Monmouthshire County Council’s Youth Enterprise team celebrated Global Entrepreneurship Week 2017 with an inspirational workshop for over 60 Year 9 pupils at Caldicot School on Wednesday 15th November.

Pupils heard the personal journeys of local entrepreneurs and how they turned a hobby in to thriving businesses. Monmouthshire advertising agency director James Robinson of Hello Starling, local horror author Tim Lebbon, Monmouthshire artist David Charles and independent coffee and vinyl record shop owner Sophie Smith shared with students their stories how they have turned what they believed in – into successful businesses.

The event was supported by Monmouthshire County Council and Welsh Government job growth initiative Big Ideas Wales.

Pupils took part in an interactive workshop where they were encouraged to think of a business idea derived from their own hobby or interest.

Big Ideas Wales role models, film maker Nathan Webb and Janet Mier, Richard Selby from Pro Steel Engineering and Aaron Reeks, local estate agent and Director of the Caldicot Town Team were on hand to provide advice and knowledge to pupils during the workshop.

During the session students were invited to think about the variety of marketing channels available. The session emphasised the importance of social media as a channel to reach a global market. Pupils presented their ideas to the panel of judges and the winning team gained a prize.

Monmouthshire County Council Enterprise Team aim to work with people of all ages in Monmouthshire to help and support the emergence and sustainability of local businesses. By working with pupils in local schools the team hope to encourage and showcase the endless possibilities for young people to have the confidence to start up a business that they are passionate about.

Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Cllr Richard John said: ‘I was so excited to be involved in such an inspirational day. Our pupils shared some fantastic ideas about how they could turn their own hobbies in to businesses. I am looking forward to being involved in future events. I strongly believe that listening and learning from first-hand experience is the best way to inspire and raise expectations. Here in Monmouthshire we have so many wonderful businesses our pupils can learn from.’

For more information about Monmouthshire County Council Youth Enterprise Team contact Hannah Jones   HannahJones@monmouthshire.gov.uk or call 01633 644913, mobile 07738 340 418.

 

Young people from across Monmouthshire sparked debate with County Councillors at the Young Persons Democracy Day, County Hall Usk on Friday 17th November. The fun, informal event was planned by young people to celebrate and raise awareness of Local Democracy Week. It provided an opportunity to find out more about local democracy and quiz elected members on issues that are important to them.

The day was planned by young people from Engage 2 Change, Monmouthshire County Council’s Youth Forum. Young people from King Henry VIII School, Caldicot School, Chepstow School and Monmouth School were invited to the event. The aim of the day was to find out more about democracy and get to know local councillors.

Young people from King Henry VIII School, Caldicot School, Chepstow School and Monmouth School listened to an informative presentation about the history of democracy and politics. It reinforced to them the importance of having a voice at both a local and national level.

Young people and elected members took part in a fast paced debate sharing views on a range of issues close to the heart of young people. Young people felt strongly about; support for young people with mental health issues, the effectiveness of the current school curriculum to prepare young people for the future and the impact of Brexit on young people.

Local councillors were put through their paces by the young people in an informative question and answer session. Young people asked members pertinent questions around education and mental health.

Breaghanna Mcmahon Chair of Engage 2 Change, Monmouthshire Youth Council

‘I hope that everyone who came along took something away from today that they will use in the future. I am really proud to be part of Engage2Change and am in awe of the work that everyone involved has put in to make the day such a success. We are always looking for new members so if you are aged between 11- 18 please come along to one of our meetings’

Leader of Monmouthshire County Council, Councillor Peter Fox Said ‘It really is fantastic see so many young people in the chamber today. I am so pleased that young people are here today to discuss democracy. It is so important to talk and listen to young people to help them understand the importance of voting and provide them with a platform to share their views. Young people are the future of democracy in Monmouthshire I look forward to more opportunities like this in the future.’

For more information about future events or to become a member of Engage 2 Change contact Youth Worker Jade Atkins by phone 07790 355724  or email Charlie-JadeAtkins@monmouthshire.gov.uk

Monmouthshire has recently focussed on the welfare of the county’s youngsters as it marked Anti-Bullying Week and National Safeguarding Week – both running from 13th November.

 Goytre Fawr Primary School worked all week on anti-bullying activities with every class holding a special discussion and completing an activity featuring an anti-bullying message.  Year Five pupils wrote poems from the points of view of the bully, the bullied and the bystander, Year Six created an infographic using statistics about bullying and the youngest children considered what makes a good friend and read stories about friendship.  Acting Headteacher Lisa Wilkinson said: “Anti-bullying is something we take very seriously both during this week and throughout the year.”

 St. Mary’s R.C. Primary School in Chepstow marked Anti-Bullying Week with five days of activities to make pupils more aware of the challenges of bullying and the importance of respecting each other.

 On Wednesday Key Stage 2 pupils celebrated Respect Day and created expressive art and prose to explore the themes of human rights, personal respect and equality.  Meanwhile, the school’s foundation phase classes made crafted goods on the subjects of love and respect.  These will be offered for sale to parents and the wider community, with proceeds passed to charitable good causes.  The week’s activities culminated in a special Friendship Assembly, organised by the school council and assisted by members of staff as well as the governing body.

 The council’s licensing team has worked in partnership with police for a number of years to promote safeguarding by providing mandatory training to licensed taxi drivers to look for signs of child exploitation.  Criminals often use taxis to transport children for illegal activity.  Training is also offered to managers of the county’s pubs and restaurants and the enthusiastic response has been welcomed by the council.

 Licensing staff have collaborated this week with the Gwent Police launch of Operation Makesafe – an initiative focused on ensuring that people working in the business sector are aware of the early warning signs of child sexual exploitation.  Licensing staff have distributed publicity material including posters, letters to firms and branded air fresheners for taxis to promote the message that child sexual exploitation equates to serious abuse.

 The county’s leisure centres have also participated in promoting Operation Makesafe by displaying leaflets and posters while centre managers as well as school governors have undergone safeguarding training.

 Monmouth’s Drybridge Centre was the venue during the week for Monmouthshire’s Local Safeguarding Network Practitioner Forum, a body that links safeguarding professionals from various agencies.    On the agenda was the launch of Operation Makesafe and an introduction to safeguarding in probation and youth offending services.

 Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for safeguarding, Cllr Penny Jones commented: “The cumulative impact of bullying can affect the mental health and well-being of both children and adults alike so that is why this week we’re highlighting its consequences and how we can minimise its effect.  Monmouthshire has taken great steps in recent years to prioritise safeguarding and as Gwent Police launch Operation Makesafe we’re delighted to work with them and other agencies to rid the community of the scourge of child sexual exploitation.”

