Two Welsh charities have benefited from funds collected in aid of Monmouthshire’s past Chairman’s appeal.

Councillor Maureen Powell selected the Wales Air Ambulance and Alzheimer’s Society Cymru as her chosen charities during her term of office (May 2017 to May 2018) and she was delighted to welcome representatives of both organisations to County Hall in Usk to pass on cheques for £1,592.20.

Wales Air Ambulance Community Co-ordinator Liesel Townley said: “On behalf of the charity I would like to sincerely thank everyone involved in the Chairman’s appeal, especially Councillor Maureen Powell, for the kind donation of £1,592.20.  Wales Air Ambulance relies upon donations and support from the public to help us provide our life-saving service so this is a welcoming contribution – thank you.

“Wales Air Ambulance attends over 2,000 missions every year to those who are most vulnerable.  We can be on scene in an average of 15 minutes and our doctors are getting equipped with the latest equipment so this is helping us to bring lifesaving A&E department treatment to patients so they don’t have to wait until they arrive in hospital.”

Rhia Stankovic, Gwent & De Powis Community Fundraiser for Alzheimer’s Society Cymru added: “Every penny donated to Alzheimer’s Society Cymru is making sure we can be there for people affected by dementia.  Thanks to the support of Councillor Maureen Powell we have been able to continue providing local support services in Monmouthshire to people affected by dementia which include our integrated dementia support service and community support service along with our dementia cafes and activity groups.

“For every pound we received, we spent 89p on directly improving the lives of people with dementia.  The other 11p goes towards generating future income.  With your support, we will make even greater progress towards our vision of a world without dementia.

“We are also the only UK charity investing in research into dementia care, cause, cure and prevention.  We’ve committed to spending £150 million on cutting-edge research over the next decade.  Every project we fund directly addresses the needs and concerns of people affected by dementia.”

Councillor Powell commented: “I am very pleased to support the wonderful work by Wales Air Ambulance and Alzheimer’s Society Cymru and my thanks go to John, my Consort, for supporting me throughout and to the many members, staff and supporters from the council and elsewhere while representing the county as Chairman.”

Caldicot Castle will host its annual fireworks spectacular on Sunday 4th November, with gates opening at 4.30pm and a display lasting over 20 minutes starting at approximately 7pm.  The annual event is ranked one of the top ten Welsh displays by media website WalesOnline.  Organised by Monmouthshire County Council, in association with the Monmouthshire Building Society, supported by Caldicot Town Council and community volunteer organisations, and in partnership with Capital FM, it attracts large crowds and has become increasingly popular.  It’s no ordinary show, as the castle walls are a stunning backdrop to an astonishing spectacle of fireworks, music and incredible lights painting the night sky.

Tickets costing £7.50 for adults and £4.50 for children, as well as further information, are available by visiting www.visitmonmouthshire.com/fireworks.  Children under three get free entry but will still require a ticket to attend.  Organisers stress that this is a ticket-only event, no tickets will be on sale at the gate and residents should avoid disappointment by purchasing early as tickets sold out last year.  Children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult.

Free parking is available at the local Asda supermarket, Castle Gate and the Jubilee Way car park in the centre of Caldicot.  In addition to fireworks, there will be live music and entertainment from Capital FM, children’s funfair rides, a licensed bar, food and drink stands and performances from fire dancers.

County Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for leisure and tourism said: “This is the sixth year we’ve held a spectacular firework display here and Caldicot Castle is the perfect venue for this sort of occasion.  Families can look forward to a fabulous display and great entertainment.”

Monmouthshire County Council has embraced a national campaign to encourage people to pick up after their dogs.  Council staff met with Keep Wales Tidy Project Officer, Tom Ward-Jackson at Abergavenny’s Bailey Park early in the morning of Wednesday 10th October to hand out poo bags to dog owners and encourage them to use them at all times.  Dog fouling is a particular problem on sports fields where it presents a serious health risk to users.

The occasion coincided with the Keep Wales Tidy National Enforcement Day of Action which aims to highlight the good work done to tackle local environmental issues and raise awareness that it’s a crime to litter and fail to pick up dog fouling.

Tom Ward-Jackson said: “It was great to meet lots of dog owners on the day who were very supportive of the message that allowing your dog to foul in public places just isn’t acceptable.  We need these initiatives to spread the word to the few that risk spoiling our green spaces for the rest of the community.”

The council’s action builds on the work of the Give Dog Fouling the Red Card initiative – a partnership between the county council’s environmental health, waste and street cleaning teams as well as a number of town and community councils and the police. The campaign runs events in the county to encourage all dog owners to clean up after their pets, one of the issues most frequently raised by residents.

County Councillor Sara Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for public protection said: “I’m pleased that we’re working in partnership with Keep Wales Tidy today.  Our message is very clear – do not allow your dog to foul on sports pitches, or elsewhere. It’s still a real problem.”

For more information log onto: www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/recycling-and-waste/dogfouling

Members of Chepstow’s Thornwell Primary School Eco-Club have embraced a national campaign to help rid their locality of litter.  Meeting with Monmouthshire County Council staff on Wednesday 10th October near Summerhouse Lane, Eco-Club members collected litter to remind the community how important it is to look after the environment.  The children shared stories of how dangerous litter can be to wildlife.

The occasion coincided with the Keep Wales Tidy National Enforcement Day of Action which aims to highlight the good work done to tackle local environmental issues and raise awareness that it’s a crime to litter.

Susie King, Thornwell Primary School’s Eco-Club Co-ordinator said: “Children are so aware of the damage done by humans to our environment. They have a real sense of responsibility for taking matters into their hands to try and make the environment fit for all. It’s joyous to see them educating others, we can learn so much from them! Litter is a problem that affects all of us, and our animal neighbours, and we should work together to combat it.”

Cllr Bryan Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for county operations added: “It’s heartening to see young people acting as ambassadors for a litter-free environment and stressing that litter should be binned or taken home rather than thrown in the street.”

For more information log onto: https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/recycling-and-waste/dogfouling

A partnership between Monmouthshire County Council, Monmouth Town Council, the Royal British Legion, the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers, Rotary Monmouth and other local organisations will commemorate and honour those who contributed to the war effort in Monmouth one hundred years ago. Funding from the Armed Forces Covenant Trust to support a week’s full programme of events has been secured by the town council.  The programme will focus on Monmouth’s First World War service men and women as well as their families and in addition to concerts and exhibitions, people will be able to join in historical walks, period object handling, poetry and drama.

The programme has been planned by representatives from community organisations including guided walk specialists Walkers are Welcome.  The Savoy and The Blake theatres, Monmouth Museum and Shire Hall, with its emotive handcrafted poppy display, will host events while Monmouth’s churches will provide opportunities for remembrance and local primary schools will participate in activities and learning related to the Great War.

Among the highlights are a firework display at the town’s annual Rotary bonfire night on Monday 5th November, a performance by Monmouth Male Voice Choir with Monmouth Town Band at the Blake Theatre on Friday, November 2nd, an exhibition of model tanks at Shire Hall decorated by pupils from Kymin View, Osbaston and Overmonnow primary schools and a series of lectures and screening of contemporary silent films at the Bridges Centre.  The week’s events will culminate in the annual Remembrance Parade on Sunday 11th November and a recreation of the Armistice announcement made by the Mayor of Monmouth, William Sambrook in November 1918.

Meanwhile, Monmouth Museum is appealing for information on family members who served or contributed to the war effort so they may be included in the town’s roll of honour.  Residents and relations are requested to contact the museum with any relevant photographs and relevant documents.

Monmouthshire’s Armed Forces Champion, Councillor Laura Jones said: “Monmouth has long been associated with the armed forces and it is a fitting location for us to remember the sacrifices and achievements of those who served a century ago.  I’d like to say a big thank you to all those organisations who have come together to arrange the week’s activities and offer grateful appreciation to the Armed Forces Covenant Trust for its support.”

For more information and updates on Monmouth’s World War One community commemorations and how to take part, log on to Twitter @Monmouth_1 or the MonmouthPoppies2018 Facebook page.

A young person from Monmouthshire has been nominated to cycle in this year’s Rickshaw Challenge in aid of BBC Children in Need. Kieran is one of six inspirational young people who have been chosen to cycle more than 400 miles to raise money for BBC Children in Need and change the lives of children and young people across the UK..

The challenge which began on Friday 9th November will see Kieran and the team cycle from Calais through the Channel Tunnel over to Folkestone and will travel across England and Wales to finally arrive in Salford ahead of the live BBC Children in Need Appeal Show on Friday November 16th. Since 2011, The Rickshaw Challenge has raised over £21 million for BBC Children in Need, and every penny that’s donated goes towards helping children and young people across the UK. To find out more about the route and how you can donate: www.bbc.co.uk/pudsey.

Kieran grew up as a young carer for his mum and his younger siblings. Eventually Kieran became unable to cope. He struggled to control his feelings and acted up at school. By the age of 13 things had become so difficult that Kieran was placed in foster care and gradually he began to change his life. For many years Kieran has been brought up by kind and loving foster parents and is an inspiration to young people across Wales.  Unconditional support has been provided by Monmouthshire County Council Children’s Service team to help him develop into the young person he is today and reach his full potential. Today Kieran is training to be an electrician and he is once again close to his mum and siblings.

Kieran was nominated by a BBC Children in Need funded project called The Hwb, Torfaen and has 1000 volunteer hours with the organisation. Over the past five years Kieran has been an active member of his community and an advocate for young people.

The Hwb has provided a consistent support network for Kieran providing opportunities, emotional support and numerous qualifications and accreditations.

In 2017 Kieran received the prestigious “Diana” award for his commitment to volunteering, and even found time to train and run the 2017 Cardiff Half Marathon with “Alfie’s Army” alongside welsh rugby legend Gareth “Alfie” Thomas.

He continues to help and support local children and young people as a volunteer play worker part of the very successful summer play schemes that took place in Torfaen and Monmouthshire.

Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care Cllr Penny Jones said: ‘What a fantastic achievement. I wish Kieran the best of luck in facing the challenge and hope that he raises lots of money for BBC Children in Need. I am so pleased that Kieran has, like so many other children and young people, received so much support from Monmouthshire Foster Care Team. It really shows how being a foster carer can change the lives of so many young people in so many ways. I encourage people to think about becoming foster carers, to give more children and young people the best start in life.’

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

The project forms part of the wider Cardiff Capital Region’s draft regeneration plan, which the council approved for submission to the Welsh Government’s Targeted Regeneration Investment (TRI) programme in September.  An apartment complex, a vibrant shopping centre, improved accessibility and new road infrastructure could be built over the next three years.

With improvements to the town’s green infrastructure due to take place during October and November, the next project to be delivered will be a redevelopment of the Cross area of the town centre that aims to improve accessibility, stronger links with the castle and country park and provide a better setting for events and activity.

Please carefully read the information in the PDF documents here before giving your views through the online survey here.

This is the reported road situation in Monmouthshire at 8.55am on Monday, 15th October:

All Monmouthshire’s roads are open  apart from:

  • Llangwilym Lane (near Llansantffraed)
  • The straight mile between Llantrissent and Newbridge on Usk

The A4042 from Little Mill to Abergavenny has reopened –  see Traffic Wales website for updates: http://www.traffic-wales.com/Home.aspx?lang=en-GB

Road closures on the Welsh Government’s trunk routes and motorways (A4042, A40, A465, A449, M4, M48, A466 near Chepstow) can be accessed by logging onto: www.traffic-wales.com/

Residents are asked to take extra care on the roads in view of the current bad weather.  Please slow down, keep your distance and take heed of warnings on local radio.  If a sign warns that a road is closed please take heed.

The Natural Resources Wales and Met Office websites and their social media accounts are good sources of information too:

For general guidance on flooding please click this link for advice from our Emergency Planning team:

www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/services/planning-for-emergencies/flooding

Monmouthshire’s Facebook and Twitter pages will be fully active over the weekend giving the latest on road and driving conditions.

  • Grateful thanks to our highways and grounds teams and other staff who will provide 24/7 cover over the weekend to ensure our residents are safe and roads are passable.

Residents are asked to take extra care on the roads today and tomorrow in view of the current bad weather.  Please slow down, keep your distance and take heed of warnings on local radio.

The Natural Resources Wales and Met Office websites and their social media accounts are good sources of information too:

 

 

For general guidance on flooding please click this link for advice from our Emergency Planning team:

www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/services/planning-for-emergencies/flooding

 

Monmouthshire’s Facebook and Twitter pages will be fully active over the weekend giving the latest on road and driving conditions.

 

  • Grateful thanks to our highways and grounds teams and other staff who will provide 24/7 cover over the weekend to ensure our residents are safe and roads are passable.

Young people of all ages who identify themselves as transgender came together for a Well-being Day on Saturday 29th September 2018 at Hilston Park, Monmouth. The day saw a number of young people from Monmouthshire and across South East Wales meet up for a day of information, advice and pampering.

The event provided an opportunity for young people to make new friendships, seek advice and support in a safe space. The event was coordinated by young people who have gained support from Monmouthshire Youth Service LGBT group. Partners such as Gwent Police, N- Gage a substance misuse organisation and Monmouthshire Leisure hosted information sessions.

Feeling well inside and out is important for young people, and especially for transgender young people who can feel vulnerable. Those who attended welcomed the day as a chance to be themselves and hear from a wide range organisations who were able to promote activities to support both mental and physical health.

Monmouthshire Leisure service delivered one to one sessions on healthy eating and physical wellbeing. Everyone who attended took part in relaxing Tai Chi sessions. Hilston Park was the perfect picturesque retreat for the day. Face 2 Face counselling offered support in a quiet area, and talked with young people about how to access emotional wellbeing support from the service.

Issues that young people have identified as important were discussed. Substance misuse advice and support was provided by N- Gage, an organisation that helps young people from across Gwent. Young people were able to talk honestly and openly about Hate Crime and seek advice from Gwent Police in a safe environment.

Pampering sessions and mini makeovers were popular and were led by local hair stylists and beauticians who gave advice on skin care, make up application. The ‘Hilston Park Boutique’ –a pop up shop provided young people with a range of clothes to try on and experiment with different looks.

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

‘I would like to thank everyone who came along to the day. It’s so important to listen to and act on what young people need. I am so pleased that many of our partners attended to provide valuable advice and support to the young people. Thank you to everyone who donated clothes for the pop up boutique – it was a great asset to the day and the young people loved it. I would also like to thank the Starbucks team on the south Monmouth services for their kind donations towards the refreshments and to all the other organisations who were involved in making the day a huge success and who offered their support and services freely on the day.’

For more information contact Kelly Christopher: KellyChristopher2@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:-

Friday 12th October     Between 08.40 – 10.00 (approx.)

Friday 12th October     Between 20.55 – 22.15 (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.

 

Usk Community Hub will host the launch of a collection of books offering information for people living with dementia.  Taking place from 10am to 12noon on Wednesday 17th October, the unveiling of the Reading Well for Dementia book collection includes the option of a cream tea with tea or coffee plus a scone for only £1.  The invitation is open to all.

Delivered by The Reading Agency, the Reading Well series provides accredited and helpful reading to support health and wellbeing.  It is endorsed by leading health partners and delivered in public libraries.  The scheme will be introduced across Wales over the next two years with funding from the Welsh Government and in partnership with the Society of Chief Librarians Cymru, beginning with Reading Well for Dementia in 2018 and followed by Reading Well for Mental Health next year.

The core booklist of 24 titles provides information and advice about dementia, support following diagnosis, practical advice for carers, personal accounts and suggestions for shared activities.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for community hubs, Councillor Paul Jordan said: “The launch of the Reading Well for Dementia book collection will benefit not only people living with dementia but also carers, relatives and others.  This is a great example of how our community hubs provide much-needed help on a local and easy to access basis.”

