Section 58 is a formal, advanced notice issued by the authority informing all interested parties that substantial road works are due to be carried out. This notice is sent out approximately 3 months before works are due to commence, to enable all parties concerned to carry out any works needed. Once works have been complete the road is protected for up to a maximum of 5 years depending on the type of works. Examples of works involved:

  • reconstruction of a highway
  • resurfacing
  • traffic calming
  • new road layouts

A new facility in Abergavenny where the Muslim community of Monmouthshire can practice their faith has been hailed a significant milestone for Muslim residents. The venue located in St. Michaels Community Centre means Muslim residents will be able to perform the Friday congregational prayer without having to travel outside Monmouthshire to places like Newport and Cardiff.

The securing of the venue follows the hard work and dedication of Monmouthshire County Council and partner organisations and is a step forward in recognising and celebrating the diverse communities in Monmouthshire.

The venue is central, on a bus route, accessible and benefits from a car park. The first service was held on Friday the 8th October 2021 with approximately 20 people attending the service, both men and women. It’s hoped the numbers will only increase as word spreads.

Local members are now seeking to create and develop an official community group, being the first group of its kind in Monmouthshire, and with a suggested name of ‘Monmouthshire Muslim Community Association’ to cater for the needs of the growing Muslim population in the county and will also create and develop projects engaging the wider communities. Examples of projects suggested:

·         Education – Faith open days for all communities, children & adult Arabic classes, exchange of good practice trips

·         Culture and religion – Eid card workshops, experience breaking fast during Ramadan, henna art, Muslim festivals

·         Health & Wellbeing  – women’s yoga, mental health workshop, health checks, cultural cooking workshops

·         Outdoor activities – day trips to experience welsh heritage, men’s fishing, walking groups

The local Syrian community, who have settled and integrated very well in Monmouthshire, will also be part of this project. Monmouthshire is also welcoming Afghan refugees and it’s hoped the new group will be able to connect those families who settle in the county, through catering and supporting their needs and help in introducing them to the community. This group will also be an important support group, not only for the existing community members, but also for any Muslim visitors or residents looking to visit or move to Monmouthshire.

Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing and Social Justice, Councillor Lisa Dymock said: “Celebrating the diversity we have in Monmouthshire is extremely important and ensuring different communities can have the facilities and support they need to practice their faith or cultures in our county. I would like to thank Monmouthshire colleagues as well as partner organisations who have all worked tirelessly to make this happen. I am delighted this work will also focus on supporting Syrian and Afghan refugees who as we know have faced some of the most challenging circumstances any person can endure.”

For more information about the new facility or the Monmouthshire Muslim Community Association please contact shajanmiah@monmouthshire.gov.uk

Above, left to right: Environmental Health Officers Helen and  Karon Williams EHO, with Caldicot Town Councillor Frank Rowberry and Education & Awareness Officer from Monmouthshire County Council, Sue Parkinson, at Caldicot Football Club

The impact of pet fouling in Monmouthshire is being highlighted following an awareness day aimed at showing how dog mess can blight communities. It comes after Monmouthshire County Council joined forces with Caldicot Town Council and Goytre Fawr Community Council to organise a dog fouling awareness day in Caldicot and Goytre on 14th October. During the awareness day the council’s environmental health, and waste and street cleaning teams, and the town and community councils spoke to dog owners, handed out free dog poo bags and put up signs to raise awareness of the issue. It follows the successful launch of Keep Wales Tidy’s national dog fouling campaign earlier this month

Although nine out of ten dog owners act responsibly and clean up after their pets in public areas, the one out of ten who don’t have a negative impact on green spaces and parks. Dog fouling continues to be one of the most frequently reported and contentious environmental issues and the focus this time was on sports pitches and areas where children play.  These are areas where children, young people and adults can most easily come into contact with dog faeces left on the ground, and it is imperative that people pick up dog mess to prevent it becoming a public health problem.

Education & Awareness Officer Sue Parkinson meets one of the many responsible dog owners that came along on the day.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for environmental health, Councillor Lisa Dymock said: “Our focus needs to remain on this issue as reports of incidents continue, particularly in children’s playgrounds and our sports and leisure areas, putting the health of our young people at risk. These awareness days remind all dog owners, especially as we enter the darker winter months, of the importance of the simple message – bag it and bin it.”

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

There are just a few days remaining for local residents and groups to respond to Monmouthshire County Council’s public consultation on Public Spaces Protection Orders.  These are being introduced to update the way that dogs are controlled in public places, particularly in parks and open spaces.  The public consultation is available via this link: https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/public-spaces-protection-order-on-dog-controls-in-monmouthshire/ and ends on 26th October.  The council can report a big response to the consultation, but more local opinions are still very much welcomed.

Monmouthshire County Council’s Emergency Planning Service has once again been awarded a prestigious Gold PawPrint award by the RSPCA in their annual PawPrints Awards. The PawPrints award scheme was launched in 2008 and aims to reward and promote good practice in animal welfare by local authorities and housing providers in England and Wales. This year’s awards are the first since 2019, due to the pandemic.

Monmouthshire County Council first entered in 2010 and has since bagged one bronze, one silver and, now, nine gold PawPrints. The PawPrints Award recognises four areas of work that impact on animal welfare – contingency planning; stray dog services; housing and animal welfare principles. Monmouthshire is the only Welsh authority this year to win a Gold accolade in the Contingency Planning category and one of only a handful in the UK as a whole.

The award acknowledges that the authority has considered the welfare of companion animals within contingency plans – both in the planning process and in training and exercising. It also recognises the advice the authority provides for pet owners on emergency preparedness.

The target for next year is to continue to maintain the gold standard and the Emergency Planning Team thought everyone should know they consider their award the cat’s whiskers.  

Commending their excellent work, Cabinet Member for Resources Councillor Phil Murphy said: “Well done to our Emergency Planning Team for winning this accolade. It is a fantastic achievement, not least due to the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it, and it’s wonderful to see Monmouthshire leading the way in implementing animal welfare in their planning procedures.”

Billie-Jade Thomas, RSPCA Cymru public affairs adviser said: “RSPCA Cymru is delighted to once again recognise the fantastic efforts of Monmouthshire Council’s contingency planning measures through its PawPrints scheme.


“The local authority has a proud record of considering pets, pet owners and other animal welfare issues in their emergency planning protocols – and we’re proud to continue to work closely with the Council on this important work.

“Through awareness-raising campaigns, live exercises and supporting establishments with large numbers of animals in drawing up contingency plans, we’re over the moon to again recognise Monmouthshire with a gold award.”

With over 30 different sports available, there’s plenty in store to keep children and young people active and entertained over half term at this year’s Monmouthshire Games. The week-long event runs from Monday 25th October to Friday 29th October and is hosted across the county’s leisure centres in Caldicot, Chepstow and Monmouth as well as Deri View Primary School in Abergavenny while the town’s leisure centre undergoes refurbishment.

Aimed at children between the ages of five and 11, the Monmouthshire Games offer activities to suit a range of different interests and hobbies. The programme is based on learning new skills, developing confidence, meeting new people and most importantly, having fun through sport. Sessions run from 8am to 5pm on Monday to Friday. It follows a successful summer programme which saw over 900 young people attend, all expressing their desire to come back and try it again.

Each site has 50 spaces available per day and parents are encouraged to book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

Monmouthshire’s Cabinet Member for MonLife, Councillor Lisa Dymock said: “The Monmouthshire Games have been running for over five years and the impact the programme has on a young person’s continued health and wellbeing during the holidays and half term breaks has been evident. The variety of activities means children are not only getting the chance to have fun and meet new friends but learning life skills such as teamwork. Spaces really do fill up quickly on this excellent programme so please book your child’s place to ensure they don’t miss out on a fun-filled half term.”

Refurbishment of the pool area means that swimming is unavailable at Chepstow Leisure Centre.  The much-needed improvements include redecoration, an upgrade to glazing in the viewing area, a replacement ceiling, an LED lighting upgrade and installation of new air handling units.  Likewise, refurbishment at Abergavenny Leisure Centre rules out poolside activities. Work is expected to be completed in the new year.

To book a place visit: https://www.monlife.co.uk/monactive/childrens-activities/the-monmouthshire-games/ and fill out an enquiry form.

Meanwhile, MonLife’s heritage museums will offer activities for children over October half-term in conjunction with the Welsh Museums Festival.  Children of all ages can have fun and share the enjoyment of experiencing traditional toys and games together.  Some of these may have their roots in simple pastimes played for centuries, while others might be games parents or grandparents enjoyed in the playground or parties.

Sessions are 45 minutes long and start at 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm at Monmouth’s Shire Hall on Monday 25th October, the Drill Hall in Chepstow on 28th October and Abergavenny Museum the following day.  Places are free but must be pre-booked at www.visitmonmouthshire.com/traditional-games

Also, throughout the Welsh Museums Festival each museum will feature a Dragon hunt for youngsters.

For further information about all the MonLife activities available please visit: www.monlifeholidayactivities.co.uk

The Gwent Green Grid Partnership, a new ground-breaking project, aims to improve and develop green infrastructure – a term used to describe the network of natural and semi-natural features, green spaces, rivers and lakes that intersperse and connect villages, towns and cities – as well as provide green job opportunities within the area.  Green infrastructure has a crucial role to play in addressing nature, climate change and health emergencies.

Monmouthshire County Council, working with Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Newport and Torfaen councils as well as Natural Resources Wales, Forest Research and the Severn Wye Energy Agency, leads the partnership.  The organisations will work together to ensure that the area’s natural resources are healthy, resilient to pressures and threats and thereby better able to provide vital health and well-being benefits for current and future generations.

The Gwent Green Grid Partnership will bring to life the Gwent Public Service Board’s commitment to implementing the Well-being Of Future Generations (Wales) Act and the Environment (Wales) Act through improved collaboration with partners, involving local citizens and delivering across all seven well-being goals.

The project will deliver a range of well-being benefits for local communities and plans to make improvements to green spaces, urban and country parks, cycleways and public rights of way.  It will facilitate better woodland management and creation and take action to protect and enhance vital habitats for pollinators. The partnership will also explore better management of natural spaces to provide opportunities which deliver preventative health-focussed activity.

Councillor Lisa Dymock, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for green infrastructure said: “I very much welcome the establishment of the Gwent Green Grid Partnership, bringing together Gwent’s local authorities and three other organisations to protect and improve our natural environment while providing opportunities for the area’s communities.”

The project is supported by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe Investing in Rural Areas and is funded by the Welsh Government’s Enabling of Natural Resources and Well-being Grant.

Pupils and staff at Gilwern School set off on the trip of a lifetime with a virtual hike that will see them encircle the world. The project, likely to last two years, will raise cash for charity as well as benefit pupils’ understanding of different countries and cultures.

“Gilwern School – Around the World in a New Curriculum” will see staff and pupils covering the distance of 50,000 kilometres, both in and outside the school premises.

For each 10,000 kilometre leg of the trek a different charity will benefit through sponsorship, with the aim of raising a pound via the wider community for each kilometre travelled. The Alzheimer’s Charity will be the focus for the first 10,000 kilometres.

Classes and individuals will record the total distance covered on a weekly basis, and using extensive technology the school will plot the journey as it develops. On the completion of each 2,000 kilometres, the school curriculum will be amended to include an in-depth study of the location reached. The first designated stop is Copenhagen with progress featured on the school’s Twitter account: @gilwern_school throughout.

The challenging project aligns with the new and exciting Welsh purpose-driven school curriculum, with each year group concentrating on ten different aspects as the pupils and staff arrive at the planned locations. Areas investigated will include the environment, food, dance, music, art, money, agriculture and climate.

Headteacher Roger Guy said: “This project is multi-layered, focusing on well-being to start with, and having a common purpose with each other as we all virtually run around the world. Collectively we work as Geese do, as they fly in formation and share leadership, which reflects heavily on our leadership style here at Gilwern.”

The event received support from former Welsh Rugby Union player and sports commentator Eddie Butler, who added 5 kilometres with the pupils. He added “It was great fun, and it was for a great, ambitious cause. To set out and, not just do one day of activity, but to sustain it. It’s a lesson in keeping going, perseverance and resilience, and I think they are great values to teach to youngsters”

Eddie Butler talks with Gilwern’s Katy Morgan

Will McLean, Chief Officer for Children and Young People, said: “I want to say a big thank you to everybody at Gilwern, the teachers have been unbelievably enthusiastic and so positive and brought so much energy to the day and it is great to see the school kicking off its start to the new curriculum with their journey around the world.”

Chief Officer for Children & Young People, Will McLean, sets off the race with Eddie Butler

Councillor Paul Pavia, Monmouthshire’s Cabinet Member for Education, added: “This is such a fantastic project that will inspire pupils at Gilwern primary school, and hopefully it will encourage other schools to follow in the footsteps of such an ambitious cause. The enthusiasm that the teachers have brought to the children is infectious. Good luck to all involved.”

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Over the last two years studies have been undertaken into how traffic and travel movements might be improved in and around Chepstow and the surrounding area.  Earlier this year the second stage report (produced using the WelTAG or WebTAG staged methodology specified by both UK and Welsh Governments for the development and appraisal of transport proposals) was presented to the local authorities and other public bodies involved in the commissioning of the report. 

The report is now being published and is available by following this link:

A summary of the study is provided along with the main report by following the link. There are further documents that support the study findings that can be made available upon request to members of the public wishing to see the detail within the supporting documents that lies behind the report and its findings.

The study has been commissioned jointly by local authorities both sides of the border along with other interested public bodies being included in the commission and development of the study.

Within local government this has involved Forest of Dean District Council, Gloucestershire County Council, South Gloucestershire County Council and Monmouthshire County Council. Amongst other public bodies Welsh Government and Highways England have also been included in the report development.

The study has been undertaken by ARUP consultancy on behalf of the local authorities and public bodies.

The Chepstow Transport Study highlights several problems to be addressed surrounding public transport and active travel but possibly the highest profile problem lies largely in traffic congestion on the main public highways converging at Chepstow. The impact is felt by local residents in terms of routine inconvenience and more seriously air pollution (The A48 on Hardwick Hill, Chepstow is an air quality Management zone) but there is also the impact upon motorists travelling through the area as traffic jams are frequent and prolonged at various times during the day.

The study provides and collates the background information and data and then proposes options for further more detailed analysis. This process reflects the WelTAG and WebTAG requirements that in turn bring a structured and robust method to analyse and assess problems, options and ultimately develop solutions.

The study recommends that the further work now follows three main packages. They are described in detail in the report but in summary these are:

  1. Active Travel (walking and cycling) Improvements – to investigate in detail transport management including vehicle access (including part-time pedestrianisation options), car parking, walking and cycling improvements including conversations with stakeholders about what improvements bring the greatest benefits. It will look at routes in communities on both sides of the border, provide costed priorities and provide potential funding opportunities.
  1. Public Transport (bus and rail) – Chepstow Transport Hub and Connectivity Improvements – will develop options to create a public transport hub within Chepstow. This will involve the feasibility of a better interchange with enhanced links to public bus services and how this integrates with car users (parking, electric vehicle charging etc.) and active travel routes to offer a sustainable and practical alternative to car use.
  1. Chepstow By-Pass – Takes the high level option outlined in the stage 2 report into a more detailed pre-design study including traffic assessments, value for money studies, environmental studies, engagement with statutory consultees, preliminary construction programme.

Package 1 (active travel) is to be commissioned in the coming weeks, funded through Welsh Government Active Travel available to Monmouthshire County Council plus potential contributions from Gloucestershire CC and Forest of Dean DC (subject to bids and councils’ agreement).

Package 2 (Chepstow Transport Hub) is funded by Welsh Government Local Transport Fund and the study has recently been commissioned to be undertaken in this year.

Package 3 (Chepstow By- Pass) and how it might progress to the next stage is more complex and is subject to further discussions about how the scheme might be funded, which authority might take the lead etc.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for strategic integrated transport, Councillor Jane Pratt said: “It’s heartening that all of the local authorities, government departments and other public bodies have worked positively towards getting to this stage and that some aspects of the study are set to progress.  As a cross border project it has proven successful so far, although I acknowledge the challenges regarding transforming proposals into reality.”

Monmouthshire County Council is launching a campaign signposting people suffering financial hardship, mental health issues or other causes of concern towards available support.  The campaign is delivered in partnership with a range of organisations which can provide help and support like Citizens Advice, Department for Work and Pensions, Gateway Credit Union, Gwent Association of Voluntary Organisations and Mind Monmouthshire, as well as local housing associations and town and community councils across the county.

The campaign emphasises the many opportunities for support and encourages people to seek help and advice as early as possible.  It  also stresses that it is never too late to seek help, advice and support.

The campaign results from the recognition that many are unaware of how much support is available to people who may be struggling financially, and that this lack of knowledge is a key barrier to accessing help.  This includes those struggling financially but also those with mental health issues or in need of other aid and advice.

The Covid pandemic has intensified many of the underlying social, financial and mental health issues affecting Monmouthshire’s communities, as well as placing unprecedented levels of strain on households who had previously never experienced financial difficulties. This means that people who have never had to access benefits or other forms of support are having to do so for the first time.

To help take the first step in getting assistance, Monmouthshire County Council has compiled a web resource which draws support from different organisations together in one place.  It can be accessed at www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/money-advice/

As well as national organisations such as Citizens Advice and Turn2US, the website also contains details of local groups and organisations who can offer practical support and even small grants.

