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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Progress since then has included:

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Scott McKeon from Rusty Shackle commented:

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, go to visitmonmouthshire.gov.uk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For resident information and full details of road closures contact:

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

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

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

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

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

Newport – Monday, 17th July

Monmouth – Wednesday, 26th July

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other facilities include:

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

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

For membership details contact your local centre:

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

 

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

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

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

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

Tickets are available by:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 An impressive effort by our Passenger Transport Unit staff!

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Issued at 6pm, Monday 12th June

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for food hygiene ratings, Councillor Sara Jones said: “The council’s Environmental Health department will always work with food businesses to maintain standards and protect public health.  However, we will not hesitate to use our statutory powers when conditions are found to be poor and businesses have not responded to our advice. Our goal is for all food outlets in Monmouthshire to achieve an acceptable standard of hygiene and aim for excellence.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Verge Advertising Locations

Verge Sponsorship Licencing Agreement

Verge Sponsorship Pricing

Sign Example

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Between 21:20 – 22:00 (approx.)

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

Between 22:10 – 22:50 (approx.)

The closure points will be as follows:

North End closure: Trelleck Road junction.

South End closure: Royal George junction.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

For Social Services emergencies please call 0800 328 4432

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taking the plunge: 9.15am to 12.30pm

Usk – Wednesday, 5th April

Newport – Wednesday, 19th April

Sizing up the market: 9.15am to 1pm

Usk – Thursday, 6th April

Newport – Thursday, 20th April

Winning and keeping customers: 1.15 to 5pm

Usk – Thursday, 6th April

Newport – Thursday, 20th April

Pricing for profit: 9.15am to 1pm

Usk – Friday, 7th April

Newport – Friday, 21st April

Managing your finances: 1.15 to 5pm

Usk – Friday, 7th April

Newport – Friday, 21st April

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 Councillor Greenland has identified four main areas of concern:

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Register online for the garden waste service

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

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

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

Tags:

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

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

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

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

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

644630′.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://twitter.com/MonmouthshireCC

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

 

A £1.2 billion Cardiff Capital Region City Deal that could transform the economy of south-east Wales has been formally ratified during a special ceremony held on St David’s Day.

The Cardiff City Deal will unlock significant economic growth across the Cardiff Capital Region (CCR), which includes the ten local authorities of Cardiff, The Vale of Glamorgan, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Merthyr Tydfil, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Bridgend, Blaenau Gwent, Torfaen and Newport.

The aims of the CCR City Deal are to create jobs and boost economic prosperity by improving productivity, tackle worklessness, build on foundations of innovation, invest in physical and digital infrastructure, provide support for business, and ensure that any economic benefits generated as a result are felt across the region.

The leaders of the ten local authorities within the CCR signed the City Deal document in a ceremony at Cardiff Airport, following universal support from all ten councils for the programme.

The City Deal includes funding of £734m for the South Wales Metro, of which over £500 million is provided by the Welsh Government and £125m from the UK Government .

The UK Government has provided a £375m contribution, and the ten local authorities have agreed a commitment to borrow a combined total of £120million as part of the Wider Investment Fund.

Today’s signing means the Regional Cabinet of the ten authority leaders has come out of Shadow, and the City Deal will enter into a transition phase.

The Cardiff Capital Region Transition Plan will detail key activity to be undertaken, including establishing a Regional Office to drive the delivery of the Regional Cabinet’s work programme in anticipation of receiving proposals. This includes the creation of a bespoke impact assessment model for those proposals.

The transition phase will also see the creation and development of three advisory bodies to the Regional Cabinet – the CCR Economic Growth Partnership, a region-wide business representation organisation and an Employment and Skills Board, and one delivery body, the Regional Transport Authority.

First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones said: “I’m delighted that the landmark £1.2bn Cardiff Capital Region City Deal has been formally ratified.

“The Welsh Government has worked closely with the ten local authorities and the UK Government to negotiate the city deal, which is the first in Wales. The Welsh Government’s contribution of over £500m in funding for the Metro was instrumental in securing the deal. The Metro will be key to delivering our plans to improve transport connectivity and economic prosperity in the region.

