Monmouthshire County Council’s lettings service will offer its unique knowledge and guidance to a range of towns across the county during June and July. Monmouthshire Letting Service (MLS), which prides itself on providing a ‘no fee hassle free’ lettings experience, hopes to encourage more landlords to sign up to the service.

Monmouthshire Letting Service (MLS) is a letting agency with a difference where both landlord and tenant are listened to and valued equally. The team have a breadth of experience and are eager to offer advice and support to help landlords with the daunting journey of letting out a home.

The friendly team can help landlords get the best tenants for their properties. MLS offers free quarterly property inspections, a non-emergency repairs service, out of hours emergency call out and guaranteed rental payments.

A payment of up to £1,500 is available for landlords willing to offer longer periods of settled accommodation. The team hope that this will increase the number of properties available for households who struggle to find accommodation in their home communities.

The team will be on hand to talk to landlords at the following locations:
• Tuesday 19th June 9.30am – 2.00pm Abergavenny Market
• Friday 22nd June 9.30am – 2.00pm Monmouth Market
• Tuesday 26th June 9.30am – 2.00pm Caldicot Market
• Thursday 28th June 10.30am – 2.00pm Chepstow, Beaufort Square
• Tuesday 3rd July 9.30am – 2.00pm Abergavenny Market
• Friday 6th July 9.30am – 2.00pm Monmouth Market
• Tuesday 10th July 9.30am– 2.00pm Caldicot Market
• Thursday 12th July 10.30am – 2.00pm Chepstow Market
• Tuesday 17th July 9.30am – 2.00pm Abergavenny Market
• Friday 20th July 9.30am – 2.00pm Monmouth Market
• Tuesday 24th July 9.30am – 2.00pm Caldicot Market
• Thursday 26th July 10.30am – 2.00pm Chepstow, Beaufort Square

County Councillor Bob Greenland, cabinet member with responsibility for housing said: “Landlords with properties in Monmouthshire looking for a no fee, hassle-free lettings experience should go along and talk to the team at MLS. I encourage landlords to seek advice and sign up to the Monmouthshire Lettings Service. We need to enable people of all ages to stay within the county and this is a great opportunity for landlords to help communities stay together.”

For more details on the service offered by MLS contact Lindsay Stewart on 01291 635713 or email: mls@monmouthshire.gov.uk.

 

A Caldicot primary school has participated in a project to encourage families to help their children to be a healthy weight through healthy eating and physical activity. The project, organised by partners from Monmouthshire’s healthy schools scheme, sports development team and school health nursing service aims to promote a happy, healthy start in life for children.

All children at Dewstow Primary School have participated in cookery sessions overseen by experienced food technology teacher Richard Shaw of Cooking Together, an organisation that works with all age groups.  It demonstrates how eating healthily can be affordable, interesting and fun.  In addition, an emphasis is placed on safety, hygiene and well-being.  The food prepared at Dewstow ranged from rainbow couscous salad, sunshine pasta salad and fruit muffins to fruity crumble flapjacks, crunchy coleslaw, lunchbox pizzas and healthy wraps.

Headteacher Gill Bray said: “We encourage all of our children to eat healthily, take part in physical activity and to play.  We value the importance of working with our families and know that when our children are happy they are more able to play and learn together.”

The healthy cookery sessions have run over four days during the summer term, including cookery sessions for parents. The two workshops for parents held on Wednesday 6th June centred on healthy lunchboxes for children and “me size” meals – a reference to suitable portions for individuals.

A focus has also been placed on exercise at Dewstow with Monmouthshire’s sports development team training all Year 2 pupils to become Foundation Friends, a new programme set to be established more widely in Monmouthshire.  These pupils offer support to their class colleagues to play games and be physically active as well as being a positive role model for younger pupils in the school.  Dewstow Primary has also embraced the Year 5 Playmaker programme and has two Young Ambassadors in Year 6 to ensure wellbeing is established throughout the school.

Councillor Richard John, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for children and young people said: “A balanced diet and exercise don’t solely impact on physical health – they have a direct effect on a young person’s ability to learn.  Pupils who eat healthily and are active are more focused and more likely to achieve in school.”

For further information visit:

 

 

 

 

 

 

A partnership between Monmouthshire County Council, the Gwent Association of Voluntary Organisations, carers, third sector bodies and the health board is to celebrate the vital contribution made by the county’s carers.  The Monmouthshire Carers Project will mark Carers Week (11th – 17th June) with a series of events including information stands and drop-in sessions at surgeries, a coffee with cake morning, spa sessions, a foraging walk and a concert featuring comedian Owen Money.

Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlighting the challenges carers face and acknowledging their contribution to families and communities throughout the UK.  Carers provide many hours of unpaid care so relatives, friends or neighbours can live at home for as long as possible.  Many have given up paid employment to provide support, with some on permanent call.  They look after people with a wide variety of illnesses and disabilities including learning disabilities, physical health problems, dementia, mental illness and autism as well as drug and alcohol addiction.  Carers accumulate valuable knowledge about those they care for so medical and other professionals can use it to inform assessments.

The Monmouthshire Carers Project has organised the following events during Carers Week:

Monday 11th June

  • Vauxhall Surgery, Chepstow (10am to 12noon) – carers drop-in surgery
  • St Pierre Hotel, Chepstow – pamper sessions for carers

Tuesday 12th June

  • Grayhill Surgery, Caldicot (10am to 12noon) and Trellech Surgery (2pm to 4pm) – carers drop-in surgeries
  • Cwrt Bleddyn Hotel, Llangybi: pamper sessions for carers

Wednesday 13th June

  • Plas Derwen Hotel, Abergavenny – carers coffee morning

Thursday 14th June

  • Forest Coal Pit, Abergavenny – foraging walk,

Friday 15th June

  • Monmouth – “Owen Money and the Wrinklies”

Heléna Herklots CBE, on behalf of Carers Week, said: “It’s fantastic to see so many events taking place across the country to support local carers.  Carers Week is an opportunity for organisations to join our calls to keep carers healthy and connected.  We know that carers often put their own needs to the ‘back of the queue’, often delaying doctor’s appointments or breaks from caring which could help them stay well.  So, whether through work, the community, school or university, at home, or among friends, we all have a role to play in helping carers access the support they need to look after their own physical and mental health this Carers Week.”

Monmouthshire County Council supports the roles and needs of carers in a number of ways through its carers’ team comprising four staff and a co-ordinator.  A recent example is when many carers said they struggled to provide continence care so the council arranged a well-attended half day training event, attracting lots of positive feedback.

Meanwhile, the Monmouthshire Carers’ Project has created two strategies – for adults and for young carers – both influenced and informed by local carers at specially arranged events.  The project encourages carers to keep in touch by registering for a bi-annual newsletter listing events, training and updates on legislation, discounted access to leisure, and much more.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for Social Care, Safeguarding and Health, Councillor Penny Jones said: “We’re pleased to participate in this year’s Carers Week celebrations and acknowledge the vital role of carers.  We will continue to work closely to offer our full support to those who unstintingly care for others.”

For further information about Monmouthshire’s carers’ strategy contact Kim Sparrey  (07971 603110). For information on local Carers Week events contact: Tracey Davies, GAVO, 01633 241553.

Monmouthshire County Council is taking steps to reduce the unnecessary use of plastic.  The council’s Strong Communities Select Committee met recently and heard from officers and plastic-free community groups based in Abergavenny, Chepstow and Monmouth about the damage that single-use plastics inflict on the environment, in addition to blighting communities with litter.

The committee has recommended that the council should agree to work towards accreditation as one of the first plastic-free counties, endorsed by environmental charity Surfers against Sewage.  The next meeting of the county council is on Thursday 21st June.

The committee has proposed that Monmouthshire County Council will:

  • Make a commitment to work toward plastic-free status
  • Review its own use of single-use plastics and take steps to identify and reduce unnecessary use of plastic
  • Support voluntary and community action to reduce plastic use and undertake such activities as litter picks
  • Work with schools, businesses and other partners to reduce plastic use
  • Work with organisers of events on council property to reduce single-use plastics to a minimum (and ensure that effective recycling for necessary plastics is in place)
  • Participate in meetings to support and co-ordinate plastic-free activities across the county.

A huge increase in interest in reducing the use of single-use plastics has been sparked recently, not least by shocking scenes of maritime contamination shown on the BBC’s Blue Planet series.  Single-use plastics use precious fossil fuels, take hundreds of years to break down, injure wildlife on land and at sea, blight the landscape, block drains and cost heavily to buy, clear up and dispose of.

As well as work at national government level in Wales and the UK, and in supermarkets and the packaging industry, much is happening locally.  Plastic-free community groups have started across Monmouthshire this year, and all report huge levels of support from the public.  These enthusiastic volunteers are working with local businesses, town councils, schools and others to reduce plastic use in their communities.

The county council has begun discussions about purchases from catering suppliers and how it can reduce the use of disposable plastic items.  It has also approached other partners.  For example, Coleg Gwent, which shares a site with the council in Usk, has committed to reducing plastic use in its canteens.

Chair of the Strong Communities Select Committee, Councillor Jane Pratt said: “It is great to hear about the passion and hard work in our towns to tackle this important issue.  It’s vital that the council and community groups work closely in partnership to maximise their efforts to reduce plastic use in the county.”

Monmouthshire’s youth service team is organising an early July summer camp for Year 9 pupils at Chepstow and Caldicot Schools. A full day on a site at the edge of the Black Mountains will introduce young people to camping, walking and activities like archery and woodland skills.  Following an evening meal, the children will enjoy opportunities to relax, including an open air cinema, before camping overnight.  They will depart the next morning.

Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for youth said: “The camp will enable youngsters to develop their independence and teamwork ability, while enjoying challenging and fun sessions.  It will also give pupils a chance to experience some of the activities likely to feature if they sign up for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.”

The majority of the camp will be spent on site but the children will participate in walking the surrounding countryside.

For more information on the Monmouthshire Youth Service, log onto: www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/education-services/youth-service

Monmouthshire County Council worked in partnership with other public bodies to hold a dog fouling awareness day recently.  The council’s environmental health and waste & street cleaning teams, as well as town and community councils and the police continue to raise awareness of the anti-social nature of fouling through the Give Dog Fouling the Red Card initiative.

This latest awareness day focused on the south of the county, and in particular Caldicot, Portskewett, Magor and Rogiet, with council and police officers, local councillors and residents discussing the matter with dog owners, handing out free dog poo bags and erecting signs.

Similar awareness events have been held in recent years and efforts appear to be appreciated, judging by feedback from dog walkers encountered.  Dog fouling though continues to be one of the most frequently reported and contentious environmental issues and while the areas visited were generally clean, hotspots still remain.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for environmental health, Councillor Sara Jones said: “We appreciate the notable improvements in many areas of the county in recent years with more and more dog owners picking up their dogs’ mess.  Our focus needs to remain on this issue though as reports of incidents continue, particularly in children’s playgrounds and our sports and leisure areas.  These are particularly concerning.  Our awareness days serve a purpose in reminding all of the importance of the simple message – bag it and bin it.”

Local authorities and Gwent Police are empowered to issue fixed penalty notices and owners failing to pick up their pet’s excrement face a £75 on the spot fine.  If the person refuses to pay, and the case is taken to court the offender may be fined up to £1,000.  Dog owners failing to pick up can be easily reported to the council via: http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/home/streets-parking-and-transport/recycling-and-waste/dogfouling/

 

Abergavenny Castle will hark back over 700 years on Saturday 9th June as it hosts a re-enactment of the period of medieval history during the One Hundred Years War.  The event will run from 11am to 4pm.

Back by popular demand, re-enactment society The Freeman of Gwent will set up camp in the grounds and offer practical demonstrations during the day illustrating why the longbow was so feared, an opportunity to chat with medieval cooks and a close look at the living quarters of knights and soldiers as well as what they wore and how they endured conditions many years ago.

Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for cultural services said: “This occasion promises to be fun and interesting for all ages as it brings medieval history to life in the surroundings of an ancient Marches castle.”

Tickets will be available at the gate – adults (£5), children (£3) and family (£15).

