Communities in Monmouthshire will benefit from a £3.5m grant earmarked for spending by March 2019. The cash is an award from the Welsh Government to fund local transport projects to improve walking and cycling, road safety and public transport.

A total of £765,000 will support walking and cycling opportunities in Abergavenny’s town centre. The public realm improvement works on Lion Street and the middle part of Frogmore Street are already complete, and these will continue along the remainder of Frogmore Street to the cenotaph.  Caldicot’s Cross and Church Road areas will also benefit from a grant – of £305,000 – to enhance walking and cycling opportunities and regenerate the area as set out in the recent public consultation.

The Welsh Government has also provided nearly £900,000 to start pre-works on the proposed Abergavenny-Llanfoist walking and cycling bridge for which planning permission was granted last month.  Design details are the subject of negotiation with National Resources Wales so this scheme will start later in 2019 subject to Welsh Government agreement.

In addition, the announcement also includes £750,000 towards a third lane to reduce traffic congestion on the A40 at Monmouth Wye Bridge. However, the council requires confirmation from the Welsh Government on the future funding so this project may now start in the next financial year.

Meanwhile, the council’s Grass Routes Community Transport service, which provides transport connecting outlying communities with the county’s towns, will receive £317,000 to purchase additional vehicles.

Up to £175,000 is allocated to develop improvements to key walking and cycling routes, following the Welsh Government’s acceptance of the council’s integrated network maps which set out the proposed active travel networks.  Of this, £75,000 will be spent on outline design and appraisal of options for a new active travel bridge to provide a safe and convenient walking and cycling connection between Monmouth and Wyesham.  A public consultation is planned for spring 2019.

Further funding is allocated to Safe Routes in Communities/road safety schemes and to progress the council’s plans to develop and upgrade Abergavenny and Chepstow stations, including better bus-rail interchanges.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for county operations, Councillor Bryan Jones said: “This funding will help to support the active travel agenda and public transport, and will offer incentives for people to opt for active travel and ditch their car journeys in favour of safer and healthier cycling or walking.  The money allocated for investment in our Grass Routes service will further help to link people in remote communities as well as contribute to tackling loneliness and isolation which we have identified as a major issue in a large rural county like Monmouthshire.”

For further information on Monmouthshire’s active travel programme log on to: www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/the-active-travel-act

  • The statutory basis for this funding is sections 70 and 71 (1) of the Government of Wales Act (GOWA) 2006, along with section 6 of the Transport (Wales) Act 2006 and Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013.

The gas and electricity networks have come together to help members of the public prepare in case they have a power cut or gas emergency this winter.

 

How to prepare for winter

Know your free emergency numbers – in a power cut call 105 or, for a gas emergency, dial 0800 111999.

Prepare your home – keep a torch handy and get your appliances serviced by a Gas Safe registered engineer to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Vulnerable households can also get extra support by signing up to the Priority Services Register.

Keep your eyes open – keep an eye on the weather forecast and, if you have a power cut or a gas emergency, check on your neighbours.

 

The Priority Services Register

The Priority Services Register is a free service provided by Western Power and is eligible for anyone who is of a pensionable age, disabled, has children under 5 years old or relies on medical equipment.  As part of the service, customers are kept informed as much as possible of power cuts affecting their home and are given special help, if needed, through the British Red Cross.

 

To find out more information or to register, please call us on 0800 096 3080 or visitwww.westernpower.co.uk/psr

 

A Warm and Safe Homes Action Guide created by National Energy Action (NEA) in partnership with the ENA’s Winter Resilience Committee is available via: https://www.nea.org.uk/advice/

Monmouthshire County Council will host a bumper Christmas Artisan Market in Abergavenny on Sunday 9th December.  It will run from 10am to 4pm in the Market Hall and the adjacent Brewery Yard, offering produce from over 60 food, drink and craft vendors – some local and others from further afield.  Food and drink will be available to consume on the premises or to take home.

Vendors will include Clams Handmade Cakes., NoodlesToGo, Hays Wines Ltd, Rachel Morgan Babyclothes, Apple County Cider, Chocolate Voyage, Raglan’s Untapped Brewing Company, The Welsh Cheese Company, Cusan Welsh Cream Liqueur, Sciolti Chocolates & Black Cat Fudge, Flour’d up Pizza and Devon Fishcakes.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for the county’s markets, Councillor Phil Murphy said: “Abergavenny’s Christmas Artisan Market is the very place to go if you’d like an enjoyable festive experience this weekend with plenty of opportunities to buy imaginative gifts for your loved ones – or even to treat yourself to some tasty high quality produce.”

Entrance to the Market Hall is free and four-legged friends are welcome.  Seating around the venue will allow those attending to relax and enjoy the festive ambience with some favourite Christmas tunes.

There is plentiful free car parking near to the Market Hall.  For further information contact Sandra Rosser – SandraRosser@monmouthshire.gov.uk – or telephone the market office on 01873 735811.

Five companies which successfully bid for inclusion in Monmouthshire’s GovTech Catalyst Challenge featured in a recent (Tuesday 4th December) fact-finding day in Monmouth’s Shire Hall.

The challenge was launched last July and focuses on digital solutions to combat loneliness and rural transport deprivation.  It aims to enable people to help each other.

The summer launch stimulated interest from 100 companies and over 50 applications were submitted with positive ideas to tackle and alleviate loneliness and isolation.  The five successful companies – Box Clever Digital, GPC Systems, Enable International, Behavioural Insights Team and ZipAbout – all have a shared interest in using digital methods to connect communities to the things they need, and the technologies to be developed include apps, websites, online channels and text services.  The companies are exploring how to integrate with existing channels such as landlines and voice responsive technologies to ensure accessibility for all and are also examining vehicle tracker data, existing resources and open data sources to improve services and enhance wellbeing.

The event at Shire Hall provided a valuable opportunity to build relationships with the council’s officers from a wide variety of teams including those from transport, the digital office, social care and health, and the rural development programme whose experience was invaluable in providing an insight into the county.

Monmouthshire is traditionally seen as an affluent county, but the council’s Monmouthshire Wellbeing Plan indicates many areas experience various forms of deprivation and isolation.  The GovTech Challenge aims to address this inequality.

Council Leader Peter Fox OBE said: “I’m very pleased to welcome the five successful companies to Monmouth today and extend my thanks to those officers who worked so hard to secure the GovTech Challenge to benefit our communities.  Monmouthshire is a large rural county and its beauty and presumed affluence masks a range of debilitating issues that affect many people of all ages.

“All businesses selected will develop their ideas and test them with the community, the third sector and other organisations over the next three months.  This spring two companies will be selected to receive further GovTech funding of up to £1m to develop their products ready to be launched”.

Councillor Sara Jones, Cabinet Member for Social Justice added: “Rural transport and digital deprivation are issues that we need to tackle and our Social Justice Strategy will help provide the focus to prioritise these issues.  I am excited to see how the GovTech Challenge progresses to help our communities and there will be opportunities for other local authorities to apply some of our solutions.  We need to make a difference to those who often get left behind and I look forward to the rest of the journey.”

For more information about Monmouthshire’s GovTech Challenge visit: www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/govtech_challenge

ENDS

The county’s agricultural community has celebrated five years since the opening of the Monmouthshire Livestock Centre near Raglan.  Over two thousand people attended the official opening by BBC Countryfile’s Adam Henson in November 2013 and the facility has since lived up to its promise to provide local farmers with a state of the art livestock market.

Council Leader Peter Fox attended a recent market and said: “The council recognised it was important to provide a first class market to allow farming to thrive in Monmouthshire for generations to come.  Farming is fundamental to the county’s economy, it is a crucial part of our infrastructure and it plays a wider role within our localities.  The Monmouthshire Livestock Centre is also important for the social interaction it offers, bringing together farming communities.  This is especially so as we look to tackle social isolation in a large rural county like Monmouthshire.”

