Monmouthshire County Council is one of the top performing local authorities in Wales and its services continue to perform well according to data published today by Data Unit Wales, part of the Welsh Local Government Association. The data compares performance of all 22 Welsh councils.

The publication includes data for a range of services and indicates that the performance of many the council provides is among the best in Wales. These include education, recycling and libraries. One example of impressive performance is the council’s waste service where Monmouthshire’s residents have once again increased the amount they recycle to help the authority meet targets. There are some areas where the council needs to improve performance and it has plans in place to do so.

Commenting on the published data, Council Leader Peter Fox said:

“I’m pleased that this data continues to show we are among one of the highest performing authorities in Wales.  Over the past few years we’ve worked really hard to make the council more efficient.  We’ve managed reduced budgets without a decline in front-line services for most people and in many service areas performance has actually improved. While there was significant progress made in 2016-17 there are still areas we need to improve and we’re focussed on this.

“We will continue to prioritise those services which have the greatest impact on the well-being of our residents and set the organisation on a path that can deliver a sustainable future for services in Monmouthshire.”

Councillors will receive the full evaluation of the authority’s performance in 2016-17 at a meeting of the county council on 21st September.  Further information on the council’s performance plans is available on www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/improvement

Monmouthshire celebrated a fabulous day of wellbeing this weekend at Usk Show as thousands of visitors flocked to the council’s exhibition marquee and took part in a variety of activities to keep them fit and well – from crazy golf, exploring the countryside trail, volunteering, arts and crafts, music, dancing, face painting to relaxing with friends over a cup of tea. Local performers Allegra Ladies choir, acoustic duo Silurian and belly dancers Topaz Tribal entertained throughout the day.

The packed marquee included volunteers and staff from the council’s countryside, leisure, tourist information, museums, youth service and fostering teams as well as others from community hubs, Careline, Mardy Park’s gardening group and the Monmouthshire Lettings service. Partners from the health service, Dewis Wales (website www.dewis.wales promotes wellbeing in Wales), Monmouthshire Housing Association, Shared Lives, Community Connections, Carers Trust South East Wales, Fairtrade Monmouthshire and Wales Air Ambulance contributed to the success of the exhibition. Residents were provided with an unique opportunity to talk to county councillors in an informal and engaging environment.

Council Chairman Maureen Powell said: “It was wonderful to meet our community at Usk Show and fabulous to see everyone having fun, taking selfies and having a chat about what matters the most in the Monmouthshire community. Lots of people signed up for our My Monmouthshire app which is available from the app store and gives us feedback about all things Monmouthshire. The café to promote volunteering, craft with Abergavenny’s Crafty women and fostering, facepainting with the youth service and crazy golf from our leisure team were all incredibly popular. It was a pleasure to welcome the Air Ambulance service which is one of my Chairman’s charities this year. I would like to thank all Mon CC colleagues and volunteers who worked together to make the day a success.”

A Monmouthshire museum has picked up a much sought after award for its current exhibition depicting the contribution women have made to society.

Abergavenny Museum has been awarded the Women’s History Network’s annual Community History Project prize for its Monmouthshire Women Making Change exhibition which runs until 11th March 2018. The project explores the contribution the county’s women have made to suffrage, the war effort, agriculture, the peace movement and how continued involvement in different issues continues to improve women’s lives, locally and globally.

The prize was awarded to the team that created a project by, about, or for women in a particular locale or community completed between January 2016 and May 2017. It was judged by a panel of representatives drawn from the Women’s History Network, The History Press, heritage professionals and community historians and was shared with Newcastle’s Discovery Museum for its Tiny Sparks scheme.

Abergavenny’s Museum’s project is a collaborative exhibition curated by an intergenerational group of volunteers – a graduate, two university students and a member of the community, working with community organisations. The judges praised the museum’s team for the “enthusiastic way in which community groups of all ages and cultures have worked together to bring their own material to illuminate the women’s histories brought to light. The panel were truly uplifted to see a small rural museum working so creatively.”

Visit www.facebook.com/MonmouthshireCC/videos/1496505690383864/ for a short film about the exhibition. An interview is available with some of the curatorial team at the awards ceremony on the Women’s History Network (WM) YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/bBVX2NYWBWo

Abergavenny will be the setting for a four day transnational conference this month to focus on sustainable food development. Organised by the local Agri-Urban group, the conference features delegates from ten European cities and takes place from 14th to 17th September at St Michael’s Centre. For one day it will also feature as part of the Abergavenny Food Festival.

Agri-Urban, an Urbact network http://urbact.eu/agri-urban, is about rethinking approaches and development to food production and activating growth potential by innovation and new business models, developing a link between urban and rural spaces with an aim of stimulating employment. It builds on the partnerships of 11 settlements representing 10 EU countries.

Abergavenny is the only UK town taking part in this project along with Baena (Spain), Mollet Del Valles (Spain), Pyli (Greece), Petrinja (Croatia), Cesena (Italy), Jelgava (Latvia), Fundao (Portugal), Mouans Sartoux (France), Soldertalje (Sweden) and LAG Pays De Condruses (Belgium).

At the Abergavenny Food Festival fringe event the Agri-Urban partnership will host Professor Kevin Morgan offering his unique insight into “The Importance of a Sustainable Food Agenda/What food Says about you and your community”. David Morris, Deputy Head of Food in the Welsh Government, will explain Agri-Urban in the context of the Welsh Government’s food strategy and plans. Miguel Sousa, CEO of INOVA and Lead Expert of Urbact III project Agri-Urban will speak about the hidden innovations happening across Europe and the rest of the world, while Sidarth Sharma of the Shambala Food Festival will offer his insight and ideas into “Creating a Food System in a Benevolent Dictatorship”.

John Prosser, coordinator of the local Urbact group said: “We are delighted to participate in the Abergavenny Food Festival, offering a fringe event which will provide an insight and discussion on a ‘place for food’.”

Aine Morris, chief executive of Abergavenny Food Festival added: “Food festivals are a fantastic way of engaging local communities, supporting economic development and driving cultural tourism. We strongly support the objectives of the Agri-urban project and hope that all delegates can benefit from learning about the impact that a community-led events can have in creating sustainable economic futures for towns and cities. So during this exciting festival period, we are thrilled to welcome the Agri-urban delegates to Abergavenny.”

The fringe event is free and tickets and information can be found at: http://www.abergavennyfoodfestival.com/programme/the-place-for-food/ or by contacting Deseriemansfield@monmouthshire.gov.uk .

For the full schedule of the Abergavenny Food Festival visit: http://www.abergavennyfoodfestival.com/

There will also be an opportunity to hear about the food development of the partners who will hold an open question time to discuss projects developed elsewhere in Europe.

The project is supported by Abergavenny Town Council and Monmouthshire County Council and funded by the European Union (URBACT 111) programme. It is match funded by Monmouthshire County Council.

A self-employed photographer from Abergavenny is getting behind a new campaign to promote the benefits of superfast broadband and encourage its further adoption across the county.
Leighton Morris is supporting the Welsh Government campaign after experiencing first-hand how a superfast internet service has been essential to his business and help speed up everyday life.

With a photography and virtual tours videography business to run and conventional broadband speeds restricting everything from streaming TV shows to internet shopping, Leighton made the decision to switch to superfast as soon as it became available.

Leighton said: “As a family we seem to be increasingly relying on the internet for every aspect of our lives from doing our grocery shopping and banking to streaming TV shows and films so having a speedy connection just makes life easier and simpler.

“Rather than waiting ages for a website to load everything can be done at the click of a button and mundane tasks like grocery shopping takes minutes rather than hours.

“My son is also becoming increasingly obsessed with watching anything from music videos to football and Minecraft on YouTube so having a superfast connection means that he can happily watch them without getting frustrated by constant buffering. We also download movies to our iPad for long car journeys at the touch of a button meaning Charlie is kept entertained in the car for hours.

“In addition to superfast broadband helping to take the stress out of shopping and making watching films and boxsets more enjoyable, I find it essential to the day to day running of my photography and virtual tour videography business, 3D-PI.

“The superfast connection allows me to download huge video files extremely quickly as well as edit and upload them to the cloud instantly in order to share them with clients. I’m often on a deadline and a client needs me to turn video edits around very quickly so the superfast connection makes this possible.

“I also occasionally Skype clients to get feedback and discuss projects and the superfast connection means that the calls are sharp and there is no embarrassing delay meaning they can be quick and easy.

“I would definitely recommend the service to anyone who can get it as it literally makes a difference to so many aspects of your life.”

In addition to roll out of the technology by the private sector, Superfast Cymru has provided an extra 16,969 premises in the area with access to superfast broadband.

With almost 73% of the Superfast Cymru roll-out programme complete in Monmouthshire, the Welsh Government superfast campaign is aiming to promote superfast broadband to residents to demonstrate its benefits and encourage its further use across the county.

While most of the county can now access faster broadband should they wish to do so, a small percentage of premises are not yet able to access it. Assistance is also available for them on the Welsh Government website or by contacting the Welsh Government broadband team.*

Welsh Government Minister for Skills and Science, Julie James, said: “While the majority of homes in Monmouthshire can now access superfast broadband should they wish, many people are simply not fully aware of its benefits or how it can be accessed.

“As Leighton’s story shows, faster broadband speeds are enabling people to stay in touch and communicate with people across the world with greater speed and efficiency than ever before. This includes activities such as downloading large learning resources for children, managing bank accounts, shopping for groceries, paying household bills or using video services such as Skype.

“We want as many people as possible to realise these benefits, and this campaign is aiming to showcase how the technology is impacting thousands of lives in communities across Wales.”

Households and businesses in Monmouthshire wanting to take advantage of the benefits of fast fibre broadband should contact an internet service provider (ISP) of their choice to place an order.

*To find out what broadband is available, people are advised to visit www.gov.wales/broadband. This also includes information for those not yet able to receive superfast broadband as support may be available through the Welsh Government’s Access Broadband Cymru scheme, which provides grant funding to access superfast broadband through other means.

Representatives from Welsh Government will also be on-hand to chat to local people about superfast broadband at Monmouth town centre on 1st September and Usk Show on 9th September.

The National Assembly for Wales’ Children, Young People and Education Committee is holding an inquiry into the emotional well-being and mental health of children and young people.

These are some of the issues the Committee will be looking at:

  • Specialist CAMHS
  • Funding
  • Transition to Adult Services
  • Links with Education (emotional intelligence and healthy coping mechanisms)

As part of this inquiry, the Committee want to hear from young people about the support available to them, and also the views of education professionals working in schools about the training and resources that are available to them.

Have your say in the survey by clicking on the link below:

Children and young people: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/YPCAMHS

Education professional: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/EPCAMHS

Survey responses will be entirely confidential and those contributing will be anonymised.

The survey closes on 15th October.

The committee will use your contributions to feed into the inquiry and final recommendations. The Committee depend on input from both young people and teachers and your views and experiences will contribute towards the Committee’s understanding of the support available for the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people.

You can find out more about the inquiry here and you can keep up to date with their work by visiting assembly.wales/seneddcype or by following them on Twitter – @SeneddCYPE.

Monmouthshire County Council (with Transition Monmouth and Natural Resources Wales) will host a public workshop at Monmouth’s Shire Hall from 1.30pm to 4pm on Friday 8th September when staff from consulting engineers W S Atkins will be available to discuss flood prevention in the area. This is a drop-in session with tea, coffee and biscuits provided.

The study covers Monmouth and surrounding areas including Skenfrith, Dingestow, Newcastle and Trelech. Please come and tell us if you know of roads in that area prone to flooding.  W S Atkins will provide maps and would be grateful to receive your comments and observations.  They are very keen to obtain local knowledge of areas at risk and areas that could be developed.

We look forward to seeing you, but if you cannot attend we would still like you to contribute.  You can tag locations on the Transition Monmouth mapping portal – https://arcg.is/0KXfCz – relating to flooding, opportunities for holding back flood water and opportunities for hydropower schemes.  You can also email information to vivienmitchell@yahoo.co.uk and Andy.Gill@atkinsglobal.com.

 

Chepstow Community Hub will feature a loud and live music performance later this month as hip hop and reggae band Yam Jams provide therapeutic sensory experiences aimed at people with disabilities.  The gig from 6.30pm to 8.30pm on Thursday 21st September will involve a lively party atmosphere, participative rapping, shared percussion instruments and accessible dancing, offering an unforgettable evening of accessible fun.

 The event will promote the Safe Places scheme set up by Monmouthshire People First, a local self-advocacy group for people with disabilities.  The Safe Places scheme has been set up in association with local shops, organisations and businesses throughout Monmouthshire which provide a secure place for people with disabilities if they need assistance while in the community.  Participating premises are recognisable by the Safe Places logo in the shop window and all individuals who sign up to the scheme will receive a key fob with their name and the name of a trusted contact they can turn to.

 County Councillor Penny Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for Social Care, Safeguarding and Health said: “This event promises to be a fun evening with a serious message.  The Safe Places scheme gives people with disabilities or dementia the confidence to go out, knowing that they can make a phone call, get directions or receive other help.”

 Tickets, available from Chepstow and Caldicot Community Hubs, cost £5 each while there is no charge for carers and support workers.  For more information about the event, to book tickets or to discuss access requirements contact Monmouthshire’s Community Wellbeing Development Lead Fred Weston on 07890 559566 or fredweston@monmouthshire.gov.uk

 

Visitors to the county council and its friends’ Monmouthshire Wellbeing Pavilion at Usk Show on Saturday September 9th can look forward to being entertained and engaged. A variety of activities will help bring the community together as well as celebrate all that’s great about the county.

The pavilion’s main focus is on keeping well and staying active and its wide range of activities will appeal to all ages.  These include arts and crafts, a nature trail, face painting, games and a chance to try new sports. Visitors can find out about the many ways to make a difference in the community, learn new skills and meet new friends while organisations like Volunteering for Wellbeing, Shared Lives, and Monmouthshire’s fostering team will be on hand to discuss how making a small change can make a big difference to someone’s life. 

 Representatives from the Welsh Government’s Dewis Cymru project (https://www.dewis.wales/) will also be available sharing the many ways people can stay well.  

 Local performers Silurian,  Allegra Ladies Choir and the Tenovus Choir will provide a fantastic medley of music while the sensational Topaz Tribal Belly dancers will shimmer and shake as well as offering the audience an opportunity to join in!

 People may sample Fairtrade chocolate, browse souvenirs from Monmouthshire museums and take an ‘out of this world’ selfie in the space-themed craft area or with Wales Air Ambulance mascot Huw. There will also be an opportunity to relax and take in the activities and entertainment over a cup of tea and cake in the Volunteering for Wellbeing Café area.

 A ‘Meet the Council’ area will provide visitors the opportunity to meet the county’s big decision makers and discuss things that matter while also finding out how to register and share information with the council via it’s My Monmouthshire app.

 For more information email communications@monmouthshire.gov.uk or log onto Facebook @MonmouthshireCC or Twitter @MonmouthshireCC

 

 

 

Tintern will celebrate its very own fiesta this month when the village’s Old Station visitor centre hosts a week of entertainment from Monday 18th September designed to appeal to a wide range of people.  All events take place in the event marquee on the lawn in front of the signal box.

The week starts with the launch of a new book from self-sufficiency expert Sally Nex from 2pm to 4pm on Monday 18th September.  Sally will also talk about growing vegetables all year round.  The following day local nursery owner Justine Scouller will discuss growing flowers for home arrangements.  Tickets for both events are £5.

On Tuesday evening (19th September) Rosemary Hawthorne – also known as The Knicker Lady – will deliver a history of ladies’ under garments in her very own funny and entertaining style.  Tickets at £12.50 are expected to sell quickly and there will be a musical performance during the interval.

A wood carving session (cost £5) planned for Wednesday 20th September will offer those attending an opportunity to create their own flower using a range of tools.  In the evening, local photographer and author David Lloyd will present a talk on his award-winning book Spirit of the Rose and how to capture flowers on film.  According to TV personality Alan Titchmarsh, Lloyd’s book contains the “best photographs of roses he has ever seen.”

The Old Station’s award-winning tearoom provides cream teas on Thursday afternoon from 3pm to 4pm (cost £5) with all proceeds going towards the five charities supported during Tintern fiesta week – S.A.R.A, Macmillan Cancer Care, Alzheimer’s Society, Chepstow Mencap and The Grand Appeal, Bristol Children’s Hospital.  The cost is £5 and as with all events booking is essential.

On Thursday afternoon a memory walk takes place with the £6 fee donated to the Alzheimer’s Society.  In the evening the Savoy Youth Theatre performs its own show called Inspirational Toast.  Entry is by donation, suggested at £5 per person.  Meanwhile, Friday’s comedy dinner based on hit TV comedy Allo! Allo! is sold out.

An action-packed Saturday morning features a magic show for children with Wizzo the Wizard followed by an opportunity for close encounters with snakes and lizards. The cost is £3 per person while a family of four can purchase admission for only £10.

A short celebration service at 6pm is followed by the St Michaels Church Harvest supper and a ceilidh featuring local band Life of Riley – tickets are £10 each.

Finally, Sunday (24th September) sees an evening with spiritual mediums, The Spirit Sisters.  The cost is £5.

County Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member said: “The Old Station’s magical Wye Valley setting is the ideal place for the events featured within Tintern’s fiesta celebration.  It’s easy to reach and there’s plentiful parking.  The eclectic mix of entertainment is sure to attract crowds so my advice is to book early.”

Tickets for all events made be purchased from the Old Station in advance either by ringing 01291 689566 or via email to pay by bank transfer.  A bar serving local beer, soft drinks and wines will be available throughout the week.

Further details of acts are available on The Old Station’s Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/oldstationtintern

  • Tintern’s Fiesta is made possible by the generosity of the Friends of Old Station Tintern and main sponsor Carriages Catering, with kind support from County Marquees.

 Monmouthshire County Council is to carry out an inspection of memorials in its cemetery in Mathern Road, Chepstow this autumn.  The council has a requirement to ensure the safety of people visiting or working in its cemeteries and checking the stability of memorials is an important part of that obligation.  Testing will be carried out by trained employees.

Failed memorials will be supported by a stake and band as a short term measure and cemetery staff will attach notices notifying family members that they must engage a registered memorial mason if they wish to re-erect the stone.  If contact details are available the council will also write to families about the action taken and the steps they need to take.  Memorials not re-erected within six months of test failure will be sunk to one third of their depth at the head of the grave.

