We understand that builders have severed a cable at Magor’s @Innovation House and communication by telephone or internet is unavailable. Most staff have already returned home to carry on their work. The problem is unlikely to be fixed by the end of the day. We will keep you updated as we receive information. Services areas concerned include council tax, people services, social services, children & young people, finance and property services.  

Monmouthshire County Council has announced that Chepstow Tourist Information Centre (TIC) will continue to be open from 10am until 3pm each day of the week until 10th November.  This means the TIC can welcome coach tour visitors during September – one of the sector’s busiest months in the area – and staff will be on hand to encourage visits to local attractions, eateries and other businesses, helping to distribute the benefits of the coach tour market more widely.

The late summer and early autumn is also when the town welcomes a large number of walkers. Four long distance routes starting in Chepstow – Offa’s Dyke National Trail, the Wye Valley Walk, the Wales Coast Path and the Gloucestershire Way – and an increasingly popular Mon Dean Walking Festival (1st – 9th October) underscore Chepstow’s well-deserved status as an official Walkers are Welcome Town. In addition to a wide range of routes, this year’s walking festival programme includes an unusual Boots and Paddles hike which involves canoeing part of the route.  The extended TIC opening period ensures that staff can offer advice on walking routes and provide access to valued luggage lockers over this popular period.

Councillor Bob Greenland, cabinet member with responsibility for tourism said: “Delivering a positive experience to visitors is the most effective and sustainable form of marketing, as it generates repeat visits and recommendations to family and friends, and it’s recognised that Chepstow TIC contributes significantly to the enjoyment of a short break or holiday in this location.”

Council officers will actively explore partnership opportunities over the coming months for the development of a sustainable visitor information service in Chepstow beyond November.

For further information about Monmouthshire’s attractions visit www.visitmonmouthshire.com

Monmouthshire County Council’s recycling service continues to produce impressive results with the news that it has achieved the Welsh recycling target for 2025, ten years ahead of schedule.  Recycling for the first quarter of 2016 (April to June) was just over 70% (figure to be officially verified).

 The county is consistently in the top three authorities for recycling rates in Wales and this is largely due to the cooperation of its residents, though other factors feature too.

 Space for landfill is rapidly declining over the country so all of Monmouthshire’s household waste is incinerated at an energy-from-waste plant in Cardiff.  Ash from the incinerator is used as road aggregate and ferrous metals are removed by magnets.  Both of these materials are included in Monmouthshire’s recycling figures.  Heat from the incinerator powers steam turbines, and the electricity generated is fed into the National Grid, producing sufficient electricity to power 50,000 homes.  In the longer term, as well as generating electricity, the plant aims to supply heat produced at the site to a local user.

 

While the recycling figure of 70% for April to June is a huge achievement, it is unlikely that the annual recycling percentage will remain this high because collection of compostable garden waste reduces during the winter.  Meanwhile, local residents are asked to continue their excellent recycling routine to maintain high standards in the county, and to ensure that black bags only contain items that are unable to be recycled.  Once they are incinerated many potentially recyclable materials can never be recovered.

 Councillor Bryan Jones, cabinet member with responsibility for recycling said: “I’m absolutely delighted that we have reached a magnificent 70% recycling rate and the main reason for this lies with our residents who play a massive part in ensuring that our record is among the best in Wales.  Needless to say, we will not rest on our laurels and we will look at ways to increase recycling further still.”

 

A project to build a new £0.9m community hub in Raglan has reached  a major milestone following the news that Raglan Village Hall Association (RVHA) has secured a BIG Lottery (People and Places) grant.

Following initial consultations, the group demonstrated the hub would meet local needs by submitting a business plan, full needs analysis and measurement indicators to achieve £47,904 of Big Lottery funding, a critical factor for the next stage of the project.

Chris Butler-Donnelly, Chair of RVHA said: “Our vision combines Raglan’s brilliant community spirit with a modern focal point for local activity, bringing people together to improve the quality of life for everyone in our village. Thanks to the funding from the BIG Lottery, support from Monmouthshire County Council, and the hard work of local groups, individuals and businesses, the next stage of this exciting project can begin.”

Work will now progress to develop the design details of a community hub on the site of the former junior school in the centre of Raglan, and to obtain full planning permission. The RVHA will continue to consult residents, giving them the opportunity to directly shape their own community hub.  The finalised designs and planning permission will form the basis of further submissions to BIG Lottery, and to other funders including the Welsh Assembly Government.

Chris added: “We look forward to seeing our community hub develop into a reality, and hope that local people of all ages will continue to support this project, share their ideas and expertise, and really shape an accessible, inclusive community space that we can all be proud of.”

Paul Matthews, Monmouthshire County Council’s Chief Executive expressed the council’s delight that the project was able to move to the next stage of its development: “We have been working closely with the RVHA for two years and are amazed at their commitment and dedication to ensure the delivery of a much needed local resource. They are an inspiring group for any community and are thoroughly deserving of this funding.”

 

The RVHA is continuing to fundraise for the project through local events, including a race night and grand draw on Saturday 24th September in Raglan’s Old Church School.