 For further information visit: http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/education/safeguarding-and-protecting-children

 

Mitchel Troy temporary site closure

*UPDATE 22/11/17 – 4pm*

 The repair work at Mitchel Troy Recycling Centre has been completed ahead of schedule, and therefore the Recycling Centre will now be open on Thursday 23rd November.

 Thank you for your patience.

 

Mitchel Troy Household Waste Recycling Centre will be closed on Wednesday 22nd and Thursday 23rd November. This is due to unavoidable, essential repair work urgently needed to the waste compactor at the Recycling Centre.

The Recycling Centre will be open as normal Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st November but please be aware that you may experience delays and site closures due to the need to change full skips more frequently until the repair work has taken place.

The site is expected to be open as normal on Friday 24th November.

If you need to dispose of household waste over this period you can visit an alternative recycling centre:

Llanfoist – Heads of the Valleys Road A465, Access via Merthyr Road, Llanfoist, Abergavenny, NP7 9AQ

 

  • Monmouthshire County Council and Viridor apologise for any inconvenience caused.

The project to replace Monmouth Leisure Centre means that the site will close from Wednesday 15th November while a £7.5m replacement building is constructed.  Meanwhile, customers will have access to a temporary sports hall on the leisure centre site to accommodate school and community bookings while a temporary gym at the Old Market Hall, next door to the town’s museum, will offer a range of fitness equipment and exercise classes.

 The temporary sports hall and the temporary gym open on Monday 20th November.

 Construction works for the new leisure centre also start on Monday 20th November and the project will be completed in two phases.  All first floor works including the new play area and cafe are scheduled to be ready in June 2018 while the completion of the second phase – the swimming pool and health suite – is scheduled for November 2018.  Included within the project are a new 25 metre swimming pool with viewing area, a children’s indoor play centre and a health suite with steam, sauna and jacuzzi as well as a designated spin studio.  In addition, the new facilities will feature an open plan café, a large state-of-art gym, a treatment room and multi-purpose meeting room.

 Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for leisure said: “I’m very much looking forward to a new leisure centre which will contribute towards the delivery of a healthy and active life for the residents of Monmouth and area.  I hope that when people experience the new facilities they’ll consider they’ve been well worth the wait!”

The temporary gym will be open at the following times;

  • Monday – 6.30am to 9pm
  • Tuesday – 8am to 9pm
  • Wednesday – 6.30am to 9pm
  • Thursday – 8am to 9pm
  • Friday – 6.30am to 9pm
  • Saturday – 8.15am to 3.15pm
  • Sunday – 8.15am to 3.15pm

 For further information on Monmouth Leisure Centre log on to: http://monmouthleisuredevelopment.co.uk/

 

Monmouthshire County Council is to consult the community over the management of Caldicot’s country park.  The council is developing a long term green infrastructure management plan for all its countryside sites and will host two drop-in events in the main car park at Caldicot Castle.  These will take place on Friday 17th November from 3pm to 7pm and on Saturday 18th November from 10am to 12noon within the council’s mobile exhibition unit.

Councillor Bryan Jones, cabinet member with responsibility for Monmouthshire’s countryside service said: “Whether you use Caldicot Country Park for walking, jogging, running, exercising your dog, picnicking, painting, admiring its beautiful surroundings or any other reason we welcome your views.  Please attend our consultation events and make your voice heard.”

This consultation is seen as an important stage in the process to encourage the community to help plan and shape the future of the country park.  The management plan aims “to safeguard Caldicot Country Park with its connected green spaces, while reflecting the special qualities of its heritage and natural environment so enhancing the quality of life and contributing to community identity and well-being.”

For more information about the consultation event contact Biodiversity and Ecology Officer Anna Bransden – annabransden@monmouthshire.gov.uk – or 01633 644850.

 

Monmouthshire County Council’s letting service offers landlords in the area a friendly, experienced and professional deal.  Monmouthshire Lettings Service (MLS) – part of the council’s housing team – has ten years of property management experience and provides a free no fee service, inclusive tenancy support services and comprehensive checks on all potential tenants.  MLS also offers for free, quarterly property inspections, a non-emergency repairs service, out of hours emergency call out and guaranteed rental payments. In addition, for a limited period, landlords are offered a ‘golden welcome’ cash payment of up to £1,200.

The council has a statutory duty to help prevent homelessness of local households and, in particular, limit the use of B&B accommodation which is both financially costly, and often socially unacceptable to the homeless household.  The role of the private rented sector (PRS) in providing affordable renting options is crucial for discharging our statutory homeless duties and providing accommodation to those who may struggle to access housing association accommodation or lack the ability to buy.

However, the PRS within Monmouthshire is small and expensive and out of reach as a housing option for the vast majority of households who present as homeless.  To address the issue Monmouthshire has been successful in applying for Welsh Government funding that will assist in engaging and incentivising landlords to work more closely with the council.  The council is able to offer them a ‘golden welcome’ in return for the use of their properties.

The council anticipates that the ‘golden welcome’ together with further cash incentives for landlords willing to offer longer periods of settled accommodation will increase the number of properties available for households who struggle to find accommodation in their home communities.

County Councillor Bob Greenland, cabinet member with responsibility for housing said: “Landlords with properties in Monmouthshire looking for a no fee, hassle-free lettings experience should talk to the team at MLS.  It’s a letting agency with a difference where both landlord and tenant are listened to and valued equally with transparency and honesty integral to its working practices.  The team will work with you to help manage and advertise your property as well as find you vetted tenants.”

For further information contact Private Sector Liaison Officer Lindsay Stewart – lindsaystewart@monmouthshire.gov.uk – or telephone 01291 635713.

On Thursday 16th November Monmouthshire County Council Foster Care team will be at St Pierre Marriot Chepstow, from 10.00am – 12.00pm and  7.00pm – 9.00pm to meet and greet residents of Monmouthshire who are interested in becoming Foster Carers.

Monmouthshire children need Monmouthshire families. 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 a huge need for more foster carers and the team hope that the meet and greet sessions will encourage more and more people to consider making such an important decision.

Individuals not able to attend the meet and greet session are able to gain information and guidance about the steps to they need to take to make a difference to a child in Monmouthshire via the website: www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/fostering

In recent weeks the Foster Care team has been at a variety of events; Caldicot Fireworks and Usk Show to talk to people and break down barriers and perceptions people may have about fostering. Many more meet and greet sessions are planned in coming months details can be found on the website.

Penny Jones Cabinet Member for Social Care, Safeguarding and Health said:

‘I strongly believe that our babies, children and young people in Monmouthshire have every right to have the best possible start in life. Monmouthshire families can help make this difference to our children. The foster team are doing a fantastic job engaging with communities to support our children. I encourage those who are thinking about becoming a Foster Carer to come along, visit the website or give the team a call.’