 The council recognizes that family members may become anxious when informed that a memorial is unsafe but it hopes that those affected will understand the overriding principle to ensure the safety of people visiting the cemetery.  Anyone concerned about the stability of a memorial or requiring further information should email the Cemeteries Officer – rhianjackson@monmouthshire.go.uk – or telephone 01873 735852.

 Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for cemeteries, Councillor Phil Murphy said: “The work at Chepstow Cemetery is the next stage of our rolling programme to ensure the safety of memorials in the county’s cemeteries.  Anyone with concerns should contact us and we will be happy to address them.  The work is likely to begin in October and completed by the following month.”

 

Businesses in Monmouthshire and rural areas of Newport could benefit from a green initiative funded under the local rural development programme.

The Vale of Usk Local Action Group has announced a new grant scheme that allows businesses to trial an electric vehicle charging point (EVCP) for free for one year. This follows the recent government announcement to ban the sale of all petrol and diesel cars from 2040 that will undoubtedly accelerate demand for electric vehicles.

This exciting new project called Fully Charged will be operated and usage information monitored by local community organisation Gwent Energy CIC.  Businesses which have participated in the trial will be given the option of purchasing the EVCP for a discount.

This scheme is aimed at hospitality venues and tourist attractions as well as premises visited by the public for hours at a time.  Interested businesses should email fullycharged@gwentenergycic.org or visit www.gwentenergycic.org by Monday 11th September.

Congratulations to learners across the South East Wales region on their hard work and achievement in this first year of the revised GCSE examination arrangements.

Our provisional regional GCSE results indicate:

  • The percentage of pupils gaining the Level 2 threshold is 52.1%. The Level 2 performance measure indicates the percentage of pupils who achieved at least five GCSEs A*- C (or equivalent), including English/Welsh first language and Mathematics.
  •  The percentage of pupils gaining at least 5 GCSEs A*/A (or equivalent) is 15.6%

(There are currently no Wales figures available for comparison for the figures above.)

 The percentage of pupils gaining GCSE English Language A* – C is 61.5%. This compares to the Wales average of 64.8%.

  •  The percentage of pupils gaining GCSE Welsh Language A* – C is 66.9%. This compares to the Wales average of 73.6%.
  •  The percentage of pupils gaining GCSE mathematics A* – C is 56.9%. This compares to the Wales average of 60.0%.
  •  The percentage of pupils gaining GCSE mathematics numeracy A* – C is 55.7%. This compares to the Wales average of 58.5%.
  •  The percentage of pupils gaining GCSE science A* – C is 52.7%. This compares to the Wales average of 34.8%.

These figures are based on results reported directly from schools. These results include all pupils in the year 11 cohort, including those educated other than at school.

This year we are unable to meaningfully compare regional or local authority results to previous years as the revised examinations focus in part on different skill sets and knowledge than in previous years. Despite this the region is already working with schools to track individual pupil performance over time which will mean that school leaders and our local authorities are well positioned to gauge where schools are progressing well or where they may need additional support.

The regional trend this year has experienced increased variability in results. Communications from the examination awarding body and the regulator throughout this academic year indicated that this variability was to be expected. As in previous years we have been talking to post-16 providers to ensure that no learner is disadvantaged and that they are provided with appropriate pathways following results.

The picture in Monmouthshire is a positive one with the authority’s learners performing well in a range of subjects and excelling at the higher levels.

  • The percentage of Monmouthshire pupils gaining the Level 2 threshold including English and Maths is 66.1%. This compares to 52.1% across the region
  • The percentage of Monmouthshire pupils gaining at least 5 GCSEs A*/A (or equivalent) is 24.2% compared to the regional position of 15.6%

 

(There are currently no Wales figures available for comparison for the figures above.)

 

  • The percentage of Monmouthshire pupils gaining GCSE English Language A* – C is 73.5%. This compares to the regional position of 61.5% and a Wales average of 64.8%.
  •  The percentage of Monmouthshire pupils gaining GCSE mathematics A* – C is 68.8%. This compares to the regional figure of 56.9% and a Wales average of 60.0%.
  •  The percentage of pupils gaining GCSE mathematics numeracy A* – C is 71.5%. This compares to the regional position of 55.7% and a Wales average of 58.5%.
  •  The percentage of pupils gaining GCSE science A* – C is 69.5%. This compares to the regional position of 52.7% and a Wales average of 34.8%.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for education County Councillor Richard John said:

“In a year of change and reform these GCSE results remind us of how hard our students work to ensure that they have the qualifications they need to proceed to the next stage in their lives.  Across the county, all four schools have achieved strong results in a range of subjects and I am particularly pleased to see the percentage of students attaining the highest grades increase.  I am sure that there are many proud students and parents today.  As ever we must recognise the hard work of the teachers in all of our schools and the support that families and carers give to our children.”

Will McLean, Chief Officer for Children and Young People, added:

“I am delighted to see a strong set of results across Monmouthshire.  The changes to examinations this year have presented challenges for our students but the hard work and dedication of the teachers across our four schools has ensured that the impact has been mitigated.  There are many outstanding results in all of our schools and the number of students leaving with five GCSEs at A*/A is at its highest level.”

A new campaign to demonstrate how superfast broadband is changing people’s lives will be launched today (22 August) in Monmouthshire.

The superfast broadband campaign, run by the Welsh Government, is aiming to promote superfast broadband to Monmouthshire residents to demonstrate its benefits and encourage its further use across the county.

With the majority of Monmouthshire residents now having the ability to access the service, the campaign will showcase how superfast broadband is transforming the way people work, learn and connect with their families and friends.

Superfast broadband enables multiple devices to work simultaneously, allowing people to stream films, download music, study or keep in touch with loved ones without disrupting a connection.

The campaign will highlight how the service is transforming the ways in which people live and work across Wales.

Campaign organisers will be working with libraries, schools and community centres in Monmouthshire and attending Monmouth town centre on 1st September and Usk Show on 9th September to raise awareness of superfast broadband. 

While most of the county can now access faster broadband should they wish to do so, a small percentage of premises are not yet able to access it.  Assistance is also available for them on the Welsh Government website or by contacting the Welsh Government broadband team*.

Welsh Government Minister for Skills and Science, Julie James, said: “Superfast broadband has become crucial for homes, which is why we are committed to bringing faster internet speeds to regions across Wales. Improving our digital infrastructure is key to driving economic growth, supporting public services and helping people communicate.

“While the majority of homes in Monmouthshire can now access superfast broadband should they wish to, many people are simply not fully aware of its benefits or how it can be accessed. Faster broadband speeds are enabling families and individuals to carry out their activities with greater speed and efficiency than ever before, and on multiple devices. This includes activities such as downloading large learning resources for children, managing bank accounts, shopping for groceries, paying household bills or using video services such as Skype – to name a few.

“For home-workers, the service increases efficiency, boosts productivity and optimises delivery. Being able to communicate via high definition video conferencing or Skype enables companies to speak with staff, customers and suppliers from anywhere in the world.

“Superfast broadband also gives access to cloud computing services such as instant data back-ups, making security and upgrades much easier for users. 

“We want as many people as possible to realise these benefits, and this campaign aims to showcase how the technology is impacting thousands of lives in communities across Wales.

“The rollout of superfast broadband is continuing across Wales and while most premises can now receive it, I know that there are premises waiting for it, or unsure as yet if they will receive it. Advice and assistance is also available for them.”  

Households and businesses in Monmouthshire wanting to take advantage of the benefits of fast fibre broadband should contact an internet service provider (ISP) of their choice to place an order.

*To find out what broadband is available, people are advised to visit www.gov.wales/broadband

This also includes information for those not yet able to receive superfast broadband as support may be available through the Welsh Government’s Access Broadband Cymru scheme, which provides grant funding to access superfast broadband through other means.

 

ENDS

Superfast broadband has been made available to the majority of Monmouthshire thanks to Superfast Cymru. Superfast Cymru is a partnership between the Welsh Government, BT, UK Government and the European Regional Development Fund which brings faster broadband to areas which would not otherwise receive it. With the project now almost 73% complete in Monmouthshire, most homes and businesses are able to access superfast broadband if they wish to do so. Homeowners and businesses who want to find out what broadband is available should visit www.gov.wales/broadband. This also includes information for those not yet able to receive superfast broadband as support may be available through the Welsh Government’s Access Broadband Cymru scheme.

 

A council sporting initiative introduced last year is going from strength to strength and the Monmouthshire Games is now firmly established as a highlight of the holidays for the county’s youngsters.  As well as physical exercise, among the benefits offered are an appreciation of teamwork, healthy eating and the impact of role models.

 The Monmouthshire Games takes place in each of the county’s four leisure centres during school holidays for children aged 5 to 12 and its activities focus on learning new skills, developing confidence, meeting new friends and most importantly, having fun while participating.  Among the 40 sports offered are swimming, football, netball, basketball, cricket, hockey, rugby, golf, rounders and tennis.  Fully-trained staff supervise proceedings assisted by volunteers – often physical education students seeking experience.

 Over 130 youngsters take part each day across the county’s leisure centre sites at a cost of £16 per day (9am to 3pm) or £19.50 (8am to 5pm).  Discounts are available for siblings, children in receipt of free school meals and for parents who book ten days in advance.  The programme has seen approximately 6,200 attendances since its launch last summer.

 Councillors Bob Greenland and Maureen Powell recently attended a session in Abergavenny to see for themselves the value of the Monmouthshire Games.

 Councillor Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for leisure said: “I’m thoroughly impressed by the service offered by all four leisure centres and salute the staff as well as those volunteering.  The Monmouthshire Games is a very important programme for the county as it not only delivers activity for children but also helps in the development of education and life skills.”

 Councillor Powell added: “As Chairman of Monmouthshire County Council I’m very proud that our leisure centres provide this wonderful service, not only in the summer but also during all school holidays.”

 Councillors Greenland and Powell were accompanied by the council’s Chief Officer for Children and Young People, Will McLean.  He commented: “Skills acquired in the Monmouthshire Games will help children to excel in sports and their application and attitude will allow them to develop in other areas when they return to school for the autumn term.” 

 This summer’s Monmouthshire Games has received funding from the Monmouthshire Housing Association as well as the Abergavenny and Chepstow town councils to enable even more children to attend and the council’s leisure team has expressed its grateful thanks for this support.  The current sessions run until Friday 25th August but further games are scheduled for October’s half-term and the Christmas holidays. 

 For further information visit: www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/things-to-do/monleisure/abergavenny-leisure-centre/childrens-activities-abergavenny-leisure-centre

 

A-level students across Monmouthshire are celebrating excellent results.

According to results published today from all examination boards, record numbers of students in all four secondary schools (Caldicot, Chepstow, Abergavenny’s King Henry VIII and Monmouth) have achieved superb results with the county’s pass rate at 98.8%.  An increasing number of students, 29%, achieved the highest grades of A*- A.

There has been a further rise in the number of students achieving the Level 3 threshold (of two A levels grades A-E) to 100% – this is the first time this has been achieved across the county.

In all Monmouthshire secondary schools staff are confident that the vast majority of students will gain entry to their preferred courses.

Councillor Richard John, cabinet member for Children and Young People commented: “These results are a real indicator of how hard students, teachers and all those who support learners in our schools have worked.  We must also recognise the support that our students receive from their parents and carers.  These outcomes provide the students with great opportunities as they start the next stage of their lives.”

Will McLean, Chief Officer for Children and Young People added: “I am very pleased with the achievements across our four schools.  We have seen some exceptional individual results and once again Monmouthshire’s results compare favourably with national outcomes and I know that our schools will be very pleased with this.  Our schools can be proud of the foundations they have given their students to look to the future, and achieve their ambitions.”

Students looking for advice, no matter what their results, are encouraged to visit the Careers Wales website on; www.careerswalescom/

 Local author Matt Johnson will discuss his latest work Deadly Game at Chepstow Community Hub at 7pm on Thursday 17th August.  Deadly Game follows his bestselling thriller, Wicked Game, which was shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association John Creasey Dagger award.

Matt served as a soldier and policeman for 25 years.  He was one of the first officers on the scene of the 1982 Regent’s Park bombing and was present at the Libyan People’s Bureau shooting in 1984 where he escorted his mortally wounded friend and colleague Yvonne Fletcher to hospital.  He was blown off his feet at the London Baltic Exchange bombing in 1993 and eventually hidden wounds took their toll.  In 1999, he was discharged from the police with post-traumatic stress disorder.

While undergoing treatment, he was encouraged by his counsellor to write about his career and his experience of murders, shootings and terrorism.  Matt used this raw material to create fiction that he describes as having a tremendously cathartic effect on his own condition.

 Matt will be selling and signing copies of his latest book at this free event.  Contact Chepstow Community Hub on 01291 635730 for more information.

 

An educational initiative designed to encourage children to read over the long summer holidays has been enthusiastically received in Monmouthshire.  The Summer Reading Challenge is delivered by library services throughout the UK and to participate, children should read six books and attend the council’s community hubs or libraries on three occasions.  This year’s theme is animal agents.

The Summer Reading Challenge is totally free and to get started children sign up for a folder to contain the special stickers received as each book is completed.  Once they have collected all the stickers they can solve the mystery posed by the challenge.

Among the county’s activities arranged in association with the Summer Reading Challenge is Chepstow Community Hub’s Thursday stories & crafts session, when up to twenty children attend with parents.  Jenny Hunt of Chepstow brought her children James (5), Nadia (8) and Ted (9) along to Chepstow last Thursday (3rd August).  All three are about to start the Summer Reading Challenge and are keen on reading.  Ted likes the books of C S Lewis and Nadia is a fan of Betty Birney’s Humphrey, the classroom hamster.

Also attending was Carys Pearce with mum Jessica from Tintern.  The two enjoy the reading and singing sessions at the community hub as well as the pre-school provision.  Carys (4) said she likes to read about princesses.

The reading session, led by community hub staff Sallyanne Powell and Sarah Delahunty, featured Lynley Dodd’s Hairy Maclary, Jonathan Long’s The Dog who could Dig, Dr Xargle’s Book of Earthhounds (Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross) and Daniel Postgate’s Smelly Bill.  Later the children crafted dog masks in line with the Summer Reading Challenge animal agent theme.

County Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for community hubs said: “Reading can take a back seat during the long summer holidays if children don’t have regular access to books and encouragement to read for pleasure.  This can cause problems for schools in the new term but the annual Summer Reading Challenge is a highlight of the holiday for many children and can only be beneficial if it inspires them to get stuck into a good book.  The Summer Reading Challenge continues until 16th September so there’s still plenty of time to take part.”

The Summer Reading Challenge is produced by the Reading Agency and features in the council’s community hubs and libraries in Abergavenny, Caldicot, Chepstow, Gilwern, Monmouth and Usk.  More information is available from these premises or by contacting: FionaAshley@monmouthshire.gov.uk – telephone 01633 644906.

 

 

Local author Matt Johnson will discuss his latest work Deadly Game at Chepstow Community Hub at 7pm on Thursday 17th August.  Deadly Game follows his bestselling thriller, Wicked Game, which was shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association John Creasey Dagger award.

Matt served as a soldier and policeman for 25 years.  He was one of the first officers on the scene of the 1982 Regent’s Park bombing and was present at the Libyan People’s Bureau shooting in 1984 where he escorted his mortally wounded friend and colleague Yvonne Fletcher to hospital.  He was blown off his feet at the London Baltic Exchange bombing in 1993 and eventually hidden wounds took their toll.  In 1999, he was discharged from the police with post-traumatic stress disorder.

While undergoing treatment, he was encouraged by his counsellor to write about his career and his experience of murders, shootings and terrorism.  Matt used this raw material to create fiction that he describes as having a tremendously cathartic effect on his own condition.

Matt will be selling and signing copies of his latest book at this free event.  Contact Chepstow Community Hub on 01291 635730 for more information.

 

Monmouthshire County Council has backed a plan and agreed finances to proceed with the building of a new 25 metre pool and a completely re-modelled leisure centre in Monmouth.

 At its meeting last week (Thursday, 27th July), the council was presented with four options to deliver the project.  Three were similar but differed mainly in the project’s completion date.  The agreed decision anticipates that the leisure centre and pool will open with the shortest proposed delay at the end of next year.

 An option not to provide an alternative space to the existing sports hall for Monmouth Comprehensive School pupils to take public examinations while the leisure centre and pool are re-built was unanimously rejected.

 Councillor Bob Greenland, Deputy Leader of the Council with responsibility for the project commented: “I am very pleased members have backed our preferred option to re-open the new pool and the leisure centre in the shortest possible time.  When we began this project it was simply to provide a new pool.  Now councillors have backed our plans to provide a 25 metre pool as promised.  Designed to Amateur Swimming Association standards, it will be suitable for local galas with enhanced viewing areas and better facilities for youngsters to learn to swim.  But now we will be giving Monmouth much more than just the pool.  There will be a re-modelled leisure centre with the latest facilities and equipment.  Clearly, this will mean a longer re-build period than when we were just considering a new pool, but I am convinced the wait will be worth it.  Taken together with the adjacent school, now under construction, this massive £50 million plus investment for Monmouth demonstrates this council’s commitment not only to the wellbeing of our current generation, but of those for years to come.”

 The new centre will include more fitness and spinning suites, a spa, squash courts, a special sensory unit and an adventure play area with adjacent cafe.  In addition, a new sports hall within the adjacent new school will be shared with the school.

 

Monmouthshire County Council and Gwent Police have agreed to recommend a revised speed limit along the A48 within the village of Pwllmeyric near Chepstow.  In addition to the proposed restriction of 30mph the council and police intend to monitor the stretch of road to determine whether further steps may be necessary to ensure motorists observe the limit.

 Councillor Bryan Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for highways said: “Speeding traffic and road safety in Pwllmeyric have been longstanding issues within the community and both the council and Gwent Police believe that a 30mph limit will go a long way to addressing these concerns, as well as making for a safer road environment.  The new order for a 30mph limit is intended to be introduced with only minimal changes to signage to meet legal requirements.  However, we will also monitor the situation and may need to revisit the site to consider further measures such as traffic calming.”