For more information, call 01873 854282, log onto www.abergavennymuseum.co.uk or visit the museum’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

Monmouthshire County Council has organised a range of great activities for children over the late spring bank holiday half-term!

Monmouth and Caldicot Community Hubs are celebrating Elmer Day on Saturday 26th May with events for children aged 4 to 8 years – Monmouth’s begins at 11am while Caldicot’s starts at 10.30am.  Children are requested to dress in bright colours for a celebration of their favourite patchwork elephant.

Caldicot Community Hub has also arranged a Lego workshop for children aged five to eight from 10am to 11am on Wednesday 30th May.  In addition, the regular Baby Rhyme Time will be held on Tuesday 29th May at 2pm and the Under Fives Story Time will take place as usual on Thursday 31st May at 2pm.

Abergavenny Community Hub is organising a stories and craft activity session including the opportunity to make a teddy bear mobile from 10.30am to 11.30am on Wednesday 30th May.  This event is suitable for children of eight and under.

Children must be accompanied by an adult for these events at the council’s community hubs.

At 7.30pm on Friday 1st June Abergavenny’s Borough Theatre will present Cinderella, a sparkling and refreshing production by the award-winning Ballet Cymru based on the eternal fairy-tale.  Ballet Cymru prides itself on being different and Cinderella will be no exception, with a brand new music score and circus elements combined with the finest classical dance.  Tickets are £14 (concessions £12, children £7.50) available from www.boroughtheatreabergavenny.co.uk or the box office on 01873 850805.

Meanwhile, the Borough Theatre will host the popular Ballet Cymru half-term workshop from Tuesday 29th May to Friday 1st June.  For information log onto www.welshballet.co.uk or telephone 01633 892927.

Once again, MonLeisure provides the Monmouthshire Games, based on learning new skills, developing confidence, meeting new people and, most importantly, having fun through sport.  These run at the council’s four centres in Abergavenny, Caldicot, Chepstow and Monmouth from Tuesday 29th May to Friday 1st June giving children and young people aged 5 to 12 years the chance to engage in a range of sporting activities.  The cost per day is £16.50 (9am to 3pm) and £19.50 (8am to 5pm) – reduced rates are available for siblings and Passport to Leisure Scheme (PTL) card holders.  To book, visit MonLeisure.co.uk or call:

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

Chepstow Museum is running its popular half-term drop-in craft afternoon on Thursday 31st May from 2pm until 4pm at the Drill Hall in Lower Church Street.  It’s suitable for children of all ages and the museum supplies templates, ideas and materials.  All children must be accompanied by an adult – up to three per adult. Donations towards the cost of materials and refreshments are always welcome; we suggest £2 for children aged 3+.

Other half-term events in the county can be found on the Visit Monmouthshire website: www.visitmonmouthshire.com/half-term – many of these are suitable for children and families.

Monmouthshire’s Passenger Transport Team is inviting residents to help shape the future of local bus services around the town of Chepstow.  The team will offer drop-in sessions at Bulwark Community Centre on Monday 4th June from 10am to 2pm and 4pm to 6pm.

The bus services, known collectively as the C Service, offer vital provision for residents of all ages and the team would like to hear from as many people as possible in a bid to improve them.  The services comprise C1 (Thornwell/Chepstow/Tesco), C2 (Chepstow/Bulwark) and C4 (Chepstow/The Danes).

The drop-in sessions will also be an opportunity to share thoughts and ideas with the team about what other areas the service could cover.

A short online survey is also available for residents unable to attend the drop-in sessions: log onto: www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/bus-timetables

County Councillor Bryan Jones Cabinet Member for Transport and County Operation said: “I encourage residents to come along and share their views.  Public transport is a lifeline for many people and we would like to find out how they feel currently and what they would like to see in the future.”

For more information contact Monmouthshire’s Transport Planner Christian Schmidt – ChristianSchmidt@monmouthshire.gov.uk – or 07471 479238.

Monmouthshire’s foster care team will be at The Bridges Community Centre in Monmouth on Wednesday 30th May from 10am to 12pm and 7pm to 9pm to meet and greet residents interested in becoming foster carers.

Foster carers are desperately needed to care for babies, older children and teenagers on a short or long term basis.  They’re needed to provide short breaks for children with disabilities, and similarly carers are required for teenagers moving into independence on a supportive lodging basis.

There is a huge need for more foster carers and the team hope that the meet and greet sessions will encourage more people to consider making such an important decision for children and young people in Monmouthshire.

Anyone unable to attend the sessions can gain information and guidance via the council’s fostering service website: www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/fostering

A new text service has been established to make contacting the team quick and easy.  Residents are asked to text FOSTER and a name to 83 222.  A member of the team will reply to help start the fostering journey for people in Monmouthshire.

Councillor Penny Jones, Cabinet Member for Social Care, Safeguarding and Health said:

“I strongly believe that our babies, children and young people have every right to the best possible start in life and Monmouthshire’s families can help make this difference.  The foster team does a fantastic job engaging with communities to support our children.  I encourage those who are thinking about becoming a foster carer to come along to the Bridges Community Centre, visit the website, give the team a call or send a text.”

To make a difference visit:  www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/fostering or call 01873 735950.

A digital project supported by Monmouthshire’s rural programmes team has been set up to bring superfast broadband to communities in the north of the county.  The project – initiated by Llanover Community Council – will bring superfast broadband to village halls at The Bryn, Llanddewi Rhydderch and Llanover to create high quality and well-connected learning hubs and to improve local facilities.  Members of the Monmouthshire community are welcome to come to Llanover Village Hall from 5pm on Wednesday 23rd May to share their ideas about how this project can evolve.

Funding for the project has come from the Vale of Usk LEADER and the Rural Communities Development Fund programmes.  If successful, this pilot scheme can act as a model for similar community initiatives.

The village hall committees hope that enhanced digital connection will allow people to access services such as credit unions, citizens advice bureaux and online financial services as well as offering improved opportunities to develop skills for leisure and job-seeking.

The project will also help to bring Llanover’s communities closer and prevent rural isolation which is in line with the county council’s objective of providing a thriving and connected county.

Councillor Sara Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for community engagement said: “I would encourage people to come to our meeting on 23rd May to share their ideas about how exciting these community spaces can become, to connect people and help end rural isolation.”

For more information contact: Mike Powell, Monmouthshire’s Rural Programmes Manager – MichaelPowell@monmouthshire.gov.uk

  • This project has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

Monmouthshire celebrated its tenth anniversary of being named Top Food Destination in Wales* with a Flavours of Monmouthshire event at Chepstow Tourist Information Centre on Monday 14th May. The occasion promoted local food and drink to the area’s hospitality businesses at the start of Wales Tourism Week.

Food tourism is particularly important to the county with expenditure on food and drink by visitors estimated to have been worth £37.5m of the total £190m revenue generated by tourism in Monmouthshire in 2016 (according to STEAM**).

Food is an essential part of the tourism offer, arguably because it provides the most common point of contact with visitors. Local produce and a range of quality places to eat and drink are also key drivers for visitors when choosing where to visit.

Visitor trends indicate that interest in food continues to rise at an exponential rate and now reaches beyond the elite, deep into the general population. Food tourism is therefore not just an important element of the visitor’s experience of a destination but also a key driver of sustainable tourism growth.

Monmouthshire’s food identity has continued to grow over the past ten years. The world-famous Abergavenny Food Festival, now in its twentieth year, has gone from strength to strength, enjoying an enviable reputation as an opportunity for chefs, food businesses, journalists, farmers and food producers to come together in an inclusive space, delivering a much-needed opportunity for people from all walks of life to explore and learn about food.

Unsurprisingly, the county has more than its fair share of local food heroes. From passionate producers committed to creating sought after speciality and everyday food and drink products (using a combination of traditional methods and 21st century innovation), to award-winning chefs and eateries committed to serving and promoting high quality local ingredients and products to customers.

The county’s four vineyards, three micro-breweries, two cider producers, three cookery schools, two Michelin-starred restaurants, (one offering local foraging expeditions), two food festivals, a cider festival and a growing number of outlets selling local food and drink (including specialist delis and bakeries, and regular farmers’ markets in Abergavenny and Usk), means there’s no shortage of high quality food and drink-related experiences to attract groups and independent travellers to the county.

Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for tourism said: “We’d like to say a big thank you and to raise a glass of local wine, cider, beer or the tipple of your choice to all involved in producing, serving and promoting local food and drink to visitors and residents. It’s been a concerted effort over an extended period and there’s a lot more that we need to do to ensure Monmouthshire remains at the forefront of people’s minds when they’re choosing their next short break destination. Most importantly we need to continue developing our distinctive local food culture by ensuring that visitors have access to local ingredients in our shops and festivals and on our menus, and that we build on our successes to deliver consistently high quality food and drink across all price points.”

For more information on Monmouthshire’s local food and drink offer visit: www.visitmonmouthshire.com/foodanddrink

Monmouthshire producers who attended the Flavours of Monmouthshire hospitality tasting event at Chepstow Tourist Information Centre on Monday evening included:

Green & Jenks Gelato

Lou’s Gluten Free Cakes & Bakes

Sorai

The Preservation Society

Apple County Cider

Parva Farm Vineyard

White Castle Vineyard

Baa Brewing

*2008 True Taste Food and Drinks Awards

** Scarborough Tourism Economic Activity Monitor

 

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

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

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

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

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

The public consultation exercise ends on 6th June and anyone wishing to comment on the draft report should email me their comments on mikemoran@monmouthshire.gov.uk by 10:00am on 6th June.

 

Monmouthshire County Council has chosen a new Chairman to serve for the next twelve months.  Councillor Peter Clarke was elected at the council’s annual general meeting on May 8th following nomination by Council Leader Peter Fox.  Councillor Fox said: “I have every confidence that once again Peter will make an excellent Chairman.” This will be Councillor Clarke’s second time as Chairman following his term of office in the year leading up to May 2011.

Peter Clarke was born in Royal Leamington Spa in 1943 at a time when his mother had been evacuated from nearby Coventry.  He was educated in the city’s Caludon Castle School, one of the country’s first comprehensive schools, after which he became an apprentice quantity surveyor.  Among the projects he worked on was the A40 Ross-on-Wye to Monmouth dual carriageway improvement in the early 1960s which was when he met Jan, his wife of 46 years.  Jan will act as Peter’s consort during his year as Chairman.

Councillor Clarke has extensive political experience having been a member of Gwent County Council for eight years before election to the newly-created Monmouthshire County Council in 1996.  He represents the Llangybi Fawr ward and is a governor on the boards of Usk Church-in-Wales School and Caerleon Comprehensive School.

Councillor Clarke is also a keen reader and swimmer and takes an avid interest in politics.  His chosen charity for the year is Gwent Music – the local authority music service in collaboration with Monmouthshire, Blaenau Gwent, Newport and Torfaen councils.

Leaders of the council’s political groups paid tribute to the work performed by outgoing Chairman, Councillor Maureen Powell, on her year of office.  Councillor Fox said: “As Leader of Monmouthshire County Council I sincerely thank you for being a first-rate Chairman over the past twelve months.”

Councillor Sheila Woodhouse who represents the Abergavenny’s Grofield ward was elected Vice-Chairman of the council.

A Monmouthshire County Council programme which aims to help 16 to 24 year olds into employment, education or training is seeking the help of local businesses and employers.

Inspire2Work – funded by the European Social Fund – operates with many partner organisations and serves young people across the whole county.  Its team is calling on Monmouthshire’s employers to offer valuable work placements or tasters, provide apprenticeships and attend Inspire2Work engagement events to give advice and direction.  In addition, employers are requested to act as mentors to young people and contact the team about job vacancies so potential candidates can be notified.

Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for youth enterprise said: “Many 16 to 24 year olds have little or no work experience as well as possibly very limited qualifications and these factors make it very difficult for them to get onto the employment ladder.  By implementing a number of simple, yet effective measures, local businesses and organisations can help place young people into sustainable employment and transform them into valuable members of the county’s workforce.”