To make a difference visit www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/fostering or call 01873 735950

Over thirty Monmouthshire youngsters gathered at the county’s outdoor education service headquarters in Skenfrith’s Hilston Park recently (Thursday 2nd November) to launch the council’s Young Carers’ Strategy.

The strategy is the result of engagement between the council and the county’s young people who care for members of their family.  It outlines the help and support the council can provide as well as offering a greater understanding and recognition of the care and support provided by young carers.

Councillor Maureen Powell, Monmouthshire’s Chairman opened the event and spoke of the pressures faced by young carers and the effective support offered by the strategy.  She said: “My admiration for you all knows no bounds and I wonder how we’d manage without your wonderful contribution.”

The young carers spent the day in workshops sharing information and examining how the strategy can be applied and improved.  There was an appreciation that the strategy showed people were now listening and acknowledging the challenges faced by young carers.  While many important subjects were discussed there was a light-hearted element to the day as a number of the children and staff dressed as superheroes or film characters.  Among these were Superman, The Incredibles, The Teenage Ninja Mutant Heroes and Frozen’s Olaf.  Also, the site’s outdoor education staff encouraged participation with initial warm up exercises designed to introduce the young people to each other and make them feel at ease.

Councillor Penny Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for social care and health also attended the event.  She added: “I’m keen that the Young Carers’ Strategy will offer appropriate support which is why we will keep listening to our young carers.  I hope that the strategy will make a beneficial difference to both the young carers and those for whom they have a responsibility.”

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

New powers given to Welsh councils will help tackle problem fly-tipping.  Effective from 25th October, the powers enable council officers to issue fixed penalty notices when they are satisfied that a person has fly-tipped.  The penalty amounts vary from £150 to £400.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member responsible for environmental health, Councillor Sara Jones said: “This welcome measure will help us tackle these anti-social acts which create eyesores wherever they occur.  We have successfully prosecuted offenders in recent years with heavy fines through court action and this will continue to be our main focus, but we are intent on using all powers at our disposal.  Accordingly, the application of a fixed penalty notice may be appropriate in some cases involving small amounts of waste to give the offender the opportunity to pay the fine and avoid court action.  Only a small minority of people fly-tip but our officers are proactive and will take enforcement action wherever possible’’.

Residents have a duty to ensure that they dispose of waste properly and if they entrust the job to another person they should ensure the contractor is a registered carrier. 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 the council’s dedicated web pages: www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/recycling-and-waste/fly-tipping

Monmouthshire County Council has celebrated twelve months of its online app with a free draw offering fantastic prizes.  Residents signing to or downloading the council’s My Monmouthshire app in late October were offered the opportunity to enter the ‘Appy’ Birthday Quiz, putting them in line to win an iPad, five pairs of tickets to Caldicot Castle’s fireworks display, a free MoT at the council’s Raglan Depot, a car parking voucher, gym membership and a green waste permit.

 Since the My Monmouthshire launch in October 2016 residents have downloaded, signed and registered via an app store or the council’s website to put them in direct touch with a wide range of council functions.

 My Monmouthshire can be used to pay for a service, report a problem and access information on a variety of topics.  It has been welcomed by residents across the county.

 Caldicot’s Janice Morgan, winner of the iPad said: “I was thrilled to win the iPad because my elderly version is going through its death throes. The new one will help me access my emails, aid my research and ensure I keep in touch with family and friends through social media.

 “Over the past twelve months I have found the My Monmouthshire app useful to find out about local activities, how to renew my bus pass and to check on bus timetables. It is good to know that through the app, I can also look at planning applications and raise an objection should it become necessary.”

 Councillor Phil Murphy, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for resources said: “I’m very pleased that so many residents have signed up to the app.  The ability to tap into services from phone or tablet demonstrates our willingness to connect with our residents.  Over 29,000 residents have already signed up and I’m confident this number will increase significantly in the future.”

 Residents wishing to sign up to the My Monmouthshire app should log on to: http://monmouthshire.mycouncilservices.com/ or download from their mobile phone app store.

 

More than 6,900 people attended the annual fireworks spectacular at Caldicot Castle on a cold but crisp, clear evening.

Organised by Monmouthshire County Council, community groups and tourist organisation Visit Monmouthshire in a longstanding partnership with radio station Capital FM, the event at the picturesque castle and its grounds was a massive success.  A team of 16 local volunteers with volunteers from council staff helped to ensure an enjoyable night.

The display featured fun for all the family, including a fairground, music provided by Capital FM and fire-eaters.

The council’s fostering team attended the display with a stand to publicise the need for more foster carers.  Child Placement Team Manager Angela McErlane said: “The fireworks display gave us a brilliant opportunity to publicise the urgent need for local foster carers to provide homes for children looked after in Monmouthshire.  We had positive discussions with a number of families as well as lots of support from the community.  We would welcome anyone interested in becoming a foster carer or looking for further information at our next Meet & Greet event.  This is on Thursday 16th November at St Pierre Marriot Hotel & Country Club near Chepstow and it runs from 10am to noon with a later session from 7pm to 9pm”.

For more information visit http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/fostering or telephone: 01873 735950.

 County Councillor Bob Greenland, the cabinet member with responsibility for leisure and tourism said: “This is the fifth year we’ve held a spectacular firework display here and it was wonderful to see so many families enjoying themselves.  We were treated to our biggest display yet, supported by live entertainment.  Yet again, Caldicot Castle looked stunning and was the perfect venue for the event.  I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who played their part in making it such a resounding success and such a memorable event.”

For more information on Caldicot Castle, visit www.visitmonmouthshire.com/caldicot-castle/

 

Local groups from Abergavenny, Friends of Bailey Park and Abergavenny Town Team are seeking the views of local communities to help shape the future of Bailey Park. A survey has been designed to find out how existing facilities in the park can be improved to meet the future needs of the town. Local community groups are working in partnership with the town council and Monmouthshire County Council to give the much loved park a new lease of life.

The thoughts and feelings of local residents and visitors to the park are vital to the future of the park to make it an even better accessible and vibrant space for all ages. Bailey Park is a hive of activity all year round with many local sporting groups such as Abergavenny Rugby Club, Abergavenny Bowls Club using the park to compete, train and socialise. These groups and many others will be integral to the engagement process with Friends of Bailey Park and the Abergavenny Town Team.

County Councillor Bryan Jones said: ‘Bailey Park is so important for the health and wellbeing of both local people and visitors. The voice of local community organisations and communities from surrounding areas is essential to talk about how they would like to see the space improved for the future and we encourage everyone to complete the survey.’