 The recommended speed limit will shortly be advertised to allow consultation to go ahead and the council anticipates that the measure, if agreed, will be introduced during the autumn.

 On a broader level, a councillors’ task & finish group is currently examining how the council can best address the many road safety concerns raised by residents throughout the county.  The group will present a final report and recommendations to the cabinet member for consideration later this year.

 Meanwhile, residents in Pwllmeyric interested in volunteering for a community speed watch group should ring the council on 01633 644644 or email: highways@monmouthshire.gov.uk

 

We will shortly be undertaking a clean-up exercise, removing accounts with invalid e-mail addresses.

Monmouthshire County Council is to provide a wide variety of activities to keep young people engaged throughout the summer holidays.  These include playschemes, sports events and the Summer Reading Challenge offered by the council’s community hubs.

Once again, the county’s four leisure centres will run the popular Monmouthshire Games for children aged 5 to 12.  The activities are based on learning new skills, developing confidence, meeting new people and most importantly, having fun while participating.  Sports include swimming, football, netball, basketball, cricket, hockey, rugby, golf, rounders and tennis.  The Monmouthshire Games run from Monday 24th July until Friday 25th August and the costs are £16 per day (9am to 3pm) or £19.50 (8am to 5pm).  Discounts are available.  For further information visit: www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/things-to-do/monleisure/abergavenny-leisure-centre/childrens-activities-abergavenny-leisure-centre

Further play activities will take place at six community settings across the county for 5 to 11 year olds.  These are free of charge, delivered in partnership with Torfaen Play and are funded with the help of town and community councils.

The playschemes run from Monday 31st July to Thursday 24th August (weekdays only) at the following venues:

  • Deri View Primary, Abergavenny – 10am to 12 noon
  • Kymin View Primary, Monmouth – 1.30pm to 3.30pm
  • Bulwark Community Centre, Chepstow – 10am to 12 noon
  • Thornwell Primary School, Chepstow – 1pm to 3pm
  • Magor Primary School, Magor – 10am to 12 noon
  • Caldicot Rugby Club, Caldicot – 1pm to 3pm

No pre-registration is required but parents/carers are requested to accompany their child on the first day they attend and complete the registration process with the site supervisor.  For further information contact the Play team on 01495 742951 or email: andrea.sysum@torfaen.gov.uk

Monmouthshire’s youth service team is offering a mix of exciting activities – some free and some attracting a charge.  These range from trips to the Royal Mint, the multi-sport festival at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium and Chessington Theme Park and Zoo to Nerf gun parties, barbecues and camping trips.  For further information contact:

katiejones@monmouthshire.gov.uk or 07827 880055 (Abergavenny)

philippajenkins@monmouthshire.gov.uk or 07768 671651 (Monmouth)

darrylwhite@monmouthshire.gov.uk or 07990 788998 (Caldicot and Chepstow).

Monmouthshire’s community hubs and libraries are calling for children to sign up for the annual Summer Reading Challenge 2017.  The Summer Reading Challenge asks 4 to 11 year olds to borrow and read any six library books during the summer holidays, a time when children’s literacy skills traditionally dip.

To take part in this year’s Animal Agents theme children need to head to their local hub or library where they will receive a collector folder to keep a record of their reading journey.  Children reading at least six library books over the summer will collect stickers to help them crack the clues and help the Animal Agents find out what’s really been going on behind the scenes!

Animal Agents launched in libraries across Monmouthshire on Saturday 15th July and runs until Saturday 16th September.

Abergavenny Leisure Centre is hosting activities to involve females aged 5 to 12 years in sport.  The hugely popular Girls Can programme runs each Friday from 28th July until 1st September and offers hockey, netball, football, swimming, badminton, cheer leading, kayaking and tennis.  Costs are £16 per day (9am to 3pm) or £20.90 (8am to 5pm).

Also at Abergavenny Leisure Centre are football training days for 5 to 11 year olds, run in association with Cardiff City Football Club featuring UEFA-qualified coaches.  These take place from 9am to 3pm on 28th July, 11th, 18th and 25th August.  An additional training day is earmarked for 12 to 16 year olds on Friday 1st September.  The cost per day is £18.

Further information about holiday activities for children is available from the council’s Family Information Service website; http://www.monfis.org.uk/

Monmouthshire County Council is to carry out an inspection of memorials in its Llanelly Cemetery near Abergavenny this autumn.  The council has a requirement to ensure the safety of people visiting or working in its cemeteries and checking the stability of memorials is an important part of that obligation.  Testing will be carried out by trained employees.

 Failed memorials will be supported by a stake and band as a short term measure and cemetery staff will attach notices notifying family members that they must engage a registered memorial mason if they wish to re-erect the stone.  If contact details are available the council will also write to families about the action taken and the steps they need to take.  Memorials not re-erected within six months of test failure will be sunk to one third of their depth at the head of the grave.

 The council recognizes that family members may become anxious when informed that a memorial is unsafe but it hopes that those affected will understand the overriding principle to ensure the safety of people visiting the cemetery.  Anyone concerned about the stability of a memorial or requiring further information should email the Cemeteries Officer – rhianjackson@monmouthshire.go.uk – or telephone 01873 735852.

 Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for cemeteries, Councillor Phil Murphy said: “The work at Llanelly Cemetery is the next stage of our rolling programme to ensure the safety of memorials in the county’s cemeteries.  Anyone with concerns should contact us and we will be happy to address them.  The work is likely to begin in September and completed the following month.”

 

Monmouthshire County Council is rising to the challenge set by Cymraeg 2050, the Welsh Government’s target of a million Welsh speakers living in the country by the middle of the century.  Currently about 560,000 people in Wales speak the language – almost 20% of the population.

The council has made impressive steps to promote the language following the introduction of the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure in 2011.  This legislation allocated 176 standards to the council for compliance, with the majority to be completed by 1st April 2016.

Progress since then has included:

  • A fully bilingual website
  • The council’s Facebook and Twitter social media accounts are in Welsh and English
  • All press releases are bilingual
  • A bespoke Welsh language phone line has been installed
  • Over 98% of vacancies are now assessed as Welsh language desirable
  • The National Eisteddfod hosted by the council in Abergavenny last summer was a massive success attracting over 140,000 visitors
  • A massive increase in people wanting to learn Welsh in Monmouthshire; the number of learners has more than doubled from 225 in 2016 to 467 this year and classes have increased from 19 to 47
  • 65 members of the council’s staff have attended Welsh language classes in the workplace

Meanwhile, the call for Welsh-medium education within Monmouthshire continues to grow.

Councillor Sara Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for the Welsh language said: “Promoting the language and complying with the Welsh Language Standards are huge challenges, as is the government’s Cymraeg 2050 initiative, but the council is working hard to achieve success.  More people demonstrating a demand for the language puts us in a better position to satisfy that demand.”

For further information on Monmouthshire’s Welsh language policy contact Welsh Language Officer, Alan Burkitt – alanburkitt@monmouthshire.gov.uk

 

 

Usk’s new play park area was officially opened as part of Usk Town’s Pageant on 16th July.  Kay Peacock, who lives in Usk and does so much for local children including leading Usk Primary School’s Wales in Bloom winning ‘Gardening Gang’ and is a key member of the cricket club was cheered as she cut the ribbon and children poured excitedly into the park.  The new play area features exciting new equipment and picnic tables. Usk Park Project met its fundraising target, generating over £120k, through numerous events and the efforts of community groups, local businesses, generous individuals and organisations, which were complimented with a Big Lottery Fund grant of £100k which made the project possible.

Usk Park Project was set up by a group of Usk parents who came together three years ago to start raising funds to create a new play park for the children of Usk. Usk Park Project is a registered charity with an aim to provide a destination National Equipped Area of Play (NEAP) that is free, accessible, safe and welcoming for everyone to enjoy. The charity consulted extensively with the families of Usk, then worked with Monmouthshire County Council to design and build a new play area adjacent to the Millennium Hall and Centenary Hall in Usk. Monmouthshire County Council is supporting the group by providing the land, installing the equipment, administering the funding and taking responsibility for the asset and ongoing maintenance.

Naomi Horsley , Chair of Usk Park Project said “It’s so exciting to see our beautiful new play park open. It has been three years of hard work but to see their excited, smiling faces and the fun they are having has made it all so worthwhile.  This generation and the next will enjoy this amazing, fun, inclusive place where children can enjoy a magical, fun day out with their families. After three years of fundraising and planning this really is a massive achievement for everyone in the Usk community, Monmouthshire County Council and the Big Lottery who have all been involved. It is tremendous to see how our children’s designs about what their dream destination park would look like now transformed into a reality.”

Highlighting the importance of the People and Places programme, Rona Aldrich, Wales Committee Member for the Big Lottery Fund, said: “Programmes like People and Places are making a difference to the lives of so many people in communities across Wales.”

Cllr Bryan Jones, Cabinet Member for with responsibility for parks added “This is a fantastic example of how Monmouthshire communities work together to make it an even better place to live. This summer will be really special in Usk, I would encourage local families to come to the beautiful town to enjoy the park and pop into Usk’s lovely shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs.”

Kay Peacock commented: “I was overwhelmed to be asked to open this wonderful park, a lot of hard work has gone into raising money. These children will really appreciate the park they have designed. The committee are an amazing group of parents, to have turned this area into a more inviting place to play in just three years – well done all.”

Britpop legends Ocean Colour Scene played out the hits inside the atmospheric walls of Caldicot castle on Saturday 15th July 2017. The indie rock band, famous for songs such as The Day We Caught the Train and The Circle played old hits and new songs to an intimate crowd in a truly amazing space.

After a very busy year travelling the world in 2016 celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the legendary album Moseley Shoals, Ocean Colour Scene came to see their homegrown fans in Monmouthshire.

Fans were treated to all the hits from the iconic album including hit song The Riverboat Song which found fame on Chris Evans TFI Friday and became the sound of the 90’s for the brit pop generation.

Many people relived their 90’s festival experiences and pitched up their tents in the Castle grounds. It was a perfect way to enjoy the gig for both local people and those coming from afar to see the band.

There was dancing in the moonlight to the sounds of Toploader and fellow Brit pop superstars Space who joined the band for a magical experience within the walls of the historic castle.

The cabinet member with responsibility for innovation, enterprise and leisure, councilor Bob Greenland, said: “This is has been the culmination of tremendous week of events at Caldicot Castle. It is fantastic to see so many bands and their fans coming to the county. We are very lucky to have such as flexible space to enable people of all ages to experience live music. I look forward to many more events.’

 

 

Friday night was awesome at Caldicot Castle. The indie folk band, Rusty Shackle played their biggest hometown gig ever inside the beautiful walls of Caldicot Castle.  The local crowd were captivated a stunning high-energy level performance and the festival vibes continued as many people camped in the stunning country park after the gig.

The six-piece group are made up of band members Liam Collins, Baz Barwick, Owen Emmanuel, Ryan Williams and brothers Scott and James McKeon. They combine guitars, fiddle, banjo, bass, mandola, trumpet, tenor guitar and tight vocal harmonies to create a sound that is unique to them and one that instantly fills you with emotion.

The atmosphere was wonderful as many of the fans have followed the band from their early days growing up in Caldicot and the surrounding areas. The response was tremendous to the much-loved tunes inspired by a mixture of folk, rock and Celtic.

Fans beamed with pride and watched the local lads play their biggest crowd yet in the heart of their home town.

Rusty Shackle were joined by special guests; The Apple Tree Theory and Siôn Russell Jones.

Scott McKeon from Rusty Shackle commented:

“We have been lucky enough to travel and play at some of the most iconic venues and festivals around the UK. But this huge sell out gig in our hometown feels like a major milestone and is particularly poignant for us. It just shows how much our hometown of Caldicot has supported us on our journey.”

The cabinet member with responsibility for innovation, enterprise and leisure, councillor Bob Greenland, said: “Tonight has a been a night of Monmouthshire at its best – amazing local bands, born and bred in the county, supported by a local crowd in the amazing Caldicot Castle Country Park. This reinforces our belief that Monmouthshire –It’s more than the place, it’s the people.’

 

 

Pop sensations Little Mix cast a spell over 15,000 adoring fans at Caldicot Castle last night.

The world’s biggest girl group performed hit after hit to a packed out audience inside the castle’s beautiful country park.

Renowned for their unique brand of catchy pop tunes, Little Mix served up a poptastic performance full of energy and passion that had the audience hooked.

The four-piece of Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Jade Thirlwall have not looked back since winning the X Factor in 2011 and have earned a reputation for their energetic, entertaining shows. They certainly did not disappoint last night.

With the crowd warmed up by special guests Sheppard and Louisa Johnson, Little Mix delivered a mesmerizing performance with brilliant harmonies and cleverly choreographed dance moves.

The group are currently touring the UK with their Summer Shout Out shows and last night’s performance certainly lived up to its billing, with thousands of fans singing along to their favourite songs.

The cabinet member with responsibility for innovation, enterprise and leisure, councillor Bob Greenland, said: “It’s not often you get to see acts like Little Mix perform in such stunning surroundings and I’m thrilled with how they embraced performing at one of Wales’ most iconic landmarks.

“Entertaining is clearly in their DNA and, on last night’s performance, they clearly have many Glory Days still ahead of them!

“This spectacular show was the latest in our diverse and dynamic public programme of events here at Caldicot Castle.

“We want to lead the way in housing contemporary arts and culture events in south east Wales and nothing signals this intent more than welcoming one of the world’s biggest pop groups.”

The Little Mix performance was the first of four nights of live performances at the iconic venue, with Rusty Shackle, Ocean Colour Scene and Only Men Aloud headlining shows between now and Sunday.

For more information, go to visitmonmouthshire.gov.uk

This year’s Velothon Wales has been the best yet in Monmouthshire with local people taking part, volunteering and cheering on cyclists travelling through the beautiful county.

Support in Usk and Goytre for example was tremendous with local people hosting street parties with their neighbours and wandering to pubs and cafes. It was wonderful to see so many people cheering, playing music and waving flags to support the 9,000 cyclists enjoying the Monmouthshire countryside. At the feed station in Usk residents volunteered to support cyclists with snacks and water. The town looked stunning decorated in brightly decorated bikes and beautiful flower displays.

Rolling road closures for the pro event this year meant that county roads were closed for a shorter amount of time to minimise disruption to residents..

Cllr Bob Greenland, cabinet member with responsibility for leisure said: “I would like to thank all Monmouthshire residents and staff who were involved in this year’s Velothon, the atmosphere in the county was amazing with people cheering, waving flags, displaying decorated bikes and bunting – what a great way to encourage more people to get on their bike and feel like a pro rider for the day.  Monmouthshire is brilliant at welcoming and hosting major events and I look forward to more sporting events to celebrate all that Monmouthshire has to offer in the future.”

The Velothon Wales cycling event on Sunday 9th July promises to be an excellent opportunity for Monmouthshire’s residents to witness the impressive sight of 10,000 cyclists crossing the county. With a number of local catering businesses opening early it’ll also be a great chance for people to make the most of the morning while enjoying a sumptuous breakfast. For example, in Usk the Nags Head pub in Twyn Square will be serving coffee and cake, the Three Salmons Hotel will be open for its renowned breakfast and the Castle Inn, Green Flute Café and Blossoms coffee shop will all be open from 10am – a great start to the day while passing cyclists eat up the miles!  For a lovely lunch the New Court Inn and Hall Inn will also be open.

Residents wishing to watch the event should note the key times that cyclists will start arriving in Monmouthshire:

o   Magor: First 140km amateur cyclists expected 7:58am

o   Usk: First 140km amateur cyclists expected 8:40am

o   Nant-y-Derry: First 140km amateur cyclists expected 8:55am

o   Llanfoist: First 140km amateur cyclists expected 9:07am

o   Tumble summit: First 140km amateur cyclists 9:17am

o   Little Mill: First 110km amateur cyclists expected 10:14am

Cllr Bob Greenland, cabinet member with responsibility for leisure said: “This is the third year that we have welcomed cyclists to beautiful Monmouthshire. It has been great to see so many visitors exploring our county during their training for the occasion and I would urge residents to make the most of this wonderful chance to watch this spectacular event taking place right on our doorstep. It has also been great to see the creativity and spirit of our residents in Usk – the streets, shops, cafes, pubs and businesses here look beautiful adorned with crocheted, painted and themed bikes which complement Usk’s flower displays.”

The county council’s waste and recycling team has donated unwanted bikes to the local community to be decorated and displayed around the town in celebration of the Velothon’s arrival.  Many have found new homes on railings, outside shops, houses, civic buildings and pubs, in parks and at the entrances to the town.

Economy Secretary Ken Skates said: “I’m delighted that the people of Monmouthshire are embracing and celebrating the arrival of the Velothon in such varied and creative ways. This welcome will no doubt leave an impression on the cyclists and spur them on and will create a great atmosphere for local people during the event. Spectators in Wales usually give visitors and home-grown competitors alike a real warm Welsh welcome and can add to a fantastic atmosphere, and we’re looking forward to a legendary Velothon Wales this year.”

Cllr Isobel Brown, Usk Town Council added: “Usk Town Council is thrilled with the way Usk Primary School, residents and businesses have got behind this initiative to welcome the 2017 Velothon riders and our message to ‘Cycle Usk!’. We want them to know that Usk is a fantastic year round cycling destination with a range of great cycling routes suitable for all levels and abilities that can be easily accessed from the town. We also have a wonderful range of hotels, pubs and coffee shops for cyclists wanting to stay the night or drop into en route. We are all excited and will be out on the streets to cheer the Velothon through on 9th July.”

For resident information and full details of road closures contact:

Budding entrepreneurs in Monmouthshire considering starting their own business could benefit from new free start-up workshops this month.

The Welsh Government’s Business Wales service, in partnership with Monmouthshire County Council, is holding a series of new workshops aimed to equip delegates with the knowledge to develop their ideas further and guide them towards making their business a success.

Delivered by experienced advisers, the workshops in Monmouth and Newport are intended to provide in-depth knowledge, develop practical skills and encourage confidence among aspiring Welsh entrepreneurs at the beginning of their business journey. The workshops will help them assess their personal skills and will cover a variety of topics, including pricing, marketing, sourcing funding, legal issues, financial and business planning.