The Monmouthshire Livestock Centre is easily accessible for farmers with two regular sales on Mondays and Wednesdays as well as additional seasonal auctions and it highlights the county’s reputation for producing top quality beef and lamb.

Keith Spencer, auctioneer and company secretary of Monmouthshire Livestock Auctioneers added: “The last five years have underlined the importance of livestock markets in enabling producers to obtain the best price possible for their stock in an open and competitive manner whatever the circumstances and prevailing economic conditions.  We are thankful to all the farming community for their support and it is very gratifying that we are seeing many new buyers and sellers as well as those who have attended the livestock markets in Monmouthshire throughout their lifetime.  It has also become an important venue for social and charitable events with a successful community carol singing evening last weekend which also raised a significant sum for the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution.  We have no doubt that the market will continue to be the focal point for the rural community in Monmouthshire and surrounding areas for many years to come.”

Usk Community Hub will host an exhibition featuring work by students attending art classes run by the council’s community learning service and taught by tutor and local artist Philomena Vaughan.  The event starts at 6.30pm on Tuesday, 11th December with a theme of Celebrating influential women artists from 100 years ago.

 As part of the course requirements students chose an early twentieth century female artist and produced drawings and paintings in her style.  As well as exhibiting this work, learners will discuss their chosen artist, the satisfaction gained from the project and the challenges they faced.

Ms Vaughan said: “Learners were very enthusiastic about this project.  Each researched and painted works of their chosen female artist with fantastic results!”

The exhibition is free and complementary coffee and mince pies will be available.  Everyone is welcome to attend to view the high standards achieved by the students and discover more about the female artists of yesteryear.

Councillor Paul Jordan, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for community learning added: “This is an imaginative project that highlights women’s work from so long ago and I’m sure it will be of interest to contemporary artists as well as the general public.”

The students’ work will be on general view until the New Year – anyone wishing to view it  over the festive period should check the hub’s Christmas opening times on: www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/community-hubs-libraries

Contact uskhub@monmouthshire.gov.uk for more information.  Usk Community Hub is based at 35 Maryport Street, NP15 1AE where there are two car parks nearby.

 

 

 Monmouthshire County Council is to hold a series of events to receive feedback that will inform and change the way it provides services for people living with dementia.

The Have Your Say on Dementia Day events are intended to gather information about the experiences of people with dementia, their carers, friends, families and the experiences of people working in the field.  Members of the public and professionals will be welcome to attend and an emphasis will be placed on creating new and innovative projects.

The events will be held as follows:

  • Wednesday 5th December: Mardy Park, Abergavenny – 10am to 12noon
  • Wednesday 16th January: Bulwark Community Centre, Chepstow – 10am to12noon
  • Tuesday 22nd January: Caldicot Town Offices, Caldicot, – 2pm to 4pm
  • Wednesday 23rd January: Bridges Centre, Monmouth – 10am to 12noon

Councillor Penny Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for social care, safeguarding and health said: “The Have Your Say on Dementia Day events aim to be fun and interactive occasions allowing a wide range of people to express their thoughts and opinions.  We look forward to people helping us shape the future of our services to people living with dementia.”

For further information contact Fred Weston (Chepstow and Caldicot areas) on 07890 559566 or Ashley Morgan (Abergavenny, Usk and Monmouth areas) on 07971 160455.

A great range of events will take place across Monmouthshire in the approach to Christmas offering residents and visitors the opportunity to celebrate the festive season in style!

Caldicot starts its Christmas Market at 9am on Saturday 1st December with a day of fun, shopping, music and a treasure hunt while Usk’s popular Christmas Festival returns the same day, featuring craft and charity stalls, food, drink, entertainment and music across the weekend. The town’s Christmas lights will be turned on at 6pm on Saturday evening with the highlight of the festival – the annual Usk Town Council Reindeer Parade – taking place at 5pm on Sunday 2nd December.

Abergavenny offers Christmas in the Courtyard on Saturday 1st December in the town’s Tithe Barn as over 20 local artists and makers join St Mary’s Priory Choir, Abergavenny Borough Band and other musicians with warming mulled wine, cider, mince pies and hot drinks. The event will start at 10am and finish at 5pm with car parking nearby as well as the town’s bus and rail stations.

Also on Saturday 1st December is Chepstow’s festive extravaganza with market stalls from 11am, a free grotto, music and a switch-on of the lights at 6pm by BBC weatherman, Derek Brockway as well as a performance by X Factor contestant, Russell Jones Jr.

Other festive events taking place in Monmouthshire include Tintern’s Christmas Craft Fayre on Sunday 2nd December, Monmouth’s Christmas lantern display on Friday 7th December, a craft fair at Llanfoist Village Hall on Saturday 8th December and Grosmont’s Winter Market on Saturday 15th December.

A number of performances will feature over the festive period including a unique celebratory show of Christmas music from Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band at Abergavenny’s Borough Theatre on Wednesday 5th December, followed by the evergreen Andy Fairweather Low and his band, The Low Riders on Friday 7th December.  The Chepstow Male Voice Choir Christmas concert takes place at the town’s leisure centre on Saturday 15th December with support from the Allegra Ladies Choir while Wednesday 19th December sees the launch of the Spontaneous Productions version of popular pantomime Dick Whittington at Monmouth’s Savoy Theatre.  Further performances follow from Friday 28th December to Wednesday 2nd January.

The Gwent Branch of the RSPCA offers an evening of Christmas carols and Welsh humour compered by Radio Wales personality Chris Needs on Saturday 8th December at the Choir Hall in Caldicot with the audience given the opportunity to join in the singing.  Music will be provided by the Severn Tunnel Brass Band and award-winning guitarist Chris Moreton.

Throughout December Monmouthshire County Council will work in partnership with mental health charity Mind to hold a number of festive crafternoon sessions.  Council staff will work in a variety of locations across the county to make Christmas decorations while offering a small donation to the charity to ensure no one experiences a mental health problem alone.  Among the events organised is a Christmas wreath workshop at Abergavenny’s Mardy Park Resource Centre on Thursday December 6th.  Meanwhile, Monmouthshire’s Community Learning Team will welcome residents to join fellow crafters and make amazing Christmas trees out of old books at Abergavenny Youth and Community Centre on Thursday 6th December from 4pm to 5pm.  For more information or to book a place, contact Jemima – jemimajones@monmouthshire.gov.uk – or telephone 01291 426880.

These are just some of the many seasonal activities taking place in Monmouthshire.  For more information check out: www.visitmonmouthshire.com/christmas

County Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for leisure and culture said: “Christmas is a very special time and where better to spend it than in our lovely county.  I wish our residents and visitors a very Merry Christmas and hope that they join in Monmouthshire’s festive spirit.”

 

Five tech companies have been awarded contracts to use cutting-edge technology to tackle the problem of rural isolation and loneliness.

These businesses will create new technology platforms to match the supply and demand for transport in rural areas, as well as minimise the risk of digital exclusion among older people and those in more isolated, rural areas with limited connectivity.

Speaking at the Digital Leaders Innovation Conference in London, Cabinet Office Minister, Oliver Dowden, said:

“I am delighted that our funding for innovative tech companies is helping to tackle loneliness and rural isolation – to improve people’s lives and enable them to feel a part of their local community.

The GovTech fund encourages firms to find innovative ways to address the big social problems we all face, including loneliness, plastic pollution and national security. Through emerging technologies, this fund will help to elevate British companies onto a global market while transforming the delivery of public services for people across the UK.”

Councillor Sara Jones, Cabinet Member for Social Justice and Community Development at Monmouthshire County Council, said:

“In Monmouthshire, we are blessed with beautiful, rural surroundings and thriving towns. Yet the diversity of our landscape has its challenges, where journey times on public transport to local services can exceed two hours. That is why we are determined to address this issue to ensure people feel connected and part of the community.

“We are delighted to be working with innovative businesses who have developed a range of digital solutions for transport and rural isolation. Given the importance of the small business sector to the fabric of our country, it was great to see that sixty-five percent of the applications were from Welsh and UK-wide micro businesses with less than 10 employees.”