The RVHA meets in Raglan Old Church School on the third Wednesday of the month at 7:30pm and meetings are open to all. If you would like to help the RVHA with its work or just know more about what the RVHA does contact Chris Butler-Donnelly on 07931 887744.

We understand that builders have severed a cable at Magor’s @Innovation House and communication by telephone or internet is unavailable. Most staff have already returned home to carry on their work.

The problem is unlikely to be fixed by the end of the day. We will keep you updated as we receive information.

Services areas concerned include council tax, people services, social services, children & young people, finance and property services.

The Children’s Services duty line is unavailable for the rest of the day.

Urgent calls for Children’s social services should be directed through our main switchboard – 01633 644644.

 

Forecasted High Tides are due again this weekend. We will be monitoring the situation and if necessary, will arrange for the A466 through Tintern to be closed for short periods on the following

dates and times:-

Friday 19 th August 2016: 21:30 – 22:00 approx.

Saturday 20 th August 2016: 09:45 – 10:15 approx.

22:15 – 22:45 approx.

The closure points will be as follows:

North End closure: Trelleck Road junction.

South End closure: Royal George junction.

Closure times are estimated based on the forecasted tide times. Natural Resources Wales will be monitoring the situation and issuing Flood Warnings as necessary.

Again, please note road closures will only be temporary and only when tidal water actually overflows onto the highway. The road will reopen as soon as the water has receded from the highway.

A Scottish charity championing everyday walking for health is to make use of Monmouthshire County Council’s blueprint for improving access to the countryside.  Paths for All, based in Alloa and Invernness, is to adopt the council’s Countryside Access Design Guide strategy for gates.

 The charity is updating its specifications so that professionals working to improve access may assist as many people as possible to enjoy the countryside by providing appropriate infrastructure.  Much progress has been made in recent years to ensure that people with disabilities or health issues are able to access open spaces as far as possible and the design of gates, stiles and path surfaces is a key factor.

 Ruth Rourke, Monmouthshire’s Principal Officer for Countryside Access said: “We are very pleased that the Scottish charity Paths for All has adopted our gate designs which we hope will allow a wider range of people to experience the joys of a walk in the fresh air.”

 The guide can be found here:

http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/app/uploads/2013/09/Monmouthshire-Access-Design-Guide-Final-19-03-12.pdf

 

A level students across Monmouthshire are today celebrating a record breaking set of A-level results.  A record number of students at all four secondary schools have achieved record results with the county’s pass rate rising by nearly four percentage points to 99.1% (compared to 95.44% last year), nearly two percentage points higher than the national pass rate.  The rising pass rate also saw a record number of students (28%) achieving the highest grades of A*- A.  This is a huge 10% increase on last year and compares favourably with the national rate of 22.7%.

Across Monmouthshire there has been a further increase in the number of students achieving the Level 3 threshold (of two A levels grades A-E) to 99.7%, an increase of 1.3% from last year.  In three of the county’s four secondary schools the level 3 threshold was achieved by 100% of students.

Abergavenny’s King Henry VIII Comprehensive School maintained its high pass rate of 99% and this year the level of A*- A grades increased by 20% to 34%.

Caldicot School saw a huge leap in its pass rate – rising by 8.4% to 98.9%.  It also saw a rise of 4.8% in its Level 3 threshold to 100%.

Chepstow once again achieved 100% at the Level 3 threshold and secured a 3.4% increase with its pupils achieving the very highest grades to 22.29%. .

Monmouth Comprehensive recorded a record pass rate of 100% from 96% last year and 30% of its students achieved the highest A*-A grades.

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

Councillor Liz Hacket Pain, the council’s cabinet member with responsibility for education commented: “I am absolutely thrilled – these fantastic results are a real indicator of how hard the students and teachers have worked over the last two years.  I also want to recognise the support that our students receive from their parents and carers.  Across all of our schools we have seen improvements and children excelling at the highest levels.  This will give them great confidence as they start the next stages of their lives, be that in education or work.”

Sarah McGuinness, Chief Officer for Children and Young People added: “I am delighted at what our four schools have achieved today.  Across the board we have seen significant increases in all of the key measures and our students.  Their families and teaching staff can be extremely proud of what they have achieved. Monmouthshire’s results compare favourably with national outcomes and I know that our schools will be very pleased with this.  Our students can look to the future, well-equipped to achieve their full potential.”

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

 

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The Monmouthshire Fostering Team had a great day at the Chepstow Show on Saturday, with lots of visitors.

They are at the following shows in the next few weeks –

Monmouthshire Show on Thursday 25th of August at Monmouthshire Showground

Usk Show on Saturday the 10th of September, at Usk Showground

Fatigue is estimated to be a contributory factor in up to 20% of road collisions. These types of crashes tend to be high speed impacts resulting in death or serious injury, because a driver who has fallen asleep cannot brake or swerve.

Sleepiness reduces reaction time, a critical element of safe driving, and also reduces alertness and concentration. The ability to perform attention-based activities, such as driving or riding is impaired and decision making can be badly affected, as information cannot be quickly processed by a person who is tired.

