Monmouthshire County Council has approved the establishment of an Alternative Delivery Model (ADM) to secure a viable and sustainable future for its tourism, leisure, culture and youth services.  The new model will ensure these services are able to thrive and respond to the current and future needs, expectations and aspirations of Monmouthshire’s communities.  A report discussed in cabinet on 29th January was ratified today (Thursday, 15th February) by a special meeting of the county council.

 The decision marks the conclusion of a lengthy and wide-ranging appraisal of options to provide a secure future for highly-valued services instrumental to the well-being and life chances of residents, businesses and visitors to the county.

 The model will allow the services to operate in close partnership with the council under the auspices of a trading company following the Teckal principle.  This states that the local authority must control all shares in the company and must also exercise effective day-to-day control over its affairs.  This structure will provide full accountability for the council through the management agreement, while enabling the ADM entrepreneurial freedom and ensuring that the organisation operates as efficiently as possible.  It also gives the benefits of independent charitable status for some of its delivery.

 The model will encompass the county’s leisure, culture, outdoor education, countryside, youth services as well as the management of premises that provide our tourism offer.  The council provides leisure services from four sites with outdoor educational activities at three centres and runs cultural and tourism services in Abergavenny, Monmouth, Caldicot and Chepstow.  In addition, the council’s countryside service oversees a large public rights of way network as well as recreational sites providing outdoor opportunities for Monmouthshire’s communities and visitors.

 The launch for the new model is anticipated to be 1st October.

 County Councillor Bob Greenland, cabinet member with responsibility for tourism and leisure said: “This measure encompasses probably the biggest change in service delivery during the term of this council.  Increasing financial pressure has required our tourism, cultural, leisure and youth services to cut back on their costs so we can prioritise the vital fields of education and social services.  Budgets have been reduced from £6.5m in 2010 to a current £4.4m but tourism, cultural, leisure and youth services are necessary for the well-being of our communities – and we can cut no further without the threat of reduced services, closures and job losses.”

 He continued: “Members of the public are concerned with receiving good public services and I believe the groundwork carried out in the past two years to deliver this model will result in the best possible outcome.  The agreed changes in structure will give these services the confidence to plan ahead with assured budgets.”

 For further details about Monmouthshire’s ADM for tourism, leisure, culture and youth services contact Head of Tourism, Leisure, Culture and Youth Services Ian Saunders – IanSaunders@monmouthshire.gov.uk or telephone 07876 545793.

 

A family fun day is taking place at Bailey Park, Abergavenny on Friday 23rd February from 10.00am – 4.00pm. The day is being hosted by Monmouthshire County Council Community Safety team in partnership with Monmouthshire Housing Association, Charter Housing, Gwent Police and South Wales Fire and Rescue.

Residents of all ages are welcome to join in the fun. Gwent Army Cadets will be providing help and support for those brave enough to take on their climbing wall. A range of inflatable fun is taking place. Monmouthshire Youth Service will be inflating their activity dome to host a range of activities including face painting, glitter tattoos and refreshments. Monmouthshire Sports Development team will be providing an inflatable football pitch and a bouncy castle will be on site for younger residents.

Emergency vehicles from Gwent Police and South Wales Fire and Rescue will be available for budding Police and Fire officers to take a look at. Mini residents can try on and dress up as their favourite emergency hero at the emergency services selfie station.

The day aims to seek the views of residents from Abergavenny to help improve and act on recent anti-social behaviour incidents taking place in the town. Residents are encouraged to get involved in the many activities on offer and chat to officers from Monmouthshire County Council and share thoughts on safety in the area.

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

‘The views of residents are important in tackling anti-social behaviour, I hope that the Family Fun Day encourages people of all ages to come and talk to us about what is important to them, where they feel safe and where they do not feel safe in Abergavenny; whilst having a great time in one of our much loved green spaces. Working in partnership with key agencies and organisations, with the community, is key to improving our towns for our future generations.

VELOTHON Wales is offering the local Usk community the chance to find out more about this year’s event at an engagement evening on Monday 26 February.

The people of Usk will be brought right up to date with event details and will have an opportunity to pose questions to organisers from 18:00-19:00 at County Hall.

On the agenda will be an update on this year’s trio of routes including the latest information on road closures that will be in effect on Sunday 8 July. The community, who will once again be at the heart of the race, can also find out how they can get involved when thousands of cycling enthusiasts pass through the town.

Riders and spectators were blown away by the efforts last year as the Great Usk Bike Off transformed the town. An exciting announcement will be made as Monmouthshire County Council and VELOTHON Wales aim to build on the success of last year’s event.

A question and answer session will take place with a representative from event organisers Run 4 Wales, so feel free to come down and find out more. If you cannot attend, the VELOTHON Wales engagement event will be streamed live on the MonmouthshireCC YouTube channel.

 

Monmouthshire County Council has organised a range of great activities for children over February’s half term!

Caldicot Community Hub has planned two events for youngsters.  On Monday, 19th February, popular story teller Louby Lou will relate the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears from 1.15pm to 2pm for ages two to five.  This event costs £3.75 per child and booking is essential.  To book a place contact Caldicot Community Hub or book online from the ticket store – https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/louby-lous-interactive-storytelling.

The following day – Tuesday 20th February – features a free story and craft session for four to eight year olds.  “Wintry Tales” runs from 10.30am to 11.30am.  Booking is not required but this event and the Louby Lou session require children to be accompanied by an adult.

Usk Community Hub in Maryport Street is offering bookmark-making using beads for five year olds and over.  The cost is one pound per session and the hub is open at the following times:

  • Monday 9am to 5pm
  • Wednesday 9am to 5pm
  • Thursday 9am to 7pm
  • Saturday 9am to 12.45pm.

Chepstow Museum offers its popular Drop-in-and-Make craft afternoons from 2pm to 4pm on Thursday, 15th February and Thursday, 22nd February at the Drill Hall in Lower Church Street.  This opportunity to get creative with friends and families is suitable for children over three years old who must be accompanied by an adult.  Donations of two pounds are welcomed towards the cost of materials and refreshments.

Once again, MonLeisure provides the Monmouthshire Games based on learning new skills, developing confidence, meeting new people and, most importantly, having fun through sport.  These run at the council’s four centres in Abergavenny, Caldicot, Chepstow and Monmouth from Monday 19th February to Friday 23rd February giving children and young people aged 5 to 12 years the chance to engage in a range of sporting activities.  The cost per day is £16 (9am to 3pm) and £19.50 (8am to 5pm) with discounts for early payment.  To book, visit MonLeisure.co.uk or call:

  • Abergavenny: 01873 735360
  • Caldicot: 01291 426850
  • Chepstow: 01291 635745
  • Monmouth: 01600 775135 – due to building work no aqua-based sports will feature at Monmouth.

Abergavenny, Caldicot and Chepstow leisure centres offer intensive swimming lessons from Monday 19th February to Friday 23rd February.  These provide children with a thirty minute session on five consecutive days and the daily contact with an ASA qualified teacher allows them to vastly improve their swimming and advance over a short period. Designed for youngsters of all abilities, the sessions are ideal for current swimmers on MonLeisure’s programme looking to improve or newcomers who want to progress quickly.  The cost is £23.50 for the whole week with a discount available for holders of a Monleisure aqua membership. To book, call the appropriate leisure centre.

The Monmouthshire Youth Service has organised a free major family engagement event – Safe ‘n’ Sound – in Abergavenny’s Bailey Park from 10am to 4pm on Friday 23rd February.  The emphasis is on fun with a bouncy castle, face-painting, a climbing wall and many other activities with representatives from Gwent Police, the South Wales Fire & Rescue Service, Monmouthshire Housing Association, Charter Housing and Monmouthshire’s sports development team in attendance. This event based on community safety will gather feedback on what people need and think about the area and promote existing services for young people.

Monmouth’s Attik Youth Centre offers a free tie-dyeing session for young people from 12noon to 4pm on Tuesday 20th February.  There’s no need to book and all they have to do is bring a plain item of clothing they would like to dye!

Other events in the county suitable for children and families can be found on the Visit Monmouthshire website – www.visitmonmouthshire.com/events/ – and highlights include:

  • Brother Thomas, the cellarer at Tintern Abbey provides a treat for history buffs, young and old – Saturday 17th February
  • Winter Fun Day at Magor Marsh with toasted marshmallows around the campfire, storytelling, a trail around the reserve and lots of crafts. – Saturday 17th February
  • Time-travelling magicians Morgan and West present a show at Monmouth’s Blake Theatre brimming with baffling magic and a totally genuine ability to travel through time – Friday 23rd February

Monmouthshire County Council’s cabinet members have visited Monmouth’s Chippenham Mead children’s play area to inspect the site which is due to benefit from investment following recent housing developments. Original proposals to renew the existing play area are opposed by some who want the play area relocated to a more environmentally suitable part of Chippenham Mead. Meanwhile, other residents are opposed to the move in order to protect the area as an open space. Chippenham Mead enjoys legal status as a village green.

 “Cabinet members took the view that the existing site has shortcomings due to its proximity to noise and possible vehicle emissions from the busy adjacent trunk road”, commented Councillor Bob Greenland, deputy leader of the council. “We also felt it was hemmed in by the high rear walls of the adjoining school, the A40 and earth bunding around the site. Having inspected the whole area we have asked officers to investigate the feasibility of other sites on Chippenham Mead so that we might identify a preferred option.”

 Councillor Greenland continued: “We have a duty towards our children and that is enshrined in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. We also respect the ideals of legislation designed to protect Chippenham Mead from development. Legislation is pulling us in opposite directions. We will have to make a decision, balancing the well-being of children with the protection of this valuable open space.”

 Members of the public and other interested parties will have the opportunity to comment prior to the preferred option being considered by Cabinet.

 If an alternative site is proposed by the Cabinet it will require planning approval and Welsh Government consent under the Village Green Scheme of Regulation. This process will also include an opportunity for comments.

 

Monmouthshire County Council is to contact local food takeaway businesses in a bid to reduce the use of polystyrene and single use plastics.  Meanwhile, children from Cantref Primary School have demonstrated their support for action taken by The Codfather in Abergavenny’s Frogmore Street, a local fish and chip takeaway.  The Codfather is leading the way in the county’s campaign to cut the use of such packaging.

 Owner Andrew Ewers said: “From the beginning, my wife and I have always made sure that we do our best to recycle as much as possible.  And now we have switched to cardboard chip trays and wooden forks instead of polystyrene and plastic.  Wherever possible, we are looking to use less of the stuff that can’t be recycled, both in the Codfather and Frydays – our shop on Underhill Crescent.

 “We have very loyal customers and the response from them has been overwhelmingly positive.

 “We are very proud of the fish that we sell in our shops but the fish on which we depend can only thrive in plastic-free oceans – that’s why we are keen to play our part in this initiative.  It’s good for business and good for the planet!”

 One of the reasons Cantref Primary School, led by its eco-committee, achieved the Eco-Schools Platinum Green Flag was its passionate and pro-active support for reducing the school’s environmental impact and helping the wider community.  Some of the pupils visited The Codfather recently to give their seal of approval to the actions taken by Mr Ewers, offering him their full support.

 Taxpayers in Wales in spend around £8 million a year clearing up litter.  In addition, an army of dedicated volunteers works tirelessly throughout the county to keep communities litter-free.  Despite this, fast food litter is more noticeable in Monmouthshire’s villages, towns and on countryside roads than ever before.

 Councillor Bryan Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for Waste and Recycling said: “We have all become more aware of the problems of single use plastics and polystyrene, particularly the devastating effect it has on our oceans, shown graphically in programmes like Blue Planet.  Sadly, much of this plastic pollution comes from the land.  Litter is all too often blown into grass verges and hedgerows, then into streams and rivers that flow out to sea.

 “Thanks to its residents, Monmouthshire has been at the top of the recycling league table.  Now it’s time though to turn our attention to the epidemic of non-recyclable single use plastic and polystyrene litter blighting our beautiful landscape.

 “We recognise that we cannot do this alone so we are asking our business community to take up the challenge.  Many of our hardworking food businesses such as the Codfather in Abergavenny have already made the change from polystyrene trays to cardboard trays and we applaud their initiative.”

