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

Monmouthshire County Council working in partnership with local equalities organisation Monmouthshire Voices held the third Access For All forum in County Hall, Usk last Wednesday (20th May) for people living with disabilities.  Over 80 people attended to discuss health and well-being, including mental health.

Officers from the council’s Mental Health and Learning Disability Team attended as well as a representative from Aneurin Bevan Health Board. Council Leader Peter Fox was present and the forum was chaired by Councillor Phil Hobson, Deputy Leader and Equalities Champion.

A lively session discussed diagnosis for adults with ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), mental health support for stroke victims, provision for Alzheimer’s sufferers, transport to and from hospital, waiting lists and supported hours.

Pennie Walker runs the Monmouthshire Voices project which aims to enable people with disabilities to have their say in the development and delivery of local services.  She commented: “I am so pleased that so many people attended this forum and it is proving to be very popular.  Health is a vast subject and I appreciate the representatives that gave their time to address people’s issues.  It is wonderful that the council is so supportive and actively engaging with the disabled community and its support is very much appreciated.  I am particularly pleased that many people feel their voices are being heard and that they are contributing their views towards the services they receive.”

The forum was streamed live on MCC’s YouTube Channel and can be viewed by logging onto https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJ8DMSZYcGY – this facility enables those unable to attend to engage.

Monmouthshire County Council is proud to launch its first sport awards celebration which will recognise the outstanding talent and passion that people, teams, schools and clubs from across the county invest in sport.

Sport is thriving in the county and the council is asking residents to help pay tribute to people who help make this success possible.  The awards feature eleven categories and include Coach of the Year, Lifetime Achievement Award, Team of the Year and the Monmouthshire Unsung Hero.

A panel of judges will cast their eyes over the nominations, with the winners announced at an awards evening at Chepstow Leisure Centre.

Councillor Bob Greenland, cabinet member for Enterprise and Leisure, said: “This year’s sport awards are a first for Monmouthshire and what a brilliant opportunity this is to recognise the dedication and hard work that takes place in sport at all levels – from grass-roots to the elite.

“We have some very talented and committed sportspeople who deserve a spot in the limelight.”

Ian Saunders, Head of Tourism, Leisure and Culture is urging everyone involved in sport in any capacity across Monmouthshire to nominate a person, team, club or school deserving of an award.  He commented: “There’s a huge amount of people across our communities who give their time each week, whether coaching or volunteering to help provide the fantastic sports opportunities on offer throughout the county – we need to say thank you.”

Nominations for the scheme open on Friday 29th May and these can be made by visiting www.monmouthshiresportawards.co.uk.  The awards ceremony will take place on Saturday 12th September.  Nominations close on Friday 31st July.

For up to date information visit the website, Facebook or follow on Twitter.

Monmouthshire County Council is seeking the views of local residents over plans to develop a site at Rockfield Farm, Undy.  The site comprising open fields is located between the village of Undy and the M4 motorway to the north and has been allocated for residential and employment use in the council’s adopted local development plan.

The site is expected to provide 270 houses together with approximately five acres of employment land, as well as amenity open space and enhanced financial contribution for the area’s community facilities.  The development site will need to safeguard a route for a potential Magor/Undy by-pass and allow for the possibility of an M4 relief road.

The council is at the early stage of preparation of a master plan to guide development of the site to cover matters such as access, design layout and pedestrian/cycle/vehicle routes including sustainable transport links, open space, green infrastructure and facilities for the wider community.

Public engagement events are taking place at the following venues:

  • Monday 8th June: Undy Church Hall, Church Road, Undy  5pm – 7pm
  • Saturday 13th June: Undy Athletic FC, The Causeway, Magor  10am – 12.30pm
  • Tuesday 16th June: Magor Baptist Chapel, The Square, Magor  5pm – 7pm
  • Friday 19th June: Magor Baptist Chapel, The Square, Magor  5pm – 7pm

Further information and opportunity to feedback can be obtained online – http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/rockfield-farm-development-site – or at Magor Baptist Chapel, Magor Post Office, Undy Primary School (in Pennyfarthing Lane) and Magor Primary School (in Sycamore Terrace).

The closing date for all feedback responses is 12noon on Monday 29th June.

With less than a month to go until the inaugural Velothon Wales comes to Abergavenny and its surrounding towns and villages on Sunday 14th June, organisers have announced details and timings of road closures along the route.

Velothon Wales is set to become one of the biggest dates in the Welsh sporting calendar, giving riders the chance to experience a safe but thrilling cycling experience on traffic-free roads past some of South Wales’ most iconic landmarks.

