Monmouthshire County Council has a new online service called E Billing, to help residents and businesses manage their council tax accounts better. The service enables bill payers to receive bills via email, by simply registering for E billing. Customers can access their accounts online 24 hours a day via their laptops, phones or tablets.

The online service also enables customers to view their accounts, set up a direct debit, apply for a single person discount and notify us of any changes in circumstances. The service can be found via the Council website:  http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/home/counciltaxandbenefits residents are asked to have their account number and online key ready to input.

E Billing is just one of the many methods, including the My Monmouthshire App that Monmouthshire County Council has introduced to encourage residents to be more in control of their accounts and services and increase the ability to communicate quickly and easily with the council.

Cabinet Member for Resources Cllr Phil Murphy said:

‘We hope that many people will sign up and will be happy to receive their bills via their lap top or phone instead of by post. The reduction of paper sent out by the local authority will help the environment and reduce the cost of printed information being sent out to residents. It provides bill payers with the ability to choose how they would like to receive information, digital communication is now an everyday occurrence and we strive to listen and act on what our residents tell us and how they would like to communicate.’

 

 

Caldicot Community Hub will host a ceremony on Holocaust Memorial Day – Friday 27th January – when those attending will pause and reflect on the suffering of people under Nazi persecution and subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur and Bosnia.  Starting at 7pm, the evening will open with a bilingual welcome from Monmouthshire County Council’s Equalities and Welsh Language Officer Alan Burkitt.

The theme of the 2017 Holocaust Memorial Day is “How can life go on?” when communities are asked to contemplate the aftermath of genocide and their responsibilities in the wake of such a crime.

A short film “Learning from the Past” by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust will also feature, followed by survivors’ stories read by library information officer Sarah Davies and a member of the Friends of the Library Service.  The evening will be drawn to a close at 8pm by Pastor David Miller.

County Councillor Phil Hobson, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for equalities said: “Holocaust Memorial Day is about promoting equality, respect and understanding and is a time for us to reflect, to remember the victims of persecution and murder and to learn from the past to build a better future.”

Caldicot’s community hub is based in the town on Woodstock Way, NP26 5DB.  Refreshments will be available at the event.

 

The world’s biggest girl group, Little Mix, will return to Wales this summer to headline an outdoor show at Caldicot Castle as part of the group’s series of Summer Shout Out shows.

 The band, made up of former X-Factor contestants Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Jade Thirlwall, will take the stage within the castle’s picturesque country park on Thursday 13th July.

 Pop acts like Little Mix don’t come along that often.  Growing better and bolder with each new album, they understand the brilliance of pop music and how it relates to their passionate and loyal fan base.

 2016 was an incredible year for the band with another massive No.1 single ‘Shout Out To My Ex’, and their album ‘Glory Days’, shooting straight to No.1 on the Official Albums Chart.  The record has spent a total of four weeks in the peak position and is the quickest selling album in the UK charts by a girl group since Destiny’s Child’s Survivor in 2001.  It is also the longest-reigning girl group No.1 album of the millennium.

 This summer, Little Mix will perform their signature hits, including ‘Shout Out to My Ex’, ‘Move’ and ‘Touch’ alongside tracks from their new album ‘Glory Days’ in the castle’s beautiful surroundings.

 Special guests are to be announced.

 Tickets at £38.50 each, including fees, are available from 9am on Thursday, January 19th at Monmouthshire’s leisure centres, online at www.caldicotcastle.co.uk or from the box office on 029 2022 4488.  Golden Circle pit tickets are also available at £60.50 each, including fees, from online or the box office.

 Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for innovation, enterprise and leisure, said: “I am absolutely thrilled that we will stage another brilliant concert with world-class artists in the beautiful country park of Caldicot Castle this summer.  We look forward to welcoming thousands of visitors, as well as residents, of all ages to Monmouthshire again.”

 Dan Davies, who has responsibility for Monmouthshire’s events, added: “This is hugely exciting and we look forward to putting on a brilliant concert.  We have incredible venues in the county to show off.”

 Full event information is available at www.caldicotcastle.co.uk.

 

Monmouthshire County Council offers an 80% business rates rebate to village halls and charities with premises in the county, but understands that despite this aid some of these vital community organisations still face financial pressures.

Councillor Phil Murphy, Cabinet Member for Finance commented: “Extending business rates relief to 100% would add a further notable cost to our budget – money that would have to be disinvested elsewhere.  The council is therefore asking village hall and charity managements to submit evidence of hardship so that we might give further consideration on how best to protect our valued community assets.”

Village hall and charity management bodies should contact: counciltax@monmouthshire.gov.uk for further advice.

Councillor Murphy added: “We are keen that village halls and local charities remain sustainable as the maintenance of locally accessible services is one of the council’s main four priorities.”

Monmouthshire’s Cabinet agreed new outline business plans yesterday not only to provide the promised replacement swimming pool but also to completely restyle facilities at Monmouth Leisure Centre.