“I am pleased that the city region has now reached the stage where it can begin the work of delivering projects that will make a real difference to the economy of the region, and ultimately, to people’s lives.”

Councillor Andrew Morgan, chair of the CCR Regional Cabinet, and Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council, said:

“Today is an historic day for the Cardiff Capital Region.

“Leaders and officers have worked extremely hard over the past 16 months to get the City Deal to this position, particularly in terms of reaching agreement on the governance and accountability of the Regional Cabinet.

“Working with stakeholders, and in particular business, we will bring about an economic and social step-change in the Cardiff Capital Region, through improved transport, supporting innovation, an improved digital network, developing skills, supporting enterprise and business growth, and through housing development and regeneration.

“Our impact assessment modelling will be very important because it will be about more than GVA uplift. We will be looking for tangible social and community improvements as well.”

Leader of Monmouthshire County Council, Cllr Peter Fox OBE added: “This is a key date in the future of the Cardiff Capital Region.  It’s been tremendous to see everyone working in collaboration to agree this City Deal.  I look forward to seeing the development of innovative projects that will improve the lives of people in all our communities and generate sustainable economic growth now and in the future.”

The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William officially launched a new awards programme while visiting Llanfoist Fawr Primary School near Abergavenny on St David’s Day.  The SkillForce Prince William Award is aimed at helping young children between the ages of 6 and 14 develop good character, confidence and resilience.  The programme draws on the expertise and skills of predominantly ex-services personnel who work as SkillForce instructors.

The scheme is delivered in primary and secondary schools to equip children with the skills to succeed in education, life and future employment.  Activities include teamwork challenges, community projects, first aid, outdoor pursuits and an overnight residential stay.

The Prince was greeted in fine weather by children, school staff and members of the local community including Monmouthshire’s Chairman Jim Higginson and the cabinet member for schools and learning, Councillor Liz Hacket Pain.

During the visit, The Duke took part in the award programme activities involving 80 pupils from schools completing the pilot this academic year. The activity sessions included:

  • A hover ball teamwork challenge with pupils from Llanfoist Fawr Primary School.  They were charged with transporting a ball to safety while imagining it was a radioactive cell.  The pupils had to re-start the challenge if the ball fell off the transporter.  The task tests cooperation, discipline, self-control, problem-solving and resilience skills.
  • A ‘monster storm’ trust-based challenge with students from Caldicot School involving students imagining they were on an overnight hike, and setting up a tent wearing blindfolds to simulate darkness.  One member of the team without a blindfold directed others constructing the tent.  The task tests trust and leadership skills.

Jon Murphy, Headteacher of Llanfoist Fawr Primary School said: “We are honoured to host the launch of the Prince William Award programme which prepares our pupils with the skills they will need to succeed in education and adult life.  We have seen huge benefits from taking part in the pilot this year.  Our pupils have greater self-confidence, independence, problem-solving and listening skills, and attendance has improved.  Our pupils can barely contain their excitement at meeting Prince William and demonstrating some of the skills they have developed.”

Susan Gwyer-Roberts, Headteacher of Caldicot School and a SkillForce ambassador, said: “Caldicot School has been a long-standing supporter of SkillForce, and so it is incredibly exciting for us to meet Prince William.  The charity’s work is transformational, and the instructors are great role models.  We’ve seen students previously shy and wary of speaking up willing to give a group talk and others who were lacking in self-belief succeeding in ways they didn’t think were possible.  SkillForce inspires our students to persevere and succeed, and we are proud to be part of the Prince William Award pilot this year.”

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for schools and learning, County Councillor Liz Hacket Pain added: “Meeting Prince William meant it was a day to remember for the children at Llanfoist who have participated in the Skillforce programme.  SkillForce is noted for its many excellent schemes and I’m delighted that pupils have benefited from their contact with the charity.  The knowledge and experience gained is a sound investment towards the children’s future and I thank the SkillForce personnel and school staff for their inspiration and commendable involvement.”

Monmouthshire County Council’s latest membership promotion to be launched on Wednesday 1st March offers twelve month’s membership for the price of nine.  Membership includes gym, swimming, exercise classes and sauna facilities.  Visit www.monleisure.co.uk for details.