For further information contact Monmouthshire’s Youth Enterprise team:

Monmouthshire County Council is to commemorate the centenary of the Royal Air Force with a ceremony at County Hall on Monday 14th May at 9.30am.  The RAF Ensign will be raised and will remain aloft for the day.  In attendance will be Air Commodore Williams, the senior representative of the RAF in Wales, The Lord Lieutenant Robert Aitkin, High Sheriff Sharon Linnard, Chief Constable Julian Williams, Monmouthshire County Council Leader Peter Fox, local Welsh Assembly Members and the Mayors of Abergavenny, Caldicot and Monmouth as well as representatives from the armed forces community and associated charities.  Also present will be a number of pupils from the local Usk Primary School who will recite poems relating to the event.

Monmouthshire’s Armed Forces Champion, Councillor Laura Jones said: “The RAF celebrates its proud record of serving the nation for a hundred years and the council is pleased to display our appreciation for the dedicated contribution made by its servicemen and women.  We salute those currently serving, those who have already served and those who have sacrificed their lives while defending their country.”

Meanwhile, Monmouthshire County Council, supported by the Royal Air Force, has organised a competition for schools to contribute to the RAF100 legacy and the response has been very good.  The main prize is a VIP trip to the RAF100 Static Aircraft Display and STEM Zone in Cardiff and a visit by the RAF Engagement Team to the winning school.  In addition, winners and runners-up will receive RAF100 goodies!

For further information about Monmouthshire County Council’s Armed Forces Covenant visit: www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/armedforces

A generous gesture by a Swansea-based company will benefit children, young people and their families attending Monmouthshire County Council’s social services contact centre in Abergavenny.  Facility Services Group Limited (FSG) has donated a flat screen television, a Playstation 4 and a number of games to allow parents and children to interact and spend precious time together at the premises.

As well as providing the equipment, FSG staff installed it, ensuring it ran smoothly.

Handing over the equipment on behalf of FSG at the contact centre on Friday 11th May were Luke Davies, Head of FM Services and Fabric Engineer Peter Gowing.  Asked about this generous contribution, Mr Geraint Davies, Managing Director for FSG said: “As a business, we have always been committed to giving back to the community and supporting local charities.  The work the centre does with children and young adults is truly incredible and I am proud to be able to contribute to such a fantastic cause.”

Receiving the equipment from Luke and Peter was Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for social care, safeguarding and health, Councillor Penny Jones.

Councillor Jones said: “We’re very grateful for the kind donation from FSG which will be much appreciated by local children and their families.  These items will boost the service offered by the contact centre and help to create a welcoming environment.”

Staff at the contact centre and members of the council’s Children’s Services team who co-ordinated the donation were also overjoyed by the gifts.

 

 

 Monmouthshire County Council will engage with residents over how to make the approaches to Caldicot’s town centre greener by holding two drop-in sessions.

 These will be held on Tuesday, 15th May at Caldicot Community Hub on Woodstock Way from 10am to 4.30pm and later, at the town council offices in Sandy Way from 5pm to 7pm.

 The project, supported by Monmouthshire County Council and the Welsh Government, aims to provide a welcoming entrance into the town through a new scheme of planting and create conditions to encourage bio-diversity.

 Councillor Bryan Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for bio-diversity said: “We are keen that Caldicot’s communities attend the drop-in sessions to offer their opinions on this scheme which will feature a more attractive approach to the town and allow nature to flourish.”

 

 

As part of the National Autism Strategy, we are a team that is jointly hosted by Aneurin Bevan Health Board and Monmouthshire Council.

What does the service provide?

The service will provide diagnostic assessment for adults who are seeking a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder, support and advice for children, adults and those who support them.

I am a parent of an autistic child – what will this mean for me?

The integrated autism service will support parents and carers by providing advice and support, signposting to other services and delivering groups to support parents / carers to support their child / young person. This will include support and advice to help manage difficulties such as:

  • Sleep problems
  • Issues with eating
  • Behaviours that Challenge
  • Anxiety
  • Developing social skills

Where needed, the service may also work with other professionals involved with your child eg.Health Visitors to make sure you and your child are given consistent support and advice.  Parents and carers will be able to self–refer to the service (we heard that needing professionals to refer you for support is not working for you).

I am an autistic adult – what will this mean for me?

You will be able to get support from the service without needing to be referred by someone else. Staff in the service will be able to provide you with support and advice in relation to:

  • Anxiety
  • Social skills
  • Accessing leisure and recreational activities
  • Developing your daily living skills (such as paying bills, shopping and cooking)
  • Accessing other services such as healthcare or employment support
  • Or other difficulties which you may be experiencing
  • Post-diagnostic Group
  • Sign-posting to other services and supporting the delivery of groups to support parents/carers

I am a parent of an autistic adult – what will this mean for me?

  • Post-Diagnostic Course
  • Managing Carer Stress
  • Sign-posting
  • Other information and advice as appropriate

If you are an adult and think you have autism but do not have a diagnosis, the service will be able to offer you an assessment should you want it.

Will the service provide everything for us?

No, the service will NOT provide:

  • Emergency / crisis intervention
  • Respite care
  • Rapid response
  • Long-term Support

For those with more complex needs (where other services such as mental health support is needed), staff from the Integrated Autism Service will    work with other professionals to ensure they are able to provide ‘autism-friendly’ support.

You are all welcome to access our Drop-in sessions that run throughout Gwent.  See our Facebook Page for details.

Service Manager: Ms Sian Delyth Lewis,  Office Telephone (01633) 644143, Email: asdservice.abb@wales.nhs.uk

Facebook: Integrated Autism Service – Gwent

Monmouthshire County Council Fostering Team will be hitting the road and travelling across Monmouthshire in a bid to attract more carers to look after Monmouthshire children. The roadshow coincides with Fostering Fortnight which is taking place Monday 14th May – Friday 27th May.

Residents are welcomed to stop and have a chat with the team who will be situated next to the councils exhibition trailer in car parks and town centres across the county.

Fostering Fortnight is a National campaign which aims to encourage more people to think about the difference they could make by fostering.

Looked after children numbers are rising across Wales and within Monmouthshire. As a county Monmouthshire urgently needs more people to provide safe, loving and supportive homes for children that are vulnerable and need care.

Foster Care offers many opportunities, from short term, long term or respite care. The team are happy to provide information on all the options in a bid to encourage more people transform the lives of children and young people who need extra care and support.

The team and bus will be situated in the following locations:

 

  • Tuesday  15th May            11 am to 1 pm  Caldicot, Market
  • Friday18th May                  11 am to 1 pm  Monmouth, outside Shire Hall
  • Tuesday  22nd May           11 am to 1 pm  Abergavenny, Fairfield Car Park
  • Thursday 24th May             11am to  1pm  Usk, Maryport St North Car Park
  • Friday 25th May                 11 am to 1 pm Chepstow, Welsh Street Car Park

 

A meet and greet session will take place on Wednesday 30th May at the Bridges Community centre, Monmouth 10.00am – 12.00pm and 7.00pm – 9.00pm for people who would like to find out more or start their journey to transform the lives of babies, children and young people in Monmouthshire. The meet and greet sessions have proved very popular in attracting prospective carers.

Sunshine Radio adverts promoting the Monmouthshire Foster Care team are also being aired during Fostering Fortnight with an aim to reach as many residents as possible.

To celebrate Fostering Fortnight the team are running a ‘Spot the Bus’ competition throughout May, from Monday 7th May – Thursday 30th May residents are encouraged to keep a look out for one of the big yellow school buses with the Fostering images on it.

See it, snap it and send it in with the hashtag #MonFoster. Get in touch with the team via Facebook – Monmouthshire, Twitter – @MonmouthshireCC or email family.placement@monmouthshire.gov.uk  The winning post will win and Afternoon Tea for two voucher.

Cllr Penny Jones Cabinet Member for Social Care, Safeguarding and Health said ‘Fostering Fortnight is a fantastic campaign which is much needed to raise awareness of our unsung heroes. I urge anyone who is thinking about becoming a carer to pop along and talk to the team. One conversation could start a journey that will transform the lives of babies, children and young people in Monmouthshire.’

For more information about Fostering text FOSTER to 83222, call 01873 735950 or visit http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/fostering

Monmouthshire County Council has agreed a plan to embed its ambition for social justice into the heart of its policies and activities.

The Social Justice Strategy, agreed by the council’s cabinet on Wednesday 2nd May, demonstrates the council’s commitment to address inequalities and improve outcomes for the county’s people and communities.  It establishes the council’s purpose, intentions and activities for the next four years and sets targets to place social justice at the forefront of its actions.

Monmouthshire’s Social Justice Strategy has been driven by the council’s desire to tackle the inequality highlighted in the well-being and population needs assessments carried out by local authorities and health boards following the passing of The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014.  Among the immediate actions taken by the new council following its election in May 2017 was the introduction of a cabinet position for social justice and community development.

Councillor Sara Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for social justice and community development said: “Today’s decision demonstrates the council’s commitment to align evidence-based policy, actions and resources with the aim of focusing on social justice.  I stress that although the Social Justice Strategy has been approved by Cabinet, it is merely the first phase of an evolving document and I’m keen to hear from anyone who wishes to make a contribution.  Please contact me – SaraJones2@monmouthshire.gov.uk – via email.”

Monmouthshire’s Social Justice Strategy can be found by logging onto: https://democracy.monmouthshire.gov.uk/documents/s13975/180418%20Draft%20Social%20Justice%20Strategy%20V5%20Appendix%20A%20180502.pdf

Schoolchildren and community groups in Monmouthshire and rural areas of Newport are being taken under the wing of beekeeping experts in a move to boost the local bee population.  They are supported by a rural regeneration project – The BEES (Breeding, Education, Environment & Skills) initiative – set up with support of the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.

Honey bees – wild and domestic – perform about 80% of all pollination worldwide and a single bee colony can pollinate 300 million flowers each day. Seventy of the top 100 food crops, which supply about 90% of the world’s nutrition, are pollinated by bees.  However, honeybees are in crisis worldwide.  Scientists acknowledge that bee numbers are in decline due to a variety of factors including pesticides, drought, habitat destruction, nutrition deficit, air pollution and climate change.

Councillor Bryan Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for biodiversity said: “The aim is to improve the ecological resilience in bee populations and increase the understanding of the importance of bees within the wider ecology and ecosystems.

“This will be done by providing training for schools, community groups and other organisations interested in learning more about bees.  The programme will also explore opportunities to sustainably manage the local bee population through closer collaboration between the area’s beekeepers.

“As an illustration, if a school or allotment group is interested in developing a beehive within an allotment, the project will provide access to a network of knowledgeable bee keepers who will share their expertise and provide them with the support and skills necessary to sustain a hive, so if you are interested in the idea of beekeeping and would like to know more please contact us.”

Funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government, BEES is a pilot project led cooperatively by three local action groups (LAGs).  These are the Vale of Usk (Monmouthshire and rural areas of Newport), Cwm a Mynydd LAG (Caerphilly and Blaenau Gwent), and Rural Action Cwm Taf (Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taf).

For further information contact: info@monmouthshire.biz (01633 644844), ruralaction@merthyr.gov.uk (01685 727089 or 725467), rdp@caerphilly.gov.uk (01443 838632).

 Monmouthshire County Council has linked with South Wales tech company We Build Bots to develop a chatbot that will feature on the council’s website and Facebook messenger service. This additional source of information and its ability to offer answers about the council’s provision has been welcomed as an aid to improving customer experience.

 We Build Bots is based at Cardiff’s Tramshed Tech.  It recently attracted headlines when it attracted a rapid £500,000 investment for a 20% stake in the business.  It has developed chatbots for a diverse range of organisations including the AA Driving School, though its venture with Monmouthshire will be the first time the company has worked with a local council.

 Councillor Phil Murphy, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for information technology said: “As more organisations use chatbots to improve their customer experience we want to give our communities the choice to engage with us in this way.  We have already launched our successful My Monmouthshire app and the chatbot will complement our contact centre, community hubs, social media channels and website as another way for people to engage with their local council.”

 The council expects to launch its Chatbot service later this summer.

 

 

 Monmouthshire’s Public Service Board has published its well-being plan which sets out how it will improve well-being in the county – both now and in the future.