The campaign seeks to encourage people to take the first steps in seeking help as early as possible, as this is the point when it is generally easiest to resolve matters.  It also emphasises, however, that nobody’s financial situation is ever so bad that there is nothing that can be done.

The campaign will have an impact from October onwards with local community engagement events, radio advertising, short clips featuring local people, posters, social media posts and leaflets to transmit messages throughout the year. 

Councillor Lisa Dymock, Monmouthshire’s Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing and Social Justice said: “We know that times are hard for many people, but we also know that people are often surprised by just how much help is available to them when they reach out.  Our key message is to seek help and advice as early as possible – but that it is never too late to seek help and support.”

For more information visit: www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/money-advice/

Former students from Chepstow Comprehensive school are being asked to go back to the classroom and inspire current pupils to grasp the futures they want.

Chepstow School has joined a programme run by the national education charity Future First which helps state schools and colleges develop past pupil networks so they can harness the talents and experiences of alumni to support the next generation.

Former students will return to volunteer at assemblies and workshops, designed to motivate today’s pupils to broaden their job horizons and increase their chances of accessing their chosen careers regardless of their background.

Chepstow is one of a thousand state secondary schools and colleges across Britain which have worked with Future First. The charity’s vision is that every state school or college should be supported by a thriving and engaged alumni community that helps it to do more for its students.

More than 260,000 former students nationwide have already signed up to stay connected with their old school. They’re motivating young people as career and education role models, mentors, work experience providers, governors and fundraisers.

Chepstow comprehensive school wants to contact former students who have gone on to achieve career success and recent leavers now in further education or training.

Matthew Sims, Headteacher at Chepstow School said ‘We signed up to Future First’s scheme straightaway. A network of past students with all their valuable experience will be vital in helping us to broaden current pupils’ job horizons and equip them for the world of work.’

Whilst visiting Chepstow School, former pupil and Chief Officer for People & Governance, Matt Phillips, said “It’s been brilliant coming back to Chepstow school, many years after I was here as a pupil, engaging with a really interesting group of year 11 students. I was reassured to speak to those who, a lot like me, didn’t really have a clear direction of where they wanted to go, but it was great talking about those options and avenues they could explore. I’m very much looking forward to the opportunity to return to the school and work with these students in more detail.”

Lorraine Langham, Chief Executive Officer of Future First, said: “Alumni show young people a world of opportunity and a future that could be theirs. We want to give them hope for the future and the confidence and motivation they need to succeed.

“It would be wonderful if former Chepstow pupils could sign up and give back to the students of today who are following in their footsteps. It will provide them with the reassurance that comes from hearing what it took for someone who sat in the very same classroom to make a success of their lives in a wide array of fields.” 

Monmouthshire County Council is to invite residents to join discussions to transform Caldicot’s Newport Road between the town centre and the B4245 into a more pleasant environment.  The council is working on plans to enhance the thoroughfare to the west of the town centre and it aims to make it a welcoming place for residents, businesses and visitors with a more green and appealing route for walkers and cyclists.

To test some of the proposals, the council is planning a three-week trial closure of the road to through traffic – and there are plans to use the closed road space for free children’s activities during that time.

With Newport Road’s wide carriageway the current focus is on vehicular traffic – some of which travels relatively quickly – combined with a narrow or non-existent pavement, forcing pedestrians to cross or walk in the road.  In addition, Newport Road comprises part of a local and national cycle way but many cyclists believe it is an unattractive and unsafe route.

The council has identified a number of opportunities to improve Newport Road.  These include widening the footway on both sides, which provides more space for pedestrians while helping to reduce vehicle speeds and create safer conditions for cyclists.  Newport Road also has very little landscaping or trees, and a greener environment would make it more pleasant and attractive, as well as offering environmental benefits like helping to manage rainwater or providing wildlife habitats.

Early work on the proposals suggests that bringing the greatest level of improvement to this part of Newport Road would depend on whether it could be closed to through traffic. To understand the impact of such a closure – on Newport Road itself as well on surrounding streets and nearby businesses – the council is planning a three-week trial closure of the road from Monday 11th October. This will form part of close consultation with Newport Road residents and town centre businesses as well as emergency services and other statutory organisations.

The trial closure point will be near the junction with Jubilee Way, so residents and businesses will still have access from the B4245 – but through traffic will not be permitted. Access for emergency vehicles will be maintained throughout the trial period.

The council is keen to hear from residents and businesses on improvements for the road. It will make its ideas available on its website – www.monmouthshire.gov.uk – and will hold a public display in Caldicot’s town centre in addition to a community drop-in session from 10am to 5pm on 22nd and 23rd October – this will allow Newport Road residents and businesses to meet council officers during the trial, air ideas and provide practical feedback.  People can also get in touch by phoning 07890 024489 or emailing: MCCRegeneration@monmouthshire.gov.uk

Councillor Sara Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for regeneration said: “We’re exploring ways to improve Newport Road to create a more pleasant environment and I urge all residents, visitors to Caldicot, the town’s businesses and other organisations to participate in discussions on the area’s future.”

As part of the project, the council has organised a number of community events on Newport Road during the three-week trial closure.  From 10am to 12pm on Saturdays 16th, 23rd, and 30th October, as well as on 25th, 27th and 29th October during half term, there will be free play and physical activity opportunities for children aged 2 to 11. And on 30th October from 10am to 12pm, children will be able to bring their bikes and helmets to learn basics about riding safely on the road – and the Caldicot Cycles bicycle shop will offer basic bike repairs and advice.

Monmouthshire County Council is to carry out an up to date survey on the area’s tourism industry.

Monmouthshire’s strategic Destination Management Plan, which guides the running of the county’s tourism sector, is due for review and the council will ask businesses, residents and visitors for their views on how the area’s potential is developed, managed and marketed.

Tourism is vital to Monmouthshire’s economy and generates income to support a wide range of businesses that benefit from spending by visitors.  According to figures supplied by tourism economic indicator STEAM (Scarborough Tourism Economic Activity Monitor), the 2.28m visitors to Monmouthshire in 2019 brought in almost £245m to the local economy and supported the equivalent of 3,119 full-time jobs.

While the council is keen to promote economic growth and recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic it recognises the balance to be struck between economic, environmental and social perspectives if tourism is to develop sustainably.  It aims to develop a tourism economy that avoids a negative impact on the environment while ensuring a positive experience for visitors with a warm welcome from Monmouthshire’s communities.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for tourism, Councillor Lisa Dymock said: “Whether you’re a business involved in the visitor economy, a Monmouthshire resident or someone who’s visited the county over the past three years, we’d welcome your views.”

To access the survey, log onto: www.visitmonmouthshire.com/destination-survey.aspx by Tuesday, 30th November.  All who complete the survey will stand a chance of winning a Christmas hamper from the Wye Valley Producers collaboration packed with the area’s finest award-winning produce!

MonLife has announced a programme to carry out much-needed improvements to Chepstow Leisure Centre’s swimming pool hall.  These will include redecoration of the pool hall, an upgrade to glazing in the viewing area, a replacement ceiling, an LED lighting upgrade and installation of new air handling units.

Scheduled to start on Monday 25th October, the work will necessitate the closure of the pool.  The expected re-opening date is 4th January.  Meanwhile, the rest of the leisure centre will remain open and MonLife will automatically freeze the membership of its Aqua holders while work continues.

MonLife members with any queries about the pool area refurbishment should email: monmemberships@monmouthshire.gov.uk – meanwhile, groups with bookings for the pool have already been notified of the closure.  Anyone with a general query on the work should contact chepstowleisurecentre@monmouthshire.gov.uk.  MonLife will also launch a dedicated microsite on Tuesday 28th September with up to date information on the scheme’s progress and a list of FAQ’s.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for MonLife, Councillor Lisa Dymock said: “I’d like to thank visitors to Chepstow Leisure Centre for their patience while work continues and I’m pleased that these refurbishments will provide an improved service to users of the leisure centre.  I’m also glad that many of the measures implemented will result in improved energy efficiency and reduction in carbon emissions.”

Members of Monmouthshire’s Cabinet have endorsed investment in Abergavenny’s Borough Theatre to secure the future of the town’s much-loved amenity.  The county council will meet on 23rd September to consider the recommendation, which ensures the theatre will offer a suitable venue for future generations as well as making it an attractive option for current user groups and theatre-goers.

The Borough Theatre is a well-used cultural, community and civic asset but in need of significant investment if it is to realise its potential.  Located in an iconic Grade II listed building, the theatre is a long established and high-profile venue but the structure, layout and the lighting and heating systems are outdated, while facilities for customers like toilets, the bar, foyer and seating fail to meet current standards.  The venue is under-utilised, particularly in the daytime and it faces increased competition from other local and regional theatre and arts centres in addition to the threat of reduced public sector funding.

The investment programme seeks to ensure the theatre is an accessible, professional, artistic amenity that alongside the recently refurbished library, community learning space and market, provides northern Monmouthshire and further afield with an exciting and realistic cultural focus.  It also recognises that refurbishment will enable the theatre’s team to build a sustainable business model.

The forecast expenditure for the total project is £1,042,000 and £314,000 of the amount – offered by the Arts Council for Wales and money from Monmouthshire’s capital budget – has already been confirmed.  In addition, funding of £450,000 – from the Welsh Government and Monmouthshire’s Transforming Towns and Access for All budgets is set for confirmation, leaving a gap of £278,000 to be determined.

An extraordinary meeting on Wednesday 15th September between the county council and Abergavenny Town Council discussed the possibility of some further funding towards the project.  The town council confirmed its desire to help, acknowledging however that it needs to be in a clear financial position to afford it and will consider the matter at its Policy and Resources Committee before making a decision.

Monmouthshire’s Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing and Social Justice, Councillor Lisa Dymock said: “The Borough Theatre has a long and proud record of promoting the arts in Monmouthshire and it delivers a wide range of entertainment on a regular basis while enjoying well-established and loyal support from the public.  Our aim is to ensure the refurbishment of the theatre so that it remains at the forefront of arts provision for many years to come, serving as a cultural hub for the whole of the county.”

Meanwhile, the public are invited to support the Borough Theatre by adopting a seat or making a donation.  Councillor Dymock added: “Adopting a seat is a personal way of displaying support for the theatre’s exciting future with options available for six or ten years. It can be a wonderful way to commemorate a friend or loved one.  The Borough also welcomes donations to help bring this iconic listed building up to modern theatre standards.”

For details of adopting a seat or making a donation log onto: http://alturl.com/axtrj

Monmouthshire has become the latest stop for the Planet Mark Carbon Battle Bus as it tours the country in the run up to the United Nations COP26 climate summit, which is being hosted in the United Kingdom this autumn.

The fully electric coach stopped off in Abergavenny on Tuesday 14th September 2021 to highlight some of the work being done by the business community to tackle the climate emergency and spread the message about the importance of achieving net zero. Members of the Battle Bus tour were also joined by Riversimple, developers of the ground-breaking Rasa hydrogen vehicles, to talk about their aspirations for carbon-free motoring. It follows the UK-based car manufacturer’s work in Abergavenny after the town was chosen as the testbed for their Rasa.

Speaking at the event, Riversimple Communications Director Fiona Spowers said: “Our desire is to eliminate the environmental impact of personal transport with a car that is not only fun to drive, but which doesn’t burn fossil fuels and produces on only water as a waste product. The Beta Test of our cars here in Abergavenny will include households, car sharing clubs and public organisations such as Monmouthshire County Council as part of their workplace fleet. We look forward to sharing the fun and pleasure of driving the state-of-the-art Rasa Beta with more Beta Testers throughout the year.”

Planet Mark also met with Gwent Energy who have been instrumental in growing the number of EV charging points in the county, as well as efforts to help communities decarbonise their energy supply. The visit also offered the opportunity for Planet Mark to talk to representatives from Monmouthshire County Council about its commitment to reducing its emissions and have the opportunity to view some of the electric vehicles used to deliver local public services like community meals.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for climate change, Councillor Jane Pratt said: “I’m delighted to welcome the zero carbon battle bus to Monmouthshire.  It was a good opportunity to talk about some of the progress we’ve made decarbonising our own operations and to hear some of the innovative projects being delivered by business in other parts of the UK which we can learn from.” 

The Planet Mark Carbon Battle Bus tour will now continue on its tour across the UK over 12 weeks, culminating in Glasgow for COP26 in November.

The deadline for a consultation exercise to benefit Wye Valley communities has been extended by 18 days to allow more time for residents, organisations and visitors to respond.

Monmouthshire County Council, working with the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and local community councils, is asking residents and visitors to view proposals for its Wye Valley Villages (Stage 2) Report.  The original deadline of 12th September has now been extended to midnight on 30th September.

Produced by design and engineering firm ARUP, the report provides a strategy and action plan for the villages of Trellech, Penallt, The Narth, Devauden, Tintern, St Arvans, Llandogo, Llanishen and Catbrook.  The plan initially grew from issues around road safety and village infrastructure, but the council and its partners have recognised a more complex set of challenges and agreed to consider these as well.

Information on the report’s engagement website (wye-valley-villages.virtual-engage.arup.com) includes a short introductory video by Monmouthshire’s Deputy Leader, Councillor Sara Jones in addition to links to the consultation and proposals developed for each of the nine villages.

Councillor Jones said: “I urge those who live, work in or visit the associated areas to read the report and respond with their opinions, comments and to feed in any additional suggestions.  We warmly welcome your thoughts.”

Paper copies of the Wye Valley Villages Stage 2 Report are available in Welsh or English by contacting the council via email – contact@monmouthshire.gov.uk – or by calling 01633 644644.

Monmouthshire County Council is updating its action plan to reduce its impact on climate and is keen to receive ideas on working with communities to cut carbon emissions.

Monmouthshire’s action plan followed its declaration of a climate emergency in 2019, and committed the council to cutting its own carbon emissions to net zero by 2030 while working with residents and organisations to help reduce climate change.  Despite good progress – including encouraging active travel and recycling, switching to renewable energy, purchasing electric vehicles, installing energy-saving measures and changing its management of green spaces – the council recognises it needs to intensify its actions if it is to meet carbon reduction targets.

Residents and organisations can assist the council to develop its climate action plan by participating in an online survey – shorturl.at/ekpET – or attending a drop-in session at Abergavenny Library on Monday 20th September from 2pm to 5pm where the council will display its plans for the future and receive ideas to enhance them.  The council will also run a stall from 10am to 4pm at the Monmouth Climate Futures Festival on Sunday 26th September where contributions from the community will be welcomed.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for climate change, Councillor Jane Pratt said: “We have made much good progress in reducing carbon emissions and helping to reduce climate change, but we still have an urgent need to do lots more.  The council can’t do this on its own – we need everyone to play their part in tackling the climate emergency, so please get involved, tell us what you think and let us know how we can help you to join the challenge of reaching the target of net zero carbon.”

With just over a week until one of the most prestigious agricultural shows in south east Wales makes its return, Monmouthshire County Council is gearing up to host a day full of family activities.  

The council is getting ready to welcome visitors to the annual Usk Show which is Wales’ only major public agricultural show going ahead this year on Saturday 11th September. At Usk Showground, the council’s marquee is the first port of call for a wide range of fun, free activities and information from a diverse range of services and organisations. 

This year’s show has been designed to ensure the safety of visitors and COVID safe measures are in place. To add to the safety measures across the showground, the MCC marquee will have hand sanitising stations, a one way system and the sides have been removed from the tent to ensure good ventilation throughout the day. The layout has also been carefully thought through to ensure groups cannot congregate around particular areas at any given time. Mask wearing will also be encouraged for those venturing into the tent.

The Gwent Public Service Board is joining to ask people for their ideas about what’s good about the Gwent community and how it can develop in the future, so residents are encouraged to stop by the MCC marquee and fill in the survey. Colleagues from planning will be discussing the replacement local development plan. There will be an opportunity to hear about a 5G project in Raglan and The Borough Theatreteamwill be sharing their theatre plans and giving people the opportunity to ‘name a seat’

Monmouthshire’s Home Care team will be on hand to speak to people about the range of rewarding roles available with the council, as well as giving live demonstrations and training on how to use a defibrillator. This year’s theme centres around ‘Jobs for Caring People’ with plenty of roles available for those wanting to start their caring journey and offer support to the residents who need it the most. The team will be joined by Foster Wales Monmouthshire who will be providing information on how people can help give loving homes to some of the county’s most vulnerable children and young people.  

There will also be representatives from Planning, Tourism, Flying Start, Recycling and Waste, Connect Monmouthshire, My Mates, Usk Community Support Network and Gwent Association for Voluntary Organisations. With many colleagues on hand, residents and visitors are invited to pop down to the marquee to engage and ask questions. Monmouthshire’s Employment and Skills team will also be available to speak to prospective job hunters about developing skills, training and accessing a range of fantastic opportunities.  

In front of the marquee, to acknowledge the council’s pollinator friendly selective mowing regime, a grass maze has been created where the grass has been left grow. The specialised mower will be there on the day so people can ‘meet the mower’ and have a selfie taken. A balance bike track, has been created in the cut grass maze and MCC’sReuse shops have donated balance bikes so little ones can cycle on the tracks that have been made. A ‘pop up’ Reuse shopwill be there on the day so people can browse and shop.