In November 2017, the £20m Govtech Catalyst Programme was launched to help fund innovative tech firms, to solve public-sector challenges through innovation and emerging technologies.

As part of a wider commitment to use technology to improve lives and transform the delivery of public services, the government will publish an innovation strategy in spring 2019.

Monmouthshire’s community hubs and libraries have organised an array of festive events sure to appeal to a wide range of people in the approach to Christmas.

Chepstow Community Hub will host a free evening of Christmas celebration at 7pm on Wednesday 19th December featuring the Chepstow Singing Group with seasonal readings.  The following day, a Christmas-themed rhyme time will be held at 2.15pm and on Friday 21st December under-fives can enjoy a seasonal story with Father Christmas from 10.15am.  The hub is also running a Christmas tree-folding workshop and a fund-raising morning in collaboration with mental health charity Mind from 10am to 12noon on 12th December.  A similar event takes place at Caldicot Community Hub from 12:30pm to 2:30pm on Thursday 13th December.  The hub has also arranged two story and craft events for four to eight year olds on the themes of Christmas (Monday 24th December) and winter (Wednesday 2nd January).  Both will be held from 10am to 11am.

Monmouth Hub hosts a morning of festive entertainment provided by the Monmouth U3A Recorders combo with complementary tea, coffee and mince pies on Tuesday 4th December at 10am.  An under-fives Christmas story session will feature on Tuesday 18th December at 2pm.

Cath Barton, winner of The Welsh Writing Awards 2017, will perform a short reading and discussion session about her book “The Plankton Collector” at Gilwern Library from 11am to 12.30pm on Friday 7th December.  Gilwern Library will also host Christmas craft sessions on Tuesday 18th  and Wednesday 19th December at 3pm and Friday 21st December  at 1.30pm as well as a 2019 calendar-making craft event on Friday 28th December from 11am to 12noon and 2pm to 3pm.  Meanwhile, the nearby Abergavenny Library will host an evening of music and carols on Thursday 20th December from 5pm, with the junior section of the town’s Borough Band.  Christmas stories and activity sessions will feature on Friday 7th December (Elf Day), Friday 14th and Friday 21st December for under-fives and on Saturday 15th December and Saturday 22nd December for children aged five to eight – all sessions run from 10.30am to 11.15am.  In addition, Abergavenny Library will hold a Welsh language Christmas rhyme time at 2.15pm on Thursday 13th December.

Usk Community Hub is running its popular Christmas Fayre on Saturday 1st December from 10am to 3pm with 18 stalls selling locally crafted gifts, cakes, bakes, jams and preserves, tea coffee and mince pies as well as an appearance by Father Christmas from 11am to 1pm.  The hub also features a children’s Christmas craft session on Wednesday 19th December at 11am and a Christmas story and rhyme time on Thursday 20th December at 10:30am.

Councillor Paul Jordan, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for community hubs and libraries said: “We extend a warm welcome to those joining us in our Christmas celebrations at the county’s community hubs and libraries.”

  • For further details visit the community hubs’ social media channels: @MonmouthshireCCHUBS (Facebook) and @MonCCHUBS (Twitter) or call into the nearest location.

Monmouthshire County Council’s major review of its recycling services means that its garden waste collection service will cease through the winter months and this year it will come to an end on Friday 30th November before recommencing on 4th March 2019.  As a result, the authority will no longer collect and recycle Christmas trees when the festive season is over.

Residents continuing to buy real Christmas trees can dispose of them in a number of ways:

  • Garden waste permit holders can retain their tree until early March when it will be collected as garden waste collection resumes.
  • Trees can be taken to one of the council’s four household waste and recycling centres at Usk, Five Lanes, Llanfoist and Mitchel Troy to be recycled

Alternatively, a potted tree could be planted after Christmas and reused while artificial trees can be used year after year without the nuisance of loose pine needles.

Cllr Bryan Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for waste and recycling said:  “I know that the Christmas tree collection is a very popular service and one that will be missed. However the decision to end it came whilst making savings to our garden waste service. During the winter months there is a substantial reduction in service use meaning the service is underused and inefficient.

“As a direct response to the increasing pressure on council budgets we were faced with the difficult decision to either increase the charges significantly to cover a full year service, or deliver a seasonal service and maintain current charging levels. I hope that residents continue to buy real, buy local and get the tree they want this year.”

The move is part of a package of changes to waste and recycling in Monmouthshire. In coming months changes include the introduction of new vehicles with the ability to collect food waste separately from garden waste. This will enable food waste to be used to generate electricity and the garden waste composted on local farms.

Glass recycling boxes will be rolled out across the county in March 2019 following a successful pilot in the Abergavenny area. Residents will receive a box for glass to be collected separately, adding value to the material collected.

For more information on waste and recycling in Monmouthshire: https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/recycling-and-waste/garden-waste

Monmouthshire Access for All meeting took place on Friday 23rd November at County Hall, Usk. The Forum is a valuable platform to enable people with disabilities from across Monmouthshire to have their voice heard, receive information and contribute to consultation and engagement processes.

The theme of the meeting was loneliness. Isolation and loneliness is a theme which has become apparent through engagement with residents when writing the Monmouthshire Wellbeing Plan. A plan and survey has been produced to show how Monmouthshire aims to tackle loneliness and social Isolation. A Connected Monmouthshire page: www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/a-connected-monmouthshire

The meeting aimed to provide information on projects that are taking place in Monmouthshire to tackle isolation.

Kate Williams from Monmouthshire County Council shared with the group details of the Gov Tech Challenge. The Challenge seeks tech companies to research and pilot new technology in a bid to combat rural loneliness and transport deprivation. Helping people to help each other, the solutions would ease pressures on health and social care budgets and reduce local transport subsidies.  The Challenge is at an exciting stage as final projects are being chosen and more details will be shared in coming weeks.

Community Wellbeing leads Fred Weston and Ashley Morgan talked of the local authorities Community Wellbeing Network. The Network is a collaboration of services including health, voluntary organisations and the council who work together to provide a joined up and seamless services approach to keeping people well.

The preventative approach aims to provide help and support at the earliest opportunity to reduce hospital admissions, doctor’s surgeries and prevent referral to social services which aids wellbeing and hope to reduce isolation and loneliness.

Future meetings will focus on the following themes, Money, Housing, Health and Young Disabled People. Residents are welcomed to attend any of the meetings which at the moment take place at Monmouthshire County Council County Hall, Usk. The group is hoping to engage more and more people for coming months to help improve the lives of disabled people.

Cllr Peter Fox, Leader of the Council said: ‘I am so pleased to attend the Access for All meeting. The group is so important. We need to make sure the voices of disabled people are heard and listened to. I hope that more and more people join. As an authority we value feedback from everyone I thank Tony for his work in leading and supporting the group.’

For more information about the Access for All Forum please contact Tony Crowhurst tony_crowhurst@yahoo.co.uk

Lack of short-term parking in Monmouthshire’s towns is regularly raised as an issue by residents so enforcement at the county’s short stay car parks has been improved to strictly offer a maximum stay of four hours, followed by a period of two hours before drivers can purchase another ticket for the same vehicle.  New car parking machines have now been introduced that feature dedicated software to prevent drivers from feeding a meter immediately after their first ticket has elapsed. This gives more people the opportunity to pop into the county’s towns and shop locally as well as support Monmouthshire’s businesses.

The council’s designated short-term car parks are at Abergavenny’s Brewery Yard, Tiverton Place and Trinity Terrace, Glendower Street in Monmouth and Nelson Street in Chepstow.

The council widely consulted the public over 28 days and advertised its intention to create new parking measures – including the short-term two hour restriction – in all its car parks, online on the council’s website and through extensive adverts in the Abergavenny Chronicle, Monmouthshire Beacon and South Wales Argus.