Results of the survey will provide evidence from the community and inform the next steps of a funding bid to improve the park and its facilities.

The survey is available via the Monmouthshire County Council website http://tinyurl.com/yce8fe8x survey completed by Wednesday 20th December. For more information please contact Mark Cleaver 07976 791031 MarkCleaver@monmouthshire.gov.uk

 

Community sports clubs across Monmouthshire are being encouraged to apply for funding of up to £1,500 from the Sport Wales Community Chest fund.

Funding can be used to increase participation and raise the standards of clubs or projects in Monmouthshire. The application can be completed online and is an easy way to gain extra funds to help grass roots sport.

Cabinet Member for Leisure Cllr Bob Greenland said:

‘I really hope that local sports clubs apply for the funding. Funding schemes such as this are essential in helping to support the wellbeing of residents now and in the future.’

Paul Sullivan, Monmouthshire Sports Development officer said:

‘We are happy to help any clubs or projects to complete the application form. The Community Chest Fund is so important for local clubs it can help get more children, young people and adults get hooked on sport.’

To apply visit the Sport Wales website: http://sport.wales/funding–support/our-grants/community-chest.aspx.

Applications are to be submitted by Wednesday 10th January 2018. For any further information contact sport@monmouthshire.gov.uk or contact Sports Development Officer Paul Sullivan 07825 853882.

 

Caldicot Castle takes a step back into the past this Christmas as it hosts two festive medieval banqueting evenings providing partygoers with an original celebration for this year’s festive season.  The castle is an ideal setting for such occasions and its sumptuous dining areas as well as its beautiful surroundings offer a magical atmosphere, particularly at this special time of year.

 Entertainment featuring musicians and singers will transport revellers back in time with an array of entertainment, melodies and storytelling.  On the table will be a sharing platter of cold meats and local cheeses with fruit followed by a delicious home-made Welsh cawl – slow braised lamb with roasted vegetables – while Monmouthshire Pudding with cream and mead round off the menu.  A vegetarian option will be provided and special diets can be accommodated.  A full bar will be available.

 Both events run from 7pm to 11.30pm and take place on Saturday 2nd and Saturday 16th December.  Tickets are just £50 each or £40 for a party of 20 or more.  For tickets or details call 01 291 426405.

 Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for leisure said: “Caldicot Castle with its atmospheric surroundings is the ideal place to celebrate Christmas.  The festive banqueting evenings promise to be a highlight of the festive season.”

 

Business support service Superfast Business Wales will run a free workshop for Monmouthshire’s businesses from 9am to 1.30pm on Tuesday 14th November at Abergavenny’s Angel Hotel.  It will provide sound and expert advice on using search engine optimisation (SEO) to place their enterprises at the top of search engine rankings.

The workshop will offer practical tips to improve website visibility and attract more custom.  Among its features are identifying winning keywords to make businesses stand out, creating a practical SEO action plan with a long-term strategy and effective tips and techniques to boost search rankings.

Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for enterprise said: “This workshop can help increase sales and boost website visits as well as attract and retain customers.  It’ll also be a great opportunity for local businesses to network and lend each other support.”

Businesses wishing to attend the workshop should visit https://wales.business-events.org.uk/en/events/superfast-business-wales-winning-with-seo/

·       Superfast Business Wales is a fully-funded business support service designed to help small and medium-sized Welsh businesses make the most of digital technology.  For further details visit https://businesswales.gov.wales/superfastbusinesswales/

 

 Usk Church in Wales Primary headteacher Victoria Evans has praised the local community for its response to the vandalism of a shed used as an outdoor role play area within the school grounds.  The building was severely damaged after a break-in during the summer holidays but pupils can now carry on as usual thanks to a number of generous gestures which have resulted in the donation of not one, but two new sheds.

 Mrs Evans said: “We were devastated to discover the damage but very much heartened by the way that the Usk community rallied around.  We were overwhelmed by offers of help to restore the damaged shed but unfortunately it was beyond repair.  A group of parents – Messrs Davies, Lewis, Yeoman and Abbeglen – helped to clear up the mess and the resourceful Mrs Kay Peacock, our school crossing officer and gardener instigated a social media campaign to raise funds for a replacement.”

 The campaign drew the attention of local timber merchant ALS trading who donated a new playhouse and Newport solicitors Collingbourne Hennah Law who chipped in with a substantial donation, enabling the school to purchase a new shed for its flourishing garden.  Both buildings were in place little over a month after the act of vandalism.

 Mrs Evans added: “The school is extremely grateful to ALS Trading Ltd and Collingbourne Hennah Law for providing us with two lovely new sheds that have already been used to good effect.  We’re delighted by the response of the local community and I’d like to especially mention the contribution of Mrs Peacock for heading the drive for a replacement building.  Pupils were dismayed by the mindless vandalism but they’re now overjoyed by our new sheds.  These currently feature in the Foundation Phase outdoor learning area and the school allotment.”

 

Monmouthshire County Council has closed roads outside the former Britannia Inn in Abergavenny following advice from a structural engineer.  Frogmore Street and Baker Street were closed initially while engineers assessed the risk but Frogmore Street has now reopened to traffic.  For the time being Baker Street remains closed to traffic and pedestrians and awaits a further report from the structural engineer.  However officers are optimistic that at least pedestrian access will be returned by tomorrow.

 The former pub has been fenced off and signs installed to alert the public.

 The property is a grade II listed building within the Abergavenny Conservation Area.  Six applications have been considered and approved for the site.

 Councillor Bryan Jones, cabinet member with responsibility for county operations said: “We’re reacting to concerns that the former Britannia public house is unstable.  We’re working to ensure public safety by closing Baker Street with a partial closure of Frogmore Street outside the premises.  Plans to divert vehicle and pedestrian traffic will be developed once the nature and duration of the risk is established.”

 

Senior students from Chepstow School attending a workshop on Tuesday 17th October discussed peaceful and progressive solutions to conflicts between Palestinians and Israelis.  The workshop was conducted by Solutions Not Sides, a non-partisan organisation which encourages students in the UK and Western Europe to make a positive contribution to debates on Israeli/Palestinian relations.

Students were fully engaged and inspired by the material delivered by staff from Solutions not Sides and after the situation was discussed in depth, they broke into groups to seek constructive solutions to the conflict.

Emma Mellen, assistant headteacher at Chepstow School said: “Feedback from the students was brilliant.  They felt like they had learned so much and were really impressed with the first hand experiences and stories from the organisers.  Equally, organisers were impressed by the knowledge, maturity and engagement of our students.  They commented that this was the best school they had visited and such praise makes us very proud.