Up to 15,000 recreational cyclists and charity fundraisers from all over the UK and Europe are riding the very same course as a number of professional cycling teams taking part in the UCI sanctioned professional race that takes place later that day.

The amateur event offers riders the choice of taking on either a 140km or 50km route, whilst the pros will tackle a 194km route with added loops of The Tumble and Caerphilly Mountain.

In order for Velothon Wales to operate safely all roads that the route follows will be closed to traffic. The organisers are working closely with all local authorities to ensure that the event causes minimal disruption to local communities, with affected roads to be closed and re-opened section-by-section to ensure the overall duration of the closure is kept to an absolute minimum.

More detailed road closure information, including timings, is available on the Velothon Wales website

Velothon Wales’ Event Director Andrew Taylor said: “With just one month to go, the excitement is truly building now. The breath-taking landscape provides the perfect backdrop to this closed-road event and, with Velothon Wales being televised globally; it should be a fantastic opportunity for the region to showcase its iconic landmarks and stunning scenery.

“The big attraction of the Velothon is that it is a closed road event and this is what is bringing so many cyclists and other visitors to Velothon Wales. We are encouraging all local residents to come out and show their support for the thousands of cyclists who are taking on this challenging event. The interactive map on the event website provides residents with the perfect tool to familiarise themselves with the route and choose the ideal spot to cheer the riders on from.”

Head of Tourism Leisure & Culture for Monmouthshire County Council Ian Saunders said: Monmouthshire is excited to welcome 15,000 recreational cyclists and charity fundraisers from all over Europe to our beautiful County. This Velothon Wales sportive is a fantastic opportunity to showcase what Monmouthshire has to offer in terms of breath-taking scenery, exciting terrain and steep mountain climbs. Monmouthshire sees cycling as a priority sport and building on the success of the Tour of Britain and British Cycling National Road Race Championships from previous years. We have seen growth in all our club numbers and there has been a noticeable increase in cycling activity across our countryside. Major events such as this promote the sport and highlight the county to many new people across the UK and we are thrilled to be partnering such an event.

It is however important that residents do take the time to look at the information provided to try and reduce the impact of disruptions. We urge anyone who has any major concerns or worries regarding the road closures to contact the race organiser as soon as possible. We would love our residents to give all participants a very warm welcome to Monmouthshire so please show your support for the event and riders.

The 140km Route

Starting in Cardiff city centre, Velothon Wales will take riders out of the capital via the Docks and along a 7.5km stretch along the coast road through the Gwent Levels.

Passing through the villages of Peterstone and St Brides, cyclists will then reach Newport, taking in stunning views over the River Severn where they will witness city centre highlights such as the Transporter Bridge and Newport City Footbridge.

Leaving the city centre via Langstone towards Caerleon, cyclists will then pass the old steelworks and climb 1.6km to enjoy spectacular views of the Celtic Manor and surrounding area.

The route continues as a descent down Belmont Hill and then through the picturesque villages of Caerleon and Usk, up to Abergavenny through Little Mill before heading up to Llanfoist for the The Tumble climb, a famously challenging 6km stretch of road with an average gradient of 9%.

After tackling The Tumble, riders will then begin their journey back towards Cardiff, through the Unesco World Heritage Site at Blaenavon, then to Pontypool, Ystrad Mynach, Hengoed and on to Caerphilly – past the castle – before finishing in front of thousands of spectators in Cardiff city centre.

The 50km Route

Like the 140km route, riders will leave Cardiff to the east but, at Newport, will head west to Caerphilly on the A467 and A468 before tackling Caerphilly Mountain and heading back to Cardiff city centre.

The interactive route map can be found at velothon-wales.co.uk to help those planning to tackle the ride.

There are still a limited number of places available for both routes via the event’s official charity partners, including Gold Charity Partners Save the Children and Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research. To see the full list of places available, please click here.

  • Website – www.velothon-wales.co.uk
  • Facebook.com/VelothonWales
  • Twitter.com/VelothonWales
  • Instagram – search VelothonWales

 

Current works to Chepstow’s old Wye Bridge comprise essential repairs and maintenance painting to maintain its durability and service. They are due to be completed in September.

 The bridge is presently open to pedestrians at all times but the contractor will provide marshals to escort them through the site during working hours. This measure came into effect on Tuesday 19th May and will continue for the duration of the works while needed.  Please note that there may be delays while site activities are in operation before pedestrians are allowed through, especially when overhead scaffold beams are erected or dismantled.

 

Monmouthshire County Council’s focus on improving services and outcomes for its people and communities will continue despite smaller budgets and increasing demand. This is the clear message in ‘Building Sustainable and Resilient Communities’, the council’s Improvement Plan for 2015-17.