The MonLife team are joining with rowing machines so people can have a go and be inspired to join the gym to kick off the autumn. Visit Monmouthshirewill be asking for help to shape the way tourism is developed, managed and promoted in Monmouthshire in future, as well as sharing great ideas for wonderful experiences across the county all year round. Look out for free crazy golf and a chance to take a selfie with Neris the Dragonsounds fun too.

Looking to learn something new? Macramé sessions will be provided by the Community Learning team, who will be sharing the amazing courses available. Usk Community Hubwill be sharing all the hub has to offer and getting crafty with an opportunity to decorate Elmer. Usk Primarywill be providing some gorgeous arts and crafts activities. For the first time, the Monmouthshire marquee will also house a special designated family zone, where parents can come to change their babies or to breastfeed in a comfortable area.  

Various acts have been booked to create a ‘festival feel’ as part of the ‘summer of fun’. Louby Lou’s Storytelling gang will capture the imaginations of younger generations through bright and lively performances. The quirks of the brilliant George Orange – the Man in the Moon will be on display where guests will be entertained by tricks and stunts. Throughout the day, there will also be the chance to see the fantastic Kitsch & Synch, ‘Topiary Trauma’ show – a comedy dance theatre show about three glamorous 1950s neighbours and their competitive gardening. The Road Safety team will be hosting a balance bike course, which is not only fun for little ones but offers important road safety tips. In addition, families will get to try their hand at a crazy golf course and their will also be the opportunity to take a snap with MonLife mascot, Nerys the dragon. There will also be an array of different arts and crafts activities to help children get their creative juices flowing.  

Excitement for the return of this brilliant agricultural show is building and the teams at Monmouthshire County Council have been working tirelessly to make the return of the show one to remember. Unfortunately, the show was cancelled last year due to the ongoing pandemic but this year the organisers and MCC colleagues are making up for lost time with a whole host of fantastic performances and activities for all ages to engage in.  

Council Leader Richard John said: “What a fabulous way to celebrate all Monmouthshire has to offer in a fun, engaging space. I would like to congratulate the Usk Show team and volunteers on the massive efforts they have gone to, to deliver this event during the most challenging of times. I’ll be there on the day and look forward to meeting residents from across the county and listening to their views.”

Event Manager and Show Secretary, Nia Osborne added: “We are so pleased that we are able to welcome guests back to Usk Show again this year. A year without shows last year hit us all hard, not least of all the traders so we are happy to welcome so many of them back again this year.  Each of our 11 show sections have been working hard to put on fabulous displays for everyone and we really do have something for everyone to enjoy! Tickets are still available through our website www.uskshow.co.uk  All tickets need to be bought in advance this year, there will not be any tickets available to purchase on the gates.  Come & join us at Usk Show 2021 for a fabulous day out!” 

Usk Show takes place at Usk Showground, Llandenny NP15 1DD. 

Residents in Monmouthshire are being invited to help shape the best possible future for the county by submitting their views in a survey.

Part of a Gwent-wide initiative, the Gwent Public Services Board – a collaboration of public and voluntary sector services – seeks feedback to ask what works well, and what could be better in the area’s communities. Responses will ensure plans and projects target things that matter most to residents.

This consultation exercise arises from the objectives of The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, which require local authorities and other public bodies to plan at least 10 and ideally up to 25 years ahead.  Decisions made now will have real implications for tomorrow’s society, so public organisations must prepare for the future as well as the present.

Leader of Monmouthshire County Council and the council’s representative on the Gwent Public Service Board, Councillor Richard John said, “We want as many residents as possible to participate in the survey so we can shape the county’s future in the best way possible.  Monmouthshire faces some big challenges.  Budgets for public services are declining while expectations are going up.  We have changes to weather patterns and an ageing population as well as rising property prices with comparatively low wages, making it harder for young families to live and work locally – but your involvement will really help us plan the future with a degree of confidence.”

For future information and access to the survey, log onto: www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/our-monmouthshire/ – the closing date for completing the survey is Thursday, 30th September. Residents who wish to complete a paper copy of the survey can do so via the Community Hubs in Abergavenny, Caldicot, Chepstow, Gilwern, Monmouth and Usk.

Children in Monmouthshire have enjoyed a fun-filled summer holiday, thanks to two successful play provision schemes offered by MonLife, the council’s tourism, leisure, culture and youth services body.

The Welsh Government-funded School Holiday Enrichment Programme (SHEP) has provided healthy meals, nutrition and food education, physical activity and enrichment sessions to children in specific areas of the county during the summer holidays.

The free four-week programme has seen over 420 children sign up at five schools, with sessions at Overmonnow Primary and Kymin View Primary in Monmouth, Thornwell School in Chepstow, Caldicot’s Dewstow Primary and Deri View Primary in Abergavenny.  The response to the scheme was overwhelmingly positive with a large majority of children delighted to make new friends and try new sports.

Meanwhile, MonLife has offered the exciting and popular Monmouthshire Games, with a range of different interests and hobbies keeping children and young people active and entertained over the summer holidays. The five-week programme featured at all of the county’s leisure centres in Abergavenny, Caldicot, Chepstow and Monmouth, with almost 900 youngsters participating.  Nearly all expressed their desire to attend future events.

This is the sixth year that MonLife has organised the Games. Aimed at children between the ages of 5 and 11, they have encouraged thousands to develop confidence, meet new friends and most importantly have fun through sport.    With challenges caused by the pandemic, this year’s events also aimed to help improve wellbeing and promote healthy bodies and minds.

Monmouthshire’s Cabinet member for Community Wellbeing and Social Justice, Councillor Lisa Dymock said: “The School Holiday Enrichment Programme and The Monmouthshire Games have been especially valuable during the pandemic, allowing the county’s children to be active, have fun and socialise.  They have been brilliantly organised by MonLife staff and give parents the peace of mind that their children are looked after in a fun and safe environment.” The Monmouthshire Games and SHEP attracted a total of 7,750 attendances over the summer while children enjoyed 7,240 free meals provided in line with the wide range of benefits delivered by SHEP.  

Work on the much-awaited refurbishment of Abergavenny Leisure Centre is set to begin with new pictures being unveiled of what customers can expect once the works are completed.

Monmouthshire County Council will be proceeding with the refurbishment of Abergavenny Leisure Centre between Tuesday 31st August until January 2022. The new facilities will see the fitness suite extended, with a dedicated group exercise studio, as well as avid cyclists now having access to a spin studio. The refurbishment will also include new changing facilities and a vending facility for customers to get a hot drink.

Leisure provider, MonLife is committed to investing in projects which will benefit the health and wellbeing of the county’s community. The new leisure centre will be suitable for those with disabilities, complying with the Equalities Act 2010. The re-development will include accessible gym equipment, open studios with easy access, accessible changing facilities, and automatic doors. Part of the refurbishment will include a wellness hub on the first floor to create modern leisure facilities for the local community, helping to increase participation in regular physical activity.

Current customers are being informed that services, facilities and classes will have an amended timetable when the work is carried out. There will be a partial closure of the fitness suite from 8:30am on Friday 27th August while equipment is relocated to the temporary facility. A temporary fitness suite offer will be provided, which will be situated in the school gym (opposite main reception). For the duration of the build there will be a reduced number of car parking spaces. As a result walking and cycling to and from the site is highly encouraged where possible. All casual users will need to obtain a ticket from main reception before entering the school gym to access the fitness suite / classes. Showers and changing facilities will be available in the main centre Monday – Friday before 8am and after 5pm. On weekends they will be available between 8:15am – 6pm.

Customers are also being reminded of the current COVID-19 procedures in place. Face coverings and hand sanitiser is a requirement upon entry and exit to the building. One-way systems will also be in place for users to follow where possible. There will be an amended fitness class timetable between September & January which can be seen by clicking here: https://www.monlife.co.uk/monactive/abergavenny-leisure-centre/

Councillor Lisa Dymock, Monmouthshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing and Social Justice said: “It is great to see this exciting project taking a step further. We are committed to investing in and developing leisure facilities across our county, which has such a positive effect for not only our current residents, but future generations too. Thank you to everyone at MonLife for your continued hard work regarding Abergavenny’s Leisure Centre.”

If customers have any further questions, they are asking to contact MonLifeProjects@monmouthshire.gov.uk. Helpful information about Abergavenny leisure centre’s refurbishment and frequently asked questions can be found HERE.

The Grounds & Cleansing Team at Monmouthshire County Council in the pollinator garden at County Hall.

Following a successful external recruitment process, Monmouthshire County Council has welcomed the first apprentices to its Grounds and Cleansing team. The three local apprentices will be combining study at Bridgend College’s Pencoed Campus with workplace learning over the next two years.

Councillor Sara Jones, Monmouthshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy, said: “The opportunity to help these apprentices pursue their ambitions is one that the council has really embraced. We have so many skilled people working within the council well placed to share their knowledge with those just starting out on their career. The apprentices, Sharnie O’Shea, Morgan Haines and Abigail Bowditch, will be supported on their learning journey by mentors with many years’ experience. It’s already clear that Abigail, Sharnie and Morgan have a huge amount to offer and are committed to their new role.” 

Morgan Haines, 20, has been on the scheme for four weeks and said: “An office job wasn’t for me, I have always been an outdoors person. I’m already loving the job, I’m enjoying every aspect of it and the fact we are also studying for a work based Horticulture Level 2 qualification. We can go on to work towards further qualifications too.”

Two months into her apprenticeship, 22-year-old Abigail Bowditch said: “I didn’t have much experience before starting the apprenticeship, but I am already seeing how I am progressing and really enjoying it. The chance to learn things while you have got a job is really important, it gives a sense of security.”

Working as a Senior Grounds Maintenance Operative for Monmouthshire County Council, Nigel Reece has more than 26 years’ experience to share: “The scheme offers a rare chance to learn a wide range of skills that cover seasonal-based work, so no two days are ever the same. I’ve been outdoors all my life and helping to guide our apprentices through their training, as a mentor, is very rewarding.”

Apprentices Abigail Bowditch and Morgan Haines with mentor, Senior Grounds Operative, Nigel Reece (centre).

The apprentices and the rest of the Grounds and Cleansing team are currently out and about trimming hedges and cutting grass across the county in preparation for the arrival of autumn, when their work will move on to other seasonal tasks.

For information about job opportunities within Monmouthshire County Council visit: https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/jobs-employment/

When is my collection day?

Visit MyMonmouthshire to find out when your waste & recycling will be collected.

Our offices will be Closed on Monday 30th August

If your call is an emergency please telephone 0300 123 1055.

There will be no collections on Bank Holiday Monday 30th August. All collections will be one day later than normal that week.
You can check your collection day here: http://maps.monmouthshire.gov.uk/

Fortnightly refuse collection calendar for 2021

You can check your next waste collection days by visiting the Local Info page.

Household waste and recycling centres may be busy around the Bank Holidays. Each site has different opening days please follow the link to check.

Monmouthshire County Council is appealing to landlords and property owners who may be able to offer a home to families evacuated from Afghanistan. It comes as the council confirms it will offer accommodation to the families of Afghan nationals who have worked for the British armed forces as part of the UK Government’s Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy.  The authority has been working with partners and community groups to identify suitable properties that will give families the opportunity of a fresh start.

Monmouthshire County Council Leader, Councillor Richard John said: “These people have put themselves in danger to do vital work for our armed forces. We have previously stated our commitment to become a county of sanctuary for those fleeing persecution and now have the opportunity to offer these families a fresh start here in Monmouthshire.  As well as finding homes, we will be providing them with the support they need as they arrive in the UK, helping them find jobs and settle into our community.”

Talking about the positive response from communities, Cabinet Member for Social Justice, Lisa Dymock added: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the offers of support from local people, ranging from transport and befriending, to the offer of spare rooms. Working with local housing associations we’ve identified three suitable properties and are talking to the Home Office and Welsh Strategic Migration Partnership to match these with families in need.  If we can identify suitable houses, we would ideally like to offer support to a few more families. What is really needed is four, five or six bedroom properties which could be rented long-term for larger families, ideally in Abergavenny, Caldicot, Magor or Chepstow so they can access local services and support.  If you’re a landlord or letting agent who may be able to help we’re really keen to talk to you.”

Anyone able to offer a property is asked to contact Lindsay Stewart on 01291 635713 or email lindsaystewart@monmouthshire.gov.uk

Councils in Gwent are alerting residents who receive community health and social care to expect possible changes in their support because of high demand on services and staff shortages.

A combination of the move to COVID-19 Alert Level 0, which has meant additional requests for community care, together with the need for staff to take leave over the summer holidays, has increased pressure on community care services across Wales.

Councils in Gwent are prioritising resources within teams and running recruitment campaigns to deal with staff shortages. However, it is possible there will be some changes to the support people receive, and families may be asked to assist community care providers

Monmouthshire County Council Chief Officer for Safeguarding and Health Julie Boothroyd, said: “Our teams across Gwent are facing severe pressures but ensuring our residents are the top priority still remains our focus. With staffing over the holidays putting a strain on resources and the extra pressures brought on the pandemic, we asking our communities, families and carers to work in partnership with us, and to be understanding towards our staff.”

Nick Wood, Executive Director of Primary, Community and Mental Health Services at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, said: “We are working with our partners in social care to explore every opportunity to support local people with their ongoing care needs, either in their own homes or through the significant network of service providers in the area.

“We recognise the huge challenges at this time with the availability of domiciliary care staff and the increased demand for care and support, and we would encourage all communities to work with us and the community services teams.

“Services are under intense pressure and this is likely to continue for the short to medium term as we work with social care partners to increase capacity in the community and enable changes to the way in which services are delivered as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

If anyone is interested in a career in social care there are job opportunities across the sector. For more information visit www.wecare.wales or your local authority website.

Monmouthshire students are today receiving their final GCSE outcomes. After 18 months of unparalleled challenges, students will take the next step on their educational journey. The end of compulsory education is a vital time for our learners to reflect on where they want to go next and the path they should follow; these results and all the work that has gone into them, allow them to make that choice.  If any learners across Monmouthshire are thinking about or are unsure about what their next step should be please speak to their school. 

Councillor Paul Pavia, Monmouthshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, said: “I want to congratulate all of our learners today as they receive their results. Working through their GCSEs in these unprecedented times has been unlike anything any of us could have imagined and the fortitude and commitment they have shown to work in a different way demands huge praise. I also want to take this opportunity to thank all of the students’ families and carers for helping them meet the challenges of the pandemic and, of course, I want to thank our schools for all the work they have undertaken in this new assessment process. Finally, I want to say to all those who are receiving their results; enjoy your day and good luck in your future endeavours.”

Monmouthshire County Council’s Chief Officer for Children and Young People, Will McLean added: “Every one of our learners receiving results today should be proud of what they have achieved. They have followed courses through a pandemic, adapting to learning remotely and facing the broader challenges the pandemic brought. As they look to their futures and the paths they will follow, I wish them every success. I also want to thank all of our school staff for the way in which they have both supported our learners and moved to an entirely new assessment process this year.”

Monmouthshire County Council, Wye Valley AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and Wye Valley’s Community Councils are asking residents of and visitors to Trellech, Penallt, The Narth, Devauden, Tintern, St Arvans, Llandogo, Llanishen and Catbrook to view proposals for the Wye Valley Villages Stage 2 Report as its consultation period begins.

The report, produced by ARUP, provides a strategy and action plan for the villages. The plan initially grew from issues around road safety and village infrastructure, however as these issues were recognised to form part of a much more complex set of challenges it was agreed by the council, Wye Valley AONB and the community councils to consider these issues in a broader village and Wye Valley context. The result is the Wye Valley Villages project.

Those who live, work and visit the areas within the report area are now being encouraged to read the report and respond with their opinions, comments and to feed in any additional suggestions. The report and consultation is now live and will run for 5 weeks, closing at midnight on Sunday 12th September.

The information on the website (wye-valley-villages.virtual-engage.arup.com) includes a short introductory video by Deputy Leader of Monmouthshire County Council, Councillor Sara Jones, links to the consultation and a ‘virtual engage room’ which will take visitors through the Stage 2 study, including the proposals that have been developed for each of the eight Wye Valley villages – Trellech, Penallt, The Narth, Devauden, Tintern, St Arvans, Llandogo, Llanishen and Catbrook.

Paper copies of the Wye Valley Villages Stage 2 Report are available in Welsh or English by contacting the council via email – contact@monmouthshire.gov.uk – or by calling 01633 644644.  

As this year’s A-level results are announced, Monmouthshire’s four secondary schools; Caldicot School, Chepstow School, King Henry VIII and Monmouth Comprehensive School students are celebrating taking the next step in the educational journey. In a week that will also see younger students receiving their GCSE results, it is a crucial time for pupils who will be considering their future options and opportunities.

In a school year that has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic these outcomes represent the culmination of great work and demonstrate the resilience of our young people.

Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Councillor Paul Pavia said: “I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our students who are receiving their A-level and AS level grades today my congratulations. You have had to cope with a period of unprecedented challenge and stress and to apply yourself throughout this period has required remarkable dedication.

“As you look forward to the next stage of your journey, be it at university or college or into the workplace I wish you great success in the next chapter! At this time of the year it is always important to remember the support that our leaners receive from their teachers, school staff and of course their families and carers.”

Chief Officer for Children and Young People, Will McLean added: “Our students deserve a huge credit for the way they have responded to all that the last eighteen months has thrown at them, they have adapted to online learning and new assessment processes and this is testament to their commitment to learning. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of the staff in our schools for the work they have done to support their learners through this most challenging period.”