Workshops will take place in Monmouth Community Hub (Whitecross Street) and the Business in Focus Newport office (89, Lower Dock St), as follows:

Starting a business: Taking the plunge: 9.30am to 4pm

Newport – Monday, 17th July

Monmouth – Wednesday, 26th July

Places at the workshops may be booked by visiting: https://wales.business-events.org.uk/ or calling 01656 868500.

Business Wales’ Regional Manager for South Wales, David apjohn-Williams, said: “Part of our strategy at Business Wales is to encourage and support business start-ups and job creation across Wales. We believe that our new workshops provide a great opportunity for entrepreneurs in Monmouthshire to gain an understanding of the key principles and practical skills, required to start their own business.

“We are really happy to introduce these workshops in the area and encourage everyone who wants to discuss their business idea further or, indeed, their fears and challenges, to come along.”

Councillor Bob Greenland, Cabinet Member for Enterprise at Monmouthshire County Council added: “One of the council’s priorities is to support business and job creation so we’re delighted to recommend these helpful workshops to anyone aiming to start their own business in the county.”

Business Wales, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government, supports the sustainable growth of small and medium size enterprises across the country by offering access to information, guidance and business support.

To find out how Business Wales can help start or develop your business, call 0300 060 3000, follow @_businesswales or @_busnescymru or visit www.businesswales.gov.wales/ or www.busnescymru.llyw.cymru/ for further information.

A leading Monmouthshire trading standards officer has been recognised for outstanding contribution to the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) and its annual conference.  Gareth Walters was presented with the award by Peter McVeigh, managing director of sponsor Status International at CTSI’s annual conference, held this year in Harrogate.

Gareth’s award was made for his voluntary role in helping in the running of CTSI’s annual Consumer Affairs and Trading Standards Conference, using his personal time with the support of the council, alongside his professional role in the trading standards profession, to act as front of house manager.  The conference, one of the largest of its type in Europe, provides trading standards officers from across the UK with continuous professional and personal development through numerous workshops and plenaries dealing with consumer protection and business guidance.

Gareth has dealt with a large number of VIP speakers since he originally stepped up as a volunteer at the beginning of the millennium, a role he has maintained every year since.  These have included government ministers and the chief executives of national corporations.  In addition he has managed the staging of the Hero Awards – awards given to consumers who have worked with the trading standards service to expose rogue traders and helped with consumer protection.

Leon Livermore, Chartered Trading Standards Institute chief executive, said: “Gareth has been the consummate professional, bringing all the authority of his role as a trading standards officer, to front of house manager.  The smooth running of this conference, which provides trading standards officers from across the UK with continuous professional and personal development through workshops and plenaries, benefits enormously from such generous and voluntary time given by CTSI members like Gareth.  I am delighted that our main sponsor, Status International, has created this new award for his contribution to CTSI and conference”.

Monmouthshire County Council’s leisure team is offering an exclusive membership promotion providing the key to summer fitness!  Join MonLeisure before 23rd July and get six weeks’ membership for £45.  This promotion offers everything needed to exceed health and fitness expectations.

MonLeisure provides many great activities and classes with free personalised fitness plans and a personal training session with every membership.  With friendly and fully qualified instructors as well as easily-operated state of the art equipment, its four leisure centres offer seasoned gym-goers and complete beginners all they need in a welcoming environment.

MonLeisure membership provides access to over 160 fitness classes, three swimming pools (all with accessible hoists and steps), four gyms, changing facilities for people with disabilities and free parking across all four leisure centres in Abergavenny, Caldicot, Chepstow and Monmouth.

Other facilities include:

  • 1 floodlit FIFA approved 3G pitch at Caldicot Leisure Centre
  • 6 squash courts (Abergavenny x 2, Caldicot x 2 and Monmouth x 2)
  • 4 full size AstroTurf pitches
  • 4 four court multipurpose sports halls
  • 2 multipurpose gymnasiums (Abergavenny and Monmouth)
  • 3 four court outdoor multi-use games areas (Abergavenny, Caldicot and Chepstow)
  • 2 outdoor multi-use games pitches for football, basketball, netball or tennis (Abergavenny and Monmouth)
  • 3 saunas (Abergavenny and Chepstow)
  • 1 bouldering wall at Monmouth Leisure Centre
  • 4 dedicated disability changing rooms with hoist, height adjustable changing table and accessible shower
  • Various outdoor grass pitches

All four leisure centres open early enough to allow people extra time before a busy day ahead and provide a warm welcome with support as well as convenient, community facilities that offer so much at a great price.

For membership details contact your local centre:

  • Abergavenny Leisure Centre 01873 735360
  • Caldicot Leisure Centre 01291 426850
  • Chepstow Leisure Centre 01291 635745
  • Monmouth Leisure Centre 01600 775135

 

For more information visit http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/promotions-at-monleisure

With less than a week to go, fans of Eighties rock can grab the chance to relive their youth and dance the night away when five classic acts from the era visit Caldicot Castle on Friday, 7th July.  The one day Retroactive Festival is headlined by hit machine The Human League with support from Spandau Ballet’s Tony Hadley, Jason Donovan, Imagination featuring Leee John and tribute act One Night of Queen.  Tickets are moving quickly so organisers have advised people planning on attending the gig to purchase early or face disappointment.

Gates open at 3pm and the music starts two hours later.  Camping is available on Friday night in the beautiful grounds of the neighbouring country park.

Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for leisure said: “This is a rare opportunity to catch noted performers from the 1980’s in a wonderful setting – and on our doorstep.  Music starts at 5pm so people will be able to finish work and make the most of the evening.”

Tickets are available by:

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

On Wednesday 28th June Judy Murray, nationally acclaimed tennis coach and mother of Wimbledon champion Andy Murray visited Abergavenny Leisure Centre to kick start the She Rallies tennis programme. She Rallies has been established to increase the number of women and girls playing tennis and to create more opportunities for them in sport.

Over 45 pupils from Abergavenny’s King Henry VIII School and 30 children from local primary schools took part in the afternoon along with 20 local tennis coaches. Two sessions took place, the first with pupils who participated in a range of fun activities and asked Judy some burning questions. Local coaches took part in the later session and worked on key skills as well as receiving words of wisdom from Judy on how more women and girls can be encouraged to get involved in tennis.

Chairman of Monmouthshire County Council, Cllr Maureen Powell took part in the warm up session with pupils from local schools. Cllr Maureen Powell said; ‘It was a pleasure to be invited to the launch of She Rallies. Grass roots sport is such an important way to enable our children, young people and their families to be active. There are so many opportunities to play a range of sports on their doorstep. It was lovely to meet Judy Murray and I thank her for bringing the She Rallies initiative to Monmouthshire.’

The event was organised by local tennis coach Carys Howard-Rees of Abergavenny Tennis Club who is passionate about engaging girls and women in the sport.

For more information about tennis or the She Rallies programme in Monmouthshire contact Paul Sullivan, Sports Development Officer –  07825 853882 – or visit the She Rallies website: www.sherallies.com

 

Tags: , , ,

Following the recent county council elections Monmouthshire has appointed chairs to its five select committees, the bodies which examine and scrutinise as part of the council’s decision-making machinery.

In common with all Welsh county councils, Monmouthshire has adopted the cabinet model of governance to aid swift and decisive decision-making.  However, all decisions taken by cabinet members are subject to scrutiny and cabinet members are held accountable for their performance and actions.  Select committee members can challenge officers and cabinet members on the effectiveness of services delivered in the county and they can also invite other bodies to select committee meetings to discuss services such as broadband delivered to Monmouthshire’s residents.  This could include calling in private sector service providers and government agencies to ensure that services delivered to the taxpayer are effective, efficient and of a high quality.

Select committees meet on a six-weekly cycle and each holds a 15 minute public forum at the beginning of its meeting.  The community is welcome to attend and suggest future issues for scrutiny or to offer their views on the topics to be discussed at the meeting.  Residents wishing to involve themselves in a scrutiny meeting should contact the chair of the relevant select committee.

The chairs of the council’s five select committees are:

  • Children and Young People – Cllr Martyn Groucutt
  • Adult – Cllr Simon Howarth
  • Strong Communities – Cllr Jane Pratt
  • Economy and Development – Cllr Paul Pavia
  • Public Service Board – this committee is chaired on a rotational basis by the chairs of the other four committees

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for governance, Councillor Paul Jordan said: “We’re committed to ensuring the highest standards of governance and accountability across the council’s portfolio and will be working with members and officers to raise performance in service delivery.”

For further information on scrutiny log on to: www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/scrutiny

An action day held in Monmouthshire last week (Thursday, 22nd June) has drawn attention to the anti-social nature of dog mess left on pavements, parks, play areas and paths.  The Give Dog Fouling the Red Card campaign – a partnership between the county council’s environmental health, waste and street cleaning teams as well as a number of town and community councils and the police – ran events in the county with an aim of reducing the amount of dog mess left in public areas, one of the most frequently raised environmental issues.

 Council staff visited Monmouth and were joined by members of community groups in areas identified as dog mess hotspots.  They discussed the problem with local dog walkers, handing out free dog poo bags and leaflets about the Give Dog Fouling the Red Card campaign, of which Monmouth Town Council is a partner.  An additional dog fouling sign was erected at Rockfield football ground where dog fouling is a real issue.

 In the south of the county, councillors in Magor & Undy encouraged responsible dog ownership by handing out free dog poo bags to be used and disposed of in the area’s 30 dog bins.

 While the emphasis was on seeking the support of dog owners, officials warned that the persistent few who continue to act irresponsibly could face a fixed penalty notice of £75.  A person who refuses to pay can expect to be prosecuted in court where the fine can be up to £1,000.  Dog owners who do not pick up can be reported to the council via http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/home/streets-parking-and-transport/recycling-and-waste/dogfouling/ which gives residents the option to use the council’s recently-introduced My Monmouthshire app to log problems with dog fouling.

 Monmouthshire County Council’s cabinet member for operations, Councillor Bryan Jones said: “We all dislike the sight of dog mess on our streets, and instances of children coming home with it on their shoes or sports kit are infuriating.  Action days such as this are a really useful opportunity to raise the profile of this continuing concern and for all of us to make sure we are responsible dog owners.  Quite simply – bag it and bin it!”

 

Work will commence shortly on the access to Monmouthshire County Council’s household waste recycling centre (HWRC) at Usk to improve safety for visitors, residents and site staff.

 The council will erect a fence and gate at the entrance to the site adjacent to the town’s Maryport Street car park to ensure that operations involving skips are kept separate from the public.  In addition, dedicated parking will be made available for visitors to the site.  These measures follow a study by contractors Viridor indicating that the current arrangements carry a real risk of accidental damage.

 A further move will involve setting up a dedicated route within the car park for HGVs leaving the site.  This will eliminate danger to pedestrians and parked cars posed by large vehicles as they navigate narrow spaces and tight corners.  Eight parking spaces will be removed to accommodate this exit.

 Monmouthshire’s recycling and waste team will publicise the changes within the car park and via social media.  Work is scheduled to start on Monday 3rd July.

 Monmouthshire County Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for recycling and waste, Councillor Bryan Jones said: “The protection of the public is of utmost importance to us so we are taking steps to remove any hazards.  Usk’s HWRC is a very popular amenity bringing lots of visitors into town and these improvements will ensure that it can continue to operate safely for the future.”

 For further information on Monmouthshire’s HWRCs log on to: http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/recycling-and-waste/household-waste-recycling-centres

As the main season for tying the knot approaches, Monmouthshire’s trading standards officers are warning residents to avoid falling victim to scams while they make preparations for weddings.

According to online bridal source www.bridesmagazine.co.uk/ the average cost of a wedding is over £30,000 which includes the services of multiple vendors like photographers, caterers, reception venues and travel companies.  Many of these require booking several months in advance with an immediate obligation to pay a deposit or even the full balance.  All of these transactions are potentially liable to fraudulent action by scammers.

Some companies run their businesses entirely via social media sites, offering low cost services.  Most are genuine though some may not be insured or may even be fraudulent. But being aware of the potential risks and following the following prevention advice could minimise the likelihood of fraud:

 

  • Obtain a physical address and contact details for the vendor and verify this information. This will allow the opportunity to make a complaint to Trading Standards or consider pursuing via the Small Claims Court.

 

  • Obtain a contract before paying money for services. Fully read and understand what is offered before applying a signature and note the terms of cancellation.

 

  • Consider purchasing wedding insurance – policies vary in cover and can be purchased up to two years in advance. They can provide protection from eventualities not covered under the Consumer Credit Act.

 

  • Research each vendor, ensuring they represent a bona fide person or company. Explore the internet for reviews and ratings and ask the vendor to provide details of past clients you can speak to. This course of action is recommended by trading standards officers even if companies have been proposed by a trustworthy friend or source.

 

  • For services such as wedding photography, beware of websites using fake images. Look for inconsistencies in style, meet the photographer and ask to view sample albums.

Trading standards officers further advise that paying for services by credit card provides protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act for single item purchases above £100 and below £30,000. Even if a company goes into liquidation before the big day, a refund can be claimed through the credit card company.

Councillor Sara Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for public protection said: “If something appears too good to be true, it probably is!  Always take precautions and research that the options available are genuine when spending large sums of money on services.”

For further advice or to report any problems to Trading Standards call 03454 04 05 06.

A public exhibition taking place in Monmouth will feature proposed plans to improve the A40/A466 Wye Bridge junction linking the town with the Wye Valley and the Forest of Dean. The exhibition is hosted in partnership with Monmouthshire County Council and the Welsh Government at Shire Hall, Agincourt Square on Friday 7th July from 11am to 7pm and Saturday 8th July from 10am to 5pm.

The exhibition will display measures to reduce traffic congestion and minimise delays as well as improvements to pedestrian access by connecting the town to communities living and working on the east bank.  Improvements will be achieved by constructing a third lane on the southbound approach of the A40 and upgrading the subway approach ramps. Representatives from Monmouthshire County Council, Welsh Government and consulting engineers WSP/Parsons Brinkerhoff will be present to talk and listen to the public about the proposals.

County Councillor Bryan Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for highways said: “We understand the frustration that congestion and delays on the Wye Bridge junction cause to drivers and communities in Monmouth, the Wye Valley and the Forest of Dean. I welcome these proposals and urge the public to take time out to visit the exhibition.”

For more information contact: Peter Woodrow, Project Officer Monmouthshire County Council call 01633 644781 or email peterwoodrow@monmouthshire.gov.uk

 

There are now only two contracts for which transport has still to be arranged and parents are aware that we are working on getting the transport sorted as soon as possible.

 Temporary contracts have been arranged for all other students for the remainder of the academic year. The contracts will go for tender for the new academic year but our priority has been to ensure that the children have suitable transport in place as soon as possible.

 An impressive effort by our Passenger Transport Unit staff!

 

Exciting progress on the site of Monmouthshire County Council’s new comprehensive school for Monmouth has become evident as the construction enters a crucial phase.  The main frame consisting entirely of British steel is being erected and follows impressive site engineering and logistics to prepare for the new secondary school, which will replace the existing provision for the area’s 11 to 18 year olds.

 The new £47m secondary school is on schedule and will be ready for occupation at the start of September 2018.  The new school is constructed under the 21st Century Schools and Education Programme – jointly funded by the Welsh Government and the county council – and is part of an agenda that has already delivered a new primary school for Raglan as well as the new secondary school in Caldicot.  This will be ready at the start of the new academic year this September.

 Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for Children and Young People, Councillor Richard John said: “I’m delighted to witness such great progress as we look forward to the launch of this state of the art learning facility for Monmouth and the surrounding area.”

 Richard added: “The 21st Century Schools Programme is not just about bricks and mortar – it’s more than that.  It’s also about adding value to the local community and economy through its Community Benefits Programme.  Our contracting partner, Interserve Construction PLC, is working together with the council, members of the local community and the school to identify opportunities through the programme which include local projects and apprenticeships as well as training and vocational opportunities.”

 For more information on the 21st Century Schools and Education Community Benefits Programme log onto: http://21stcenturyschools.org/guidance/community-benefits/?lang=en

 

Monmouthshire County Council and Gwent Association of Voluntary Organisations (GAVO) are inviting nominations to salute people who generously give their time and share their skills to benefit the community. The two organisations will join forces to host the county’s annual Monmouthshire Volunteer Achievement Awards celebration evening with a gala event at Caldicot Choir Hall on Friday 27th October.

Categories for the awards are Young Volunteer, Adult, Group, Environmental, Trustee, Inspirational Journey and the Personal Journey Award.  Nominations close on Friday 28th July.

GAVO’s Volunteering Team Manager and Coordinator (Monmouthshire), Clare Jones said: “By working together, we aim to make this event a bigger and far-reaching celebration, recognising those people or groups who invest their time and passion in our communities. If you know someone who volunteers in Monmouthshire and deserves a big ‘Thank You’ please make a nomination.” Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for innovation added: “Volunteers share thousands of hours across our county, improving people’s lives and the communities in which they live.  The Volunteer Achievement Awards evening gives us the opportunity to recognise and highlight the work of volunteers and the impact they make.”

Make a nomination by logging on to www.gavowales.org.uk/recognition. Winners and highly commended nominees with their guests will be invited to attend October’s awards ceremony.

For further information or to receive a paper nomination form please ring 01633 241550 or email volunteering@gavowales.org.uk

A Monmouth community project is enjoying the benefits of compost produced from garden waste collected in the town by the council’s recycling and waste service.  Monmouthshire County Council’s My Day My Life Hub community garden at Overmonnow Family Learning Centre is using compost processed locally by the Green Waste Company to grow vegetables, salad crops and fruit.

 Day Centre Officer Cathryn Yeates said: “It’s great that we’re able to re-use waste from the gardens of Monmouth’s residents.  This is closed loop recycling at its very greenest.”

 Abergavenny’s Green Waste Company has reprocessed garden waste from Monmouth and Abergavenny for over a year and has been successful in securing a longer term contract to reprocess all the garden waste produced in the county from 2018.  The company’s Andrew Lewis said: “It’s great to be able to support the Monmouth My Day My Life Hub garden like this.  We are delighted to be working with the council and with this exciting community project.  Our Green2Earth composted soil improver is a locally produced, sustainable product which will improve soil structure, increase worm population and provide a slow releasing source of nitrogen, phosphates and potash for the garden.  We look forward to hearing about the successes of this project and supplying Monmouthshire residents with our Green2 Earth soil improver.”