 Over the past year the council has seen improvements in nearly 80% of the measures used by Welsh Government to show how local authorities perform.  These include better results at all stages of education, reductions in the numbers of people who require costly long term social care and a reduction in the time taken to clear fly-tipping.

To continue these improvements the council recognises that it must find new ways of doing things.  After listening to the views of residents throughout the autumn and winter it has prioritised maintaining locally accessible services alongside the longstanding priorities of education and protecting the most vulnerable as well as support for enterprise and job creation.

The Improvement Plan describes some of the activities that will contribute to these priorities including:

  • Building two new secondary schools and a new primary school
  • Developing ways to support vulnerable people through social networks to reduce the number of people placed in outdated social care placements
  • Supporting new and existing businesses to protect and create employment through an extensive support package
  • Establishing five community hubs which will bring together libraries and one stop shops to reduce expenditure on property and make these services financially sustainable

Commenting after councillors agreed the plan, Council Leader Peter Fox said: “The Improvement Plan describes our vision and ambition for public services in Monmouthshire.  We expect every service to be efficient and cost effective so that we can put resources into our priorities including maintaining locally accessible services.  As we strive to do more with less there will be changes and these will be shaped by engagement with local communities.  It is the commitment and ideas of people in our communities that gives Monmouthshire the opportunity to find a different path to excellent local public services.”

Residents can comment and download a copy of the plan on the council’s website at www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/improvement .

They can also join the discussion on Twitter @monmouthshireCC

Usk councillor Brian Strong will serve as Chairman of Monmouthshire County Council for the term 2015/16.  His appointment was agreed at the council’s annual meeting on Tuesday, 12th May and he replaces Abergavenny councillor John Prosser.

 Brian was selected as the Conservative candidate at the 2008 county council elections and won the Usk ward with a large majority.  He was returned unopposed in 2012.  He has served as a town councillor since 1997 and was mayor of Usk in 2002.

 Brian has served on the council’s Planning, Licensing, and Audit Committees for six years as well as the Economy & Development and Adult Select Committees.  He also chaired the Central Monmouthshire Area Committee for two years.

 Brian was born in Caerleon, educated at Monmouth School and worked in engineering until retirement in 1999.  Brian is a keen sportsman and played cricket for Newport Athletic Club before joining Usk Cricket Club in the early 1960’s.  It was through cricket that he met Mary who he married in 1968.  They have two children, Tim and Sally, who live in Usk with their families.

 Brian’s candidature was proposed by council leader Peter Fox and seconded by Councillor Phil Murphy.  Councillor Murphy commented: “Brian Strong brings a quiet confidence to the council.  I have no hesitation in recommending him.”

 Brian’s chosen charities during his term of office are the Air Ambulance and Noah’s Ark children’s charity.

 Long standing councillor and former leader of the Labour group Jim Higginson was elected as Vice Chairman of the council.

 

Tintern’s Old Station visitor centre has been acknowledged for its commitment to customer service after being awarded WorldHost Recognised Business status.

 WorldHost is a first-class customer service training programme that has already been used to instruct 150,000 people in the UK, including tens of thousands of staff and volunteers at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

 WorldHost Recognised Business status is awarded to businesses that have trained 50% or more of their front line staff using any of the WorldHost training programmes and signed a commitment to delivering excellent customer service.  With over 80% of its staff trained to WorldHost standards The Old Station has officially become a WorldHost Recognised Business.

 Receiving the recognition, site manager John Sterry commented: “We are passionate about service standards and are incredibly proud to have achieved WorldHost Recognised Business status.  When our customers see the WorldHost logo, they’ll know that we have made a commitment to delivering an exceptional experience.  Not only does this generate a positive buzz about the service we offer, but it helps to promote the Wye Valley as a friendly and welcoming tourist destination.”

 County councillor Giles Howard, Monmouthshire County Council’s cabinet member for countryside services added: “This is yet another richly deserved award for The Old Station – a wonderful visitor centre in a truly beautiful setting that attracts people from a wide area.  I’m very pleased to see that its commitment to customer service has been recognised.”

 The WorldHost programme is promoted across the UK by the People 1st Training Company to help businesses gain a competitive edge and position the nation as a world-class tourist destination.

 The WorldHost Recognition Certificate is valid for two years and is renewable on completion of a refresher course.  To preserve the value of WorldHost Recognition, the programme may be monitored through impromptu mystery shopper visits.

 More information about WorldHost training can be found at www.worldhost.co.uk – for details about what Tintern’s Old Station offers contact site manager John Sterry on 01291 689566.

