The annual quest to discover the county’s outstanding business performers begins this month with the eagerly-awaited launch of the 2016 Monmouthshire Business Awards (MBAs).  This year’s event – hosted by TV personality Hywel James – takes place on Thursday, 12th May at Usk’s Glen-yr-Afon Hotel.

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 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.

The event, from 5pm to 7pm, is an opportunity for local businesses to network and to meet guests including senior members of Monmouthshire County Council, category sponsors and Welsh Government representatives.  Tickets to the launch are free but must be booked in advance by emailing info@monbizawards.co.uk

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

“The Monmouthshire Business Awards highlight the achievements of local businesses and give them the opportunity to demonstrate their successes,” she said.

“At least one category is applicable to every business in the county, and we hope that businesses large and small will take this chance to join us at the launch and enter 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 400 guests including Edwina Hart AM, Nick Ramsay AM, MP David Davies, High Sheriff of Gwent Andrew Tuggey and Peter Fox, Leader at Monmouthshire County Council with his deputy Bob Greenland and Chief Executive Paul Matthews.

This year’s Awards feature 13 categories: Company Demonstrating Sustained Growth; Excellence in Marketing; Innovation in Business; Young Entrepreneur; Socially Responsible Business; Hospitality, Travel and Tourism; Excellence in Technology Innovation; Excellence in E-commerce; Most Promising Start-Up; Community Life; Best Small Business; Apprentice of the Year and Company of the Year.

The MBAs are backed by title sponsor Monmouthshire County Council plus category sponsors including Hicks Logistics, Hello Starling, Welsh Government, Capital Law, Celtic Manor Resort, Monmouthshire Housing, Spectrum Internet, REID Lifting, Melin Homes, Y Prentis 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.  They include the new Community Life award – sponsored by Monmouthshire County Council – which is open to everyone in the Monmouthshire business community and potential winners can be nominated by members of the public, businesses or colleagues to recognise an individual or group that has gone above and beyond to contribute towards their community.”

Businesses wishing to attend the MBA 2016 launch event should email info@monbizawards.co.uk.  For details about how to enter the 2016 Monmouthshire Business Awards visit www.monbizawards.co.uk

Monmouthshire County Council has secured a prosecution of an Usk publican following investigation by environmental health officers.

Pleading guilty to three offences at a hearing on 22nd April, Mr. Stephen Musto of The Kings Head Hotel was fined a total of £3,970 including full costs at Newport Magistrates Court.  Offences included supplying food that was unsafe for consumption as well as failing to ensure food premises and equipment were kept clean to minimise any risk of contamination.

The presiding magistrate said the premises were the worst kitchen he’d encountered during his 10 years on the bench.  Legal action was taken after a routine food hygiene inspection in January noted poor cleanliness, poor structural conditions and out of date food, including meat emitting a foul odour.  An inspection five days later revealed further deterioration.  The premises were closed voluntarily but have since reopened with the council’s environmental health officers working with Mr Musto to improve standards.

Leader of Monmouthshire County Council, Councillor Peter Fox said: “The Environmental Health department will always work with food businesses to maintain standards and protect public health.  However, we will not hesitate to use our statutory powers when conditions are found to be poor and businesses have not responded to our advice.”

For further information contact 01291 635711.

Garden City Recreation Ground is to be protected forever by Monmouthshire County Council as a Centenary Field. Run by national charity Fields in Trust, in partnership with The Royal British Legion, Centenary Fields aims to protect war memorial playing fields, parks and green spaces in memory of those who lost their lives during World War I.

This national programme is a unique way to commemorate the centenary of World War I. It gives land owners such as Monmouthshire County Council the opportunity to dedicate space to remember the sacrifices of those who gave their lives during the conflict, but also to ensure that future generations have valuable green space to enjoy as a living legacy. Centenary Fields protected through the programme can be war memorial parks and playing fields given in memory of those who lost their lives, or other green spaces that have an existing or planned link to World War One such as Garden City Recreation Ground.
The Recreation Ground was laid out by the Admiralty ‘National Shipbuilding Company’ as part of the new village built for workers of the Government’s new shipyard at Chepstow in 1917 to provide ships for the First World War effort. The housing development and slipways for the ships were built by 6,000 Royal Engineers and some civilian work was undertaken by German prisoners of war.

Fields in Trust Cymru Chairman Ivor Morgan said:
“This programme is a fitting way for us to mark the sacrifices made by so many in World War I whilst looking to the future through a living remembrance. We are delighted that Monmouthshire County Council is embracing Centenary Fields, commemorating the centenary of World War I for the people of Chepstow in a way they can appreciate forever. We look forward to many more landowners following their lead.”

Phil Jones, Wales Area Manager for the Royal British Legion added:
“Through partnership with Fields in Trust we are ensuring that we are helping to preserve important memorials as part of the UKs Centenary commemorations. Community spaces, such as the one dedicated as a Centenary Field by Monmouthshire County Council, form a vital part of local heritage and play a key role in educating the next generation about the significance of Remembrance.”