“At Chepstow School, we see it as our responsibility to prepare our students for the future and to give them the tools they need to actively make a difference to the world after life at school.  This workshop did just that.”

Councillor Sara Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for equalities added: “I’m pleased that our students benefitted so much from debates around the workshop and discussed solutions to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict based on respect for the human rights of all.”

Monmouthshire County Council has organised a range of great activities for children over the autumn half term.

On Thursday 2nd November Chepstow Community Hub will host a storytelling session from 11am to noon for five to eight year olds based on the book Room on the Broom by popular children’s author Julia Donaldson.  Afterwards, children can make crafts associated with the story.  Contact Sally Anne Powell – SallyAnnePowell@monmouthshire.gov.uk – 01291 635730 for details.

Usk Community Hub also offers Room on the Broom activities at 10am on Thursday 2nd November as well as yo-yo decorating during opening hours.  Usk Hub is open on Saturday (9am to 12.45pm), Monday to Wednesday (9am to 5pm) and Thursday (9am to 7pm).

The popular Monmouthshire Games will return to the county’s four leisure centres over the half term holidays for youngsters to learn new skills, develop confidence, meet new people and most importantly, have fun through sport!  Each day will be packed with a range of sporting activities for 5 to 12 year olds and activities include swimming, football, netball, basketball, kayaking, cricket, hockey, golf, badminton, Nerf Guns, tennis, running a daily mile, rounders and rugby.  The costs are £16 per day (9am to 3pm) or £19.50 (8am to 5pm).  For further details log onto: http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/things-to-do/monleisure

Monmouthshire’s youth service has arranged a series of activities for young people.  On Monday 30th October – weather permitting – an inflatable dome and bouncy castle will be at the Owain Glyndŵr field in Usk from 11am to 4pm with music, Hallowe’en arts and crafts, face painting, hair braiding and sports activities.  A similar event takes place in the grounds at Tintern’s Old Station on Thursday 2nd November.  For further information contact YouthService@monmouthshire.gov.uk or call 07827 880055.

In Monmouth from noon to 5pm on Friday 3rd November, the town’s skate park will feature Hallowe’en themed activities including a skate and scoot competition and the youth service inflatable dome with music and face-painting.  Prizes will be given for best fancy dress.

Tuesday, 31st October sees a youth service trip to the Thorpe Park entertainment complex in Surrey.  Tickets at £25 each include transport and admission and are available from Caldicot and Chepstow’s leisure centres, Monmouth’s Attik Youth Club, King Henry VIII School and Abergavenny Youth Club.

Chepstow Museum offers its popular drop-in craft afternoons on Thursday 26th October and Thursday 2nd November from 2pm until 4pm at the Drill Hall in Lower Church Street.  With Hallowe’en on the horizon and Fireworks night there’ll be special things to make, including “spooky slime” and other ideas to spark creativity!  Suitable for children of all ages, all children must be accompanied by an adult – up to three children per adult – and they are welcome for the whole afternoon or just to pop in for a short time.  Donations towards the cost of materials and refreshments are always welcome – the museum suggests £2 per child.  Children can also take the special Hallowe’en trail at the museum to spot spooky goings on as well as participate in a number of activities.  The museum is open every day from 11am to 4pm.

Abergavenny Museum will be open every day over half term except Wednesday from 11am to 4pm. Children can engage in a ghost hunt, drawing, colouring sheets of various themes, jigsaws, games, coin rubbing, dressing in clothes from different eras and discovering the castle grounds and history with the help of Castle Explorer backpacks.

Monmouth Museum’s current special exhibition from the RNLI, “Hope in the Great War” celebrates the timeless courage of lifeboat crews all over Britain.  It’s full of family-friendly activities.  The museum is open from 11am to 4pm, except Wednesdays.

Many of these activities are free.  For further information, contact the council’s community hubs, museums and leisure centres or visit www.monmouthshire.gov.uk – the council’s website.

Over fifty pupils from each of Monmouthshire’s primary schools attended a one day conference at County Hall, Usk on Tuesday, 17th October to generate new ideas to get children hooked on sport and to share good practice.  The conference gave children the opportunity to mix with others from a variety of schools with an aim of establishing a Bronze Young Ambassador Team for the county.

The Bronze Young Ambassadors programme is an exciting sports leadership scheme that offers children in Year Six the chance to develop their skills and provides them with the knowledge to be an ambassador for PE and school sport.  Bronze Young Ambassadors are charged with increasing participation in sport and physical activity as well as promoting a healthy lifestyle (including healthy eating) and the positive values of sport and physical activity.  In addition, they are role models, advocating PE and school sport and representing their fellow pupils’ voices.

In many schools the role is held in the same esteem as a head girl or boy and the holder will form a vital link between students, teachers and the council’s sports development officers.  Monmouthshire’s sport development team is also training the county’s Year Five pupils to support Bronze Young Ambassadors and it aims to develop leadership teams in all primary schools.  Monmouthshire is the first Welsh local authority to deliver the Sport Leaders UK Playmaker award on this scale – over a thousand children will gain the award this term.

The conference involved discussions in the council chamber followed by physical activities later in the afternoon.

Councillor Bob Greenland, cabinet member with responsibility for leisure said: “We’re particularly proud of our contribution towards increasing interest in sport and delighted to host a gathering today bringing together representatives from each of the county’s primary schools.  The Bronze Young Ambassadors programme is in line with our ethos of encouraging sport for enjoyment, building confidence and teamwork and investment in health.”

The Vale of Usk Local Action Group has commissioned a survey to gauge demand for co-working spaces targeted at the technical, digital and creative sectors in the area.  The group particularly seeks views from people running a business from home who may feel isolated and who would benefit from networking or sharing resources with like-minded colleagues.

The survey will explore whether there is a desire to provide shared creative working spaces in one or more locations in Monmouthshire and rural areas of Newport, and if provided, how these might lead to new opportunities for work-based collaborations.

The survey can be found at http://www.cowork.wales/ and as well as sharing views about possible co-working spaces, respondents can ask to be kept up to date on research and related opportunities.  The deadline for responses is Wednesday 8th November.

The research has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

Monmouthshire County Council has made positive progress delivering the objectives it set for 2016/17, according to a recently published plan reviewing its performance.

The council’s Improvement Plan for 2016/17 set five improvement objectives that it would focus on for the year.  These covered improving education, safeguarding people and reducing dependence on social care, enabling the county to thrive, maintaining locally accessible services and ensuring the council is efficient and effective.  Some of the actions the council has taken to deliver the objectives include:

  • Investing in ICT in schools to maximise the impact of technology for learning and development
  • A focus on promoting and supporting well-being and preventing need for social care services
  • The council becoming a partner in the £1.2bn Cardiff Capital Region City Deal, along with nine other local authorities in South East Wales.
  • Agreeing future plans for the recycling service and the council continuing to have one of the highest rates of recycling in Wales.