 Carl Touhig, Interim Head of Waste said: “Over the coming months we will write to all food take-away outlets, asking them to consider reducing their amount of plastic and polystyrene packaging.”

 “Councils continue to be under enormous financial pressure to deliver services for our residents.  It’s far better that our limited resources are spent on education and social care than picking up the cost of unnecessary roadside litter and non-recyclable packaging waste.

 “From our conversations with residents and local community groups, we know that this issue is very close to their hearts and we are confident that Monmouthshire’s businesses will take up the challenge to reduce, re-use and recycle.”

 For further information on waste and recycling contact the council’s Education And Awareness Officer Rebecca Blount – RebeccaBlount@monmouthshire.gov.uk – or 01633 644126.

 

On Thursday 15th February Monmouthshire County Council Foster Care team will be at The Angel Hotel Abergavenny, 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 urgently 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 for children and young people in Monmouthshire.

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

Residents are welcomed to talk to the Foster Care about the amazing journey that takes place to become a Foster Carers in Monmouthshire. In coming weeks the Foster Care team will be promoting the meet and greet sessions at informal drop in sessions at Abergavenny Market:

 

11.00 am – 2.00pm   Tuesday 13th February Abergavenny Market

The informal drop in market sessions and the Meet and Greet meetings aim to break down the barriers and perceptions people may have about fostering. Following the success of the meet and greet at St Pierre Country Club and Hotel Chepstow, in November the team are keen to host sessions across Monmouthshire with more sessions to be planned in Usk and Monmouth.

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

 

Two sets of lights have been installed on the A466 between St Arvans and Tintern due to rock falls and unstable ground.  Both sets are within or adjoining Blackcliff/Wyndcliff Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC).  This significantly impacts on the work we can undertake and everything has to be in accordance with the Habitat Regulations (HR) with appropriate consents required from the Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and Welsh Government (WG).

Site 1 is at the Wyndcliffe near St Arvans.  We have investigated a number of options for repair but of those available, regrading of the rock face to a safe slope would seem to be the most reliable approach.  Due to potential loss of SSSI and SAC habitat we have been collecting the necessary ecology data over recent months which will allow us to make a HR application.  This will be submitted to WG for determination and we hope to be able to do so in the next few months.  The proposed works will require a full road closure but we are unlikely to do this until October due to consideration for the tourism industry and sensitive nature of the Wye Valley.  The exact date will depend on successful consent from WG.

Site 2 is just south of the old Livox Quarry entrance and has similar issues to Site 1, but not as severe.  We have obtained the necessary ecology data and protected species licences to carry out the repairs.  We are currently awaiting for the necessary consent from NRW but works are planned for 19th February and involve a full road closure.  The proposal is to remove the vegetation from the rock slope followed by discreet scaling and rock removal works.  Due to the uncertainties involved in this type of work we have allowed seven weeks but if all goes well it should take less, after which we can remove this set of lights.

Monmouthshire County Council has issued a statement urging companies affected by the collapse of construction services company Carillion and with commitments to the authority to make early contact.

 Following a statement regarding the collapse of Carillion PLC made at the recent meeting of the county council on 18th January, concerns remain about the wider impact on the company’s private sector supply chain. The council has continued to monitor its wider networks for further insight and information and is aware of the UK Government’s announcement last weekend of a further package of support for businesses and workers adversely affected by the Carillion liquidation.

 Through delivery partners including all major high street lenders, the British Business Bank is making available up to £100m to small businesses which may not have the security normally required for conventional bank loans.  This support will be made through the British Business Bank’s lenders using the Enterprise Finance Guarantee and can be used for overdraft borrowing and refinancing of existing debt.  This new package is in addition to more than £200m already announced by Lloyds Banking Group, HSBC and RBS.  Other sources of help include the Insolvency Service website which provides information for creditors impacted by Carillion’s insolvency and the website of Carillion’s official administrator, PWC, which provides information to those affected, including employees and suppliers.

 Phil Murphy, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for finance, said: “We welcome early dialogue with companies in Carillion’s supply chain who are adversely affected and who may have difficulty honouring any current or future commitments to the authority.  We continue to actively monitor the situation and will be providing further updates as they become available.”

 Companies affected should contact cathfallon@monmouthshire.gov.uk for initial guidance.

 

 

The newly-formed Development Bank of Wales is holding a series of free events for business owners and managers to help those looking to start or develop a business.  Thirty-minute appointment slots are available at two drop-in surgeries in Chepstow and Ebbw Vale on a one-to-one basis between 10am and 4pm.

The surgeries will be held in the General Offices, Steel Works Road, Ebbw Vale NP23 8UW on Wednesday, 14th February and Basepoint Chepstow, Beaufort Park, Chepstow NP16 5UH on Wednesday, 21st February.

Micro loan Investment Executive Tara Lee-Fox will be present to discuss business plans and outline the range of funding available to help fulfill the ambitions of the local business community.

Ms Lee-Fox said: “We help businesses to grow by providing flexible loans that are quick and simple to access.  This funding can be used to finance the purchasing of much needed stock, plant, equipment or premises.  It could also be used to support cash flow for the purchase of another business.

“These events are being rolled out across Wales.  By working with all 22 councils and Business in Focus, we are able to provide loans from £1,000 to £100,000 for local businesses.  In fact, if you’re an established business looking for a loan up to £10,000 we can give you a decision in just two working days.

“We’re keen to talk to as many local business owners and managers as possible so please do come along to our drop in surgeries.”

Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for enterprise added: “This is a great opportunity for local businesses to access support from the Development Bank of Wales. Encouraging business start-up and job creation is one of the council’s major priorities.”

To book a 30 minute slot email: emily.wood@developmentbank.wales or call on 029 2033 8110.

Monmouthshire County Council has welcomed figures indicating an overall improvement in the performance of its primary schools over the past year.  The Welsh Government’s National School Categorisation System has recently produced data identifying schools most need of support and this illustrates that nearly half of the county’s primary schools are within the green category – the group least likely to require additional support.

 Thirteen of the county’s 30 primary schools have been rated green – an increase of four compared to the previous year, while 12 are within the second – yellow – category.  Three are rated amber and two are rated red.  Last year, 14 of Monmouthshire’s primary schools fell in the yellow banding, six were rated amber and one rated red.

 The categorisation of Monmouthshire’s four secondary schools has remained static over the past twelve months with three rated yellow and one amber.

 Councillor Richard John, cabinet member for Children and Young People said: “The categorisation of schools across Monmouthshire shows that we continue to make good progress with an increasing number of schools categorised as green or yellow.  Eighty three per cent of primary schools are now in these two top categories and seventy five per cent of our secondary school have been placed in the yellow banding.  Since 2015-16, we have seen the number of green schools rise from five to 13 and the number of amber schools – those requiring a higher level of support – falling from seven to three.

 “We are now focused on ensuring that our green schools continue to build on their good practice and that we have no red schools in the next round of categorisation.

 “This progress is testament to the hard work of the teachers and leaders in all our schools and the way we work with our partners in the Education Achievement Service (EAS) – I am grateful for all their hard work.”

 Chepstow’s Thornwell Primary School was one of those that progressed from the yellow banding in 2016/17 to green in 2017/18.  Headteacher Tim Appleby said: “Every member of our highly-skilled team works as hard as they can to provide the very best standard of education and support for the pupils and the families of Thornwell. I am delighted that this effort has been recognised and has resulted in a green categorisation judgement. It is an exciting time to be in education with a revised, child-centred curriculum on its way. In addition to this, the Chepstow Cluster is developing as an innovative, self-improving system which provides us with access to excellent support through collaborative quality assurance and the sharing of best practice. Happily, Thornwell is now very well-placed both geographically and developmentally to launch pupils’ successful futures.”

 For further information on the Welsh Government’s National School Categorisation System visit: http://gov.wales/topics/educationandskills/schoolshome/raisingstandards/schoolcategorisation/?lang=en

 

Monmouthshire County Council’s environmental health team has urged residents to check the hygiene rating of pubs, restaurants and other food outlets before they book a table for St Valentine’s Day.

 The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme rates food businesses on their hygiene standards, based on inspections carried out by the council.  Businesses in Monmouthshire – like those in the rest of Wales – are rated on a scale ranging from 0 which means ‘urgent improvement necessary’ to a top rating of 5 which is ‘very good’.

 All food businesses should display a green and black food hygiene rating sticker on their windows or doors.  If the sticker isn’t apparent, residents are advised to ask a member of staff or check online at www.food.gov.uk/ratings.  Takeaways must also provide information about their food hygiene rating on their flyers and menus.

 Councillor Sara Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member responsible for public protection said: “Valentine’s Day is a busy time for our local restaurants, takeaways, cafes and pubs.  The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme makes it easier for everyone to choose their romantic meal in places where food hygiene is taken seriously.  A good food hygiene rating is something to be proud of.”

Richard Bowen, Interim Director of the Food Standards Agency in Wales, added: “You can’t tell a restaurant’s hygiene standards by its website or by how romantic the ambience is.  But the Food Hygiene Rating tells you what’s going on behind the scenes, so you should factor that in when deciding where to eat for Valentine’s Day.”

Food businesses requiring help or advice should contact Monmouthshire’s environmental health team environmentalhealth@monmouthshire.gov.uk or telephone 01873 735420.

 

Residents of a Caldicot care home were treated to a special concert to mark St Dwynwen’s Day by children from the town’s Welsh-medium primary school.  St Dwynwen’s Day/Dydd Santes Dwynwen is celebrated in Wales on 25th January and she is the Welsh patron saint of lovers – the Welsh equivalent of St Valentine.

 The choir from Caldicot’s Ysgol y Ffin primary school performed before appreciative residents of the Cherry Tree Care Home and sang Welsh hymn Calon Lân, rugby favourite Sosban Fach, Ysbryd y Nos and a beautiful rendition of Anfonaf Angel, before ending with Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau.  The choir consisted of 27 pupils from the school’s Year Four and Five classes.

 The home always celebrates St Dwynwen’s Day though this was the first time that the school choir had performed on this special occasion.  Resident Royston Stewart, a former collier and ex-member of Tredegar Male Voice Choir said: “This lovely performance brought back memories of the songs we used to sing.”

 General Manager at Cherry Tree Care Home, Gill Jones said: “The joy on the residents’ faces on seeing and hearing the children was wonderful.  Their performance brought alive such wonderful memories.  It’s so important for different generations to come together and bridge the age gap.”

 Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for the Welsh language, Councillor Sara Jones added: “Events like Dydd Santes Dwynwen contribute towards the development of the Welsh language in Monmouthshire by raising awareness of its increasing popularity in the county.  I’d like to thank the pupils of Ysgol y Ffin for their concert at the Cherry Tree Care Home which was very well received.  Diolch yn fawr iawn i chi gyd!”

 

Monmouthshire County Council has started work on further improvements to Abergavenny’s town centre with the repaving and resurfacing of Lion Street and Frogmore Street as far as the Barclays Bank branch.  These Phase Two works follow the 2016 scheme to improve High Street, Nevill St and St John’s Square and include the entrance to the new Morrison’s store as well as proposals to restrict vehicle access to provide a safe pedestrian-friendly environment.  Initial works relate to the culvert realignment and renewal on Lion St in connection with the Morrison’s development, with the main works planned to start in earnest during February. 

 The details of the project and traffic management have been developed in consultation with a public realm group consisting of local councillors, businesses and interested parties.  These plans will be available for public viewing at the Abergavenny One Stop Shop, notice boards throughout the town and at the contractor’s office on Lion Street.

 The area in front of the new Morrison’s store will be a shared space constructed with a mixture of granite setts and slabs, in keeping with the existing Brewery Yard scheme.  It will provide a safe link from the store into Abergavenny’s town centre.  In addition, the council will convert King Street into a two-way route to accommodate restrictions on Frogmore Street and extend a shared space arrangement with a new bus stop at the junction of King Street and Lion Street.  As well as offering a convenient drop off and pick up point for the Morrison’s supermarket, it will also provide a safe access for bus passengers to the town’s shopping areas via Lion Street and Market Street.  The remainder of Lion Street from its junction with King Street to the start of Frogmore Street will incorporate full height kerbs and granite footways with a traditional tarmac carriageway while Frogmore Street will be a shared space constructed with a mixture of Welsh Pennant setts and slabs.  These arrangements will complement the Phase One works undertaken in 2016 and link the two sections of the town.