The Public Service Board (PSB) is a collaboration of public and voluntary sector services in Monmouthshire which has worked to develop the plan, setting a clear purpose of building sustainable and resilient communities. Informed by data, research and what the people of Monmouthshire said was important, the plan sets four objectives and the Public Service Board will work collectively on these to improve economic, social, environmental and cultural well-being. The four objectives are:

  • Providing children and young people with the best possible start in life.
  • Responding to the challenges associated with demographic change.
  • Protecting and enhancing the resilience of our natural environment while mitigating and adapting to the impact of climate change.
  • Developing opportunities for communities and businesses to be part of an economically thriving and well-connected county.

Paul Matthews, Chair of the Monmouthshire Public Service Board and Chief Executive of Monmouthshire County Council, said : “Public service partners in Monmouthshire now have priorities for improving important aspects of well-being in our beautiful county. We hope you will join us in delivering them.”

Now the objectives have been agreed, PSB partners will develop an action plan specifying how it will deliver them.

The well-being plan and supporting information can be viewed on www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/our-monmouthshire. The PSB welcomes feedback via social media on Twitter @MonmouthshireCC using #ourmonmouthshire

 Community groups in Monmouthshire have over a month to bid for grants to improve local broadband infrastructure as well as set up community energy projects, thanks to funding available from a Welsh Government initiative.

The Welsh Government’s Rural Communities Development Fund has allocated up to £128,000 to finance each scheme.  Funding is granted on the understanding that community groups must provide 20% of the total.

While the fund is managed directly by the Welsh Government, Monmouthshire County Council’s Rural Programmes Team is able to make applications on behalf of community groups or guide them through the process.  The closing date for applications is Thursday 7th June.

Councillor Sara Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for community development said: “Projects that will help promote social inclusion, reduce poverty, encourage economic development will all be welcomed and we want to see as many opportunities taken forward by our community groups as possible.”

For further details contact Rural Programmes Manager Michael Powell – michaelpowell@monmouthshire.gov.uk call 01633 644870, or view this YouTube video: https://youtu.be/bu63eeaGfHA

  • The Welsh Government’s Rural Communities Development Fund is administered by The Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.

Abergavenny Market will host its annual toy and train collectors’ fair on Monday 7th May – May Day Bank Holiday – from 10am to 4pm.  Admission to the market hall is a £1.00 donation for each family.  The event features vintage vehicles in neighbouring Cross Street and a large exhibition of model toys and train sets in the market hall, as well as classic cars and motorbikes in the adjacent Brewery Yard.

Councillor Phil Murphy, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for the county’s markets said: “Events like the toy fair add welcome colour to the town and draw people from near and far to contribute to a great atmosphere in Abergavenny.”

For further details on events in Abergavenny Market, contact the Markets Office – markets@monmouthshire.gov.uk – or 01873 735811.  Also, check out the Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Abergavennymarket

Residents and other stakeholders are being asked to comment on a draft plan that will guide the management of the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape World Heritage Site until 2023.

The Blaenavon Industrial Landscape was inscribed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as a World Heritage Site in December 2000.

Each World Heritage Site is required to have a management plan behind it that specifies how the Outstanding Universal Value of a site should be preserved.

The draft plan aims to ensure that the site is managed in a way that contributes to economic, social, environmental, cultural well-being, and sustainable development goals.

Anyone wanting to comment on the plan can do so at https://getinvolved.torfaen.gov.uk/neighbourhoods/blaenavon-industrial-landscape-world-heritage-site

Alternatively, public sessions will take place at the Blaenavon World Heritage Centre on Tuesday 24 April from 3:30pm – 7pm, and Llanfoist Village Hall on Thursday 26 April from 3:30pm – 7pm.

Anyone wishing to speak Welsh at these events should contact Rebecca Hartley on 01633 648293 a minimum of three days before the event.

Paper reference copies of the consultation documents will be available at the council’s Ty Blaen Torfaen Office, Panteg Way, New Inn, Pontypool on weekdays between 9.00am – 1.00pm, Blaenavon World Heritage Centre, Church Road, Blaenavon between Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00am – 5:00pm, and at the Civic Centre Pontypool, Glantorfaen Road, Pontypool, on weekdays between 9:00am – 5:00pm.

Work carried out at Llanfoist Fawr Primary School is to be cited in a case study by world-renowned professor of education, Bill Lucas.  Professor Lucas’s new book Developing Tenacity, co-written with Dr Ellen Spencer, will be unveiled at a special Skillforce reception at the House of Lords on April 30th hosted by the Rt Hon The Earl Howe.

 Interest in Llanfoist centres on the positive implementation of the SkillForce Prince William Award which is aimed at helping young children between the ages of 6 and 14 develop good character, confidence and resilience.  The programme – officially launched by The Duke of Cambridge on a visit to Abergavenny a year ago – 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.

Developing Tenacity is just the latest in a long line of acclaimed books on education by Bill Lucas, Professor of Learning and Director of the Centre for Real-World Learning at the University of Winchester.

 Llanfoist Primary’s Headteacher Jon Murphy will be present at the House of Lords reception to talk about progress and success at the school.  Mr Murphy said: “The school community is very proud to be associated with a book which will be read in educational circles all round the world and I’m very much looking forward to attending the launch and meeting both authors.”

 In addition to the authors and the presence of a number of distinguished guests, veteran journalist Kate Adie will attend as MC for the evening reception.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for Children and Young People, Councillor Richard John added: “I’m delighted that Llanfoist Fawr Primary School is given as an example of good educational practice by such esteemed authors.  The school has seen huge benefits since participating in the Prince William Award programme including greater self-confidence, independence, enhanced problem-solving and listening skills, and improved attendance.”

 

Local Agri Urban Group have been giving “thought for food”

The URBACT Agri Urban project has seen the development of a local group with interest or business in the food sector with the aim of forming an Action Plan for Abergavenny. The local Partnership (Abergavenny URBACT Local Group) has been looking at sustainable food issues and is made up of representative groups and individuals with an interest in local food and developing new markets.

Partner cities in this European network project included; Baena (Spain), Mollet Del Valles (Spain), Pyli (Greece), Petrinja (Croatia), Cesena (Italy), Jelgava (Latvia), Fundao (Portugal), Mouans Sartoux (France), Soldertalje (Sweden) and LAG Pays De Condruses (Belgium). Abergavenny, the only UK town taking part in the URBACT network http://urbact.eu/agri-urban, has focussed on the development of solutions and activities in order to stimulate the food sector in the area.

Funded by The EU URBACT programme, (URBACT 111) with match funding from Monmouthshire County Council and supported by Abergavenny Town Council, the two year project has developed an action plan titled “Thought for Food”. The plan which has been prepared with the aim of stimulating healthy diets and employment has centred on actions which may stimulate development of new approaches for food production, activate growth potential and offer new business models for   developing links between urban and rural spaces.

The Abergavenny URBACT Local Group presented “Thought for Food” and its’ findings at the Community Centre, Park Street, Abergavenny on 10 April 2018.The audience had the opportunity to hear more about the food initiatives in the area such as the Community Centre, Community  Canteen,  Monmouthshire Big Breakfast, Food Assembly, Just Food Group, Community Orchard and Incredible Edible.

For more information or if you would like to join the URBACT Local Group as we move forward please contact Deserie Mansfield on 07816066046 – or email  deseriemansfield@monmouthshire/gov.uk.

Did you know that Monmouthshire County Council and Abergavenny Town Council are participating in the AGRI – URBAN programme.

What is Agri Urban ?

  • Agri Urban is a two year project (2016 – 2018) and  tackles the challenge of innovation and new business models in agri-food systems, developing an alternative way of understanding the link between urban and rural spaces, through an integrated urban focus and putting the target in employment
  • It also looks at promoting quality of life and wellness; strengthening sense of place in the local communities and creating jobs in the food sector;
  • The members of the network have been sharing best practice and innovative project ideas and each partner has produced an integrated action plan.

    The project works by sharing of ideas and information between towns on specific food-related activities.

Who is involved ?

  • The programme  is part funded by the European Union under the URBACT III programme and
  • Monmouthshire County Council together with Abergavenny Town Council and local volunteers

    MUNICIPALITY OF MUNICIPALITY OF BAENA – Spain (Lead Partner

    MUNICIPALITY OF FUNDÃO -Portugal

    MUNICIPALITY OF PYLI – Greece

    LAG “PAYS DES CONDRUSES”  -Belgium

    MUNICIPALITY OF SÖDERTÄLJE – Sweden

    MUNICIPALITY OF CESENA – Italy

    MUNICIPALITY OF JELGAVA – Latvia

    MUNICIPALITY OF MOLLET DEL VALLÈS – Spain

    MUNICIPALITY OF PETRINJA –Croatia

    MUNICIPALITY OF MOUANS-SARTOUX – France

     

     

  • The towns and cities participating in the partnership of AGRI-URBAN  are now looking to develop actions which will have a lasting benefit to the agricultural landscape in their own areas ; In our case Abergavenny and surrounding areas.

What have we been discussing?

Land access, shortening the supply chain for  production and consumption , education and  training ,  improved capabilities in farming, creation of productive and employment spaces, land use and protection of agricultural areas ,Developing infrastructure. Identity and image for local brands, promoting organic farming and good practices, as well as environmental soil preservation, avoiding urban occupation of fertile land, and incorporating agriculture in appropriate urban spaces and in the urban-rural areas,  Creation of jobs in the agriculture.

An action plan has been produced

Pupils and staff from schools across Monmouthshire were joined by Sally Holland, Children’s Commissioner for Wales, at a Super Ambassadors’ conference to highlight the importance of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.  The event, hosted by the council’s Healthy School Team, was held at The Cwrt Bleddyn Hotel, Usk on Tuesday 27th March.

Pupils elect Super Ambassadors at the beginning of every year to carry out three duties.  These are to inform other pupils about the Commissioner and her powers, ensure other pupils know about children’s rights under the UNCRC and carry out special missions for the Commissioner in their school.

The scheme has been championed by the Children’s Commissioner for Wales to promote children’s rights and the UNCRC in primary and secondary schools.  It aims to encourage pupils and their teachers to think about what rights are important.  The scheme provides inspiring ideas to embed rights at school, home and with public organisations such as local authority departments working with children and young people.

In attendance were professionals working with and supporting children and young people from across Monmouthshire.  These included head teachers, Sports Development workers, youth workers, governors, and Flying Start teams who participated in engaging workshops as well as listening to a stirring speech from Sally Holland.  The Commissioner said that the UNCRC should be linked to policies to protect and provide education for children and young people both at local government and national government level.

Caldicot School Student Ambassadors Molly, Hannah and Macey made an inspiring presentation and the Year 10 pupils talked enthusiastically about their campaign to embed the rights of the child into day to day school life and within the local community. They related how the UNCRC Charter was introduced to pupils during Anti-Bullying Week 2017.  All pupils from Year 7 to Year 13 were asked which of the 42 Articles in the UNCRC Charter were most important to them and their feedback was used to design a Personal Rights Charter for Caldicot.

Year 6 pupils from Archbishop Rowan Williams Primary School enthused teachers about the work they have undertaken to promote children’s rights in their school.

Discussions took place at the end of the day as primary school pupils planned how they would get the message across to their peers.  Pupils from St Mary’s RC Primary in Chepstow said they would volunteer to become Super Ambassadors and within a month they would arrange and present an assembly on what they had learnt and invite the school’s governors. They hoped to organise lots of activities to raise awareness of rights.

Cabinet member for Children and Young People Cllr Richard John said: ‘We strive to put children and young people at the heart of everything we do.  The adoption of the Super Ambassadors’ Scheme in Monmouthshire will embed children’s rights in our schools and will encourage our young people to recognise the importance of the rights to have their voices heard, to play and to be safe.’

For more information visit www.childcomwales.org.uk

Popular BBC TV show, Money for Nothing is filming for a forthcoming series and has chosen Monmouthshire County Council’s busy household waste and recycling centre at Llanfoist near Abergavenny as one of its locations.  Cameras and crew arrived on Tuesday 10th April and stayed for several days.