Log onto https://reading-well.org.uk/ for further information on the Reading Well series.

Monmouthshire County Council will hold two engagement sessions in Caldicot’s community hub to inform the public about its ambitious plans for regenerating the town centre and to seek views on proposals for the adjacent Cross area.

The project forms part of the wider Cardiff Capital Region’s draft regeneration plan, which the council approved for submission to the Welsh Government’s Targeted Regeneration Investment (TRI) programme in September.  An apartment complex, a vibrant shopping centre, improved accessibility and new road infrastructure could be built over the next three years.

With improvements to the town’s green infrastructure due to take place during October and November, the next project to be delivered will be a redevelopment of the Cross area of the town centre that aims to improve accessibility, stronger links with the castle and country park and provide a better setting for events and activity.  Proposals on this and the town centre will be featured in Caldicot Community Hub between 10am and 5pm on Monday, 15th October and between 10am and 7pm on Tuesday, 16th October.  Members of the public will have the opportunity to learn more about the proposals and to provide valuable feedback in shaping the scheme.

County Councillor Sara Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for community engagement said: “This is an exciting time for Caldicot as we look to improve the connection between the town centre and castle.  This includes making the area around Caldicot Cross more welcoming for pedestrians and cyclists.”

 

Monmouthshire will celebrate Libraries Week with a range of roadshow events across the county as well as varied activities in the council’s community hubs and libraries.

Libraries Week takes place from 8th to 13th October and this year, with a focus on wellbeing, libraries across the country will demonstrate how they bring communities together, combat loneliness, provide a space for reading and creativity and support people with their mental health.  It’s not just public libraries – libraries of all kinds in schools, workplaces and universities have amazing services that improve our wellbeing.

The council’s community hubs and libraries will feature rhyme time, knit and natter groups, various shared reading groups and other activities during the week.  In addition, the roadshow will call at the following locations:

  • Monday, 8th October: 10am to 12noon – Shire Hall, Monmouth
  • Monday, 8th October: 2pm to 4pm – Raglan car park
  • Tuesday, 9th October: 11am to 2pm – Magor Baptist Hall
  • Thursday, 11th October: 10am to 12noon – Usk country market
  • Thursday, 11th October: 2pm to 4pm – outside Chepstow Community Hub
  • Friday, 12th October: 10am to 12noon – Abergavenny Market Hall

 

Councillor Bob Greenland, cabinet member with responsibility for community hubs and libraries said: “We’re very much looking forward to celebrating Libraries Week in Monmouthshire and welcoming you to our libraries, community hubs and roadshow events.  Come along to chat about what we have to offer, join the library and give us feedback on our service.  We aim to offer a space where people can come together to be part of their community, explore their creativity and gain support when required.”

For further information on #LibrariesWeek log onto www.librariesweek.org.uk

Monmouthshire County Council is alerting parents and guardians of children due to start secondary education next September that the closing date to apply for school places is looming.

Children attending Year 6 at primary school will transfer to a secondary school in September 2019, and parents are urged to complete their applications before the 30th November closing date.  This will give them the best chance of ensuring that their child attends their preferred school.  Parents resident in Monmouthshire must apply to the council even if their preferred school lies outside the county’s borders (excluding schools in Newport where applications are to be made directly to the city council).

Parents may apply using the council’s online application system.  For more information, visit: www.monmouthshire.gov.uk

Alternately, parents may request an application pack by telephoning the council’s admissions team on 01633 644508 or emailing: accesstolearning@monmouthshire.gov.uk

The completion of an application form expressing written preference for a school is a legal necessity set out in the School Admissions Code of Practice.  In addition, while each school within the county serves a specific catchment area, parents or guardians can not assume that their children will automatically gain entry.  Parents who submit application forms by the deadline on 30th November 2018 will be informed which school their child will attend no later than 1st March 2019.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for schools and learning, Councillor Richard John said: “It’s vital that parents apply for school places on time.  Applications not submitted by the deadline will be considered after those received on time, meaning parents who apply late may be less likely to secure a place at their preferred school – even if they have other children already in the school.  I would urge parents to apply as soon as possible.”

Contact the School and Student Access Unit on 01633 644508 or email accesstolearning@monmouthshire.gov.uk for further information.

 

Monmouthshire County Council is pleased to announce that it has acquired Castlegate Business Park in Caldicot from Robert Hitchins Ltd. The business park sits on a circa 17 acre site and provides 252,000 square foot of serviced accommodation. It is home to some of the most important commercial interests in the county including Mitel Networks, Microsemi, and a host of SMEs. This acquisition is the latest move in the Council’s thoughtful build out of a commercial portfolio. It supplements recent ventures such as the establishment of a livestock market near Raglan, A Solar Farm in Crick and provision of Grade A office accommodation for commercial let on Wales 1 Business Park in Magor. Castlegate will yield a return on investment that is consistent with the Council’s expectation, it consolidates a key strategic site at the gateway to South East Wale and it demonstrates through action a commitment to the continued regeneration of Caldicot.

Councillor Bob Greenland, Cabinet Member for Enterprise said “I am delighted that we have been able to complete this deal. The acquisition helps take forward a number of our strategic goals and is a clear demonstration to investors nationally and internationally that Monmouthshire is a great place to do business. Being able to share this news so soon after Monmouthshire having been recognised as having the most vibrant economy in Wales is a great opportunity to demonstrate that we will not be resting on our laurels. Monmouthshire County Council has never been afraid to take a commercial approach, to innovate and be creative where it helps us promote the vitality of our county and this is a path that we will continue to follow”

Simon Tothill, Property and Development Director of Robert Hitchins Ltd, added: “Having implemented a successful asset management strategy over a number of years, Castlegate Business Park is close to full occupation and plays an important role in the local economy.  The sale to Monmouthshire County Council made sense and the council is well positioned to benefit from an attractive rental stream whilst investing in its own region. This sale fits with Robert Hitchins’ ongoing investment strategy with money released from this sale allowing us to reinvest in existing assets and new developments throughout South Wales.”

Alder King LLP represented Monmouthshire CC and JLL represented Robert Hitchins Ltd

 

 

Free start – up workshops, hosted by Business Wales the Welsh Government’s flagship business support service are taking place to help and support people from and Monmouth and Abergavenny who are considering starting or running their own business.

The start-up workshops cover a variety of topics, including developing a business idea, sourcing finance, business planning, pricing and marketing, and will take place between 9.15am and 4.00pm on Wednesday, 31st October in Abergavenny’s Youth Centre (Old Hereford Road) and in the Bridges Centre in Monmouth on Tuesday, 13th November.

The courses aim to aid budding entrepreneurs to take the plunge and turn their business ideas into reality. All of the workshops are designed and delivered by experienced Business Wales advisers and provide knowledge, useful facts and practical advice to people who want to develop their business skills and get ready for self-employment.

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

Melanie Phipps, Business Adviser at Business Wales, said: “Our role as business advisers is to share experience and knowledge and instil confidence among people at the start of their business journey.

“Our fully-funded workshops provide a great starting point for all attendees who want to gain an understanding of the key principles and practical skills, required to start and run their own business, so I encourage everyone in Monmouthshire who wants to find out more, to come along.”

For more information on venues and to book places visit https://wales.business-events.org.uk/, email southwales@businesswales.org.uk or call 01656 868500.

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

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

Research shows that Monmouthshire has the most vibrant economy of any local authority in Wales – ranking top out of 22 local authorities in Wales. These findings have been revealed by Grant Thornton’s ‘Vibrant Economy Index’ which rates the economy by taking into account not only financial growth and economic return within an area, but also a wider set of characteristics. The index measures the current position in 22 Welsh local authority areas across six areas of socio-economic indicators, to provide an indication of the vibrancy of the area.

 The six measures include the following attributes:

 

  • Prosperity – an economy that is producing wealth and creating jobs.
  • Dynamism and opportunity – economy is entrepreneurial and innovative, with a population that has skill sets that can drive future growth.
  • Inclusion and equality – Everyone benefits from economic growth. The gap between richest and poorest narrows, regional disparities reduce and there are equal opportunities for all.
  • Health, wellbeing and happiness – People are healthy and active, leading fulfilling lives which provides individual prospects.
  • Resilience and sustainability – Our economy has a neutral impact on the natural environment and our built environments are resilient places we want to live in.
  • Community, trust and belonging – Vibrant communities have a lively and creative cultural life, and a clear identity that all its people are proud of. People feel safe, engage in community activities and trust the integrity of businesses and institutions.

Monmouthshire ranked highly in all areas including Inclusion and Equality, Dynamism & Opportunity, Resilience and Sustainability and Community, trust and belonging.

Alistair Wardell, practice leader at Grant Thornton’s Cardiff office said:

“Monmouthshire’s overall performance in the index demonstrates it as being Wales’ most vibrant local economy.  Our data shows it has consistently ranked in the top 2 authorities in Wales over the past 5 years and currently, it ranks in the top 20% nationally for four of the index baskets, ranking in first place for inclusion & equality.”

“This impressive result highlights that when looking beyond just economic prosperity and focusing on measuring the wellbeing of society as a whole, it can produce real change and start to positively impact local people. We hope that our Index, will act as a key improvement tool to all areas of Wales and help businesses, public sector leaders, the third sector and communities identify ways they can collaborate to create a truly vibrant economy that works for everyone.”

Cllr Peter Fox, Leader said: “It’s really refreshing to see these results which consider not only economic prosperity, but a wider set of elements that are important to people’s lives. Monmouthshire really is a special place and it’s fantastic to hear the findings of this independent study. Our amazing communities look after each other, innovate and demonstrate the entrepreneurial, creative edge to make the difference to everyone.”

Monmouthshire can shout loud and proud that ‘We Do’ recycle! In the biggest and best Recycle Week ever, Recycle for Wales is celebrating Wales being the third best recycling nation in the world. Monmouthshire’s recycling rate is holding steady at 68%.

For the 15th annual Recycle Week (24-30 September), Recycle for Wales is celebrating how far we’ve come in increasing our recycling rates and ranking among the top three nations in the world. With a recycling rate of 64%, our next target is to reach 70% as soon as possible and we can achieve this by encouraging residents to make sure they’re recycling all they can from all around the home.

Why? Because Monmouthshire DOES recycle. Because it matters.

Getting recycling right

As a nation we are recycling more than ever before, but it’s important that we get it right. Almost half (49%) put at least one item in the general rubbish bin that could be recycled.

This Recycle Week we’re encouraging all residents to do that little bit more to help Wales become the number one recycling nation in the world.

Here are some top tips for recycling in Monmouthshire:

  • Recycle batteries, rather than putting them in with household waste.  There are collection boxes for batteries at all HWRC sites, at MCC community hubs, at schools and at electrical shops.  If batteries are placed with household waste, they will be incinerated, and this process can cause explosions and costly damage to the energy from waste facility.
  • Recycle emulsion and gloss paint.  Household paints can be recycled at all of Monmouthshire’s Household Waste Recycling Centres
  • Recycle small electrical items such as toasters, phones, mini speakers, and hair dryers.  Take them to the nearest Household Waste Recycling Centre.
  • Food waste is collected every week in Monmouthshire and is recycled.  From December the food recycling process will generate electricity at our new biodigester plant.  We need more local people to join the food recycling revolution as it reduces the smell of the household bin as well as being greener.
  • Recycle paper and card into red bags and plastics, cans and glass into purple bags.

Residents sometimes wonder why all the bags are then loaded into the back of the same lorry and compressed together. Paper and card is of higher value when it is kept separate from other materials. Concerns are sometimes raised that the bags break open when they are compressed in the back of the lorry.  The compression is done carefully to make sure there is enough space on the lorry to collect everyone’s recyclables, and the materials are not damaged by this treatment.

Next spring collections will utilise new lorries, materials will be kept separate. This is hoped to encourage even more people to recycle and gain increased confidence in the recycling process.

Unsure about how to recycle a specific item?  Recycle for Wales’s Recycling Locator can show you exactly what needs to go in the recycling bin where you live.

Recycle. Monmouthshire does. Because it matters.

What and how we recycle really matters. Recycling an item rather than throwing it in the general rubbish bin means that it will be dealt with in the most environmentally-friendly way, keeping materials in use and out of the environment.

Catrin Palfrey, campaign manager for Recycle for Wales, said: “Increasingly people in Wales are recycling all they can from all around the home and our world rankings reflect this. Here in Monmouthshire it’s no different – more and more of us are recycling, so thank you for doing all you can and keep up the good work! Together we can help get Wales to number one.”

Cabinet Member for Recycling and Waste Bryan Jones said “Monmouthshire people are brilliant at recycling, and we are consistently in the top 3 counties of Wales for our recycling rates.   There are always more materials that we could recycle more of – especially food.  We have some big changes coming up for our recycling service.  In the spring our new recycling lorries will be on the road, keeping the materials that local people carefully sort more separated, increasing their value and recyclability.”

To find out more about Recycle Week, and to use the Recycling Locator to find out what to recycle where you live, visit www.recycleforwales.org.uk

 

 

On Thursday 20th September Monmouthshire Scouts invited staff and elected members from Monmouthshire County Council to help craft over 100 ceramic poppies as part of their commemorative art project Monmouthshire Remembers. Scout leaders came along to County Hall in Usk joined by some of the youngest members of the Scouting Association all of which were pupils of Ysgol Y Fenni and were on hand to help staff create the unique poppies.

To date, 2000 poppies have been produced by fellow Scouts, Explorers, Cubs, Beavers and Leaders. The poppies created at County Hall are a valued addition, the Monmouthshire Scouts aim to create 2500 by 30th September.

The Monmouthshire Remembers project will commemorate Monmouthshire’s fallen soldiers from the last 100 years. On Sunday 18th November 2500 ceramic poppies will be installed at Raglan Castle for the Monmouthshire Scouts Remembrance Ceremony. The event organisers have collated names of service personnel who have lost their lives in conflict over the last 100 years. It will be the first time ever that those names will be displayed together.

Ceri Carlyon, Monmouthshire Scouts Leader said: ‘We are so proud to be part of such a large scale commemorative event. We are so grateful for the support that has been shown by the local authority, community groups and schools to help us achieve our aim. I am so excited to see the final installation at Raglan Castle it will be a truly magnificent sight. It will also be very moving to see all the soldiers names displayed and depict the true heroes of our time.’

Cabinet Member for Social Justice and Community Development Cllr Sara Jones said: ‘It was fantastic to host Monmouthshire District Scouts and to learn more about the Monmouthshire Remembers project. I applaud the initiative that has been taken to commemorate our soldiers and very much look forward to seeing the poppies on display at the event in November.’

Monmouthshire Scouts are welcoming information from families of soldiers who have lost their lives in conflict. The information will be used to remember local war heroes of the last 100 years. Contact Ceri Carlyon:  C.Carlyon@monscouts.org.uk

For more information on Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Explorers visit: http://www.scoutscymru.org.uk/

Pupils and staff from Llanfoist Fawr Primary school experienced a once in a lifetime opportunity this week when, along with schools from the whole of UK attended the first National Prince William Award graduation event, alongside HRH The Duke of Cambridge.

The event, to celebrate the success of the character education award in Prince William’s name, was hosted by David Walliams OBE, who also took time to talk to the children and even take a few selfies.

Children and staff of Llanfoist were totally taken by surprise and astonished when David Walliams announced the winners of the Outstanding Contribution to The Prince William Award; “This is awarded to a head teacher and school who have truly embraced the scheme. Their championing of character education has been inspirational. The award goes to Jon Murphy and something tells me they might just be Welsh, the Llanfoist Fawr Primary School!”