 Further proposals include a change to traffic movement on Frogmore Street and the control of access for delivery to businesses only via High Street and at restricted times before 10am and after 4pm.  The proposed traffic order will be displayed as part of the public information exercise along with plans for new bus stops, including a new bay on the A40 near Tesco close to the northern end of Frogmore Street.

 Councillor Bryan Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for county operations said: “Phase One works in 2016 benefited from the setting up of the public realm working group and extensive consultation which played a significant part in the successful delivery of the scheme.  Likewise, Phase Two proposals have been subject to close contact with the public realm group and widespread consultation as well as an extensive survey and assessment to measure the impact of changes on traffic flow and congestion.”

 The works are to be undertaken by local contractor Alun Griffiths and are estimated to cost £700,000, partly funded by the Morrison’s development.  The scheme – expected to take about 26 weeks – will require road closures to complete the work safely.  Diversion routes will be in place during road closures, as well as safe routes for pedestrians throughout the town.

 People will be able to email comments via highways@monmouthshire.gov.uk or post them in a box at the Abergavenny One Stop Shop.  The council will consider and review these responses throughout the duration of the works and will also update the public realm group on a regular basis.

 

Caldicot Community Hub will host a ceremony at 7pm on Thursday 25th January to remember the millions killed in the Holocaust under Nazi persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

 The theme for this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day is “The Power of Words”.  The event in Caldicot will feature the life stories of those murdered and those who survived, through written and spoken words.   A Holocaust survivor will witness the lighting of a candle and an exhibition of art will feature, inspired by this year’s theme.

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

 Caldicot’s community hub is based in the town on Woodstock Way, NP26 5DB.  Refreshments will be available at this free event and there’s plentiful free parking nearby.  For more information contact Caldicot Community Hub on 01291 426425.

 

On Monday 15th January, the day recognised as ‘Blue Monday,’ residents across Monmouthshire shook off the January Blues in all of Monmouthshire County Council’s community hubs. The hubs provided a wide range of activities to ensure that visitors would not be leaving feeling sad and blue.

The day coincided with the launch of the Gwent Happiness Pulse Survey. The survey will highlight how happy, connected and active people in Gwent are and will provide an insight into the well-being of people living in Monmouthshire, Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly and Newport.

The Happiness Pulse survey was completed by visitors to the hubs. Residents who completed the survey were pleased to receive information on their current well-being and were provided with hints and tips on how they can boost some areas of their lives by taking more exercise, trying a new hobby or learning a new skill.

Residents are encouraged to complete Happiness Pulse throughout January and February. To take the Happiness Pulse, visit – gwent.happinesspulse.org/pulse/monmouthshire

Abergavenny Library welcomed local author Jane Blank. Visitors spent the morning listening to inspirational stories and participating in a creative writing workshop with the charismatic local author. As well as writing stories and tales, Darryl Cross gave a Tai Chi relaxation taster session which everyone thoroughly enjoyed.

Usk Hub came alive with the sound of the town’s ukele band to provide an upbeat mood for the day. Visitors to the hub were able to try something new with a pottery masterclass. Relaxing treats were also on offer to provide some much needed time out and relaxation.

A range of organisations were present at Monmouth Hub to provide advice and support; Mind Monmouthshire, Monmouthshire Housing Association’s Work Skills Wise team and debt counselling charity Christians Against Poverty. Coffee and cake attracted visitors who also participated in a game of bingo to raise spirits.

The Monmouthshire community education team provided taster sessions of some of their most popular art and photography courses in Chepstow Hub. For more information about Monmouthshire Community Learning courses contact Jemima Jones on 01291 426880 communityed@monmouthshire.gov.uk.

Caldicot Hub welcomed the Volunteering for Wellbeing team and a range of activities were on offer from a Welsh language conversation group to a computer skills workshop.

Cabinet Member for Enterprise Cllr Bob Greenland said:  ‘Blue Monday could have had a negative impact on some of our residents in the county, but the events that have taken place in our hubs brightened up the day of those people who took time to visit. l hope that everyone takes time out to complete the Happiness Pulse survey –  it is a really interesting survey.’

Monmouthshire County Council is seeking the views of the community over a proposed planning application for residential development at Raglan.  A public engagement event will be held from 3pm to 7pm on Tuesday 30th January 2018 at Raglan Old School Hall, Chepstow Road, Raglan.

The site is located to the west of Chepstow Road and has been allocated for residential development in the council’s adopted Local Development Plan.  The site is expected to provide 45 houses, together with amenity open space and enhanced financial contribution for community facilities, education provision, and highway improvements in the area.  The council seeks feedback to guide development of the site, which will cover matters such as access, design layout, pedestrian and vehicle routes including sustainable transport links, open space and green infrastructure.

Feedback forms will be available at the event or can be viewed and submitted online at www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/chepstow-road-raglan-residential-development-site.  The deadline for responses is 12 noon on Monday 5th February.  Forms can be submitted by hand at the event, online or emailed to estates@monmouthshire.gov.uk.

Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for planning said: “We’re very keen to hear people’s views before this proposed development is submitted for planning permission.”

Further information will be provided at the exhibition where members of the council’s project team will be present to discuss the proposals in detail and to answer any questions.

Monmouthshire County Council has given the go-ahead for a strategy to guide tourism development and marketing and management to attract visitors to the county for the next three years.

The county’s new Destination Management Plan was approved by cabinet on Wednesday 10th January, providing the opportunity for public, private and voluntary sectors to work in partnership and deliver year round sustainable tourism growth across all parts of the county.  It replaced a previous plan that was published in 2013.

Tourism is vital to Monmouthshire’s economy and generates income to support a wide range of businesses that benefit from spending by visitors.  According to figures supplied by tourism economic indicator STEAM (Scarborough Tourism Economic Activity Monitor), the sector brought in £190m to Monmouthshire in 2016 and supported the equivalent of 2,900 full-time jobs, accounting for approximately 10% of the workforce.  Each visitor contributing to the county’s economy by purchasing food and drink, fuel, services and accommodation spends on average over £60 per day.

Monmouthshire’s tourism performance over the life of the previous plan displayed an encouraging 10% real growth in terms of economic impact, an increase of 8.7% in visitor numbers and a 1.5% growth in full-time jobs.  The newly-approved Destination Management Plan has been developed following a review of the previous plan and is based on Monmouthshire’s best prospects for tourism growth as well as extensive consultation with stakeholders.

The Plan capitalizes on key opportunities for Monmouthshire, including its location at the gateway to Wales offering an initial chance to make a great impression, especially now that Severn Bridge tolls are to be phased out.  It also recognises Monmouthshire’s contribution to the Cardiff Capital Region’s City Deal and the overall growth target – set by the Welsh Government’s tourism organisation, Visit Wales – of 10% or more in the sector’s value by 2020.

Councillor Bob Greenland, cabinet member with responsibility for tourism said: “Monmouthshire is a county defined by water – the Usk, Monnow, Wye, Severn and the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal shape our county and connect us with our neighbours.  The inspirational landscapes, border-country heritage, intriguing creativity and tasty local produce give the area a very special character.  The county’s name may sometimes be unfamiliar but within our borders are the internationally-recognised Brecon Beacons and Wye Valley.  This plan is about defining what the county wants from tourism, renewing the way we work together, converting our assets into memorable experiences for visitors, and making sure visitors know about what we can offer.  Above all it’s about making ‘Monmouthshire’ a mark of genuine and trusted tourism quality.

For further information contact: Tourism@monmouthshire.gov.uk

Beat the Winter Blues by taking part in a Happiness Pulse survey; the survey will highlight how happy, connected and active people in Gwent are. The survey will provide an insight into the well-being of people living in Monmouthshire, Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly and Newport.

The survey is launching across Gwent on Monday 15th January the day recognised as Blue Monday- the most depressing day of the year for many with people’s moods having been affected by their post-Christmas finances, the bad weather and the long wait for summer.

Residents are encouraged to fill in a simple online survey by 28th February. The survey will provide individuals with their own happiness score and hints and tips for happiness.

The Happiness Pulse survey tells a story about a place.  It is designed by Bristol based charity and social enterprise Happy City, who are world-leaders in helping support better measurement and policy to support long term wellbeing in communities.

Their Chief Executive, Liz Zeidler, has high hopes for the Gwent-wide pilot “The Happiness Pulse is a unique tool that helps individuals explore their own long term happiness, whilst helping communities map the wellbeing strengths and needs of all their citizens.  By supporting 1000s of local people to take their pulse this month, Gwent local authorities, businesses and community organisations are demonstrating their pioneering commitment to understanding and improving the lives of people across the region”.

The Well- being of Future Generations Act 2015 has led public services in Wales to think long-term, work better with people and communities and each other, look to prevent problems and take a more joined-up approach. Public Service Boards are implementing this with the publication of Well-being Plans in May 2018.

 

Beating the Blues events are taking place across Gwent week commencing Monday January 15th:

 

  • Blaenau Gwent will be launching the survey to residents at Ebbw Vale Sports Centre on Monday 15th January. The survey will focus on encouraging people to take their happiness pulse whilst they are out being active.

 

  • Caerphilly Public Service Board will be supporting the launch on the 15th January and will be promoting the survey at Leisure Centres, Libraries and other community venues across the area. The authority will be encouraging as many people as possible to take part.

 

  • A series of events are taking place in Monmouthshire. Caldicot, Chepstow, Monmouth and Usk Hubs will be hosting activities and events to dispel the winter blues and give people the chance to meet new friends, residents to try something new, take time out and boost their happiness on Monday 15th January.

 

  • Newport libraries will be displaying and sharing information on services to improve health and wellbeing and will be encouraging people to take part in the Happiness Pulse project.

 

  • Torfaen Public Service Board will be hosting a wellbeing day at Pontypool Market on Wednesday 17th January where residents will be encouraged to take their happiness pulse.

Paul Matthews, Chair of Monmouthshire Public Service Board said: ‘I know that some will see this survey as a bit gimmicky but actually I don’t see anything wrong with talking about happiness. Gwent is full of wonderful people and by completing the Happiness Pulse they will be able to see how valuable they are to their communities.’

The survey gwent.happinesspulse.org/pulse/monmouthshire will be available from Monday 15th January.

 

Monmouthshire County Council are hosting two Budget engagement meetings on Tuesday 23rd January at County Hall, Usk.  The first session is taking place at 2.00pm – 4.00pm followed by an evening meeting 6.00pm – 8.00pm.

The meetings will be live streamed ensuring residents can watch the meeting from wherever they wish if they are not able to attend. A you tube link will be available on the councils social media channels.

There are a number of meetings taking place, Talk To Us – Access for All Forum and a young people’s event to enable as many groups and individuals to share their thoughts on the budget proposals being developed and other areas of work happening in Monmouthshire.

The Talk to Us – Access for All forum is taking place Friday 19th January 10.00am – 2.00pm at County Hall and Young Peoples event on Thursday 25th January at Caldicot Choir Hall, 10.00am – 2.00pm.

The meetings will provide an opportunity for residents to learn more about the Budget Proposals and share thoughts on Council Tax and Business Rates.

Cllr Phil Murphy Cabinet member for Resources said:

‘I hope that residents come along to gain a better understanding of the budget in Monmouthshire.’

For more information please contact Rhian Cook rhiancook@monmouthshire.gov.uk

ENDS

 

Monmouthshire County Council has celebrated ten years of action to promote Fairtrade with an event featuring pupils at Goytre Fawr Primary School.  The council has recently received approval from the national Fairtrade Foundation for its application to renew its Fairtrade County status.

The award is given in recognition of strong support for Fairtrade within the county, and the achievement of five qualifying goals, including a wide availability of Fairtrade products in local shops and catering outlets and high levels of support from local people, businesses, the council, faith groups and schools.

Much effort is devoted to making Monmouthshire a Fairtrade County, and the status has to be renewed every two years.  The council must demonstrate that it uses and makes Fairtrade products available, as well as helping Monmouthshire’s four very active local groups publicise Fairtrade.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for social justice and community development, Councillor Sara Jones joined a special Fairtrade assembly at Goytre Fawr Primary School with the council’s Sustainability Policy Officer, Hazel Clatworthy.  The school’s pupils already know about the difference Fairtrade makes to farmers because Goytre Fawr is a Fair Achiever School, an award granted by the Fairtrade Foundation.