 Wood carver and latest presenter of the show EJ Osborne saves things from being dumped and transforms them into valuable pieces, making money for people who had no idea there was cash to be made from their trash.

 Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for recycling and waste, Councillor Bryan Jones said: “Money for Nothing is a great show and a favourite with many of our residents.  We’re delighted that EJ has chosen to film an episode at Llanfoist and his visit is timely because we are planning to open our very own shop at the recycling centre this summer.

 “It will sell everyday items that have been saved from the skips and are ready for up-cycling.  Most of the items will be sold for just a few pounds and may take a little TLC and imagination to bring them back to life.

 “There is a fair bit of work to be done before the shop opens but we’ve been very excited about EJ’s visit and it will certainly inspire us all!”

 For more information on Monmouthshire’s recycling and waste service log onto: http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/recycling-and-waste

 

Aneurin Bevan Gwent Public Health Team on behalf of Gwent Health, Social Care and Housing Partnership, are holding a small research event to discuss thoughts and aspirations with people about housing options for people in later life in Gwent

We would be delighted if you could take part in a consultation event about this subject to help inform future planning on:

Date:      April 26th 2018

Time:      9.15 – 12.15pm

Venue:   The Sessions House, Usk. NP15 1AD

Refreshments will be provided

If you would like to attend this event, to book your place,  please contact Julia Osmond, Principal Public Health Practitioner:

Tel. 01633 261448 or email julia.osmond@wales.nhs.uk

 

Business support service Superfast Business Wales will run a free workshop for Monmouthshire’s businesses from 1pm to 5pm on Wednesday, 16th May at Abergavenny’s St Michael’s Centre, 10A Pen-Y-Pound, Abergavenny NP7 5UD.  The course – Winning with Digital Marketing – will provide sound and expert advice on increasing sales using technology.

 The workshop will offer practical tips illustrating how digital marketing tools help engage target markets, developing digital marketing strategies that generate sales and measuring what works and what doesn’t.

 Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for enterprise said: “This workshop can help increase sales and attract and retain customers.  It’ll also be a great opportunity for local businesses to network and lend each other support.”

 Businesses wishing to attend the workshop should visit: https://wales.business-events.org.uk/en/events/superfast-business-wales-winning-with-digital-marketing/

 ·        Superfast Business Wales is a fully-funded business support service designed to help small and medium-sized Welsh businesses make the most of digital technology.  For further details visit: https://businesswales.gov.wales/superfastbusinesswales/

 

Two Monmouthshire primary schools combined to present an end of term musical extravaganza before an appreciative audience of 120 parents at King Henry VIII School. The concert was a culmination of a partnership between Gilwern Primary School and Abergavenny’s Our Lady’s & St Michael RC Primary to create an arts project benefitting literacy and promoting knowledge of the wider world.

 Over 100 children from Years Two and Four took part, making use of dance moves and percussion instruments under the guidance of the Upbeat Music and Arts Service which had overseen the project since the beginning of spring term.  The children had just five sessions to produce the show but it was performed professionally, enthusiastically and with spirit, drawing warm applause throughout.

 Children created their own costumes, dance sequences and compositions on drums, drawing on influences from South Africa, India and Japan.  They had researched the culture of these countries in the approach to the show with pupils from both schools sharing experiences and working closely together.

 The concert and its rehearsals were funded by the Arts Council of Wales under its Lead Creative Schools Scheme.  Gilwern Primary School became an accredited Lead Creative School in 2015 which recognises staff can nurture and develop the creativity of learners to achieve their potential and grow as well-rounded individuals.  Two years later, the school was successful in its application to become a Lead Creative Schools Champion, allowing it to work in partnership with the nearby Our Lady’s and St Michael RC Primary.  Both agreed to incorporate an arts project linking literacy and international relations within their school development plans.

 Deputy Headteacher Sue Marles of Gilwern Primary School who led the project said: “The Lead Creative Scheme has provided an exceptional opportunity to embrace the expressive arts.  The pupils, staff and parents have become engaged, motivated and hooked in leading their learning and we are delighted with the collaboration”.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for Children and Young People, Councillor Richard John added: “This show celebrates the talent of our young people with guidance and encouragement provided by staff at both schools.  I’m very pleased that the teamwork to bring about this project has yielded such great results.”

 

Monmouthshire County Council in partnership with Usk Town Council is to build on last year’s highly successful cycling project.  The Great Usk Bike Off will run once again this summer and will feature brightly decorated cycles displayed around the town during the approach and aftermath of the Velothon, to be held on Sunday, 8th July.  The Bike Off will help promote Usk as a cycling destination to visitors all year round as well as participants and spectators on the day of the Velothon itself.

Residents, organisations and businesses are invited to decorate their own bikes (or bike wheels if they don’t want to do a whole bike) and display them from 1st May to 31st August.  Care should be taken to place bikes safely to avoid obstruction and materials used should be weather-proof for outdoor displays.

Certificates and prizes will be awarded to the best bike celebrating Usk, the best business bike, the best community group bike, the best comical bike, the best living bike (using real plants or flowers), the best arts & crafts bike and the best bike in age categories 10 and under as well as 11 to 16.

People without bikes can access a supply specially held by the town council, available for collection at the Sessions House on Maryport Street from 10am to 12noon on Saturday 14th April and 4pm to 7pm on Thursday 19th April. Some of last year’s bikes will be offered for upcycling again and depending on demand more will be provided from the council’s waste and recycling centres.

Competition entry forms are available from the Sessions House or Usk Community Hub, or by downloading from the Usk Town Council website: www.usktown.org/ – entry forms must be returned to the Sessions House or Usk Community Hub by 2pm on Friday 1st June.

Speaking on behalf of Usk Town Council, Councillor Isobel Brown commented: “Usk is looking forward to the decorated bikes back around the town this summer. They created a lot of enjoyment and interest last year both within the community and with visitors, as well as signalling to cyclists that we are striving to be a cycle-friendly place with lots of great routes within easy reach as well as plenty of lovely pubs, cafes and coffee shops to fuel up in before and after rides. The competition adds a new dimension this year and we are eagerly waiting to see the outcome of the creativity that will be bound to be shown in each of the categories”.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for tourism and leisure, Councillor Bob Greenland said: “Last year’s Usk Bike Off proved very popular, captured the imagination, and drew the community together.  It went a long way to develop the town’s reputation as a centre that welcomes cyclists in a beautiful setting with accessible routes on its doorstep for beginners and seasoned campaigners.”

For more information about the Usk Bike Off 2018 contact:

Councillor Isobel Brown on email: izzy.brown59@googlemail.com

The A466 at Livox near Tintern has been re-opened.

 Vegetation and rock scaling works are complete and we are currently awaiting the final report from our geotechnical engineers. It seems that while the geology of the area consists of reasonably stable material at the base of the slope the surface above is fractured and poor.

 These unfavourable conditions mean that more works are required at the Livox site to stabilise the slope completely and until we can carry out further testing and design the previous traffic management measures will have to be reinstated.

 Timings of any future works have currently not been finalised.

 

We are experiencing issues in producing some Business Rate Bills for 2018/19, with properties that are entitled to transitional relief.

This is unlikely to be resolved in time to give notice of the first instalment on the 15th April. We are trying very hard to correct the problem and will send bills shortly providing for instalments payable commencing May 2018.

Monmouthshire County Council is one of the first organisations in Gwent to pledge support for a new charter enabling people with disabilities to have their voices heard. The Monmouthshire launch of the Gwent Charter for Working Together took place on Friday 23rd March at Abergavenny’s My Day My Life centre.

The charter has been guided by Monmouthshire’s advocacy group for people with disabilities – Monmouthshire People First – which has joined similar groups across Gwent to write the document.

The group enables a wide range of people across the county with disabilities to speak out and gain confidence to take control of their lives.

The aim of the charter is to encourage public bodies, charities and third sector organisations that have signed up to listen and respect people with disabilities, provide choice and allow them to be themselves.

Members of the group, Phyllis Rowe, Sandy Donald, Jamie Farr, Nathan Davies and Stephen Davies not only helped write the charter but they will hold organisations and charities who sign up  to account now they are Charter Checkers.  It is hoped that the Charter Checkers will become a social business offering support and training to organisations to make positive changes to improve people’s lives.

 

Mary Allan, Monmouthshire People First Coordinator said:

‘We are very pleased to have been involved in the first charter of its kind in Wales. Our members have worked very hard and have been very honest about what they really want from the organisations that they often have regular contact with.  It is so important to them that they are shown respect and are treated just like everyone else.  This has made such a difference to the people involved – I hope that the people who sign the charters are committed to making a difference to the lives of people with disabilities.’

Cllr Penny Jones, Cabinet Member for Social Care and Health pledged the council’s support for the charter. Cllr Jones said:

‘I am so pleased that Monmouthshire Council is one of the first organisations to pledge support. As an authority we strive to put people with disabilities at the centre of any care and support that they receive and I hope that more and more public bodies continue to do this. I think it is fantastic that our residents are empowered and supported by people like Mary Allan to share their hopes and dreams for equality now and in the future.’

A Gwent launch will take place at Greenmeadow Golf Club in Cwmbran on 25th April at 11.00am and will be an opportunity for public bodies including Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and third sector organisations to pledge their commitment to the charter. For more information contact Jim Wright 01495 742987,  jim.wright@torfaen.gov.uk

 

 

 

People considering starting their own business in Monmouthshire or developing their existing one, are eligible to attend a series of free workshops in April, delivered by the Welsh Government’s Business Wales service.

Business Wales, in partnership with Monmouthshire County Council, is holding a range of start-up and post-start workshops aimed to equip aspiring entrepreneurs with the knowledge, practical skills and confidence to develop their ideas further, or guide existing business owners towards a successful venture.

The workshops in Abergavenny and Newport are delivered by experienced business advisers and cover a variety of essential topics like pricing, marketing, sourcing funding, legal issues, sustainability, business and financial planning.  Delegates at the post-start workshops will also be able to learn how to run their own businesses effectively with a focus on bookkeeping, marketing, market research and putting a great team together.

Workshops will take place in the Abergavenny Youth Centre (Old Hereford Road) and the University of South Wales – Newport (Usk Way) as follows:

Starting and Running a Business – Taking the Plunge: 9.15am to 4.00pm

Abergavenny – Wednesday, 11th April

University of South Wales, Newport – Wednesday, 25th April

Tax and Bookkeeping: 9.30am to 12.30pm

University of South Wales, Newport – Tuesday, 24th April

Building a Great Team: 13.30pm to 16.30pm

University of South Wales, Newport – Tuesday 24th April

Researching your Market: 9.30am to 12.30pm

University of South Wales, Newport – Thursday, 12th April

Developing your Marketing Plan: 13.30pm to 16.30pm

University of South Wales, Newport – Thursday, 12th April

Places at the workshops can 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: “Seeing more and more entrepreneurs decide to start and run their businesses in Monmouthshire is really inspirational.  These workshops, part of a wealth of support and advice available from Business Wales, are a great opportunity for other aspiring and existing business owners to drive more investment and job creation in the area, so I would strongly encourage everyone who wants to take their business idea or existing business further, to come along.”

Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for enterprise 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 or develop 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.

Staff from twelve Monmouthshire schools who successfully attended a five week educational training course received certificates of achievement from the council’s Chairman, Councillor Maureen Powell at a ceremony in Magor this week (Tuesday, 20th March).

The eighteen staff had trained to become qualified Emotional Literacy Support Assistants (ELSAs) and the course enables them to develop skills to help pupils in the county’s schools with temporary or longer term emotional needs.

The ELSA programme forms part of the council’s commitment to work with schools to ensure the inclusion, achievement and well-being of all pupils, including those whose learning is affected by emotional difficulties.  It was developed to build the capacity of schools to support the emotional needs of pupils from within their own resources.

ELSAs are trained to plan and deliver individual or group programmes of support.  They might work with pupils who present as anxious, shy, sad, or angry as well as supporting them to develop social and friendship skills or improved self-esteem.