Accompanied to the stage by pupils representing the school and Year 2 teacher Mrs Cheryl Evans, Mr Murphy was presented the award by Prince William and the Chief Executive of SkillForce, Mr Ben Slade.

Mr Murphy commented; “This was a totally unexpected accolade for the school and a real honour to be personally presented the Outstanding Contribution to Prince William Award by the Duke of Cambridge.  This for me has been a career highlight.”

Delivered by the Nottingham based charity SkillForce, the Prince William Award aims to help children and young people, aged 6-14, develop vital life skills including confidence, resilience and self-belief.

Year 2 and Year 5 at Llanfoist Fawr Primary completed the 36 week programme, which is taught by predominantly former armed forces personnel, through a range of practical and classroom based activities and includes regular reflection on what pupils are learning and how their character is developing.  To-date 90 pupils have successfully graduated to gain the award with a further 60 currently undertaking the course.

More than 150 children attended the event and The Duke of Cambridge took time to talk with many pupils and schools.

Launched in 2017 The Prince William Award already runs in over 200 schools across the UK and has been delivered to 7,500 pupils.

SkillForce uses predominantly ex -service personnel as instructors, who are able to inspire and teach pupils by drawing on their own life and career experience, courage and knowledge and the charity offers taster sessions to schools who are thinking of signing up.

Ben Slade, CEO SkillForce said in a speech at the event:

“We’ve achieved a great deal this year. However this is just the beginning. “I believe we must place much greater emphasis on giving children the time and space to explore the fundamental aspects of good character and to develop the skills to cope with life’s challenges and opportunities.”

David Walliams provided the comedy element of ceremony, joking:

For those of you who don’t know me – I’m sort of Britain’s answer to Angelina Jolie: a hugely respected actor who is renowned for their humanitarian work, and also very easy on the eye.”

Monmouthshire County Council’s friendship project – My Mates, for people with disabilities has been awarded a Social Care Wales Accolades for Innovative and Creative Solutions.

Social Care Wales Accolades are awarded to organisations and teams from across Wales to recognise, celebrate and share excellent practice in social work and social care. Awarding projects that make a positive difference to the lives of the people they support.

Members of the project along with My Mates team; Sarah Seabourne, project Manager, Kemmine Parrish project Coordinator and Janet Cox project Facilitator,  travelled to City Hall, Cardiff on Thursday 13th September and were thrilled to receive this prestigious recognition. The team were accompanied by Shelley Welton, Monmouthshire County Council Lead Commissioner an advocate and undoubted supporter of the innovative project.

My Mates began in 2016, the unique and transformational project is led by members who strive for independence and equality.

The project helps people with disabilities form confident friendships and live “with passion and purpose”. It enables members to take part in a range of social events. Firm friendships have been formed and in some instances close personal relationships. Members are provided with advice and information by the My Mates Coordinators in a safe and supportive environment. The team offer professional advice and guidance and are C-Card registered with NHS Wales.

The project has seen friendships flourish and true love blossom. Some members have gained confidence to discuss and express their sexuality, many have never told anyone of their preferences previously. The My Mates team work closely with members of the LGBT+ community and access support and guidance.

Due to its success the project has expanded to include people from across Gwent, the project now has 115 members.

Cabinet Member for Social Care and Health, Penny Jones said: ‘I am absolutely over the moon. The success of the project has been through the innovative approach of council officers and the enthusiasm and dedication of My Mates members. Friendship is vital to a healthy outlook on life, My Mates is helping so many people to go to new places, make new acquaintances and have fun!’

For more information contact: My Mates on 01873 735414.

 

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Pupils in Monmouth were welcomed into their new 21st Century School on Monday 17th September.  Students and staff started the academic year in their newly-constructed state of the art school.  Monmouthshire County Council in conjunction with partners at Interserve, the international support services and construction group, and Welsh Government has delivered a tremendous new learning environment for pupils and staff.  Bright and inspiring spaces will enhance learning experiences.

The £40m learning environment incorporates a mixture of theatre style areas, a large hall and studio spaces to study informally, together with naturally lit classrooms and a range of leisure spaces for young people to enjoy. Construction embraces 21st century digital technology throughout which includes cinema quality projectors and the latest interactive teaching equipment for teachers and students.

This energy-efficient space includes self-cooling technology in hot weather with heat release to reduce the need for traditional heating.  Natural light is optimised throughout with automatic lighting to save electricity.

The school has been built by local people – with 70% of the builders, electricians, plumbers and engineers on site living in the area, including some past pupils.  Many local apprentices have learnt skills on site and work experience students have contributed to the project to provide them with future job opportunities.  Interserve in collaboration with the county council and Y Prentis, a shared apprenticeship scheme covering South East Wales, have exceeded the project community benefits target.

Community groups will benefit from these enhanced facilities too. The dance studio and hall can be used for community meetings, groups and fitness classes and the stage area provides a perfect performance space for local choirs and amateur dramatic groups.

The school sits alongside and compliments the newly opened leisure centre, both valuable assets for future generations.

Councillor Richard John, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for Children and Young people said: “Having visited the site repeatedly over the past 12 months, it is inspiring to see students and staff move into Monmouth Comprehensive School’s new home.
“The council, together with our contractors, Welsh Government and full involvement from students and teachers, have delivered a state of the art learning environment for young people in Monmouth for generations to come.

“I look forward to hearing feedback from staff and students as the new term begins and look forward to the completion of the external works including the demolition of the old buildings. Together with the redevelopment of the leisure centre, this represents the single biggest investment in Monmouth for generations and I hope it is of great benefit to local residents.”

Headteacher Vaughn Davies is delighted with the outcome of the investment in Monmouth’s community: “I’m so pleased to welcome pupils and colleagues into our 21st century school. I would like to thank staff, pupils, parents, governors and all our partners for their significant contribution into the design, to make this an inclusive learning environment for everyone. We have captured all that is currently very successful about our school and based on our values, we have enhanced it.  These new spaces can now be used in the best possible way for all pupils to enjoy their learning and progress to adult life with the skills and knowledge to equip them for employment and lifelong learning.”

Tim Humphries, project architect at BDP said:

“It has been a real privilege to have been able to work with such an enlightened school and local authority who thoroughly embraced the possibilities that design can offer.

“The way they have worked together and driven the project has been fundamental to the end result – a bespoke, adaptable facility that really works for the school in enabling it to deliver educational outcomes, whilst maximising the opportunities offered by Monmouthshire County Council’s 21st Century Schools Programme.”

Monmouthshire parents and carers will be able to access the new The Childcare Offer from January 2019. The Welsh Government funded scheme providing 30 hours a week of free education and childcare for eligible working parents of 3 and 4 year olds, for up to 48 weeks of the year.

Children will be able to access the offer from the term after their third birthday until the September following their fourth birthday.

To access the childcare element of the offer, parents and guardians must:

  • Be employed or self-employed and permanently reside in Monmouthshire
  • Both parents must be working in a two parent family, or the sole parent living in a lone parent family.
  • Earn a weekly minimum equivalent of 16 hours at the national minimum wage, but less than £100k per year.

Childcare providers registered with Care Inspectorate Wales (or Estyn if the provider is in England) will be able to provide the offer but 10 hours of Foundation Phase Nursery education must be taken up in an local authority nursery or an approved non-maintained provider.

Cllr Richard John, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People said:

‘I am so pleased that Monmouthshire families will be able to access the Childcare Offer. To date a pilot scheme has been taken place in a variety of locations across Wales so it is pleasing to be able to provide even more opportunities for families to thrive.’

Comprehensive details will be available in coming months. Please visit www.monfis.org.uk or www.facebook.com/moncfis for the latest

information.

Monmouthshire County Council is reviewing its improvement plan for countryside access, including walking, cycling and horse riding.  It is calling upon the public, land managers and organisations with a stake in countryside access to complete one of its three questionnaires, or write to the council with their comments.

Councillor Bryan Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for countryside access said: “The countryside faces unprecedented challenges.  Political and climate change could change the face of our landscape, and for many there is a disconnection with nature.  Countryside access management must adapt to these challenges and also work in partnership to provide a multitude of benefits linking with health and well-being and active travel.  We would like to hear from land managers, the public and interested organisations to ensure that our new policies and business plan are suitable for future generations.  Public support and input is vital so that we can use this evidence within the new plan to attract funding and partnerships to deliver improvement programmes.”

The questionnaires are available by visiting:

https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/countryside-services/countryside-access/countryside-access

For paper or PDF copies email: countryside@monmouthshire.gov.uk – the closing date for returning the questionnaires or submitting comments is Monday, 22nd October.  Comments may be sent to: countryside @monmouthshire.gov.uk by 22nd October.

Community hubs and libraries across Monmouthshire are encouraging children and young people to enter a competition to design two new library membership cards.  Four to seven year olds are invited to design a card for children aged 0-7 years old while young people aged between 8 and 15 years are asked to create one for teenagers.

Joining the library is free and opens up a world of imagination through wonderful story books. Children can learn about the world we live in from our non-fiction book collections and through the free internet access in every Monmouthshire Hub.  Free eBook and audio book downloads are also available and Comics Plus brings unlimited access to thousands of digital graphic novels and comics.  Libraries hold free events and activities throughout the year.

Three entries from each category will be shortlisted by a judging panel, including author and illustrator Shoo Rayner.  Entries will be judged on imagination, creativity and how well the design promotes libraries and reading.  Winners will be selected by an online public vote.

The competition opened on Monday 3rd September, the closing date for entries is Monday 1st October. Online voting runs from Monday 8th October until Monday 22nd October. Two winners will be announced on 29th October.

For more information and the terms and conditions of the competition please pick up an entry form from your local community hub or library. Find out more about Monmouthshire community hubs via the website: http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/community-hubs-libraries

Monmouthshire residents are invited to attend a broadband event to ask questions and find out more about the ongoing rollout of superfast broadband. The event, which will take place at Llanddewi Rhydderch village hall on 20th September, 4.30-6.00pm, will be attended by the Welsh Government Minister responsible for broadband infrastructure Julie James AM.

 Superfast Cymru has provided almost 733,000 premises across Wales with access to fast fibre broadband but there are still areas of Wales that do not have access to this service.

 Cllr Sara Jones, Cabinet Member for Social Justice said:

‘I strongly believe that all of our communities should have access to Superfast Broadband. This discussion will be very valuable given that the Minister will be in attendance, this is an opportunity for the feelings of residents to be conveyed and questions answered.  Monmouthshire County Council will continue to work with our communities who do not have access to Superfast broadband to identify solutions which might meet their needs, digital exclusion is a real issue in our communities and I am determined to work with partners to ensure it is addressed’.

 

 

 

Monmouthshire County Council created a vibrant, fun and engaging space at Usk Show to celebrate all that the county has to offer. The theme for the day was ‘Keeping your Countryside Well’ so many local organisations and council departments came together –  from looking after the countryside by reducing single use plastic, to volunteers helping with rural transport solutions, to bringing people together to learn new skills and make friends.

Festival vibes were shared by the South East Wales Carers Trust, an organisation which supports young carers in Monmouthshire. The carers were on hand creating a unique festival experience with glitter face painting and a range of activities to raise awareness of the work they do.

The Gwent Music stage entertained visitors throughout the day with performances from South Mon saxophone ensemble, Monmouthshire Community Choir, Monmouth Comprehensive School, Cross Ash primary school choir, Swn Celtaidd, the Buskuleles of Usk and Allegra Choir.

Plastic free hints, tips and pledges were shared by Monmouthshire’s waste and recycling teams who were joined by Plastic Free Monmouth and Plastic Free Chepstow. Refillable drinking bottles were provided to all volunteers on the day to reduce the use of single use plastic at the event. Visitors were encourages to think about the impact littering has on the beautiful Monmouthshire countryside.

Craft workshops were delivered by Monmouthshire’s Community learning team who were teaching visitors of all ages  how to make recycled book animals. The team were keen to encourage everyone to learn something new and promoted the wide variety of courses on offer from Monmouthshire Community Learning.  Abergavenny’s Crafty Women’s group joined in the fun, helping residents to make remembrance poppies from recycled plastic bottles.

The council’s countryside team hosted a countryside game highlighting walks, attractions and things to do outdoors. Outside in the Give a Go Zone Monmouthshire’s Leisure team were popular with crazy golf and an inflatable tennis court saw many people take part in the ‘Serve Speed’ game with support from local tennis coaches. Information was available from the Monmouthshire sports development team on the wide range of health, fitness and outdoor adventures options across Monmouthshire.

A vintage car was a great talking point for Bridges Community Car Scheme who are looking for volunteers to help transport people who live in isolated rural areas. Dewis Cymru and Aneurin Bevan University Health Board had some great advice for keeping people well.

The fostering team raised awareness of the need for more foster carers in Monmouthshire. For more information and to find out how rewarding fostering can be go along to Three Salmons, Usk at 10.00am – 12.00pm  or 6.30 pm – 8.30pm on Thursday 13th September 2018. Monmouthshire themed gifts were on sale from Visit Monmouthshire and Fair Trade produce was on offer from Monmouthshire’s  Fair Trade group.

The council showcased it’s My Monmouthshire app and a new ‘Chat Bot’, interactive experience to enable residents receive information quickly and easily. Visitors to the marquee provided honest and open feedback about the council. Feedback will be used to constantly improve.

Peter Fox, Leader said: “Thanks to everyone who joined us at Usk Show on Saturday. As a local farmer, keeping rural communities well and thriving is really important to me. It was fantastic to hear residents talking about the things that matter to them and their sharing ideas about how we can become even better. It was lovely to see everyone enjoying a fun day out with their community.”

Cardiff University and the Welsh Government are inviting small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) with up to 250 employees to participate in a survey on their use of digital technology

Wales, like most other nations, is undergoing a period of rapid digital transformation, with broadband-enabled technologies such as cloud computing, video conferencing, and social media playing a central role across business and society.  Evidence from the previous Digital Maturity Surveys (2016 and 2017) shows businesses achieved significant benefits from the adoption of such technologies, with 50% of Welsh SMEs reporting increased profits from the use of superfast broadband.

Cardiff University’s Welsh Economy Research Unit will launch the latest annual Digital Maturity Survey on September 10th in conjunction with the Welsh Government.  The survey provides the primary source of data on Welsh businesses and their Digital Maturity – reflecting their IT skills and use of digital technologies.

All businesses taking part in the 2018 survey will be eligible to receive a copy of their free Digital Maturity Score (this will be sent to all participants in early 2019), showing how they compare to others in Wales.  By taking part, businesses will be able to support this important research, inform the work of Welsh Government in relation to superfast broadband, and contribute towards the development of Wales as a digital nation.

The survey can be accessed at: https://bit.ly/2w2koYe

  • Further help is available from Superfast Business Wales – a free business support service that helps eligible small and medium sized Welsh businesses make the most of online technology. Offering free master classes, one-to-one support and website review, support could help businesses save money, boost sales and profits and improve productivity https://businesswales.gov.wales/superfastbusinesswales/

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:-

Sunday 9th September Between 20:25 – 20.55 (approx.)

Monday 10th September Between 08:50 – 09.20 (approx.)

Monday 10th September Between 21.10 – 21.40 (approx.)

Tuesday 11th September Between 09:35 – 10.05 (approx.)

Tuesday 11th September Between 21:55 – 22.25 (approx.)

Wednesday 12th September Between 10:20 – 20.50 (approx.)

Wednesday 12th September Between 22:35 – 23.05 (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.

Progress towards making Monmouthshire a plastic-free county takes a great leap forward this autumn term with a return to school milk in glass bottles. Following a robust supplier appraisal the council has recently awarded its contract to Raglan Dairy and milk for all Key Stage One schoolchildren will be delivered in glass bottles to be collected after use, sterilised and re-used.  As an added benefit, the dairy sources all its milk from within 30 miles of its base in Raglan.