Cllr John Prosser, Armed Forces Champion for Monmouthshire County Council commented:
“We are delighted to have this opportunity from Fields in Trust and The Royal British Legion to mark the centenary of World War I in this unique way. Protecting Garden City Recreation Ground and also Bailey Park in Abergavenny means that there is always somewhere to remember the sacrifices of World War I, but also to enjoy the fresh air and the surroundings”.

Children across Monmouthshire embraced celebrations for The Queen’s ninetieth birthday today with colourful parades, a special tea and a day to remember.  Twenty primary schools laid on an afternoon tea-themed lunch provided by the council’s school meals service while other activities marked the momentous day.

In Abergavenny, pupils in Cantref Primary started the day with a royal parade and wore beautiful handmade crowns while dressed in red, white and blue.  Later, a commemorative coin marking the regal occasion was presented to each pupil by Mayor of Abergavenny Cllr Maureen Powell.

Celebrations at Shirenewton Primary School included work on royal projects which were displayed in the local hall in readiness for the village celebrations. Pupils joined in the festivities by wearing party clothes for the day.

Monmouthshire County Council Leader Peter Fox said: “Monmouthshire County Council sends loyal greetings to Her Majesty on the occasion of her ninetieth birthday.  She has diligently devoted her life to the service of our country and has been held in high esteem by her subjects and members of the Commonwealth as well as being widely admired across the world.  For the vast majority of us she has been our sole monarch and has set unfailingly high standards. We wish her well and will raise our glasses to her good health.”

Monmouthshire councillors will meet with the county’s business community early next month to discover how the council can assist local enterprises and gain feedback on support they’ve received.

The councillors – members of the council’s Economy and Development Select Committee – will discuss the role of the council in supporting and advising business over an informal breakfast meeting. They will welcome suggestions and feedback at the event, which will be held between 8-9.30am at County Hall, Usk on Wednesday 4th May.

The Committee wishes to know what support has already been offered to local businesses and what challenges or obstacles they face as well as available opportunities.  In addition, members seek information on any benefits accrued by the council’s iCounty and broadband initiatives.

Committee Chair, Councillor Sara Jones said: “Following our initial call for a breakfast meeting it’s apparent our business community has an appetite to engage with us as part of a scrutiny exercise.  This will allow us to hear first-hand from those businesses we want to see grow and prosper in Monmouthshire.”

She continued; “Supporting business and job creation is a council priority, so we’re keen to promote economic growth in the county.  To do so, we need to engage and work with local businesses to help them realise their full potential”.

While all businesses that have expressed an interest will receive an invite to the breakfast event, the Committee welcomes other interested parties who would like to attend.  To register they should contact Councillor Sara Jones – SaraJones2@monmouthshire.gov.uk – by Monday 2nd May.

An imaginative and socially-useful project by four Caldicot School students has focussed on the importance of observing health and safety regulations around building sites.

The students – Emily Lewis, Sophie Lewis, Maisha Miah and Georgia Mountfield  – ran a competition open to pupils of primary schools who will pursue their secondary education in Caldicot this September and the year after.  Caldicot School is currently being rebuilt to 21st century school standards with the new structure erected alongside the present 1960’s building.

Even though the Caldicot site is securely contained by fencing, the four girls considered it vital that pupils from the area’s feeder primary schools were aware of safety issues – including the wearing of hard hats, suitable footwear and highly visible clothing as well as strictly following necessary rules and procedures.  Inviting local Year Five and Six pupils to design a poster warning of the dangers posed by building sites, Emily, Sophie, Maisha and Georgia were delighted by the standards attained.

The project was run in conjunction with the Welsh Baccalaureate curriculum the four follow as they approach higher education.  The course is skills-based and includes the production of a high standard project with benefits for the community.  Help and advice were provided by staff from Interserve, the contractors building the new school.

Winners were chosen from each of the participating primary schools with the main award presented by Caldicot School’s Chair of Governors, Peter Nurcombe, to Violet Stones of the town’s Castle Park Primary School.

Headteacher Susan Gwyer-Roberts said: “The Chair, governors and I are delighted with the learning programme that our four post-sixteen students have created and delivered to our primary pupils.  The quality of the posters from these young pupils is outstanding and we are very proud of their work.  This is an excellent example of a transition project that brings so many benefits to our community.  It will be very exciting for the winners to see the build develop from construction to opening in the next year!

Caldicot’s new school is scheduled to open in autumn 2017.

Monmouthshire County Council has established a form on its website to allow the armed forces community to publicise information about its events.  The form may be found at:

http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/armedforces and consists of an interactive calendar and easily accessible fields to place details.

The council signed up to a covenant with serving and former members of the armed forces working and residing in Monmouthshire in October 2012 and since then has worked to develop a bond.  A fruitful relationship has developed and both parties have taken a number of mutually-beneficial steps.  Among these are the creation of a large body of useful information on the council’s website and steps taken to support Afghan translators who had been employed by the British armed forces.