Commenting on the publication of the plan, Councillor Paul Jordan, cabinet member for governance said: “I hope the improvement plan helps residents of Monmouthshire understand the progress the council made in 2016/17.  I’m pleased that the progress presented in this plan, along with national performance data which ranks Monmouthshire as one of the highest performing councils in Wales, shows how we have continued to deliver many council services well, despite reduced resources.  There are some areas that need to be improved and we have plans in place to achieve this and will continue to closely monitor progress.

“Maintaining or improving the performance of our services, as a rural county with increasing demand and reducing budget, is a significant challenge and one which we continue to work hard upon.  We are in the process of developing a plan to clearly set out what we will focus on over the next period to improve well-being in the county and we will continue to engage with Monmouthshire residents on the issues that matter to them.”

The full plan called “How we performed 2016/17” is available to view on www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/improvement

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

Children attending Year 6 at primary school will transfer to a secondary school in September 2018, and parents are urged to complete their applications before the 30th November closing date.  This will give them the best chance of ensuring that their child attends their preferred school.  Parents resident in Monmouthshire must apply to the council even if their preferred school lies outside the county’s borders (excluding schools in Newport where applications are to be made directly to the city council).

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

Alternately, parents may request an application pack by telephoning the council’s admissions team on 01633 644508 or emailing: schoolandstudentaccessunit@monmouthshire.gov.uk

The completion of an application form expressing written preference for a school is a legal necessity set out in the School Admissions Code of Practice.  In addition, while each school within the county serves a specific catchment area, parents or guardians can not assume that their children will automatically gain entry.  Parents who submit application forms by the deadline on 30th November 2017 will be informed which school their child will attend no later than 1st March 2018.

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

Contact the School and Student Access Unit on 01633 644508 or email schoolandstudentaccessunit@monmouthshire.gov.uk for further information.

Over 5,000 residents have already signed up to Monmouthshire County Council’s My Monmouthshire app since its launch in November. The app. enables residents to get in touch with the council easily, gain access to information quickly and the ability to request items such as recycling boxes and bags. The app can be downloaded quickly and easily onto any smartphone or tablet by visiting the app Store, searching for My Monmouthshire and simply registering for the app.

Key benefits of My Monmouthshire include:

  • The ability to communicate with the council at any time of day, from any location, without the need to phone or visit a local community hub.
  • If people see something they’d like to report they can simply take a photo and contact the council immediately.
  • Receive regular updates from the council, by signing up for a variety of alerts and information.
  • The local mapping tool enables residents to find out information specific to their house such as recycling, polling station and planning information. The Local Mapping section of app is easy to use by inserting a postcode residents can also find out about events that are happening in the county.

There has been positive feedback from residents. A resident from Gilwern said ‘I have recently moved to the area, and I have already downloaded the My Monmouthshire app. It has been a really useful way to find out about what’s happening including waste collections and has helped me sign up to pay my council tax online.’

Cllr Bob Greenland Cabinet Member for Innovation, Enterprise and Leisure said-

‘It is fantastic to see so many of our residents signing up for the My Monmouthshire app. In an ever increasing digital society the My Monmouthshire app gives residents the power to be in control of the information they receive and provide yet another mechanism in the way they communicate with the local authority. The app is continuously evolving and more functions will be included in the future with officers listening to feedback from residents about what they would like to see. We hope that more and more people will sign up.’

Council Leader Peter Fox has expressed dismay over Monmouthshire’s financial settlement from the Welsh Government for the year 2018/19.  He has called on the government to base funding on a fairer system, acknowledging the problems rural counties face when providing services.

The amount to be received from the Welsh Government – £93m – is 1% less than the previous year and the settlement continues an eight-year run of real terms reductions to local government funding in Wales.  This does not take into account the current inflation rate of 2.7% and therefore represents a 3.7% real term reduction in funding.  While the average cut to Welsh councils is 0.5%, Monmouthshire’s 1% decrease, shared with five other counties, is the biggest in Wales.

In addition, the county’s allocation per head from the Welsh Government is the lowest in the country.  The average per capita funding in Wales is £1,339 compared to Monmouthshire’s £1,001.

Calling the announcement “disappointing”, Councillor Fox was keen to stress that rural counties like Monmouthshire are confronted by particular challenges in offering services like social care, waste collection, transport and highways across a wide area.  Indeed, the council has recognised these difficulties by prioritising the maintenance of locally accessible services to combat rural isolation.

Councillor Fox said: “This is a disappointing settlement for local government across Wales.  The Welsh Government has chosen to use additional money passed to it by the UK government in ways that don’t best meet the needs of the people in Wales.  Monmouthshire has yet again received one of the worst settlements in Wales with a real terms 3.7% cut, meaning there is now a difference of £338 between our per capita funding and the average for Wales.  There seems to be absolutely no understanding in Cardiff Bay of what it takes to deliver public services in rural areas where the cost of living is higher than in urban areas.  This antiquated funding formula needs to be scrapped and we need to find a fairer, more balanced way of meeting the needs of citizens living in our rural heartlands.  If we don’t, we will just see the countryside de-populated which is a dreadful endpoint.”

Gilwern Primary School near Abergavenny has successfully achieved the Healthy Schools National Quality Award – a Welsh Government scheme managed by Public Health Wales.  It is only the third primary school in Monmouthshire to win this accreditation.

The Healthy Schools National Quality Award is an excellence award for health promotion in schools.

To gain the award, staff and pupils developed a whole school approach to food and fitness, mental and emotional health and wellbeing, personal development and relationships, substance use and misuse, environment, safety and hygiene.  These health topic areas are embedded within the curriculum and reinforced through extra-curricular activities, pupil groups and links with local community groups and partners.  The ethos and organisation of the school demonstrates unity and care.  Staff are friendly, approachable and excellent teamwork is supported by the governing body as well as parents and carers.

 Pupils’ involvement in decision-making receives high priority with a number of active pupil groups that support and develop key health promotion messages.  Pupils have the opportunity to take part in a variety of local community events and sporting tournaments.

 Children’s rights are fundamental to the ethos of the school as well as strong international links and involvement with the Eco Schools programme which have contributed to achieving the award.

 Headteacher Roger Guy said: “I am delighted that we have achieved this prestigious award.  I am very proud that our whole school community continues to work together to promote the well-being of pupils and staff here at Gilwern Primary School.”