 Meanwhile, a generous gesture by a winner of Monmouthshire County Council’s most recent leisure promotion prize draw has benefited a local charity.

 Robert Haines of Caldicot won a television when he joined Caldicot Leisure Centre last December and has donated it to Newport-based charity Sparkle.  Sparkle helps children and young people from Gwent with disability of developmental difficulties.

 Manager of Caldicot Leisure Centre Helen Dymond said: “Our December promotion to join the leisure centre for a year with one month for free offered the chance to win a new 32 inch TV.  Lucky winner Mr Haines was presented with his prize just before Christmas and we have since heard that he and his family have decided to donate the TV to Sparkle.  This is a great gift for the charity and a lovely thing for the Haines family to do.”

 Mr Haines added: “Sparkle is an excellent charity that carries out fantastic work.”

 

Happy St David’s Day! Pupils at Llanfoist School have welcomed a special visitor Prince William the Duke of Cambridge popped in to the school to meet the pupils and staff.

 

 

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 1st March            Between 21:45 – 22:15 (approx)

Thursday 2nd March               Between 10:00 – 10:40 (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 is celebrating news that its recycling service provides the best value net cost of any local authority in Wales.

According to a report from the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) which has analysed waste finance data for financial year 2015/16, the cost of Monmouthshire’s household waste service per tonne is £89 – considerably lower than any other Welsh authority and well below the Welsh average of £147 per tonne.  The figures include dry recycling, food waste and green waste collected from the kerbside and taken to household waste recycling centres as well as residual waste.  Costs include collection, transfer, treatment and disposal.

Meanwhile the council’s own figures indicate that it’s on course to beat its target to recycle and compost 66% of the county’s waste in the 2016/17 financial year.  The council’s performance in the first three quarters of the year has exceeded the target and Head of Waste & Street Services Rachel Jowitt believes that the final quarter will follow suit.  She said: “I’d like to thank residents for their contribution towards these impressive results.  It’s largely down to their hard work that we’re able to deliver such a good service.”

Monmouthshire cabinet member with responsibility for recycling and waste, Councillor Bryan Jones added: “These figures from the WLGA and our own statistics demonstrate that our recycling and waste service is heading in the right direction.  As well as recycling waste at a remarkable rate we are providing a service effectively and efficiently.  I warmly thank the county’s residents for their role in helping us to reach this position.”

Local charity Usk Park Project has met its fundraising target, generating over £120,000 to install new play equipment in the town.  The charity is working with Monmouthshire County Council to design and build a new play area adjacent to the Millennium Hall and Centenary Hall this summer.  The fundraising efforts of community groups, local businesses, residents and organisations complimented with a Big Lottery Fund grant of £100,000 is making the project possible.

Usk Park Project was set up three years ago by a group of Usk local parents passionate about improving play opportunities for the children of the town, whatever their needs and abilities.  Usk Park Project is a registered charity with an aim to provide a destination National Equipped Area of Play (NEAP) that is free, accessible, safe and welcoming.  Through a range of community events and surveys Usk Project Project has worked with children and parents to design a wonderful new play area.  Monmouthshire County Council is supporting the group by providing the land and administering funding as well as procuring and installing new equipment.  It will also be responsible for the maintenance of the park.

Naomi Horsley, Chair of Usk Park Project said: “I am thrilled that, after three years of hard work from all involved, the children of Usk and the surrounding area will enjoy a new park this summer. Families will love socialising in this fun and inspiring place that has been designed with our children.  A huge thank you to everyone who has helped us over the last three years including our amazing volunteers, Big Lottery Fund, Monmouthshire County Council, community groups, residents and local businesses.  Everyone has been incredibly generous it’s totally overwhelming – we really do have a wonderful community here in Usk.”

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

Cllr Phil Hobson, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for community development added: “This is a wonderful example of how Monmouthshire’s communities work together to make it an even better place to live.  This project will enable residents to enjoy an imaginative, exciting and inclusive park accessible to all.  The town will benefit from the creation of a ‘destination park’ that attracts people into the town to benefit local businesses.”

