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.