Closes: 17:00 hrs. Wednesday 24th December 2014

NB Our four one stop shops will close at 15:00 hrs on Christmas Eve
Re-opens: 09:00 hrs. Tuesday 30th December 2014

Closes: 17:00 hrs. Wednesday 31st December 2014
Re-opens: 09:00 hrs. Friday 2nd January 2015

As Chairman of Monmouthshire County Council I send you season’s greetings as we head towards the Christmas and New Year festivities.

We live in a wonderful scenic county and as a local authority facing unprecedented financial pressures we strive to provide the best service possible for our citizens.  It is not always possible to satisfy all the demands made of the authority, but with the advent of engagement activities such as Whole Place Plans and Town Teams we are trying to involve the community and identify sensible and meaningful ways forward.

I wish to thank all volunteers throughout Monmouthshire who freely give their time and service to benefit the community.  They really display the spirit of Christmas.

We learn of the horrors of war and violence from around the world and as we approach the Christmas period we should reflect on those less fortunate than ourselves.  I send condolences to all who have lost loved ones whatever the cause.

I send greetings to all who may be alone at Christmas and I would encourage the community to look around and offer friendship and hospitality to those who might be lonely or less fortunate than themselves.

Times are tough and are likely to get tougher.  I am hopeful we will pull together as a community and strive to identify solutions for maintaining valuable services.  We have organised a series of budget engagement events throughout January and I hope the community takes advantage of these to express their views.

Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ, and as festivities commence let us enjoy the period while maintaining the Christmas Spirit, acting responsibly and helping others in need.

May I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Our councillors and staff are to engage with residents, businesses and organisations over shrinking public service budgets and funding challenges for next year’s services.  This will follow the successful series of engagement sessions over the autumn which were well-received across the county.

We will hold roadshows and public meetings across Monmouthshire in early January and will listen to your concerns, what is important to you and discuss how we can work together.

Taking account of the autumn’s engagement programme, a meeting of the our cabinet members discussed budget plans early in November and among the suggestions mooted to reduce costs and increase income were the merging of one stop shops with libraries to create community hubs, reducing the number of council buildings and changes to waste collection.

Roadshows providing opportunities for you to talk to council officers and local service board partners will be held at the following venues:

  • Monday, 5th January, 12noon to 3pm                         Red Square, Abergavenny
  • Tuesday, 6th January, 12noon to 3pm                          Shire Hall, Monmouth
  • Wednesday, 7th January, 12noon to 3pm                    Caldicot town centre
  • Thursday, 8th January, 12noon to 3pm                        Chepstow town centre
  • Friday, 9th January, 9am to 11am                                Magor village
  • Friday, 9th January, 12noon to 1.30pm                       Tintern – opposite abbey
  • Friday, 9th January, 1.45pm to 3pm                            Devauden – village hall car park
  • Monday, 12th January, 9.30am to 11am                    Raglan – Chepstow Road
  • Monday, 12th January, 12noon to 1.30pm                 Usk, Maryport St (north) car park
  • Monday, 12th January, 2pm to 3.30pm                      Gilwern Community Ed Centre

 

In addition, a series of evening public meetings will outline the effect of budget cuts and allow you to discuss the council’s 2015/16 budget with us:

  • Monday, 5th January, 6pm to 8pm – King Henry VIII School, Abergavenny
  • Tuesday, 6th January, 6pm to 8pm – Monmouth Leisure Centre
  • Wednesday, 7th January, 6pm to 8pm – Caldicot School
  • Thursday, 8th January, 6pm to 8pm – Chepstow School

 

Council Leader Peter Fox commented: “A 4.3%  decrease in the grant provided to the council by the Welsh Government for the 2015/16 financial year combined with the spectre of further cuts means that we have to re-examine the way the council provides public services.  I urge people in the county to influence our decision-making by attending our roadshows and evening meetings in the New Year.  We want to hear from you and this is a wonderful opportunity for the community to let us know the direction we should take”.

Following January’s engagement sessions final proposals will be on the agenda at the meeting of the county council on 22th January.

Contact Communications Officer Dewi Jones 01633 644402 or email dewijones@monmouthshire.gov.uk for more information about the events.  You may also contact us via email at:  future@monmouthshire.gov.uk

 

 

 

Monmouthshire County Council is to host a meeting for people living with disabilities to discuss transport and the difficulties encountered travelling in a rural county, and navigating obstructions on pavements in town centres.  The Access for All Forum will gather in County Hall, Usk on Wednesday 14th January from 11am to 1pm.  For the first time the Forum will be streamed live via YouTube to allow those unable to attend to play a part.

Organised by the council and local equalities organisation Monmouthshire Voices, the forum offers a chance for people with disabilities to influence services, policies and decisions that affect them.

Local bus companies have been invited and organisers hope representatives of taxi companies and charity bus services from around Monmouthshire will attend.  In addition, officers from the council’s Passenger Transport Unit will be present.  Council Leader Peter Fox will welcome the Forum while Councillor Phil Hobson, cabinet member with responsibility for equalities, will chair the meeting.