Young people aged 11- 16 from Monmouthshire’s county youth forum Engage2Change gave up a day of their well-earned half term to hear from councillors and share the importance of involvement in democracy.  The session held at County Hall on Monday 20th February provided an opportunity for young people to question, listen, challenge and find out more about the political process and local parties.  Breaghanna McMahon (16), Chair of Engage2Change led the day and encouraged young people to partake fully.

Interim Chief Officer for Children and Young People, Will McLean provided an informative and much welcomed overview of democracy and the history of politics while county councillors Peter Fox, Roger Harris, Debbie Blakebrough and Phil Hobson talked about their parties and what each one stood for.  Following the session, young people were encouraged to ask questions and challenge councillors about what they had heard.

Some of the issues that emerged were: Votes at 16, how LGBT has an impact on political parties and Brexit.  Youngest participant Anna Langdon aged 11 posed the question ‘Is first past the post fair?’ creating a lively discussion among the panel.

Workshops examined how schools, the local authority and community groups can inspire more young people to vote.  Excellent ideas provided a valuable insight into how democracy and the democratic process can become more appealing to young people.

A key message was that of taking responsibility and how young people can make a difference now and in the future by becoming involved in their communities.  Cllr. Roger Harris, chairman of the Monmouthshire Labour Group said: “Its’ down to you! You are our future, you can make a difference.”  This was echoed by all present.

Council Leader Peter Fox said: “The day has been a fantastic opportunity for young people to be involved in finding out more about democracy.  I am a firm believer in enabling young people to have their voices heard.  Today has been led entirely by the youth forum and is just one of the many ways young people are able to have their voices heard”.

For more information about Engage2Change contact Jade Atkins: Charlie-JadeAtkins@monmouthshire.gov.uk

Usk’s Community Hub in Maryport Street will host a St David’s Day country market on Wednesday 1st March and all money raised will support people with sight loss.  The event will run from 9.30am to 12noon.

Market stalls will sell cakes, jam, preserves, flowers and plants as well as tea, coffee and freshly-made Welsh cakes.  Handmade crocheted daffodil brooches will also be on sale.

In addition, a representative from RNIB Cymru will offer advice for people with sight loss to use laptops, tablets, smartphones and e-readers and conduct a demonstration of associated products.

Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for the county’s community hubs said: “Usk’s St David’s Day country market is a great example of how the council’s five hubs can bring people together to benefit a good cause and support local community activity.”

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

Monmouthshire County Council will hold a public meeting in Chepstow to discuss the future of the town’s (TIC).  The meeting will take place at 10am on Monday 27th February in the offices of Chepstow Town Council and will feature the council’s proposals to sustain the service.

Extensive consultation and the large number of people who have engaged on the future of Chepstow TIC indicate strong support for the retention of the service in the town.  What that might look like, as well as how it may be funded and made sustainable have been at the heart of the discussions.

Councillor Bob Greenland. Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for tourism said: “All who have an interest in the continuation of the tourist information service in Chepstow are urged to attend.  Now it is decision time. We need to agree how we can collectively sustain this service.”

 The town council offices are in The Gatehouse, High Street, Chepstow NP16 5LH.

Staff at Monmouthshire’s community hubs and libraries are to survey adult customers during the week beginning Monday 6th March to discover what they think of their local library service.  The Public Library Service Survey gives customers an opportunity to suggest improvements and will only take a few moments to complete.

 The Public Library User Survey is a national model employed every three years and Monmouthshire’s community hubs and libraries used it recently to find out what children thought of the service.  Results will be published soon.

 Monmouthshire’s community hubs and libraries offer a wide range of free services with opportunities to read the latest bestsellers, rediscover old favourites or ask knowledgeable staff what to read next.  Some hubs host reading, shared reading and knit and natter groups, and help with family history research is also available.

 Customers can also use the free online service, available at all times, to download e-books, audio books, magazines, comics and graphic novels.  The council’s community hubs and libraries also subscribe to online information resources which include old newspapers, dictionaries and encyclopaedias.

 Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for community hubs said: “The opinions of Monmouthshire’s hub customers are very important to us and I urge them to take this opportunity to make their feelings known. When we know their views we can review the service and consider how it may be improved.”