School milk has been delivered in third-pint plastic bottles for a number of years and in Monmouthshire this amounts to 11,500 bottles a week, or a whopping 437,000 every year!  Although some of these are recycled, the council has acknowledged the damage single-use plastics cause to the environment and to marine life.  As a result, it has made a commitment towards becoming plastic-free by reducing all unnecessary plastic use.

Councillor Richard John, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People said: “The council has made a commitment to working towards becoming a plastic-free county and that means getting our own house in order by reducing unnecessary single-use plastics.  Moving to glass bottles for school milk will prevent an enormous amount of waste each year.”

James Durose of Raglan Dairy added: “We are delighted to have secured the contract to supply school milk to Monmouthshire’s schools, and are pleased to be able to contribute to a reduction in plastic waste.”

Visitors to Usk Show on Saturday September 8th can look forward to being entertained and engaged when they step into the Monmouthshire County Council pavilion. The council is returning for a second year due to the success of the Monmouthshire Marquee in 2017.

In support of the worldwide plea to protect our natural word, the theme of this year is Keep your Countryside Well. The Monmouthshire area will provide an opportunity to showcase the fantastic environmental work of the Waste and Recycling team. The team will be working with Plastic Free groups from across the county, the councils Countryside Team and Keep Wales Tidy to engage, educate and inform visitors of the many ways they can change their habits to help protect the environment.

The council is excited to show case its new ‘Chat Bot’ an interactive experience to enable residents receive information quickly and easily. Visitors to the marquee are welcomed to provide honest and open feedback about how the council currently interacts with residents. A fun and engaging game of ‘Scores on the Doors’ will allow residents to score their current experience. Feedback will be used to develop the future of customer experience at Monmouthshire County Council.

The popular busking stage returns and will feature local choirs, young musicians from Gwent Music along with the amazing acts performing on the Bandstand including the much loved  Buskuleles of Usk and the amazing Matahari Trio an African Drumming group.

  • 10.00am   Gwent Music South Mon saxophone ensemble
  • 10.45am   Monmouthshire Community Choir
  • 11.30am   Pupils from Monmouth Comprehensive School
  • 12.15pm   Cross Ash primary school choir
  • 1.00pm     Swn Celtaidd
  • 1.45pm     The Buskuleles of Usk
  • 2.30pm     Penny Walker
  • 3.15pm     Allegra Choir
  • 4.00pm     Matahari Trio – African Drumming

A wide range of activities will be available. Abergavenny Crafty Women will be making poppies out of recycled plastic in a bid to populate local areas with the poppies to celebrate the centenary of World War I arts. The South East Wales Carers Trust will be providing a range of activities for children and young people and raising the awareness of the fantastic support that is available for Young Carers in Monmouthshire.

Monmouthshire Foster Care team will be on hand to chat about the wide range of opportunities that could make a huge difference to a young person’s life.

A ‘Meet the Council’ area will provide visitors the opportunity to meet the county’s big decision makers and discuss things that matter in an informal environment.

Cllr Sara Jones Cabinet Member for Community Development said:

‘It is fantastic to see the council back at Usk Show. It provides a perfect opportunity to listen to residents and really showcase the breadth and depth of the council. It demonstrates unique partnership we have with a wide range of voluntary groups and organisations.’

For more information email communications@monmouthshire.gov.uk or log onto Facebook @MonmouthshireCC or Twitter @MonmouthshireCC

On Thursday 13th September Monmouthshire County Council Foster Care team will be at The Three Salmons Hotel, Usk, from 10.00am – 12.00pm and 6.30pm – 8.30pm 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 sessions are welcomed to visit the website www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/fostering to gain information and guidance.

Following the success of the Monmouthshire County Council marquee at Usk Show in 2017, The Foster Care Team along with the a variety of departments from the council will be at Usk Show on Saturday 8th September. The event provides residents with a perfect opportunity to meet the team whist enjoying the many activities on offer.

The Foster Care team will also be at Caldicot Castle and Country Park Fireworks display on Sunday 4th November, following the success of their attendance in 2017. Visitors will be able to hear about the many options available to help and support the county’s most vulnerable babies, children and young people. For more information visit http://www.visitmonmouthshire.com/caldicot-castle

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 Care team are doing a fantastic job engaging residents and there many ways 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 or text.’

To make a difference text FOSTER your name to 83222, call 01873 735950 or visit http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/fostering

More than 280 play workers and volunteers celebrated the end of the busiest ever summer of play schemes across Blaenau Gwent, Torfaen and Monmouthshire at a recent awards ceremony in Cwmbran.  Play workers ran 48 play schemes across the three counties during the summer holidays enjoyed by 4,000 children.

The schemes provide a platform for children aged 5 to 11 years to socialise and make friends, learn new skills as well as participate in new and exciting activities.

Monmouthshire’s Vice Chairman, Councillor Sheila Woodhouse attended the ceremony.  She said: “Staff and volunteers in the three counties do a fantastic job ensuring that children have access to safe and inclusive opportunities for play.  So much hard work goes into making these schemes a success and I sincerely thank every single member of staff and every volunteer who participated over the summer.  It is no exaggeration to say that we have the best play service in Wales and everyone involved is a credit to their local community.”

Monmouthshire’s play schemes are run in conjunction with the Torfaen Play service and this summer they operated in nine different venues from 30th July until 23rd August.

For further information on Monmouthshire’s play schemes contact Andrea Sysum on 01495 742951 or andrea.sysum@torfaen.gov.uk

Monmouthshire County Council is planning to improve its recycling collection and has created a questionnaire to obtain views from residents about what they would like to see from the service.  Among the issues for consideration are the use of reusable recycling bags, reducing the costs of the county’s household waste recycling centres and the scourge of litter.

The council recently agreed to reduce its use of avoidable single-use plastics, and, as part of its drive, it is considering the option of reusable bags for recycling.  These can be stored externally, the recycling team will return them to each property after collection and householders will no longer have to collect single-use plastic bags from community hubs.

Monmouthshire’s household waste recycling centres are among the most accessible in the region but maintaining this level of service would mean a considerable rise in running costs.  This is at a time when the council faces continued budget pressures.  The council has offered a range of options to reduce costs.

Litter is a blight on Monmouthshire’s roadsides and verges, and over time, can find its way into watercourses and oceans.  The council is tackling this problem with the help of volunteers in the community and is seeking residents’ views on what is most important to them in the campaign to reduce litter.

The questionnaire may be accessed by logging onto https://bit.ly/2OT8ZB1 or calling into one of the council’s local community hubs. The deadline for submitting views is 9am on Thursday 30th August.

Councillor Bryan Jones, cabinet member with responsibility for waste and recycling said: “I urge residents to give their views to help us improve our recycling service.”

Meanwhile, the council has agreed that each household will receive a new recycling box for glass and it has purchased new vehicles with three separate compartments for red and purple bags as well as food waste.  For most households, this will mean recycling and food waste collection on the same day.

Unfortunately the UK has again witnessed a number of major incidents in the last 12 months. These events have resulted in the establishment and opening of ‘Survivor Reception Centres’ – where those unfortunate enough to be caught up in such events have been cared for until they could be registered by the Police and allowed to return home.

Staff from Monmouthshire County Council together with Gwent Police and other partner agencies, will be holding an exercise to test our ‘Survivor Reception Centre’ arrangements at:

Chepstow Leisure Centre

on

Thursday 1st November 2018

From 11am – 1.00pm

AND WE NEED YOUR HELP!

VOLUNTEERS are NEEDED to play the part of our “evacuated survivors”.

Role play will form a part of the exercise and all volunteers who are agreeable will be given a specific part to ‘act out’. Don’t worry if you feel you would not be up for an Oscar nomination – we also have non ‘acting’ roles and welcome anyone who could provide a few hours of their time! Children are also invited to take part but anyone under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult. We also need pets for our staff to look after so ‘Dino’ your pet velociraptor or your (sabre-tooth) kitty are more than welcome.

As an added incentive FREE REFRESHMENTS AND LUNCH will be provided for those participating in the Exercise.

If you would like to take part by giving up some of your time between 11.00am and 1.00pm on November 1st (half term), please e-mail emergencyplanning@monmouthshire.gov.uk or telephone the Emergency Planning team on 01633 644091/2 for an application form or download the application form from here.

We will be promoting and marketing our ‘volunteer – recruitment’ campaign over the next few months using our very own Dinosaur. ‘Tyrone-osaurus Rex’ (as he’s known) – will be making an appearance around our MCC buildings – so please take a ‘selfie’ with Tyrone if you see him out and about and tweet via #ExerciseJurrassicspark .

Thank you for your support.

Monmouthshire County Council congratulates all of its learners on their achievements in this year’s GSCE examinations.

The results across all of the county’s four secondary schools – Caldicot School, Chepstow School, King Henry VIII and Monmouth Comprehensive School – show that young people continue to work hard and achieve excellent outcomes.

County Councillor Richard John, cabinet member with responsibility for education said: “Above anything else I want to congratulate all of our learners across Monmouthshire today.  Examinations are never easy but to sit them during a period of change is an additional challenge.  It is testament to the hard work of our students, teachers and support staff that today’s results have been achieved.  I also want to thank all of the parents and carers across Monmouthshire who have supported our learners.”

Will McLean, Chief Officer, Children and Young People added: “This year we have seen some tremendous results across our schools.  I want to congratulate all our learners who have worked so hard over their GCSE courses.  I also want to thank the teachers and support staff who have worked so closely with our students.”

Supporters of Monmouth’s two summer play schemes paid a visit to Overmonnow Primary School on Wednesday 15th August to witness the project in action.  Among those attending were members of Monmouth Town Council and Rotary Monmouth which help to fund the scheme together with Mitchel Troy and Trellech United Community Councils, the Welsh Government’s Families First Programme, and environmental group Transition Monmouth.  Overmonnow’s programme operates each morning from Monday to Friday while another Monmouth-based play scheme functions at Kymin View Primary School in Wyesham during weekday afternoons.

Monmouthshire County Council works in partnership with local organisations and the voluntary sector to provide much needed free play opportunities over the school summer holiday period.  Its play schemes are run in conjunction with the Torfaen Play Service and this summer they operate in nine different venues from 30th July until 23rd August, providing opportunities for children aged 5 to 11 years to socialise and enjoy themselves with various activities.

In addition to fun-packed activities, children at Overmonnow’s scheme benefit from a free healthy and nutritional packed lunch bag prepared by the nearby Ty Price Community Centre, Transition Monmouth Food Sense, local Women’s Institutes and Monmouth Methodist Church.  The food is sourced locally as far as possible and is delivered in plastic-free packaging.  Funded by generous donations from the school’s parent teacher association, local businesses, individuals and groups and the Monmouthshire Housing Association, the initiative is a response to food poverty experienced over the summer holidays.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for social justice and community development Councillor Sara Jones said: “Play is an essential part of every child’s life – it isn’t just fun, it’s also the best way for young children to learn.  This summer we are working with our communities to provide play opportunities for Monmouthshire’s children across venues throughout the county.  We want to give all children the opportunity to get involved in the schemes on offer and would like to thank our partners for supporting us on this important agenda.”

Paul Sherrington of Rotary Monmouth added: “We are delighted to support a project that does so much to provide a happy, safe and fun environment for local children during the summer holidays.”

For further information on Monmouthshire’s play schemes contact Andrea Sysum on 01495 742951 or andrea.sysum@torfaen.gov.uk

 

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for tourism and leisure has expressed his delight that Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas and Giro d’Italia winner Chris Froome will ride through the county on Sunday 2nd September as both compete in the OVO Energy Tour of Britain.

 It will be the first time for Thomas and Froome to ride together in the race since 2009.  The 2018 OVO Energy Tour of Britain starts at Pembrey near Llanelli on September 2nd and finishes a week later in London.

The route will enter Monmouthshire near Gilwern at about 2pm and will take in the communities of Govilon, Llanfoist, Llanellen, Llanover, Chainbridge, Llancayo, before passing through Usk approximately 35 minutes later.  Competitors will carry on to the end of the first stage of the race in Newport via Llanbadoc and Llangybi.

 Councillor Bob Greenland said: “It’s fantastic news that Monmouthshire will welcome two of Britain’s finest cycling athletes as well as many other world class riders passing through the county.  Their appearance is sure to attract large crowds providing marvellous support.  Hosting events like the OVO Energy Tour of Britain helps boost Monmouthshire’s deserved reputation as the cycling capital of Wales.”

Thomas is a regular at the OVO Energy Tour of Britain, having ridden it eight times since his debut with a Great British national team in 2005.  He finished sixth overall in 2009 and wore the British Road Race Champion’s jersey during the race in 2010, while his seventh-placed finish in the 2017 edition also saw him crowned the Adnams Best British Rider.

Froome’s two participations to date came in 2007 and 2009.  He was placed 31st overall in the former, while two years later (when he lined up alongside Thomas as part of the Barloworld-Bianchi team) he finished 50th.  Since then he has established himself as the leading Grand Tour rider of his generation, having won four Tours de France, the 2017 Vuelta a Espana and the 2018 Giro d’Italia.

Race Director Mick Bennett said: “We’re honoured and thrilled that Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome will lead Team Sky at this year’s OVO Energy Tour of Britain.

“To have two of Britain’s greatest ever riders – the reigning Tour de France and Giro d’Italia winners no less – competing in the race is fantastic news for our fans, who will line the streets in order to catch a glimpse of the heroes.

“We saw the amazing response that Geraint received during his homecoming celebrations in Cardiff last week – the fact that Stage One on Sunday 2nd September takes place entirely within Wales means the whole country will be able to celebrate his incredible success in France from the summer.

“Since he last rode in the race, Chris has become – without any doubt – the leading Grand Tour rider of his generation. We’re delighted to welcome him back to the OVO Energy Tour of Britain after his Tour, Giro and Vuelta successes in the past year.”

 For the second year running, each stage of the race will be shown live and in full on ITV4. Presenter Matt Barbet will be joined former pro rider Yanto Barker and Rebecca Charlton, with Marty MacDonald and Rob Hayles providing the commentary. Eurosport will also air daily live coverage.

  • The OVO Energy Tour of Britain is British Cycling’s premier road cycling event, giving cycling fans the opportunity to see the world’s best teams and riders competing on their doorstep, taking place between Sunday 2nd and Sunday 9th September.

Today in Monmouthshire over four hundred students are celebrating an outstanding set of examination results enabling them to progress to the next steps in university, colleges and work places all over Britain.

Students at all four secondary schools have achieved excellent results with the county’s pass rate of 98%.  In all Monmouthshire secondary schools, staff are confident that students will gain entry to their preferred higher education courses.

The results across all four schools show an increasing number of students choosing to study their post-16 qualifications at one of the county’s four secondary schools; Caldicot School, Chepstow School, King Henry VIII and Monmouth Comprehensive School.

Across the county the percentage of students achieving the very highest grades was consistent with last year’s results with 29% of papers graded A* or A.  This compares positively with the national performance of 26.3%.

There has been a further increase across Monmouthshire in the number of students achieving the Level 3 threshold (of two A levels grades A-E) to 98.3%, an increase of 1.0% from last year.

  • Caldicot School sustained its performance for the Level 3 threshold at 100% for the fourth year running.
  • Chepstow School saw 30% of its pupils achieve A*/A and an increase in the percentage of pupils achieving the level 3 threshold of 2.3 percentage points taking the school to 97.1%.
  • Abergavenny’s King Henry VIII Comprehensive School saw improved performance at the highest levels with 15% of student achieving three A*/A grades and a significant increase in the number of students achieving three A* – C grades to nearly 60%.
  • Monmouth Comprehensive students achieved record results with 25% of students achieving three A*/A grades and 34% achieving A*/A grades.

