2nd January 2015

Residents of Monmouthshire County Council’s Severn View Care Home in Chepstow joined pupils from Caldicot’s Castle Park Primary School in a special remembrance service this week (Monday 23rd November).

Fifty 9 to 11 year olds entertained residents at the care home with: “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary”, “Pack up your Troubles” and “We’ll Meet Again”, all sung without accompaniment.  In addition the girls delivered a moving rendition of the Les Miserables hit “Bring him Home”.

Each pupil had a part to play explaining remembrance and the significance of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month as well as the importance of the poppy – one of the few plants that flourished in the muddy battlegrounds of Flanders.  Residents, staff and pupils observed a silence of two minutes while they concentrated their thoughts on those who had served in the British armed forces.

The service was the brainchild of Severn View’s Viv Stephenson whose granddaughter attends Castle Park Primary School.  She thought that the service would lend itself to the surrounds of Severn View and would be appreciated by residents.  Viv said: “It was a lovely opportunity to bring two different generations together.”

Castle Park Primary School’s deputy headteacher Jon Keohane added: “We would like to do more events like this in the future as they benefit both young and elderly.  We’re very grateful to Councillor Dave Evans, the Chair of Governors and current Mayor of Caldicot, and Monmouthshire’s Passenger Transport Unit for contributing towards the cost of bringing our boys and girls to Chepstow this morning.”

County Councillor Geoff Burrows, Monmouthshire County Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for social care, safeguarding and health commented: “Residents very much enjoyed the remembrance service and I’m so grateful to the young people of Caldicot’s Castle Park Primary for providing such a wonderful performance.”

Ask any community for their top three concerns and the list will often include dog fouling.  Conscious of this, Monmouthshire County Council has been working with a group of town and community councils as well as local police community support officers to encourage dog owners to clean up after their pets, and to enforce the law against those who do not.

Local campaign Give Dog Fouling the Red Card has installed dog mess bins and signs as well as providing free dog poo bags.  Pavement spray signs – temporary warnings using a template and chalk – have also been applied in areas where dog fouling is a particular problem.  This is backed by training provided to police community support officers who are able to issue fixed penalty notices for £75 to offenders caught allowing their dogs to foul in public areas.  County council environmental health officers will be targeting areas in the New Year in conjunction with town and community councils and the Give Dog Fouling the Red Card initiative.

Town and community councils involved in the scheme have reported a reduction in dog fouling.  Robert Stallard of Rogiet Community Council said: “This scheme is cutting the amount of dog fouling on our streets and footpaths.  We are asking residents to report irresponsible dog owners and support this initiative”.

The County Council is inviting more local councils to become partners in the scheme.  As well as a factor in improving the environment, a tangible benefit of this greater community participation is that it becomes more cost effective to purchase materials when expenditure can be reduced through bulk buying.

Monmouthshire County Council Leader Peter Fox added: “The community is frustrated by a minority who do not clean up after their dogs; we deplore this and there really is no excuse.  Our environmental health and waste teams have been working effectively with local councils to put in place local initiatives such as Give Dog Fouling the Red Card which has helped to raise awareness and achieved a notable measure of success.”

For further information contact Monmouthshire’s Education and Awareness Officer Sue Parkinson Tel : 01633 644525


Premises in the Monmouthshire villages of Llantilio Crossenny and Dingestow are beginning to receive the benefits of superfast broadband – thanks to Superfast Cymru.

Work will continue in these areas to bring superfast broadband to even more homes and businesses and the Superfast Cymru website includes a postcode checker so premises can find out when they are due to receive it.

The high-speed technology enables businesses to work faster and more efficiently, benefiting from faster upload and download speeds and reducing the need to travel, helping to create jobs and expand businesses.  At home, superfast broadband is not just about a faster internet experience or about doing one thing quicker.  It’s about everyone in the house being able to operate online simultaneously, whether streaming films, downloading music, studying or keeping in touch with loved ones.

Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Julie James said: “Superfast broadband has the ability to change the way we live our lives.  From accessing entertainment and communicating through social media to how businesses interact with customers and how we use public services.

“It’s great news that the first residents and businesses in Llantilio Crossenny and Dingestow are now able to receive it.  The Welsh Government is committed to seeing Wales become a truly digital nation and the Superfast Cymru programme is vital in making that vision a reality.  The programme also highlights the impact European funding is having on infrastructure in Wales.”

Superfast Cymru, a partnership between the Welsh Government, BT, the UK Government and the European Regional Development Fund is the largest of its kind in the UK.  Households and businesses in this area which want to take advantage of the benefits of fast fibre broadband should contact an internet service provider (ISP) of their choice to place an order.  Information about the roll-out is published on the Superfast Cymru website ( including a coverage map which provides details of roll-out plans looking approximately 12 months ahead.

Stone merchant Mandarin Slate Ltd trading as Mandarin Stone of Wonastow Industrial Estate, Monmouth was ordered to pay the maximum fine of £20,000 plus full costs of £2,860 after pleading guilty to an offence under Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.  The hearing took place on Friday 20th November at Newport Magistrates Court.