Councillor Bryan Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for the county’s car parks said: “The council provides a considerable amount of long-term car parking in Abergavenny, Chepstow and Monmouth for those people intending to spend more than four hours – the maximum term in our short-term car parks – in our towns.  Vehicles which previously unlawfully occupied spaces in our short-term car parks potentially deprived a considerable number of visitors who wished to stay for perhaps half an hour or less.  This is not good for business and caused inconvenience for those wishing to make a brief call in our towns to purchase goods, deliver or collect items or attend an appointment. We encourage everyone to support their local shops and businesses, and better access to short term parking will help.”

For more information on Monmouthshire’s car parking policies visit: www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/car-parks

 

Monmouth’s University of the Third Age (U3A) recorder combo will perform festive tunes at the town’s community hub at 10am on Tuesday 4th December.  The recital is free and complimentary coffee, tea and shortbread will be served.  In addition, a raffle for a hamper will raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support – one of Britain’s largest charities providing specialist health care, information and financial support to people affected by cancer.

Councillor Paul Jordan, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for community hubs said: “We welcome all to Monmouth Community Hub’s latest event – a great example of how we enable local organisations to entertain and engage with the public while raising money for a very good cause.  I hope people give generously while enjoying this seasonal performance.”

Monmouth’s community hub is situated in Whitecross Street.  Car parking is available nearby.

Monmouthshire County Council is providing free weekend parking in Abergavenny, Chepstow and Monmouth in the approach to Christmas.  This will be a welcome boost for the towns’ shops, help remind people of the county’s fantastic range of independent retailers and encourage shoppers to buy locally.  Free Saturday parking will be provided in Chepstow on 1st, 8th and 15th December while Abergavenny and Monmouth will offer free parking on 8th, 15th and 22nd December.

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

Monmouthshire’s retail outlets, including those in the county’s other shopping centres within Usk, Caldicot and elsewhere where parking is free throughout the year, feature many long-established family businesses and a variety of local markets offering a wide selection of goods to residents and visitors.  The council will advertise the free parking dates in its car parks and has produced posters which can be downloaded from the council’s website.

Monmouthshire County Council is seeking people to serve on its appeal panels that oversee the admission of pupils to schools and the exclusion of pupils from schools.  These panels ensure a fair and independent hearing for parents or carers who are dissatisfied with the council’s decision to refuse their child a place at a particular school and to hear appeals against decisions to exclude pupils from schools in the county.  Panel members will need to be impartial, objective, sensitive, decisive and keen to contribute, and those appointed will receive training before assuming their duties.  Applicants may be excluded from consideration if there is reason to call into question their ability to act in an impartial manner.

The panels will consist of lay members as well as other members who have experience in education, are acquainted with educational conditions in Monmouthshire or are parents of registered pupils at a school.

To be considered as a lay member, persons must:

(a) be a person without personal experience in the management of any school or the provision of education in any school (other than as a school governor or in another voluntary capacity)

(b) not, nor at any time have had, any connection with the local education authority or any person who is a member of, or employed by, the authority.

Panel members are eligible to receive allowances for financial loss, travel and subsistence in line with the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011.

Councillor Richard John, Monmouthshire cabinet member with responsibility for education said: “The council values openness and panel members can play an important part in ensuring that parents or carers receive a fair and independent hearing.  I hope people will offer themselves for these interesting and rewarding positions.”

Suitable people who wish to be considered by the county council should write to Claire Williams at Legal Services, Monmouthshire County Council, County Hall, The Rhadyr, Usk, NP15 1GA by Friday 14th December.  For further details contact clairewilliams@monmouthshire.gov.uk – or telephone 01633 644026.

The Usk Community Hub will hold its Christmas Fayre on Saturday 1st December from 10am to 3pm.

Eighteen market stalls will sell locally crafted gifts, cakes, bakes, jams and preserves, and much more. Refreshments including tea, coffee and mince pies will be available and Father Christmas will make an appearance from 11am to 1pm.  In addition, an amazing colourful quilt, Christmas stocking and a beautifully embroidered towel handcrafted by staff from the council’s social services team will be on display and those attending will be offered raffle tickets for a chance of winning the three items. The winners will be announced on December 13th and funds raised will provide looked-after children and care leavers with gifts this Christmas.

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

Usk Community Hub is based at 35 Maryport Street where there are two car parks nearby.

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

Chepstow School will host an anti-bullying evening event on Tuesday 27th November in conjunction with award-winning charity BulliesOut.  Running from 5pm to 6.30pm, this free session will be of interest to parents, social care workers, safeguarding officers, teachers and other educational professionals and will cover the identification of bullying, working with schools and the experience of being bullied, followed by a question and answer session.

Established in May 2006, BulliesOut is one of the UK’s most dedicated and ambitious anti-bullying charities. Its award-winning work is delivered across the UK and each year, through its work with schools, colleges, youth and community settings, it provides education, training and support to thousands of young people.

Children who are bullied are more likely to have low self-esteem, develop depression or anxiety, become socially withdrawn, isolated and lonely, have lower academic achievements due to avoiding or becoming disengaged with school and be unable to form trusting, healthy relationships with friends or partners in the future.  Meanwhile, children who frequently bully others are more likely to drop out of, or be expelled from school, engage in criminal behaviour and be abusive towards their sexual partners, spouses or children as adults.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for safeguarding, Cllr Penny Jones commented: “Monmouthshire has taken great steps in recent years to prioritise safeguarding so I’m pleased to support Chepstow School’s initiative.  The cumulative impact of bullying can affect the mental health and well-being of both children and adults alike so this event will highlight its consequences and how we can minimise its effect.”

Jo Lindley, Deputy Head of Chepstow School added: “We are delighted to host this exciting event at Chepstow School and share the good practice of BulliesOut with our wider community.  As a school we are committed to our students following our code of ‘Ready, Respect, Safe’.  BulliesOut has supported the work of our Invisible Army – a team of dedicated student leaders who look out for those in need of support, raise awareness of speaking out against bullies and provide a safer environment for our students.  The high quality training from BulliesOut has ensured confidence among our dedicated team of volunteers to deliver a first class service for our school.”

For further information on this event contact Suzie O’Rourke – suzieorourke@chepstowschool.net – the school’s ASD coordinator. Chepstow School is situated on Welsh Street, Chepstow, NP16 5LR.

Local author Ian Richardson will discuss his debut murder mystery City Crime as well as offering creative writing tips at a free event in Monmouth Community Hub at 5.30pm on Tuesday 27th November.

Born in Washington DC, Ian has spent much of his working life in the UK civil service and now lives happily with his wife near Usk.

City Crime is a murder mystery set in London featuring two dead bodies and several suspects with motives—a neglected wife, a belittled business partner, a scorned mistress and a humiliated daughter who keep two City of London detectives very busy in this compelling twisty page-turner.

Councillor Paul Jordan, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for community hubs said: “We welcome all to Ian Richardson’s talk which promises to be a fascinating evening.  Our community hubs offer similar occasions throughout the year and they are all well worth attending.”

Monmouth’s community hub is situated in Whitecross Street.  Car parking is available nearby.

Usk Community Hub will host a free talk by local poet Mair Pitt at 12noon on Monday 19th November.  Mair will discuss her new book of poetry, Power Play, illustrated by mixed media artist, Cwmbran-based Jill Powell.

Mair has written poetry for a number of years and her work has been published widely in magazines and anthologies.  She also teaches creative writing in Usk Community Hub.  Power Play is published by arts organisation Culture Matters and it explores the theme of power as it affects children, women and society as a whole.

Councillor Paul Jordan, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for community hubs said: “It’s always fascinating to hear how writers approach their work and our meet the author events provide an absorbing insight.  This talk is just one of many that our community hubs hold throughout the year and they’re well worth attending.”

 

Usk’s community hub is situated at 35 Maryport Street, NP15 1AE.  Car parking is available nearby.

A partnership between Monmouthshire County Council’s highways and environmental health teams with volunteers from a local caving club and construction and engineering company Costain has liberated a Monmouthshire beauty spot from the scourge of fly-tipping.