Councillor Jones said: “I’m delighted that we are celebrating a decade of work promoting Fairtrade to people in Monmouthshire benefiting so many farmers and growers in developing countries.  It is fantastic that schools in Monmouthshire are teaching our young people that the decisions we take when shopping can have a direct impact on quality of life for people on the other side of the world.  We are also hugely grateful for the hard work of volunteers in the Abergavenny, Chepstow, Monmouth and Usk Fairtrade Town groups who have contributed to our Fairtrade County status.”

Adam Gardner, Communities Campaigns Manager at the Fairtrade Foundation added: “We’re very pleased that Monmouthshire has renewed its Fairtrade status and laid out clear exciting goals to take Fairtrade further.

“Thanks to the ongoing support of the public and campaigners, an increasing number of farmers in developing countries are now selling their products on Fairtrade terms, bringing them a stable income, and the chance to trade their way out of poverty.”

Contact: hazelclatworthy@monmouthshire.gov.uk for further information on Fairtrade in Monmouthshire.

MONMOUTHSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL
(HARDWICK HILL LANE AND BULWARK ROAD, CHEPSTOW, MONMOUTHSHIRE)
TEMPORARY TRAFFIC REGULATION NOTICE 2018

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that MONMOUTHSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL intends to make an Order under Section 14 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, as amended, the effect of which will be to close, temporarily, to vehicles the lengths of road specified in the Schedule to this Notice.

The road closure is necessary to enable replacement of a gas main to be undertaken in a safe manner.

The Order will come into effect on the 11th February 2018 and will remain in operation 24 hours per day until the 25th February 2018.

Reasonable access will be maintained for properties fronting the affected lengths of road during the period of the closure.

By virtue of Section 16(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 a person who contravenes a restriction or prohibition imposed under Section 14 of the Act shall be guilty of an offence.

ALTERNATIVE ROUTE

Signed diversionary routes will be in place as follows:

Hardwick Hill Lane (eastern leg):

i. on Mount Pleasant, from its junction with Hardwick Hill Lane in a northerly direction to its junction with Hardwick Terrace; then
ii. in a northerly direction to its junction with Steep Street; then
iii. in a generally southerly direction to its junction with Hardwick Hill Lane

and vice versa

Bulwark Road:

i. on Bulwark Road and Thornwell Road in a south-easterly direction to its roundabout junction with Conwy Drive; then
ii. in a south-westerly direction to its roundabout junction with the A466 Wye Valley Link Road and the M48; then
iii. in a north-westerly direction on the A466 Wye Valley Link Road to its roundabout junction with the Newport Road; then
iv. in a north-easterly direction on Newport Road to its junction with Bulwark Road

and vice versa.

Dated: 2nd January 2018

Robert Tranter
Head of Legal Services
Monmouthshire County Council
PO Box 106
Caldicot
Monmouthshire NP26 9AN

SCHEDULE

Hardwick Hill Lane, Chepstow

For its entire length

Bulwark Road, Chepstow

From its junction with Hardwick Hill Lane to its junction with Old Bulwark Road

 

Caldicot Community Hub is hosting a packed day of activities on Monday 15th January to raise mid-winter and post-Christmas spirits.  The occasion will also give people the chance to meet new friends, have fun and try something different. 

 Activities include getting to grips with iPhones and tablets from 9am to 10am, followed by a Welsh conversation group from 10.30am to 11.30am and an hour long computer skills workshop starting at 11am.  The afternoon features Welsh baby massage from 1pm to 2pm and upcycling from 3pm to 4pm.

 Information on volunteering for wellbeing will be available from 9.30am to 3.30pm while staff from the town’s leisure centre will provide advice on health and wellbeing.

 Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for community hubs, Councillor Bob Greenland said: “Our community hubs and libraries are the very cure for winter blues!  They’re within close proximity of most people in the county and they offer education, leisure, fun and great events for all ages.  Occasions like this are good examples of how our hubs support local communal activity, even in the depths of winter.”

 For more information, contact Caldicot Community Hub on 01291 426425 and speak to a member of the team.

 

Monmouth Community Hub is hosting an event on Monday 15th January designed to dispel the winter blues and give people the chance to meet new friends and have fun.  The morning starts with coffee, tea and cakes at 10am followed by a game of bingo.  Later on, there will be an opportunity to learn knitting and crochet, experience a taster session provided by the council’s community learning team and play a selection of board games in the afternoon.  In addition, advisors will provide advice on debt and on mental health.  All are welcome to this free event.

 Like all of Monmouthshire’s hubs, Monmouth provides the opportunity to sign up for a library card and enjoy the benefits of membership.  This allows people to borrow library materials, to read a book to make them smile or achieve their goals for 2018.  Monmouth Community Hub is stocked with materials to suit everyone and provides a digital online service offering free eBooks and audio downloads.

 Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for community hubs, Councillor Bob Greenland said: “Our community hubs and libraries are the very cure for winter blues!  They’re within close proximity of most people in the county and they offer education, leisure, fun and great events for all ages.  This occasion is a good example of how our hubs support local communal activity, even in the depths of winter.”

 For more information, contact Monmouth Community Hub on 01600 775215 and speak to a member of the team.

 

Usk Community Hub is hosting two events to raise mid-winter and post-Christmas spirits.

 On Thursday 11th January at 7pm crime writers Alis Hawkins and Graham H Miller will deliver a talk on their latest works.  Alis’s most recent novel “None so Blind” is the first in the Teifi Valley Coroner series set in mid-nineteenth century West Wales.  Alis and Graham H Miller, who latest book is “The List”, a Jonah Greene thriller, will be available for book signing.  Refreshments will be provided.

Monday 15th January sees a packed day of activities designed to oust the winter blues.  From 10.30am an hour’s pottery course will be on offer followed by creative writing at noon.  Later, from 1pm to 5pm, Gwent Therapy Centre provides free 10 minute Indian head massage sessions while from 1pm Marianne of Usk’s Complexion Medispa company offers free hand and arm massages and free glittery lips as well as nails painted for the reduced price of £5.  Also running during the afternoon are sessions aimed at getting the best from your newly-purchased iPad, tablet or smartphone as well as beginners’ introductions to the guitar and ukulele.

 Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for community hubs, Councillor Bob Greenland said: “Our community hubs and libraries are the very cure for winter blues!  They’re within close proximity of most people in the county and they offer education, leisure, fun and great events for all ages.  These occasions are good examples of how our hubs support local communal activity, even in the depths of winter.”

 For more information, contact Usk Community Hub on 01291 426888 and speak to a member of the team.

 

Monmouthshire County Council has achieved the goal of becoming the country’s first local authority to deliver a highly regarded sporting programme to an entire year group.

The council’s sport development team started the autumn term with a clear target to involve Year Five pupils in the Sports Leaders UK Playmaker award and four months later 941 children – every single Year Five pupil – have successfully undertaken the six hour leadership programme.  All 30 of Monmouthshire’s primary schools engaged in the scheme.

The Playmaker programme is widely recognised for developing opportunities at a primary school level and focuses on communication, leadership, organisation and resilience.  After pupils have achieved the award they provide a positive impact on well-being within their schools.  In Monmouthshire they will assume responsibility for supporting Bronze Young Ambassadors – two pupils in every Year Six class in the county – for the rest of the academic year and continue their leadership as they progress into Year Six.

With leadership opportunities established in the county’s secondary schools Monmouthshire’s sports development team aims to increase the number of young people holding recognised qualifications as well as making a positive impact on their personal development.

Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire County Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for leisure said: “This outstanding programme is a potential game changer in tackling obesity and ensuring our younger generation has the best possible start in life.  Our aspiration is that our young people continue to grow into confident leaders, embedding health and physical activity into the centre of their daily routine and lifestyle.”

Richard Norman, Chief Executive of Sports Leaders UK commented: “At Sports Leaders we believe every child has the potential to be a leader and Monmouthshire has taken this concept to heart and delivered truly inspiring results.  The Playmaker programme is not just about young people enjoying being active – by receiving the opportunity to be a leader with their friends, their confidence, behaviour and education all benefit.  Monmouthshire is a shining example of the positive impact leadership opportunities for young people can have and will have for a generation.”

Graham Williams, Director of Community Engagement at Sport Wales added: “Volunteers are the lifeblood of sport in Wales so it’s fantastic to see the Monmouthshire Sport Development team supporting our future workforce by developing their leadership skills to make a positive impact on the wellbeing of other young people in their schools and communities.  Congratulations to all involved, and I shall look forward to seeing what these young leaders can do to help shape sport in Wales in the future.”

Paul Sullivan, Monmouthshire’s Community and Sport Development Officer said: “Our team would like to thank all primary school headteachers, Year Five class teachers and wonderful pupils for making this programme such a success throughout the autumn term.  The Playmaker programme is something our team has committed to for all future Year Five classes to ensure the key messages of leadership and resilience are embedded for future generations.  To be the first local authority in the UK to deliver the Playmaker award to an entire cohort is something our team is extremely proud of.  Our relationship with every school across the authority continues to grow and we look forward to developing a number of future opportunities in line with the new curriculum reform.”

During the spring term Monmouthshire’s sport development team will deliver four playmaker conferences featuring all Year Five pupils taking part in activities including community club delivery, national governing body involvement, the daily mile and workshops on school sports surveys, healthy eating, disability inclusion training and anti-bullying schemes.  These activities will focus mainly on physical and emotional well-being and provide further support for the children who have achieved the Playmaker award.

Throughout the summer term sport development team members will work with the county’s schools to undertake the School Sport Survey, an online survey in conjunction with Sport Wales for pupils in Years 3 to 11.  This engagement will provide vital data to ensure delivery and opportunities are in line with feedback from pupils.  The sport development team will then be responsible for shaping local delivery to ensure pupils’ voices are heard as it works towards the target of getting every child hooked on sport.

  • For further questions on this work or any other programmes for which the sports development team is responsible contact: sport@monmouthshire.gov.uk

Monmouthshire County Council will temporarily close a number of its car parks or areas within its car parks to allow vital work to be carried out.

 The smaller of Abergavenny’s Tiverton Place car parks will be unavailable from Monday 8th January for up to six months to accommodate the contractor’s compound for works taking place on Lion Street. In the larger car park a container will be located near the pay and display machine but this will reduce the number of spaces only slightly.

 Also in Abergavenny, the exit of Fairfield car park closed on 3rd January for up to 12 weeks to allow for highways works to the Morrison’s supermarket development.  Vehicles will be directed to leave the car park via the current entrance.

 Meanwhile in Monmouth, the 34-space Chippenham car park will close from 22nd January for approximately six months so Welsh Water/Dwr Cymru can install an underground storage chamber.  This unavoidable work is connected to the new sewer pumping station at the David Wilson housing development on Monmouth’s Wonastow Road.  Plentiful alternative parking is available nearby at the Cattle Market, Cornwall House, Monnow Street, Cinderhill Street and Rockfield Road car parks.

 Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for car parking, Councillor Bryan Jones said: “I apologise for any inconvenience caused to visitors and shoppers by these absolutely necessary works.  In each case, there are suitable car park spaces close by.”

 

Councillors and highways engineers from Monmouthshire County Council have met with a local timber company to address residents’ concerns over heavy traffic on the neighbouring road network.  Residents of Hereford Road in Mardy have drawn attention to the number of lorries driven through the vicinity delivering timber from mid-Wales to the Pontrilas Sawmills between Abergavenny and Hereford.  The speed of lorries was an additional factor.

 Following the meeting, a number of actions were agreed.  The sawmill managers will consider re-routing a number of their lorries through Abergavenny via Merthyr Road and they will write to the Welsh Government in support of an A40 by-pass to the south of the town.  They will also emphasise to drivers that they should use Hereford Road only when necessary and follow up with checks, as well as providing details to the council’s highways team on future harvesting operations so that related journeys can be featured on the regular road works report published weekly on Monmouthshire’s website.

 Meanwhile, the council will look at the feasibility of extending the 30mph speed limit on Hereford Road as well as offering the attendance of the road safety officer at the firm’s Certificate of Professional Competence driving workshops.