County Councillor Richard John, the council’s cabinet member with responsibility for education commented: “A-level results day is so important for our students and young people.  Today I am delighted to see how well our students across all of our schools have done – these fantastic results are a real indicator of how hard the students and teachers have worked over the last two years.  At this time my focus is that the young people get the qualifications they need to progress to the next stage of their adult lives, wherever that may be.

“I think it is also important that we recognise the support that our students receive from their parents and carers.  They should look forward with great confidence as they start the next stages of their lives, be that in education or work.”

Will McLean, Chief Officer for Children and Young People added: “In a period of change and reform at both school and higher education institutions I am very pleased at what our schools have achieved.  Our young people, their families and school staff who have supported and encouraged them for the last two years can be proud of what they have achieved. Monmouthshire’s results compare favourably with national outcomes and I know that our schools will be very pleased with this.  For all of our students they have been given a tremendous foundation to go into their futures confident in what they know and confident in their abilities.”

Students looking for advice, no matter what their results, are encouraged to visit the Careers Wales website on; www.careerswales.com/

 

Monmouthshire County Council launched its new health and social care service for the Usk and Raglan area with a celebratory event on Thursday 9th August.

Based in the former Roger Edwards Grammar School in Usk’s Maryport Street, the new facility will deliver services offered by the county council’s social care team and the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board.  Among those operating from the centre are social workers, community nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and community well-being officers.

The centre – a satellite of Monnow Vale, Monmouth’s major health and social care facility – will bring services closer to communities in the Usk and Raglan area.  Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for social care, safeguarding and health, Councillor Penny Jones was present at the event.  She said; “There’s considerable demand for social and health care in the centre of the county and our new facility in Usk will make services more efficient and effective as well as being more convenient for the community.”

Councillor Jones and staff were joined by Councillor Alec Leathwood, the Mayor of Usk, and a number of representatives from organisations working alongside the local authority to support the community including Age Cymru, Volunteering for Wellbeing, Parkinson’s UK, Monmouthshire Housing Association, the Care Cooperative and the Prison Service.  Together they cut a special cake and later enjoyed entertainment at the adjacent Usk Community Hub provided by the town’s ukulele band.  The future of the service was toasted with non-alcoholic fruit mocktails.

Plans are in place to develop the facility further and managers hope to nurture good working partnerships with the voluntary sector, housing associations, care agencies and local doctors’ surgeries.

The centre will operate seven days a week but will be open to the public between 9am and 5pm from Monday to Friday.  For more information telephone 01633 644302.

 

A council sporting initiative introduced two years ago is going from strength to strength and the Monmouthshire Games is now firmly established as a highlight of the holidays for the county’s youngsters.  As well as physical exercise, among the benefits offered are an appreciation of teamwork, healthy eating and the impact of role models.

The Monmouthshire Games takes place in each of the county’s four leisure centres during school holidays for children aged 5 to 12 and its activities focus on learning new skills, developing confidence, meeting new friends and most importantly, having fun while participating.  Among the 40 sports offered are swimming, football, netball, basketball, cricket, hockey, rugby, golf, rounders and tennis.  In addition, all children take part in the Daily Mile which entails a 15 minute run or jog every day.  Fully-trained staff supervise proceedings assisted by volunteers – often physical education students seeking experience.

Even though Monmouth Leisure Centre has been undergoing a major refurbishment since last November the full games programme has been run in an adjacent temporary sports hall.

Over 100 youngsters take part each day across the county’s leisure centre sites at a cost of £16.50 per day (9am to 3pm) or £19.50 (8am to 5pm).  Discounts are available for siblings, children in receipt of free school meals and for parents who book ten days in advance.  The programme has seen approximately 11,000 attendances since its launch in summer 2016.

Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for leisure said: “I’m thoroughly impressed by the service offered by all four leisure centres and salute the staff as well as those volunteering.  The Monmouthshire Games is a very important programme for the county as it not only delivers activity for children but also helps in the development of education and life skills.”

This summer’s Monmouthshire Games has received funding from the Abergavenny and Chepstow town councils to enable even more children to attend and the council’s leisure team has expressed its grateful thanks for this support.  The current sessions run until Friday 31st August but further games are scheduled for October’s half-term and the Christmas holidays.

For further information visit:http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/monmouthshire-games

Take a look at this short film:

Monmouthshire County Council is seeking a full time manager to assume responsibility for running the Borough Theatre in Abergavenny. The successful applicant would be an advocate for the theatre, providing strategic management and creative vision and influence within the local and wider performing arts community as well as effectively managing its forward planning, strategy, programming and day-to-day business.

The Borough Theatre has recently returned to the ownership and management of Monmouthshire County Council. It is a lively 300 seat venue situated in the centre of historic Abergavenny, presenting a wide ranging year-round schedule of professional and community productions. The theatre is part of the 150 year old town hall building.

The manager will be responsible for developing and overseeing the delivery of an exciting programme of events and providing strategic management for the administrative, marketing, production and financial functions of the theatre including the supervision and management of the box office and the front of house staff and volunteers.

Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for cultural services said: “We are seeking an energetic, entrepreneurial and experienced individual with an enthusiasm for pulling the theatre up by its bootstraps and taking it forward as a notable and diverse performing arts venue, equipping the theatre for a future of growth and development.”

The closing date for applications is Friday 7th September and interviews will take place at the Borough Theatre on Friday 14th September.

For further information contact: Cath Fallon, Head of Enterprise and Community Development – cathfallon@monmouthshire.gov.uk – or telephone 07557 190969.

The application form and job description may be accessed by logging onto: www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/jobs-and-employment

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:-

  • Sunday 12th August Between 21:20 – 22:00 (approx.)
  • Monday 13th August Between 22:10 – 22:50 (approx.)

The closure points will be as follows:

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

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

Monmouth’s leisure centre is on course to re-open on Wednesday 15th August to offer a fabulous range of facilities that will reach out to the whole community.

The £7.4m project includes a children’s play centre, an open plan café, a multi-purpose room for parties and meetings, a health suite incorporating jacuzzi, steam room, relaxation areas, treatment room and sauna, a spin studio, toning suite, spacious changing rooms and a large gym with the latest market-leading equipment.  Meanwhile, the construction of the centre’s five lane swimming pool and spa is on schedule and both will open in December.

The centre closed for refurbishment in November 2017 and in the interim the staff have endeavoured to provide services with an adjacent temporary sports hall and a gymnasium near the town’s museum.  The building of the new centre undertaken by global construction services company ISG incorporates part of the original site though the interior has changed considerably to accommodate a new entrance and reception area and many other improvements. These will increase choice, provide a safe and widely accessible customer-friendly environment and employ technology to offer an enhanced service.  For example, a number of features ensure customers with disabilities are able to fully access the centre’s facilities.  In addition, a self-service kiosk will allow customers to by-pass queues at reception and take the opportunity to leave feedback.

The indoor children’s play area for babies to 11 year olds will be open seven days a week from 10am to 6pm.  Set on three levels, the vibrantly coloured setting creates a fun and exciting zone.  There is little provision of this kind within a 20 minute drive of Monmouth so the centre’s managers are looking forward to attracting parents and children into the town from a wide area.

The gymnasium will feature exciting, dynamic and innovative equipment meaning that new and existing customers will require an induction programme to use it.  Meanwhile, the nearby toning suite will appeal to a range of people who prefer a gentler workout.

The two studios offering spin and dance classes can employ live or virtual instruction via a projector so that activities can take place at any time.  Two squash courts on the ground floor will be close to the reception area and will feature LED lighting.

The centre will open from 6.30am to 10pm on Monday to Friday and 8.15am to 6pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Different types of membership will be available for various facilities and functions.  Customers may enquire about these or any other matters at the reception desk, by emailing monmouthleisurecentre@monmouthshire.gov.uk or telephoning 01600 775135.

Parking may be restricted while work continues to complete the swimming pool and the nearby school.  Customers are advised to use the town’s municipal car parks if space is unavailable.

County Councillor Bob Greenland, cabinet member with responsibility for leisure said: “We promised Monmouth an improved leisure centre and I’m delighted to say we can now deliver it.  We hope to attract many more new customers, not only from the town, but further afield to enjoy the variety of fantastic features that will help maintain people’s health and promote enjoyment for all.”

Over 750 people attended Monmouthshire’s first ever pride event for the county’s young LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender) community at Caldicot Castle on Friday, 3rd August.  Monmouthshire Youth Pride was Gwent’s first local authority-sponsored event of its kind, and organisers declared it a massive success as performers and speakers entertained an appreciative crowd on a warm day.  Among those present were Peter Fox, leader of Monmouthshire County Council and local MP Jessica Morden.

The occasion was the brainchild of a group of young people from Caldicot, including Charley and Tegan, who attend an equalities group run by Monmouthshire’s Youth Service in The Zone, the town’s youth centre.   A number of the group’s LGBT members had requested a pride event to celebrate their community and they secured funding with assistance from council officers.

Charley (15) said: “Today’s event is a nice way to bring the LGBT community together, to promote individuality and diversity and help people learn new things.  It’s a great opportunity to network and to get to know people of like mind.”

Tegan, also 15, agreed that it was good to link the community, adding: “Monmouthshire’s Youth Pride is a great source of information and events like these are valuable as they educate friends and families to accept those who choose to come out.  We’ve come a long way in recent years but we still have a long way to go.”

The council’s Youth Service and events team played a major part in the success of Monmouthshire Youth Pride with considerable help from Pride Cymru and volunteers.  The castle’s setting provided an ideal venue with a main stage, stalls, food outlets and a scenic backdrop.

The main stage was compered by trans campaigner Alex Jones and former Mr Gay Wales, Paul Davies.  Among the entertainers were Wye Gymnastics, Galaxy Cheerleading, Caldicot Music Society and singers Dylan Hannan, Nicole Bowles and Newport-based Selena in the Chapel.  Selena said: “It’s an absolute pleasure to perform today for the LGBT crowd gathered here.  It’s wonderful that an event like this takes place and I look forward to many more.”

Monmouthshire’s Youth Service provided activities including face painting and circus skills while a number of organisations offered help and information.  These included Gwent N-Gage which gives drug and alcohol advice to young people across Gwent, the Terrence Higgins Trust, the National Assembly for Wales Welsh Youth Parliament, Stonewall Cymru, Umbrella Cymru and Rainbow Newport, a volunteer-based organisation supporting the LGBT community.

Councillor Sara Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for equalities said: “Earlier this year, the council agreed a strategy to embed social justice into the heart of our policies and activities, addressing inequalities and improving outcomes for the county’s people, including the LGBT community.  In line with this plan the council has wholeheartedly supported Monmouthshire Youth Pride and I’m pleased that the event was so well-received.  I hope that we can promote a similar one next year.”

“My thanks go to all those who made the day a great success and I also acknowledge the vision and drive of those individuals whose ideas for such an event have been realised today.”

For further information on Monmouthshire’s equality policies log onto: www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/equality-and-diversity

 

 

MonLife – Monmouthshire’s premier tourism, leisure, culture and youth service provider – is offering an exciting opportunity to individuals living in or near the county to take on a position as a trustee of the organisation.

MonLife has been established as a new company to provide public services for Monmouthshire County Council.  Led by a dynamic and committed leadership team with staff fully committed to developing this new model, MonLife will deliver more and improved services at a lower cost to the council, contributing to make Monmouthshire a more active and healthy place to live and work.

The MonLife board comprises nine trustees – seven living within or close to Monmouthshire and two elected members from the council.  These will be recruited from a wide variety of backgrounds, ideally with a broad cross-section of skills and experience applicable to business needs.  Initially, the term will run for a year though it may be extended further.

Council Leader Peter Fox said: “We’re seeking trustees who believe in selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.  We are looking to recruit dynamic, visionary business leaders who have a passion to drive forward our tourism, leisure, culture and youth services and make a positive difference to Monmouthshire’s future.”

The board will meet four to five times a year as an entire group overseeing a dedicated project team.  In addition, several sub-committees will provide additional assistance to the business.

MonLife will be formally established as a trust in December 2018 following rigorous and thoughtful planning.  It will have an annual turnover of £10m, employing 136 staff (full time equivalent) with approximately 340 volunteers and working in collaboration with a large number of organisations featuring over 350 local clubs and societies. Its current remit includes the provision of leisure services from four sites at Abergavenny, Caldicot, Chepstow and Monmouth as well as outdoor activities at two centres.  The county’s youth service operates from venues where appropriate for young people while seven sites – some are listed buildings – incorporate attractions and museums and also promote tourism information.  Monmouthshire’s countryside service oversees a large access network and its sites offer outdoor experiences for local communities and visitors.

The wide range of activities MonLife will offer includes swimming, state of the art gymnasia, 3G pitches, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, children’s parties, activities and play schemes, guided country walks, themed and exclusive art exhibits, food festivals and events and residential outdoor activities.

Anyone interested in applying for a trustee position or seeking further details may contact Ian Saunders (Interim Strategic Lead) for an informal conversation on 07876 545793.  Alternatively they can email Mrs Tracey Thomas (Interim Governance and Engagement Lead) – traceythomas@monmouthshire.gov.uk – or write to Mrs Thomas at MonLife, Shire Hall, Agincourt Square, Monmouth NP25 3DY.

For more information please follow this link: http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/enrich-and-create

 

 

Monmouthshire County Council has announced that parents and carers are now able to make online applications for concessionary and post-16 school transport.  They should visit www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/school-transport-2018 for details on how to submit applications.

The council provides guaranteed free home to school transport only for pupils up to the age of 16 residing in Monmouthshire who attend their catchment or nearest suitable school and live 1.5 miles or more at primary age and two miles or more at secondary level.  Parents and carers of children starting primary or secondary schools must apply for transport initially but there is no need to re-apply until children change school or attain the age of 16.  However, parents or carers must notify the council if they change address as their children’s eligibility will need to be reassessed for transport.

Students over 16 and under 19 at the start of the academic year residing in Monmouthshire and living more than two miles from and attending the nearest suitable school may benefit from post 16 concessionary transport.  This transport is subject to a charge of £440 per annum but is not guaranteed as it is granted only if there is sufficient room on a school bus.

Post 16 applications for transport are subject to a deadline of Friday 24th August.  This enables the council to allocate seats to other concessionary school transport passengers after this date.

Pupils not entitled to free home to school transport or post 16 concessionary transport will be allocated a seat only if one is available in line with concessionary transport service policy.  This is because the allocation of statutory and post 16 concessionary passengers is prioritised.

In addition, allocation of a seat to such pupils is granted only if there is no financial implication for the council, no alteration or disruption to the transport route and the child is taken to the nearest pick-up point on the route.  The council will charge £440 per annum and will endeavour to award concessionary seats within a period of four to six weeks after the start of the academic year. Parents are responsible for arranging alternative transport until a seat is awarded.

For further information visit www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/school-transport-2018

Monmouthshire celebrated National Play Day (Wednesday 1st August) with a visit from cabinet member for social justice and community development Councillor Sara Jones to a council play scheme in Abergavenny.  Also present were local assembly member Nick Ramsay and Abergavenny’s deputy mayor Tony Konieczny.

Abergavenny Community Centre’s play scheme operates daily from 1pm to 3pm and is funded by grants from Abergavenny Town Council and the Welsh Government’s Families First Programme.  In addition, thanks to a partnership between the community centre and the local branch of Morrison’s supermarket, a free hot meal is available each Wednesday for all the children that attend.

Councillor Jones said: “Play is an essential part of every child’s life – it isn’t just fun, it’s also the best way for young children to learn.  This summer we are working with our communities to provide play opportunities for Monmouthshire’s children across venues throughout the county.  We want to give all children the opportunity to get involved in the schemes on offer and would like to thank our partners for supporting us on this important agenda.”