The outstanding scenic area at Llanelly Hill near Abergavenny has suffered from fly-tipping for a considerable time with large amounts of rubbish thrown into an inaccessible gorge but an operation carried out on Sunday 4th November retrieved all visible waste material, leaving an immaculate site.

Monmouthshire’s highways directorate agreed to waive the usual fee for a road closure, allowing members from Brynmawr Caving Club to abseil down a steep slope between Darenfelin and Gellifelin to collect the rubbish.  Karon Williams from the council’s environmental health team was present.  She said: “Thanks to great work by Brynmawr Caving Club we have rid this beautiful area of two mattresses, headboards, cushions, five large pieces of carpet, plastic bags full of rubbish, general household items and over 60 plastic bottles, cans and glass bottles.  Incredibly, we also found an agricultural show trophy for best milker and a prosthetic foot!  We shall investigate the rubbish to ascertain whether we can trace it to any original owners.”

Victoria Bluemel of Brynmawr Caving Club lives close to the site.  She said: “As a local resident I’m appalled to see that fly-tipping is still an issue in the vicinity despite previous warnings to the public. Thankfully, the community were happy that we were willing to clear it ourselves and raise the issue again. It’s such a shame as the gorge is a spectacular scene of natural engineering.”

Her caving colleague Barry Burn added: “As cavers, we are always mindful of the impact our actions can have on the natural environment and always saddened when we see such mindless acts that cause great harm to both the underground and above-ground environment. We were happy to help out and apply the skills we have gained from exploring our local caves to reach the rubbish dumped in what, to most people, is a difficult to reach, if not inaccessible, place. I find it unbelievable that someone would go to such lengths to dump this rubbish, spoiling such a beautiful part of the Clydach Gorge, when the local civic amenities site is just down the road and open to all residents.”

Costain, the principal contractor on the A465 dual-carriageway construction project between Gilwern and Brynmawr, coordinated and signed the traffic management arrangements and deployed resources to transport the fly-tipped rubbish to a local community amenity site.  Bruce Richards, Costain Project Director commented: “Once we were informed of the problem and the difficulty in recovering the material, we were keen to assist where we could.  I’m pleased that the area has been cleaned so that we can all enjoy its beauty.  I hope that the offenders are traced and brought to justice.”

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for public protection, Councillor Sara Jones said: “We’re very grateful for the magnificent contribution made by members of Brynmawr Caving Club and Costain to help restore this site to its former glory.  Fly-tipping is an anti-social activity and causes wider problems than the aesthetic impact on the environment.  It can reduce inward investment into the area, affect house prices and adds to the risk of flooding if it occurs near water courses, as is the case at Llanelly Hill.  Fly-tipping is often difficult to clean up, especially in sites like this beautiful gorge, and deprives other front line services of much-needed resources.  The council has prosecuted a number of fly-tippers in recent years and asks residents to report incidents of fly-tipping.”

 

Monmouthshire County Council is to host a free open house event focussing on career opportunities for people looking for employment in the care sector.  Staff from the council’s Social Care, Safeguarding and Health team will be present with representatives from local domiciliary care organisations at the St Pierre Marriott Hotel & Country Club near Chepstow on Thursday 15th November to outline the opportunities available.

Dubbed “Dare to Care”, the open day will run from 10am to 7pm and will guide prospective job seekers looking for openings in this rewarding field.

Councillor Penny Jones, Monmouthshire cabinet member for social care said: “Carers can make a positive difference to people’s lives and opportunities exist to develop a career in this line of work.  You will meet new people in your local area and take an active part in your community.  Flexible hours mean you can fit your duties around other daily activities – ideal if you have family commitments or study plans. Please go along and find out more – it is the type of work that can give you great job satisfaction.”

Tea, coffee and biscuits will be available.  For further information contact People Development Lead Officer Sian Sexton on SianSexton@monmouthshire.gov.uk or telephone 07920 794112.

  • St Pierre Marriott Hotel & Country Club, NP16 6YA, lies between Chepstow and Caerwent on the A48.

Usk Community Hub is seeking stallholders for its Christmas Fayre on Saturday, 1st December from 10am to 3pm.  The popular seasonal market provides a great opportunity for people to offer crafts, home made goods, foodstuffs, children’s toys, knitwear and associated merchandise in the approach to the festive period and for buyers to seek out bargains.  Father Christmas will make an appearance and refreshments will be available.

Stallholders will be charged £15 per table and they must register their interest by Tuesday, 20th November.  Details may be obtained by emailing uskhub@monmouthshire.gov.uk or telephoning 01291 426888.

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

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

Award-winning campaigner Dr Sara Payne MBE will visit Monmouth Leisure Centre from 6.30pm to 8pm on Wednesday, 14th November to deliver a motivational talk as part of an educational event to raise awareness of the centre’s new power-assisted exercise facility. The event is open to all healthcare professionals with an interest in exercise, management of long-term health conditions and physical rehabilitation.  Also participating will be Charissa Newsome of Shapemaster who will outline the evolution of power-assisted exercise and Rachel Young, senior lecturer in physiotherapy at Sheffield Hallam University.

A stroke eight years ago left Dr Payne with left side paralysis and severe physical effects and her talk will outline the fight to regain independence and mobility via power-assisted exercise.  Dr Payne commented: “The stroke was just devastating.  I was working as Victims’ Champion for Gordon Brown’s government so my job was pretty intense and involved working with people at the very highest level of authority, helping to change and make laws.  After waking from the stroke my communication skills were limited and it took me six months to train my brain to send an email.  Needless to say the stroke wiped out my ability to work overnight”.

The physical rehabilitation support Dr Payne received was often sporadic and inconsistent, taking a heavy toll on her recovery, so to reclaim her independence and make headway with her recovery she issued a call for help.  She explained: “That is when I discovered the benefits of power-assisted exercise, which has helped to improve my mobility, posture and given me greater confidence to continue the fight in my stroke recovery”.

Monmouth Leisure Centre has a 12-piece power-assisted exercise circuit which is already engaging older adults and users living with a wide range of long term health conditions including post-stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and fibromyalgia.

For further information contact: Barbara Blease (senior fitness instructor) of Monmouth Leisure Centre – BarbaraBlease@monmouthshire.gov.uk – or telephone: 01600 775135.

County Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for leisure said: “It will be a pleasure to welcome Dr Payne to Monmouth and I’m sure she will deliver a fascinating talk highlighting the contribution that the leisure centre’s new facilities can make to help regain mobility and independence.”

Monmouthshire County Council is alerting parents and guardians of children due to start primary education next September that the closing date to apply for school places is Monday, 14th January 2019.

Children born between 1st September 2014 and 31st August 2015 are eligible to start reception classes in September 2019 and parents are asked to complete their applications before the 14th January 2019 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 14th January will be informed which school their child will attend no later than 16th April 2019.

Monmouthshire’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Councillor Richard John, said: “Applying for a school place for your child is an exciting time for parents but also a great responsibility.  It’s important that applications are submitted by the deadline on 14th January 2019 because late submissions risk failing to secure a place at the preferred school.  I’d urge parents to make their preference and submit their application as soon as possible.”

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

One hundred years after the end of the First World War a large number of ceremonies and religious services have been organised in Monmouthshire to commemorate the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two world wars and later conflicts.

Monmouthshire’s Chairman, Councillor Peter Clarke will lay a wreath on behalf of elected members and officers of the council in County Hall at 11am on Friday, 9th November.  Later that day, he will attend the Llanelly Hill Action Group Armistice Service.

On Remembrance Sunday, the Chairman and Mrs Clarke will be at Usk Castle for a Royal British Legion service and tree planting ceremony starting at 10.30am before setting off for the National Service of Thanksgiving at Cardiff’s Llandaff Cathedral.

Other members will represent the council at Remembrance ceremonies throughout the county.  Vice Chairman, Councillor Sheila Woodhouse and her escort Chris Woodhouse will participate in a parade assembling at 10.30am in Abergavenny’s Nevill Street before attending an afternoon service at St Elli Parish Church in Gilwern.