 Councillor Bryan Jones, cabinet member for county operations was at the meeting.  He said: “Our meeting with the sawmill management was a productive one and we will examine the proposed measures with a view to improving the traffic issues around Mardy.”

 

Monmouthshire County Council will be hosting a Talk to Us engagement forum on Friday 19th January 10.00am – 2.00pm at County Hall, Usk.

The event will provide residents with an opportunity to hear about the Monmouthshire County Council Budget process, Monmouthshire Wellbeing Plan and the Happiness Pulse well -being survey and share their thoughts and ideas too.

In previous years the Access for All forum and Ageing Well forum has taken place for residents over 50 and those with disabilities. This event welcomes individuals and groups who have previously attended this event.

The day will begin at 10.00am and include lunch and refreshments, transport is also available.

Cabinet Member for Social Justice Cllr Sara Jones said: ‘The Talk to Us event will provide an opportunity for our residents to have their voices heard, share ideas and suggestions whilst becoming informed about things that affect them.’

For transport contact Connor Leacock connorleacock@monmouthshire.gov.uk by Monday 15th January.

For more information about the day contact Rhian Cook rhiancook@monmouthshire.gov.uk

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

  • Wednesday 3rd January         Between 08:15 – 08:45  (approx.) – Between 20:45 – 21.15 (approx.)
  • Thursday 4th January  – Between 09.00 – 09.30 (approx.) – Between 21.15 – 21.45 (approx.)
  • Friday 5th January – Between 9.45 – 10.15  

The closure points will be as follows:

  • North End closure: Trelleck Road junction.
  • South End closure: Royal George junction.

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

I feel extremely privileged to serve once again as Chairman of Monmouthshire County Council.  As before, it has been an extremely busy but interesting time.

 I hope that you enjoyed a very happy Christmas and you made time for relaxing with your families and friends.

 Approaching a new year, we remember the events of the past twelve months.  The completion of Caldicot School brought much delight to the community and work is well underway on a new secondary school for Monmouth with adjacent sports facilities.  I am pleased to say that due to the hard work of pupils and the dedication of teaching staff our schools performed extremely well in the GCSE and A Level exams.

 In early November I spent a rewarding time at a Young Carers’ Rights Day event at Skenfrith’s Hilston Park.  The service that these young people provide for their families is second to none and they assume responsibilities at an age when they should have only school and recreation to think about.  It was lovely to see them relaxing and enjoying themselves with others in the same situation, with many activities and opportunities to talk to new friends.  I’m confident that our recently-launched Young Carers’ Strategy will offer them appropriate support.

 We are lucky that Monmouthshire produces many talented young people.  Our schools produce fabulous shows and their sporting successes continue to amaze me.

 One of the sporting highlights was the “Crosstober” event at Abergavenny Leisure Centre, when cyclists of all ages and abilities tackled the cross country course.  This event grows and grows and we hope to retain it within Monmouthshire to complement the other cycling competitions held in the county.

 Also on a sporting theme, I was privileged to meet Judy Murray who gave advice and instruction to our many young budding tennis players.  The council continues to provide extensive sporting facilities during the school holidays at each of our leisure centres, where young people can spend all day enjoying a variety of games and activities.  I attended a recent session where activities focus on learning new skills, developing confidence, meeting new friends and most importantly, having fun while participating.

 In September, I was honoured to represent Monmouthshire, when, together with Northern Automotive Systems Ltd (NAS Ltd) we warmly welcomed representatives from Xiangshan County, China and the Huaxiang Group.  NAS Ltd is one of the county’s largest employers and is owned by the Huaxiang Group.  It was the third visit in recent times, with the council signing a friendship agreement with Xiangshan County.

 In addition to my many duties within Monmouthshire, I represent the county at events, local shows and civic services in other authorities across Wales.  For instance, I’ve had the honour of meeting lovely people at tea in Swansea’s Mansion House as well as visits to Fonman Castle in the Vale and the Royal Welsh Show.

 My chosen charities this year are the Alzheimer’s Society Wales and the Wales Air Ambulance and in the autumn I decided upon a sponsored swim to raise funds.  I undertook 40 lengths of a 25 metre pool challenging sponsors to guess my time – I managed to complete the one kilometre distance in just over 29 minutes.  I thank all who sponsored me and those who contributed to my Christmas raffle.  I’m planning further events in the spring.

 I wish everyone a successful and Happy New Year and look forward with optimism to a promising 2018.

 Councillor Maureen Powell

 

 

Monmouthshire County Council has published its timetable for collection of waste and recycling over Christmas and the New Year.

No collections will take place on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, or New Year’s Day.  Consequently, all collections during the week starting Monday 25th December will take place two days later than usual and collections during the week starting Monday 1st January will take place one day later as shown in the table below. Trade waste collections will also be affected as shown in the table. Residents are asked to ensure that all waste is placed out before 7am for collection.

Collection due Actual collection day
Monday 25th December Wednesday 27th December
Tuesday 26th December Thursday 28th December
Wednesday 27th December Friday 29th December
Thursday 28th December Saturday 30th December
Friday 29th December Sunday 31st December
Monday 1st January Tuesday 2nd January
Tuesday 2nd January Wednesday 3rd January
Wednesday 3rd January Thursday 4th January
Thursday 4th January Friday 5th January
Friday 5th January Saturday 6th January

Residents can check their collection days by visiting the Local Info page of the council’s website: http://maps.monmouthshire.gov.uk/.  In addition, advice on reducing the amount of waste produced at Christmas time can be found by visiting www.recycleforwales.org.uk/.

Christmas time leads to more waste generation so the council has agreed that residents can put out one extra bag of household waste for their collection after Christmas Day from 27th December to 6th January.  There is no limit to the amount of recycling that can be left out for collection.

Festive wrapping paper can be recycled in red bags provided it’s not made from foil, plastic or glitter wrap.  Christmas cards can be recycled in red bags too, but alternately residents may consider offering them to charity shops that recycle them to raise funds.

Real Christmas trees (up to six foot tall) may be left for collection on the kerbside and recycled with food or garden waste – this applies even if residents do not have a brown garden waste bag.  Trees taller than six foot should be cut to a manageable size and left for collection or taken to a local household waste recycling centre.

Opening times for the council’s household waste recycling centres over the Christmas and New Year period are:

Sunday, 24th December 8am to 4pm (last entry 3.45pm)
Monday, 25th December closed
Tuesday, 26th December closed
27th to 31st December 8am to 4pm (last entry 3.45pm)
Monday, 1st January closed
Tuesday, 2nd January 8am to 6pm

Councillor Bryan Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for waste and recycling said: “I’d like to wish the county’s communities a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and I warmly thank them for their impressive recycling efforts during 2017.”

Monmouthshire County Council is inviting residents, businesses and organisations to submit comments on a report to be put before cabinet at its meeting on Wednesday, 7th February.  Comments must be provided by 5pm on Thursday 18th January.

 The report will consider the future position of the play area on Monmouth’s Chippenham Mead.

 Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for leisure said: “This issue has generated strong opinions in the town over an extended period and it is important that the decision-making report put before cabinet captures the full range of views so that an informed decision is made.”

 Anyone who wishes to offer comments should email the council’s Community Infrastructure Coordinator Mike Moran – mikemoran@monmouthshire.gov.uk – or write to:

 Mike Moran

Monmouthshire County Council

County Hall

Usk

NP15 1GA

 by 5pm on Thursday 18th January.

 The report may be accessed by visiting: http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/app/uploads/2017/12/Chippenham-Play-Area-Report-070218.docx

 

Monmouthshire County Council will hold a public exhibition to provide an update on its proposed shared-use Llanfoist to Abergavenny footbridge over the River Usk and display how the project has developed following last year’s public consultation.

The exhibition will take place in Llanfoist Village Hall in Church Lane on Monday 8th January from 11.30am to 6.30pm and it will give the community an opportunity to discuss proposals with representatives from the council’s highways team, civil engineers WSP and Knight Architects.

WSP and Knight Architects are working with the council to develop a new and safer cycling and walking route from Llanfoist Post Office to Abergavenny Town Hall.  The current footway link reaches a pinch point over the bridge crossing the River Usk linking Abergavenny with Llanfoist which discourages use.

The planning application will be submitted to the council at the end of January and it is anticipated that construction will start in the spring or summer next year (2018).  Residents will be able to provide comments during the statutory period of consultation after the application is submitted.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for county operations Councillor Bryan Jones said: “I welcome the notion of this proposed footbridge as it will form an improved, safer and more pleasant link for cyclists and pedestrians between the two communities.”

Community-based projects in Gwent have until the end of next month to apply for up to £5,000 from the Gwent High Sheriffs’ Community Fund (GHSCF).

Community groups, voluntary organisations and local charities in Gwent have until January 31st 2018 to submit their applications for projects which share the aims and vision of the Gwent High Sheriffs’ Community Fund. The fund is pooled from money raised by the High Sheriff throughout the year.

The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Gwent, Jeff Cuthbert, has also contributed £50,000 in cash seized from criminals towards the pot of money which will be awarded next year.

Earlier this year, with support from the Police and Crime Commissioner, the High Sheriff was able to award almost £74,000 to 22 community projects across the local authorities of Newport, Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent, Torfaen and Monmouthshire.

The Fund this year aims to provide a safer and better quality of life for the people of Gwent by supporting community-based initiatives and projects that reduce crime and improve community safety. There is also a strongemphasis on projects which aim to mentor and support young people across Gwent.

Groups are invited to apply for grants of up to £5,000 to support a range of costs, which could include:

  • Piloting a new project;
  • Running costs for a programme of activities; and
  • Purchasing equipment and materials.

The grants will be awarded in March 2018 through the annual community grant-making event. This unique event is a partnership between the Gwent High Sheriffs’ Community Fund, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent and the Community Foundation in Wales.

Urging projects to apply, the High Sheriff of Gwent for 2017/18, Kevin Thomas, said: “The Gwent High Sheriffs’ Community Fund provides a safer and better quality of life for the people of Gwent by supporting community-based initiatives which mentor and inspire young people in order to help reduce crime and enhance community safety. There are more than five thousand voluntary organisations in Gwent which help to address local needs, one of the most acute of which is youth unemployment. It is important that grass-roots community organisations, which do so much to improve the life chances of children and young people, get the support they need.”

Highlighting his support for the fund, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Jeff Cuthbert, said: “What is so positive about this fund is that it supports community based initiatives which can help prevent crime and build community safety. Taking action to prevent and reduce crime by working with partner organisations and communities is the number one priority in my police and crime plan for Gwent. The High Sheriff Community Fund is another example of how we are using money that we have seized from criminals to help fund worthwhile causes in the community.”

Applicants must complete an application form to be submitted to the Community Foundation in Wales by the 31st January 2018. If you would like to discuss your proposal, please contact the Community Foundation in Wales on 02920 379 580 or via e-mail at info@cfiw.org.uk . Application forms and the  criteria for the programme can be downloaded from the Community Foundation in Wales’ website www.cfiw.org.uk via this link

Grants will be awarded at a participatory grant-making event on Saturday March 24th 2018.

Over 70 looked-after and vulnerable children from Monmouthshire will benefit from a Christmas gift thanks to generous festive gestures by a number of parties.  The council’s Children’s Services team organised the scheme.

 Susie Gardner of the GL Vets group – a veterinary recruitment service based in Chepstow – met councillors at County Hall on Thursday 14th December underneath the council’s Christmas tree to donate a large amount of presents.  With her was Martin Lewis of the St Joseph’s Caldicot Amateur Boxing Club.  The presents were funded by a partnership between the firm and boxing club which organised sponsorship to challenge willing participants to reach a total of 10,000 burpees – an intense exercise combining push-ups and squat jumps into one physically demanding activity.

 Susie said: “I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who took part in the challenge from Gardner Llewelyn Vet Recruitment and St Joseph’s Caldicot Amateur Boxing Club, and to all who donated, especially before Christmas when money can be tight.  It was great to be involved.  I was delighted that we could buy some lovely gifts for children among the most vulnerable.”

 Also contributing to the festive gesture was the Swansea-based Facility Services Group (FSG) which donated a substantial sum to ensure a number of children receive a present, as well as councillors led by Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for social care, safeguarding and health, Councillor Penny Jones.