The county’s communities are also been beneficiaries.  One example is Monmouth’s skate park and BMX pumptrack established with the help of a £69,000 Tri-Service Armed Forces Community Covenant Grant scheme.

The council’s Armed Forces Champion, Councillor John Prosser said: “I’m sure that this website facility will be very useful for armed forces personnel and their families as well as the community generally.  A number of interesting events are planned – including an armed forces stakeholder day in Usk this September – and I hope that our events page will become an indispensable source of information.”

Organisations who excel in ensuring they are accessible to the one-in-six people in Wales who are deaf or hard of hearing are being encouraged to enter a prestigious awards.

The Action on Hearing Loss Cymru Excellence Wales awards recognise businesses and organisations who take steps so that the 575,500 people in Wales who are deaf or have hearing loss can use their services.

Action on Hearing Loss, formerly RNID, has been a charity supporting people who are deaf or have hearing loss since 1911, and launched the Excellence Wales awards last year in an effort to celebrate success and raise standards in the support organisations offer to staff and the everyday services available to people affected by the condition.

The charity’s statistics show that deafness and hearing loss is on the rise and that by 2035, one-fifth of people in Wales will be affected, often with devastating effects to their daily lives.

The 2016 Excellence Wales awards are open to all public services, private companies and voluntary organisations providing services in Wales. Entries will be judged by a panel of people who are deaf or have hearing loss, and awards presented to the country’s three outstanding organisations at a glittering gala dinner at Cardiff’s Marriott Hotel on May 20th 2016, presented by journalist Mariclare Carey-Jones alongside special celebrity guests.

A special award will also be presented to an organisation in Wales who is taking positive steps to improve and develop their services for people who are deaf or have hearing loss.  For the first time this year, a People’s Choice award will be voted for by the public and awarded to an organisation which provides outstanding assistance to people who are deaf or have hearing loss.

Richard Williams, the director of Action on Hearing Loss Cymru, said: “Deafness and hearing loss can make the lives of over half a million people across Wales a daily struggle.  It can be hard to comprehend just how difficult it can be to do simple things the rest of us take for granted.  Checking a balance or querying a bill with an organisation has the potential to lead to confusion, frustration and upset if the right access isn’t in place. The tragedy of this is that the solutions are often so simple, particularly now with the technology available to support good communication.  The good news is many companies are getting it right, and the benefits are there for both sides; three quarters of our members said they would be more likely to use a service if their staff were deaf aware.

“That’s why we’d urge all organisations who are taking steps to be more accessible by the 575,500 people in Wales who are deaf or hard of hearing to enter our Excellence Awards.  It’s vital to recognise those who are leading the way and the awards create the perfect platform for them to act as role models for others across Wales.”

In 2015 Bridgend County Borough Council was the main Excellence Wales award winner for their regular deaf awareness training for staff, their excellent engagement with local British Sign Language users and their proactive approach to ensure assistive technology such as hearing loops are in working order.

Fellow winners, the National Assembly for Wales, were praised for being an organisation that treats everyone as equals.  The National Assembly provides deaf awareness training for staff, British Sign Language training, loop systems for all official meetings, reasonable adjustments for staff who are deaf or have a hearing loss, weekly videos of BSL interpretation of First Minister’s Questions and flashing beacons for fire alarms.

Western Power Distribution were commended by judges for having a wide range of communication support and technology on offer for deaf and hard of hearing staff and customers, while a special award was also given to Taking Flight Theatre Company for their work in meeting the needs of deaf people.

Bridgend County Councillor Mel Nott OBE said: “We place great importance on the need for our services to be accessible to all people living in Bridgend County Borough. Council officers regularly engage with our deaf and hard of hearing customers and actively seek feedback from the local deaf clubs. As a result, deaf awareness has become a fundamental part of our customer service commitment and we fully support staff members who want to take this further, for example by learning BSL.”

At this year’s Gala and Excellence Awards, Action on Hearing Loss Cymru is working in partnership with Santander Universities. Sarah Thomas, University Relationship Branch Manager said: “We are thrilled and proud to be supporting Action on Hearing Loss Cymru at this year’s Gala event to raise vital funds to ensure the continued work of this great organisation. Working in a customer facing business we can appreciate the importance of effective communication for people with hearing loss, deafness and tinnitus.  We are looking forward to a fantastic evening.”

Further information and applications forms are available by emailing excellencewales@hearingloss.org.uk or calling 02920 333034 and tickets to the gala dinner can be booked by visiting www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/gala

Entries must be submitted by May 1, 2016. All winners will be announced at Action on Hearing Loss Cymru’s Gala Dinner on May 20, 2016, when the achievements of organisations around Wales will be recognised.

The council intends to make a new car parking order which will affect the whole of Monmouthshire’s car parks

please find details of the consultation Notice of Intention 2016

 

Representations or objections should be made in writing to Roger Hoggins, Head of Operations, PO BOX 106 Caldicot NP26 9AN or alternatively by email to carparking@monmouthshire.gov.uk no later than 22nd April.

If you wish to obtain further information about these proposals please telephone the Car Parking section on 01633 644702