 Councillor Bryan Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for recycling and waste added: “This is a really positive initiative and delivers on so many of the aspirations of the Wellbeing and Future Generations Act.  It encompasses a local company securing a long term contract to reprocess garden waste, creating jobs, making a positive contribution to the environment, reducing carbon emissions and being able to use the compost in such a sustainable way.”

 For further information on turning garden waste into compost contact Education and Awareness Officer Sue Parkinson – SusanParkinson@monmouthshire.gov.uk

 

Monmouthshire’s trading standards officers are warning consumers that illegally-adapted TV set-top boxes infected with malware allow scammers to steal personal details to commit fraud.  The malware is innocently disguised as a play button or similar and when unknowingly initiated by the user it potentially impacts on other electronic devices.  Users will normally use personal details when setting up the set-top box which could be used to defraud them.

This fraudulent trend runs hand in hand with the sale of set-top boxes adapted by criminals to unlawfully receive TV channels protected by copyright laws, so viewers can access illegal content.

Councillor Sara Jones, cabinet member with responsibility for public protection said: “Safeguarding the public from illegal streaming services via set-top boxes is vital to the UK economy, our creative industries and the many people employed in them.  We are also aware that some imported set-top boxes are spiked with malware to give criminals access to your personal details.  Consequently, what may appear to be a bargain can quickly turn into a nightmare caused by loss of personal data and loss of your hard-earned cash.”

Monmouthshire’s Trading Standards Team Leader, Gareth Walters advised residents to purchase set-top and streaming boxes from recognised outlets only and contact their bank if they suspect dubious transactions have been made.  He added: “When signing up to websites or internet services, use a password or PIN you have not used elsewhere.  It’s also very important to use Two Factor Authentication – extra layers of security requiring a password, username and unique information – when accessing important accounts.”

For further advice or to report any illegal activity to Trading Standards call 03454 04 05 06.

 

This afternoon (Tuesday 13th June) we’re pleased to say that alternative transport arrangements are in place for 25 of the 29 contracts.

 The new contracts will start over the next few days. Parents are being advised as and when the arrangements are being confirmed.

 The council’s Passenger Transport Unit  staff are optimistic that the remaining contracts can be organised by the end of the week and parents will be advised when these new contracts are put in place.

 Recovering from the loss of a major transport operator in such a short time is difficult and staff have worked hard with the cooperation of other transport providers to restore transport arrangements.

 We remain grateful for parents’ patience and support while the new arrangements are put in place.

 

 

Issued at 6pm, Monday 12th June

JMC Taxis ceased trading yesterday with 29 contracts and 114 students being left without transport today.

Providing alternative providers has been difficult but by the end of the day officers have arrangements in place for half of the contracts which should start operating before the end of the week. There are few operators who have capacity to take on extra contracts or staff with the necessary safeguarding checks and training so providing alternative arrangements is proving a challenge. We are grateful for parents’ patience in this matter and we appreciate that parents are making alternative arrangements in the interim. Over the rest of the week we will try and finalise arrangements for all contracts and students. In the interim we will reimburse parents for the fuel costs; those wishing to follow this up should contact the Passenger Transport Unit on 01633 644777.

Obviously parents will wish to make individual enquiries but a further update will be published tomorrow.

A meeting of Monmouthshire County Council’s Lower Wye Valley Area Committee takes place at 10am on Wednesday 14th June within Chepstow Leisure Centre’s café and the public are invited to participate in an open forum to discuss matters of interest.  In addition, they will be able to observe discussions on local transport issues, Severn Bridge tolls and strategies to involve the public in the committee’s operations.

 The Lower Wye Valley Area Committee is just one of Monmouthshire’s area committees, all of which meet on a quarterly basis.  The others are the Bryn-y Cwm, Central Monmouthshire and Severnside area committees.  Area committees help the council shape major proposals affecting the area, coordinate services on a local level, advise on implications of the council’s objectives, plans and policies and encourage effective collaboration with public, private and voluntary sector partners to help the council meet the aspirations of the local community.

 Further meetings of the Lower Wye Valley Area Committee take place on 20th September, 17th January 2018 and 25th April 2018. All meetings start at 10am and members of the public who wish to attend should check the location before setting out as the committee meets at different venues within the area. The agenda is made available on Monmouthshire County Council’s website a week before each meeting.

 Council Leader Peter Fox said: “We encourage residents to attend area committees, participate in a forum that receives the opinions of local communities and view discussions and debate on matters of particular relevance to them.”

 

We received a message late yesterday afternoon that Monmouth-based JMC Taxis no longer operates so the council is working hard to ensure we can provide transport to replace the 29 different contracts affected. The contracts range from minibuses to special education transport with escorts.

 We are exploring solutions to cover this number of contracts in terms of drivers, escorts and vehicles (some of which have adaptations like tail lifts) but we are contacting other operators to see if they can provide a replacement service promptly. 

 Meanwhile, we apologise for any inconvenience but we can assure you we’re doing our utmost to resolve this situation.

 

 

http://democracy.monmouthshire.gov.uk/mgElectionAreaResults.aspx?ID=251&RPID=1008983

You can now view your polling station online on the following page –  http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/elections-voting-and-registration

A Monmouthshire County Council care home resident celebrated her 100th birthday in style last week surrounded by family and friends.  Edith Head was born in Troedrhiwgwair, Tredegar in June 1917 and has lived in Chepstow’s Severn View Residential Home for the past two years.  Her centenary was marked by a party at Severn View attended by approximately fifty people with a special cake and a sumptuous buffet prepared by the care home kitchen staff as well as telegrams from The Queen, the First Minister for Wales and the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

 Edith has led a full life having started part-time work at 12 to clean a farmhouse.  She left school at 14 and became a parlour maid in Brighton, later working in a boys’ reformatory school in Barry.

 After a spell in the WRAF she left to work in a munitions factory before training as a nurse in Merthyr Tydfil. She was based in Ebbw Vale Hospital and subsequently became a nursing sister in Pontypool’s Panteg Steelworks.

 Edith has a son and daughter who visit regularly as well as three grandsons and five great grandchildren.  Daughter Kaye Watson of Caldicot said: “We’d like to thank the staff at Severn View for the standard of care offered to mam.  The family are always given a warm welcome when we visit.”

 Monmouthshire’s Head of Care, Kim Wallace who manages Severn View added: “It’s hard to put into words the feelings and emotions of what today means to everyone here.  Celebrating Edith’s 100th birthday, her telegram from the Queen, sharing in the family’s happiness and pride, seeing the joy on Edith’s face as she shares special moments with the youngest members of her family …..  it’s what matters most to all of us here at Severn View; this really is an extraordinary day and it’s an absolute privilege to be part of Edith’s extra special birthday.”

 

Volunteers preparing a new Parkrun course have ensured that their route makes the most of Monmouthshire’s natural beauty and will be clean and tidy following a litter-picking session.  The course is between Caldicot and Rogiet and runners will soon enjoy a weekly timed five kilometre route free from rubbish.

 Coordinated by Keep Wales Tidy and assisted by Monmouthshire County Council’s waste and leisure teams, keen litter pickers collected a tonne of rubbish in just two hours along roads and watercourses.  Materials collected included building rubble, bottles, cans, car parts and several bags of household rubbish dragged out of reens. 

 Monmouthshire’s Chief Executive, Paul Matthews said: “I am delighted that the county is getting involved in the ‘park run’ movement. It’s a fun way to get fit and to make new friendships. I’m on record as saying how much I loathe fly-tippers. It’s a disgrace that others have to put themselves out because of them but it’s testament to these volunteers that they have made the place look so good by coming together to clear litter and improve the environment for wildlife.”

 Following the clean-up the area will be monitored by enforcement officers from Monmouthshire County Council and Natural Resources Wales who work closely with neighbouring authorities on surveillance across the Gwent Levels to reduce the blight of litter and fly-tipping.  For further information contact the council’s Education and Awareness Officer Sue Parkinson – SusanParkinson@monmouthshire.gov.uk

 The Caldicot Parkrun is free of charge and will be launched shortly. For further information about participating contact Community Sport Development Officer, Laura James – laurajames@monmouthshire.gov.uk – 07816 175761.

 

A series of events throughout June in Monmouthshire will raise awareness about environmental issues.  Organised by Monmouthshire Community Climate Champions – a partnership of community groups, renewable energy companies and the county council – an exciting programme will focus on energy efficiency, renewable energy and sustainable living.

The events – dubbed Energy Days – will run in conjunction with EU Sustainable Energy Week which takes place from 19th to 25th June.

Abergavenny’s Brewery Yard will host an Energy Day devoted to sustainable transport from 2pm to 8pm on Thursday 15th June with demonstrations of electric bikes and cars and the Rasa hydrogen-powered car developed by Llandrindod Wells-based designers River Simple, soon to be trialled in the county.  Close by, the historic market hall provides street food and a night market from 5pm to 9pm with crafts and music. Sustainable transport will also be a theme at the Grosmont Cycling Festival on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th June with the castle grounds featuring cycling activities for children, music and craft, food, drink and market stalls.

Sustainability community group, Transition Chepstow will demonstrate sustainable gardening and growing fruit and vegetables at its landshare on Sunday 11th June at the organic Hanley Farm Open Day in Tidenham from 10am to 4pm.  Tours, tractor and trailer rides and local food from the farm’s shop will be available. Also on Sunday 11th June, Coed Cefn in Tregare will open its beautiful organic gardens and orchards to visitors.

The previous day from 10am to 1pm Transition Monmouth’s stall at the town’s market will focus on the health benefits of eating a range of beans with free tasters and recipes.

Formal training will be provided at Dingestow Court’s Old Lands, a new community-supported agriculture project which is running two courses – No Dig Gardening on 10th and 11th June and Compost Making on 27th June.  Booking is essential.  A week later, visitors to the Wyesham Community Woodland Group community day on Sunday 18th June can discover how volunteers have improved Claypatch Wood for wildlife.  Refreshments, stalls and children’s activities will feature.

The South East Wales Energy Agency will hold its popular energy advice surgeries with tips to save on electricity and gas bills.  These will be held in Caldicot Library on Monday 19th June, Usk Community Hub on Wednesday 21st June and in Monmouth Community Hub on Friday 23rd June, all from 10am to 2pm.  People attending the surgeries can pick up an energy-saving lightbulb and find out how to save money by switching supplier.

In the north of the county, two eco homes designed by their architect owners will open their doors to reveal their energy-efficient properties. Abergavenny Transition Town will interview the owner of The Orchard in Llanfoist about living in his eco home at 2pm on Saturday 17th June followed by a tour.  The Long Barn in Gilwern will also offer tours at noon, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm on Saturday 24th June.

Monmouthshire’s Chief Executive Paul Matthews said: “Monmouthshire has a thriving and active environmental voluntary sector which has worked very hard to create a fascinating programme of events raising awareness of energy saving, renewable energy and sustainable living.  It is great to be able to join in with this international programme of events which we hope will have something to appeal to everyone.”

For further information on these Energy Day events visit: www.monecoopendoors.org.uk or contact Monmouthshire’s Sustainability Policy Officer Hazel Clatworthy – hazelclatworthy@monmouthshire.gov.uk – telephone 01633 644843.

 Monmouthshire County Council will mark Volunteers’ Week – an annual celebration of the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK – by recognising the success of members of the community who give their time and talents freely.  The council will publish a number of videos featuring the contributions of volunteers on its Facebook and Twitter channels during Volunteers’ Week which takes place from 1st to 7th June.

Within Monmouthshire, almost 2,000 volunteers support the county council to make a positive impact on the quality of life of their communities.  Up to fifty volunteers support youth workers and assist in the county’s provisions for young people.  Willing groups regularly survey and maintain rights of way to assist Monmouthshire’s Countryside Service, while events organised by the council owe much to the involvement of those acting as marshals or providing refreshments and first aid.  In outlying areas, the council’s Grass Routes scheme offers a bus service to residents who have difficulty accessing public transport and this relies heavily on volunteers to drive vehicles.  People interested in learning more about the council’s opportunities should contact lead officer for coordinating and developing volunteering, Owen Wilce – volunteering@monmouthshire.gov.uk or 01633 644420.

Volunteers benefit from their participation as it increases their confidence, helps them gain new skills and experience, friends and gives them an increased sense of purpose. Monmouthshire County Council offers support and guidance to ensure that the volunteering opportunity is a valuable, enjoyable experience.

Owen Wilce, the council’s lead officer for coordinating and developing volunteering said: “Volunteers Week is an opportunity to raise the profile of volunteering within Monmouthshire and to recognise and look for ways of making the experience even better.”

Monmouthshire’s Chief Executive Paul Matthews added: “The importance of voluntary contribution to the community cannot be underestimated.  We are very grateful for their dedication as well as the skills and valuable experience they offer.  We’re acknowledging the contribution of volunteers with a number of posts on our social media channels.”

Monmouthshire’s Volunteer Centre run by GAVO offers support and guidance – http://www.gavowales.org.uk/volunteering or call 01633 241566

For volunteering opportunities in your area visit: www.volunteering-wales.net

Acclaimed crime writer Matthew Hall returns to Chepstow Community Hub – off Welsh Street – to talk about his latest novel, “A Life to Kill”.  This latest community hub meet the author event takes place on Thursday 8th June from 7pm.

 Matthew (M R Hall) will also discuss his new screenplay “Keeping Faith”.

 Monmouthshire County Council’s Chief Executive Paul Matthews said: “Matthew made a very favourable impression on his last visit so we’re delighted to welcome him back to Chepstow for what promises to be an excellent evening.”

 The event is free and all are welcome.  For further information contact Library Officer Sallyanne Powell – SallyAnnePowell@monmouthshire.gov.uk – or telephone 01291 635730.

 

VELOTHON Wales riders will be welcomed into Monmouthshire by a sea of colour thanks to the creativity of the Usk community.

 More than 15,000 cyclists will race through the picturesque town on July 9th as VELOTHON Wales returns to the county. Riders taking on the challenging 140km and 110km routes will be given an eye-catching entrance to Usk after the local community pulled together with the help of Monmouthshire County Council’s recycling and waste teams to bring old, disused bikes to life. 

 The community came together at Usk CiW Primary School for the ‘Great Usk Bike Off’ party to promote the initiative and decorate more cycles to be put on display around the town in the lead-up to the event this summer.

 Nigel Russell, Event Director, VELOTHON Wales commented: “The fantastic support we have received from the people of Monmouthshire in the build-up to VELOTHON Wales 2017 is sure to help make it the biggest and best yet. 

 “The efforts made by all those who participated in the ‘Great Usk Bike Off’ will add an extra splash of colour to the carnival atmosphere, as Wales proves it is the place to be for sporting events once again.”

 If you are a keen cyclist, the 140km course is ideal for your next challenge. Amateur cyclists and pro riders alike will start in the heart of Cardiff city centre before heading east through Newport and Usk, before entering the Brecon Beacons National Park, home of the legendary Tumble climb. 

 If climbing the Tumble is not for you, a 110km course cuts out the fearsome climbs to half the elevation – just 940 metres. Capacity is limited for the 110km option and entries are almost sold out, so move fast to secure your place.

 Cllr Bob Greenland said: “Monmouthshire sends a warm welcome to people training for and taking part in the Velothon in our beautiful county – the perfect setting for cyclists to prepare for this summer’s event. It’s been wonderful to see the creativity of our residents in Usk – the streets, shops, cafes, pubs and businesses here are going to look beautiful decorated in these crocheted, painted and themed bikes which will complement Usk’s flower displays. Any communities who would like to decorate their towns, villages or streets are urged to contact us and we will be happy to provide bikes donated or rescued at our recycling centres to replicate Usk’s approach. 

 Cllr Isobel Brown, Usk Town Council commented: “I’m delighted with the way Usk Primary School, the Usk community and Usk businesses have embraced this initiative to welcome cyclists to our beautiful town. Usk is a fantastic cycling destination set in beautiful countryside with a range of great cycling routes suitable for all levels and abilities that can be easily accessed from the town. We also have a wonderful range of hotels, pubs and coffee shops for cyclists wanting to stay the night or drop into en route. Now with all these amazing  bikes going out around the town it feels like cycle fever could be about to hit Usk in a big way this summer!”

 Miss Natalie Eaton, Usk CiW Primary School Teacher added: “We are thrilled to be involved, the pupils are all very excited about the Velothon passing through Usk and can’t wait to go outside and cheer the cyclists on.  I’m very proud of the pupils’ enthusiasm to make their town the best that it can be and Eco club, craft club and the wider school community have all come together to make our Bike-Off a great success!”

 Download a free-to-use high quality Cycle Usk film here via WeTransfer: https://we.tl/mCWgLpaeYX

View the film here on YouTube: https://youtu.be/8mhy4sFF4Rk

 

Monmouthshire County Council has issued a reminder that residents have a duty of care to ensure that they dispose of their waste properly – or if they give it to someone else for disposal, to ensure they are a registered carrier of waste.  This follows a serious fly-tipping incident close to the Fox Hunter memorial on the Blorenge last week (17th May) which blocked the road between the Keepers Pond and Llanelen.  The council removed the rubbish promptly.

Recycling Strategy Manager, Carl Touhig said: “Our teams are sifting through the waste and if sufficient evidence can be found we will prosecute.  As well as the environmental and financial cost of removal the waste, emergency vehicles would have been unable to pass, putting life at risk in our rural communities.  If anyone recognises this waste please contact the council.  It is important to contact us early in the investigation process and pass on any available information.”

Councillor Bryan Jones, cabinet member for Operations said: “This is fly-tipping on a commercial scale.  It’s likely that householders have paid a rogue trader to have this rubbish removed and it has been dumped in a local beauty spot on the edge of the Brecon Beacons.  If you have relevant information please contact us so we can stop this blight on our communities.  We all have a duty of care to ensure that we dispose of our waste properly and if we give it to someone else to dispose of, to ensure they are a registered carrier of waste.  If your waste is dumped you could be fined.”

Call Natural Resources Wales on 0300 065 3000 or visit: www.naturalresourceswales.gov.uk to check if a person is a registered waste carrier.

For more information on fly-tipping log onto Monmouthshire County Council’s dedicated web pages: http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/recycling-and-waste/fly-tipping

Close work between Monmouthshire’s environmental health officers and a Chepstow food outlet has resulted in the premises achieving a vastly improved food hygiene rating.