Pennie Walker of Monmouthshire Voices said: “Transport is often raised as an issue in many of the meetings I attend.  So we thought it would be good idea to discuss this at the next Forum.  I hear many people talking about the need for some sort of transport co-ordinator in Monmouthshire, as there doesn’t seem to be a lack of transport, it’s just that people don’t know what is available and how to utilise it.  I’m hoping this Forum will bring together various transport providers so we can discuss how it could be better co-ordinated for the more vulnerable people living in the county.  The Access for All Forum is a place that disabled people can have their say directly with those who deliver their services and it’s excellent that the council is engaging with the more vulnerable people in the county and listening to their concerns and needs.  I hope this meeting will be as successful as the first Forum we held in September”.

Councillor Hobson added: “Working in partnership with the Monmouthshire Voices organisation helps to provide a fair deal for people with disabilities and give them an opportunity to voice their future”.

People who require transport should contact Pennie Walker by Friday, 9th January.  Pennie can also supply further details about the Access for All Forum –  email:pennie.walker@sewrec.org.uk or telephone 07949 040538.

 

  • Monmouthshire Voices is funded by the Big Lottery and run by SEWREC – the South East Wales Regional Equality Council.

Monmouthshire County Council will offer young motorcyclists free training sessions to enhance and refresh their riding skills.  The RideSafe course offers training in positioning, speed and observation and is intended for young people who have passed their compulsory basic training test.

Courses will be held at County Hall, Usk on Saturday, January 10th, Heads of the Valleys Training at Gilwern on Saturday, February 14th and Caldicot Leisure Centre on Saturday, March 14th.  Instruction will be carried out by local training organisation Biketrain.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for road safety, Cllr Bryan Jones said: “Motorcyclists are 55 times more likely than car drivers to be killed or seriously hurt in a collision so the RideSafe course is a vital step for young motorcyclists who wish to travel safely and responsibly”.

Contact Monmouthshire’s Road Safety Officer, Carolyn Derosaire to enrol or for further information: email: carolynderosaire@monmouthshire.gov.uk or telephone 07818 036939.

Pontypool, Barbarians, British Lions and 1970s Wales rugby star Terry Cobner cut the ribbon to launch the Heaven Scent multi-sensory garden at Monmouthshire’s Youth Service headquarters in Gilwern on Saturday, 6th December.  Representing the rugby-based charity Wooden Spoon, Mr Cobner was accompanied by renowned referee Clive Norling and Huw Thomas, the organisation’s chairman in Wales.

A former vegetable patch, the Heaven Scent multi-sensory garden will provide a tranquil facility for youngsters with additional learning needs and their families, while stimulating and engaging the senses.  It features a willow tunnel, a herb garden, wild flowers, accessible sleepers for sensory exploration, a picnic bench and a water feature to enhance different senses.  Plans are in the pipeline to provide a swing if finance becomes available.

The Heaven Scent garden has been funded by a bid to Wooden Spoon which was founded in 1983 to make a difference to the lives of disadvantaged children and young people.  Additional help has come from a generous donation by the local Tesco store in Abergavenny as well as construction firm Interserve which lent four of its staff to provide labour and skills over two days.

Declaring the Heaven Scent garden open, Mr Cobner, a former teacher, said: “The Heaven Scent garden is a safe, creative and quiet yet stimulating environment and I congratulate all concerned involved in this project.  Children are our future and it is vital that we invest in them.  The transition from youngster to adult is sometimes a difficult one and this initiative, which is open to young people and importantly, their families, can play a vital part”.

Monmouthshire’s Youth and Community Manager, Tracey Thomas added: “I’m extremely grateful to Terry, Clive and Huw for being here today to open the Heaven Scent garden, as well as Wooden Spoon and other organisations and individuals who have generously donated time and money to ensure the success of this venture”.

Collections due for Christmas Day and Boxing Day will take place two days later:

  • Monday 22nd December 2014 Normal day collections
  • Tuesday 23rd December 2014 Normal day collections
  • Wednesday 24th December 2014 Normal day collections
  • Thursday 25th December 2014 Saturday 27th December 2014
  • Friday 26th December 2014 Sunday 28th December 2014

Collections due for New Year’s Day and Friday 2nd will be one day later:

  • Monday 29th December 2014 Normal day collections
  • Tuesday 30th December 2014 Normal day collections
  • Wednesday 31st December 2014 Normal day collections
  • Thursday 1st January 2015 Friday 2nd January 2015
  • Friday 2nd January 2015 Saturday 3rd January 2015

All residents are advised that they can place two additional ‘black’ bags out with their general waste collection (grey bag waste) which happens after Christmas Day (from 27th December to 7th January 2015 inclusive). Please do not use your grey bags for the additional waste. Please place bags on your kerbside or collection point by 7am on the morning we are due to collect.
Your collection days can be found on ‘My Monmouthshire’

Information on how to reduce the amount of waste you produce this Christmas can be found by visiting Recycle for Wales website.