Leader Peter Fox OBE will be present for the service at St Mary’s Church in Caldicot and Councillor David Dovey will be at the Cenotaph in Chepstow.  In Monmouth, Councillor Richard John will attend the town’s War Memorial while the county’s Armed Forces Champion, Councillor Laura Jones, will join a ceremony at the castle, the headquarters of the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers.

Councillor Penny Jones will be at Raglan’s War Memorial on Remembrance Sunday at 11am, Councillor Brian Strong will gather in Usk with members of the Royal British Legion at 2.30pm and Councillor Lisa Dymock with Councillor Frances Taylor will represent the council at an 11am ceremony in Magor Square.

Many other ceremonies and events will take place across the county including a full programme in Monmouth where a partnership between the county council, the 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 one hundred years ago.  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 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.  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.

Other events and ceremonies taking place on Sunday 11th November include the lighting of Remembrance beacons at Chepstow Rugby Club and Shirenewton, both at 7pm, and a Big Tea Party at 2.30pm at St Arvans Memorial Hall to remember those local people who gave their lives or contributed in so many ways in the Great War.  On Friday, 9th November St Arvans Memorial Hall will host an evening illustrated talk – St Arvans in WWI – by David Priddis.

Abergavenny’s Borough Theatre is the venue for a remembrance-themed concert – The Last Post – at 7.30pm on Monday 12th and Tuesday 13th November featuring Abergavenny Borough Band, Abergavenny Tenovus Choir, the Strike a Chord Choir and others.  Tickets at £6 can be obtained by contacting the box office – https://boroughtheatreabergavenny.co.uk/ – or telephoning 01873 850805.

Many of Monmouthshire’s schoolchildren will take part in remembrance ceremonies.  Among them will be pupils at Raglan VC Primary who will deliver a special assembly on Friday 9th November while the school will host a remembrance eucharist in conjunction with St Cadoc’s Church on Monday 12th November. In Rogiet, schoolchildren will attend the village commemoration on Remembrance Sunday for the dedication of a mosaic designed by a pupil.  In addition, members of Rogiet and Shirenewton school choirs will perform a newly written piece at Caerwent Church on at 6pm on Sunday 11th November based on the story of Welsh-language poet Hedd Wyn who perished at the Battle of Passchendaele.

Pupils at Overmonnow Primary School and other schools in Monmouth will participate in the town’s remembrance events as well as enter competitions to design a commemorative mug and contribute towards a new book of poems.  Among the events planned by the school is a visit to the Monmouth Regimental Museum in the castle grounds.  Overmonnow will also work with pupils from Kymin View and Osbaston Primary Schools to decorate a model tank for exhibition in Shire Hall.

Deri View Primary School in Abergavenny will hold a remembrance service led by Year Five pupils at 10.30am on Friday 9th November. It will feature ceramic poppies made by all the school’s pupils. In Chepstow, St Mary’s RC Primary School will have a special assembly at 11am on Monday 12th November.

On Sunday 18th November 2,500 ceramic poppies created by Monmouthshire District Scouts will feature at Raglan Castle.  In the afternoon the county’s scouts will attend a memorial service at the castle in recognition of the sacrifice made by Monmouthshire in conflict.

Monmouthshire’s Armed Forces Champion, Councillor Laura Jones said: “At this time of year we remember the contribution of those brave men and women who served in the two world wars and later conflicts.  This year is particularly poignant as it is one hundred years since hostilities ceased in the fields of France, Belgium, Eastern Europe, Turkey, Africa and the Middle East as well as at sea.  I hope people will wear their poppies with pride and pause to remember those who served to guarantee the freedom we enjoy today.  We will be forever grateful.”

On Thursday 8th November Monmouthshire County Council Foster Care team will be at St Pierre Country Club and Hotel, Chepstow from 10.00am – 12.00pm and 6.00pm – 8.00pm to meet and greet residents of Monmouthshire who are interested in becoming Foster Carers.

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

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

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

A new text service has been established to make the getting in touch with the team quick and easy. Residents are encouraged to text FOSTER and a name to

83 222. A member of the team will then call to help start the fostering journey for people in Monmouthshire.

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 with communities to support our children. I encourage those who are thinking about becoming a Foster Carer to come along, visit the website, give the team a call or text.’

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

A live exercise featuring teams from Monmouthshire County Council, Gwent Police and voluntary agencies provided an invaluable training opportunity for organisations working together in response to serious unforeseen incidents.  Exercise Jurassic Spark was organised by the council’s emergency planning service and focussed on a fire at a local racecourse where hundreds of people were gathered.  The mock blaze quickly escalated out of control and those caught in the incident requiring no hospital treatment were driven to a survivor reception centre established at Chepstow Leisure Centre.

This scenario formed the backdrop to a large-scale exercise that tested the response of agencies to a major challenge.  Volunteers recruited to play the parts of over 100 survivors were allocated roles to challenge procedures and provide necessary experience for staff caring for them at the centre.

Fortunately, actual serious incidents are very rare but it is only through simulating situations that staff from different agencies can work together, learn what to do and appreciate related problems.  Serious incidents cannot always be foreseen but the lessons identified highlight the important role survivor reception centres play and how it is vital for staff to train and exercise in very challenging circumstances.

As well as the police and teams from the council’s leisure, social care and community hub services, the exercise featured the British Red Cross, Radio Amateurs Network (RAYNET), St. John Ambulance and the RSPCA.  The council will shortly hold a joint agency debriefing session to examine the lessons learned, recognise what went well and identify where further improvements are needed.

Ian Hardman, Monmouthshire’s Emergency Planning Manager said: “We run this type of exercise every three years and once again I am completely overwhelmed by the response from the public in giving up their time to volunteer to portray survivors from the incident.  We have had yet another excellent turn out and the enthusiastic way they deliver their roles really does test all those working at the centre.  Our volunteers certainly ensure that all facilities and procedures are stringently challenged.  I would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to everyone who took part.

“In addition, comments from all staff of the various agencies involved in running and managing the centre have all been positive – reporting that once again the exercise has been an invaluable opportunity.

“As in the case of any real incident, the exercise has uncovered  a number of areas where improvements to our response can be made and following a more formal debrief with the agencies involved, work will begin on up-dating our procedures.  I am really pleased to say that overall, the exercise has been a great success for all involved and I am very grateful to all the staff, agencies and volunteer survivors involved!”

Councillor Phil Murphy, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for emergency planning added: “The key role of our emergency planning team is assisting the council to prepare and respond to the unexpected, in addition to working with our emergency services colleagues and strategic partners during a major incident. We work with all areas of the council and external partners to develop, test and exercise plans and procedures.  These cover a wide range of scenarios to guarantee readiness and effective participation in response to an emergency.”

Transport for Wales, in partnership with Business Wales, the Welsh Government’s flagship business support service, is excited to host a Meet the Buyer event in South Wales in November so local businesses can find out more about the opportunity to prepare bids for contracts worth £50m each year over 15 years.

The event will take place in Newbridge Memorial Hall, NP11 4FH on Tuesday, 13th November, A further one will be held in Bangor in North Wales two days later.

Transport for Wales (TfW), a not-for-profit company established to provide support and expertise to the Welsh Government, is transforming the face of public transport in Wales.  It will work with small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to ensure real benefits are felt across the communities they serve.

Service and supply contracts will be available in multiple fields including:

  • Train spares
  • Lease or purchase of road vehicles
  • Train cleaning
  • Station cleaning
  • Depot track maintenance
  • Facilities Management
  • Uniforms
  • Recruitment and temporary labour
  • Rail replacement buses
  • Staff and customer taxis
  • Station improvements packages
  • Stationery
  • PPE
  • Oils and lubricants

Howard Jacobson, tendering adviser at Business Wales, commented: “Business Wales has a plan in place to advise and help businesses to become ‘Fit for Tender’ and be able to take advantage of this exciting opportunity over the next 15 years.