Following an inspection on 8th December 2016 The Boat public house was awarded a zero food hygiene rating.  A subsequent hearing at Newport Magistrates Court on 5th May found Mrs Patricia Simpson of The Boat, The Back, Chepstow guilty of four offences.  She was fined a total of £1,900 and ordered to pay £1,000 costs.

Offences included supplying food that was unsafe for human consumption, failing to implement safe food management procedures to ensure food safety, failing to maintain the food premises in a clean condition and non-display of the current food hygiene rating.

Since the inspection, the business has worked closely with the council’s environmental health team to make great progress and the premises have now achieved a 4 (Good) food hygiene rating.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for food hygiene ratings, Councillor Sara Jones said: “The council’s 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. Our goal is for all food outlets in Monmouthshire to achieve an acceptable standard of hygiene and aim for excellence.”

Food businesses requiring help or advice, should contact Monmouthshire’s environmental health team on 01873 735420.

Monmouthshire County Council has chosen a new Chairman to serve for the next twelve months.  Councillor Maureen Powell was elected at the council’s annual general meeting on May 16th following nomination by Council Leader elect Peter Fox.  Councillor Fox said: “It gives me great pleasure to propose Maureen who has been a county councillor since 2008.  I’ve rarely met such a hard working person as this lady.”

Born in Hay-on-Wye and educated in Hereford, Councillor Powell has worked in farming, a garage, a chainsaw business, and also ran a bed and breakfast concern before retiring from full-time employment in 2002.  Her consort for the year is husband John. Together, they have five children, thirteen grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

Maureen has extensive political experience having first been elected to Grosmont Community Council in 1995.  She represents Abergavenny’s Castle ward, serves as a school governor and sits on a number of the council’s committees.  This will be her second time as Chairman following her term of office in the year leading up to May 2013.

Maureen attends St Mary’s Church in Abergavenny on a regular basis and is also keen on swimming, reading, and following local and Welsh rugby.  Her chosen charities for her year of office are the Alzheimer’s Society and the Wales Air Ambulance.

Leaders of the council’s political groups paid tribute to the work performed by outgoing Chairman, Councillor Jim Higginson, on his year of office.

In reply, Councillor Higginson reflected on the previous twelve months.  “This year has been an honour and a privilege for my consort Pauline Collier and me.  The county hosted the National Eisteddfod last summer and we visited the festival on each of the six days – it was such an achievement by everyone to make it a success.  We had the pleasure of representing the council on many other occasions including at a royal garden party, the Lord Mayor’s House and the Royal Albert Hall.  There were royal visits by Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke of Cambridge as well as the 50th anniversary of the Severn Bridge and celebrations of the historic two hundred year old Chepstow Bridge.  I sincerely appreciated working with everyone, and to Maureen I send best wishes – I know that you’ll enjoy your experience.”

Councillor Peter Clarke who represents the Llangybi ward was elected Vice-Chairman of the council.

Welsh Commonwealth Games athlete, Clinton Purnell, visited Mounton House Special School near Chepstow on Wednesday 10th May and invited students to join him in a display of gymnastics.  Clinton attended on behalf of the Sports for Champions UK programme which organises school visits for top British sports performers to inspire children and raise awareness, motivating them into active participation.  Over £120 was raised through sponsorship, benefitting both the school and the Sports for Champions programme.

 Mounton House offers gymnastics and trampolining at school and Clinton commented on the high standards achieved by students.  Clinton also addressed students in the school’s assembly and introduced a video.

 Headteacher Beverley Randall said: “It was a privilege to welcome Clinton to Mounton House School to hear about his experiences and for our students to enjoy a training session with such an accomplished athlete.”

 

Monmouthshire County Council has warmly acknowledged the importance of its local tourism industry.  Wales Tourism Week takes place from May 15th to 21st and the council has taken the opportunity to say a big thank you to all involved within Monmouthshire’s visitor economy for their dedication, enthusiasm and professionalism and the high quality welcome they offer.

 Tourism makes a significant and growing contribution to Monmouthshire’s economy.  The industry was worth £187m* to the county in 2015 with 10% real growth in terms of economic impact, 8.7% growth in visitor numbers and 1.5% growth in FTE jobs since 2012.

 Tourism growth isn’t something that happens by chance though.  It’s important to have a strategic plan to guide the county’s destination management and marketing to address identified priorities as well as delivering year round sustainable tourism growth which maximises the economic, social and environmental benefits of tourism across all parts of Monmouthshire.

 Monmouthshire’s last Destination Management Plan covered the period 2012 to 2015.  This plan has since been reviewed and a revised draft has been developed in consultation with stakeholders.  Final consultation is now underway and will close at 5pm on Wednesday 31st May.  The draft Destination Management Plan 2017-2020 and consultation response survey can be accessed by logging onto: www.visitmonmouthshire.com/destination-intelligence

 The plan establishes a clear framework for a public, private and voluntary sector partnership working to ensure a coordinated approach and best use of available resources.

 As part of the council’s commitment to continual improvement, it launched the fully responsive www.visitmonmouthshire.com website before Easter.  The results of the 2016 Monmouthshire tourism business survey, undertaken to inform the revised plan, clearly show that the website is an important element of the marketing mix.  Respondents to the survey also revealed that visitmonmouthshire.com and visitwales.com were the second and third most important online sources of business after their own websites.  The product database which feeds the Visit Monmouthshire website also provides material for the visitor information kiosks at key sites around Monmouthshire as well as the Visit Wales website.

 Local tourism received a boost last week when the council’s tourism team received notification of approval of Rural Development Programme funding.  This two year EU-funded project covers Monmouthshire and the rural wards of Newport and includes a study on best practice visitor information provision, a local visitor information point scheme and the development of Abergavenny and Chepstow tourist information centres as hubs for coach tourism.  The project aims to identify a sustainable future for the tourist information service and expand the benefits of coach tourism through development of closer working relationships with coach operators and local businesses.

 Monmouthshire’s Chief Executive Paul Matthews said: “Monmouthshire has so much to offer visitors, whether they come for the day or longer.  The county is the food capital of Wales, boasts incredible scenery, offers wonderful opportunities for cycling and walking, is home to castles, abbeys, historic market towns and industrial archaeology, is easy to get to and is the venue for many enticing events and attractions.  The Visit Monmouthshire website identifies all that’s best about the county.”

 Contact Visit Monmouthshire – tourism@monmouthshire.gov.uk – for further information.  For information on what to see and do in the area visit www.visitmonmouthshire.com

 

Monmouthshire’s Public Service Board (PSB) – a partnership which includes the county council, health board, Gwent Police, the South Wales Fire & Rescue Service and housing associations – has just published a study which centres on the well-being of the county.  The Well-being Assessment is based on data, research, studies and residents’ views. It considers the economy, environment and culture of Monmouthshire and localities within the county. The PSB will consider this evidence and decide which areas should be priorities in the next few years before publishing the county’s Well-being Plan early in 2018.

 

PSB Chair Paul Matthews said: “Public services need to plan for the long-term and the Well-being Assessment gives a great insight into what well-being means to our county and its communities.  Decisions made today will have real implications for our children and grandchildren so we are working together to ensure we develop and deliver a Well-being Plan that will improve social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being for people in the county.”

 

The Well-being Assessment can be accessed by logging onto http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/our-monmouthshire – in addition, a short video giving an overview of the main findings is available on Monmouthshire County Council’s YouTube channel.

 

Monmouth Community Hub will celebrate a popular children’s fictional character on Saturday 27th May with stories and activities about Elmer the Patchwork Elephant.  The Monmouth event starts at 11am and will be one of hundreds of national Elmer Day celebrations taking place in bookshops and libraries across the country.

Created by David McKee, Elmer was first published by Andersen Press in 1989.  Since then, Elmer’s iconic patchwork and playful character have made him a firm favourite in millions of households across the world.  Elmer encourages children to accept others’ differences and practice tolerance and kindness.

For more information about Elmer Day contact Monmouth Community Hub Library Officer Eira Lewis on 01600 775215.

Children in a Monmouthshire village enjoyed an afternoon’s outdoor play session in the street recently (Saturday 6th May) after the council arranged for a section of road to be closed to traffic for three hours.

Organised by local residents and Bristol-based charity “Playing Out”, youngsters in Sudbrook were able to cycle and ride their scooters near the Severn Tunnel pumping station as well as enjoying skipping, quoits and creating colourful chalk artworks on the road.  In addition, a local resident brought her guinea pigs along for children to feed and pet.

Organisers estimate that twenty-five children came to play over the course of the afternoon.  The council assisted with signage, training and supervision.

Local resident and organiser Karen Chadwick commented: “Children in Sudbrook go to lots of different primary schools, so they don’t have a chance to meet and socialise often.  Today has been a great opportunity to make new friends and for parents to get to know each other too.”

As well as organising Saturday’s play session, Karen also runs a weekly parent and toddler group at Caldicot Castle – further information can be found at www.damselsanddragons.co.uk.

Jacob Lee, aged 10 added: “It’s been really fun and I hope we get to do it again.  My favourite things were riding my bike and chalking.”

All attending the session at Sudbrook were keen to see further similar events.  More information can be found at www.playingout.net while for more information about outdoor play in Monmouthshire contact Whole Place Officer judithlangdon@monmouthshire.gov.uk .

Monmouthshire County Council’s Chief Executive Paul Matthews said: “We were glad to help bring the people of Sudbrook together by employing this type of initiative and offer the children an afternoon of fun and activity.”

Monmouthshire County Council Fostering Team are proud to support Fostering Fortnight 8th – 21st May with a new campaign to address the shortage of foster carers locally. The campaign ‘Fostering, one small step for you one giant leap for them’  aims to encourage people who would like to foster to get in touch, to find out how they can help transform lives.

Throughout Wales there is a shortage of at least 500 foster carers and Monmouthshire Council would like to recruit more foster carers who live in Monmouthshire to meet the needs of Monmouthshire children. By remaining within their own local area it can significantly enhance the life chances for babies, children and young people.

In Monmouthshire foster carers are desperately needed to care for babies, older children and teenagers on a short or long term basis. Carers are needed to provide short breaks for children with disabilities, similarly carers are needed to care for teenagers moving into independence on a supportive lodging basis.

There is no special requirement to becoming a foster carer, people from all walks of life are welcomed to get in touch. The team are looking for people who have ‘life experience’ to support vulnerable children and who are committed to making a difference to them. Foster carers need to have ‘a strong commitment’ to children and be willing to go that extra mile: to take that small step to enable a child to take a giant leap to a secure future. In return we will support you throughout your journey to become a foster carer and beyond…….

Fostering Fortnight is a National campaign which aims to encourage more people to think about the difference they could make by fostering. The theme of this year’s fortnight is ‘Transforming lives’. To support Fostering Fortnight Monmouthshire foster care team are producing a short film explaining the process and how foster carers can really transform lives. The film will be available on the Monmouthshire County Council social media channels, Facebook – Monmouthshire, Twitter @MonmouthshireCC  and You Tube Monmouthshire CC.

Clare Marchant, Chief Officer for Social Care and Health said ‘Fostering Fortnight is a fantastic campaign which is much needed to raise awareness of our unsung heroes, our foster carers who are transforming the lives of the children and young people in their care.’

For more information contact Amy Maqueline, 01873 7 35950 or email familyplacement@monmouthshire.gov.uk  Amy is happy to answer questions and also arrange for existing foster carer to answer questions about what it’s really like to foster.

Each site, where possible, will be accompanied by a small area of wild flower planting

Like many other councils, Monmouthshire has agreed a similar policy called ‘THE VERGE SPONSORSHIP POLICY’.  This policy aims to allow companies to use locations made available, adjacent to the public highway by MCC, for the purpose of sponsorship.  This would be in a safe, reliable and local way to advertise your business while removing the risks, hazards and liabilities associated with flyposting.  Each site will be prepared with a small area of wildflower planting to help enhance the location and help pollinators flourish.

As a purely commercial decision, supplying an opportunity for local companies to sponsor a verge, we would hope to:

Provide needed opportunity for Local business to advertise, by allowing verge sponsorship, while enhancing Bio diversity in an active way.

Produce a meaningful annual income that can be invested into frontline services.  In providing this opportunity we will ensure that the services that all our stakeholders have come to expect are protected a little more.

Many sites are available throughout Monmouthshire, although you may be aware that some main roads, (e.g. A48 in Chepstow, A465 Heads of the Valleys, A40 Monmouth) and some others are maintained directly by Welsh Government and we cannot use them.  Please see the plan and schedule that show you where opportunities are available. Locations on roadsides in the south of the County are available now, the North of the county and MCC carpark opportunities will be available later in the year.

The signs would be of your design and initially installed by us.  The area and signs would be maintained by us for an agreed duration.  A contract would be signed and a fee, of a commercial value, would be paid to MCC. Discounts of 10% are available for multiple sign contracts and two or three year contracts. Each sign location will have been chosen by Monmouthshire County Council’s engineers and assessed for suitability, including a site specific risk assessment for safety.

Should you be interested in receiving more information, or would like to meet and discuss, then please use the contact details below.

We are expecting these signs to be oversubscribed, so I request that you please contact us soon should you be interested in this opportunity.

Contact Highways via Telephone: 01633 644385 and Email: highways@monmouthshire.gov.uk

Verge Advertising Locations

Verge Sponsorship Licencing Agreement

Verge Sponsorship Pricing

Sign Example

Local elections held on Thursday 4th May have resulted in the Conservatives winning 25 of the 43 available seats on Monmouthshire County Council.  This means that the Conservative Party will form the next administration of the council.  The count took place in Chepstow Leisure Centre.

The Labour Party was the second largest group with ten seats followed by independents with five and the Liberal Democrats with three.

Chief Executive Paul Matthews said: “I thank all those residents who took part and staff for an excellent job administering and managing these elections. Congratulations go to all successful candidates and thanks go to all councillors who served in the last term.”

For full results visit: https://democracy.monmouthshire.gov.uk/mgElectionResults.aspx?ID=7&RPID=517369

You will be able to view the County Council and Town/Community Council election results on the following page, this page will go live from 10:30pm.

Click here to view the live updated County Council Election results as well as detailed results by ward.

Click here to view the live updated Community/Town Council results as well as detailed results by ward.

Families, community groups and local businesses in Monmouthshire are preparing to welcome cyclists training and participating in this year’s VELOTHON Wales 2017 to be held on Sunday 9th July. For example, a ‘Cycle Usk’ team will decorate the town and encourage local enterprises to welcome people training for the event – as well as spectators on the big day – and boost local business.

Monmouthshire County Council’s recycling and waste teams are currently saving old bikes left at waste disposal areas. Usk’s community will decorate these for display around the town from June to welcome cyclists during training and on the day of the event itself. Usk Primary School is hosting a ‘Bangers and Bikes’ party between 3.30 and 5.30 pm on Friday 12th May to decorate cycles.

Paul Matthews, the council’s Chief Executive said: “Monmouthshire sends a warm welcome to people training for the Velothon in our beautiful county – the perfect setting for cyclists to prepare for this summer’s event. We have many wonderful cycling-friendly cafes, restaurants and pubs so I would encourage everyone to stop for a coffee, cake and rest. Any communities who would like to decorate their towns, villages or streets are urged to contact us and we will be happy to provide bikes donated or rescued at our recycling centres to replicate Usk’s approach.”

Nigel Russell, Event Director, VELOTHON Wales commented: “It has been fantastic to see how local communities along the stunning route are getting behind this year’s VELOTHON Wales to make it the biggest and best event yet. Monmouthshire always goes the extra mile to make riders and supporters feel welcome, and we cannot wait to see some of the creations as cycling continues to make a positive impact on the county.”

Any donations of paint, brushes, or craft materials to decorate bikes will be very welcome. For donations or to get involved e.g. up-cycling some bikes/decorating other towns, villages or streets in Monmouthshire please email communications@monmouthshire.gov.uk.

Our offices will be closed on Bank Holiday Monday 1st May and re-open at 9:00am Tuesday 2nd May. Recycling & Waste collections will be one day late. EMERGENCIES ONLY – if urgent assistance is required over the Bank Holiday when the offices are closed please call 0300 123 1055. For Social Services emergencies please call 0800 328 4432

High tides are due.  We will be monitoring the situation and if necessary, will arrange for the A466 through Tintern to be closed for short periods on the following dates and times:-

Thursday 27th April Between 09:00 – 09:40  (approx.)

Between 21:20 – 22:00 (approx.)

Friday 28th April Between 09:40 – 10:20 (approx.)

Between 22:10 – 22:50 (approx.)

The closure points will be as follows:

North End closure: Trelleck Road junction.

South End closure: Royal George junction.

Closure times are estimated based on the forecasted tide times.  Natural Resources Wales will be monitoring the situation and issuing Flood Warnings as necessary.  Road closures will only be temporary and only when tidal water actually overflows onto the highway.  The road will reopen as soon as the water has receded from the highway.

Monmouthshire County Council has congratulated the Usk in Bloom charity following recent news that it has received the Welsh Government’s Caru Gwenyn (Bee Friendly) award.  Usk in Bloom is the first organisation in Monmouthshire to achieve this status which forms part of the government’s pollinator strategy.  The Caru Gwenyn scheme is backed by Friends of The Earth Cymru and its award is offered to organisations like schools, public bodies, councils, businesses and places of worship that encourage the protection of bees and other pollinators in Wales.

Achieving the award rests on satisfying four goals – food, five star accommodation, freedom from pesticides or herbicides, and fun.  While pollinator-friendly food sources and suitable habitats must be provided, harmful pesticides and herbicides are forbidden.  In addition, community involvement should involve an element of enjoyment as well as a sense of attainment.

Usk in Bloom Chairman, Tony Kear said: “All our volunteers at Usk in Bloom are very proud of this award. We have worked exceptionally hard over the past three years to balance the need to present Usk as a tourist welcoming community by ensuring that the town is litter and weed-free where possible as well as significantly reducing the need to use herbicides. We have sown over 250 square metres of pollinators in 2016 and a further 100 square metres is planned for St Mary’s Churchyard this year. Close liaison with Monmouthshire County Council will again ensure a spectacular colourful bee-friendly entrance into Usk which will I’m sure be appreciated by so many.  The council’s additional support has been invaluable. Removing more weeds by hand is, of course, hard work but the results when combined with our pollinator policies are both rewarding and awardwinning!”