Chair of Road Safety Wales, Susan Storch, said: “Drivers and riders will be aware that they are feeling sleepy, and must make a conscious decision to stop for a rest. Ignoring or underestimating the risks of continuing a journey when tired is naive and irresponsible”

Crashes caused by tired drivers are most likely to happen:

  • on long journeys on monotonous roads, such as motorways
  • between 2am and 6am
  • between 2pm and 4pm (especially after eating, or taking even one alcoholic drink)
  • after having less sleep than normal
  • after drinking alcohol/taking drugs
  • if taking medicines that cause drowsiness
  • after long working hours or on journeys home after long shifts, especially night shifts

Most methods drivers use to try to keep themselves awake and alert when driving are ineffective, and should only be regarded as emergency measures to allow the driver time to find somewhere safe to stop. Drinking at least 150 mg of caffeine and taking a nap of around 15 minutes are the only measures that help to reduce sleepiness, for a temporary period.

Drivers who notice a pattern of feeling sleepy behind the wheel may have an undiagnosed sleep disorder, such as sleep apnoea. Some drivers may be unwilling to seek help because they fear losing their driving licence.  However, there are established treatments for sleep apnoea which allow drivers to retain their licence, and their livelihood.  Anyone suspecting that they have a sleep disorder is strongly advised to contact their GP.

Susan Storch added: “Plan your journey to include regular rest breaks (at least 15 minutes every two hours) and if necessary plan an overnight stop.

“At this time of year especially, drivers and motorcyclists may be making journeys in the early hours or late at night when travelling to or from an airport or ferry port. Festival goers and holiday makers should follow our advice to never drive or ride when feeling sleepy, or if they have had little sleep in the previous 24 hours.”

For further information on road safety initiatives throughout Wales please visit www.roadsafetywales.org.uk

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @roadsafetywales

Email: communication@roadsafetywales.org.uk

Monmouthshire’s glowing reputation as a centre of culinary excellence was boosted at this month’s National Eisteddfod in Abergavenny, thanks to the successful delivery of an eight day gastronomic programme developed in collaboration with the town’s food festival.

The Vale of Usk Country Kitchen formed part of Monmouthshire County Council’s exhibition area at the Eisteddfod and featured demonstrations by highly-regarded local chefs and a display of the best local produce, pinpointing just why the area’s standing is held in such high regard. It was funded by the Vale of Usk Rural Development Programme, a partnership between Monmouthshire and Newport City Council to promote rural communities and businesses and increase prosperity.

Over 30 sessions showcased local talents like Penny Lewis of The Culinary Cottage, Pandy, James Hamilton of The King’s Arms, Abergavenny, Joseph Colman at The Bell, Skenfrith, Tim McDougall of Llansantffraed Court Hotel, Carol Adams of Food Adventure, and youngster Myfanwy Hywel of Little Bakers Blog.  In addition, Elwen Roberts of Meat Promotion Wales demonstrated Welsh lamb dishes to celebrate the reintroduction of Welsh Lamb Day on 1st August while a cider with charcuterie tasting, food quizzes and children’s cookery workshops attracted the crowds.

Among the fascinating demonstrations was the preparation of a three course meal by author and Brecon Beacons forager Adele Nozedar largely sourced from food collected from her garden or surrounding countryside.  Using wild moon daisies and lilac Ms Nozedar created a delicious taboulleh starter with vinaigrette.  A carpaccio of baby courgettes and purple kale with salmoriglio sauce followed, using wild oregano and meadowsweet growing in Abergavenny – and for dessert, rose geranium angel cake with wild honeysuckle syrup and garden rose petals.  As a finale, Adele offered a wild raspberry liqueur.

Local food and drink producers including the Llanfihangel Crucorney Farm Shop, White Castle Vineyard, Burren Bread, Apple County Cider and Wye Valley Apiaries offered their fare to eisteddfod visitors.  Other local products were featured in the chefs’ demonstration recipes, in wine and cider tastings and in food and drink quizzes.  Among these were Trealy Farm Charcuterie, butchers H J Edwards & Rawlings of Abergavenny, Ancre Hill, Parva Farm, Sugarloaf and White Castle vineyards, Ty Bryn Cider, Apple County and Raglan’s Untapped Brewery.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for food and tourism, Councillor Bob Greenland said:

“Monmouthshire has a deserved reputation as the food capital of Wales and everyone visiting the county is impressed by the quality of our produce and the standard of our food outlets.  The Vale of Usk Country Kitchen at the National Eisteddfod reinforced that reputation.  Visitors received a warm welcome and were invited to sample local produce and dishes made from it. They were advised on local outlets offering these products and encouraged to visit the area’s vineyards, cider orchards, cookery schools and eateries where local produce features on the menu.

“This opportunity to showcase our excellent food industry is in line with one of our main priorities – supporting business and job creation – and we hope that this sector goes from strength to strength.”

For further information about Monmouthshire’s food and drink visit www.visitmonmouthshire.com

  • The Vale of Usk Country Kitchen 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.  For more information about the Vale of Usk Rural Development Programme contact Rural Programmes Officer, Mike Powell – MichaelPowell@monmouthshire.gov.uk – or telephone 01633 644870.