“Transport for Wales has an absolute commitment to ensuring that SMEs within Wales are able to take part in the supply of goods and services; and Business Wales will be delivering fully-funded workshops and advisory support to assist all levels of SMEs in the tendering process.”

Colin Lea, commercial and customer experience director at TfW Rail Services said: “As part of our commitment to building a world class railway for Wales and the Borders, we are passionate about working with local companies.

“There are so many fantastic businesses doing so many great things in Wales and we are excited to be able to meet some of those people and potentially work together.

“Ultimately, we exist to give every community we serve the best possible service and re-investing in those local communities and economies is something we are very keen to do.”

Meet the Buyer events will begin with key presentations, before moving to networking and small group sessions with TfW, Business Wales, Social Business Wales, Sell2Wales and Construction Futures Wales.

Spaces are limited so applicants are urged to register by 4pm on Friday, 9th November by visiting http://bit.ly/meet-the-buyer or phoning 03000 6 03000.

  • 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.

 

Monmouthshire County Council launch a new school lunch menu on Monday 5th November. The new menu features delicious, freshly cooked and locally sourced products.

The number of pupils choosing school meals in Monmouthshire has increased in recent years. The popularity is due to a number of factors including fantastic theme days to celebrate World Book Day, St David’s Day the Royal Wedding and the very popular Christmas lunch. More theme days are planned in coming months, schools are welcomed to contact the catering team to discuss one off menu’s to compliment curriculum topics, making learning fun and imaginative.

Pupils love the imagination and creativity in the unique names of some of the dishes and wide range of choices. Parents love knowing their child has had a home cooked meal made using fresh produce.

The new 18/19 menu is available on the Monmouthshire County Council website:  www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/school-meals

The School Meals Team has an ongoing dialogue with parents and continually listen to parent’s feedback. They works closely with families who have children with special diets. Gluten free, Milk free and dairy free menus are available on the website. 

School meals cost £2.45. Parents have welcomed the introduction of Parent Pay. A new online method to pay for school lunch. It is a quick and easy way for parents to pay for school dinners at any time of the day. A brilliant way to taking the stress out of looking for spare change to pay for lunch in the heady morning rush.

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

 “The new school menu looks like it will be a big hit with pupils across the county. School lunches are freshly cooked, locally sourced and offer pupils a balanced, nutritious meal during the school day – vital in ensuring a student’s ability to learn. I encourage parents to download the My Monmouthshire App to pay via Parent Pay, which can be used for school meals and breakfast club, but also school trips.”

For more information have a look at the Monmouthshire website: https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/school-meals

 

Monmouthshire County Council has published its annual report reviewing the progress made against its objectives in 2017/18.

Each year councillors set a number of objectives to improve well-being in Monmouthshire. The achievements include:

  • Encouraging and educating young people on the importance of active and healthy lifestyles with all Year 5 pupils completing the Sports Leaders UK Playmaker Award.
  • Generating clean, renewable energy with the creation of a solar farm which could generate enough energy to power 1,400 homes
  • Securing up to £1.25m of UK government funding to encourage technology firms to develop solutions to loneliness and limited rural transport in our communities.

Commenting on the publication of the plan, Councillor Paul Jordan, Cabinet Member for Governance, said: “The annual report allows residents of Monmouthshire to understand the performance of the council in 2017/18.  It’s pleasing to see the plan shows we have continued to deliver many council services well while investing in new projects that will have lasting benefits for many years to come.  The plan also shows there are some areas we need to continue to improve and we are committed to addressing these.

“The council has agreed a corporate plan that tells our residents what we will be focusing on between now and 2022.  We face challenges, including budget pressures, which mean we cannot keep doing everything in the same way and are focused on providing the services and creating the conditions that support people, communities and businesses to flourish, both today and in the future.”

The full plan: Well-being Objectives and Statement – Annual Report 2017/18 is available to view on www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/improvement

The High Sheriff of Gwent Sharon Linnard presented Duncan Thompson with an award for outstanding commitment to the community and the CPR resuscitation treatment he carried out in the summer.

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.

A defibrillator is a device that gives an electric shock to the heart through the chest wall to someone who is in cardiac arrest. The chances of survival are greatly increased when a defibrillator is applied. There are a growing number in buildings, offices and communities throughout Monmouthshire that have defibrillators.

Staff at each of the four leisure centres receive monthly training covering first aid, CPR, defibrillation and life-guarding skills while duty officers also receive first aid at work training.

Jason Sadler, Community First Responder Trainer for the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “Defibrillators are vital for saving lives in the community especially in rural counties such as Monmouthshire, where there are many located across the county.

“In situations of cardiac arrest, we urge the public to dial 999 as the operator will provide directions to the nearest defibrillator along with clear instructions of how to use the equipment.

“Defibrillators are designed to be used by anyone, whether they have received training or not. Once the defibrillator is in position, all you have to do is follow the spoken instructions. Many defibrillators will also have diagrams or a screen to help you.

“Although training is available, please do not be afraid to use a defibrillator if the situation arises.”

Cllr Bob Greenland, 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.’

For more information about training please call 07734 716766 or email gerard.rothwell@wales.nhs.uk

To find out the location of your nearest defibrillator please visit http://bit.ly/DefibLocations

 

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.

 

Monmouthshire’s libraries are to survey the county’s children and young people to discover what they think of the service provided.

The survey runs for two weeks from Monday 22nd October and is aimed at children aged 7 to 16.

Children visiting their local library will be asked to fill in a quick, easy and confidential online survey so library planners may discover why they use the service and how they regard it.  The results will help shape developments and offer guidance for the future.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for the council’s library service, Councillor Paul Jordan said: “We hope that as many young people as possible will take the survey to provide us with useful information so we can improve our offer to them.”

Monmouthshire’s library service is delivered through community hubs in Caldicot, Chepstow, Monmouth and Usk, and libraries in Abergavenny and Gilwern.  For further information contact Fiona Ashley – FionaAshley@monmouthshire.gov.uk – or 01633 644906.

 

 

 

 

Monmouthshire County Council has organised a range of great activities for children over autumn half-term!

The county’s four leisure centres in Abergavenny, Caldicot, Chepstow and Monmouth will once again run the very popular Monmouthshire Games for five days packed full of fun, friendship and physical activity – there is something for everyone.  To find out more visit: www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/monmouthshire-games – or contact the nearest leisure centre to book.

The Monmouthshire Games also features specialist rugby, football and Girls Can camps at selected venues:

Coaches from the local Newport-based Dragons team will deliver two rugby camps on Wednesday 31st October at Chepstow Leisure Centre and Thursday 1st November at Caldicot Leisure Centre.  All sessions will be delivered by the Dragons community coaches and in partnership with Monmouthshire Sport Development.

Meanwhile, the Monmouthshire Games football camps return and will take place at Abergavenny Leisure Centre and at Caldicot Leisure Centre on Tuesday 30th October.  Sessions for rugby and football are open for all abilities and bookings can be made at the host leisure centres.  Places are limited so people are asked to book early to avoid disappointment.

Following sold out camps throughout the summer holidays the Monmouthshire Games Girls Can Camps are back this half term with a fun-filled day focusing on a range of sport and physical activity opportunities at Abergavenny Leisure Centre on Friday 2nd November – places are limited.

Chepstow Community Hub (off Welsh Street) will feature story time and crafts for five to eight year olds on Thursday 1st November from 11am to 12noon.  There’s no need to book but all children must be accompanied by an adult.

Monmouth Community Hub is holding a Spooky Story and craft session on Wednesday 31st October 11am to 12noon.  Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Caldicot Community Hub welcomes a local children’s author before its Halloween craft event on Wednesday 31st October at 10am and Saturday 3rd November at 11am.  It will also run its usual Baby Rhyme time on Tuesday 30th October at 2pm and Under Fives Story Time on Thursday 1st November at 2pm.