 Councillor Jones said: “I’m very, very grateful for the wonderful presents received thanks to an amazing community contribution by GL Vets, Caldicot’s boxing club and FSG.  These gifts will bring a smile to the faces of our most vulnerable children.”

“I was also delighted to work with fellow councillors who purchased and wrapped gifts for specific children and young people.  I’m thankful for the help provided by councillors Sara Jones and Lisa Dymock who worked hard to coordinate this initiative and ensure its success.”

 Members of the Children’s Services team were overwhelmed with the support received and are looking forward to delivering the gifts around the county in the week before Christmas.

 

An event arranged by Monmouthshire County Council’s Face to Face Therapeutic Services team has helped a range of young people aged 7 to 15 come to terms with the loss of loved ones.

The gathering at Caldicot Castle was held for children and young people who have lost someone they love to remember those who won’t be present this Christmas.  Family and friends also attended to lend support and for some, it was their first Christmas facing a tough time without a much-loved close relation.

Among the activities on offer were arts and crafts, face painting and a visit from Santa and Mrs Claus, with cakes donated by Monmouth’s Waitrose store.  After the festive fun and a delicious buffet lunch, the children took to the castle’s Christmas tree and released bubbles in memory of those they will deeply miss.  It was a lovely, magical and poignant day but a reminder that Christmas can pose difficulties for some people.

 

All who attended expressed that it had felt comforting to be with others in a similar situation.  Young people made new friends and it gave them the opportunity to share the experiences of losing a parent or sibling.

 

A number of staff members from the council volunteered during the day to help with general organisation and some parents have offered their services for future similar sessions.

Councillor Penny Jones, cabinet member for social care, safeguarding and health said: “We’ve run a number of valuable events along these lines which have been much appreciated.  It is important that people are given support to be reconciled to the loss of a much-loved family member, especially at this time of year.”

For further information contact counselling coordinator Rebecca Kent – RebeccaKent@monmouthshire.gov.uk

 

The offices of Monmouthshire County Council will be closed on:

Monday 25th, Tuesday 26th, Wednesday 27th December and Monday 1st January.

FOR EMERGENCIES ONLY – If urgent assistance is required over the holiday period when the offices are closed, please call 0300 123 1055

For Social Services emergencies please call 0800 328 4432

Our opening times excluding Bank Holidays are:

Monday – Thursday 9 am – 5pm   and Friday 9am to 4:30 pm.

Refuse Collections:

There will be no collections on Monday 25th and Tuesday 26th December.

All collections will take place two days later than usual that week (including Sunday 31st)

There will be no collection on Monday 1st January.

All collections will take place one day later than usual that week.

Monmouthshire County Council staff donned Elf hats, stripy tights and festive attire to raise over £200.00 for the Alzheimer’s Society on Wednesday 13th December.

The Alzheimer’s Society, Elf Day is a popular fundraising day and has become an annual occurrence at Monmouthshire County Council. This year staff raised an amazing amount of money and have set the bar with their chosen choices of attire.

Staff across a variety of teams and locations including County Hall, Property Services, Mardy Park Resource Centre, Innovation House and Abergavenny Hub became Santa’s Helpers for the day. The outfits were amazing and raised many smiles, officers made a huge effort to ensure that as much money as possible was raised for a cause close to the heart if many staff.

Money was raised in many ways including, a donation for the pleasure of dressing in festive wear, staff baked and brought cakes which were sold to staff and visitors to all locations. A visit from the Monmouthshire Community Choir provided carols in the foyer of County Hall, Usk. Staff and visitors to My Day My Life, Abergavenny brought a Christmas gift stall to sell to staff at County Hall. Staff at Mardy Park stepped up to the challenge of a Mince Pie Bake Off.

The support that The Alzheimer’s Society provides is vital in our county, the number of Monmouthshire people aged 65 and over predicted to have dementia is expected to increase by 82% from 1377 in 2012, to 2,506 in 2030.

The council works closely with partner organisations such as Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and the Voluntary Sector to provide a range of information, advice and support from signposting people to information to providing complex care in a person’s home.  The approach in all circumstances is to provide support that responds to what matters to each person and is based on meeting needs as expressed by the person themselves.

Monmouthshire County Council works with individuals to plan their own care plans and listens to the wishes of the people they support to help them live the life they want to live.

In Severn View Care Home, Chepstow Welsh speaking residents would like to converse in Welsh. MCC are looking to  recruit a Welsh Language care worker to support people living with dementia in Further information is available on the website http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/jobs-and-employment closing date for applications January 5th 2018.

Cllr Maureen Powell said ‘The Alzheimer’s Society is one of my chosen charities, I aim to raise as much money as I can this year. I was so pleased to see staff embracing the day, their enthusiasm and commitment is immense. I am very grateful to the generosity of staff to raise money for a life changing charity. I would like to thank everyone involved.’

For general information and advice contact The Alzheimer’s Society http://www.alzheimers.org.uk or call the Dementia Helpline 0300 222 11 22.

For local information, advice and assistance contact Monmouthshire County Council Social Care & Health officers South Monmouthshire 01291 635666, North Monmouthshire 01873 735885 Central Monmouthshire: 01600 773041.

We are pleased to confirm that all schools will be open tomorrow – Wednesday 13th December. Thank you for your patience over the past couple of days, but we needed to put the health and safety of pupils and staff first. Please take care when travelling on the roads and pavements as they are still very icy in places.

Monmouthshire County Council has made contingency plans to ensure essential services are available throughout the Christmas and New Year period.  In addition, it has published opening times for its leisure centres, museums and community hubs.

A number of council services will run throughout the Christmas and New Year period.  The community meals team and caring staff will work each day including Christmas Day while a number of social workers will be on duty with others on call on a 24 hour basis.

The council’s gritting teams will be on standby throughout the Christmas and New Year period to work whenever roads need treatment.  Highways staff will be assisted by colleagues from the council’s grounds and waste & recycling teams if required.  Maintenance staff in the council’s Raglan Depot will also be available to ensure vehicles are fully operable while members of the Property Services team will be on call to safeguard buildings and infrastructure.

Arrangements will be made for the collection of waste and recycling over the holidays and will be feature on a press release this week.  See http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/recycling-and-waste for details.

The council’s leisure centres will open from 8.15am to 3.30pm on Christmas Eve but will close on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and Wednesday 27th December.  They will open as usual on 28th, 29th and 30th December with restricted hours – 8.15am to 3.30pm – on New Year’s Eve.  All centres will close on New Year’s Day but will open as usual on Tuesday 2nd January.  Fitness classes will run until Friday 22nd December 2017 before re-commencing on Wednesday 3rd January while Chepstow Leisure Centre’s swimming pool is closed for essential maintenance from 27th December until Saturday 6th January.

The county’s museums at Abergavenny, Chepstow and Monmouth will be open on Christmas Eve before closing for the following three days.  They will re-open as usual from Thursday 28th December but will be closed on New Year’s Day.

The council will close its two main office buildings – County Hall in Usk and Magor’s Innovation House – in the period between Christmas and the New Year.  This move following consultation with employees will save money for the council and its agile working policy means that staff present on Thursday 28th and Friday 29th December will be able to operate normally from one of the county’s community hubs, Caldicot Leisure Centre or Abergavenny Library.  The Registrar Office adjacent to County Hall will open as normal on both days.

Residents looking to visit any of the council’s community hubs should note that they will open during their usual hours except for closure on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Wednesday 27th December and New Year’s Day.  For details visit: http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/community-hubs-libraries

Leader of Monmouthshire County Council, Councillor Peter Fox said: “Most of us will enjoy a well-deserved break over Christmas and the New Year but we shouldn’t overlook those vital workers who carry on serving the community whether it’s ensuring the safety of the roads, caring for the vulnerable in our society or liaising in a crisis with the emergency services.”

For further details log onto www.monmouthshire.gov.uk

Monmouthshire County Council staff have worked to support the community as temperatures have dropped and snow has fallen. The county has resembled a beautiful scene from Narnia, but cold conditions can be frightening for vulnerable people – that’s where the council has come in to support everyone.

 Despite deteriorating conditions Monmouthshire’s community meals service Monmouthshire Meals made every scheduled delivery to vulnerable residents, many living in isolated rural areas. Catering Manager Pauline Batty said: “The staff have been fantastic with one member coming in from annual leave to help cover those who couldn’t make it through the snow. Please contact us if you know anyone who needs a warm meal – we’re happy to help.”

 Community spirit came to the fore in Govilon where a Good Samaritan helped to dig a Monmouthshire Meals van out of the snow.  Mrs Frances Baines of School Lane who witnessed the good turn said: “Six inches of snow this morning, and an ungritted road didn’t deter our brave Monmouthshire driver from delivering warm food to our elderly Govilon residents today. She needed a little help getting her van out of Steven’s Crescent, but soon continued on her round, undaunted. I think she deserves a commendation for her excellent work today.”  Pauline Batty added; “We’d like to thank the Good Samaritan who helped dig out our van in Govilon allowing our driver to deliver the rest of the meals on board.”

 Care at home services across the county worked hard to minimise disruption with staff doing much work on foot while liaising with families and colleagues to ensure everyone was safe and supported. The council used its 4×4 vehicles to access people in remote areas.

 Monmouthshire’s Carline service supported a local family by bringing forward an installation to a vulnerable client in order for the family to get back home a day early in the severe weather conditions. Sarah Turvey-Barber said: “It’s wonderful to be able to support the community – the cold weather can be scary for some people. Anyone living in Monmouthshire can have access to Careline products. From 65p a day you can have a lifeline installed in your home including a pendant that can be worn around the neck or the wrist.”

 Day services at Abergavenny’s Mardy Park and Chepstow’s Severn View social services premises were closed on Monday and all concerned were contacted, with additional support provided where necessary.  The council’s residential services teams at Mardy Park and Severn View coped well with staff making their way to work on foot or collected if unable to drive.

 Councillor Penny Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for social care and health said: “Our teams have been amazing across all services – community meals, residential, day care and care at home. I’d also like to mention our colleagues in the community nursing teams.  They are a critical part of our integrated services and they consistently go above and beyond the call of duty.”

By Monday afternoon the county’s primary highways were clear as are many secondary and other roads. Highways teams worked around the clock to escalate this process, bringing in additional resources to help. Many side roads on high ground were dealt with by Tuesday. Over the period, twelve lorries salted, ploughed and patrolled roads, assisted by contractors who ploughed and cleared fallen trees and hazards.  It has been a real team effort with bus drivers scheduled to provide transport to schools subsequently closed stepping in to support the community by clearing roads and pavements. Waste collection teams also cleared roads to keep everyone safe.

The council’s 24 hour patrolling and pre-salting road treatment will end on Tuesday evening and will return to its standard regime of providing teams on standby available to pre-salt when required.  Recycling and waste collection staff supported highways colleagues in clearing the snow with tractors from car parks, town centres and community buildings on Sunday. Feedback from residents has been tremendous with resident Larry Stoter of The Narth commenting on Facebook that: “Having had to drive from just outside London to Monmouth yesterday – taking nearly eight hours – Monmouthshire roads were much better than in many places. Well done and thank you to all.”

Rubbish and recycling across the county was collected the following day with the exception of rural routes. Collections in and around Abergavenny caused difficulty though routes were cleared for Tuesday’s collection. The council will endeavour to catch up in inaccessible areas throughout the week but will prioritise rubbish and food recycling collections, asking residents, where possible, to store their recycling for next week.

 Household waste & recycling centres at Mitchel Troy, Llanfoist and Usk were closed on Sunday.  Mitchel Troy and Llanfoist re-opened on Monday with the Usk site open by Tuesday. The Five Lanes site near Caerwent remained open as usual.

 Councillor Bryan Jones, cabinet member for county operations said: “Our collection and grounds maintenance crews are working closely with other front line staff to clear hospitals, OAP complexes and town centres. We will do our very best to collect waste and recycling on the correct day but please bear with us and only report missed collections if absolutely necessary.  We request residents to stay safe and not drive unless absolutely necessary – abandoned vehicles cause additional problems for gritters and emergency services.”