Play Day is the national day for play in the UK, traditionally held on the first Wednesday in August, when thousands of children and their families celebrate at hundreds of community events.   As well as a celebration of children’s right to play, the campaign highlights the importance of play in children’s lives.

Monmouthshire’s play schemes are run in conjunction with the Torfaen Play service and this summer they operate in nine different venues from 30th July until 23rd August providing opportunities for children aged 5 to 11 years to socialise and enjoy themselves with various activities.

For further information on Monmouthshire’s play schemes contact Andrea Sysum on 01495 742951 or andrea.sysum@torfaen.gov.uk

  • Residents wishing to get involved in the wide range of activities taking place at the Abergavenny Community Centre or becoming involved as a volunteer should contact the centre on 07751 666481 or aber.hub@gmail.com

Caldicot Community Hub hosted a commemorative event recently (Tuesday, 10th July) to mark the success of a local history project to record people’s experiences of living in the town from the time when it was a village.  The year-long oral history project was conducted by the Friends of Caldicot Library with support from the hub’s staff. The celebratory occasion followed a series of presentations to Caldicot History Society, the town’s U3A history section, and pupils of Caldicot School’s History Club.

Project organisers had asked 40 residents born in Caldicot to recall their childhood and their memories of growing up while those born elsewhere were asked why they came, and their experience of living in the town. The age range was 11 to 94 years, making the project a truly intergenerational oral history.

Those interviewed for the project included Peter Bartlett, brought up on a smallholding north of Caldicot.  He recalled German prisoners-of-war and land-girls working on his father’s land during World War II.

Among the documents collected were the memoirs of the late Ernie Jones who farmed Court House Farm – now Castle Lea housing estate – with his wife Winnie.  Winnie remembered the times before they were married when cattle were driven through the centre of the village to reach fields on the nearby moors.

Just after the Second World War six families lived in flats with Caldicot Castle and Wilf Wilshire resided in the keep above a dungeon.  Wilf recalled the capture of a bat which flew into his bedroom.

The records and recordings have been uploaded to the People’s Collection Wales website, curated by the National Library of Wales.  They form a permanent record and living testimony to Caldicot since the 1940s when it has expanded from a small village to a significant town.  The project was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, which financed the provision of recording equipment, and professional training by Dr Beth Thomas of the Oral History Society.

Bernard John of the Friends of Caldicot Library who led the project said; “We wish to express thanks to the people of Caldicot for embracing this project and speaking freely of their lives.  We’re also very grateful to the staff and management of Caldicot Hub and library who have provided support throughout the project.”

Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for community hubs added: “I’m delighted that Caldicot Community Hub and its staff have been instrumental in helping to produce a fascinating oral history of the town.  Our community hubs support local communal activity of this type which contributes to people’s well-being and helps them identify with their locality.  My grateful thanks go to the Heritage Lottery Fund for its contribution to make this project possible.”

Richard Bellamy, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund in Wales commented: “So much of our local history is woven into people’s reminiscences and experiences. Caldicot’s intergenerational oral history project captured these elements of our shared history that is in danger of disappearing as it slips out of human memory. Thanks to National Lottery players, HLF is able to support such projects that conserve people’s contribution to their heritage.”

 

The owner of a Chepstow restaurant has pleaded guilty to two food hygiene offences following action taken by Monmouthshire County Council’s environmental health officers.

Dionysios Mastrogiannopoulos, the owner of the Mythos Bar in Welsh Street was ordered to pay over £3,000 in fines and costs at Cwmbran Magistrates Court on 23rd July after failing to take adequate precautions to control pests at the premises and keep the food business in a clean condition.  Environmental health officers had previously closed the premises this year from 12th February until 8th March while remedial work was carried out.  The business is now fully open and has been reassessed with a food hygiene rating of 4 (Good) following extensive repair works and close cooperation with the council.

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

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

Usk Community Hub will commemorate the centenary of the First World War with a display of two impressive and colourful quilts designed by 130 Monmouthshire children including some from the town’s primary school.  The quilts were produced three years ago and originally unveiled in Abergavenny’s community hub.  They mark the significant contribution that the 3rd Monmouthshire Regiment made to the War and its heavy losses at Ypres.

The quilts were commissioned by The Arts Society Monmouthshire.  Its youth arts officer Karen Couchman said: “Seven artists worked closely with the schoolchildren to produce the quilts, and themes included animals and their roles in the war, life in the trenches, nursing, poppies, World War One poets and going over the top.  The quilts have recently been displayed at the headquarters of the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff Bay.”

The quilts were recently entered into the Never Such Innocence 2017/18 international competition and received a special commendation award as well a mention in the winners’ booklet following over 7,000 entries from 43 countries.

Monmouthshire’s Armed Forces Champion, Councillor Laura Jones added: “The quilts are a fine tribute to those who served in the First World War, particularly so as we approach one hundred years since the signing of the Armistice.  I’m sure the Usk community will welcome the quilts as they are exhibited at the town’s hub and I’m looking forward to taking my young son to see them.”

An exhibition of photography, art and pottery by local students will feature with the quilts until 20th August.

  • Usk Community Hub is situated at 35 Maryport Street, NP15 1AE.  Its opening hours are:

Monday: 9am to 5pm
Wednesday: 9am to 5pm
Thursday: 9am to 7pm
Saturday: 9am to 12:45pm

King Henry VIII School, Abergavenny has become the first secondary school in Monmouthshire to gain a Carers Trust South East Wales’ Award for achieving the ‘Basics’ of the Young Carers in Schools Programme. The school is recognised for its outstanding provision, which enables young carers to thrive.

King Henry VIII is one of 15 schools across Greater Gwent, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan to achieve ‘The Basics’. The first of the three-stage programme, further stages are; ‘Beyond the Basics and Best Practice’ this combined with five important standards to enable young carers to prosper and bloom ‘Understand, Inform, Identify, Support and Listen’.

The programme ensures young carers are not missed in schools and receive the help and support they need to learn. All secondary schools in the county work directly with Carers Trust South East Wales to provide fundamental support for pupils via Carers Trust South East Wales Young Carers Service. Two comprehensive schools in Monmouthshire are currently engaged with the Young Carers in Schools Programme.

Carers Trust South East Wales work alongside the development of the Successful Futures curriculum, ensuring that the Young Carers in Schools Programme provides an integral approach to supporting vulnerable learners. The programme provides vital partnership opportunities with health boards, local authorities and young carer’s services to give young carers, their families the best support.

Carers Trust South East Wales provides children and young people with support outside of school including training, activities and trips, which provide young carers with opportunities to share thoughts and gain solidarity from their peers in similar situations. Carers Trust South East Wales will be attending Usk Show on September 8th in partnership with Monmouthshire County Council to raise awareness of the fantastic work and raise funds to continue the excellent work of the organisation.

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

‘I congratulate King Henry VIII on gaining this award. Recognising and responding to the needs of our young carers is a fundamental to enabling children and young people to have the best start in life. Growing up is hard and even harder if you have to grow up faster than your peers. It is fantastic to see the commitment and support in our schools to give every child an equal opportunity to thrive and learn.’

For more information call 01495 769996 info@ctsew.org.uk

 

Opening times at Gilwern Library will change from Tuesday, 4th September in a move designed to improve its service to the public.  The amount of time that the library is available to the public – 18 hours per week – will not alter but the library will now open on Wednesdays rather than Saturdays.  It will continue to open on Tuesdays and Fridays but with slightly amended times.

The new hours will be introduced on Tuesday, 4th September as follows:

  • Tuesday 9am to 1pm and 1.30pm to 6pm
  • Wednesday 1.30pm to 4.30pm
  • Friday 10am to 1pm and 1.30am to 5pm

The decision to alter the library’s opening times follows footfall data indicating that the change was likely to attract more customers and the new hours would be more convenient.  In addition, Gilwern Roots, with support from Llanelly Community Council will run a 12 week trial starting on Tuesday,  4th September. They are providing a community café running from 9am at the premises every Tuesday morning; an earlier opening time will accommodate this.

Strategic Lead Manager for north Monmouthshire, Cheryl Haskell said: “We hope that the change in opening hours and operating on Wednesday rather than Saturday will encourage more people to use Gilwern Library, a much-loved service in the village.”

 

Abergavenny Castle is to host an evening event with a difference on Wednesday 1st August – an outdoor silent disco based on Owain Glyndŵr, the legendary rebel Prince of Wales.

During the evening, a soundtrack over wireless headphones will lead participants through the legend of Owain Glyndŵr and his Welsh revolt, from 1399 to 1415.  The story is set to a DJ mixing club and punk classics with tracks from current Welsh musicians and bands.

This energetic and entertaining night out for families, young people and rebels of all ages has been created to inspire and inform by Light Ladd & Emberton, a collective of four of Wales’ leading creatives – Deborah Light, Eddie Ladd and Gwyn Emberton with Laura Drane.

Eddie Ladd, one of Wales’ best known live and TV performers, says: “Last summer we were inspired to create this event at locations connected to the legendary Owain Glyndŵr, as part of Visit Wales’ Year of Legends.  And it proved to be a unique and fun night out for both visitors and locals.  We cannot wait for more people to dance the rebellion again this year.”

Laura Drane, producer at Light Ladd & Emberton says: “The show is played out using professional performers alongside our ticket buying disco-goers, in a series of scenes, actions, and tasks.  The soundtrack and the narration, through the wireless headphones, will provide the tunes and direct the action, in Welsh and English.  Come and discover Glyndwr’s story.”

Two 45 minute shows will commence at 6.30pm and 8pm.  The performance is suitable for all ages with tickets priced at £5 per person.  Places are limited so it is recommended that tickets are bought in advance and patrons arrive 15 minutes before the performance starts.  For details and tickets, telephone 01873 854282 or call into Abergavenny Castle and Museum.

Summer is here and there are some wonderful experiences available in beautiful Monmouthshire for children and young people. The fun started this weekend when Monmouthshire’s Youth Service joined Usk’s Community Festival on Sunday for face painting and games.

Days Out

Magical countryside, hills, waterside locations and forests — the list goes on. Monmouthshire is the place for outdoor adventures. With more castles per square mile than any other region of the United Kingdom… Monmouthshire is the perfect place to explore. Weekly craft activities run all summer at Monmouthshire’s museums and attractions (different theme every week).

Immerse yourself in Welsh history with a twist on 1st August at 6.30 and 8 pm when Abergavenny Castle & Museum is hosting a family silent disco celebrating Owain Glyndŵr, the legendary rebel Prince of Wales – inc. a DJ mixing club classics and original tunes. Please telephone the museum on 01873 854282 for tickets (please buy tickets in advance as places are limited).

Try archery at Caldicot Castle on Saturday 4th August where trained instructors will be in the castle garden all day.

Tintern’s Old Station visitor centre will be holding free Punch and Judy displays throughout the day on Sunday 5th and Thursday 9th August. Pop along to enjoy the show.

At 4 pm on Friday 17th August the Midnight Gang outdoor theatre outdoor adaptation of David Walliams’ bestseller is being held at Abergavenny Museum and Castle tickets are available from Abergavenny Castle.

Making new friends and learning new skills

 Throughout the summer young people will enjoy drop in sessions and Skate Jam events. A young people’s PRIDE Event is being held on 3rd August at Caldicot Castle, from 1-8pm, where there will be a mixture of activities on offer – live performance, music, stalls, a march and other activities for young people to get involved in. To sign up for this free event visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/monmouthshire-youth-pride-tickets-48203103781

Children aged 5 to 12 will love spending a day at ‘The Monmouthshire Games’ — 27 days packed full of fun at Monmouthshire’s four leisure centres.  There’s lots of different sports to try like football, netball, tennis, daily mile, dodgeball and much more – a great way for children to learn new skills, increase confidence and make new friends. To enquire about the Monmouthshire Games please visit www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/monmouthshire-games  or contact your local leisure centre.

Girls Can camps are taking place every Friday this Summer holidays at Abergavenny Leisure Centre. A great opportunity for girls (5-12yrs) to get together and have fun through sport. Contact Abergavenny Leisure Centre to book or enquire via sport@monmouthshire.gov.uk

MonSport Football Camps (5-12yrs) are offering eight days of fun and football with FAW qualified coaches throughout the summer holidays. Contact Abergavenny or Caldicot Leisure Centre to book or enquire via sport@monmouthshire.gov.uk

Cllr Bob Greenland, Cabinet Memnber for Innovation, Enterprise and Leisure said: “I hope everyone has a fun filled summer – there are amazing events taking place across the county for children and young people of all ages.”

  

For summer fun ideas text summer to 61211 or see www.visitmonmouthshire.com/summer  

 Please see these clips for some more inspiration – bring on the summer fun!:

https://www.facebook.com/MonmouthshireCC/videos/1985849174782844/

https://www.facebook.com/MonmouthshireCC/videos/1996719463695815/

Over 150 residents, families and friends gathered in afternoon sunshine on Saturday 21st July to celebrate in style the opening of a garden at a home for older people.  The garden at Monmouthshire County Council’s Severn View Residential Home in Chepstow has been created largely thanks to hard work by volunteers and generous donations from supporters.  In addition, a number of fundraising social events have taken place, while seven members of staff collected money through sponsorship after completing the UK Three Peaks Challenge in summer 2016.

Severn View is a home for older people and many live with dementia.  The garden will allow active involvement including gardening, enjoying wildlife, strolling the specially designed walkways or taking tea with friends and family.  For people living with dementia a garden helps them reconnect with the surrounding world and the centre’s staff recognise that being outdoors is central to well-being.  Not only does it improve physical health, it reduces stress, improves sleep and gives people a sense of self and place.

Julie Boothroyd, Monmouthshire’s newly appointed Chief Officer for Social Care, Safeguarding and Health officially opened the garden, thanking the many organisations that had contributed to bring it to fruition.  Julie specially mentioned Rachel Davies who lent her gardening skills, volunteers Anne Masters and Andy Herbert, Anne Ali for providing hanging baskets, Rob Campbell who acted as MC for the occasion and the tireless Maureen Jenkins, who as driving force behind the garden used her contacts and pressganged assistance as necessary.  Julie said; “We hope everyone attending today has enjoyed the launch of this magnificent garden.  We would love the community to be involved so if anybody would like to join our residents for a chat or some gardening please call 01291 638921 or drop into Severn View to discuss how they may help.”

Also present at the gala gathering were Monmouthshire’s Chairman, Councillor Peter Clarke and Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for social care, Councillor Penny Jones.  Councillor Clarke acknowledged “an amazing community effort” while Councillor Jones said: “I’d like to thank everybody who has helped to create a wonderful space in this magnificent garden for people to sit and enjoy.”

Glasses of Pimms added to the festive atmosphere while the Pashy Pops, a Cwmbran-based female duo offered musical entertainment with numbers from the 1940s by the Andrews Sisters, Gracie Fields, Doris Day and Vera Lynn as well as other favourites from the era.  Later, the Severn Tunnel Band and the Caldicot Male Voice Choir provided well-received sets to bring the event to an enjoyable conclusion.

Monmouthshire County Council is welcoming three new chief officers to its senior leadership team.  The appointments of Chief Officer for Enterprise and Chief Officer for Social Care, Safeguarding & Health, as well as Head of Law & Monitoring Officer mean that the council’s leadership team is now at full strength.  The newly appointed chief officers will have the ability and potential to ensure progress and offer a considerable difference to Monmouthshire’s communities.

Frances Williams will take the position of Chief Officer for Enterprise, replacing Kellie Beirne who will shortly leave the council to become the Cardiff Capital Region’s City Deal Programme Director.