 Monmouthshire’s Chairman Councillor Maureen Powell added: “It’s an absolute pleasure to present this richly-deserved award to Gilwern Primary School.  Pupils, staff and the school’s wider community have developed values that prioritise physical, mental and social health.  I’m very proud of our young people’s achievements in Monmouthshire.”

 

Caldicot Castle will host its annual fireworks spectacular on Sunday 5th November with gates opening at 4.30pm and the display starting at 7pm. The fireworks will run for approximately 20 minutes. Organised by community groups, Caldicot Castle and tourist organisation Visit Monmouthshire and in a longstanding partnership with radio station Capital FM, the annual event attracts large crowds and has become increasingly popular.

Tickets costing £7.50 for adults and £4.50 for children are available by visiting www.caldicotcastle.co.uk. Children under three get free entry but will still require a ticket to attend. Organisers stress that this is a ticket-only event and no tickets will be on sale at the gate. Children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult.

Parking is available at the local Asda supermarket, the Mitel site close to the castle and the Jubilee Way car park in the centre of Caldicot. As well as fireworks, entertainment will be provided by Capital FM, fire eaters and a fun fair. Food and drink will be available including a licenced bar but those attending will not be permitted to bring their own food and drink.

County Councillor Bob Greenland, the cabinet member with responsibility for leisure and tourism said: “This is the fifth year we’ve held a spectacular firework display here and Caldicot Castle is the perfect venue for this sort of occasion. Families can look forward to a fabulous display and great entertainment.”

For further information log onto www.visitmonmouthshire.com/fireworks-FAQ

Monmouthshire’s Family Information Service has recently launched a new look, fully bilingual website to provide essential information for parents, carers and professionals.

The website – www.monfis.org.uk  – contains information about all forms of childcare across the county, details of how to apply for early education and funding, lists of services for families including pregnancy and new parenting support, additional needs support, birthday party entertainment, parenting support and so much more. Also featured are information about how to be a childminder, what to look for when choosing childcare and how to find help with childcare costs. Independent organisations can submit details of services and events for consideration, place job vacancies on the site and feature on the home page scrolling news banner.

Monmouthshire’s Family Information Service has been available since 2003 when it was known as the Children’s Information Service. It is a council-run, Welsh Government-led service required to provide childcare information to parents. Over time the website has expanded to include all services available for families and features school holiday activities, family fun events, first aid courses, local and national family services and projects.

The Family Information Service’s popular Facebook page (www.facebook.com/moncfis) is used in conjunction with the website making it easy for people to discover new information and easy for providers to promote their services.

Councillor Richard John, cabinet member for Children and Young People said: “Our impressive Family Information Service website contains a wealth of useful material including childcare, early education, our Flying Start and Acorn Project initiatives, help with finance, job vacancies and training. It’s bright, inviting and really useful reading for anyone involved with raising a family”.

Monmouthshire County Council is alerting parents and guardians of children due to start primary education next September that the closing date to apply for school places is 12th January 2018.

Children born between 1st September 2013 and 31st August 2014 are eligible to start reception classes in September 2018 and parents are asked to complete their applications before the 12th January 2018 closing date.  This will give them the best chance of ensuring that their child attends their preferred school.  Parents resident in Monmouthshire must apply to the council even if their preferred school lies outside the county’s borders (excluding schools in Newport where applications are to be made directly to the city council).

Parents may apply using the council’s online application system.  For more information, visit: www.monmouthshire.gov.uk – alternately, parents may request an application pack by telephoning the council’s admissions team on 01633 644508 or emailing: schoolandstudentaccessunit@monmouthshire.gov.uk

The completion of an application form expressing written preference for a school is a legal necessity set out in the School Admissions Code of Practice.  In addition, while each school within the county serves a specific catchment area parents or guardians can not assume that their children will automatically gain entry.  Parents who submit application forms by the deadline on 12th January will be informed which school their child will attend no later than 16th April 2018.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for schools and learning, Councillor Richard John said: “It’s vital that parents apply for school places on time.  Applications which are not submitted by 12th January will be considered after those received on time.  That means parents who apply late are at greater risk of being allocated places for their child other than at their preferred school – even if they have other children already in the school.”

Contact the School and Student Access Unit on 01633 644508 or email schoolandstudentaccessunit@monmouthshire.gov.uk for further information.

Monmouthshire County Council is pleased to support and raise awareness of World Mental Health Day on Tuesday October 10th with a series of wellbeing events that support this year’s theme Mental Health in the workplace.

The ‘You Matter We Care’ Wellbeing sessions are taking place across the county to help staff recognise signs of stress and also provide information about a whole range of offers that can help and support a positive work life balance

Monmouthshire County Council believes that being well both mentally and physically is essential for a happy and efficient work place.

The first session is taking place on Tuesday 10th and coincides with World Mental Health Day. Staff from across the workforce are being encouraged to attend the short information session which will provide them with information to maintain positive mental health.

The council believes that keeping and staying mentally and physical well is important for everyone in Monmouthshire. Monmouthshire has a wealth of organisations and groups who help and support individuals and families. Being active and creative is just some of the ways communities can improve mental health and wellbeing.

Monmouthshire County Council has produced three short films which showcase the activities that exist across the county for some residents who could have been at risk of becoming mentally unwell have benefited from learning new skills and finding friendships. The films will be available on World Mental Health Day, Tuesday 10th on council social media channels, Facebook and Twitter.

Sara Jones Cabinet Member for Social Justice and Community Development said:

‘The wellbeing of our communities and staff is so important. I am very passionate about promoting mental health and as an authority we are keen to support the many organisations in our county that have such a huge impact on the mental health of our residents. By raising awareness of the many ways to improve mental health and wellbeing more people will recognise small things can make a huge difference. Joining a club, meeting new people or exploring our beautiful county are small ways to make an impact.’