The course was carried out by Monmouthshire’s Educational Psychology Service (EPS).  Dr Morwenna Wagstaff of the EPS said: “Although the ELSA project is still relatively new to Monmouthshire, the initiative has been used successfully across the UK and Wales for many years.  Evaluations of the project have shown that ELSAs make a positive impact on the emotional development of children and young people.  Specific outcomes have included academic success, increased school attendance and reduced referrals to outside agencies as well as positive changes in pupils with social emotional and behavioural difficulties.”

The EPS has carried out the training for the past two years, involving staff from 28 of Monmouthshire’s 35 schools.

Councillor Powell added: “It was a great honour to present certificates to the latest members of our staff to achieve the ELSA award.  Having completed their training they will be able to help those children with emotional difficulties who are at an educational disadvantage to overcome their problems, improve their emotional wellbeing and to achieve in their schooling.”

For more information about the ELSA project log onto: www.elsanetwork.org/

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for county operations has drawn attention to the scourge of litter on major highways.  While the county’s trunk routes – the A40, A449, A4042, A465 – are managed by SWTRA (the South Wales Trunk Road Agent – an arm of the Welsh Government) the council is charged with collecting waste and rubbish on the sides of these main roads.

 Just one collection of litter across the whole of Monmouthshire’s trunk road network costs approximately £50,000.  This is largely down to the costs of litter-picking teams and their equipment, transporting them to sites and maintaining lane closures and safety while the operation is ongoing.

 Recently, a full four-day litter pick on the verges of the A40 between Raglan and Abergavenny involved 12 staff from the council’s waste and street services teams.  Both sides of the nine mile stretch were cleaned, yielding 4.5 tonnes of rubbish. The team will return to clear the central reservation.

 Monmouthshire’s Operations Manager Nigel Leaworthy said: “Clearing the trunk road network throughout Monmouthshire is a massive undertaking requiring lane closures which must be authorised by SWTRA beforehand.  SWTRA permits us to close a maximum five kilometres of road at any one time and we can only start work at 9.30am following the morning rush hour. This means our teams are redeployed from other tasks to allow us to complete the clearance within permitted timescales.

 “We usually collect between 1.5 and 2 tonnes of rubbish per day and this largely consists of plastic and steel containers, paper, fast food cartons and coffee cups. We also deal with fly-tipping in laybys – often rubble, large bags of general rubbish, and most unpleasantly, bottles of urine and faeces. SWTRA undertakes litter clearance once a year, but only within the verges before they are mowed.”

 “Our teams must be congratulated as they do a great job in a noisy and dirty environment. It can also be frustrating to discover a cleared section is strewn with litter the following day.”

 Councillor Bryan Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for county operations added: “Only a minority of people throw litter from their vehicles but in doing so they cause a large amount of expenditure as well as inconvenience when we have to close lanes to allow our litter-pickers to work safely.  I appeal to all passing through on Monmouthshire’s roads to take their litter home and dispose of it appropriately.  The amount of litter is staggering and given recent publicity about plastics I would have hoped for a more enlightened attitude from motorists. It’s a short journey from a ditch in Monmouthshire to a stream, to a river and then to the ocean.”

 For more information on Monmouthshire’s waste and street services visit: www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/waste-street-services

 

Monmouthshire County Council has organised a range of great activities for children over the Easter holidays!

Usk Community Hub in Maryport Street is offering an Easter Egg treasure hunt with colouring-in for all ages from Saturday 31st March to Saturday 14th April.  In addition the hub will feature a Bunny story time group on Thursday 12th April at 2.30pm for youngsters and an Easter pamper session in conjunction with Usk’s Complexion Medispa from 10am to 3pm on Thursday 5th April.  The pamper session offers nail painting for adults and a mini hand massage for just £5 while children read stories and enjoy Easter fun.  The hub is open at the following times:

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

Caldicot Community Hub will hold a Lego workshop from 10am to 11am on Wednesday 4th April for children aged five to nine.  A week later, a stories and craft session will be held from 10am to 11am on Wednesday 11th April for children aged four to eight – for both events all children must be accompanied by an adult.

Abergavenny Library is offering an Easter Egg Hunt from 9am to 1pm on Saturday 31st March for children under eight.  All children must be accompanied by an adult and the library encourages the wearing of Easter bonnets.

Once again, MonLeisure provides the Monmouthshire Games based on learning new skills, developing confidence, meeting new people and, most importantly, having fun through sport.  These run at the council’s four centres in Abergavenny, Caldicot, Chepstow and Monmouth from Wednesday 4th April to Friday 6th April and Monday 9th April to Friday 13th April giving children and young people aged 5 to 12 years the chance to engage in a range of sporting activities.  The cost per day is £16 (9am to 3pm) and £19.50 (8am to 5pm) with discounts for early payment.  To book, visit MonLeisure.co.uk or call:

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

The Monmouthshire Youth Service is running an indoor sport tournament at Monmouth’s Attik Youth Centre from 12noon to 4pm on Wednesday 4th April.  This is a drop-in session for 11 year olds and over.  The following day from 12noon to 4pm the Attik hosts a tie-dyeing workshop in preparation for the Monmouth Carnival.  This is intended for nine to eleven year olds who should bring their own t-shirt.  On Monday 9th April from 12noon to 4pm the Attik will feature a drop-in board game bonanza for 11 year olds and over.

The youth service is also organising a number of trips over the Easter holidays involving paintballing for 11 year olds and over on Friday 6th April, a Go Ape trip (ages 9 to 11) on Tuesday 10th April and two sleepover trips – at Abergavenny on Wednesday 11th April and Monmouth on Thursday 12th April.  The costs for these vary from £15 to £20 and details are available from Kelly or Pip on 01600 772033.

All events are free unless specified.  Other events in the county suitable for children and families can be found on the Visit Monmouthshire website: www.visitmonmouthshire.com/blog/easter-in-monmouthshire.aspx

 

Registration is NOW OPEN for the 2018 garden waste collection service

You can register online using My Monmouthshire – Register Online

 

Garden waste collections will cover the period of 1st April 2018 to 30th November 2018.

The charge per permit is £18.00 and you need 1 permit per garden waste bag.

Please register now to ensure you receive your permit/s for the start of the service. Please allow up to 14 days to receive your permit/s.

The garden waste service is now a seasonal collection so there will be no garden waste collections after 30th November. For more information click here

You can also register over the phone: 01633 644705 (Open Monday-Thursday 9am- 5pm and Friday 9am – 4:30pm)

Or at your local Community Hub

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Monmouthshire’s National Exercise Referral Scheme celebrates its tenth birthday on Tuesday 20th March.  Since its beginnings in 2008 the Public Health Wales and Welsh Assembly-funded programme has helped over 10,000 people in the county revitalise their health through gentle exercise and unique opportunities to socialise with others.

Existing and previous participants marked the occasion at Chepstow Leisure Centre on Thursday 8th March.  Over the years the scheme has cemented many friendships and has even sparked a marriage which is testament to its success.

The scheme works with people aged 17 years and over who have, or are at risk of developing, a chronic disease and takes place in Monmouthshire’s four leisure centres.  In the last year, 61% of people referred who began the course completed the 16-week programme.  At the end of the programme participants are encouraged to continue exercising at their local leisure centre in Fit4Life exercise classes or swimming and walking groups.

While gentle exercise aids weight loss and is vital to rehabilitation following knee or hip surgery, a crucial aspect of the programme to ensure healthy well-being is friendship and laughter.  All staff guarantee correct and appropriate exercise but a key part of their role is ensuring those who take part are both mentally and physically well.

James Cook, Monmouthshire’s National Exercise Referral Scheme Coordinator said: “I am so proud that we have helped so many people become fit, active and make new friendships.  Social isolation is debilitating and the classes we provide help to prevent this.  It is wonderful to see so many people continue to attend their local leisure centres and join in with the Fit for Life classes.  Our members are an inspiration and have changed their lives by attending our programme.”

Cllr Bob Greenland Cabinet Member for Innovation, Enterprise and Leisure added; “I’m very pleased to see so many of our residents overcoming personal health challenges with the help of our excellent leisure teams.  I would like to thank James and the exercise referral team for the work they have done over the ten years.  The programme is a shining example of how a healthy body and mind are vital to enabling an ageing population to thrive and survive.”

Residents inspired to get fit and active can join Mon Leisure today and save up to 25% taking advantage of the council’s latest offer – for more information visit www.MonLeisure.co.uk

A fortnight after Storm Emma wrought havoc across Monmouthshire, snow and bitterly cold winds struck the county once again, but thankfully the impact on Sunday 18th March was much less substantial.

The council’s teams had prepared for the latest bout of severe weather and consequently there were few disruptions to services.  Although temperatures remained below zero for much of the day, the snow which had started early in the morning had largely ceased by midday.

Salting teams worked around the clock to clear the county’s roads throughout the weekend, helped by over thirty colleagues from waste & recycling and grounds maintenance who gritted car parks, hospitals, police stations and town centres.

All care, community nursing and community meals services ran near to normal with welcome help from a number of staff working on their day off.  Some inevitable disruption and prioritisation occurred but staff working in isolated areas were supported by four-wheel drive vehicles and contingency plans were put in place for rural parts of the county while the snow and ice remained.

Monmouthshire’s community hubs and libraries declared they would open as usual on Monday 19th March while only two schools in the county announced their closure.

All leisure centres opened on Sunday – including Abergavenny which had been closed in the morning – and household waste and recycling centres in Llanfoist and Caerwent stayed open for part of the day.  Usk and Mitchel Troy household waste and recycling centres remained closed as did the county’s museums though they all reopened the following day.

Council Leader Peter Fox said: “My thanks go out to those staff who once again worked over the weekend to ensure that we could prioritise the care of the elderly and vulnerable, opening roads and the safety of the community while making every effort to keep services running as normally as possible.  Hopefully, we can now look forward to more pleasant conditions and this will be the last significant snow and ice we’ll experience until next winter – but if severe weather affects us again I have every confidence we’ll pull through as before.”

 

 

 Monmouthshire County Council has approved its Corporate Plan: ‘A Monmouthshire that works for everyone’ which sets five priority goals the council will work towards by 2022.

The Corporate Plan re-states the council’s purpose of building sustainable and resilient communities and has used a range of evidence, including feedback from residents and businesses on what’s important to them, to set out the direction for delivering services now as well as planning for the long term future of Monmouthshire.

Each of the five priority goals includes a number of programmes, twenty-two in total, to which the council is committed between now and 2022.  These are:

  • The best possible start in life
  • Thriving and well-connected communities
  • Maximise the potential of the natural and built environment
  • Lifelong well-being
  • Future-focused council

Commenting after councillors agreed the plan, Council Leader Peter Fox said: “The Corporate Plan is a really important document that provides direction and a sense of what will be important to the council for the next four years, taking us up to the end of the current political term in 2022.

“The plan ensures we are focused on delivering what matters, and that we do this as efficiently and effectively as possible.  Many of the things we are doing are incredibly ambitious and are focused on the longer-term future of our county.

We recognise with less money, we will not be able to keep doing everything that we have done in the past.  We will continue to listen to our communities, find out what matters to them and focus on these areas.  We are keen to help communities build their own resilience and we believe in and are committed to social justice and supporting a fair and equal society.”

The Corporate Plan also sets out how the council will meet its requirements under the Well-being of Future Generations Act.  Residents can download a copy of the plan on the council’s website at www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/improvement and join the discussion on Twitter: @monmouthshireCC.

Monmouthshire County Council’s Youth Enterprise Team hosted an event to celebrate International Women’s Day at Chepstow School on Thursday 8th March.  In keeping with this year’s theme Press for Progress, pupils aged 12 to 17 years listened to inspirational and empowering presentations from four speakers who talked of their own personal experience and shared how they have forged successful careers in what are perceived to be male-dominated industries.

Councillor Sara Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for equalities, talked of her passion to increase the number of women in politics to make a difference for future generations.  Councillor Jones encouraged pupils to be active citizens and become involved in local groups to make changes.  Monmouthshire’s youth forum Engage 2 Change was cited as a model for young people to achieve a collective voice in tackling important issues.