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Monmouth businesses have attended the first face-to-face networking event in the town since the pandemic. The event, which was held on Tuesday 3rd August in Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools’ Hitchcock Pavilion, was organised by Monmouth Chamber of Commerce and provided an opportunity for local business owners to meet with members of the chamber, and with councillors and officers from Monmouthshire County Council.

The Leader of Monmouthshire County Council, Councillor Richard John was joined by Deputy Leader, Councillor Sara Jones along with officers from the Skills and Employment, Business and Regeneration teams. The council’s Regional Development team were also on hand to answer questions about proposed future plans for Monmouth. The Chamber of Commerce, including Sherren McCabe-Finlayson, Cerys Watts, David Evans and Mark Lindley welcomed local business owners in what is hoped will be the first of many such business support events.

At the evening event, Councillor Richard John said: “The past 18 months have been an incredibly challenging time for Monmouthshire businesses, and while we have been able to continue to provide support and information via ‘virtual’ meetings and social media during this time, actually being able to meet people face-to-face again is fantastic. We’ve been visiting businesses across the county over the past few weeks, and we’ve been hearing about the resourceful and innovative approaches that businesses have been taking to try and address the profound financial issues caused by the pandemic. Events such as this really help us to have a direct dialogue with Monmouthshire’s business community, learn from their experiences and help work to meet their ongoing needs.”

Councillor Sara Jones, Deputy Leader of Monmouthshire County Council, said: “We have tremendous respect and gratitude for the hard work of both Monmouth Chamber of Commerce and of all the town’s businesses throughout the pandemic. They have all worked tirelessly to build a sustainable and positive future for Monmouth, and for the county. We are proud to be able to support and assist this and look forward to similar meetings with businesses across Monmouthshire in the coming weeks and months.”

Sherren McCabe-Finlayson, Chair of Monmouth Chamber of Commerce, said: “It was lovely to be able to welcome Monmouthshire County Council representatives and town businesses to join us for our first in-person networking event since the Covid restrictions. We are grateful to everyone who helped make the evening a success and especially to Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools for their hospitality and use of the splendid Hitchcock Pavilion.  We are looking forward to holding regular meetings and similar events in the future.”

For information about joining the Monmouth Chamber of Commerce visit www.monmouthchamber.co.uk  For the latest business support information visit monmouthshire.gov.uk/business-advice

In December, Monmouthshire County Council made a Traffic Prohibition order to temporarily close footpaths 6 and 13 in Caldicot and Rogiet. The legal closure due to end on 23rd June has been extended for a further 6 months due to continuing safety issues.

Speaking on the closure, Councillor Lisa Dymock, cabinet member with responsibility for MonLife said: “We are deeply concerned that people are at risk. This section of footpath contains two live firing ranges and we have had reports about people continuing to use the path, wandering around the foreshore and elsewhere putting themselves in danger. An alternative route is in place following the Wales Coast Path, which is well signed and maintained and we appeal to people to use this path instead.

“A multi-agency approach is being taken to resolve the issues on this popular path. These include fly tipping, arson, vandalism, gates being left open, which allowed cattle to wander off, damage to the sea wall, illegal cycling, motorbike use and consideration of range safety measures”.

A Monmouthshire County Council spokesperson added: “Notices regarding the closure of the footpath and alternative route are available on Monmouthshire County Council’s website and we have been endeavouring to keep them up on site. However, there has been problems with individuals removing the signs. This is an offence, but it is also putting visitors and local people in danger and hampering our endeavours to deal with the issues”. If you or anyone should witness someone tampering with the signs, then please contact: countryside@monmouthshire.gov.uk

Children at Castle Park Primary School in Caldicot will now have a safe and dry place to store their bikes and scooters thanks to £6,500 worth of funding from the COVID-19 Local Transport Fund.

The funding, which has been delivered through Monmouthshire County Council, has been used to install a bike shelter and stand within the school grounds, with the aim of encouraging Active Travel to school. The project complements the improvements to Church Road, which will create a more pleasant, pedestrian and cyclist-friendly environment for local people, the school community and visitors.

Church Road is just one of many regeneration and active travel initiatives that the Council is planning to help make Caldicot an even better place to live, work, visit and do business. This programme has already created a new public space at The Cross and provided grants for local businesses to improve their premises. Designs for the pedestrianised part of Newport Road were completed earlier this year following local consultation and Monmouthshire County Council is currently seeking funding for implementation.

The cycle shelter was installed by Alun Griffiths Contractors as part of their work on the Church Road scheme. Alun Griffiths Contractors have also supplied a number of upcycled planters to the school as part of their community benefits plan and have offered for their environmental co-ordinator to come to the school in the future.  All of these works reinforce the council’s Nature Isn’t Neat policy, which is aimed at promoting biodiversity and wildlife in many of the county’s spaces. It’s an initiative that has been supported by the Welsh Government’s Green Infrastructure Grant with benefits of bees, wildflowers and other wild life already seen to be thriving over the warmer months.

Councillor Jane Pratt, Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Neighbourhood Services said: “Active Travel will and must become an important part of our future as we continue to look at ways of protecting our environment and reducing the impacts on our climate. Making sure we have the services and infrastructure to support these objectives is paramount and that’s why I am delighted we have been able to install this bike shelter for the children, and indeed staff. Giving our future generations the tools they need to help them choose smarter travel options and to keep active means we can build Active Travel into our lives in the future. Thank you to Alun Griffiths Contractors for all their support on this project and I look forward to seeing it being used when our pupils return in September.”

The work in Caldicot is just of one of many schemes aimed at promoting Active Travel in the county and residents are being invited to share their views on ways to improve cycling and other transport methods and routes via consultation. People can share their views by visiting https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/active-travel-consultation/

Parents in Monmouthshire will soon be able to track their child’s school journey with thanks to a new ‘School Bus Tracker’ app.

Being a mobile application that connects parents with their child’s school transport system, the ‘School Bus Tracker’ app keeps parents and schools directly informed and notified of arrivals and delays, by providing real-time location of school transport. This allows schools to manage and control any transport situation efficiently, as well as giving parents piece of mind of where their child is. Using GPS tracking technology, the app enables parents and school administrators to locate and monitor the children’s school bus journey on home to school transport.

The app will be free for parents to download, and upon registering will be sent a QR code via email which will enable students to scan when entering the school’s vehicle. When scanned, this will then notify and update parents of their child’s journey.

The driver’s app will also allow the driver to communicate any delays or emergency situations through voice activation, being a real-time connection between the bus and the transport operator providing a secure mobile communications channel.

Councillor Jane Pratt, Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Neighbourhood Services, said: “This fantastic app will help parents plan ahead while also having live information as to where their children are. I’m delighted to see the introduction of such innovative technology in Monmouthshire.”

The app aims to be introduced to all four of Monmouthshire’s comprehensive schools in September, benefitting the council as well as parents. ‘School Bus Tracker’ will help Monmouthshire County Council plan and operate more efficient transport needs by using the app’s reporting and transport data.

For more information, see the app’s website: SchoolBusTracker (schoolbustrackerapp.com)

Monmouthshire County Council’s (MCC) Community Night Support Team have been recognised for their excellent work and commitment in supporting some of the county’s most vulnerable residents after making it to the final stages of Social Care and Health category for the 2021 LGC Awards.

The group of kind and caring people deliver vital support to people in need of care during the night across the county. The initiative came to fruition after MCC’s adult social care team came up with a plan to help support more people at night when less services are available. They recognised the real gap in current care that can leave people feeling vulnerable and lonely, and make their carers feel exhausted and overwhelmed.

Traditionally, care needs at home were only met between 7am and 11pm – no ongoing service was available outside of these hours. The only options were family support, up to three emergency waking night sits, a live-in carer or 24-hour residential care (both at significant expense to the person or the local authority) or to remain uncomfortable, cold and with risk of skin breakdown until the morning carer arrived.

Lisa Powell, an Occupational Therapist within the Abergavenny Integrated Services Team, realised a community night service could address many of these issues. It would see a single staff member providing scheduled calls, support by phone, and an ‘on call’ response, to a defined caseload where a robust risk assessment had taken place to support lone working at night. Twelve months’ funding was secured under the Intermediate Care Fund (ICF) to pilot this new service in Abergavenny. Lucy Dunlop was appointed Team Lead and the Abergavenny Community Night Support Team (CNST) launched on September 1st 2020.

A typical 10pm – 7am shift might include: scheduled home visits and reassurance phone calls, receiving ad hoc phone calls for reassurance or assistance (which may then result in a home visit), and providing a Careline response. Duties include personal care, including continence management, pressure care, wellbeing checks, medication administration, reassurance and anxiety management, meeting palliative care needs, including family support at night.

In the first six months of its inception, the Community Night Support Team supported 1,365 scheduled visits, made 39 ‘on call’ visits and made 394 reassurance phone calls. This saw many hospital admissions avoided as well as earlier discharges from hospital.  It’s also seen a reduction in the number of admissions to long term care placements and has supported palliative care plans so people could remain at home.

The real impact of the service has come from the people who have benefitted from the initiative. Mary has been receiving the support of the Community Night Support Team in Abergavenny and has said the care has been a lifeline. She commented:  “I’ve been very lonely but with these girls coming here, this was a break for me. I enjoy their company, every night I was looking for their company. There’s some good people out there, these girls do a wonderful job.”

Speaking about the initiative, Cabinet Member for Safeguarding, Social Care and Health, Councillor Penny Jones said: “We have been able to see firsthand the impact this service has been able to make to the people who need support the most and I’m extremely proud of the ingenuity and determination of the team to make this initiative a reality. Keeping people at home and out of hospital is extremely important, especially while the pandemic is still part of our lives and this support has been able to do just that, while also helping to reduce loneliness and isolation. I commend everyone involved and wish them the best of luck in the final stages of the awards.”

Leader of Monmouthshire County Council, Councillor Richard John said: “This service is life changing for our residents who benefit from it. I’m delighted the team and the initiative have been recognised and have moved onto the final round of LGC awards. The team’s commitment to helping and supporting others is second to none and they are already winners in our eyes. We wish you all the best for the final stages.”

The submission to the LGC awards has included a video demonstrating the work carried out by the Community Night Support Team and how it’s helped people like Mary. The video can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/K5t6PWLnqJQ

All winners in the LGC awards will be announced at a ceremony on the 4th November 2021 in London. More information can be found here: https://awards.lgcplus.com/

On Wednesday the 4th of August, National Play Day will be coming to Abergavenny Castle Grounds from 11am – 4pm.

MonLife recognises the importance of children’s play for their physical and mental health and wellbeing.  Indoor or outdoor play is important to children’s development and being outside also allows children to appreciate nature, the environment and feel part of their community.

This year’s Play Wales theme is Summer of Play and recognises the challenges children and young people have faced over the past year and the need to enjoy time for play with their friends, having fun. 

A range of activities are taking place in Abergavenny Castle grounds on Wednesday including clay play, badge making and archery. Children will also be able to take part in the Play Wales Storybook Treasure Hunt.  Around the castle grounds will be hidden storybook packs containing books and some added surprises. Most importantly it’s all free!

Photos posted on social media will provide clues as to where the packs are hidden and children and their families can have fun exploring the grounds and finding the treasure.

Booking is required for the clay play, badge making and archery.

Councillor Lisa Dymock, Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing and Social Justice said: “We’ve got plenty in store this National Play Day, with fantastic activities to be discovered at Abergavenny Castle. It’s also a great opportunity to make the most of our fantastic leisure facilities across the county, whether it be the indoor play centre at Monmouth Leisure Centre or the Mon Games which are happening across all four sites with a range of different activities for all ages. We encourage you all to get involved on this National Day, which is arguably one of the most fun celebration events of the year!”

For more information about the activities available in Monmouthshire visit: https://www.monlife.co.uk/monactive/

For more information about National Play Day and activity ideas, please visit: https://www.playday.org.uk/

Monmouth’s Bridges Centre has launched the first Cycling Without Age scheme in Wales, which allows the opportunity for elderly and less-abled residents of Monmouth to be chauffeured in trishaw bikes by generous, local volunteers.

Bridges Centre is an independent Monmouth-based charity whose aim has always been to enhance the wellbeing of the local community. Their recent Cycling Without Age scheme aims to offer the opportunity for older people, or those with mobility difficulties, the chance to get out of their homes, meet new people, reconnect with their community and nature and have some fun. The scheme runs with 5 guiding principles:

Generosity: Cycling Without Age is based on generosity and kindness. It starts with the obvious generous act of taking one or two elderly or less-abled people out on a bike ride. It’s a simple act that everyone can do.

Slowness: Slowness allows riders to sense the environment, be present in the moment and it allows people the rider can meet along the way to be curious and gain knowledge about Cycling Without Age because you will make time to stop and talk.

Storytelling: Older adults have so many stories that will be forgotten if we don’t reach out and listen to them. The Cycling Without Age scheme aims to give elderly and less-abled people someone to talk to, especially following a particularly lonely period throughout lockdown. The volunteers are also encouraged to tell stories as well as listen to them, being the catalyst for potential friendships too.

Relationships: Cycling Without Age is about creating a multitude of new relationships between generations, among older adults, between pilots and passengers, care home employees and family members. Relationships build trust, happiness and quality of life.

Without Age: Life unfolds at all ages, young and old, and can be thrilling, fun, sad, beautiful and meaningful. Cycling Without Age is about letting people age in a positive context – fully aware of the opportunities that lie ahead when interacting in their local community.

The Cycling Without Age scheme was originally set up in 2012 in Copenhagen, Denmark, when local entrepreneur Ole Kassow saw that many local older people wanted to get back into cycling but with limited mobility, an ordinary bike was unsuitable. For many people, having been stuck at home for an extended period of time, this is the chance to meet new people and see parts of their community they would never had had access to, being the highlight of their week. 

The scheme also has partnerships with three local businesses to make trips even more enjoyable. If the bike stops at Monmouth coffee shop “Quench”, volunteers and passengers can have a free tea, coffee or ice-cream. Similarly, if a stop is made at “MonTeas” both passenger and pilot will receive a free sample of tea, and if they stop at “Wye Weight” they will receive a small bag of dried fruit or nuts to snack on during the remainder of the trip.

The Lord Lieutenant of Gwent, Brigadier Robert Aitken, attended the Cycling Without Age launch, and said: “I’m so please to be involved, in the smallest way, in this project. It was lovely meeting such a delightful bunch of people, all inspired by this project, and all willing to contribute their time and effort in making this scheme work. Thank you to the local businesses, including MonTeas, Quench and Wye Weight who have made a generous offer that if you stop at their shops whilst on the Trishaw bike, you will receive free samples, which will hopefully encourage the other businesses in Monmouth to do the same as it is a wonderful exemplar of what community spirit is all about.”

There are plans to expand this scheme to other towns in Monmouthshire with bikes being ordered for Caldicot and Abergavenny later in the year to enable more people across the county to have the opportunity of being a part of this rewarding scheme, as a volunteer or passenger.

Bridges Centre is always looking for a team of warm, friendly volunteers over the age of 18 to become ‘pilots’ and ‘co-pilots’ with a basic level of fitness, although the bikes are battery operated to help navigate through Monmouthshire’s hills.

If residents are interested in volunteering for this rewarding scheme, or want to gain more information on becoming a passenger, please contact Marianne Piper at Marianne.piper@bridgescentre.org.uk.

A cul de sac of modern and spacious self-contained apartments are helping to provide some of Monmouthshire’s homeless residents with a new start. It’s thanks to the ongoing collaboration between Melin Homes and Monmouthshire County Council which has seen two blocks of apartments built.  The recently opened accommodation is made up of eight, one-bed homes and supports the need for additional one-bed single person accommodation – something which is greatly needed in Monmouthshire.   

The accommodation has been sensitively designed to be in keeping with its location, with each apartment containing a spacious kitchen with white goods, a lounge area, a large bedroom and a modern bath/shower room. Each apartment has been built to a high standard with high quality fixtures and fittings. The surrounding areas have been tastefully landscaped, creating an inviting and homely location for those who have faced hardship or have been sleeping rough to be welcomed into.

The new accommodation is just one of many of Monmouthshire County Council’s projects aimed at supporting the county’s homeless and also reinforces the continued benefits of partnerships with the organisations like Melin Homes and Monmouthshire Housing Association. The work builds on other collaborative projects which has seen temporary accommodation established in Caldicot, Abergavenny and Monmouth.

The need to increase temporary accommodation provision in the county follows the rise in people presenting as homeless in recent years. The last 17 months has also seen an increase in the number of people falling on hard times due to the impact of the pandemic, and the surge in relationship breakdowns during lockdowns. The Welsh Government recently established a new vision for homelessness and put a requirement on all local authorities to make sure no one slept rough during the pandemic. The Phase 2 Guidance for Homeless & Housing Support sets out aims such as;

  • More temporary homes
  • Better quality temporary homes
  • Movement towards self-contained accommodation
  • A wider range of temporary homes
  • More housing support
  • Rapid rehousing

Speaking about the development, Chief Executive of Melin Homes Paula Kennedy said: “The pandemic pushed homelessness to the very top of Welsh Governments’ agenda and they made £50 million available to support projects across Wales. Thanks to some impressive partnership working with our colleagues in Monmouthshire County Council, we are proud to have played our part investing £660,000 to build eight brand new flats providing temporary accommodation for homeless people. I’m very proud that our work will enable vulnerable people in our communities will be given a safe place from which they can get all the support they need.”