Two local charities have benefited from funds collected in aid of Monmouthshire’s past Chairman’s appeal.
Councillor Jim Higginson selected St David’s Hospice Care and Tŷ Hafan as his chosen charities during his term of office (May 2016 to May 2017) and he was delighted to travel to the headquarters of both organisations to pass on cheques for £2,386.96.
Gemma Sandhu, St David’s Hospice Care community/events fundraiser for the Monmouthshire and Newport areas said: “From everyone at St David’s Hospice Care I want to pass on the biggest thank you to Jim Higginson and his team for choosing to support our charity throughout 2016/17. The fantastic amount of money raised will be put to the best use looking after our patients in the new inpatient unit. I am so glad that I was able to show Mr Higginson around our spectacular new building.
“Our first fundraising event held was the lovely afternoon tea at Caldicot Castle which was such a lovely treat. It was a real pleasure to meet the representative from Tŷ Hafan and the many guests that attended the event. And I know a wonderful amount of money was raised.
“Many thanks once again for choosing St David’s Hospice Care to benefit from all the hard work put in over the year.”
Tŷ Hafan provides comfort, care and support for families who have children with life limiting conditions. The charity currently supports over 12 families from the Monmouthshire area. Regional fundraising manager Kelly Dibble said: “Councillor Higginson has been a pleasure to work with and even joined us at the hospice for our Christmas panto! This generous donation means that we can continue to support the families here in Wales that need us most. Thank you for all your hard work!”
Councillor Higginson commented: “I am very pleased to support the wonderful work by Tŷ Hafan and St David’s Hospice Care and my thanks go to Pauline, my Consort, for supporting me throughout and to the many members, staff and supporters from the council who made our duties so much easier while representing Monmouthshire as well as my colleagues from other authorities.

“My two charities were selected due to the excellent assistance they provide to families with loved ones suffering serious illnesses. Without that help the families would have little or no respite at times when they need it most.”

Monmouthshire County Council has installed its first public electric car charging point in Chepstow and it aims to create similar facilities in other towns. The charging point is located within Welsh Street’s free parking area and its prominent bright blue logo means it is easily identified.

Tokens to obtain a supply of electricity are available from the council’s adjacent community hub during office hours and also from the town’s Greenman Backpackers Hostel in nearby Beaufort Square until 10pm. The tokens cost £5 and cars will be granted free parking while using the charging point. This recognises that charging will often take longer than the 30 minutes offered to other vehicles for free parking in the area.

Councillor Bryan Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for county operations said: “The number of electric vehicles is increasing significantly and is set to increase further as the range of vehicles expands. A lack of charging points is a major drawback to the growth of electric vehicles so our new facility in Chepstow will encourage drivers to opt for a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly choice.”

People in Monmouthshire starting, running or growing their own business can benefit from a series of free workshops delivered by the Welsh Government’s Business Wales service. The courses aim to equip budding entrepreneurs with the tools and knowledge to develop their ideas further, making their business a success.

Delivered by experienced advisers, the workshops are designed to provide in-depth knowledge, develop practical skills and inspire confidence among aspiring Welsh entrepreneurs at the start of their business journey. They help delegates assess their personal skills and cover a variety of topics, including business and financial planning, pricing, marketing, sourcing funding, recruitment, legal and compliance issues.

Workshops will take place as follows:

Starting and Running a Business – Taking the Plunge: 9.30am to 4.00pm
• Monmouth – Monday, 16th October
• Newport – Thursday, 19th October

Business Wales also offers courses for people who already run their own business:

Tax and Bookkeeping: 9.30am to 12.30pm
• Newport – Tuesday, 10th October
Sizing up the Market: 1.30pm to 4.30pm
• Newport – Monday, 23rd October

Councillor Bob Greenland, Cabinet Member for Enterprise at Monmouthshire County Council said: “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’ Regional Manager for South Wales, David apjohn-Williams, commented: “A central part of our strategy at Business Wales is to encourage and support business start-ups, growth and job creation across Wales. We believe that our workshops provide a great opportunity for people in the area to gain an understanding of the key principles and practical skills, required to start and run their own business.

“We are delighted to be able to host these workshops for people in Monmouthshire and I strongly encourage everyone who wants to take their business idea further or to grow their business to come along.”

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.

For more information on venues and to book places visit https://wales.business-events.org.uk/, email southwales@businesswales.org.uk or call 01656 868500.

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.

Essential safety work due to subsidence on the A466 road between Chepstow and Tintern means that Monmouthshire County Council will install a set of traffic lights north of the former Livox Quarry entrance. Lights will operate from Monday 9th October until the end of the month and will allow the council to carry out ground investigations and bore-hole drilling. The investigations will provide vital data so that the council can eventually stabilise the carriageway by realigning the road into the adjacent hillside.

The lights will be relatively close to another set near the Livox quarry entrance – a result of a rock fall – so to minimise disruption both sets of lights will be manually controlled during work hours until the council is confident they can be operated automatically. If issues arise the lights will be returned to manual operation until site investigation works are complete.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for county operations, Councillor Bryan Jones said: “Motorists may be frustrated by the temporary addition of another set of lights on the A466 but the geology and nature of the surrounding area requires us to ensure safety is paramount until we can arrive at a permanent solution for this stretch of the road.”

A further set of lights on the A466 close to the Wyndcliffe picnic site will continue to operate, again for safety reasons following a rock fall and difficult geological conditions.

Residents and businesses in Monmouthshire are being encouraged to attend a local superfast broadband surgery that’s being held by Openreach at Raglan Old School between 5.30pm-8.30pm Thursday, 05 October.

With more than eight out of every ten home and business being able to access superfast broadband today across Monmouthshire as a result of the roll-out of fibre by Openreach engineers across the county, there is a greater opportunity to do more online than ever before.

The surgery will provide an opportunity for people living and working in Monmouthshire to ask Openreach engineers and planners about the fibre roll-out, how it can help them and find out what their options are if they’re not included in the current roll-out programme.

Ed Hunt, regional director for Openreach, the local network business which is part of BT Group, said: “The roll-out of superfast broadband across Wales is an enormous project which is revolutionising how we live, work, learn and play.

“More and more is being done online. Businesses, for example, can expand into new markets with fast reliable internet connections or save time and money by doing things, such as downloading large documents, faster.

“Quicker broadband speeds can also help families in so many ways. From doing the weekly shop to helping your children with their homework online, families are seeing the difference that superfast broadband can make to their lives.

“What’s important to remember is that businesses and families who can access superfast broadband still need to place an order with an internet service provider (ISP) in order to start receiving superfast speeds. The upgrade doesn’t happen automatically.

“For those currently unable to place an order, I’d like to highlight that we will continue to roll-out fibre across the county and our engineers will continue to work hard to roll-out fibre as far and as fast as possible.”

Monmouthshire County Council, Councillor Sara Jones said:

“Broadband is an issue that has been raised again and again by residents and businesses in Monmouthshire.

I’m pleased that Openreach have agreed to hold a drop in session so they can address household queries and provide possible solutions where there are ongoing challenges. I urge the public to attend the meeting, it will provide a perfect platform for our communities to share their thoughts with BT Openreach and enable access to improve.”

If households or businesses are able to receive superfast broadband, the upgrade will not happen automatically and they should contact their internet service provider (ISP) to order the service.

 

People wishing to attend the Raglan Openreach surgery need to register their interest as places as are limited and will be allocated on appointment only basis. To book a place contact openreachcymru@grayling.com

 

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

 

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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