Real Christmas trees (up to 7ft tall) can continue to be recycled from the kerbside, just place it out on the same day as your food waste collection. Alternatively they can be taken to any of our Household Waste Recycling Centres in Llanfoist, Mitchel Troy, Usk or Five Lanes.

Christmas opening times for the Household Waste Recycling Centres:

  • 24th December 2014 (Christmas Eve): 8am to 4pm
  • 25th December 2014 (Christmas Day): Closed
  • 26th December 2014 (Boxing Day): Closed
  • 27th December 2014: 8am to 6pm
  • 28th December 2014: 8am to 6pm
  • 29th December 2014: 8am to 6pm
  • 30th December 2014: 8am to 6pm
  • 31th December 2014: 8am to 6pm
  • 1st January 2015: Closed
  • 2nd January 2015: 8am to 6pm

recycle at xmas

Chepstow Racecourse is hosting the Coral Welsh Grand National on Saturday 27th December 2014. It’s the biggest horse race of the year in Wales. It is a wonderful social occasion and a highlight of the festive season.

As well as the big race itself, the racecourse have organised plenty of other entertainment during the day to ensure you have a fun time with friends, family or work colleagues:

  • International opera stars Bryn Terfel and Rebecca Evans will sing the national anthem live at this year’s race. Their two nominated charities, the Welsh Air Ambulance and Ty Hapus, will benefit from various fund raising activities on the day.
  • Welsh rugby internationals Alex Cuthbert and Toby Faletau will also be joining in on the day and will be available for autographs.
  • There will be a relaxed family atmosphere with our Christmas choir, human statues and face painters for the children. Coral will also be giving away 3000 free beanie hats on the day.
  • There will be a marquee on the day that can be exclusively used by families. And for groups of friends, we’ll also have our main marquee bar behind the stands with Celtic band Murphy’s Marbles playing live during the afternoon.
  • There are seven races on the day and as well as the Coral Welsh Grand National.

There is a wide selection of ticket and hospitality options. Children aged 17 and under are admitted free with a paying adult and parking is free. For more information please see visit the Chepstow Racecourse website.

A charity spin class was held recently at Monmouth Leisure Centre ,  £100 was raised on the night from people donating £5.00 each to take part, this was added to the sponsorship of the girls from the Vision Express Shop in Monmouth to take the total to £385.

This money will be going to the Childhood Eye Cancer Charity.

Well done to all who took part.charity spin

 

 

Ten Welsh councils have agreed to work together to develop a combined authority that could make key decisions for the South East Wales region on economic development, transport and planning.

Seen as a significant development in how local government in Wales will operate in the future, the development of a combined authority means important strategic decisions can be made at a regional level. The ten Welsh councils will now look to discuss the proposal further with Welsh Government and other stakeholders.

The development of a combined authority does not impact on the wider voluntary merger activity being promoted by Welsh Government, but does demonstrate local government’s ability to develop a new way of doing business that is expected to lead to the transfer of substantial resources and powers to aid regional development in the future.

Monmouthshire County Council leader Peter Fox welcomed the move stating: “This absolutely makes sense it allows us to build on the excellent working relationships that already exists between the ten authorities but will take things to a new level.

“The combined model is working well in other parts of the UK and totally aligns with the emerging Cardiff capital city region which is striving to deliver an agenda of transformational change to the region which covers the ten authorities.

“The beauty of a combined model is that it can allow a retention of localism while allowing significant economies of scale by providing some services regionally where they can also contribute the economic future of south east Wales and the strategic vision of the Welsh Government.”

Having closely monitored developments around the UK as city regions such as Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield successfully negotiate new funding relationships with central government, council leaders in south east Wales believe a democratic combined authority will help them to work strategically together on improving the economic and social well-being of the south east Wales region as whole.

The proposal from the councils of south east Wales reflects the growing UK-wide debate on how greater powers should be devolved to cities, councils and local communities.

While there have been numerous announcements on the establishment of similar combined authorities in England over recent months, this will be the first example of the approach being taken in Wales.

On behalf of all council leaders in south east Wales, councillor Bob Wellington CBE, leader of Torfaen council and the Welsh Local Government Association, said: “The debate on the form and function of local government is moving rapidly in Wales, and this agreement demonstrates how local councils are exploring innovative new ways of doing business that will offer communities a settled and lasting outcome that is fit for purpose now and into the future.

“Whatever the final shape and number of councils in Wales once Welsh Government merger plans come to fruition, the new councils will still need to work closely together to improve the effectiveness of public services. The development of a combined authority will not create a new or ‘extra’ organisation. It will create a clear decision making structure that will allow councils to deliver at a strategic regional level, while also ensuring local communities retain a strong role in shaping their sense of place and the services they receive.

“This is an important development and one we have been working towards for some time. It complements the work of the Cardiff Capital City Region Board, meets the aspirations of the Welsh Government and it will deliver on the shared commitment we all have as council leaders to deliver for the communities of south east Wales.

“There is much work left to do, and we look forward to discussing the proposal further with Welsh Government and our wider regional partners. If successful, the proposal will bring regional collaboration to previously un-reached levels, and will mark a significant evolution of local government’s role in Wales.”