Upon visiting the new apartments, Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing and Social Justice, Councillor Lisa Dymock said: “I am completely blown away by these high quality and spacious homes. I am delighted we are able to provide some of our residents who have faced difficulties or fallen on hard times with this standard of accommodation. Nobody should have to be in a situation where sleeping rough or sofa surfing is the only option and Monmouthshire County Council is fully committed to ensuring we have the right provisions and mechanisms in place to enable us to support anyone experiencing this.  The new accommodation will have an important role in supporting people to rebuild their lives.

“This also proves that there is power in partnerships and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Melin Homes for helping provide this accommodation, which can sometimes be a lifeline for people. Our work doesn’t end here. Ensuring people have the resources, support and means to help them out of temporary accommodation and to finding their long term home is of utmost importance. That’s why our continued gratitude goes to our partners at Pobl, Llamau and MHA and many other agencies for their support and expertise in ensuring no one gets left behind.”

For more information visit: https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/homelessness-prevention-and-housing/

A new state of the art single storey community hub earmarked for the communities of Magor and Undy has moved a step closer thanks to £1,145,000 of Economic Stimulus Funding from Welsh Government.

The project follows years of work and consultation with the residents of Magor and Undy to identify the needs of their communities and to learn what features should be included in the new space, with the Magor with Undy Community Hub project (MUCH) playing a key role in seeing the project come to fruition.

The facility will be designed for social, culture, leisure, sporting and other community activities. The exciting project will be built on the ‘Three Fields’ site, which is located adjacent to the B4245 in Magor/Undy. The Hub will also support the delivery and establishment of the Magor and Undy walkway train station which has been proposed adjacent to the site.

Monmouthshire County Council, in partnership with the MUCH group, have now entered the pre-construction phase of development with Kier Construction as preferred contractor. Work on the new facility is to begin in early 2022. The project is estimated to take eight months to complete.

Speaking on the announcement, Cabinet Member for Resources, Councillor Phil Murphy said: “We are delighted to announce this exciting project has taken a step forward and we would like to take this opportunity to thank the MUCH group and residents of Magor and Undy for their continued support”.

“It is our shared vision to create a Community Hub that the residents of Magor and Undy can be proud of, a place where local communities can come together to socialise, take part in leisure, sporting and cultural activities and to be a place for meetings, events and support networks.”

The numbers of mourners permitted to attend funerals at Gwent cemeteries and Gwent Crematorium is changing in line with updated government guidance.

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 Coronavirus outbreak, it has unfortunately been necessary to limit the numbers permitted to attend funerals at cemeteries within the five local authority areas of Gwent, and at Gwent Crematorium.

The councils fully recognise and understand how difficult these restrictions have been for the family and friends of the deceased, and as such made a commitment to keep them under regular review.

With the Welsh Government announcement that Wales has moved fully into Alert Level One, the Gwent Local Resilience Forum, covering the five council areas, has agreed to increase the number of mourners permitted to attend funerals at cemeteries and the Gwent Crematorium.

Attendance at a funeral as a mourner continues to be limited to those specifically invited by the organiser of the funeral and the carer of anyone attending.

The number of permitted attendees with effect from 22/07/21 is:

Cemetery burials: unlimited

Gwent Crematorium:  30

However, despite the easing of the restrictions, we all still have a part to play in taking reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure and spread of coronavirus. 

This includes keeping a distance from each other as far as possible and avoiding physical contact such as shaking hands or hugging, especially with those outside of your permitted groups and households. 

Also, frequent handwashing and the use of hand sanitiser gel remains important, as does refraining from touching your nose/mouth with unwashed hands. Partners of the Gwent Local Resilience Forum will keep this matter under continual review

Following the meeting of Full Council on Thursday 22nd July, Monmouthshire County Council has confirmed that the proposed refurbishment of Abergavenny Leisure Centre has been agreed.  To enable residents to see the full development plans and find out more, MonLife has today (Friday 23rd July) launched their new microsite www.monlifeleisuredevelopment.co.uk.

The new microsite will provide residents with updates the the project progresses

Monmouthshire County Council’s MonLife is committed to investing in projects which will benefit the health and wellbeing of the county’s community.  Its leisure centres provide a vital hub to support physical and emotional wellbeing across all age demographics. 

The proposed refurbishment of Abergavenny Leisure Centre will create a wellness hub over the first floor of the building, to create modern leisure facilities for the local community and helping to increase participation in regular physical activity.

The proposed new facilities will include:

·        Extended Fitness Suite

·        Power Assisted Exercise Studio

·        Dedicated Spin Studio

·        New Fitness Changing Facilities

·        Ground Floor Coffee Vending Offer

Councillor Lisa Dymock, Monmouthshire County Council’s cabinet member for Community Wellbeing and Social Justice, said: “We are committed to investing in and developing leisure facilities across our county to support the health and wellbeing of our citizens.  The continued investment in leisure facilities will have a significant impact on wellbeing for not only now, but also for our future generations. I would encourage local residents to have a look at the plans and find out more about this exciting project.”

Bittern (Photo: Andy Karran)

A thought-provoking new report, published on Wednesday 21st July, has looked at the breadth of wildlife in Gwent, recording the ecological successes and identifying those species most at risk. The Greater Gwent State of Nature report is intended to inform the forthcoming Local Nature Recovery Action Plans and other conservation work. It’s hoped that the information within the report will be used to direct further recording and monitoring, as well as future conservation action.

The report, funded by the Welsh Government’s Enabling of Natural Resources and Well-being Grant, has covered the five Local Authorities of Greater Gwent; Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport and Torfaen, looked at the species found within the region. It aim is to reverse biodiversity decline and increase resilience of nature through partnership working.

The RGG partnership and Gwent’s Local Nature Partnerships (LNPs) chose 100 species to represent the breadth of wildlife found within the region, whose stories inspire, raise concern, and even make us curious. By studying species populations and trends, changes and threats in the wider ecosystems that support them are revealed.

Water vole (Photo: Andy Karran)

Councillor Lisa Dymock, Monmouthshire County Council’s cabinet member for Community Wellbeing and Social Justice, said: “This report provides invaluable information that will help us target those species most at risk. It’s clear there are some great success stories as well. Bittern are back breeding on the Gwent Levels for the first time in 200 years, for example, and colonies of horseshoe bats are thriving. Worryingly, evidence shows that we are rapidly losing lapwing from the area. Of even greater concern is data that suggests that adders will be lost entirely in just 30 years if nothing changes.

“For many of the 100 species included, this has been the first time that regional trends have been recorded. The monitoring and collection of wildlife data is incredibly important and will help inform us going forward. It’s key to safeguarding the ecological future of the region.”

For more information about the State of Nature report: blaenau-gwent.gov.uk/en/resident/countryside/resilient-greater-gwent/

Monmouthshire County Council has submitted bids to the UK government Levelling Up fund to support the investment in projects to improve infrastructure and regeneration in Monmouth and Caldicot.

The Levelling Up Fund is a £4.8 billion fund administered by the UK Government and is to be used for infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK, and supports town centre and high street regeneration, local transport projects, and cultural and heritage assets.

In Monmouth, the projects include the creation of a modern visitor attraction and community asset within the Shire Hall, major investment in Monnow Street and Blestium Street to enhance the public spaces whilst modernising the public facilities and reimagining how the Market Hall may become an asset for businesses and the community in the future.

In Caldicot, the projects include the modernisation and upgrading of the leisure centre, acquisition and repurposing of a major retail block in the town centre and creating an enhanced public area in the town centre, and the active travel links to the centre. Each bid is a multi-million pound package that would bring much needed investment to the towns.

Local MPs have lent their support for Monmouthshire’s bid, with David Davies, MP for the Monmouth constituency and Jessica Morden, MP for Newport East Constituency, endorsing the submission.

Jessica Morden commented “The bid is an opportunity to bring funding to some fantastic projects that will greatly improve Caldicot for residents, businesses and visitors. Having seen the presentations on the future plans, I am very pleased to formally endorse the proposals”.

David Davies, MP for the Monmouth Constituency, has also backed the submission writing to the Minister in support of the bid. David Davies commented “I am delighted to endorse the submissions for the Levelling Up Fund. If successful, this funding will make a significant difference to Monmouth and help improve the infrastructure in the town and what the town has to offer to visitors, residents and businesses.”

Councillor Richard John, Leader of Monmouthshire County Council, has praised the work undertaken by the officers in preparing such high quality bids that address some of the fundamental priorities highlighted for the town.  He added: “I am impressed by the submission to the fund and equally by the universal support offered by representatives of the community, not only in Westminster but also at the Senedd and by leaders more locally. This investment would make a huge difference to the future of the towns.”

For more information about the Levelling Up Fund, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/levelling-up-fund-prospectus

The applications may be seen on the Monmouthshire County Council website – follow this link: https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/levelling-up-fund/

From the beginning of October 2021, Monmouthshire County Council will continue its rolling programme of testing the safety of memorials in its cemeteries by checking memorials in Monmouth Cemetery.

The Council has an obligation to ensure, as best it can, the safety of those visiting or working in its cemeteries and checking of the stability of memorials is an important part of that obligation. 

The testing will be carried out by trained employees and if the memorial remains stable to a pre-determined level, it is deemed to be safe.

Those memorials which fail will be made safe with a stake and a band placed around them as a short term measure. Notices will also be attached to the memorial to provide information to family members who may visit the cemetery with details of why the ‘make safe’ system had been used and details of who to contact for further information.  The council will also make efforts to contact, where possible, family members to advise them of the steps they need to take to have the memorial re-erected.

If a memorial has not been re-erected within six months of test failure the council will sink the memorial headstone to a 1/3rd of its depth at the head of the grave until family arrange to have it re-erected by a Registered Memorial Mason.

Monmouthshire County Council recognises there is a potential for family members to become upset in the event of a memorial being found to be unsafe but it is hoped that those affected will understand that the overriding principle is to ensure the safety of people visiting the cemetery.  If any family member has concerns about the stability of a memorial or requires further information please contact the Cemeteries Officer on 01873 735852. E-mail -cemeteries@monmouthshire.go.uk

Make some magical memories this summer,’ that’s the message as MonLife, gets ready to welcome children and young people in Monmouthshire to its exciting wealth of activities and fun across the county. The Monmouthshire Games, indoor play centres, theatre events and many more activities have been organised with the intention of keeping children and young people active and entertained during the summer break.

The Summer of Fun kicks-off with ‘The Monmouthshire Games’ taking place between July 26th and August 27th, with action-packed days offering more than 30 different sporting activities that can be enjoyed by children and young people aged 5-11 years old at all four of the county’s leisure centres. The Monmouthshire Games provides a unique opportunity for both children and parents. Participants can meet new friends, develop new skills and confidence, whilst parents are content knowing that their child is safe, happy and having hours of sporting fun.

MonLife has organised free activities for the whole family to enjoy over August, including archery, a climbing wall, clay play, badge making, natural art collage and orienteering. Visit the MonLife Activities website to see what free activities are at your nearest local venue: Family Days – MonLife Holiday Activities.
The dates and locations are:

  • 10th August – Old Station Tintern 11:00 – 16:00
  • 11th August – Shire Hall 11:00 – 16:00
  • 17th August –Abergavenny Museum and Castle 11:00 – 16:00
  • 18th August –Caldicot Castle 11:00 – 16:00


MonLife’s Youth Service will also be providing a ‘Summer of Fun’ with provision for 11 years plus and a range of activities and opportunities including Graffiti workshops, outdoor activities, Skate Jam plus much more. 

Open-air theatre events at Abergavenny Castle grounds have also been scheduled this summer, with Horrible Histories: Gorgeous Georgians & Vile Victorians taking place live on stage on 28th July. There are plenty of other theatre events on at Abergavenny Castle throughout summer for all the family to enjoy, including The Great Gatsby (11th August), Pride & Prejudice (14th August) and David Walliams’ Mr Stink (22nd August).

Families can also book a visit to MonLife’s indoor play centre at Monmouth Leisure Centre this summer, which features an exciting three storey, action-packed climbing maze and a unique ‘beat the clock timing’ system. All of Monmouthshire’s leisure centre swimming pools are open for the summer holidays, including family bubble sessions, junior swim lessons and aqua classes.
Local swimming timetables can be found here: Swimming – MonLife Holiday Activities

Lisa Dymock, Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing and Social Justice said: “MonLife has done an excellent job ensuring the children of Monmouthshire have a fantastic summer with all they have planned. There were less opportunities for children to enjoy a variety of experiences in 2020, this summer promises to be different with many new memory-making opportunities being held again. There is something for every child in Monmouthshire to enjoy this summer – sporty, creative, arts loving, or fans of the great outdoors – this summer will be lots of fun in the gorgeous, Monmouthshire, great outdoors.”

Summer of Fun is a Welsh Government initiative and runs from 1 July until 30 September. It provides a range of free leisure, recreational, sporting and cultural activities for children and young people aged 0-25 to help support their social, emotional, physical and mental wellbeing.

For more information on the events and activities in Monmouthshire this summer, visit: https://www.monlife.co.uk/monactive/childrens-activities/

Monmouthshire County Council is joining forces with all local authority fostering services in Wales to become ‘Foster Wales.’ Teams across the nation will combine their efforts and expertise to significantly increase the number and diversity of local authority foster carers.

Despite over a third (39%) of Welsh adults claiming they have considered becoming a foster carer, there is still a need to recruit an estimated 550 new foster carers and families across Wales every year. This is to keep up with the numbers of children who need care and support, whilst replacing carers who retire or are able to provide a permanent home to children.

The new national network, ‘Foster Wales’ brings together the 22 not-for-profit local authority fostering teams across Wales. With decades of experience, they work together and share information and expertise to make a significant national impact on the futures of young people.

Launching Foster Wales Deputy Minister for Social Services, Julie Morgan MS, said: “It is fantastic to be launching Foster Wales. I know from listening to foster carers just how rewarding fostering can be. This new initiative will benefit looked after children and allow Local Authority fostering and recruitment teams across Wales to think bigger, creating a national impact without losing their advantage of specific local expertise.”  

“This government is committed to reducing the number of children in care, giving care experienced children better outcomes and importantly eliminating the profit element of children in care. Foster Wales is part of achieving this promise and will better enable children to stay in their community and meet the evolving needs of foster children and the people who foster them.”

Across Wales, every child in need of a foster carer is in the care of their local authority, so continually forming relationships within their local communities will help Foster Wales enable children to stay in their local area when it’s right for them.

Local authority teams already share information through regular contact, but just over a quarter (26%) of adults in Wales mistakenly believe fostering services delivered by councils probably aren’t very well joined up across the country. The move to unify the 22 local authority fostering services under the Foster Wales name therefore seeks to reassure and do justice to the pan-Wales work being undertaken.

Councillor Penny Jones, Cabinet Member for Social Care and Health said: “Significantly increasing the number and diversity of foster carers recruited directly to local authorities will enable us to have more choice available when matching a child; finding the right fostering family for each child is key to our ultimate goal of building brighter futures for children in our care.

“In the majority of cases, finding placements for children that keep them in their local area is a great benefit. It keeps them connected to their friends, their school and their sense of identity. It builds confidence and reduces stress. Working with Foster Wales means offering the right local home to a child who needs that opportunity and getting the expert local support and training needed to equip foster carers for the journey ahead.”

Association of Directors of Social Services Cymru, Heads of Children’s Services member Tanya Evans, said: “Becoming a foster carer is a decision to help make a real difference to the lives of children. There are hundreds of children across Wales right now who have a right to thrive and need somebody in their community to support and believe in them.

“Dispelling the myths surrounding foster care is a key task. For example, no two children are the same and neither is the foster care they need. There is no ‘typical’ foster family.

“Whether you own your own home or rent, whether you’re married or single. Whatever your gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or faith, there are young people in your community who need someone on their side.

“All we need is more people like you to open their doors and welcome them in.”

To find out more about local authority fostering in Wales, visit fosterwales.gov.wales / maethucymru.llyw.cymru

Artist’s impression of the new space

It’s all about you! Yes, the new community wellbeing space in Caldicot is taking shape and Monmouthshire County Council would love your help to design a fantastic sign for the TogetherWORKS space! Its name has been decided by local residents (via an online vote that attracted over 600 responses), so it seems only fitting that members of the community should help create a design to proudly display at the front of the state of the art space for community collaboration around recycling, art, making and wellbeing. 

Interested? If so, have a read about all the wonderful aspects of TogetherWorks to inspire your design, please also take a look at the images of the space attached, and some of the amazing projects that are being brought to the space below: 

Library of Things: This will allow residents to borrow things that they don’t need to own, donate things they own but don’t need and meet people to share knowledge and skills with the community. 

Repair Café: This will be a place where the local community can bring their broken household items to be repaired for free by volunteers. 

Community Fridge: The project is designed to cut down on food waste by giving away free food from supermarkets and other food outlets that is past its sell by date, but is still fresh and within its use by date. 

Makers’ Space: Located in a wooden clad shipping container, the Makers’ Space is a place where people can come together to make a range of new products from wood, recycled plastic and a variety of other materials. The space will feature a fully kitted out carpentry workshop and will also host a state-of-the-art laser cutter and plastic recycling machinery. 

Trishaw Bike Trips: Older residents and those with mobility difficulties will also be able to enjoy trishaw bike trips later in the year, a great way to get out the house and explore the area. 