 Monmouthshire’s library service is delivered through community hubs in Abergavenny, Caldicot, Chepstow, Monmouth and Usk, as well as at Gilwern Library.  For further information on the Public Library Service Survey, contact Fiona Ashley – FionaAshley@monmouthshire.gov.uk – or 01633 644906.

 

Fairtrade Town groups in Abergavenny, Chepstow, Monmouth and Usk are asking local communities to support the drive for much-needed change to benefit farmers in developing countries.  Fairtrade Fortnight 2017 takes place from Monday 27th February to 12th March and the Fairtrade Foundation’s campaign theme proclaims; “It’s Time to put Fairtrade in Your Break.

 A refreshing cuppa or a snack is an important part of our daily routine, yet millions of farmers providing tea, coffee, chocolate and other products are struggling to make a living.  However hard they work, their pay falls short of what they deserve and consequently they’re unable to provide decent food, education or healthcare for their families or invest in better farming.  Local Fairtrade groups will join forces with the rest of the country to help ensure a fair deal by holding lots of Fairtrade breaks around the county.

 Ruth Prince of the Usk Fairtrade Group said: “The food on our tables as well as the tea and coffee in our mugs, all come from farmers who work hard but are not paid what they deserve.  Whether in the UK or in Malawi, no one deserves to be short-changed for a hard day’s work.  When we reach for the cheapest products, we may be unconsciously feeding exploitation.  We become part of the problem, but we can make a conscious choice to be part of the solution and support trade that is fair.

 “We need everyone in the community to get behind farmers and their families this Fairtrade Fortnight.  Choose Fairtrade when you next shop, ask your local store to stock Fairtrade products or come along to one of our events and find out more.”

 Councillor Phil Hobson, Monmouthshire County Council’s cabinet member for sustainability said: “Farmers get a better deal when they sell their crops on Fairtrade terms.  This leads to a higher and more stable income and can help them break the cycle of poverty in which they’re trapped.  Through Fairtrade, farmers can invest in better farming and earn more money, ensuring their children are fed and can go to school.  Communities can invest in clean water and clinics, improving everyone’s health.

 “The support of Monmouthshire’s Fairtrade Town Groups is vital in building awareness and helping the world’s poorest farmers get a fair deal.”

 The council has been central to Monmouthshire’s status as a Fairtrade County, and to mark the campaign a Fairtrade flag will be flown at County Hall over the two weeks.  The council will also hold a Fairtrade sale for staff at its Usk headquarters on Wednesday 8th March, and there will be a series of displays and events in the county’s community hubs.

 

FAIRTRADE FORTNIGHT EVENTS IN MONMOUTHSHIRE

Sun 19th Feb to Sun 5th March

Window display

High Street, Abergavenny

 

Mon 27th Feb to Sun 12th March

Opening hours

Fairtrade display with samples to give away on two days

Monmouth Hub

 

Mon 27th Feb

9am

Fairtrade school assembly

Ysgol Y Fenni

 

Tues 28th Feb

10am

Fairtrade flag raising

County Hall, Usk

 

Tues 28th Feb

10am -12noon

Coffee morning and Fairtrade stall

Methodist Church Hall, Abergavenny

 

Tues 28th Feb

12.30-2pm

Shrove Tuesday Pancake Lunch and Fairtrade Stall

Methodist Church Hall, Abergavenny

 

Thurs 2nd  March

10.30am -12 noon

Coffee morning and Fairtrade Stall

Christchurch Community Hall, North Street, Abergavenny

 

Thurs 2nd March

2.30 to 4pm

Fairtrade Town 10th Birthday Tea Party

Chepstow Methodist Church Hall

Entry £2 for tea and homemade cake

 

Fri 3rd March

2-4pm

Women’s World Day of Prayer and Fairtrade Stall

Methodist Church, Castle Street, Abergavenny

 

Sat 4th March

10am to 1pm

Fairtrade Stall

Usk Farmers Market

 

Sat 4th March

10am to 2pm

Fairtrade coffee morning, with stalls selling fairly traded products from Oxfam, Love Zimbabwe + Tools for Self Reliance Cymru