Chemical engineer Maryam Farhanah explored the variety of possibilities for girls choosing engineering degrees.  Ms Farhanah, a process engineer at Mott MacDonald, described her journey and provided valuable insight, breaking down the barriers of a career in engineering.

Poppy Harris, Monmouthshire County Council’s 21st Century Support Officer discussed her career as the only woman in a team of fifteen men working on the transformation of schools in Monmouthshire, including Monmouth Comprehensive School and Caldicot School.  Poppy talked of her role and how she progressed from apprenticeship in Monmouthshire’s youth service to her current role.  Poppy shared her wise words by saying; “I’ve learnt not to be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand what people are saying.  People assume that the best attribute in the construction industry is strength, but from my experience the most important skill is communication.  It’s all about problem-solving and working as a team.  You need determination to get through the highs and lows – don’t be afraid to face your fear and get out of your comfort zone. Respect yourself and others will respect you.”

Partnership officer at Newport City Council, Chloe Beth Morgan, a former Miss Wales and Miss Universe Great Britain contestant, told of the challenges she has faced and how she has overcome stereotypical assumptions associated with modelling. She aimed to inspire and empower women to attain their goals.

Councillor Jones said: “It was heartening to be involved an event which could inspire and empower so many girls in Monmouthshire.  We need more events to break down barriers and perceptions so our future generations have the best opportunities and confidence to be equals in male-dominated careers.”

For more information about Monmouthshire Youth Enterprise Team – contact Hannah Jones HannahJones@monmouthshire.gov.uk 07738340418.

To find out more about Monmouthshire Youth Forum Engage 2 Change contact Jade Atkins Charlie-JadeAtkins@monmouthshire.gov.uk 07790355724.

 

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 Maureen Powell and Deputy Leader, Councillor Bob Greenland at County Hall in Usk were Deputy Lord Lieutenant, Mr Murray Kerr, the High Sheriff of Gwent, Mr Kevin Thomas, the Mayor of Monmouth, Cllr. Felicity Cotton, the Mayor of Usk, Cllr. Glen Roderick, the Mayor and Mayoress of Abergavenny, Cllrs David and Penny Simcock and Head of School at Coleg Gwent, Helen Morgan accompanied by students studying public service.  In addition, a number of county councillors and council staff attended.

Councillor Greenland 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.”

After raising the flag, Councillor Powell 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.  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.  She added that in the coming months we look forward to Australia’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London, when presidents and prime ministers representing more than fifty countries will confer on shared Commonwealth approaches to making the most of global opportunities and tackling together the challenges faced.

Councillor Powell was followed by her chaplain, Canon Mark Soady, 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.

 

A local village hall could be the recipient of funds to reduce its energy costs in a new green initiative aimed at community buildings in Monmouthshire and rural areas of Newport.

Funded through the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government, the Vale of Usk Local Action Group has announced its new scheme – Village Hall Energy Makeover – that provides an opportunity for venues to apply for a range of renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency measures.

The chosen hall will receive an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) as well as a contribution towards funds to install an appropriate energy efficiency measure such as LED lighting.  The South East Wales Energy Agency and non-profit community interest company Gwent Energy will support the hall management to access finance for further measures.

Up to four other halls will receive an EPC and funds to implement an appropriate energy efficiency measure.

Andrew David of South East Wales Energy Agency said: “The energy makeover project will not only benefit the selected hall as we anticipate the treated building will demonstrate what can be achieved and inspire the management of other venues to do likewise.”

This scheme is aimed at buildings and halls that demonstrate the greatest potential for improvement and are already well-used by the community.  It is open to venues based in Monmouthshire or the Llanwern, Marshfield, Graig, Caerleon and Langstone areas of Newport.  To apply or receive further details email: rdpinfo@monmouthshire.gov.uk – the closing date for applications is Friday, 30th March.

  •  Issued on behalf of Vale of Usk Local Action Group.  For further information contact Mark Lloyd – marklloyd@monmouthshire.gov.uk – or telephone 01633 644865.

Monmouthshire County Council has agreed to regain ownership and control of Abergavenny’s Borough Theatre following a decision taken at today’s (Wednesday, 28th February) cabinet meeting.  Talks between the council and the Borough Theatre (Abergavenny) Trust paved the way for the termination of the current management agreement entered into by both parties when the trust was set up in October 2013.  The trust will now cease to operate and will seek to de-register on conclusion of the handover.

 Both parties agreed that the council is best placed to provide leadership and management support for an interim period in which the viability of the theatre will be examined.

 The handover is likely to take place before April and all theatre staff will transfer to the council.  Planned events and performances will continue while the council seeks the best way forward for the theatre.

 For further information on Monmouthshire’s leisure and cultural services log onto: http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/things-to-do

 

Monmouthshire County Council has postponed its transport drop-in event scheduled for Thursday 1st March due to concerns over severe weather.  It will now be held at the same venue – Usk’s Glen-yr-Afon House Hotel – on Thursday 15th March with two identical sessions running from 10am to 12noon and 7pm to 9pm so people can choose a convenient time.

 The event is aimed at supporting self-employed independent drivers, bus and taxi operators and anyone interested in becoming a volunteer or a career in driving, transport or delivery.

 Among the items to be discussed are volunteering, starting a transport business, licensing, business support, payment options, procurement, the future of transport and more.  Senior council officers and staff from the council’s Passenger Transport Unit will be in attendance.

 Council Leader Peter Fox said: “We are committed to supporting Welsh enterprise and I’m pleased to welcome local transport businesses, volunteers and people looking for a career in transport to this event.  In our rural authority transport is critical – our children need to get to school, some of our most vulnerable people need to travel to hospitals and day centres – and we all need to keep the county moving to access work and leisure.  I’m looking forward to seeing everyone on the day – please spread the word.”

 Refreshments including Welsh cakes will be available at both sessions.

 Roadworks taking place on Usk’s Bridge Street that day may cause delays. Routes to the hotel via the A472 from Little Mill or from Caerleon via Llangybi are recommended alternatives.

 To book a place or for further details please contact beckypritchard@monmouthshire.gov.uk or amyelliott@monmouthshire.gov.uk

 

Monmouthshire’s communities have embraced the challenges brought by severe weather and have shown remarkable spirit to go above and beyond to help neighbours and strangers cope with snow-filled days.

 Local heroes reside in every town and village and Monmouthshire has more than most.  Residents have taken to social media to offer help with snow clearance and shopping as well as taking nurses and patients to and from hospital.  Responses to posts on social media have been incredible.

 Resident Lesley Long shared her local snow hero story on the council’s Facebook page.  She said: “Steve Halford and his colleague Jake attended my elderly neighbour who had an urgent medical need last night.  She had waited a considerable time and called me in search of someone with a 4×4 to get her to hospital.  I contacted Steve, he responded within 10 minutes and he and Jake took her to hospital in their four-wheel drive.  I honestly don’t know what we would have done without them as the situation was becoming serious.  They are definitely my snow heroes.”

 Pwllmeyric resident Nicola Foulkes said: “My neighbour has MS and her carers walked from Chepstow to the village to visit her – and even brought some flowers!”

 Residents from Leechpool near Portskewett were among the many who took to the byways and streets on the weekend to clear paths and roads.  Richard Cornock thanked Simon Stone and Mark Taylor for their assistance on their tractors.

 Chris Taylor of Caldicot who posted his availability to transport home carers or anyone stranded was nominated for hero status by Samantha Stewart.  Ms Stewart said: I think it’s hugely important for people to know about what Chris is doing.  He’s taking carers to their calls and nurses to hospitals.  I think he needs to be recognised as an amazing member of our community.”

 Another four-wheel owner, Ed Jones from Abergavenny spent five hours on Friday night driving nurses to and from Nevill Hall including a journey to Cardiff.

 In seven days over 900 tonnes of salt and grit have been used by the council’s highways teams, some of which has been spread with the help of local volunteers.  Operatives at Llanfoist Depot were helped by local resident and snow hero Gareth Clarke.  Unable to get to work he offered his assistance and with a trusted snow scoop cleared footpaths around the village.

 Cabinet Member for Social Justice and Community Development Councillor Sara Jones said; “It’s been so fantastic to see people coming together.  I knew we had strong communities but this shows how resilient they are in challenging times.  Some of the stories are heart-warming and I would like to thank each and every person who has taken time out to think of others.  They say actions speak louder than words and in these instances they are overwhelming.”

 

Warmer temperatures and the beginnings of a long-awaited thaw in Monmouthshire signalled the start of normality for council services across the county.

Council staff continue to work around the clock ploughing and gritting roads and delivering care to the elderly and vulnerable while warm meals have been provided by Monmouthshire’s community meals team.

In seven days over 900 tonnes of grit and salt have been used by the council’s highways teams, assisted by around 50 colleagues from waste & recycling and grounds maintenance.  Twelve gritting lorries and over twenty contractors from the agricultural community have taken to their vehicles using ploughs and blowers to make snow-filled roads passable.  Even local volunteers have lent a welcome hand.  Unable to get to work, Llanfoist resident Gareth Clarke offered his services and cleared footpaths around the village.  This teamwork has resulted in the clearance of main routes, town centres, roads near hospitals and crucial urban, bus and school routes as well as ensuring patients needing NHS dialysis can leave isolated homes to receive treatment.  A significant number of remote rural routes remain blocked but the council continues to grit, plough and dig the roads out on a 24 hour basis.

Most of Monmouthshire’s schools will re-open on Monday in the wake of Storm Emma.  The council’s website and social media channels as well as school websites have issued bulletins and by Sunday afternoon 31 of the county’s 35 schools declared they would be open on Monday morning.  Only one planned on remaining closed.

All Monmouthshire’s household waste and recycling centres will be available to the public on Monday and the council’s refuse staff will endeavour to catch up on collections this week after assisting their highways colleagues in snow clearance.

All of the council’s leisure centres opened their doors on Sunday and this pattern will continue on Monday and the rest of the week.  Abergavenny and Monmouth museums were open as usual on Sunday and normal hours will resume from Monday.  Meanwhile Chepstow Museum is closed until 19th March for routine planned maintenance.

Council Leader Peter Fox said: “It’s been a huge challenge over the past four days but staff have worked together on a 24 hour basis and throughout the weekend to ensure we can prioritise the care of the elderly and vulnerable, opening roads and the safety of the community while making every effort to keep services running as normally as possible.  I’m proud of the way staff have risen to the challenge and I’d also like to thank our communities for their kind comments, patience and understanding while we coped with the aftermath of the most severe weather for many years.”

Residents are advised to log onto www.monmouthshire.gov.uk for further information.

View our Winter Weather updates page

Monmouthshire woke on Friday 2nd March to a thick blanket of snow with Storm Emma’s severe weather continuing to affect the county.  Council workers had worked around the clock to ensure major routes were open and elderly and vulnerable residents received care.  Even though the red weather alert had given way to yellow, significant amounts of snow were still falling throughout the day accompanied by high winds.

 The council’s community meals team continued to work across the county and they were aided by a new recruit – Council Leader Peter Fox – who drove his four-wheel drive vehicle in heavy snow around Usk, Abergavenny and surrounding areas to deliver hot food.  Councillor Fox said: “I’ve had an amazing day experiencing the wonderful, essential work of our community meals teams. It’s amazing what a difference a smiley face and warm meal can make to someone’s day; it’s been a real pleasure to help.  The snow is still quite thick in places out there so we advise people not to travel unless necessary.  Keep warm, make a hot chocolate, enjoy some time at home and please keep an eye on your neighbours.”

Monmouthshire’s care at home teams continued to make visits on foot or with support from four-wheel drive vehicles and drivers to cover priority calls.  The service has been very grateful for the welcome offers of the use of four-wheel drive vehicles to transport staff to and from calls and workplaces.  All those who didn’t receive a visit have been telephoned to ensure they are safe and well. Contingency plans have been ongoing for the day and tomorrow morning.  The council’s day centres remained closed today but residential services are running as normal with managers continuing to ensure staffing is maintained.