Frances has led Blaenau Gwent’s regeneration department and has been the Head of Public Services for the past two years, leading both the community services and regeneration functions which included a wide range of frontline services.  In addition, she has led various programmes for a number of South East Wales local authorities.  Originally from Port Talbot, she studied a degree in geography followed by a Masters of Research in Recycling Technology at Swansea University.  Frances started her professional career in waste management at Merthyr Tydfil County Borough before moving to Blaenau Gwent.

Frances lives in Newport and co-parents her four and a half year old son, Zachary – she quips that for her youngster the half year is crucial!  She enjoys reading and going to the gym, but is also a fan of fabulous food and cooking.

Frances said: “I am very excited by the opportunity to work with the team at Monmouthshire County Council and help to deliver its goals. I am very passionate about making a difference, improving public services and can’t wait to start at Mon CC.”

Monmouthshire’s new Chief Officer for Social Care, Safeguarding & Health, Julie Boothroyd, has worked as the council’s Head of Adult Services for the past eight years.  She will replace Claire Marchant who has joined Cardiff City Council as Chief Officer for Social Services.

Julie started her social care career aged 19 assisting older people and has since taken a variety of senior roles in Bristol, Gwent and Monmouthshire.  She prides herself on building strong relationships with the workforce and people who need social care support.  She said: “I am thrilled and proud to become Chief Officer for Social Care, Safeguarding and Health.  I work with impressive staff everyday who make an enormous difference to people’s lives.  I want to lead the service with passion, optimism and ambition.  Above all, I want to ensure that we focus on people and relationships; those I work alongside and those we support to ensure that we’re continually there for people according to what matters to them.”

Julie hails from West Yorkshire, but has adopted Wales as her home, living in Monmouthshire for the past 20 years with husband Colin and their three grown children, Chris, Dan and Scarlet.  A fan of the outdoors who enjoys time with her two horses and two dogs, she is also an enthusiast for motorcycles and fast cars.

Matt Phillips takes on the role of Head of Law & Monitoring Office, replacing the long-serving Robert Tranter who heads to a new position in Caerphilly County Borough.  Matt grew up in Chepstow and went to Pembroke Primary and Chepstow schools before studying politics and international relations at Swansea University.  On finishing his degree, he joined the Royal Navy as a logistics specialist, training as a commissioned officer at Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth before going on to specialise as a submariner and serving as the head of department on HMS Tireless, a nuclear-powered, hunter-killer submarine.

Matt was selected by the Royal Navy to train as a barrister and studied at Cardiff University Law School, being called to the Bar at Middle Temple Inn of Court. He spent a year working as a criminal barrister in London before returning to the Royal Navy and becoming the UK’s legal adviser to the European Union’s Maritime Force, focusing on counter-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa.  Matt continued to specialise in International and Operational Law, becoming the legal adviser to 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines and working as a strategist in Joint Force Command.

Matt lives in Abergavenny with his wife Ruth, and daughters Alice and Charlotte. He makes the most of life in Abergavenny and Monmouthshire, from walking the dog in the Brecon Beacons to running, open water swimming or cycling throughout the county and beyond.

Matt said: “I’m delighted to be joining Monmouthshire County Council. I grew up in Chepstow and have lived in Abergavenny for years so it’s great to return from a career in the armed forces that’s taken me all over the world to give something back to the county and take part in Mon CC’s impressive work.”

Council Leader Peter Fox commented: “I’m delighted that we’ve made these appointments which follow a comprehensive campaign to ensure the best people were recruited.  We’re all looking forward to witnessing the impact that Frances, Julie and Matt will have on Monmouthshire as they offer us their experience, ideas and a fresh approach.

“My best wishes and thanks go to Kellie, Claire and Rob as they leave us and we wish them well for the future.”

For further information on opportunities with Monmouthshire County Council log onto: www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/jobs-and-employment

 

Caldicot School, Monmouthshire County Council’s first 21st Century School was officially opened by Brigadier Robert Aitken CBE Lord Lieutenant on Friday 20th July. The ceremony came a year to the day after the old building closed.

The newly built £40 million secondary school hosts 1500 pupils has been joint funded by Monmouthshire County Council and the Welsh Government’s 21st Century School and Education Programme.  The Programme represents the largest infrastructure investment in schools and colleges since the 1960s, and is being delivered by Welsh Government and in partnership with local authorities, governing bodies, pupils and staff.

A wealth of dignitaries, including Jessica Morden MP, Chairman of Monmouthshire Council Cllr Peter Clarke and Leader of the Council Cllr Peter Fox attended the ceremony. Acting Head teacher Mr Simon Rees and Chair of Governors Peter Nurcombe expressed thanks to all involved in the transformational build of the school.

Since the original school opened in 1958 the building and its ethos has been at the heart of the community. The new school – with its award winning design and architecture, will continue to welcome pupils, staff, parents and the wider community through its doors. The innovative design and interactive technology within the school provides a state of the art learning experience today and for future generations and will equip Caldicot pupils to meet the challenges of the new curriculum.

Cllr Richard John Cabinet Member for Children and Young People said:

‘‘It’s a privilege to mark the official start of 21stCentury learning for pupils in Caldicot. The school is the council’s biggest investment to date, delivered in collaboration with Interserve, the Welsh Government, pupils and staff. This new school is light, environmentally-friendly, energy-efficient and kitted out with state of the art technology to enable staff to use the most modern teaching methods.

“70% of construction workers were from the local area and many apprentices gained valuable skills during the construction.  This new school will benefit young people and the wider community in Caldicot for generations.  We look forward to continuing to renew our school buildings across the county so every young person in Monmouthshire can benefit from a modern learning environment.”

Education secretary Kirsty Williams AM said: “Our national mission is to raise standards, reduce the attainment gap and deliver an education system that is a source of national pride and confidence. Our 21st Century Schools and Education Programme plays a key part in this and is the largest investment in our schools and colleges since the 1960s.”

I am delighted the Welsh Government’s investment in this £40m project is having a positive impact on education and learning in Monmouthshire. The new school will be a vital resource for the whole community.

Monmouthshire County Council will hold a special meeting of its Strong Communities Select Committee at 10am on Monday 30th July in the council chamber at County Hall to discuss the authority’s proposed advertising boards and street furniture policy.

The Strong Communities Select Committee has recognised the significant interest shared by local businesses, traders, disability groups and residents in recent weeks and welcomes all interested parties to attend the meeting. This will provide an opportunity for the public to offer their perspectives and for members to fully debate the issue, prior to the Select Committee making recommendations on the policy options.

The meeting will consist of a presentation from Monmouthshire’s Head of Operations Roger Hoggins followed by a thirty minute open forum to enable the public, businesses and groups to present their views.  To avoid repetition, the council recommends that groups nominate a spokesperson to speak on their behalf.

A formal agenda will available five working days before the 30th July meeting and can be located on the council’s website under the meetings calendar: http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/home/democracy-councillors – the meeting will be live-streamed for those who wish to view it remotely.  Anyone who wishes to distribute documents or written material to the committee should submit them to Monmouthshire’s democratic services team by 6pm on Monday 23rd July email:

registertospeak@monmouthshire.gov.uk

The Strong Communities Select Committee Chair, Councillor Jane Pratt has called for the meeting, saying: “We are aware of the importance of this issue and the need to debate this fully and as soon as possible.  Consequently, the Select Committee is prioritising this by calling a special meeting to enable the committee to fully understand the implications of the policy on businesses and residents in making its recommendation”.

Councillor Bryan Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for Operations said: “Our towns are beautiful and vibrant places, attracting many visitors from all over the world.  I love the ‘café’ culture I see in our towns and do not want to hinder this.  I encourage people to come along or watch the meeting to gain information on how we can help businesses continue to thrive”.

In addition, two public meetings have taken place on Friday 13th July at Monmouth’s Shire Hall and Monday 16th July at Abergavenny Town Hall to enable businesses and residents to share their thoughts.

 

Trellech Primary School welcomed the Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams on Friday 13th July. The Cabinet Secretary met with Monmouthshire County Council’s newly appointed Cluster Business Managers and Head teachers to discuss the success of a three year pilot project to provide dedicated support for leaders and teachers.

The pilot project has been has been jointly funded by Welsh Government and the Local Authority to provide business management and support for all Primary Schools in the county. Monmouthshire is one of 11 areas who have been successful to gain the grant of £65,000 from Welsh Government and match funded by the council.

The Business Managers help head teachers to focus more on the school community, making their role in the school a more hands on and pupil focused.

Monmouthshire’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Richard John said ‘The project has been running in all our primary schools for several months and our headteachers are already beginning to see the benefits.  Business managers have been working closely with schools to look for budget savings and to reduce the administration burden for headteachers.  I welcome this funding as it is so important to support school leaders, enabling more time and resources for teaching so young people in Monmouthshire have the best chance to achieve their potential.’

Education Secretary Kirsty Williams said: Teachers and headteachers need to be able to concentrate on the roles that they are best equipped to perform, roles that they trained for, roles that made them want to become teachers in the first place.

“There are many things that can get in the way of this and teachers frequently tell me about the pressures they face due to workload.

“We have listened and that’s why, last year, I announced funding of £642,000 for the School Business Manager project. Coupled with match-funding from Local Authorities this means that over £1.2 million is available for pilots in eleven areas.

“I’m very pleased to hear that this funding is already making a difference for headteachers in Monmouthshire and look forward to hearing more about how the project’s part in raising standards and improving schools.”

 

 

Monmouthshire County Council is celebrating the news that three of its open spaces have retained their coveted Green Flag Award granted last year by leading environmental charity, Keep Wales Tidy.  Tintern’s Old Station, Caldicot Castle & Country Park and Abergavenny’s Castle Meadows have been recognised as being among the best parks and green spaces in the country and maintaining high standards throughout the year. The awards recognise the considerable efforts made by volunteers and park managers to reach these standards.

Monmouthshire’s parks are very popular with residents and visitors and have attracted a number of awards in recent years.  Tintern’s Old Station has developed an excellent reputation as one of the area’s top visitor centres and was voted the UK’s favourite park in the 2011 People’s Choice Green Flag Award public poll.  It’s situated in a scenic wooded area next to the River Wye and its tea room is noted for its fare.

Caldicot’s magnificent medieval castle is set in fifty-five acres of beautiful country park offering an ideal setting for picnics and walks against the background of the castle walls, with picnic tables and barbeques.  The castle hosts a number of events throughout the year, drawing people from far and wide including concerts by pop group Little Mix and rock legends Status Quo.

Abergavenny’s tranquil Castle Meadows are set on the banks of the River Usk.  This peaceful setting is just a short stroll from the centre of the town and was the location for the very successful 2016 Monmouthshire and District National Eisteddfod.

As well as those sites winning the Green Flag Award, seven locations in Monmouthshire have gained the Green Flag Community Award – this recognises high quality green spaces managed by voluntary and community groups.  Among these groups is the Friends of Bailey Park which meets regularly to weed and maintain a sensory garden.  The other locations in the county achieving the Green Flag Community Award are Crick Woodland, Crick Meadow, Crucorney Allotments, Goetre Community Garden, Portskewett’s The Cornfield and Abergavenny’s Laurie Jones Community Orchard.

County Councillor Bob Greenland, cabinet member with responsibility for Tourism and Leisure said: “It’s wonderful news that three of the council’s parks have been recognised as worthy of the Green Flag Award, providing our communities with such highly-rated facilities.  Monmouthshire is a beautiful county and The Old Station, Caldicot Castle with its Country Park and Abergavenny’s Castle Meadows are among the venues that people flock to visit.  Congratulations also go to the seven sites that have won the Green Flag Community Award.  I am particularly pleased that both awards recognise the effort and role of the volunteers at each site.”

A record-breaking 201 parks and green spaces, including universities, cemeteries, woodlands and allotments across Wales have met the high standards needed to receive the coveted Green Flag Award and Green Flag Community Award.  The Green Flag Award programme is judged by green space experts, who volunteer their time to visit applicant sites and assess them against eight strict criteria, including horticultural standards, cleanliness, environmental management and community involvement.

Lucy Prisk, Green Flag Coordinator at Keep Wales Tidy said: “We’re delighted to be celebrating another record-breaking year for the Green Flag Awards in Wales.  The 201 flags flying are a testament to the dedication and enthusiasm of the staff and volunteers across the country who work tirelessly to maintain Green Flag Award standards.

“I’d encourage everyone to get outdoors this summer and enjoy the incredible parks and green spaces we have on our doorstep.”

A full list of award winners is available on the Keep Wales Tidy website: www.keepwalestidy.cymru/greenflag

Monmouthshire County Council is to carry out an inspection of memorials at Llanfoist Cemetery this autumn.  The council has a requirement to ensure the safety of people visiting or working in its cemeteries, and checking the stability of memorials is an important part of that obligation.  Testing will be carried out by trained employees and memorials remaining stable to a pre-determined level will be deemed safe.

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

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

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

Monmouthshire County Council welcomes tech businesses to the local launch of the Monmouthshire Gov Tech Challenge. The event at Caldicot Castle on Monday 16th July 10.00 – 1.45pm is an opportunity to glean more information and share ideas.

The £1.25 million funding will be used to develop innovative solutions aimed at helping to lessen the impact of loneliness and the challenge of limited rural transport faced by many people in Monmouthshire. In the first phase, funding of up to £50K will be available for five technology companies to undertake and research and development phase with up to a further £500k each for two companies to undertake pilot development.

The funding comes from the new £20 million fund from the UK Government to encourage technology firms to deliver solutions to complex public sector problems. GovTech encourages technology firms to bring innovative solutions to public services that, once proven, can be introduced in other areas helping grow UK businesses while providing benefits to society as a whole.

Cabinet Member for Social Justice Cllr Sara Jones said:

‘I hope that this event creates avenues for businesses to come along and find out more. We are looking for inspiring companies to come forward with pioneering solutions to alleviate some of the pressures affecting our most vulnerable communities. ’

Businesses of all sizes are encouraged to attend the event which include a networking lunch. Channels such as video conferencing are available to talk to officers if firms are not able to attend the event.

To find register interest in the event visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/monmouthshire-govtech-challenge-tickets-47583594813

For more information and an opportunity to view a short film explaining the background and brief for the challenge visit:  www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/govtech_challenge

Monmouthshire County Council will celebrate the work of those who encourage and promote pollinators at a networking event from 1pm to 5pm on Tuesday 17th July at Usk’s Incredible Edible garden near County Hall.

The occasion will bring together beekeepers involved in the Vale of Usk Rural Development Programme’s BEES project and organisations like the Monmouth-based charity Bees for Development and Bee Friendly Monmouthshire.

The BEES project raises awareness of beekeeping and its importance to biological systems and diversity with organisations, schools and the general public, working co-operatively to share skills, ideas and best practice. A measure of the project’s success is that its ethos has been adopted and adapted elsewhere, notably in Sweden.

Usk’s Incredible Edible garden is run along the principles of the Incredible Edible movement and allows volunteers to grow vegetables or fruit as well as other plants that tempt pollinators like bees.  It aims to show how simple it is to create an environment that entices all pollinator species, providing habitats, shelter and food. The garden also includes an apiary of

12 beehives which is overseen by the Gwent Beekeepers charity.  The event will feature a tour of the garden and apiary.

Deputy Leader, County Councillor Bob Greenland said:  Pollinators are vital to our survival so we must take action to ensure they thrive.  This event will draw together those people and organisations whose role is crucial to their continued existence.  We will also celebrate the work of the projects that promote bees and other pollinators.”

For more information about the work the council has carried out to encourage pollinators at its Incredible Edible Usk Garden visit: http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/incredible-edible-usk

 

Monmouthshire’s community hubs and libraries are calling on the county’s children to sign up for the Mischief Makers Summer Reading Challenge 2018.