Monmouth Priory

 

Sat 4th March

3-5pm

Celebratory Tea Party

Abergavenny Community Centre

 

Tues 7th March

12-12.30pm

Service with Fairtrade focus

Methodist Church, Castle Street, Abergavenny

 

Tues 7th March

10-12 noon

Abergavenny Baptist Coffee morning and Fairtrade stall

Abergavenny Baptist Church

 

Tues 7th March

10am to 2pm

Fairtrade Stall

Caldicot Hub

 

Wed 8th March

12 to 2pm

Fairtrade Stall

County Hall, Usk

 

Thurs 9th March

10am to 2pm

Fairtrade Stall

Chepstow Hub

 

Thurs 9th March

10am to 2pm

Fairtrade Stall

Usk Hub

 

Friday 10th March

7pm

“Fairtrade under Fire in Palestine” talk by Cathi Pawson, Zaytoun Communications Director. Zaytoun works to develop the UK market for Palestinian produce.  Fairtrade for Palestinian farming families provides an income and offers a voice to communities isolated by the restrictions of the Israeli occupation.

Monmouth Priory

Tickets £5 to include wine or a soft Fairtrade drink and Palestinian and local nibbles. Tickets at the door + Madeleine’s, Beaufort Court

 

Sat 11th March

10-12 noon

Fairtrade Coffee morning

Abergavenny Library

 

Sat 11th March

12 to 2pm

Fairtrade soup lunch and stall selling Oxfam Fairtrade produce

St Mary’s RC Church, St Mary’s Street, Monmouth

 

 

 

Monmouthshire County Council is appealing for parents and carers of children interred within Llanfoist Cemetery to get in touch if they haven’t already heard from the council.

 The council is improving the appearance of the area dedicated to graves of deceased children and stillborn babies by temporarily storing personal tributes and memorials, removing the turf, laying a weed-suppressant membrane and infilling with decorative stone.  Once this work is completed the items will be returned to their original positions.  Care will be taken to prevent any damage to existing headstones.

 This work will create a more attractive setting as currently many of the graves look very untidy.  Grass and weeds growing among the items cannot be cut back effectively and efficiently or to a satisfactory standard.

 The council wrote to parents and carers last November to notify that this work will go ahead in mid-March and has asked them to remove personal items while the operation is carried out.  Any items remaining will be removed and stored carefully.

 However, the council is aware that it has been unable to reach all parents and carers of those interred so it has asked them to contact its Cemeteries Officer, Rhian Jackson: rhianjackson@monmouthshire.gov.uk or 01873 735852/ 07920 087861.

 Council Leader Peter Fox said: “While we recognise that this is an emotive issue, all the parents who have contacted us are in favour of our plans to improve the appearance of the cemetery.  Once the work is complete items such as teddies, toys, ornaments and free-standing tributes can be replaced.  However fencing or fixed memorials, other than those granted a permit, will not be allowed as well as items that breach or penetrate the membrane.  Where items of this nature are found they will be removed.”

 Contact Rhian Jackson to discuss any aspect associated with the council’s proposals.

 

Monmouthshire County Council has expressed concern over today’s Welsh Government announcement of the additional £10m to be made available to support small businesses hit by the proposed business rates rise.  Astronomic rises for some businesses are proposed by the revaluation of business rates across the country to take effect from April.  This new fund supplements the existing £10m fund that has been running for some time. 

 Nearly 15,000 shops, restaurants and pubs in Welsh high streets will benefit from the rate relief scheme but Councillor Bob Greenland, Deputy Leader with responsibility for enterprise has questioned what constitutes a high street.  In addition, he has questioned whether the new funding will focus on those businesses adversely affected by the recent revaluations.

 Councillor Greenland said: “News of the Welsh Government scheme to help those severely affected by the revaluation in business rates is filtering through.  Further clarity is needed, but from what we know already it is clear this is not going to bring much help to the many businesses in the county that this revaluation will put in jeopardy.  I have asked to meet with business leaders from our towns as soon as possible.  By then we should have a clearer picture of the details of the scheme.  The council will not stand back and see businesses go to the wall.  The diversity of small independent shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants is the lifeblood of our towns.”