 

The annual quest to find the region’s “best and brightest” businesses begins this month with the eagerly-awaited launch of the 2015 Monmouthshire Business Awards (MBAs).

Dubbed the ‘Oscars’ of the Welsh business community, the MBAs are supported by Monmouthshire County Council and celebrate local business excellence across all industries.

Unlike similar schemes, the MBAs are free to enter and are open to businesses of all sizes that can demonstrate “innovation, talent and enterprise”.

Previous winners have included a mix of start-ups and sole traders, in addition to some of the county’s largest and most influential organisations.

This year’s launch event – hosted by former ITV Wales broadcaster Hywel James – takes place on Thursday, 14th May at the St Pierre Country Club in Chepstow.

The event, from 6pm-7.30pm, is an opportunity for local businesses to network and to meet guests including senior members of Monmouthshire County Council, category sponsors and representatives from Welsh Government.

Tickets to the launch are free but must be booked in advance by emailing info@monbizawards.co.uk

Awards founder Janet Harris yesterday urged local businesses – especially those new to the Awards – to claim their place at the launch event.

“The Monmouthshire Business Awards are about giving local businesses the chance to shout about what they do – and to receive recognition for their efforts,” she said.

“There is at least one category applicable to every business in the county, and we hope that businesses large and small will grasp this opportunity by joining us at the launch and by entering this year’s Awards.”

Since their launch in 2012, the MBAs have attracted nearly 1,000 entries producing nearly 200 finalists and 50 winners.

More than 1,000 people, including a range of celebrities, have celebrated their achievements at the glittering awards ceremonies, which are fast becoming a highlight of Monmouthshire’s social calendar.

Last year’s dinner attracted 210 guests including Edwina Hart, Minister for Economy, Science & Transport, Welsh Government, Simon Gibson OBE, Chief Executive of Wesley Clover Corporation, Bob Greenland, Deputy Leader at Monmouthshire County Council, Peter Fox, Leader at Monmouthshire County Council, and Celtic Manor Resort CEO Dylan Matthews.

Martin Lewis, whose Usk-based heating start-up company Homeglow Products won ‘Most Promising Start-Up’ last year, said the accolade has helped “bring public attention” to his business.

He said: “Winning an MBA has helped Homeglow to grow with confidence on a regional and national scale, and we are using our success in our advertising and business cards as well as on our new website.

“The MBAs continue to be a big success in raising the importance of local businesses and their contribution to the prosperity of the county and its environs. I would urge everyone to enter.”

This year’s Awards feature 11 categories: Company Demonstrating Sustained Growth; Excellence in Marketing; Innovation in Business; Young Entrepreneur; Best Green Business; Hospitality, Travel and Tourism; Excellence in Technology Innovation; Excellence in Retailing; Responsible Business; Most Promising Start-Up, and Judges’ Choice Award.

For the first time, the Excellence in Retailing award will be open to online retailers, reflecting the growing importance of E-commerce in Monmouthshire.

The MBAs are backed by title sponsor Monmouthshire County Council plus category sponsors including Hicks Logistics, Celtic Manor Resort, Monmouthshire Housing, Spectrum Internet, REID Lifting, Interserve, Acorn and Coleg Gwent.

Paul Matthews, Chief Executive of Monmouthshire County Council, said: “The Monmouthshire Business Awards represent an attractive opportunity for businesses in the county to showcase their success.

“These awards are an invaluable chance for people to raise the profile of their organisation, to attract new customers, and to enhance their reputations.”

Businesses wishing to attend the MBA 2015 launch event should email info@monbizawards.co.uk. For details about how to enter the 2015 Monmouthshire Business Awards 2015, visit www.monbizawards.co.uk

ENDS

Monmouthshire County Council has introduced extensive changes to its recycling and waste collection service schedules this week and has notified residents by post as well as employing an extensive social media campaign.

Councillor Bryan Jones, cabinet member for Operations commented: “The changes to the recycling and waste collection service will improve the service for many households by providing a recycling, garden/food and waste collection service on one day rather than on two or three days which some households presently encounter.  Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to do this for all properties and a small number of households continue to have collections on different days but this number has been vastly reduced.  We are also asking households to provide their own waste sacks rather than receiving grey sacks from the council, albeit we continue to limit the collection to two bags per fortnight.  We acknowledge that the changes will cause some disruption but overall the changes improve the collection service for many and reduce service costs by over £300,000.”

For further information, log on to www.monmouthshire.gov.uk or contact the council’s one stop shops in Abergavenny, Caldicot, Chepstow and Monmouth.