 Monmouthshire’s education service has coped well.  By 7.30am on Monday morning all schools had confirmed whether they would open or close.  This provided parents, children and staff with ample opportunity to prepare for the situation.  Emphasis has been placed on the safety of pupils and staff – most especially due to the heavy snow and treacherously icy conditions – as well as the fact that many staff lived in areas where travelling to work without the risk of harm was a serious issue.

 The north of the county was most heavily hit but by Tuesday only three remained closed.  A full list of closures was made available on the council’s website since Sunday morning: http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/school-closures

 Thanks to the council’s agile working policy, many staff unable to travel to their normal workplace on Monday and Tuesday were able to log in anywhere with wi-fi using their laptops.  The council’s community hubs, leisure centres and offices provide agile working areas so staff are able to work remotely – including from their homes – where they are contactable by telephone, email and various messaging services like Skype.  Consequently, the severe weather didn’t impact particularly on the service provided by these employees.

 The council closed its three museums in Abergavenny, Chepstow and Monmouth on Sunday due to safety concerns for the public and staff travelling to the sites.  Monmouth and Chepstow re-opened on Monday with Abergavenny re-opening on Tuesday.

 Some community hubs and libraries operated a reduced service on Monday but all were back to normal by Tuesday though Abergavenny’s one stop shop closed for lunch due to staff shortage while Monmouth Community Hub closed in the afternoon for planned training.

 Staff were busy on social media sending out regular bulletins on Facebook and Twitter and the council’s winter “splash page” was activated so everyone visiting the Monmouthshire website was directed towards contingencies and plans for bad weather – see @MonmouthshireCC on Facebook and Twitter for details.

 Council leader Peter Fox said: “I’m very grateful for the duties efficiently and effectively carried out by council staff in severe snow and icy weather – great teamwork.  Thank you to all of the residents who have been sending us lovely feedback and sharing magical photos of our beautiful county this winter. Times like this make me really proud.”

 

Please don’t travel this morning unless your journey is really necessary.

Snow ploughs and gritters are currently prioritising emergency services routes. We’ve received some calls about home carers and community meals – we have lovely neighbours in Monmouthshire if you know someone is home alone please check they’re ok.

Residents, businesses and organisations have until Wednesday 20th December to take part in a survey on the future of Abergavenny’s Bailey Park. The survey has been designed to improve facilities in the park to meet the future needs of the town.

Local groups from Abergavenny, the Friends of Bailey Park and Abergavenny Town Team have compiled the survey and are working closely with local community groups, the town council and the 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 its future to make it a more accessible and vibrant space for all ages. Bailey Park is a hive of activity all year with many local sporting groups such as Abergavenny Rugby Club and Bailey Park Bowls Club using  facilities to compete, train and socialise. These groups and many others will be integral to the engagement process.

County Councillor Bryan Jones said: ‘Bailey Park is so important for the health and wellbeing of both local people and visitors. Listening to the voices of local community organisations and communities from surrounding areas is essential to discover how they would like to see the space improved 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 and must be completed by Wednesday 20th December. For more information contact Mark Cleaver on 07976 791031 or MarkCleaver@monmouthshire.gov.uk

Chepstow Community Hub will host an evening of Christmas celebration on Wednesday 20th December from 7pm featuring the Chepstow Singing Group with seasonal readings.

Entry is free and all are welcome to attend.  Refreshments will be provided by the Friends of Chepstow Library.  Chepstow Community Hub is off Welsh Street, near the centre of the town with ample free parking available nearby from 5pm.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for community hubs, Councillor Bob Greenland said: “We look forward to welcoming people to this seasonal event at Chepstow’s community hub in the approach to Christmas.  I’m sure it will be an atmospheric and entertaining evening.”

For further details contact Sally-Anne Powell – SallyAnnePowell@monmouthshire.gov.uk – or telephone 01291 635730.

Business support service Superfast Business Wales will run a free social media workshop for Monmouthshire’s businesses from 9am to 1.30pm on Wednesday 13th December at Abergavenny’s Angel Hotel.  The fully-funded Superfast Business Wales Winning with Social Media workshop will provide the ability to generate successful social media campaigns and offer the tools needed to achieve growth.

 The workshop will feature instruction on writing better posts than the competition, how to create a social media strategy to attract business and tips to help measure what works and what doesn’t.

Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for enterprise said: “Businesses need to be thinking about creating a social media strategy now.  Social media marketing can be a really cost effective way to raise your profile, attract new customers and win new business.  There will be nearly three billion social media users worldwide by 2020 and 75% of business owners prefer to engage with businesses that have a social media presence.”

Businesses can register online by visiting: https://wales.business-events.org.uk/en/events/superfast-business-wales-winning-with-social-media/

·       This workshop is part of a package of fully-funded ICT advice and guidance for Welsh businesses – to find out more log on to: https://businesswales.gov.wales/superfastbusinesswales/about-us

 

Monmouthshire entrepreneurs looking to boost their skills can benefit from free business workshops throughout December.  These courses, organised by the Welsh Government’s Business Wales service, aim to equip people with the tools and knowledge to successfully start, run and grow their own business.

The workshops are delivered by advisers with a wealth of industry and business experience, gained at senior positions in global organisations or while running their own businesses.

The courses focus on a variety of topics including business and financial planning, marketing, pricing, sourcing funding, recruitment, legal and compliance issues, and are designed to provide those attending with the in-depth knowledge and practical business skills needed to start a business, while also building their confidence to make it a success.

Workshops in December will take place as follows:

Monmouth

  • Starting and Running a Business – Taking the Plunge: 9.30am to 4pm, Monday, 11th December
  • Tax and Bookkeeping: 9.30am to 12.30pm, Wednesday, 13th December
  • Winning and Keeping Customers: 1.30pm to 4.30pm, Wednesday, 13th December

Newport

  • Winning and Keeping Customers: 9.30am to 12.30pm, Tuesday, 12th December
  • Sizing up the Market: 1.30pm to 4.30pm, Tuesday, 12th December

Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for enterprise said: “This is a great opportunity for local businesses to access training support available from Business Wales.”

Melanie Phipps, Business Wales Adviser for Monmouthshire, commented: “Encouraging business start-up and job creation across Wales is at the forefront of our work at Business Wales.  We believe that everyone who has a business idea should pursue it and, therefore, strongly encourage local entrepreneurs who want to take their idea further or grow their business, to come along.”

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.

  • 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 business, call 03000 6 03000, follow @_businesswales or @_busnescymru or visit www.businesswales.gov.wales/ or www.busnescymru.llyw.cymru/ for further information.

The annual Monmouthshire Volunteer Achievement Awards hosted by GAVO (Gwent Association of Voluntary Organisations) and Monmouthshire County Council were held recently at Caldicot Choir Hall.  The celebratory evening focussed on the inspiring commitment of volunteers from all walks of life who give their time freely and share their skills to make a huge impact in all sections of the county’s communities.

The evening was attended by HM Lord Lieutenant of Gwent, Brigadier Robert Aitken CBE, The High Sheriff of Gwent, Kevin Thomas Esq JP, Monmouthshire’s Chairman, Councillor Maureen Powell, GAVO Chair, Edward Watts and Councillor Peter Fox, Leader of Monmouthshire County Council, among many others.  Entertainment was provided by Darren Graceland Jones, a multi-award winning Elvis tribute act, with a caring twist!

Clare Jones, GAVO’s Volunteering Team Manager said: “Congratulations to all the dedicated volunteers who play such a vital role in our society. The Volunteer Awards are our way of sharing the stories of some wonderful people throughout the county who have a major impact on others’ lives”.

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 their work and beneficial effect.  I offer my grateful thanks for their wonderful contribution.”

The organisers thanked sponsors for presenting awards. The winners were:

  • Young Volunteer- Ellie Hall (award sponsored by Gwent Police)
  • Adult Volunteer – Nick Cann (award sponsored by Carling in the Community)
  • Environmental – Monmouthshire Countryside Service Saturday Volunteers (award sponsored by Rogiet Community Council)
  • Trustee – Jon Williams (award sponsored by GAVO)
  • Group – 21 Plus (award sponsored by Aneurin Bevan University Health Board)
  • Personal Journey – Tracy Bartlett (award sponsored by GAVO)
  • Inspirational – Meirion and Sarah Howells (award sponsored by Hill & Co Financial Advisers)
  • Monmouthshire County Council Chairman’s award – Bethanie Headworth (award sponsored by Monmouthshire County Council)

Residents interested in community involvement can find more about opportunities by visiting www.volunteering-wales.net  or calling the Monmouthshire Volunteer Centre on 01633 241566.  Full details of the volunteering activities undertaken by the award winners and those highly commended are available on the GAVO website www.gavowales.org.uk/volunteering

 

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

Monday 4th December Between 07:45 – 08:15  (approx.)

Between 20:10 – 20.40 (approx.)

Tuesday 5th December Between 08.30 – 09.00 (approx.)

Between 20.50 – 21.20 (approx.)

Wednesday 6th December Between 09:15 – 09.45 (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.  Road closures will only be temporary and only when tidal water actually overflows onto the highway.  The road will reopen as soon as the water has receded from the highway. 

Monmouthshire County Council’s leisure team is offering an exclusive membership promotion in the approach to Christmas. Joining MonLeisure before 23rd December ensures free membership to the end of January. This promotion offers everything needed to exceed health and fitness expectations as Christmas and the New Year approach.

MonLeisure provides impressive 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 three leisure centres offer seasoned gym-goers and complete beginners all they need in a welcoming environment.

MonLeisure memberships provides access to over 130 fitness classes, three swimming pools (all with accessible hoists and steps), four gyms, disabled changing facilities and free parking across all sites.

Other facilities include:

o             1 floodlit FIFA approved 3G pitch at Caldicot Leisure Centre

o             4 squash courts (Abergavenny x 2 and Caldicot x 2)

o             4 full size Astro turf pitches

o             4 four court multipurpose sports halls

o             1 multipurpose gymnasiums (Abergavenny)

o             3 four court outdoor multi-use games areas (Abergavenny, Caldicot and Chepstow)

o             1 outdoor multi-use games pitches for football, basketball, netball or tennis (Abergavenny)

o             2 saunas (Abergavenny and Chepstow)

o             3 dedicated disability changing rooms with ceiling track hoist, height

o             adjustable changing table and accessible shower

o             various outdoor grass pitches

All three leisure centres open sufficiently early to allow people extra time before a busy day ahead.  The leisure centres – based at Abergavenny, Caldicot and Chepstow – provide a warm welcome with support as well as a convenient, community facility that has lots to offer at a great price.

For membership details contact your local centre:

  • Abergavenny Leisure Centre – 01873 735360
  • Caldicot Leisure Centre – 1291 426850
  • Chepstow Leisure Centre – 01291 635745

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

 

 The Usk Community Hub will hold its Christmas Market on Saturday 2nd December from 10am to 3pm.

 Market stalls will sell crafts, scarves, candles, cakes and bakes, cards, art, mosaic ornaments, wooden Christmas decorations, local cider and perry from Llantrissent’s Three Saints Perry and Cider and much more. Refreshments will be available as well as cosmetic treatment for nails and lips and fun activities for children.

Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for the county’s community hubs said: “Usk’s Christmas Market is just one example of how the council’s five hubs can bring people together and support local community activity.”

 Usk’s community hub is based at 35 Maryport Street where there are two car parks nearby.

 For further details contact: Senior Information Assistant Louise Greaves – LouiseGreaves@monmouthshire.gov.uk – 01291 426888 or 07971 828422.

 

Throughout December and January Monmouthshire County Council are hosting a wide range of activities for people of all ages to enjoy during the festive period.

Begin the seasonal fun and frolics with a Party Night at The Shire Hall on Friday 1st December. The evening offers a wide range of options to help as many people to start their festive fun in style. Book a place and prepared to be wowed with a 2 course meal, disco and dancing, price per person £30.00, groups of 10-12 people can book a private dining experience at £40.00 per person or finish off the night with a dance for £10.00 per person. The fun starts at 7pm and dancing will continue till 12.00pm. For more information call the Shire Hall 01600 775257 or visit the website www.shirehallmonmouth.org.uk

Travel back in time for medieval banquet at Caldicot Castle on Saturday 2nd December 7pm-11.30pm. Musicians and singers will be entertaining alongside an array of music, storytelling and sumptuous dining. Contact Caldicot Castle for a truly unique evening: www.caldicotcastle.co.uk

Join the Father Christmas for a lantern parade in Monmouth, on Friday 8th December 6.30pm – 8.00pm. The procession begins outside Handyman House and will progress through town and finish of at the Shire Hall.