 The council has already taken action over the massive hikes in business rate revaluations.  In December it urged the Welsh Government to postpone its draft proposals and has worked with the local business community and has discussed the matter with senior officials of the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) at County Hall.

 The new rateable values are based on the rental value of properties at 1st April 2015, reflecting changes in the property market across the country since the last revaluation came into force in 2010 based on 2008 rental values.

 

Abergavenny Bus Station is due be closed from 5pm on Saturday 25th February and the whole of the next day to allow the crane at the McCarthy and Stone development to be removed.  The bus station will reopen and operate as normal on Monday 27th February.

On Sunday 26th February buses will pick up and drop off passengers in the neighbouring car park. Signs are displayed at the bus station to notify travellers of the temporary closure. The Oasis Sandwich bar will remain open throughout the closure on Sunday 26th February and free parking will be available in the neighbouring car park.

The removal of the crane will take place if weather is good and conditions are safe if there any changes regarding the closure, the public will be informed.

Councillor Bryan Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for operations said: “We apologise for any inconvenience but we’re aware that bus services within and to the town are much reduced on Sundays so we believe that this necessary procedure will cause few problems.”

 

Contact Monmouthshire’s Car Park Manager Amanda Perrin – amandaperrin@monmouthshire.gov.uk – for further details.

Abergavenny’s double Olympic medal winner Becky James unveiled a community information screen in her home town today. Becky was accompanied by the Chairman of Monmouthshire County Council, Councillor Jim Higginson and the Mayor of Abergavenny, Councillor Chris Woodhouse.

The switching on of Abergavenny’s digital information screen is believed to be the first time a local authority in Wales has used such a medium. It will improve the ability of Monmouthshire County Council to communicate directly with communities and provide county-wide and local news.

County Councillor Geoff Burrows, the council’s cabinet member for social care, safeguarding and health said: “Digital information boards are widely used in countries like France and are a very effective way of getting messages across. This will benefit people who tend not to have access to traditional methods of communication and it will assist in providing help to receive local services.”

Two more information boards are planned for Abergavenny at a later stage and it is hoped to introduce similar facilities in other Monmouthshire towns. Information will not be limited to council events, advice and news – local organisations, other public services and businesses will also enjoy access.

 

We understand that there has been a great deal of concern expressed on social media about the roll out of the new policy that controls street furniture (A-boards, displays, tables and chairs). It may be that the purpose behind the policy has been lost in the conversation so we would like to offer more information.

The highway authority (Monmouthshire County Council) is responsible for providing a safe and unhindered route for pedestrians along the pavements and open spaces of the public highway. At present no businesses displaying A-boards, displays, coffee tables, chairs etc. have formal permission to place these items in the street. As such, the business is at risk if someone is injured should they trip or fall over and the highways authority is also at risk for allowing it to happen. Our scheme works with each business to agree where their A-boards, displays etc. may be placed, assuming we can provide a safe route for pedestrians, and provide them with a license to do so, authorising that street furniture can be placed in the street. The business can then display its permit and that confirms that the council approves its siting in the ‘public highway’ (the roads, pavements, open areas etc. – accepting that some open spaces are actually owned privately).

Before introducing the scheme there was a lot of research into what other councils do and consultation with various groups, including chambers of commerce – this type of scheme is quite typical nowadays rather than the old blanket policy.

Why is there a charge? This scheme requires us to work with individual businesses and provide individual permits. This is much more time-consuming than the old policy (which would have required many displays, A-boards etc. being removed) so a one-off charge (not annual) of £50 is reasonable. There is a higher charge for displays and coffee tables but these do offer businesses a greater sales opportunity over and above advertising. The scheme is intended to support businesses while the council maintains its responsibilities to provide a safe environment in the public highway. We appreciate that this comes alongside revaluations to business rates but this is outside of Mon CC’s control although members are lobbying to see what help can be gained for our local businesses.

 

Older people from across Monmouthshire who visit Mardy Park in Abergavenny had a visit from some tiny tots from the Flying Start project at the Acorn Centre on St Valentine’s Day 14th February. Babies, toddlers and their parents visited the centre to socialise and engage with older people living with dementia who access day services.