 Councillor Penny Jones, cabinet member with responsibility for social care and health said: “I’ve been very impressed by Monmouthshire’s community spirit in severe weather with lots of people volunteering to help with transport.  I’d also urge people to check on elderly and vulnerable neighbours to see whether they’re keeping warm and have everything they need while temperatures remain low and it’s difficult to get out and about.”

 The council’s gritting teams have continuously treated primary routes and ploughed as necessary though highways officers have stressed that people should only travel if their journeys were absolutely necessary.  Councillor Bryan Jones, cabinet member for county operations said: “We’re in the midst of severe conditions so do not drive unless you absolutely have to and leave the roads clear for the emergency services and essential workers.”

Gritting teams are working tirelessly and plan to work 24 hour shifts until Monday afternoon.  Snow continues to fall and drift but the county’s primary routes should improve tomorrow when the weather subsides.  Twelve gritting lorries and ploughs are operating on the roads assisted by 24 agricultural contractors with blades, blowers and tractors as well as colleagues from the council’s grounds and waste and recycling teams.  Over 80 people are participating in road clearance.

 The severe weather meant that many council services were closed.  Among these were the county’s leisure centres, community hubs, community education classes, household waste and recycling centres and all schools.  Waste and recycling collection was suspended as crews were redeployed clearing snow to ensure roads are clear for essential services as well as in town centres.  Waste and recycling teams will endeavour to collect refuse from yesterday and today early next week.

 It is likely that Abergavenny, Caldicot, Chepstow and Monmouth leisure centres will remain closed to the public tomorrow though this will be subject to review early in the morning.  If they are opened some facilities will be unavailable and all swimming lessons in Abergavenny will be cancelled.

Museums will remain closed tomorrow and the county’s markets will be unavailable until Tuesday.

 Household waste and recycling centres will be closed on Saturday but it is hoped they will be open the following day.  Abergavenny Library will open as usual at 9am on Saturday but all community hubs and Gilwern Library will be closed.  The likelihood is that community hubs will open as usual on Monday.

 Residents are advised to log on to the council’s website or telephone if appropriate to check which services are operating.

 Meanwhile, the council’s contact centre operated as usual from 9am to 4.30pm with assistance from community hub staff.  Contact centre workers advised patience due to the high number of calls received.

 The council’s social media Facebook and Twitter pages have been very busy during the severe weather disseminating useful information.  In addition, residents have submitted lots of pictures with snow scenes and an appeal was made for four-wheel vehicles so that a weekend wedding could take place in an isolated area of the county!

 

HIGH TIDES – TINTERN (4th MARCH 2018)

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 date and time:-

Sunday 4th March 2018 Between 09.10am – 09:50am (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 was subjected to severe weather early on St David’s Day as Storm Emma’s high winds and heavy snow gathered momentum, causing difficulties across the county.  The increasing severity was emphasised when, just after 8am, the Met Office announced that it was upgrading its amber warning for snow and wind to a red warning for much of the county from 3pm.

The council has prioritised the care of the elderly and vulnerable, the treatment of main road surfaces and the safety of the community while making every effort to keep services running as normally as possible.  Inevitably, though, the weather took its toll.

Many schools had already announced their closure on Wednesday evening but by 10am the council advised all headteachers and governors to make arrangements to close as soon as practically possible following the deteriorating forecast.  In addition, it was announced that all of Monmouthshire’s schools would be closed on Friday, 2nd March.

The council’s community meals team delivered food to all service users who required it and made contingency plans for tomorrow.  If staff are unable to deliver on Friday because of worsening conditions, service users will be contacted by phone and if they need assistance they will be prioritised.  The community meals service has the use of a number of four-wheel drive vehicles while the bad weather persists.

Meanwhile, care at home teams have been working around the county with support from four-wheel drive vehicles and drivers to cover the most necessary calls.  All other people have been contacted by telephone and plans are in place for this evening and tomorrow.  The council’s day centres have been closed today and will also close tomorrow but residential services are running as normal with preparations to ensure staffing is maintained during the most adverse weather conditions.

The council’s gritting teams continuously treated primary routes and ploughed as necessary though highways officers have stressed that people should only travel if their journeys were absolutely necessary.  Councillor Bryan Jones, the council’s cabinet member for county operations said: “We’re in the midst of severe conditions with a red warning in place.  Do not drive unless you absolutely have to and leave the roads clear for the emergency services and essential workers.”

Household waste and recycling centres closed at 3pm today though it is hoped that the Llanfoist and Five Lanes premises will be open tomorrow.  Residents are advised to check the council’s website after 9.30am.  The sites at Usk and Mitchel Troy will be closed all day on Friday to ensure the safety of residents and staff.

Refuse and recycling crews completed as many rounds as possible but some minor roads proved too dangerous to access. The council will prioritise the collection of refuse while requesting the community to store recycling, food and garden waste until the next collection.  Staff unable to collect waste on Friday will join colleagues in grounds maintenance and highways to clear snow and ensure access to essential services.

Abergavenny, Caldicot, Chepstow and Monmouth leisure centres were closed to the public by noon and a decision will be made to open on Friday – residents should log on to the council’s website or telephone to check if centres are open.  The county’s museums were also closed today and will stay closed tomorrow as will the council’s community hubs.  The adverse weather also claimed the markets scheduled to be held in Abergavenny and Monmouth tomorrow.  A decision will be made regarding Saturday’s markets and publicised on the council’s social media channels.

The council’s main offices in Usk and Magor also opened this morning but closed as the weather deteriorated.  They will remain closed tomorrow.  Thanks to the council’s agile working policy, many staff unable to travel to their normal workplace are able to log in anywhere with wi-fi, including their homes, using their laptops  They are contactable by telephone, email and various messaging services like Skype and consequently, severe weather doesn’t impact particularly on the service provided by these employees.  For instance, the council’s contact centre staff are working remotely and operated as usual from 9am to 5pm and will be running from 9am to 4.30pm tomorrow.  Residents can ring the contact centre on 01633 644644.

Council leader Peter Fox said: “It’s at times like this that everyone turns to their local council.  Our staff have worked constantly to operate many of our key services today and continue to provide support to the most vulnerable people in the county.  I am so proud of what we have done to support the communities we serve today and I know that our staff will continue to work throughout the weekend doing their utmost to keep our strategic routes open, our vulnerable people safe and our county open for business.”

Monmouthshire County Council will consider its budget for next year at its meeting on Thursday, 1st March.  Another difficult settlement from Wales Government (a reduction from the current year) accentuates the difficulties for the county which already receives the lowest level of funding by some distance of any part of Wales.

The proposed budget sees a year on year increase of £500,000 in funding for schools and an allocation of £400,000 to bring forward investment in digital technology at King Henry VIII Comprehensive and Chepstow School, recognising that Caldicot and Monmouth’s secondary schools have seen similar investments as part of their new builds.

Another headline investment sees an additional £300,000 made available to keep pace with the demand for household adaptations to enable elderly and disabled people to live safely in their own home.  Over and above this, there is an increase of £1.65m to recognise pressures within the children and adult social care budgets largely driven by more children entering the care system.

Previous policy commitments in areas such as waste management to ensure that rates of re-use and recycling continue to rise are fully funded.  In addition, the council continues to meet the full cost of the real living wage and in doing so cements its position as an ethical, socially aware employer.  The intention to build a new secondary school in Abergavenny and to complete the programme of building community hubs in the five principal towns is also confirmed as is an expectation to spend c. £6.2m on maintaining roads and pavements.

There will be no reductions in the frequency of grass cutting across the county and blue badge holders will not be charged for parking in council car parks.

The council will receive a recommendation that includes a 4.95% increase in council tax and brings forward increases in charges in areas such as the price of a school meal.

Councillor Phil Murphy, Cabinet Member for Resources said: “Setting a budget for an organisation as complex as Monmouthshire County Council is not straightforward.  Everything that we do is important and making choices which involve reductions is not straightforward.  We have developed a budget strategy which will see the priorities that were set out in our recently published Corporate Plan delivered.  We are not proposing any major service closures or withdrawals.  We have tried to be balanced in our considerations and set a direction that is good for the whole county and reflects the many, sometimes conflicting, priorities of citizens.  I’m sure there will be strong views on this budget and that is part of democracy, but the public can be assured that the council is doing its best in difficult circumstances to promote the ongoing sustainability and resilience of the whole county.”

Monmouthshire County Council recently took the decision to reintroduce the ‘Control of goods displayed on the public highway’ policy. Having considered the concerns of local business it has been decided to remove all fees involved in issuing a licence for ‘A’ boards. Similarly the fees involved in the issuing of a licence for the commercial use of the highway ( eg. café areas, sale and display areas or similar business use) will, in the first year, be reduced to 50% of the original charge. However these fees will be reviewed annually.

The policy still protects the concerns of the public, who expect safe access to their pavement and pedestrianised areas.

It is our intention to begin contacting businesses shortly, and we will hope to visit them all over the coming few months.

Flyposting Leaflet

Flyer LETTER DROP ABOARD AND COMMERCIAL

Monmouthshire County Council is hosting a transport drop-in event at Usk’s Glen-yr-Afon House Hotel on Thursday 1st March with two identical sessions running from 10am to 12noon and 7pm to 9pm so people can choose a convenient time.  The event is aimed at supporting self-employed independent drivers, bus and taxi operators and anyone interested in becoming a volunteer or a career in driving, transport or delivery.

Among the items to be discussed are volunteering, starting a transport business, licensing, business support, payment options, procurement, the future of transport and more.  Senior council officers and staff from the council’s Passenger Transport Unit will be in attendance.

Council Leader Peter Fox said: “We are committed to supporting Welsh business and what better time to promote this than on St. David’s Day.  I’m pleased to welcome local transport businesses, volunteers and people looking for a career in transport to this event.  In our rural authority transport is critical – our children need to get to school, some of our most vulnerable people need to travel to hospitals and day centres – and we all need to keep the county moving to access work and leisure.  I’m looking forward to seeing everyone on the day – please spread the word.”

Refreshments including Welsh cakes will be available at both sessions.

Roadworks taking place on Usk’s Bridge Street that day may cause delays. Routes to the hotel via the A472 from Little Mill or from Caerleon via Llangybi are recommended alternatives.

To book a place or for further details please contact beckypritchard@monmouthshire.gov.uk or amyelliott@monmouthshire.gov.uk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

On Thursday 15th February Monmouthshire County Council Foster Care team will be at The Angel Hotel Abergavenny, from 10.00am – 12.00pm and 7.00pm – 9.00pm to meet and greet residents of Monmouthshire who are interested in becoming Foster Carers.

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

There is a huge need for more foster carers and the team hope that the meet and greet sessions will encourage more and more people to consider making such an important decision for children and young people in Monmouthshire.

Individuals not able to attend the meet and greet session are able to gain information and guidance about the steps to they need to take to make a difference to a child in Monmouthshire via the website: www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/fostering

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

 

11.00 am – 2.00pm   Tuesday 13th February Abergavenny Market

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

Penny Jones Cabinet Member for Social Care, Safeguarding and Health said:

‘I strongly believe that our babies, children and young people in Monmouthshire have every right to have the best possible start in life. Monmouthshire families can help make this difference to our children. The foster team are doing a fantastic job engaging with communities to support our children. I encourage those who are thinking about becoming a Foster Carer to come along, visit the website or give the team a call.’

To make a difference visit:  www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/fostering or call 01873 735950

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Cllr Phil Murphy Cabinet member for Resources said:

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

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

ENDS

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ALTERNATIVE ROUTE

Signed diversionary routes will be in place as follows:

Hardwick Hill Lane (eastern leg):

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

and vice versa

Bulwark Road:

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

and vice versa.

Dated: 2nd January 2018

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

SCHEDULE

Hardwick Hill Lane, Chepstow

For its entire length

Bulwark Road, Chepstow

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The closure points will be as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Councillor Maureen Powell

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Mike Moran

Monmouthshire County Council

County Hall

Usk

NP15 1GA

 by 5pm on Thursday 18th January.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

The offices of Monmouthshire County Council will be closed on:

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

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

For Social Services emergencies please call 0800 328 4432

Our opening times excluding Bank Holidays are:

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

Refuse Collections:

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

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

There will be no collection on Monday 1st January.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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