The designs for the TogetherWORKS sign can be as creative and colourful as you want! However, here are some things that we would like you to consider: 

·         The sign should be simple to read 

·         The sign should be eye catching 

·         A sign that promotes the inclusivity of TogetherWORKS would be fantastic 

If you would like to get involved, please send your designs to Bethan Warrington (email: bethan.warrington@gavo.org.uk or call 07376 023 546).  


All entries for the competition should be sent by the closing date of4pm on Friday 23rd July. 

Monmouthshire libraries are inviting all children aged 4 – 11 to become Wild World Heroes this summer. This year’s Summer Reading Challenge is all about nature, amazing books, lovely rewards, and plenty of ideas for taking care of our environment.  It is free and very easy to take part.

Children need to sign up at their nearest library, where they will receive a foldout map of Wilderville to keep a record of their Summer Reading Challenge journey.  As children read library books of their own choice, they collect special stickers to complete their map.

To complete the challenge, children need to read four library books during the summer break. Each child who successfully completes the Challenge will receive lovely prizes including a certificate, a Wild World Heroes medal and a Wild World Heroes kit bag. 

The challenge is designed to encourage children to pick up new books and enjoy reading, especially over the long summer holidays where children’s quality of reading can take a  ‘dip’. Each year, the Summer Reading Challenge encourages children to keep reading and to discover wonderful new books.

Produced by The Reading Agency, this year in partnership with WWF UK, the annual Summer Reading Challenge is delivered by libraries throughout the UK. Wild World Heroes, Summer Reading Challenge 2021 starts in libraries across Monmouthshire on Saturday 10th July and finishes on Saturday 18th September.

Children can also take part online at https://summerreadingchallenge.org.uk

Please contact your local library or follow Monmouthshire Community Hubs on social media to find out more information.

Cllr Jo Watkins, Cllr Ann Webb, Cllr Matt Feakins (Chair of Monmouthshire County Council), Cllr Jane Pratt and Cllr Phil Murphy.

Monmouthshire County Council’s Five Lanes Recycling Centre in Caerwent has officially opened with bargains and treasures to be uncovered. The Reuse Shop was officially opened by Councillor Jane Pratt on Thursday 8th of July.

Five Lanes Reuse Shop is a first for south Monmouthshire and follows in the footsteps of the Llanfoist shop at the Household Waste & Recycling Centre near Abergavenny, which opened in 2019 and serves the north of the county.

The Reuse Shop sits alongside the Household Waste and Recycling centres and offers pre-loved items at bargain prices. The stock for both shops comes from items rescued by dedicated teams who work at the centres, intercepting safe and useful items as they leave the cars’ boots before they’re thrown in the skips.

Cllr Jane Pratt cuts the ribbon to declare the Five Lanes Reuse Shop officially open, alongside Cllr Phil Murphy and Cllr Ann Webb.

The not-for-profit Reuse shops plough all profits directly into Monmouthshire Council’s tree planting programme. This helps in the fight against climate change and reduces the council’s waste disposal costs. This summer, the Five Lanes Reuse Shop is also selling compost/soil improver at a £1 a bag. The compost is made from the garden waste brought into the recycling centres by residents and is supplied by Abergavenny Green Waste.

Councillor Jane Pratt, Monmouthshire County Council’s cabinet member for Climate Change, led the opening ceremony. “I am proud to officially declare this Reuse Shop open. I would like to thank all our Recycling and Waste teams, and the volunteers who work at the sites for their hard work and commitment. In creating this new shop, we can hope to double the opportunity to reduce landfill and plant even more trees in the county. I would also like to thank all those residents who have supported the shops so far, every penny they have spent makes a difference to our efforts to make Monmouthshire greener.”

The Five Lanes Reuse Shop relies on support from the local community. Dedicated staff and a team of enthusiastic volunteers work to stock the shop and present the very best salvaged and vintage items for sale. From garden equipment, including pots and tools, kitchenalia, antiques, small items of furniture, glasses, tableware, pictures, toys, books, bicycles for all ages, and collectables, the selection is constantly being added to as more items are saved by the team on site.

“Many of the items in the shop are almost as good as new, while others would make enjoyable makeover projects,” said Cllr. Pratt. “Items such as coffee tables are perfect for a bit of upcycling with a lick of paint or wax, while the chairs could provide a fun re-upholstery project for very little cost. I would encourage residents to come and take a look for themselves. The amount of stock on display just shows how much might have been wasted if it were not for the efforts of the team. When you buy these pre-loved items, you’re helping to plant more trees in Monmouthshire, reducing landfill and you bagging a bargain all at the same time. What could be better?”

Since the Llanfoist Reuse Shop opened in June 2019, it’s estimated that more than 11,000 items have been saved from the skips and profits have helped fund the planting of more than 8,100 trees across Monmouthshire. This autumn/winter the council is hoping to plant a further 5,000 whips (small saplings) and standards (young trees 6ft-8ft tall, often seen in parks and open spaces).

The Llanfoist Reuse Shop is open every Wednesday, from 10am-3pm, while the new Five Lanes Reuse Shop is open from 10am-3pm every Thursday.  For more information visit: monmouthshire.gov.uk/recycling-and-waste/reuse-shop/

As the eligibility checker for the latest round of Welsh Government funding goes live, Monmouthshire businesses in the hospitality, leisure and tourism sectors that continue to be severely impacted by COVID-19 restrictions are being encouraged to register.

The eligible businesses in the affected sectors (and their supply chains) could receive a payment of between £1,000 and £25,000, depending on their size, structure and circumstances under the latest Economic Resilience Fund round. The emergency package of support will cover the operating costs for July and August 2021 of businesses required to remain closed and who remain severely impacted as a result of the continuation of the restrictions.

“Monmouthshire businesses have been working incredibly hard to try and recover from the impact of the last 15 months,” said Councillor Sara Jones, Deputy Leader of Monmouthshire County ,who has been visiting businesses across Monmouthshire to hear their experiences first-hand . “As we head into the summer holiday season, we must not forget that many who rely on tourists and visitors are still struggling. We will continue to promote all available support and our Business Resilience Forum provides a regular and ongoing opportunity for us to hear directly from businesses about the challenges they are facing and what help they need.

“This latest round of funding is designed to offer much-needed support for businesses in the hospitality, tourism and leisure sectors,” said Cllr. Jones. “This could include travel agents, attractions that have had to limit numbers in order to enable social distancing and venues that would normally receive school visits, for example. I would ask any business that thinks they might be eligible to use the eligibility checker as soon as possible, we want everyone who is eligible to be able to access this support.”

To qualify for support, businesses must show their turnover has reduced by more than 60% compared to the corresponding timeline in 2019 or equivalent. Any businesses that have previously received a coronavirus grant payment will still need to reapply as payments won’t be made automatically.

The first step to applying is to complete the eligibility checker on the Business Wales website. This enables businesses to check their eligibility and the amount of support they are able to apply for, which will help them to start preparing their applications.

Applications from eligible businesses with a turnover above £85,000 are open using the eligibility checker from Tuesday 13th July 2021, with payments being handled by Welsh Government. Meanwhile, eligible businesses with a turnover of less than £85,000 will be able to apply using the eligibility checker from Monday 26th July and these payments will be processed by Monmouthshire County Council.

“In the meantime, we’re continuing to roll out our Shop Local campaign. It features some of the countless incredible independent businesses and offers a sense of why everyone should visit,” added Cllr Jones. “Each business owner has a powerful message about why it matters where we spend our money and is passionate about their town or village. Monmouthshire’s businesses are the livelihoods of local people, and their families, and provide local jobs. Please shop locally whenever possible.”

For more information and for a link to the eligibility checker and for more information about the Business Resilience Forum visit Monmouthshire.gov.uk/business-advice

Cardiff Council has joined forces with Monmouthshire County Council (MCC) in a collaborative venture which will see Cardiff’s award-wining procurement team manage MCC’s procurement operations and functions for the next three years.

The move, which will take effect from August 1, 2021, will enable both authorities to combine resources and maximise use of spending power to help drive the recovery of their local economies.

Both councils have ambitions to see this collaboration move to a rolling contract whereby the authorities would work together in the discharge and provision of their procurement services.

The arrangement will also see Cardiff Council deliver:

·        Leadership and management of Monmouthshire Council’s Procurement Function;

·        Technical capability, expertise and category-specific knowledge to support delivery of the contract pipeline;

·        Support on the development and delivery of their procurement strategy and policy.

It’s also expected that the initiative will provide an opportunity to share wider good practice.

Monmouthshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Resources, Councillor Phil Murphy said: “Entering into this important agreement demonstrates our commitment to ensuring we procure in an efficient way, utilising the expertise and knowledge of this highly-respected team, while also understanding the needs in Monmouthshire. I’m proud to see our two progressive organisations coming together to combine resources and look at ways of delivering the very best for our communities.”

Councillor Chris Weaver, Cardiff Council Cabinet Member for Finance, Modernisation and Performance, said: “This is an important partnership for Cardiff and for Monmouthshire. We want to lead the way in delivering major, collaborative, procurement arrangements for the Welsh public sector and this is a step towards that goal. It can help both authorities use their spending power to secure the best deals and to drive local recoveries as we come out of lockdown.

“In Cardiff we have developed an award-winning procurement team which is highly respected across the public sector and we are looking forward to bringing our skill, knowledge and expertise to Monmouthshire to help them realise all of their ambitions. This venture will also see the recruitment of three new procurement officers to complement the existing Cardiff and Monmouthshire staff – a welcome investment in building procurement capacity within Local Government in Wales.”

‘Jobs for caring people’ – that’s the urgent call from Monmouthshire County Council as it looks to recruit people from all different walks of life and localities to support some of the county’s most vulnerable residents.

Lucy is just one of many amazing home carers in Monmouthshire.

A number of opportunities are available within the Home Care team – an army of amazing people who work to support residents who need extra care and to help keep them in their homes. The call comes as the continued pressures brought on by the pandemic and expected winter pressures mean resources are needed urgently. There are opportunities to discuss working patterns that might suit you and your family’s needs such has part time hours.

To coincide with the recruitment drive, Monmouthshire County Council has also launched a campaign highlighting how rewarding becoming a home carer can be, as well as the incentives for working with Monmouthshire. This includes good rates of pay, night enhancements, supported training, annual leave as well as the opportunity to grow your career. Most significantly, home carers really can make a difference to the lives of people in the county, many of whom are impacted by loneliness and isolation.

Christina says she loves her job as a home carer.

Christina Harris has recently joined Monmouthshire’s Home Care team. Christina is encouraging people who might want to try a different career path to get in contact. She said:  “I saw an advert, to work in Home Care and I just thought I would give it a go and I’ve got to be honest I love it. It’s one of those jobs where you work alone some of the time but you don’t always work alone, you do meet colleagues. You’ve got full support and these people are a different level of special, honestly. Everybody is there to help you and you just feel part of an amazing team. I wish I had done it ten years ago, I really do.

You are keeping people in their homes, you’re getting to meet people and I get to use the skills I would use in my previous jobs, such as conversation and people skills.”

Cllr Penny Jones is calling on people to consider becoming a home carer.

Cabinet Member for Social Care and Health, Councillor Penny Jones said: “The pandemic has meant many people have revaluated their career prospects or have been left with the desire to help others. These opportunities within the Home Care will do exactly that and we really do need caring people to get in touch to deliver this vitally important service. It’s not just a job, it’s the chance to meet new people, work with amazing colleagues who all have the same passion of wanting to help others, all while getting paid. We welcome enquiries from people from all sorts of backgrounds, no matter what your experience might be. As long as you have the desire to care for others and work hard we can support you with all the rest. We are also keen to hear from people who live outside of Monmouthshire who would be happy to travel around our beautiful county to reach our residents. Please get in touch today if you are interested or have any further questions.”

The full job description, along with pay details and other incentives can be found at www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/socialcarejobs

Jack Rutter, a Team GB Paralympic footballer, is using his inspirational story to motivate and get pupils moving at Usk Primary School as part of the ‘Sports for Schools’ programme. The programme seeks to get professional athletes into schools to share their enthusiasm for sports, promote a healthy lifestyle and inspire pupils to overcome challenges, all whilst raising funds to support the school’s sports facilities.

Jack was due to become a professional footballer until an unprovoked assault led him to suffer a serious brain injury. After years of hard work and rehabilitation, Jack has since captained the England Cerebral Palsy team, and with his leadership, came 5th in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. As part of the Sports for Schools programme, Jack is one of over 40 professional athletes involved that introduces the pupils to a fun fitness circuit, encouraging both pupils and staff to be more active. On Monday 5th of July, Jack’s fitness circuit incorporated all children in Usk Primary School, following up with an inspirational assembly explaining his life story and welcoming questions asked by the pupils.

Councillor Paul Pavia, Monmouthshire County Council’s cabinet member for Education, said: “I’m delighted that Jack has been able to attend Usk Primary this morning to share his inspirational life story with the children. I think it shows that if you have a positive mental attitude you can achieve whatever you want to achieve, which is exactly what these pupils need after a challenging 16 months dealing with the pandemic. Jack has certainly had the children working hard this morning.”

The Sports for Schools programme has raised over £4 million to fund new sports equipment for primary schools across the UK, as well as partly funding GB Athletes train for Olympic and Paralympic Games. 

For more information on the Sports for Schools programme, please visit: School Fundraising Ideas | School Sports Equipment (sportsforschools.org)

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To ensure the county’s communities remain connected and supported, Monmouthshire’s community hubs are offering a wide range of face-to-face adult learning workshops this summer, including accredited courses, such as numeracy, literacy and cookery, as well as non-accredited courses such as languages, photography, pottery and a variety of art courses, plus many more.

Initially opening in May, Monmouthshire community hubs are now offering fun for parents and children during the summer. As the sessions coincide with the summer holidays, the community hubs will also be running a range of adult and child art and craft workshops at Usk, Caldicot, Chepstow and Abergavenny hubs, so those with children can bring them along. These include soft pastels, acrylic on canvas, adult & child foam art, and many more. The role of the council’s community hubs is more important than ever during the pandemic to ensure the county’s communities remain connected and supported. During the recent COVID-19 pandemic, all community hubs have worked hard to ensure that adult learning centres provide a safe learning environment with proper measures put in place.

Councillor Paul Pavia, Monmouthshire County Council’s cabinet member for Education, said: “After a hard 15 months, I’m delighted to see our community hubs providing the public with great opportunities to learn new skills this summer. It is a great way to safely gain a sense of community again, and while the pandemic continues, the community hubs act as an aid to maintaining people’s mental health by offering means of support, and now education.”

Monmouthshire’s community hubs are currently offering courses online via Zoom at 5 hubs (Caldicot, Chepstow, Abergavenny, Usk, Monmouth) where a range of IT equipment is available to loan out to learners wanting to join online courses who lack the equipment. The hubs are also looking forward to recognising Adult Learners week at the beginning of September, by running a variety of online and in-person taster sessions for many interesting courses.

The accredited courses community hubs will be providing this summer 2021:

  • ESOL
  • Numeracy
  • Literacy / Digital Literacy
  • Cookery


The non-accredited courses community hubs will be providing this summer 2021:

  • Languages
  • Art (fine art, watercolours, acrylic, oil, pastels)
  • Sugarcraft
  • Willow Weaving
  • Pottery
  • Photography
  • Photo editing,
  • Creative writing
  • British Sign Language
  • Emergency First aid
  • Food Hygiene
  • Sewing

For more information on Monmouthshire community hub courses, please visit: In Person Courses – Monmouthshire

Monmouthshire’s leisure provider MonLife is gearing up for the exciting and popular Monmouthshire Games, with plenty on offer to keep children and young people active and entertained over the summer holidays. The five-week programme kicks off on Monday 26th July and will be run across all four of the county’s leisure centres, Abergavenny, Caldicot, Chepstow and Monmouth.

The Monmouthshire Games are aimed at children between the ages of five and 11 and offers activities to suit a range of different interests and hobbies. The sessions run from 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday. All activities will be delivered in accordance with National Governing Body guidelines for each sport and will be COVID-19 compliant.

Since 2016, the annual Monmouthshire Games have encouraged thousands of children and young people to develop confidence, meet new friends and most importantly – have fun through sport. With the challenges brought on by the pandemic, it is also hoped that this year’s event will help to improve wellbeing and promote healthy bodies and minds.

The Monmouthshire Games are available to all young people in Monmouthshire, including any children of families visiting Monmouthshire on holiday. Each site has 50 spaces available per day and parents are being encouraged to book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing and Social Justice, Councillor Lisa Dymock said: “These holidays are not just about giving children and young people the summer they want but it should be the summer they deserve. After nearly 18 months of having lockdowns and restrictions, our younger generations have missed out on people able to have fun, socialise and be active. The Monmouthshire Games aim to provide a fantastic experience for children and they also give parents the peace of mind that their children are being looked after in a fun and safe environment while they work. Spaces fill up very quick so I would encourage parents to sign up as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.”

To book a place please visit and fill out an enquiry form: https://forms.office.com/pages/responsepage.aspx?id=eQBNLCzFs0uzytjq8ba31dWg5QLf3fZNiBGUoeWdIcFUNElPNzdCMzVCRFlFOTJXWjRETEo4Rlo3OS4u

At yesterday’s (Thursday 24th June) meeting of full Council, the Children and Young People’s Annual Report gave an overview of its findings over the last 15 months, a time of uncertainty and challenges brought about by the pandemic.