There will be carol singing along the way and at the Shire Hall, then Christmas stalls offering great late night shopping until 8pm

Hubs across Monmouthshire will be providing a wide range of activities to connect all members of the community.

A truly festive feast is taking place at Abergavenny Hub on Friday 8th December 11.00am – 2.00pm. The My Day My Life community café will be serving hot turkey rolls and delicious beverages. Local radio station, Able Radio will be providing entertainment and music, the station provides opportunities for people with learning disability to learn new skills and showcase their presenting and producing talents.

Usk Hub Christmas Market takes place on Saturday 2nd December the merriment begins at 10.00am – 3.00pm. Local crafts will be on sale, homemade cakes, and activities for all ages. For more information contact 01291 426888.

Caldicot Hub will be hosting a range of activities in December and January. Children aged 4 years to 8years old can make a range of Christmas Crafts and enjoy a storytelling session on Saturday 9th December, from 10:30 to 11:30am.

On Wednesday 13th December 9:00am to 12:00pm Caldicot Hub presents a Fair Trade Christmas Fayre in partnership with Caldicot Co-Op. Residents are welcomed to sample a mince pie and coffee whilst listening to Christmas Readings which are taking place 10:30 am – 11:30am.

Banish the half term blues with a Lego Workshop which is taking place Wednesday 3rd January from 10:30am to 11:00am at Caldicot Hub for children aged 5 years to 9 years old.

The fantastic Monmouthshire Games is back by popular demand offering children and young people aged 5-12 years the opportunity to meet new friends and keep fit and healthy. The Games commence on Tuesday 2nd January and end on Friday 5th January. Two options are available 9:00am – 3:00pm, £16.00 per day, Monmouthshire Games PLUS offers an extended session starting at 8:00am – 5:00pm for £19.50 per day. For more information visit the website www.monmouthshire.gov.uk to book a place call into a Monmouthshire leisure centre.

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

‘Christmas in Monmouthshire is a magical time for people of all ages. We are so lucky to have such a wide variety of activities and events happening across the county. Hosted in both well-loved historical sites, our hubs and leisure centres and supported by imaginative and dedicated officers. I encourage residents to visit and explore the county in the lead up to the festive season.’

Further activities can be found on the Monmouthshire Family Information Service website at www.monfis.org.uk/christmas-monmouthshire

Representatives of public services organisations across Monmouthshire gathered in Usk today (27th November) to raise awareness of the devastating and far reaching effects of violence against women. The event was organised in conjunction with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, also known as White Ribbon Day, on 25th November.

 The White Ribbon Campaign was created in direct support of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women to encourage men to actively oppose violence to women and girls by pledging their backing and wearing a white ribbon.  It is led by men who are willing to take a stand and be positive role models to other men in the community.

 Among those present were representatives from the South Wales Fire & Rescue Service, the Welsh Ambulance Service, Gwent Police and Monmouthshire County Council, with a selection of their organisations’ vehicles.  Accompanying them were Chief Fire Officer Huw Jakeway of the South Wales Fire & Rescue Service, Chief Inspector David Morgan of Gwent Police and Councillor Peter Fox, the Leader of Monmouthshire County Council.  All lent support to the campaign by displaying written declarations stating why they wanted to end men’s violence against women and by wearing a white ribbon.

 The White Ribbon Campaign focuses on the belief that change will only occur when men accept their responsibility to make changes.  It offers an opportunity for those men who care about the women in their lives to take responsibility to ensure that women live free from violence and fear.  Traditionally, the burden of working towards ending male violence against women has fallen almost entirely on women.

 Councillor Sara Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for equalities said: “I was very impressed by today’s demonstration of support which sends a loud and clear message that violence to women and girls is unacceptable and there is no place for it in twenty-first century society.  We call upon everyone – men and women – to make a stand and speak out about this”.

 Geoffrey Williams of Abergavenny, an emergency medical technician for the Welsh Ambulance Service based in Monmouth added: “Men who attack women are bullies and cowards.”

 In response to the campaign over 350 Monmouthshire County Council vehicles have been branded with the White Ribbon logo as a constant reminder of the important work to end violence against women in society.

 

Carers from across Monmouthshire attended an event this week (Wednesday 22nd November) jointly hosted by the county council and the Monmouthshire Carers Project to mark Carers’ Rights Day.  Held at Usk’s Glen-yr-Afon Hotel, the event raised awareness of the range of services, support and information available to carers as well as acknowledging and thanking carers for the immense contribution they make to society.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for social care and health Councillor Penny Jones opened the day’s programme.  She said: “It’s such a pleasure to attend the Monmouthshire Carers’ Rights Day.  Occasions like these are so important in recognising and supporting our fantastic carers and raising the profile of the work carried out by the council’s carers team and support organisations.  I strongly believe that carers should be visible and we should listen to them as they are an integral part of society.  I would like to thank the team for organising this event.”

The morning was devoted to discussion around the Monmouthshire Carers’ Strategy. The voice of carers from across the county is apparent within the strategy as they played a significant and vital part in the consultation process to create the document. The strategy focuses on eight priorities and the carers’ team provided updates on progress implementing these.

Carers listened to informative presentations about a number of issues they deem important.  Respite is a very important and emotive priority and a number of presentations informed carers about the variety of options available.

Among the speakers providing help and advice were Claire Morgan, Director of Carers Wales and Gareth Howells, Chief Executive Director, Carers Trust SE Wales.

Mike Logan from the council’s Adult Social Care and Beccy Williams from Building Bridges, discussed how their initiative was having a positive impact on the wellbeing of parent carers. The Building Bridges project offers young people with additional needs to become independent and the opportunity to develop new skills, take part in fun activities and meet friends. Parent carers welcome the opportunity to gain valuable free time with the knowledge that their child is happy, having fun and safe.

Other presentations based on the priorities in the plan included information and communication and access to transport.

Huw Jones of the council’s Passenger Transport Unit provided information on Grass Routes, the county’s community transport service.  Grass Routes is operated by volunteer drivers in both Monmouthshire and Newport and provides a service tailored to the needs of the community.

One of the highlights of the day was the presentation of the county’s first Investors in Carers award to Abergavenny’s Tudor Gate surgery.  Gail Johnson received the accolade from Dr Brian Harries, Neighbourhood Care Network Lead for South Monmouthshire.  This follows partnership between the council and the Monmouthshire Carers Project to launch the Investors in Carers programme for surgeries in Monmouthshire.

For further information on the Monmouthshire Carers’ Strategy and to find out about support available for carers contact Carers Services Development Manager, Kim Sparrey – kimsparrey@monmouthshire.gov.uk .

Monmouthshire County Council is providing free weekend parking in Abergavenny, Chepstow and Monmouth in the approach to Christmas.  This will be a welcome boost for the towns’ shops, help remind people of the county’s fantastic range of independent retailers and encourage shoppers to buy locally.  Free Saturday parking will be provided in the three towns on 9th, 16th and 23rd December.

Councillor Bryan Jones, Monmouthshire County Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for the county’s car parks said: “Free weekend parking over the approach to Christmas has been such a success over the past six years that it’s right to repeat it.  It costs the council around £19,000 in lost revenue each year but of course our towns benefit enormously from increased custom in shops and restaurants. And it reminds people what a brilliant range of outlets we have in our towns.”

Monmouthshire’s retail outlets include many long-established family businesses and a variety of local markets offering a wide selection of goods to residents and visitors.  The council will advertise the free parking dates in its car parks and has produced a poster which can be downloaded from the council’s website.

 

An Abergavenny resident was prosecuted by Monmouthshire County Council on 17th November at Newport Magistrates Court for fly-tipping several tons of garden waste on the Blorenge mountainside last May.  Mr Shane Ewers pleaded guilty to two accounts of fly-tipping and carrying controlled waste while unregistered.  Mr Ewers had been interviewed by officers from the council’s environmental health team after evidence found within the waste linked him to the incident and magistrates issued a fine of £200.  They also ordered Mr Ewers to pay the council costs of nearly £2,000.

 Monmouthshire’s cabinet member responsible for environmental health, Councillor Sara Jones said: “This was a very serious incident and a flagrant breach of the law, particularly given the quantity of the waste dumped and the scenic mountainous location.  This prosecution follows new powers recently given to Welsh councils to help tackle fly-tipping, giving council officers the ability to issue fixed penalty notices.  However, the scale of this particular incident did not warrant merely a fixed penalty notice.  While thankfully only a minority of persons offend in this way, this case and other successful prosecutions in recent years demonstrate that we are determined to hold to account persons responsible for these anti–social acts.’’

 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’s Public Service Board welcomes feedback on a number of priorities which have been identified to improve well-being in our communities and make sure that we think about the future. The Well-being Plan consultation is taking place in partnership with all public bodies in Monmouthshire and runs until 7th February 2018.

The plan has been developed to help public services work together and takes a longer-term perspective on some of the most important issues that communities have been telling us about. Across Wales organisations like local councils, health boards, police and housing associations have joined in partnership to form bodies called Public Service Boards (PSB).  Each PSB aims to improve its area’s well-being.

Monmouthshire’s Well-being Plan has been developed using feedback from communities combined with statistics and knowledge of proven practice from other areas to produce a well-being assessment that created a picture of the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of Monmouthshire. In 2016, Monmouthshire’s PSB launched Our Monmouthshire which encouraged people of all ages to share with the PSB the best aspects of their communities and what could improve them.

Using information from the Wellbeing Assessment, PSB partners identified the future challenges and opportunities facing Monmouthshire, a Well-Being Plan was agreed and four key objectives were produced:

 

  • Providing children and young people with the best possible start in life. Having good health, a good education and loving and supportive people in their lives are all crucial for giving children a strong foundation.

 

  • Responding to the challenges associated with demographic change.  Monmouthshire has an ageing population and reducing numbers of young people. Young people struggle to afford to buy a house in the county, and older people have much to contribute through volunteering though they may also need care in the future.

 

  • Protecting and enhancing the resilience of our natural environment while mitigating and adapting to the impact of climate change. The landscape and countryside of Monmouthshire is beautiful and important for tourism, agriculture, recreation, forestry and more, but it needs looking after especially in the face of threats like climate change and other pressures.

 

  • Developing opportunities for communities and businesses to be part of an economically thriving and well-connected county.  Jobs, training and opportunities for all are important, both now and in the future.  For a strong local economy we also need good communications and transport.

 

Chair of the Monmouthshire Public Service Board Paul Matthews said: ‘This is a call to action for you. It will be your families, your villages and towns, your loved ones that are impacted by what is done. We are asking you to join with us and make a contribution. We are asking you to offer back to your communities the things that you are uniquely placed to offer. We are asking you to join with us and help us set a path for this beautiful county as we start to think about the 22nd century. We ask of you no more than you are able and willing to offer. Together we can create the conditions for Monmouthshire to continue to be a place full of ‘sustainable, resilient communities’.

The objectives can only be achieved if public bodies work in partnership with business, the voluntary sector and the wider community. Monmouthshire PSB would like to find out how residents feel and any if they have any ideas to ensure the objectives are met. Community engagement sessions are taking place:

 

  • Monday 27th November        Caldicot Hub     10.30am – 2.30pm
  • Tuesday 28th November       Abergavenny One Stop Shop 10.30am – 1.00pm
  • Tuesday 28th November       Abergavenny Library    1.30pm – 4.00pm
  • Wednesday 29th November  Monmouth Hub 10.30am – 2.30pm
  • Monday 4th December          Chepstow Hub   10.30am – 2.30pm
  • Wednesday 6th December    Usk Hub             10.30am – 2.30pm

 

Engagement will take place with community groups and Town and Community Councils. For more information contact Rhian Cook rhiancook@monmouthshire.gov.uk

For residents unable to attend a drop-in session, the Well-being Plan and a short survey are available via the Monmouthshire County Council website: www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/our-monmouthshire

The PSB welcomes feedback via social media on Twitter @MonmouthshireCC using #ourmonmouthshire – or the Monmouthshire Facebook account. Consultation ends Wednesday 7th February.

 

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.