As a result of the latest plans for the new comprehensive school at Monmouth which is under construction, proposals are to incorporate the sports hall into the footprint of the new school, while providing a new 25 metre pool in the former sports hall within the leisure centre.  This new configuration will give better access to the sports hall for the school during the day while at the same time releasing more areas of the leisure centre for use by the public.  In the evenings the sports hall will be available for public use.  Introducing new facilities such as soft play and more fitness stations will increase the attraction to more members of the public while the addition of a toning suite and spa will help finance this new approach to active leisure services.

Deputy Leader of the Council, Bob Greenland commented: “Active leisure pursuits have changed over recent years and we want to keep attracting individuals and families into the leisure centre.  Facing the prospects of increases in child obesity it is important that children find fun in using the leisure centre through soft play and other exciting activities.

“The cost pressures on the provision of a new school mean we can no longer expect the new pool to be funded as part of that project but I am very pleased that we can consider these new proposals which can be partly funded by better use of the leisure centre and through new facilities such as a toning suite and spa.  Having agreed the proposals we can move towards the final business case which will give us cost certainty of the project.  Once we have more clarity on what can be provided, we will be undertaking further consultation with existing users and other interested parties.  This is an exciting opportunity for residents in and around Monmouth.  A new £47m school plus a new £6.6m leisure complex is a huge commitment from this council and is a lasting investment for future generations.  As a package of measures this represents the most significant public service investment in the town in recent history and shows what can be achieved when we back our priorities to invest in education, promote enterprise and strengthen and sustain frontline local services.”

Local businessman David Blair who runs the No Eighteen sandwich shop in Church Street commented: “As a resident of Monmouth and the parent of a child in a local school, I very much support the rebuilding of the town’s swimming pool.  The pool has been much missed by the community and plans to develop this and also enhance the leisure provision would be a very positive step forward for the community.”

Finance Wales, set up by the Welsh Government in 2001 to enable small and medium-sized businesses to realise their potential for innovation and growth, is holding a ‘Grow your Business’ drop-in surgery in Monmouth on Tuesday 31st January.  It invites local businesses to sign up for 20 minute one-to-one sessions.

These will be delivered by locally-based investment executive Alyson Macnamara.  Alyson is dedicated to ensuring that businesses secure the funding necessary to grow and to unlock additional capital by working with banks or other advisers.

Finance Wales makes commercial investments in small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) and can help those starting a business, at an early stage or seeking expansion.

Alyson Macnamara commented: “I joined Finance Wales last January and since then I’ve been impressed by the depth and ingenuity of businesses based in Monmouthshire and across south east Wales.  There’s a great business community here, supported by local chambers and county council who are great partners to work with.  I’m looking forward to meeting new businesses to see how we can support them with their ambitions this year.”

James Woodcock of Monmouthshire Business & Enterprise, the business support arm of Monmouthshire County Council, and representatives of Business Wales will be also be present to offer additional advice and support.

Councillor Bob Greenland, Deputy Leader of Monmouthshire County Council, noted: “This is a great opportunity for local businesses to access the finance and support available from Finance Wales, Monmouthshire Business & Enterprise and Business Wales.”

The event takes place between 9.30am and 5pm on 31st January 2017 at Singleton Court Business Park, Wonastow Road , Monmouth, NP25 5JA.

Businesses can book a 20 minute session by contacting Alyson via email: alyson.macnamara@financewales.co.uk or by calling 029 2033 8173.

Further information is available at:

http://www.financewales.co.uk/news-and-features/events/grow-your-business.aspx

Abergavenny Museum is hosting Coal Tree Salt Sea, an exhibition by Monmouthshire artist Sarah Rhys, from January 18th to March 1st.

The project started as an Arts Council Wales funded research and development artist residency in partnership with the Josef Herman Art Foundation Cymru – as well as a significant body of Sarah’s own work, the exhibition includes works by Josef Herman.  The accompanying book, Coal Tree Salt Sea documents and expands on the project that took Sarah to Poland and the Czech Republic. It features rich images with contributions and poems from other authors.

Sarah Rhys is an inter-disciplinary artist.  She is interested in memory and place and uses a range of media from sculptural installations, projections, drawing, photography and artists’ books.  She originally studied architectural glass in Swansea before moving to Bath Spa University and more recently studying multi-disciplinary print making at the University of the West of England.

Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for museums said: “I’m pleased that we’re able to feature such a gifted artist’s intriguing work and bring it to the attention of the county’s communities as well as the many visitors who enjoy our museums’ varied and interesting exhibitions.”

Visit Sarah’s website for more information about her project:

www.rhysstudio.org.

Abergavenny Museum is open on Monday to Saturday from 11am to 1pm and 2 to 4pm.   Telephone 01873 854282 or email abergavennymuseum@monmouthshire.gov.uk for help with any enquiries.

My Mates is a new friendship scheme that has been set up to help people with disabilities establish new friendships and maybe even closer relationships. The scheme was developed to meet demand from people who utilise the My Day My Life service.

The My Mates scheme helps develop friendships, wider networks and supports people to have close personal relationships. The friendship scheme has many benefits in enabling people who sometimes feel isolated to live a more fulfilled life.