The report showed encouraging findings regarding attendance in schools, with all of Monmouthshire’s schools achieving an attendance rate of over 90% since the end of May 2021, reflecting a high degree of confidence in schools and the work they are doing to keep their learners safe.

The report also demonstrated that wellbeing has been a key focus throughout the pandemic for the council’s Children and Young People’s team. There is a continued focus on children’s wellbeing and how they can best be supported. Monmouthshire schools have responded positively, in particular the continued development of Emotional Literacy Support Assistants (ELSAs) in both primary and secondary schools providing a useful resource for learners and schools.  There are approximately 80 ELSAs working in schools across Monmouthshire.

Will McLean, Chief Officer for Children and Young People, said: “This is a vitally important service, ELSAs are integral to working with both individuals and small groups of children to ensure they feel safe in school and able to communicate how they feel, and through this communication, we can identify the necessary support for them.”

“We have also rolled out a project within Monmouthshire Primary schools that looks at putting children’s ambitions, aspirations and wellbeing first.  The Compass for Life project has been hugely valuable for children in our primary schools, asking them to articulate their ambition and allowing them to understand the steps they need to take to make this a reality. This rewarding project has engaged children across Monmouthshire, helping them understand the importance of resilience and having strong values. The council’s aims are now to ensure this project continues to roll out into secondary schools.”

Sincere gratitude was expressed for the commitment and care of all teaching staff across Monmouthshire’s schools. Councillor Paul Pavia, Monmouthshire County Council’s cabinet member for Education, said: “Everyone; our caretakers, caterers, cleaners, teachers, support staff and leaders have done an incredible job in these difficult times to ensure schools are safe and secure, they have made an absolutely incredible contribution.”

Monmouthshire has become the first local authority in Wales to commit to aiming for gender parity so elected councillors are as reflective as possible of the residents they represent. The motion put forward by Council Leader Richard John was passed unanimously at yesterday’s (Thursday 24th June) meeting of full Council, with an amendment recognising protected characteristics.

Councillors across the four political groups agreed to take steps to make Monmouthshire the first local authority to achieve gender parity at next year’s elections.

Monmouthshire already leads the way with a Cabinet that is fully gender balanced.  An improved representation was announced last month when the newly appointed Council Leader, Councillor Richard John confirmed the appointment of Councillor Sara Jones as Deputy Leader, along with Councillor Lisa Dymock becoming Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing and Social Justice in addition to the current female cabinet members.

Councillor Richard John said, “Monmouthshire is already one of the most diverse councils in Wales with 35% female membership and councillors in their 30s and 80s and everything in between.”

Council Leader, Cllr. Richard John

“We’ve got some brilliant female role models across the parties, who challenge the typical image of local government and encourage more people to get involved in local politics,” continued Cllr John.

“No council in Wales has ever achieved gender parity and many councils are almost exclusively older men, which in this day and age is bizarre, so we’ve agreed to aim to be the first to secure a properly inclusive local democracy.

“A council that is more reflective of our community as a whole is better placed to adequately represent the broad range of views and experiences of residents.

“There is a direct link between the composition of a council – and its activities – the subjects it debates, the policies it scrutinises and the decisions it makes.

“We’ve now agreed that gender parity is a goal that is worth striving for and that we will all take steps to ensure residents have a diverse range of candidates from which to choose next year.”

Monmouthshire residents are being asked to lend their views to the final phase of a consultation which looks to improve the ways people in Monmouthshire get around in the future. The final phase of the Active Travel consultation will help in determining priorities for investment in the physical infrastructure of roads and paths suitable for cycling and walking as well as associated facilities. The Active Travel consultation is a requirement by Welsh Government under the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013.

The first phase of the consultation, which launched in 2020, undertook substantial engagement with the community to identify routes and facilities to encourage greater levels of Active Travel in everyday lives. Now concluded, the consultation has successfully captured the responses of 2700 people and 370 routes have been identified for consideration. Over 500 comments on the strategic focus of Active Travel in Monmouthshire were also received. All suggestions have now been independently assessed to produce a revised final Active Travel Network Maps.

Residents can now view and give feedback on the final maps, which are hosted on the Welsh Government sponsored website Common Place: https://mccactivetravelconsultation.commonplace.is/.  Due to the level of detail on the maps provided it is suggested accessing the site via a laptop, desktop or tablet for greater levels of interaction.  This website is also the main website for engagement for those individuals aged 12 years and over, with specific sessions taking place for primary aged pupils.  

To ensure good coverage of all groups in the community those that do not have access to a computer, alternative engagement methods of gathering responses are available, and can be viewed on https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/active-travel-consultation/  

The council has been working hard over the last 12 months to increase the focus on Active Travel. The aim is to encourage those who can, to leave their cars at home when travelling to work, shops, schools, a place of leisure or to get to a train / bus station. Active Travel is not about merely walking and cycling for leisure but it could also significantly enhance leisure activities by helping link up existing path and road networks, and is an important contributor in addressing the current climate emergency – helping to reduce vehicle emissions. It also has the benefit of improving physical and mental wellbeing.

Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing and Social Development, Councillor Lisa Dymock said: “As we look to accelerate decarbonisation and focus on improving our natural environment, we must concentrate of finding more green and efficient ways to get around. We have learned a lot from the pandemic and previous lockdowns about how a reduction in the pollution caused by vehicles and other forms of transport really has a positive impact on our climate. The future of how we work and live also means we have more opportunities to make the most of active travel, whether that be using our cars less or cycling places. We are working hard to ensure we have the infrastructure and policies to support these aims and we need the people of Monmouthshire to help us shape these very important decisions. Please take the time to have a look at the suggested routes and lend your views to the consultation.”

Residents with any queries are asked to contact either Sue Hughes, Active Travel Officer or Paul Sullivan Youth, Sport and Active Travel Manager ActiveTravel@monmouthshire.gov.uk  The consultation period ends 31st August 2021.

ENDS

Germander speedwell (Veronica chamaedrys) and buttercups

Birds, bees, plants, flowers and trees have all received a boost thanks to a successful ‘No Mow May’ and Nature Isn’t Neat campaign. Over the last two months, verges and green spaces have been left to grow, allowing flowers and wild grasses to develop to support pollinators. The success of the campaign comes as Monmouthshire County Council gears up for the summer months and is reminding residents of its selective mowing policy.

Under the policy, sports pitches, path edges and road junctions will be mown while in other areas, the longer grass will gradually be cut, so residents will notice there will not be an immediate return to short green lawns. Some larger green spaces will have paths cut through them, and circles to provide areas for people to sit or children to play. This will create a more varied greenscape, providing a wider range of recreational and social opportunities as well as benefitting more species, and make a more interesting, natural environment. These changes will continue as the seasons progress, and some grass will not be cut until the end of the summer. There is no intention to return to flat, close-mown grass throughout the county’s green spaces, as this is not beneficial to the environment.

Bee orchid, Ophrys apifera, in Monmouth

Monmouthshire County Council’s cabinet member for grounds maintenance and climate change, Councillor Jane Pratt, said: “It’s been wonderful to hear the overwhelmingly positive and supportive response to No Mow May from residents, who have reported enjoying the appearance of longer grasses swaying in the breeze, more wild flowers, and hearing the buzz of insects feeding on them. A wide diversity of different flowers have appeared in parks and footpath verges, ranging from daisies and dandelions to cow parsley, buttercups, hawkweed and trefoils. There have been rarities too, like the exotic-looking bee orchids spotted in Chepstow, Monmouth and Caerwent.

“Now we are moving into the next phase – selective grass mowing is resuming. As the mowing teams work their way around the county, they will still be observing the key principles of Nature Isn’t Neat, which partners the ethos of No Mow May perfectly,” said Cllr. Pratt.

Speckled wood butterfly (Pararge aegeria)

Councillor Jane Pratt, added: “The changes are a key part of our response to the catastrophic decline in biodiversity, particularly in numbers of pollinators. Our mowing policy will directly increase habitats, shelter, food sources and hibernation sites for them. Pollinators need more than just flowers to survive and thrive, moths and butterflies for example have a caterpillar stage that need grasses and wild plants like nettles as an edible food source, and somewhere safe to develop when they are in their chrysalis stage. Wildflowers and plants are essential to the ecosystem, which support everything, including all of us. Our green spaces and gardens, whether in towns or the countryside, have a vital part to play, and the council has a duty to manage the environment under its control in a sustainable way. Our Nature Isn’t Neat principles are designed with this in mind. The changes they encompass will help make our towns and green spaces more resilient to climate change and help us all as we face the challenges ahead.”

For more information about Nature Isn’t Neat visit monmouthshire.gov.uk/nin/

Armed Forces colleagues and personnel are being honoured at the start of Armed Forces Week 2021.

The annual event acknowledges the outstanding contribution and commitment made by men and women serving or those who have served. The celebration culminates on Saturday 26th June with Armed Forces Day, where events will take place across the United Kingdom.

The week of special events has begun with a special flag raising ceremony held at County Hall in Usk. Representatives of the Armed Forces, the Royal British Legion, Town Councils, the Deputy Lord Lieutenant and High Sheriff have joined Council Leader Richard John, Chairman Mat Feakins, members and MCC staff to show appreciation for the contribution made by all those who serve or have served in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces.

Monmouthshire County Council continues to demonstrate its commitment to supporting Armed Forces colleagues. In recent years, the council has been presented with a Gold award in the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme. The accolade represents the council’s continued promise that those who serve or have served, and their families, are treated fairly. The council has been recognised for proactively demonstrating forces-friendly credentials as part of recruiting and selection processes. The Gold status also means, as an employer, MCC has demonstrated it has actively ensured that their workforce is aware of their positive policies towards issues facing people who are or have served.  

Members of the council have also reaffirmed the council’s commitment to working with the Armed Forces community by signing the Armed Forces Covenant. The covenant was signed together with the five Town Councils (Abergavenny, Monmouth, Usk, Caldicot and Chepstow) in 2020, making Monmouthshire the only local authority in the UK to have the principal authority and all town councils signing the covenant in unison.

As part of the ongoing work to support Armed Forces communities, colleagues continue to work with schools to raise awareness of Service Children and the potential educational difficulties they may experience by establishing a support network for the Armed Forces and their families. This includes a Gwent-wide directory of services which has been produced in order to provide the Armed Forces Community with a resource that combines all relevant information in one place.

Speaking at the flag raising ceremony, Councillor Lisa Dymock, member with responsibility for Armed Forces said: “This week we recognise the commitment and dedication of our Armed Forces colleagues. From those who have laid their lives on the line and those who continue to ensure we live fairly and freely. I am proud to be part of an organisation that acknowledges the excellent contributions of our Armed Forces and to ensure we provide those who are serving and those who have served with the best support available.”

Council Chairman, Councillor Mat Feakins added: “I am delighted to be part of such an important ceremony which shows our respect and gratitude to our selfless members of the Armed Forces community. We owe so much to these amazing men and women, not only the ones who have paid the ultimate sacrifice but also to those who are still fighting in conflicts today. Armed Forces Week is just one way we can show our appreciation and I hope everyone will join the council, members and other respective colleagues in paying homage to these great people.”  

More information about Monmouthshire County Council’s Armed Forces commitments can be found here: https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/armed-forces/

On Monday 21 June, there will be less than 10 days to go until the deadline of 30 June 2021 for applications to be made to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS).

The Home Office will be marking this milestone with a daily count down on our social media platforms between now and the final day of the scheme to reach non-applicants with the urgent call to apply as soon as possible.

An application to the EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021 secures your existing rights in UK law until you’re granted a status, so we’re urging eligible to people to apply now, and not to delay. Applications can be made at www.gov.uk/eusettlementscheme

There have been over 5 million grants of pre-settled or settled status, allowing millions of citizens to continue to work, study, and access free healthcare and benefits in the UK after 30 June 2021.

Help to apply

Support is available seven days a week by telephone and by email, for anyone who needs help with their application. The Home Office has a dedicated team of more than 1,500 people working alongside a UK-wide network of 72 charities and local authorities dedicated to supporting the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach applicants including those who are disabled, elderly, isolated, have language or literacy problems, are the victims of domestic abuse, struggle with technology or have further vulnerabilities.

Your contributions are invaluable in helping to reach these people in the final few days left before the deadline of 30 June 2021.

Works on the Wyndcliff site between Tintern and Chepstow are due to come to an end. The removal of the closure and reopening the road will take place by the close of today (Friday 18th June 2021).  This follows weeks of work to stabilise the cliff adjacent to the road.

There are a number of outstanding works that will need to be complete and Monmouthshire County Council will need to temporarily reinstall two-way lights for a short period to allow the workers a safe area to complete these works.

There were plans to complete repair works on another section of bank near to Tintern under the current closure but due to ecological issues the works could not be started.  Unfortunately, workers will have to return to complete these works at a later date but it is hoped that this can be done without a further closure.

Councillor Jane Pratt, Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Neighbourhood Services said: “We are pleased to have completed these essential safety works and be able to re-open this important part of our road network. We would like to thank residents and business owners for their patience during this time.”

Landlords and property owners are being called upon to help support refugees and families who need assistance under the UK Government Resettlement Programme. The council is currently looking for accommodation for those families who have arrived in Monmouthshire and need extra support. The fresh call follows the council’s ongoing commitment to supporting refugee families.

Landlords and property owners with any type or size of accommodation is being asked to get in touch with Monmouthshire County Council to find out more about initiative and the benefits they could access.

Monmouthshire County Council’s cabinet member for Community Wellbeing and Social Justice, Councillor Lisa Dymock said: “The resettlement programme is incredibly important, providing support to families who are no longer able to remain in their home countries.

“In order for them to be able to start new lives, our Housing and Communities team is able to help them find accommodation. But, we need the help of property owners and private landlords too – we are currently looking to identify accommodation of any size or type and would welcome the opportunity to speak with anyone who might interested in working with us.

“Being part of this scheme offers a number of benefits, in addition to the knowledge that you are helping a family create a new, safer future – tenants under this scheme are supported by a team of support workers, there are no void costs, tenancies are long term and properties are always returned in the same, or better condition. If you have accommodation that might be suitable and would like to find out more, please do get in touch.”

Any interested landlords or property owners should contact Lindsay Stewart, Private Sector Liaison Officer at Monmouthshire County Council on 01291 635713.

Unpaid carers in Monmouthshire have been sharing their experiences of caring for a loved one and have called to make caring visible and valued at the start of Carers Week 2021. It comes as Monmouthshire County Council invites health and care services, schools, employers and businesses across the community to recognise the vital contribution made by unpaid carers in the county.

Carers Week is an annual awareness campaign that celebrates the UK’s unpaid carers who support family members and friends who are older, have a disability, mental or physical illness.

The council is supporting the campaign by highlighting the phenomenal work carried out by carers with a series of videos and social media content featuring carers and their loved ones. Rev. Canon Jeremy Harris is just one of hundreds of unpaid carers in Monmouthshire. He has shared his story of caring for his mother who has Alzheimer’s disease, it’s a caring role Jeremy carries out alongside his work as a Priest at St Mary’s Church in Magor.

He hopes Carers Week will raise awareness of the contributions of unpaid carers and also highlight the help and support available. He said: “It’s important to make sure the carers are looked after and supported, and to realise there is help out there. It’s important we recognise that caring role and ask for the help when we need it.”

As a young carer, 16-year-old Amelie supports her young brother Jacques who has Down Syndrome and shared her story with Monmouthshire County Council in 2020. While being a young carer has many challenges, Amelie is keen to highlight how important unpaid carers are in the lives of people they support.

Amelie said: “One of my favourite things about caring is the bond that I’ve got with my brother, It is a bond that is inseparable. I love him with all of me. I think it’s important that young carers are spoken about and that people are made aware of what young carers do because we do as much as paid carers and there’s a lot that people don’t see.”

Councillor Penny Jones, Cabinet Member for Social Care, Safeguarding and Health said: “Carers play a vital role in supporting our most vulnerable residents and it’s important we recognise their contributions, not only during Carers Week, but throughout the year. It’s also important for those in caring roles to know there is help and support available and no one should ever feel alone in having to look after a loved one.”

For Carers Week 2021 charity Carers UK is joining forces with Age UK, Carers Trust, Motor Neurone Disease Association, Oxfam GB and Rethink Mental Illness to help raise awareness of caring around the country.

The six charities driving Carers Week 2021 are calling on individuals, services and organisations to do their part in Making Caring Visible and Valued – recognising the contribution made by carers and helping them get the practical, financial and emotional support they need to care for a loved one.

Hundreds of activities are taking place across the country during Carers Week and many people have Added Their Voice on the Carers Week website to make caring visible this year. To find out more about activities in Monmouthshire visit: https://www.carersweek.org/

Amelie and Jeremy’s stories will also feature on Monmouthshire County Council’s social media pages across Carers Week.

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Monmouthshire’s amazing army of volunteers have been praised once more for their work in supporting communities across the county. It comes as the annual ‘Volunteers Week 2021’ draws to a close. Volunteers have been vital in helping some of the most vulnerable residents during the pandemic and their work has continued as restrictions begin to ease.

The weeklong event, which celebrates kind and caring people, has highlighted some of the excellent work being carried out across the county. Every day, thousands of people give their time, expertise, knowledge, and commitment to the local community, doing their bit to improve the quality of life for all and to support and serve others. The list of potential opportunities to volunteer really is unlimited.