Monmouthshire’s Commercial & Operations Manager Nigel Leaworthy was delighted with the accolade earned by Usk in Bloom.  He said: “This award is richly deserved for the hard work and impressive actions carried out by Usk in Bloom with the local community over many years to make the town an exemplary habitat for pollinators.  The council is proud to have been involved by offering advice on wild flower areas, ensuring streets are weeded by hand and tending to shrub beds.  I recently gave a talk to Usk Town Council in relation to this award and our work to promote sustainability while we’ve also engaged with both the town council and Usk in Bloom on planting areas in the Maryport Street Car Park with herbs and edible plants.”

Monmouthshire’s Chief Executive Paul Matthews added: “Receiving the Cara Gwenyn award recognises the excellent work of Usk in Bloom which is very much in line with Monmouthshire’s pollinator policy agreed in 2014.  We’re pleased to have supported the organisation, not only in its care for pollinators but also its remarkably successful involvement with the Wales in Bloom and Britain in Bloom competitions.”

For further information visit:
http://www.uskinbloom.org.uk/

 

Monmouthshire residents learning to drive can now practice for the driving theory test at their local community hub or library.

 Monmouthshire County Council has recently added the Theory Test Pro online learning software to its growing list of internet services available freely to library members, providing a highly realistic simulation of the UK’s driving theory test.  It contains the entire official test question bank, hazard perception video clips and an online version of the Highway Code.

 Theory Test Pro’s material is licensed from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) so learner drivers can be assured that the practice questions are from the people who set the official tests.  Access to Theory Test Pro is free for borrowers who call in to any of Monmouthshire’s community hubs or libraries.  Borrowers can also access Theory Test Pro remotely using their library card.

 Henry Dillon, Marketing Director of Well Informed Limited, which developed Theory Test Pro, is thrilled to be partnering with Monmouthshire County Council.  He said: “I’m very happy that members of Monmouthshire’s libraries will now have free access to Theory Test Pro.  Studying is a must for the DVSA’s driving theory test and Theory Test Pro offers everything that you’d get from a CD-ROM with none of the hassle.”

 Borrowers can sign up to take practice driving theory tests by visiting the Theory Test Pro website: https://monmouthshire.theorytestpro.co.uk

 Residents without a library membership can obtain one easily by visiting their local community hub or library.  More information is available on the council’s website: http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/community-hubs-libraries

 Monmouthshire’s Chief Executive Paul Matthews said: “Our community hubs are a source of very useful free information covering a vast range of subjects and available to all.”

 

Monmouthshire County Council’s offices will close at 5pm on Thursday 13th April  and will re-open at 9am on Wednesday 19th April.

Bank Holiday recycling and waste collections will take place one day later than usual in the week commencing Monday 17th April.

EMERGENCIES ONLY – if urgent assistance is required over the Easter period when the offices are closed please call 0300 123 1055.

For Social Services emergencies please call 0800 328 4432

Louisa Johnson, the X Factor’s youngest ever winner, has been named as a special guest support at Little Mix’s sold-out outdoor concert at Caldicot Castle on Thursday, 13th July 2017. Little Mix and Louisa will be joined by Australian band, Sheppard, who recently supported Justin Bieber at his show in Perth, Australia.

Since her 2015 X Factor win, Louisa Johnson has enjoyed chart hits with Forever Young, and So Good and featured on the Clean Bandit top five single Tears.  She has recently released her new single Best Behaviour.

Sheppard are a Brisbane six-piece behind 2014’s viral hit Geronimo and consist of siblings George, Amy and Emma Sheppard, Jason Bovino, Michael Butler and Dean Gordon.

The line-up is announced a couple of weeks after Caldicot Castle has re-opened for the summer season with a brand new remodelled café, a new children’s play area and an exciting series of events.

It was announced last week that Britpop favourites Toploader and Space will join Ocean Colour Scene at Caldicot Castle on Saturday 15th July. July is a month full of music as the venue hosts an 80s Retro Festival which features Jason Donovan, Imagination, Tony Hadley, One Night of Queen and The Human League on Friday 7th July, local band Rusty Shackle will play to a sold-out crowd inside the castle walls on Friday 14th July and Only Men Aloud will perform in the atmospheric setting on Sunday 16th July. Tickets can be purchased from www.caldicotcastle.co.uk.

Dan Davies, the council’s officer with responsibility for events across Monmouthshire and Caldicot Castle says: “We’re in for an incredible July in Caldicot as 25,000 people will descend on the town across the ten days. The castle is a brilliant place to visit and we look forward to showing it off to thousands this year.”

 

Monmouthshire County Council has published its statement of persons nominated for the forthcoming elections to the county council as well as the town and community councils within its boundaries.  The county’s residents go to the polls on Thursday, 4th May.

All 42 county council wards will be contested by 138 candidates while there will be 23 contested elections in town and community council wards.  Insufficient nominations to trigger an election were received from candidates for a number of town and community councils so those who submitted papers are automatically elected.

To vote in the elections applications to be included on the electoral roll must be received no later than Thursday, 13th April.

Registering is quick and simple.  Just visit: www.gov.uk./registertovote and complete the online registration process.  Alternatively, apply for the appropriate forms or check your name is on the register by contacting Monmouthshire County Council’s Election Office on 01633 644212 or email elections@monmouthshire.gov.uk.  Residents who have received a poll card for these elections at their address are already registered and eligible to vote.

Residents can still vote even if they are away by applying for a postal vote by 5pm on Tuesday, 18th April or by a proxy application form, when someone else votes on their behalf (not postal or emergency proxies) by 5pm on Tuesday 25th April.

For further details on nominations and registration visit: http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/elections-voting-and-registration

Abergavenny Market will host an evening food and craft fair on Thursday, 13th April from 5pm to 9pm and organisers are calling on local singers, musicians and artistes to participate in an open mic session.  The session takes place from 6pm to 9pm and anyone interested in performing should ring 01873 735811 to book a 15 minute acoustic slot.

The market is also running an all-day Easter egg hunt on Saturday 15th April and a gift fair on Easter Monday (17th April).  In addition, the annual toy fair takes place on Monday, May 1st from 10am to 4pm.

Monmouthshire’s Chief Executive Paul Matthews said: “There’s always a buzz around town and these events will draw people from near and far to contribute to a great Easter in Abergavenny.”

For further details on events in Abergavenny Market, contact Markets and Facilities Officer Sharon Hutchinson – SharonHutchinson@monmouthshire.gov.uk or 07855 510369. Check out the Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Abergavennymarket

Following the close of nominations to stand for election to the County Council and Town/Community Councils on the 4th May 2017, all County Council wards be contested by election. Information on candidates standing for election to the County Council is available on the following link Statement of Persons Nominated – County Council. In addition there will be 23 contested elections in Community/Town Council wards and details of the candidates standing for election are available Statement of Persons Nominated – Community/Town Council. There are some areas at Community/Town Council level where insufficient nominations were received from candidates to trigger an election and those candidates who submitted nomination papers are automatically elected. Details on those areas and candidates elected is available Notice of Uncontested Elections – Community/Town Council.

 

All other information regarding the elections on the 4th May 2017 can be found http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/elections-voting-and-registration

Young people aged between 11 and 21 charged with caring for members of their family attended Monmouthshire’s Children and Young People’s Select Committee recently in County Hall, Usk.  They gave an account of how they developed a young carers’ strategy with council officers and the difference it would make to their lives.

The select committee debated the council’s first Monmouthshire Young Carers’ Strategy 2017-2020 and heard from those attending that a greater understanding and recognition of their roles by professionals would go a long way to assist them.  Councillors also acknowledged the importance of the young people being involved in discussions with the council’s service providers regarding care of family members and the help and support available to them.

The young people were keen to highlight the need for a greater appreciation of their role as a young carer in schools and higher education.  They said that effective support may simply involve tutors understanding why homework could not be completed within usual timescales and granting an extension when young carers are under pressure.  They explained to councillors that an acknowledgement of circumstances by staff and receiving positive encouragement often gave them the impetus to carry on studying and achieve their potential.

Councillors praised the tenacity, positivity and resilience of the young people who achieve in challenging circumstances even when decisions they have to make on their education and employment are difficult and likely to involve compromise.

Monmouthshire’s Chief Executive Paul Matthews said: “We have listened to the inspirational stories of our young carers and are grateful for their participation to make our newly-published strategy an effective document.  We hope that this will provide them with the necessary support they require to lead full and rewarding lives.”

For further information on the council’s Monmouthshire Young Carers’ Strategy 2017-2020 contact Carers Services Development Manager, Kim Sparrey – kimsparrey@monmouthshire.gov.uk

A host of activities and events take place across Monmouthshire this Easter with egg hunts, a free family fun day at Caldicot Castle, military re-enactments, sporting opportunities and lots more.

Easter egg hunts will feature at Tintern’s Old Station visitor centre (Friday 14th to Sunday 23rd April), Caldicot Castle (Friday 14th to Monday 17th April), the Herbert Lewis department store in Chepstow (Monday 10th to Saturday 15th April) and the Abbey Mill Wye Valley Centre (Sunday 16th April).

Good Friday (April 14th) sees a special open day at Caldicot Castle coinciding with the launch of its new children’s play park and refurbished cafe.  This event from 11am to 4pm will include arts and crafts, a bouncy castle, inflatable football, archery, an Easter egg hunt across the country park, and even the chance to abseil down one of the castle’s towers! Entry is free.

Monmouth will be the setting for a military history event as the 23rd Royal Welch Fusiliers Napoleonic Re-enactment Society sets up camp for training in the grounds of the Kymin Round House.  Society members will live as authentically as possible practicing drilling, firing musket and carrying out battlefield surgery as well as answering questions on military and civilian life in 1809.  This free event runs on Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd April.

The Lower Wye Valley is the scene for the annual Chepstow Walking Festival taking place from Wednesday 19th to Sunday 23rd April.  Experienced leaders will introduce visitors to the area’s stunning landscape and heritage while focusing on its geology, history, wildlife in beautiful surroundings. Each day features a dog-friendly walk.

For more information on these and many other of the county’s Easter activities log onto www.visitmonmouthshire.com/easter

Meanwhile, the county’s four leisure centres are once again holding The Monmouthshire Games, from Monday 10th to Friday 21st April.  The games are open to 5 to 12 year olds and are based on learning new skills, developing confidence and having fun through sport.  Each full day will feature football, netball, basketball, cricket, hockey, badminton, golf, rounders, rugby and much more.  Visit: www.visitmonmouthshire.com/monmouthshiregames for further details.  Spaces are limited so to avoid disappointment book early:   http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/things-to-do/monleisure

Monmouthshire’s Chief Executive Paul Matthews said: “We’re really looking forward to a great Easter here in beautiful Monmouthshire with so much happening across the county.”

 

Monmouthshire’s community hubs and libraries are to offer residents a 19-day amnesty for non-returned books and DVDs in return for donations to local food banks.

The Food for Fines amnesty takes place from Monday 10th to Saturday 29th April and will support local food banks run by the Trussel Trust at Chepstow, Abergavenny and Monmouth as well as Caldicot’s Ravenhouse Trust facility.  The food banks are grateful for any donations but UHT milk, sugar, tinned products, dried food like pasta and noodles, instant mash, coffee and even Easter eggs will be particularly welcomed.  In addition, customers are asked to donate toilet rolls and washing powder.

Customers making food donations will be directed to the community hub front desk where a member of staff will delete the fine from the customer’s account on receipt of a donation.  Those who wish to pay fines will be able to do so, either by contacting a member of staff or using self-service machines.

Monmouthshire’s Chief Executive Paul Matthews said: “In an ideal world food banks would not be necessary and they would not exist. Unfortunately we do not live in an ideal world and they really help individuals and families when they need it most. We hope our Food for Fines initiative will boost this important offer and it is really easy for residents to participate. Clearly we get our books back and we help to direct extra stock towards the food banks. Late book returners will be welcomed and will be contributing to the wider social good. Of course this is optional – if you would prefer to pay your fine we will not object, but we would still like our books back please.”

Monmouthshire’s community hub staff will review the initiative in May.  For further details contact Community Hub Manager Richard Drinkwater – richarddrinkwater@monmouthshire.gov.uk

People in Monmouthshire considering running their own business could benefit from a series of free start-up workshops in April.

The Welsh Government’s Business Wales service, in partnership with Monmouthshire County Council, will offer workshops intended to provide in-depth knowledge, develop practical skills and encourage confidence among Welsh entrepreneurs at the beginning of their business journey.

Delivered by experienced advisers, the workshops in Usk and Newport will cover a variety of topics, including pricing, marketing, business planning and sourcing finance.  These workshops aim to equip budding entrepreneurs with the knowledge to develop ideas further and guide them towards making their business a success.

Workshops will take place in Usk’s Three Salmons Hotel and Newport’s Business in Focus (89 Lower Dock St), as follows:

Taking the plunge: 9.15am to 12.30pm

Usk – Wednesday, 5th April

Newport – Wednesday, 19th April

Sizing up the market: 9.15am to 1pm

Usk – Thursday, 6th April

Newport – Thursday, 20th April

Winning and keeping customers: 1.15 to 5pm

Usk – Thursday, 6th April

Newport – Thursday, 20th April

Pricing for profit: 9.15am to 1pm

Usk – Friday, 7th April

Newport – Friday, 21st April

Managing your finances: 1.15 to 5pm

Usk – Friday, 7th April

Newport – Friday, 21st April

Places at the workshops may be booked by visiting: https://wales.business-events.org.uk/

Business Wales’ Regional Manager for South Wales, David ap-John Williams, said: “We are really happy to be able to hold these free workshops in the area. We strongly believe that they are a great opportunity for local Welsh entrepreneurs to gain an understanding of the basic principles and skills needed to start their own business.

“Business Wales start-up workshops will give those attending the chance to discuss their business idea and their plans, but also their fears and challenges with like-minded people, ultimately helping them gain a different perspective and reassurance.”

Monmouthshire County Council’s Chief Executive Paul Matthews added: “One of the council’s major priorities is to support business and job creation so we’re delighted to recommend these helpful workshops to anyone aiming to start their own business in the county.”

Business Wales, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government, supports the sustainable growth of small and medium size enterprises across the country by offering access to information, guidance and business support.

To find out how Business Wales can help start or develop your business, call 03000 6 03000, follow @_businesswales or @_busnescymru or visit www.businesswales.gov.wales/ or www.busnescymru.llyw.cymru/ for further information.

Caldicot’s community hub recently hosted an informative and entertaining evening presented by iNeed, a local action group providing crisis support to refugees.  Speakers from the UK, Syria and elsewhere highlighted the plight of displaced people and the campaign to support people in need.  Also featured were an art exhibition of children’s work entitled ‘From Syria with Love’ and performances from the Chepstow Castle Singing Group.

 Among the speakers were Baraa Kouja who described his experiences in Syria and Eritrean Michael Kasney on his journey to the UK via the Sahara Desert.  Also present were Monmouthshire’s Community Cohesion Officer, Shereen Williams and iNeed chairperson Natasha Cadman who outlined the history of the group and its work to date.

 Caldicot Community Hub manager Richard Drinkwater was delighted with the event’s success.  He said: “What was planned as an intimate evening at Caldicot Community Hub soon snowballed into something much, much bigger with nearly a hundred people attending.  It was fair to say there wasn’t an empty chair in the house – mainly because we ran out of chairs and it was standing room only at the back!”

 Monmouthshire’s Chief Executive Paul Matthews added: “We were pleased to host a group of passionate and community-spirited people who entertained and informed.  This event is a great example of how the council’s five hubs can bring people together to benefit a good cause and support local community activity.”

 

Families in Monmouthshire will benefit from a £1.8m grant earmarked for spending during the 2017/18 financial year.  The cash will be used to fund projects for the council’s Families First and Flying Start programmes.

 A total of £650,000 has been allocated to the county’s Families First programme – an initiative which supports families and aims to improve outcomes. The programme focuses on prevention and early intervention support services to tackle child poverty.  The amount includes £51,000 to help families affected by disability.

 Meanwhile, the council’s Flying Start programme which operates in selected areas in Monmouth, Abergavenny, Chepstow and Caldicot will receive £1.17m.  Flying Start aims to give children the best start in life from the prenatal period to three years old.  The money will help the programme to deliver high quality part-time childcare for eligible two year olds alongside evidence-based health, parenting and early language support.

 Paul Matthews, Monmouthshire’s Chief Executive said: “Families First and Flying Start teams carry out invaluable work targeted to make a positive difference.  It’s really positive that this work will continue into the next financial year.”

 

 

We are currently undertaking some work to improve our Highways information on our website. Please let us know what information you would like us to share with you.

Highways Survey
First

Year Eight students at Abergavenny’s King Henry VIII Comprehensive School recently watched a play entitled It’s Not OK to help them understand the risks of sexual grooming and abuse. The play by Jules Dorey Richmond and Rachel Conlon of York St John University drama department, supported by Connecting Youth Culture and in partnership with the South East Wales Safeguarding Children Board, aims to raise awareness of healthy and unhealthy relationships in both real world and on-line contexts, as well as empower and encourage young people to seek support and keep safe against sexual abuse and exploitation.

 A two hour session featured the 30-minute play following four teenagers through their experiences of the internet, relationships and family life.  It was followed by a large group discussion exploring themes arising from the production and facilitated smaller drama workshops examining strategies to guard against, and seek help from, sexual abuse and exploitation.

 It’s Not OK has also been performed at Monmouth Comprehensive, Caldicot School and Chepstow School in Monmouthshire where pupils from Mounton House School also attended. Feedback from pupils was extremely positive.

 Jules Dorey Richmond said: “The response to It’s Not OK has been overwhelmingly positive, during the tour we have again found that drama is an effective tool for engaging young people in, and talking about, difficult subject matter. We have been impressed by the level and expertise of support around the production, which has enabled young people to receive timely and effective help.”

 Monmouthshire County Council’s Chief Executive Paul Matthews added: “This production has been very well received in our schools and is an effective method of getting across the message to children that sexual grooming and exploitation are wholly unacceptable and anyone affected should ask for immediate support.”

 

Monmouthshire County Council has announced its support once again for Earth Hour the annual, global celebration of the planet.