The day of love was an opportunity for everyone to have fun together, making new memories and benefit from shared experiences. Everyone celebrated their love for their community by coming together to make Valentine crafts and singing, dancing and storytelling.

The Tiny Visitors group regularly attend Mardy Park; a community wellbeing hub for health, social care services and community groups primarily focussed on supporting local people aged 55 and over.

Tiny Visitors is a group made up of parents, babies and toddlers aged between 0-3 years of age who attend Flying Start.  Flying Start is a Welsh Government programme to improve the life chances of children aged 0 to 3 in targeted areas of Wales.

Beth Watkins Flying Start Manager said: “We love bringing our children and parents to Mardy Park. Intergenerational work such as this is so beneficial to the children parents and the older people.  To see the smiles on their faces from a simple activity such as singing emphasises that it this activity is essential to the wellbeing of all involved.”

Flying Start Monmouthshire would like to expand on the intergenerational links with communities and are currently looking for volunteers to help out in Monmouth, Caldicot and Chepstow. Volunteers will enhance the work of the programme. Volunteers will provide additional life skills with staff, parents and the children they support. From sharing stories and books to helping little ones learn gardening skills in the great outdoors. For more information contact Beth Watkins, phone 01873 856162 07810055815 or email bethwatkins@monmouthshire.gov.uk

Geoff Burrows Cabinet Officer for Health and Social Care said: “It’s magical to watch everyone having fun together, making new memories and benefiting from the shared experience. This is an example of one of many fantastic creative projects within Monmouthshire that takes an intergenerational approach to keeping the community alive and well.”

Caldicot’s Durand Primary School has successfully achieved the Healthy Schools National Quality Award – a Welsh Government scheme managed by Public Health Wales.  It is only the second 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 at Durand Primary 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.  Opportunities for physical activity and play have been widely encouraged while key messages on food choices have reinforced the move towards a healthy lifestyle.

Pupils’ involvement in decision-making is given high priority and many have taken the opportunity to become involved in the school council and eco-committee as well as becoming junior road safety officers, playground buddies, sports ambassadors and healthy school official helpers.  Pupils’ views are sought through suggestions boxes and contributions to school evaluations.

 In addition, Durand Primary School offers excellent outdoor areas to support and encourage physical activity.  These include a forest school, raised beds, greenhouse and planting areas, wildlife area, meadow, playground facilities, open spaces and covered areas.

Councillor Liz Hacket Pain, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for schools and learning said: “Durand Primary School richly deserves this award as staff and pupils have committed themselves to a culture that promotes physical, mental and social health.”

 Headteacher Allison Waters added: “I am delighted that we have achieved this prestigious award.  I am very proud as this has been a real team effort with everybody involved in our school working together. The well-being of pupils and staff is of the utmost importance to us here at Durand Primary School.”

 

Monmouthshire County Council’s New Car Parking Order will  come into effect on 17 March 2017

Please see attached documentation explaining the changes

Notice

Off Street Parking Places Order 2017

Off Street Parking Places Order 2017-Plans

Schedule

StatementofReasons2016doc

 

Abergavenny’s double Olympic medal winner Becky James will unveil a community information screen in her home town on Friday 17th February. Becky will be accompanied at the unveiling – to take place at 10.30am on High Street near the market building – by the Chairman of Monmouthshire County Council, Councillor Jim Higginson and the Mayor of Abergavenny, Councillor Chris Woodhouse.

The switching on of Abergavenny’s digital information screen is believed to be the first time a local authority in Wales has used such a medium. It will improve the ability of Monmouthshire County Council to communicate directly with communities and provide county-wide and local news.

County Councillor Geoff Burrows, the council’s cabinet member for social care, safeguarding and health said: “Digital information boards are widely used in countries like France and are a very effective way of getting messages across. This will benefit people who tend not to have access to traditional methods of communication and it will assist in providing help to receive local services.”

 Two more information boards are planned for Abergavenny at a later stage and it is hoped to introduce similar facilities in other Monmouthshire towns. Information will not be limited to council events, advice and news – local organisations, other public services and businesses will also enjoy access.