Abergavenny’s Borough Theatre will host a production of Lionel Bart’s Oliver! from Tuesday 30th October to Friday 2nd November with all performances starting at 7pm.  This much-loved musical from the Abergavenny Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society Juniors is a must see show for all the family with well-known songs and a wonderful story.  With much drama and a few tears along the way, the orphaned Oliver joins Fagin’s gang of pickpockets, makes friends, and enemies, before being reunited with a loving family.  Tickets are £12 adult, £10 concession (Tuesday only), and a family ticket is £34 (admits two adults and two children or one adult and three children).

Chepstow Museum will run a half-term drop-in-and-make craft afternoon for children at the Drill Hall, Lower Church St on Thursday 1 November 2-4pm.  The museum will supply ideas, templates, materials, assistance, refreshments and big tables children and their carers can work and have fun making together.  Suitable for young people of all ages.  A donation of £2 is suggested for children aged three and over.

The Welsh Museums Festival is taking place during half term week. All Monmouthshire museums, Abergavenny, Chepstow and Monmouth have lots of fun activities on offer. Dress up in historical costume, have a go at arts and craft and explore trails. Chepstow Museum is open every day 11am – 4pm every Abergavenny and Monmouth are open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday 11am – 4pm.

For more information go to: www.visitmonmouthshire.com

Pupils and staff from Llanfoist Fawr Primary School are on a mission to inform pupils about the importance of democracy. The school is very fortunate to have a teacher who is a Gold Parliament Teacher Ambassador.

Mrs Gail Roberts applied to be part of this prestigious project and has been to London to train with teachers from across the UK at Westminster. The project will be a great asset for the school Mrs Roberts aims to develop pupils understanding of Parliament and democracy.

Mrs Roberts is developing pupil’s understanding of democracy and British Government. The inspirational project has captured the imagination of education professionals from Denmark who recently visited the school.

The visitors were keen to find out how Welsh schools are working towards providing provision more able and talented provision for pupils in Wales. They observed children in class debating a number of topical issues. Pupils who took part in the debate were grouped as the government and opposition benches and followed full parliamentary debating procedures.

Pupils are also working closely with Children’s Commissioner for Wales Sally Holland to increase the awareness of Children’s Rights. Pupils have become Student Ambassadors and have been set ‘special missions’ to ensure children in Monmouthshire are influencing the people who are making decisions in Wales.

Student Ambassadors are advocates for the work of the commissioner and aim to share information about Children’s Rights. The special missions aim to give pupils a responsibility to gain the views of their fellow pupils and are shared with the Children’s Commissioner to feedback the views of children in Monmouthshire. Pupils recently they carried out a survey across the school to find out how much time the children send on social media.

Cabinet Member for Children and Young People Richard John said: ‘Llanfoist Primary is working so hard to provide pupils with innovative and inspiring ways to learn. The work of the headteacher and Mrs Roberts to give pupils a real insight into how democracy really works is fantastic! I am so pleased to see the school working to really show the importance of how having your voice heard can influence all aspects of life.’

 

County Councillors from Monmouthshire County Council have been visiting schools across the county. The visits have taken place during Local Democracy Week and aimed to inspire children to have their voices heard.

Pupils have participated a variety of interactive games and activities to find out about makes a good councillor, raising awareness of their roles and responsibilities and sharing the importance of having a say on things in their community that will affect them.

Elected members in Monmouthshire have a passion for engaging with people of all ages. Local Democracy Week took place 15th – 21st October and provided a perfect opportunity to promote the importance of having a voice heard.

Members visited a range of schools. In the north of the county Cllr Tudor Thomas and Cllr Roger Harris visited Llanvihangel Primary School. Cllr Sara Jones and Cllr Maureen Powell joined pupils at Llanfoist Fawr.

Pupils from Osbaston CIW Primary School received a visit from Cllr Sara Jones, Cabinet Member for Social Justice and Community Development and Cllr Penny Jones Cabinet Member for Social Care and Safeguarding. Pupils were keen to share what they felt were the most important qualities of a good County Councillor.

In the South of the county Cllr Jo Watkins visited Rogiet Primary and Cllr Easson and Cllr Dave Evans, along with a Town Councillor, went along to Dewstow Primary School.

Children and councillors participated in fun activities, to reinforce that being a councillor isn’t just a popularity contest. Pupils were asked to pick the best celebrity to be a councillor by firstly looking at the qualities needed to be an effective councillor and then transferring these to the celebrities.

Councillor Sara Jones said: ‘I am so pleased that schools welcomed us in to their classrooms. It was great to see fellow members taking time to listen to the children in their wards. Local Democracy Week is a useful opportunity to plant a seed about the importance of having a voice and hopefully will lead to more young people using their vote when the time comes.’

 

Monmouthshire County Council Corporate Parenting Panel hosted a fun day of outward bound adventures for children and young people who are supported by the council’s Children’s Services Team.

Twenty one children and young people from across the county travelled to Hilston Park on Saturday 13th October. Storm Callum did not stop the youngsters from having an amazing day of raft building, climbing and problem solving games. The day was an opportunity for the group to try new things and form firm friendships.

It also provided an opportunity for youngsters to talk to social workers and youth workers in an informal setting. The day was coordinated by Monmouthshire Youth Service, the Outdoor Education Team and Children Services staff.

The Corporate Parenting Panel is made up of a range of people who aim to protect children in care including elected members and officers who are together responsible for providing the quality of care that would be good enough for their own children.

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

‘The Fun Day was so important for the children and young people that we support. We have a responsibility to protect our children and to encourage them to make the most of their lives. It was fantastic to see them try new things that they have never done before and to face their fears with confidence. I hope that the friendships that have been formed continue to flourish and I thank all the staff who came along to ensure the day was such a success.’

 

A new mentoring project has begun in Monmouthshire to help adults gain employment, education or training. The Communities for Work Plus (CFW+) Project aims to empower, motivate and support people aged 16 – 64 years who are at risk of poverty to gain employment, upskill and access one to one support.

The project employs two Community Employment Mentors who will help people across the county. Michelle Long will be helping people North of Monmouthshire (Abergavenny and Monmouth) and Steve Cooper will work in the South of the County (Usk, Chepstow and Caldicot). Michelle and Steve will be based at local jobcentres, community hubs and in local communities.

The CFW+ project will be able to access funding to support a range of opportunities to help people back into education or employment, such as funded training opportunities as well as providing information and support for further education courses, work experience. Valuable one to one support and mentoring is available to those who need specialist help and have been out of the employment for long periods. The team can help to overcome individual and personal barriers.

The project is funded by The Welsh Government in a bid to reduce the number of people in or at risk of poverty, increase employability of people in Monmouthshire and improve the level of skills and training.

Each week the team will be located in the following locations:

Monday   9.00 am – 12.00pm           Abergavenny Job Centre

Tuesday  9.00 am – 12:30 pm          Caldicot Job Centre

Tuesday  1.30 pm – 4.30 pm            Chepstow Job Centre

Tuesday  10.00 am – 4.00 pm         Monmouth Hub/Library

Wednesday 9.00 am – 12.00pm      ACE Partnership Office Hillcrest

Wednesday 1.00 pm – 4.00 pm       Usk Hub

Thursday     9.00am – 12.00pm        Caldicot Library

Thursday     1.00pm – 4.00pm          Chepstow Hub/Library

Thursday     9.00am – 12.00pm       Abergavenny Adult Education Centre

Thursday     1.00pm – 3.00pm         Drop in Job Club, Abergavenny Adult Education

Centre

 

To get in touch with the team contact: Michelle Long – 07836262102 and Steve Cooper – 07966207047

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

‘The Communities for Work Plus project is a welcome investment to Monmouthshire. I encourage anyone who is looking for work or training to go and see Steve or Michelle in the variety of locations. Monmouthshire is a thriving county for all ages this project will help those who need a helping hand get the support they need.’

For further information contact Monmouthshire’s Youth Enterprise team visit www.monmouthshire.biz/youth-enterprise  email youthenterprise@monmouthshire.gov.uk  Follow the team on Twitter @MonmouthshireYE

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.