 At 8.30pm on Saturday 25th March, the council will join forces with landmarks across the globe like the Senedd in Cardiff Bay, Sydney Harbour Bridge and New York’s Times Square by switching off the lights at selected buildings.

 In 2017, Earth Hour marks its tenth year, and by taking part, Monmouthshire is showing its commitment to taking action to tackle climate change.

 To save energy throughout the whole year, the council already turns off lights in the vast majority of its buildings when not in use but the authority is making its Earth Hour matter by switching off at Monmouth’s Shire Hall and its Llanfoist and Five Lanes household waste recycling sites.

 Around half a million people in Wales participate in Earth Hour every year, and by taking part, they’re showing that they want to see action taken to tackle climate change now.

 Paul Matthews, Chief Executive of Monmouthshire County Council, said: “Monmouthshire County Council is very proud to support WWF’s Earth Hour once again this year.  Local authorities likes ours have a big role to play in tackling climate change, so we’re looking forward to turning off the lights at Shire Hall and our household waste recycling sites at 8.30pm on Saturday 25th March to demonstrate our support.”

Anne Meikle, Head of WWF Cymru, added: “We’re delighted that Monmouthshire is supporting WWF’s Earth Hour again this year.  Climate change will have a massive effect on people’s lives here in Wales and around the world.  So it’s great that Welsh local authorities are throwing their weight behind the call for action to tackle it.

 “Everyone—from individuals and community groups, to schools and businesses — can sign up to Earth Hour by visiting www.wwf.org.uk/earthhourwales and switching off their lights at 8.30pm on Saturday 25th March 2017.”

 

Chairman’s statement following yesterday’s tragic events (more…)

This year’s Spring Clean Cymru campaign organised by Keep Wales Tidy and supported by Monmouthshire County Council saw record numbers of organised litter picks across the area.  Over 200 people participated in the week-long campaign.

Events arranged in Abergavenny, Chepstow, Crucorney, Monmouth, Trelech and Usk culminated in over 80 volunteers litter picking in Magor.  Support came from local businesses including the Co-operative and Roadchef.

Keep Wales Tidy and the council organised a Litter Champion Celebration on Thursday March 16th at the council’s Raglan Depot for over fifty community-spirited volunteers helping to keep Monmouthshire spick and span.  Councillor Bryan Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for council operations said: “It’s fantastic that so many residents are willing to give up their time to keep the county beautiful and this should be celebrated.  It’s such a shame that some think it’s acceptable to litter and the huge increase in verge side litter across Wales is very disappointing.”

The council’s waste strategy manager Carl Touhig added: “People’s cavalier attitude to the environment cost over £150,000 each year merely to keep the county’s main “A” roads clean.  Like many parts of the UK we have seen a big increase in verge side litter.  Crews are busy litter-picking along the main routes but this can only be done alongside planned maintenance work.  Many visitors come to Monmouthshire to enjoy its beauty so it’s baffling why people throw litter from vehicles when they could take it home and dispose of it properly.”

For more information visit: http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/recycling-and-waste/dogfouling

 Monmouthshire is a step closer to running its own solar farm on council-owned land after the Welsh Government approved a £4.5m repayable investment.

 Once completed, the Oak Grove Solar Farm in Crick could generate enough electricity to power around 1,400 homes. It will also save over 2,000 tonnes per year of CO2e by generating clean, renewable energy.

 The £4.5m funding has been awarded to Monmouthshire County Council through the Welsh Government’s Invest to Save Green Growth Fund which aims to support public services to become more energy efficient and invest in green technologies. The scheme has also benefited from help from Local Partnerships, who are public sector owned delivery experts, funded by Welsh Government for this initiative.  

 Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths said: “Wales has huge potential develop projects which generate electricity for the benefit of Wales.  Through our Green Growth Wales initiative, we are supporting the development of public sector energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.  I am delighted we have been able to support the delivery of the project and also provide finance to support Monmouthshire’s ambitions to run its own solar farm.  This project has huge potential and I would like to see more local authorities developing renewable energy projects”

 Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Mark Drakeford added: “I’m very pleased to see the fund has played such an important part in bringing the project to this stage.  Once completed, I hope the solar farm becomes a model of sustainability and encourages other local authorities to follow suit.”

 Councillor Phil Hobson, Monmouthshire County Council’s cabinet member for sustainability said: “The solar farm means Monmouthshire takes another big step towards its goal of being a sustainable, green-power county.  We’ve managed to use the same land to construct a solar power station while keeping access for grazing animals.  We’ve balanced the need for clean home-produced energy and food production at the same time.

 Councillor Phil Murphy, cabinet member with responsibility for estates added: “This scheme represents a significant move by the council in diversifying, not only to improve our environment but also to find alternative ways of supporting front-line services.”

 Jane Forshaw of Local Partnerships said: “We are delighted that through the Welsh Government’s Green Growth initiative we have been able to support Monmouthshire County Council in accelerating delivery of this brilliant renewables project. This is a truly pioneering achievement for the public sector, which also has significant scale and will earn welcome income for the council.”

 Most of the panels have been installed and electricity generated from the solar farm is due to be fed into the National Grid at the end of this month.

 

Monmouthshire’s deputy leader and cabinet member for enterprise, Councillor Bob Greenland has written on behalf of the council to the Welsh Government’s Mark Drakeford to urge further support for the county’s independent businesses facing unsustainable increases of up to 585% in rateable value.  Some of these ventures will have little or no access to relief of any kind.

 Councillor Greenland has identified four main areas of concern:

 The Welsh Government scheme he says fails to protect businesses from large increases and is in contrast to rate relief in England where increases have been capped at £50 per month for small businesses and pubs.  This has been made possible partly by a graduated annual change from pre-revaluation lists to the new lists.

 He also pointed out that money was made available in the recent UK budget to help alleviate the threat to businesses. As a result of that decision, funding to Wales for the relief of businesses threatened by revaluation was made available within a headline figure of £200 million. He enquired if it was the intention of the Welsh Government to use any of that money to help hard-pressed local businesses faced with enormous hikes in rates.

 Councillor Greenland also raised the appeal process against revaluation fearing that the lengthy and costly procedure could force businesses out of existence because of cash flow difficulties caused by having to pay increases later found to be unwarranted.  He suggested that such businesses should be subject to pre-revaluation rates while appeals are heard.

 Finally, Councillor Greenland queried whether revaluation had been assessed in a consistent manner across Wales, given the decrease in rateable values in Cardiff (-3.5%) and an increase in Monmouthshire (+7%).

 Councillor Greenland said: “Rates revaluation and its effect on business rates remains a critical issue for our businesses in Monmouthshire.  I’m hoping the Welsh Government recognises the damage that will be inflicted on some of them and I seek action to prevent the closure of some iconic local firms.”

 

Monmouthshire County Council has worked in partnership with the local fire and rescue service and town council to provide lifesaving equipment on the bank of the River Wye in Chepstow.  A lifesaving ring and rope have been installed outside The Riverside Wine Bar thanks to funding supplied by South Wales Fire and rescue staff.  The location of the apparatus is owned by the town council and the wine bar and maintained by the county council.  The county council’s grounds maintenance team installed the equipment.

 Recent figures indicate that many people who drown never intended to be in the water.  Participating in land-based activities is a leading precursor to accidental drowning and of the 381 people who unnecessarily lost their life in the UK in 2013 126 were runners or walkers.

 The Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) runs campaigns running throughout the year to raise awareness of the dangers that water can pose and how to stay safe.  These campaigns include Don’t Drink and Drown, the Runners and Walkers Awareness Campaign and Drowning Prevention Week.

 Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for leisure said: “It is vitally important that we warn people about the risks presented by water and our leisure service is pleased to back the Royal Life Saving Society and its campaigns as well as work with other partners to cut accidents and fatalities.”

 Landlord of the Riverside Wine Bar Curtis Price was keen to become involved.  His premises are situated on the banks of the Wye and metres from the Wales Coastal Walk.  He said: “The RLSS campaigns raising awareness of the dangers surrounding water are great schemes and it’s fantastic that the local leisure centre and fire service back such initiatives.  Large amounts of people use the river bank during the summer months and it’s important that both children and adults should learn about the importance of staying safe near water.”

For more information on RLSS campaigns see http://www.rlss.org.uk

 

Monmouthshire County Council joined other local authorities across the UK as Commonwealth Day was marked by flag raising events and ceremonies of dedication.

Accompanying Monmouthshire’s Chairman, Councillor Jim Higginson and Leader, Councillor Peter Fox at County Hall in Usk were the High Sheriff of Gwent, Anthony Clay DL, the Bishop of Monmouth, the Right Reverend Richard Pain, the Mayor and Consort of Monmouth Town Council, Cllr and Mrs Chris Munslow, the Deputy Mayor of Usk Town Council, Cllr Glenn Rodick, Guy Lacy, the Principle of Coleg Gwent and the Chair of Governors of Coleg Gwent, Gwent Angela Lloyd.  In addition a number of county councillors and staff attended.

Councillor Fox read the Commonwealth affirmation committing the council to “uphold the values set out in the Commonwealth Charter, to serving one another in a spirit of respect and understanding, and to advancing development, democracy and cooperation locally, nationally, and internationally.”

Councillor Higginson read a message from the Commonwealth Secretary General and described how the ceremony provides a splendid opportunity for people from all walks of life to join with others in their local community to celebrate Commonwealth Day in association with fellow citizens.  He added that people from nations and territories across the world cherish the rich diversity of the Commonwealth’s membership, the shared deep sense of affinity and the values and principles that unite nearly two and a half billion citizens.

Councillor Higginson was followed by the Right Reverend Richard Pain who provided prayers and the blessing.

The Commonwealth includes some of the world’s largest, smallest, richest and poorest countries, with citizens drawn from all faiths and ethnicities, half of them under 25 years old.  Commonwealth countries are located in six regions – Africa, Asia, the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe and the South Pacific.

Monmouthshire County Council recently hosted a meeting of the Wales Association of SACREs (Standing Advisory Councils on Religious Education) attended by 45 representatives from different faith groups as well as teachers and councillors.  The meeting took place at the council’s headquarters in County Hall, Usk.

 The Wales Association of SACREs meets each term in different venues across the country and religious education consultant Gill Vaisey who coordinated the gathering said: “Monmouthshire was delighted and privileged to host the event and welcome SACRE colleagues from the other 21 Welsh local authorities”.

 The Chairman of Monmouthshire County Council, Councillor Jim Higginson welcomed delegates and opened proceedings before handing over to Councillor Liz Hacket Pain.  Councillor Hacket Pain talked enthusiastically about her role as chair of Monmouthshire SACRE and the importance of its work in supporting schools to deliver effective religious education.

Three presentations were made on the development of the new curriculum, in line with the Welsh Government’s report, Successful Futures:  Sharon Perry-Phillips of Monmouth Comprehensive School on teaching religious education within a humanities curriculum, Manon Jones of Welsh Government on the work of the pioneer school network and the humanities and Owain ap Dafydd of Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni on enriching the modern curriculum from a pioneer school perspective.  All were well-received.

 As well as the formal meeting a number of colourful displays were provided by faith representatives, the council’s Flying Start initiative and Goytre Fawr, Shirenewton and St Mary’s RC Primary Schools.  In addition, delegates were greeted by singing on arrival from the Shirenewton and Cantref Primary School choirs while the Monmouth Comprehensive School musical ensemble provided a lunchtime performance.

 Councillor Hacket Pain who is also Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for schools and learning said: “This was a particularly stimulating and vibrant meeting and it was good to network with colleagues from across Wales”.

 Paula Webber, secretary to WASACRE added: “It’s been a brilliant day, it’s been welcoming and very well-organised”.

 

Monmouthshire County Council marked International Women’s Day on Wednesday 8th March with an event at King Henry VIII School Abergavenny for girls from Year 8. The session entitled Be Bold for Change celebrated the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of local women to inspire and empower pupils to think about their next steps in life.

Be Bold for Change was the theme of International Women’s Day 2017 and aimed to encourage women and girls to take ground breaking action to drive change for women.

Pupils heard from two local business women, Vicki Spencer-Francis Managing Director of Cowshed a communications agency based in Cardiff and Delyth Harris Managing Director of Gwalia Consulting Ltd. Both Vicki and Delyth shared very different examples of how they have been bold within their lives which in turn made a huge impact on their careers.

Delyth Harris, Managing Director of Gwalia Consulting Ltd, spoke to the girls of not ‘being afraid to be bold and deal with the challenges that arise’. This mantra has led to Delyth becoming very successful in the very male dominated world of technology. Delyth spoke of her move from a PhD studying glacial rivers to leadership roles with Hewlett Packard and Cisco and then making a huge leap to establish her own business. Delyth empowered the girls with a set of messages that will resonate with all women – ‘Be you, set your own goals, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and fight for what you believe in.’

Delyth Harris Director of Gwalia Consulting Ltd said “I’m a big believer in being open to opportunities however strange they may initially seem, even if you’re terrified of stepping out of your comfort zone.  Without conquering my fears I would never have had the many exciting and varied opportunities that I’d had throughout my career.  Girls shouldn’t be scared of taking chances and don’t need to feel they have to be perfect in everything they do, we just need to teach them how to be courageous.”

Vicki shared with pupils her quest to secure her dream job – to work for Comic Relief. Vicki spoke of the many jobs and life lessons that she learnt during her journey. A move from Raglan to London supported Vicki to get on the first step of the ladder which would help her gain the career she always dreamed of. Her first job in the industry was at an advertising agency, Vicki’s enthusiasm and determination led to Vicki taking a chance and accepting a voluntary role at Channel 4 on top of her full time job. This was Vicki’s break into the world of television and a series of jobs followed, including becoming a publicist for Dermot O Leary and the Big Breakfast. The opportunities that Vicki took eventually led to Vicki fulfilling her dream and became a publicist at Comic Relief for a short time. Vicki later became the saviour for all parents and launched two digital channels for children – CBBC and CBeebies.

Vicki spoke of taking bold and brave chances, this has been echoed in taking a leap to establish her own successful communications agency Cowshed here in Wales. Comic Relief is now just one of the many organisations that Cowshed works with.

Being bold for Vicki was never being afraid to talk to people, ask questions and to take up opportunities because you may meet someone who knows someone who can help you, persevere, and do whatever you have to do to get where you want to be.

Vicki said: You don’t have to have a master plan to make your dreams real; you just need determination, persistence and enthusiasm when eventually get that break. I loved speaking with the pupils of King Henry V school, it reminded me of how far I’ve come since school and the journey to get where I am today. I hope that my brief talk will help them be confident to go for their dreams.’

The session inspired and encouraged the Year 8 pupils who took part to think about their future. Pupils unanimously agreed that there was a need for similar sessions to take place in the future for more pupils to hear from more of the county’s businesses.

A pupil said “The speeches were really inspirational and taught me to never give up.”

Another said “It was inspirational. It showed me that you could be a good friend, sister… even when you are concentrating and determined to become successful. If you keep pushing yourself you will get to where you want to be even if you’re not confident.”

Cllr Liz Hacket Pain Cabinet member Children and Young People said, “It is so inspiring to see local business women empowering our future generations. I thoroughly agree that by ‘Being bold for change’ will lead to new opportunities and change the lives of our young people across the county.”

 

Registration is NOW OPEN for the garden waste collection service which covers 1st April 2017 to 31st March 2018.

Each permit you purchase entitles you to a weekly garden waste collection for the period 1st April 2017 to 31st March 2018 from one brown garden waste bag.

The charge per permit is £18.00 and you may purchase as many permits as you require.

Visit the garden waste page for more information about the collection service.

Register online for the garden waste service

The link above will take you to the new My Monmouthshire app where you first need to register.

If you’ve already registered using the My Monmouthshire app, currently available on AppleAndroid and Windows devices, then you can use the same email and password to log-in.

Once registered you need to select recycling and waste and click the “registration” button.

Tags:

Unfortunately there will be an interruption to our Council Tax/Business

Rates service.  This service, including Citizen Access, will be unavailable

from 5pm Thursday 9th March to 5pm Monday 13th March due to Annual Council

Tax Billing processing.  We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Should you have any queries please contact the Council Tax team on 01633

644630′.

Monmouthshire marked St David’s Day – Dydd Gŵyl Dewi – with a number of events across the county celebrating Welsh language, culture and the memory of the patron saint of Wales.

County Hall echoed to the sound of well-known and loved songs as the Monmouthshire Community Choir sang in the reception area during a lunchtime concert to an appreciative audience.  The choir opened with the national anthem – Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau – and continued with such favourites as Calon Lân, We’ll Keep A Welcome and Sosban Fach.

In the town of Usk itself the council’s community hub in Maryport Street hosted a St David’s Day country market with over £100 raised to support people with sight loss.  Market stalls sold cakes, jam, preserves, flowers and plants as well as tea, coffee and freshly-made Welsh cakes.  Handmade crocheted daffodil brooches were also on sale.  Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for the county’s community hubs said: “Usk’s St David’s Day country market is a great example of how our five hubs can bring people together to benefit a good cause and support local community activity.”

Among the county’s many schools celebrating the day of their patron saint were those in Trelech, Usk, Raglan, The Dell Primary and St Mary’s RC Primary in Chepstow, Ysgol y Ffin and Dewstow Primary in Caldicot and Kymin View in Monmouth.  Both Pembroke Primary in Chepstow and the nearby Shirenewton Primary ran an eisteddfod with Pembroke holding a traditional Chairing of the Bard ceremony.  Meanwhile, in Abergavenny, Ysgol Gymraeg y Fenni held a whole-school Eisteddfod with every child taking part.  The chair and crown were won by Rafferty and Gruff from Year Six and after enthusiastic competition Deri Team were hailed overall winners.

Also, in Abergavenny, Mardy Park Resource Centre on Old Hereford Road raised over £500 for the St David’s Hospice featuring a cake stall, craft table, tombola and a raffle with the community cafe offering food from a special Welsh menu.

Councillor Phil Hobson, cabinet member with responsibility for the Welsh language said: “Monmouthshire is proud to celebrate its Welsh heritage, culture and language.”

Some wonderful examples of the county’s St David’s Day celebrations can be found on Monmouthshire County Council’s Facebook and Twitter accounts:

https://twitter.com/MonmouthshireCC

https://www.facebook.com/MonmouthshireCC/