In February this year, an employee lost sight in an eye when a nail he was driving into a packing crate rebounded.  An accident investigation by the council’s specialist environmental health officers found that Mandarin Stone had failed to provide eye protection to its employees – a simple and effective control measure – as well as failing to assess the risks associated with packing crates of stone for onward distribution.

Improvement Notices were served following the investigation and the company has subsequently implemented a safe system of work for this activity, including the provision of protective eye wear.

Monmouthshire County Council Leader Peter Fox commented: “The environmental health commercial team remains committed to the protection of public and employee health and safety throughout the county’s many businesses, using a range of proactive and reactive interventions to secure compliance – namely advice, education and through proportionate enforcement action.”

 Monmouthshire County Council successfully launched its annual budget engagement meetings at Usk’s County Hall on Monday 16th November allowing the community an opportunity to discuss expenditure on next year’s services.  Councillors and staff were present to outline the serious funding challenges and shrinking public service budgets facing the council.

A further meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday 17th November at Monmouth’s Shire Hall, which will be preceded by community engagement in the town’s leisure centre.  Other public meetings will be held on Thursday, 19th November at Caldicot School (Grey Hill Hall), on Monday, 23rd November at King Henry VIII School and Thursday, 26th November at Chepstow’s community hub off Welsh Street.  Each meeting will run from 6.30 to 8pm.

A special Monmouthshire Voices Access for All meeting organised by the South East Wales Regional Equality Council to discuss the budget will take place on Monday, November 23rd at County Hall, Usk from 11am to 1pm.  To attend and find more information about the Access for All Forum contact Pennie Walker: or telephone 07949 040538.

In addition, live Twitter question and answer sessions for 18th and 24th November from 6 to 7pm will follow an online session held on 11th November.  These will allow anyone unable to attend meetings to provide feedback or post a question online.

Earlier this month, the council held town centre-based engagement sessions in Abergavenny, Caldicot, Chepstow and Monmouth so that residents, businesses and organisations could talk informally about the 2016/17 budget.  Many people commented and made positive contributions about the forthcoming financial challenges while welcoming the chance to talk to council officers on their doorsteps.

More community engagement sessions have been timetabled for Rogiet Community Café (9.30 am to 12.30pm on Wednesday 18th November), Caldicot Leisure Centre (3 to 5pm on Thursday 19th November), Magor Church coffee morning (9am to 12noon on Wednesday 25th November) and Chepstow Leisure Centre (3 to 5pm on Thursday 26th November).

Councillor Phil Murphy, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for finance said: “Our budget engagement programme has generated many valuable responses to our proposals and we warmly welcome community feedback.

“Our Monmouthshire Engages activity started last week, when we met with over 1,000 people in our towns, encouraging them to get involved in #MonmouthshireEngages.  So far 204 people have completed our online survey, we’ve already had 84 YouTube views of last night’s session in Usk (and this is increasing), 15 people attended in person and up to 103 people responded to our Twitter poll.  This is a really interesting test of the new Twitter poll functionality which went live last week.  We’re looking forward to meeting more members of public over the coming weeks.”

All the ideas formulated following the engagement sessions are available on the council’s website: and comments are welcomed on the council’s social media channels: Twitter@MonmouthshireCC and the council’s Facebook page

Contact Engagement Officer Rhian Cook on 01633 644364 or 07789 922586 or email for more information about the events.

A special walk in Caerphilly on Friday 20th November will raise awareness of the White Ribbon Campaign – the largest global effort to eradicate male violence against women.

Following the success of a similar event last year, the new Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Gwent Regional Team has organised the one-mile route starting at 4.30pm outside Caerphilly Castle.

Entitled Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, the event invites men, women and families to play a key part in raising awareness of the issue of domestic violence, and the need to tackle all cases of domestic abuse across the region.  Participants are encouraged to bring a torch or lantern to illuminate the route – and help shine a light against all forms of domestic abuse.

Councillor Phil Hobson, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for equalities said: “We are sending a loud and clear message that violence to women and girls is repugnant and there is no place for it in today’s civilised society.  We call upon everyone to make a stand and speak out about this”.

Participants are asked to arrive at 4:30pm for registration before the event starts at 5pm.  Log on to to register online.

Call 01633 233632 for further information on the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event.  For more information on the White Ribbon Campaign, log on to:

Monmouthshire County Council has agreed with town councils and chambers of trade to provide free parking in Abergavenny, Chepstow and Monmouth in the approach to Christmas.  This will be a welcome boost for the towns’ shops, help remind people of the county’s fantastic range of independent retailers and encourage shoppers to buy locally.

Free Saturday parking dates in the three towns will be on 5th, 12th and 19th December.

Councillor Phil Hobson, Monmouthshire County Council’s cabinet member for Community Development said: “Free parking over three Saturdays in the run-up to Christmas has been such a success over the past five years that it’s right to repeat it.  It costs the council around £19,000 in lost revenue each year but of course our towns benefit enormously from increased custom in shops and restaurants. And it reminds people what a brilliant range of outlets we have in our towns.”