To become a member of My Mates there is no joining fee but those who sign up are made aware that they will have to self-fund meals, transport, and entrance fees when they attend planned events. Budgeting is an important skill to acquire and by managing their money – with the help of the team this scheme aids independent living.

Social interaction is a key element of the group and there are many ways for the members to talk to their friends; from attending the various events and activities, at social gatherings or the Facebook group that is used to provide a safe way to chat provide and support.

The scheme is supported by a small team of Monmouthshire County Council staff; Kemmine Compere, Janet Cox and Sarah Seabourne who listen to what the members of My Mates would like to do to build new and expand existing friendships.  The team act on the information from members and coordinate activities and events that the members have asked to be involved in. Initially the scheme will be available within Monmouthshire however will soon expand into the wider Gwent area.

The most recent event was the Christmas Glitter Ball at the Celtic Manor, Thursday December 15th. Members had a fantastic time socialising, fine dining and dancing. It was a brilliant opportunity for members to put on their sparkles and suits and have fun!

The members had an amazing time and just proved how My Mates has made a difference to their lives. Jess Powell a member of the My Mates group said ‘A Great night! I enjoyed time with my mates’ while Stephen Jones said ‘The Ball was amazing! I danced with my friends all evening. I was so happy!’

Andrew Price added ‘What a thoroughly enjoyable night, great company, great food and a fantastic band! The atmosphere was amazing, I met people I didn’t know before.’

Some members are supported by their own personal support workers, Alyson Ryan, supported some of the members to attend the event said:

‘Outstanding, Wonderful and Magical is the best way to describe the evening. Credit where it’s due, in all the years I’ve supported people this is the first time I’ve supported people to an event like this. This is the future, this is how it should be done!’

Cabinet Member for Social Care, Safeguarding and Health said:

‘The My Mates initiate is growing from strength to strength, it is so important that everyone has the opportunity to make new friendships and relationships. The team provide unique support whist still enabling the members to become more and more independent. This is yet another example of how people who need help and support are living fulfilled and independent lives.’

To find out more contact The My Mates Team 01873 735414

 

Monmouthshire County Council is alerting parents and guardians of children due to start primary education next September that the closing date to apply for school places is 13th January 2017.

Children born between 1st September 2012 and 31st August 2013 are eligible to start reception classes in September 2017 and parents are asked to complete their applications before the 13th January 2017 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: www.monmouthshire.gov.uk  Alternately, parents may request an application pack by telephoning the council’s admissions team on 01633 644508 or emailing: schoolandstudentaccessunit@monmouthshire.gov.uk

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 13th January will be informed which school their child will attend no later than 17th April 2017.

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 13th January 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 schoolandstudentaccessunit@monmouthshire.gov.uk for further information.

 

 

Monmouthshire County Council would like to invite residents, businesses, organisations and other stakeholders to talk about the 2017/18 budget on Thursday January 5th at County Hall, Usk.

The first session is taking place at 3.30pm – 5.00pm with the second taking place 5.30- 7.00pm at County Hall, Usk. The session will provide residents, businesses, organisations and other stakeholders with an opportunity to hear from Cllr Phil Murphy, Cabinet Member for Finance and Chief Executive, Paul Matthews about the ideas the authority proposes, together with the investments that are coming into the county in 2017/18.

The full draft budget proposals are available on the Monmouthshire County Council website:

https://democracy.monmouthshire.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=144&MId=2070

The draft budget proposals include:

 

  • A significant growth in social care budgets, both in terms of adult social care and children’s services
  • School spending prioritised and maintained at 2016/17 cash levels
  • Continued commitment to meet the Living Wage set by the Living Wage Foundation, ensuring that staff receive a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work
  • A continuance of the work to determine a strong future for leisure and cultural services rather than close facilities that communities hold so dear
  • No increases in car parking charges
  • All local services being maintained

2017/18 will also see major investment in the county’s infrastructure:

 

  • Caldicot School will be open and the Link project will be complete
  • Monmouth School will be largely built
  • The council will move to its next phase of renewal of its school estate.
  • A commitment to be on-site with a major refurbishment and upgrade of Monmouth Leisure Centre including a new pool
  • Morrisons in Abergavenny will be built and open
  • To complete our community hub programme through a commitment to build our final one in Abergavenny.
  • We will invest £2.24m in highway resurfacing and renewal, and other improvements to the road and highways infrastructure
  • In response to increased demands we will commit to increase the amount we spend on disabled adaptations to people’s homes to ensure people can live safely and independently

 

This money will be spent locally and will see a further boost to the number of construction apprenticeships that can be offered.

All of the proposals have been delivered through a major internal efficiency drive, a review of corporate financing and an indicative proposed council tax increase of 3.95%.  The draft proposals see the council still needing to find £243,000 and work is continuing to bring forward further options for cabinet to consider.Councillor Phil Murphy, Cabinet Member for Resources said: “This is an opportunity for the public to find out what is happening in the coming year. I am proud of what we have achieved in extremely difficult times.  Our budget approach has helped to keep the county on the up.  Some difficult choices have had to be made and you may not have agreed with all of them but we have kept to our promises and we have delivered again”.