The Summer Reading Challenge asks 4 to 11 year olds to borrow and read any six library books and its Mischief Makers theme is inspired by the much-loved children’s title, the Beano, which celebrates its 80th anniversary.

To take part in Mischief Makers, all children need do is sign up at their nearest library or community hub where they’ll receive a colourful collector’s map of Beanotown to keep a record of their Summer Reading Challenge journey.  Exploring the map will reveal a hidden treasure chest full of pranks designed for the ultimate mischief maker! As children pick a book for the Summer Reading Challenge, they’ll collect special stickers to add to their map, helping Dennis, Gnasher and friends solve clues and discover the treasure, having lots of fun and adventures along the way.

A packed programme of events and activities is planned for families to celebrate the Summer Reading Challenge, including story-telling from Louby Lou.  Residents should contact their local library or community hub or go to monmouthshire.gov.uk to find how to participate.

Sue Wilkinson, CEO of The Reading Agency which produces the Summer Reading Challenge said: “We believe that everything changes when we read and we know from our research how much fun families and children have when taking part in the Challenge. Mischief Makers offers intergenerational appeal and we hope this family-friendly accessible theme will inspire more children than ever to read over the holidays and make use of their local library throughout the summer and beyond.”

County Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for community hubs added: “Reading can take a back seat during the long summer holidays if children don’t have regular access to books and encouragement to read for pleasure.  This can cause problems for schools in the new term but the annual Summer Reading Challenge is a highlight of the holiday for many children and can only be beneficial if it inspires them to get stuck into a good book.”

Monmouthshire Librarian Fiona Ashley commented: “As I visit school assemblies across the county to tell children about the Summer Reading Challenge, I notice how enthusiastic they are.  Last year, 915 children started the Summer Reading Challenge and we are confident that even more will sign up this time.”

Mischief Makers launches in community hubs and libraries across Monmouthshire on Saturday 14th July.

Over 250 people attended a celebration and networking event at Abergavenny’s Market Hall last Thursday evening (5th July) to acknowledge the contribution of individuals and groups who volunteer to sustain and support the county’s communities.  Among those present were the High Sheriff of Gwent, Sharon Linnard, the Gwent Police and Crime Commissioner Jeff Cuthbert, Monmouthshire’s Vice Chair Councillor Sheila Woodhouse and Abergavenny mayor, Councillor Teslin Davies.

With the historic Market Hall offering a perfect venue, 45 groups shared their passion for helping their communities while organisations demonstrated ways in which they can help volunteers, including funding opportunities.

The evening was sponsored by the Be. Community Leadership programme which offers a blend of free learning, training and personal development opportunities to volunteers in Monmouthshire and rural areas of Newport.  It is funded by The Vale of Usk Rural Development Programme.

Owen Wilce, Monmouthshire’s Community and Partnership Development Lead Officer said: “The event was created to connect people, start conversations and value volunteering.  We are blessed with the amount of community activity in the area and we wanted to bring together organisations that offer support to volunteers doing great things in our community.  Our aim was to create a buzz.”

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for Social Justice & Community Development, Councillor Sara Jones was present at the event.  She added: “I am so pleased this evening was so successful.  We owe so much to Monmouthshire’s volunteers and they deserve all available help and support to ensure they continue to make our communities a better place for future generations.  I would like to thank those who go over and above to dedicate their time for the love of their community.”

The council hopes to host related events in other towns across Monmouthshire.  For further information on the event or the Be. Community Leadership Programme contact Owen Wilce on 01633 644420 or owenwilce@monmouthshire.gov.uk

 

Monmouthshire County Council welcomes tech businesses to the local launch of the Monmouthshire Gov Tech Challenge. The event at Caldicot Castle on Monday 16th July 10.00 – 1.45pm is an opportunity to glean more information and share ideas.

The £1.25 million funding will be used to develop innovative solutions aimed at helping to lessen the impact of loneliness and the challenge of limited rural transport faced by many people in Monmouthshire. In the first phase, funding of up to £50K will be available for five technology companies to undertake and research and development phase with up to a further £500k each for two companies to undertake pilot development.

The funding comes from the new £20 million fund from the UK Government to encourage technology firms to deliver solutions to complex public sector problems. GovTech encourages technology firms to bring innovative solutions to public services that, once proven, can be introduced in other areas helping grow UK businesses while providing benefits to society as a whole.

Cabinet Member for Social Justice Cllr Sara Jones said:

‘I hope that this event creates avenues for businesses to come along and find out more. We are looking for inspiring companies to come forward with pioneering solutions to alleviate some of the pressures affecting our most vulnerable communities. ’

Businesses of all sizes are encouraged to attend the event which include a networking lunch. Channels such as video conferencing are available to talk to officers if firms are not able to attend the event.

To find register interest in the event visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/monmouthshire-govtech-challenge-tickets-47583594813

For more information visit:  www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/govtech_challenge

 

 

Monmouthshire County Council has provided £150,000 worth of financial support to 500 high street businesses. The money has been received from the Welsh Government under its 2018/19 High Street Rate Relief Scheme (HSRRS) and the council agreed to accept the funding and the conditions relating to it at a recent cabinet meeting.

The council has identified eligible high street business premises from its records and awarded the relief automatically. If the council is uncertain whether a business premises complies with the necessary criteria, the company will be issued with a formal application so that a decision can be made.

Councillor Phil Murphy, Monmouthshire’s Cabinet Member for Resources said: “These are challenging times for our high streets and these rate relief schemes will potentially go some way towards giving businesses more security and viability.”

Councillor Bob Greenland, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Innovation, Enterprise and Leisure said: “I am acutely aware of the pressure that the latest Welsh Government rate revaluation has put on many of our retail businesses. We lobbied hard to get relief for the most hard pressed and I am pleased that this money will go some way towards achieving that aim.”

Full information about the scheme and guidance for eligible firms is available by visiting: www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/business-rates

Swift action by leisure centre staff saved a man’s life after he collapsed following cardiac arrest while playing five-a-side football.  Chepstow Leisure Centre duty officer Duncan Thompson used the site’s defibrillator and with help from colleagues performed resuscitation on customer Paul Kelly as well as assisting ambulance staff on their arrival.  Mr Kelly was operated upon in the Bristol Royal Infirmary hospital where he made a full recovery.

Mr Kelly was very grateful for the prompt action by staff and their first aid skills without which the outcome could have been very different.  Following his operation he visited the leisure centre to convey his thanks.

County Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for leisure said: “Staff at our leisure centres display a high degree of professionalism at all times and this incident illustrates the impressive standards to which they aspire.  I’m delighted by the prompt and effective action taken and very pleased that Mr Kelly has made such a good recovery.  We look forward to welcoming him back at the leisure centre soon.”

Monmouthshire’s Head of Tourism, Leisure, Culture and Youth, Ian Saunders added: “We’re very proud of the assistance lent by Duncan Thompson and his colleagues to save a life at Chepstow Leisure Centre.  Staff receive monthly training covering first aid, CPR, defibrillation and life-guarding skills while duty officers also receive first aid at work training.  In addition, Duncan and two other staff are trainer/assessors for the National Pool Lifeguard (NPLQ) qualification which operates in association with the Royal Lifesaving Society.”

For further information on Chepstow Leisure Centre log onto: www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/things-to-do/monleisure/chepstow-leisure-centre-2 or visit the centre’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

Monmouthshire County Council’s corporate parenting team hosted a Thank You event at Caldicot Castle on Thursday 28th June to celebrate the outstanding dedication of Foster Carers in Monmouthshire.

Foster carers were invited to the Castle for afternoon tea and received beautiful flowers and words of recognition for their continued dedication and care of babies, children and young people who need a helping hand from loving supportive families.

In attendance were carers who have been fostering for varied lengths of time. The team were proud to celebrate all carers and were particularly pleased to be able to thank local Foster Carers who have been with the council for over 25 years.

‘The best thing about being a Foster Carer is being able to give children a chance. I welcome children into my home and give them the best life we can’ – Monmouthshire Foster Carer

Cllr Penny Jones, Cabinet Member for Social Care and Health, chair of Corporate Parenting Panel said:

‘I am delighted to see so many of our carers at the event, it is so important to recognise and celebrate our Foster Carers. They play such an important role in the lives of some of our vulnerable children and young people. For those who were not able to attend I ‘thank you’ and hope to see you at future events. The Monmouthshire Fostering Team provide excellent support and advice I urge anyone considering becoming a carer to get in touch’

 

Fostering is an amazing, rewarding role which can last anything from 5 months to 25 years, the team are always looking for more people who can help babies, children and young people. For more information contact 01873 735950 or Text FOSTER with a name to 83222 or visit http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/fostering

Monmouthshire County Council Chief Executive Paul Matthews is delighted to announce that up to £1.25million of GovTech Catalyst funding is available to develop solutions aimed at helping to break the cycle of loneliness and the challenge of limited rural transport faced by many people in Monmouthshire.

The challenge will be formally launched at the Tram Shed, Cardiff on Tuesday 3rd July and the competition will open on Monday 16th July.

The funding comes from the new £20 million fund from the UK Government to encourage technology firms to deliver solutions to complex public sector problems. GovTech encourages technology firms to bring innovative solutions to public services that, once proven, can be introduced in other areas helping grow UK businesses while providing benefits to society as a whole.

Cllr Sara Jones Cabinet Member for Social Justice said:

‘Here in Monmouthshire we are blessed with diverse and beautiful surroundings, thriving towns and vast amounts of social capital. Yet the diversity of our landscape has challenges. Loneliness has a significant impact on people’s health and well-being. There is a direct correlation between loneliness, our increasingly ageing population and the unravelling of our sense of community.

Reducing budgets in public services also means there is less money available to subsidise traditional transport services. This is a major issue in rural areas where journey times on public transport to local services can exceed two hours. As a result residents are heavily dependent on private cars which is costly, both financially and environmentally. These challenges can lead to increased loneliness and it’s making it harder for young people to access training and employment. We need to find solutions to enhance the lives of people of all ages in the future.

I urge businesses of all sizes to get in touch share ideas to help us alleviate some of the pressures affecting our most vulnerable communities’

The competition opens on 16th July and closes on 5th September 2018. There will be an opportunity for businesses to hear more about the challenge and how they can apply at a briefing session taking place in coming weeks.  To find out more visit www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/govtech_challenge

A short film has been produced, the council encourages businesses to take a look and share with relevant networks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwTaIdV_TU4

Monmouthshire County Council’s staff, were joined by SARA (Severn Area Rescue Service) to climb the Sugar Loaf on 21st June to celebrate the summer solstice and raise funds for SARA. SARA is a lifeboat and inland search and rescue organisation which operates in for Gloucestershire, Hereford, Worcestershire, and Gwent. This ‘official’ start of summer event heralds a wonderful summer in beautiful Monmouthshire.

This year there are many activities taking place across Monmouthshire to give children and young people the summer they want.

Days out

Magical countryside, hills, waterside locations and forests – the list goes on. Monmouthshire is the place for outdoor adventures.

With more castles per square mile than any other region of the United Kingdom … Monmouthshire is the perfect place to explore. Weekly craft activities run all summer at Monmouthshire’s museums and attractions.

Sporting fun

There’s loads on offer in Abergavenny, Caldicot and Chepstow leisure centres. And with Monmouth’s premier leisure facility re-opening at the end of July there are many attractions for children including our brand new, action packed, three floor indoor play centre with an exciting beat the clock timing system.

Making new friends and learning new skills

Children aged 5 to 12 will love spending a day at  ‘The Monmouthshire Games’ – 27 days packed full of fun at Monmouthshire’s four leisure centres. There’s lots of different sports to try like football, netball, tennis, daily mile, dodgeball and much more – a great way for children to learn new skills, increase confidence and make new friends.

Richard Newhouse, SARA Fundraising Officer said “we are grateful to the Monmouthshire CC team for supporting our rescue work”.

Cllr Bob Greenland, Cabinet Member for Enterprise added “Children and young people will love this summer in Monmouthshire – there are so many fun activities from them to choose from. What better way to start the summer than a fundraising walk for SARA overlooking the stunning Monmouthshire countryside.”

For summer activities children really want text summer to 61211 or see visitmonmouthshire.com/summer

 

To donate to SARA please visit Sara-rescue.org.uk/donate

 

 

Individuals and groups who help to sustain and support communities in Abergavenny and its surrounding areas are invited to attend a celebration and networking event hosted by Monmouthshire County Council in the town’s Market Hall.

The event on Thursday 5th July from 6.30pm to 8.30pm will provide an opportunity to highlight and showcase the many groups and individuals who dedicate their time to make great things happen. The historic Market Hall provides a perfect space to host a large number of groups, individuals, practitioners and organisations.

The event will be led by Monmouthshire’s Community Development and Partnerships Lead Officer, Owen Wilce. Owen works with community groups and individuals as well as the Gwent Association of Voluntary Associations to increase and support the fantastic community spirit that exists in Abergavenny and the event will be an opportunity to thank people and acknowledge their contribution and commitment.

It will also present a unique opportunity for volunteers and community groups to engage, develop networks and build relationships to strengthen local activity. A wide range of professionals and organisations will be present to offer funding advice, volunteer support and training opportunities.

A similar occasion in Chepstow was an outstanding success and the council hopes to host related events in each of the towns across Monmouthshire.

Cllr Bob Greenland, Cabinet Member for Innovation, Enterprise and Leisure said: ‘I am so pleased to see an event of this kind taking place. We owe so much to our volunteers across Monmouthshire and they deserve all available help and support to ensure they continue to make our communities a better place for future generations. I would like to thank those who go over and above to dedicate their time for the love of their community.’

Everyone is welcome to attend the event; to book a place visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/be-community-networking-event-abergavenny-tickets-46928441231

For further details, contact Owen: 01633 644420.

There are some significant changes to Benefit administration in Monmouthshire for working age people from June 27. As part of a national roll out the full service of Universal Credit is being introduced here. This means that most new claims for six legacy benefits (Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit, Income Support, income based Jobseekers Allowance and income related Employment and Support Allowance) will become part of Universal Credit from this date and be administered by the Department for Work and Pensions. In such cases Housing Benefit will no longer be administered by the Council.

Full details are available here: http://www.torfaen.gov.uk/en/CouncilTaxAndBenefits/Benefits/HousingBenefitandCouncilTaxReduction/Housingbenefit-generalinformation/Housing-Benefit-And-Council-Tax-Benefit.aspx

A pilot project administered by the Vale of Usk Rural Development Programme – a partnership between Monmouthshire and Newport councils to promote rural communities and businesses and increase prosperity – aims to raise awareness and engage on the importance of all pollinator species.  These include moths, butterflies, beetles, hoverflies and bees.

The project entitled Nature isn’t Neat will focus on one urban area in Monmouthshire, and the Vale of Usk Rural Development Programme (RDP) is inviting the local councils in Abergavenny, Caldicot, Chepstow, Monmouth and Usk to submit applications to be the first town in which pollinators feature on centre stage.

The RDP intends that the scheme will have a wide reach and provide information on habitats, food and protection for pollinators.  It will offer training for people who trim roadside verges and open spaces as well as review Monmouthshire’s existing pollinator policy.  Among activities planned are bee walks, talks, visits to apiaries and events to enable people understand the necessary role of pollinators.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for biodiversity, Councillor Bryan Jones said: “Pollinators are vital to our survival so we must take action to ensure they thrive.  The RDP’s Nature isn’t Neat project is a step in the right direction towards educating the public about the importance of these species.”

For more information on the Nature isn’t Neat project contact Alison Howard, Monmouthshire’s Rural Projects Pollinator Coordinator: alisonhoward@monmouthshire.gov.uk

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.