Monmouthshire’s retail outlets include many long-established family businesses and a variety of local markets offering a wide selection of goods to residents and visitors.  In the approach to Christmas the council will host markets at the Market Hall in Abergavenny, the Cattle Market and Shire Hall in Monmouth and the Precinct at Caldicot.

The council has advertised the free parking dates in its car parks and has produced a poster which can be downloaded from the council’s website.

Monmouthshire County Council has released a video promoting its new primary schools meal menu and celebrating all that’s great about the food served to the county’s young students.

The video – –highlights how the new menu launched during National Schools Meals Week on November 2nd accentuates fresh ingredients and special dietary needs while meeting government nutritional guidelines.

It follows another video issued by the council on October 21st featuring a flash mob of Monmouthshire primary pupils:  The light-hearted approach with children performing a dance to the early sixties hit “Monster Mash” illustrates the benefits of nutritious and delicious food.

Councillor Phil Murphy, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for school meals said: “School meals are delicious, nutritious and fantastic value.  Parents leading busy lifestyles can be assured that today’s school meals are far from being convenience food – they’re genuinely good for your children’s health, education and well-being and it would be difficult to find a better deal elsewhere.”

A typical meal on the council’s autumn/winter menu will feature such traditional delights as shepherd’s pie, roast pork or an appetising casserole as well as modern dishes like barbecued chicken, pizza and meatballs.  For the less adventurous, jacket potatoes with various fillings and a salad bar will be available each day.  Vegetarian and special diets are also catered for and fresh fruit and yogurt will feature daily.

Information on the new menu is featured on the council’s website.  Residents can also log onto the council’s Facebook and Twitter pages to find out more.

Monmouthshire County Council is alerting parents and guardians of children due to start secondary education next September that the closing date to apply for school places is looming.

Children attending Year 6 at primary school will transfer to a secondary school in September 2016, and parents are urged to complete their applications before the 27th November closing date.  This will give them the best chance of ensuring that their child attends their preferred school.  Parents resident in Monmouthshire must apply to the council even if their preferred school lies outside the county’s borders (excluding schools in Newport where applications are to be made directly to the city council).

Parents may apply using the council’s online application system.  For more information, visit:

Alternately, parents may request an application pack by telephoning the council’s admissions team on 01633 644508 or emailing:

The completion of an application form expressing written preference for a school is a legal necessity set out in the School Admissions Code of Practice.  In addition, while each school within the county serves a specific catchment area, parents or guardians can not assume that their children will automatically gain entry.  Parents who submit application forms by the deadline on 27th November 2015 will be informed which school their child will attend no later than 1st March 2016.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for schools and learning, Councillor Liz Hacket Pain said: “It’s vital that parents apply for school places on time.  Applications which are not submitted by the deadline will be considered after those received on time.  That means parents who apply late are at greater risk of being allocated places for their child other than at their preferred school – even if they have other children already in the school.”

Contact the School and Student Access Unit on 01633 644508 or email for further information

Popular visitor destination Goytre Wharf is hosting Monmouthshire’s first stargazing event at 7pm on Friday 13th November, as part of a collaborative Dark Sky Discovery Sites project supported by Welsh Government’s Regional Tourism Engagement Fund.

This free event includes a spectacular tour of the night sky with the use of lasers to illustrate the moon, planets, constellations and other wonders of the solar system.  An introduction to telescopes and binoculars ensures an event that is accessible for all and a fantastic chance to stargaze and learn about the night sky.

If the sky is clear telescopes will be placed on the green in front of the early nineteenth century lime kilns but cloudy conditions will necessitate projecting the images onto one of the lime kilns or the ceiling of the cafe.  Either way, visitors will have the opportunity to view Monmouthshire’s stunning night sky in a fantastic location on the Monmouthshire & Brecon canal, well away from any light pollution.

Hot soup, chilli and rice, hot dogs, burgers and drinks will be available from the onsite café.  Visitors should ensure they bring warm clothing and a torch.

The event is one of two planned as part of Monmouthshire County Council’s participation in the collaborative Welsh Government-supported Dark Sky Discovery Site project.  This is the first event to trial the Dark Sky adventures ahead of the Wales Year of Adventure in 2016.  The second Monmouthshire event is planned for the end of January in the grounds of Abergavenny Castle.

The project, which is led by Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council, aims to develop a strong Dark Sky offer across the region to capitalize on the steady increase in the popularity of astronomy.  In addition to the two new stargazing events planned, the project includes the registration with Dark Sky Wales of five new Dark Sky Discovery Sites across Monmouthshire, all of which will feature on a new regional Dark Sky Discovery Sites trail.

Tourism chiefs hope that the project will provide a catalyst for the private sector to expand its offer and extend the season by developing and promoting astronomical short break packages and experiences, particularly in the shoulder and off-peak season when there are more opportunities to view the night sky.

See for further details.