Monmouthshire’s Waste and Recycling Team have been thanking volunteers at the Llanfoist and Five Lanes reuse shops, who help to support the council’s climate emergency by encouraging people to reuse and recycle unwanted items.  

Elsewhere, children have been getting involved in keeping the county clean with litter-picking, supporting eco-systems by providing living spaces for plants and animals.   

Commenting on their volunteering, pupils from Thornwell Primary in Chepstow said:  

“I was amazed by how much plastic we gathered, most of it was in just one place and it made us feel really happy that the rest of the woods were quite tidy.”

“It’s really good for the environment to do litter picks plus we want our local area to be nice. If we don’t help out then a lot of this plastic will be blown down to the river and it will end up in the sea and that is really bad news for the animals that live there.” 

“We felt really proud that our school was doing something to help. It was lots of fun and I’d really like to do it again.” 

Road Safety Education volunteers have also been celebrating this week after being presented with certificates for completing their Safeguarding Level 1 Awareness course. Their role is vital in helping to deliver road safety education across Monmouthshire. 

Cabinet members have also been getting involved in activities like litter picking and coaching activities for young people.

Cllr Lisa Dymock, Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing and Social Justice said: “Doing your bit for the community has a huge impact. I would like to thank you all for your time, effort and commitment to our communities and know just how valued and appreciated this is. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting out and volunteering ensuring our beautiful county is kept clean and litter free. The work of volunteers from across the county is amazing – and we would like thank all those who have represented Monmouthshire.” 

Deputy Leader of the Council, Cllr Sara Jones, who also volunteers as a ski coach, added: “Volunteering is so important, not least for the difference it makes to others but the difference it can have on those who volunteer. I love volunteering because it means I get to spent time with fantastic children and young people every week, seeing them have fun, making friends and develop in terms of their ski-racing journey. I want to say a huge thank you to all volunteers for everything you do for our communities.”  

As the annual event draws to a close, Monmouthshire County Council is calling on others to consider volunteering. People wanting to lend their time to supporting their communities are being encouraged to sign up to the Our Monmouthshire website: ourmonmouthshire.org, which has details of many varied ways people can help without a long-term commitment. It also offers the opportunity for people to timebank all the hours they put into supporting others.  

Our offices will be Closed on Monday 31st  

If your call is an emergency please telephone 0300 123 1055.    

There will be no Refuse collection Monday 31st  May, collections will be one day late.

This bank holiday weekend Monmouthshire County Council is launching its latest Shop Local campaign, aimed at supporting businesses across the county. The campaign comes as a direct result of regular meetings with local business representatives who expressed a need to encourage more footfall in our towns and of reminding everyone of the importance of spending money here in Monmouthshire, rather than online with a business with no local connections.

To bring local businesses into the spotlight, Shop Local showcases some of the people behind the shops, services and businesses that help make the county so unique via its ‘Faces of Monmouthshire’ campaign. Along with their staff and their families, the business owners are the stars of a series of posters and a video that will be shared across social media from this weekend.

The council’s latest Shop Local campaign launches with a focus on Tintern and the surrounding area, which is full of wonderful and diverse businesses ready to welcome visitors from across the county and beyond. A cross-section of businesses have been included, such as the owners of Abbey Mill, The Anchor, Crafticalia, Parva Farm Vineyard, Silver Circle Distillery, Spirit of The Green Man, The Filling Station and The Wild Hare. They all took part in the Faces of Tintern video which reinforces the Shop Local message, which can be found at Monmouthshire.gov.uk/faces-of-monmouthshire. There will be further coverage of Tintern later in the summer.

Councillor Sara Jones, Deputy Leader of Monmouthshire County Council and Cabinet Member for the Economy, said: “Businesses are having to work incredibly hard to keep afloat after a devastating and unprecedented year. It’s now a year since we first launched our Shop Local campaign to help raise awareness, and this summer we are really hoping it will resonate with more people than ever before. Hearing how much shopping matters locally, directly from those who own businesses, is moving and powerful. The underlying message is that every pound you spend with a local shop, pub, café, hairdresser, etc., is money that will support local jobs and local families.

“Over the past year, Monmouthshire County Council has been doing everything we can to support businesses – we have processed £44.98m in business grants and funding in the first 12 months of the pandemic alone, assisting businesses across the county. Our licensing team has dealt with 285 enquiries relating to assisting businesses utilise outdoor space when trading indoors has not been possible due to restrictions. We have introduced social distancing measures and introduced new parkletts and planters in towns include Abergavenny and Monmouth, which we hope will help encourage residents back to the high street,” said Councillor Jones. “We will continue to work with business owners and do everything we can to support them in their ongoing recovery from the impact of the pandemic.

“This is only the start of the summer campaign promoting local businesses,” confirmed Cllr Jones. “Follow our social media accounts and website for more Faces of Monmouthshire from Abergavenny, Chepstow, Caldicot, Magor, Monmouth and Usk in the coming months. We’re fortunate to have so many incredible businesses here in Monmouthshire, so let’s all do our bit and Shop Local.”

The council is also asking you to help thank those businesses that have gone the extra mile, or that deliver excellent customer service, or that have helped make our high streets special. If you would like to nominate a business for a ‘Shop Local Seren’ star simply tag the business in a social media post on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and include @MonmouthshireCC in the post.

For more information about Shop Local visit Monmouthshire.gov.uk/shop-local

From ancient architecture to taking part in fun fitness – there’s plenty on offer for families across Monmouthshire this bank holiday and half term.

MonLife has a whole host of activities and places to visit across the whole county. Children and those young at heart will have the chance to say hello to MonLife’s newest family members – Ostin the Dormouse and Nerys the Dragon are part of new ‘Explore and Create’ family activity packs available at Caldicot Castle and County Park and Old Station Tintern across the half term break. These fun-filled resources enable families to explore two of Monmouthshire’s amazing attractions through a range of playful and creative activities. It also gives young ones the chance to discover more about the nature and history of the sites. Families will also be able to collect Ostin and Nerys stamps and stickers for completed activities, with the chance to don your best dragon and dormouse outfits with photo cut-outs of the characters. 

There’s plenty in store for older children and adults alike with the opportunity to step back in time with a visit to one of MonLife’s museums, which are open throughout half term. Entry to museums is free and children can take away quizzes and activity sheets so the journey into history can continue at home. For museum opening times, please visit: www.monlife.co.uk/heritage/

The half term will also see the welcome return of the Monmouthshire Games, the successful holiday programme for children aimed learning new skills, developing confidence, meeting new people and most importantly having fun through sport. With over 30 different sports, each day will be action-packed with a full range of sporting activities that children and young people aged 5-11 years can enjoy. A maximum of 20 spaces per day per site are available and there will be no additional spaces once full, so people are encouraged to book ahead to avoid disappointment.

Swimming sessions will also be taking place across all four leisure centres including, Abergavenny, Monmouth, Caldicot and Chepstow, all sessions need to be booked in advance. The excellent indoor play centre is also now open for young adventurers looking to reach new heights and it’s the perfect way to burn off some energy.

MonLife also deliver Youth Work in the community through a range of activities and opportunities for young people aged 11 plus.  During the May half term The Attik (Monmouth) will be open Wednesday and Thursday 10am – 6pm, the Zone (Caldicot) Tuesday and Thursday 12pm – 8pm, the Cabin (Abergavenny) Tuesday and Wednesday 12pm – 6pm and Thornwell Wednesday and Friday.

Speaking ahead of the half term break, Council Leader Cllr. Richard John said: “With the easing of restrictions and Wales moving in a positive direction in relation to the pandemic, I’m delighted to see so many wonderful activities making a return. While we continue to ask people to be sensible and follow the guidance, we are excited to see our younger residents back in our parks, leisure centres and historical sites. We really hope families will make the most of these excellent activities over the weekend and into next week.”

Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing, Cllr Lisa Dymock added: “With warmer weather on the horizon, there will be no better way to spend half term than venturing out and exploring our beautiful county. It’s wonderful to have our leisure centres and places of interest back open and available to our residents. There is so much fun to be had right on our doorstep in Monmouthshire and it’s ready and waiting to be explored.”

For more information about all the activities mentioned, please visit: https://www.monlife.co.uk/

More than £1.8 million pound is being invested in services to support vulnerable children in Monmouthshire thanks to a funding package from the Welsh Government,

The funding is part of the Children Communities Grant, which aims to address the support needs of the most vulnerable children and adults in Monmouthshire’s communities through a range of early intervention, prevention and support mechanisms via the delivery of a range of bespoke services.

It comes as the council looks to reinforce its commitment to making sure all young people have the very best start to life, especially during the challenging period communities have faced in the past 12 months.

The investment from the Children Communities Grant also reinforces the council’s strategic priority as laid out in the Wellbeing Plan, Corporate Plan & Social Justice Strategy of ‘Providing Children & Young People with the Best Possible Start in Life’. The support is offered through several services, which are delivered in conjunction with Monmouthshire partners and include;

  • Flying Start
  • Families First
  • Communities 4 Work +
  • Childcare and Play
  • Promoting Positive Engagement with Young People
  • St. David’s Fund

Evidence shows the pandemic has amplified and accelerated issues that were present in communities across Wales, however these are now also impacting people who were previously not deemed vulnerable or known to services. 

Monmouthshire has also seen a sharp increase in unemployment and homelessness across the county and as such, the impacts of poverty are now starting to become apparent in more families who, prior to COVID, were ‘just about managing’ but who have since been tipped into material deprivation.

People in need or those facing challenging circumstances are being urged to access the help to ensure they receive the full support available to them.

Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing and Social Justice, Councillor Lisa Dymock said: “Investing in services and projects aimed at supporting our vulnerable families is a key priority, especially following the difficult time we have faced due to the pandemic. That support is vital and the range of projects and services available at Monmouthshire County Council and partners means we can continue to offer a joined up approach to supporting people and to make sure no one falls through the gap. I’m delighted we have been able to utilise this funding and invest in supporting young people and families across the county who need it the most.”

For more information regarding the support available please visit: www.monmouthshire.gov.uk

Following consultation with contractors working on the stabilisation works above the A466 at Wyndcliff, Monmouthshire County Council has announced that the anticipated reopening of the road for the Whitsun bank holiday weekend will not be possible due to safety issues. This follows a potentially dangerous rockfall on the site on Friday 21st May.

The steepness of the rockface means that any rocks that fall might do so with such velocity that they could potentially breach concrete safety panels along the road. Additional rock has had to be removed where weaknesses have been exposed. To ensure road users’ safety, netting will now need to be installed to control any rocks and debris that come loose in the future.

A spokesperson for Monmouthshire County Council said: “This decision has not been taken lightly and we appreciate the disappointment and frustration this will cause among residents and businesses in Tintern and the surrounding area. However, the need to protect the safety of motorists and cyclists is paramount. Our immediate and ongoing priority remains to make the A466 safe, not just in the short term, but longer term. We’ll be discussing the matter further with the contractors later this week but at this stage we hope to reopen the A466 by 11th June. We’ll provide a further update at the end of this week.”

Tintern’s businesses are still open and accessible via the signposted diversion route. Drivers are asked to follow the diversion signs and not rely on a satnav, as many of the local lanes are very narrow with limited opportunities for vehicles to pass. Cyclists will still be able to dismount and use the A466 during the closure.

For the latest information visit: monmouthshire.gov.uk/a466

Above: Some of the pupils enjoying World Bee Day.

Pupils and teachers at Ysgol Gymraeg Y Fenni enjoyed a day of pollinator-related arts, crafts and dance on Thursday 20th May to mark the World Bee Day. This was the first time the Welsh language primary school in Abergavenny has celebrated the occasion, after becoming inspired by a book written by one of its teachers, Mrs Carys Glyn. The book, Criw’r Coed a’r Gwenyn Coll, which means ‘the tree crew find the lost bees’  explains the importance of bees in the eco-system. It touches on the mythical creatures of The Mabinogion and has helped introduce pupils to the issues around climate change.

Sarah Oliver, Head of Ysgol Gymraeg Y Fenni said: “We are really proud to be able to educate our children, from such a young age on the important of the eco-system, of the importance of bees and the wild flowers they need. We have also discovered just how many of our parents are beekeepers, so we will be running a beekeeping workshop as a result.”

Above: Sarah Oliver, Head of Ysgol Gymraeg Y Fenni, by the school’s ‘Remember The Bees’ mural.

The children enjoyed dressing up as bees, beekeepers and flowers as they learned about everything apian with tasks including labelling a bee, making a paper bee, creating a bee collage, drawing bees and flowers, painting an acorn bee and – which the pupils were most excited about – learning the Bee Dance! World Bee Day is now set to become an annual fixture in the Abergavenny school’s calendar.

The timing of the event is fitting, within No Mow May. Monmouthshire County Council has also reaffirmed its commitment to selective mowing of the county’s public green spaces to encourage wild flowers and plants that support pollinators. The county is buzzing with determination to help make our gardens, verges and parks perfect pollinator environments.

Councillor Paul Pavia, Monmouthshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, said: “It’s wonderful to see the photographs from today’s event. I would like to congratulate the teaching staff and pupils of Ysgol Gymraeg Y Fenni for all their creativity and for their boundless enthusiasm for learning about the importance of bees and the environment.  Da iawn bawb!”

The World Bee Day campaign highlights key messages for every generation. For example, raising awareness that the greatest contribution of bees and other pollinators is the pollination of nearly three quarters of the plants that produce 90% of the world’s food. For more information about the annual event visit worldbeeday.org

If you met S, who would you see? You might see a young person who likes doing her hair and makeup, a young woman who is great at cooking and who loves to go for coffee or to a nail bar. You might see a young woman who is funny, kind and caring and for whom spending time with friends and family is really important. You might see someone who loves swimming and escaping into her music and who enjoys watching a good Disney film.

If you met S, what you might not see is that she has faced lots of challenges in her young life, a young person who has had to be independent from a very young age, who has had to cook and care for her younger siblings. You might not know that because of her experiences she is often anxious and needs reassurance and support from people who care about her.

Foster Monmouthshire is hoping to find carers S can learn to trust and who will learn to trust her too, who will help her achieve her potential and who will feel proud of her and her achievements.

S is having support from MyST who are a highly therapeutic support team working with S and helping her overcome her fears and anxieties. S is developing positive relationships with the team who provide a high level of support to both S and her foster carers.

Because of her early experiences S hasn’t always found it easy to build trusting relationships and because of this you may see on times an outwardly angry young lady, but she is a young person who longs to be loved. S really wants to feel cared about and valued by people who can be in her corner and try to understand what she has experienced.  She wants to know that she matters and is important to someone; to feel settled somewhere where she feels she can belong, with people who will help her develop into the amazing young woman she is becoming and walk beside her throughout this journey. 

So what about you? Could you be someone who could make S feel she matters? Could you be the someone with the time, patience and availability that S could trust to support her as she becomes a young adult and navigates the responsibilities of growing up? Could you provide a home where S could feel safe and not just cared for but cared about? You would have training, round the clock support and a financial payment to help you do this. Could you be the person to make this difference?

Speaking about S, Cabinet Member for Safeguarding, Social Care and Health, Cllr Penny Jones said: “S has experienced significant loss, trauma and placement breakdowns in recent years and in spite of that she continues to make progress in her academic path. She is a very bright and intelligent young lady and like every young person, S needs the stability and guidance of a loving and supportive family environment to help her recognise and acknowledge her strengths.

“S requires a carer who will be there for her, encouraging her and making her feel important. S needs a carer who is able to prioritise her needs and show her that they are committed to supporting her in all aspects of her life. If you could be this person in S’s life please contact Foster Monmouthshire today.” MyST therapeutic foster carers will receive excellent support and training, as well as a salary. For more information visit: www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/fostering neu 01873 735950

A Monmouthshire County Council service, which offers impartial information about childcare and support for parents and guardians, is relaunching today (Tuesday 18th May).

The Monmouthshire Family Information Service (MonFIS) supports parents and guardians by providing impartial information related to childcare, nursery admissions and details on the 30 hours of free childcare offer in Wales. Today’s relaunch marks a refresh in the service, which has been successfully supporting parents since its inception in 2003.

MonFIS, which received the Families First Quality Start award in 2013, is a dynamic service which holds a database of all childcare providers in the county and a list of baby groups, family support services, activities and play provision for new parents.  

To celebrate the relaunch, a day of activities for families will be taking place on the FIS Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/moncfis, including a special story time for under 5s and a design competition for under 12s.

Children under 12 are being asked to delve into their creativity and design a new summer logo for Monmouthshire Family Information Service, with the winning entry being used in all the FIS’s promotional posts and adverts throughout the school summer holidays. The selected winner will also receive £100 of Amazon vouchers.  All entries need to be submitted via email to childcare@monmouthshire.gov.uk) by 5pm on Friday 4th June 2021. Full terms and conditions can be found on the FIS Facebook page: www.facebook.com/MonCFIS

Families will also be able to tune into the story time for under 5s via the MonFIS Facebook page from 10:30am and enjoy hearing an exciting tale that will captivate young minds.

Speaking ahead of Monmouthshire Family Information Service’s relaunch, Councillor Paul Pavia newly-elected Cabinet Member for Children and Young People said: ““Parents and guardians having access to all the information and support they need in relation to childcare is extremely important. Our Family Information Service plays a significant role in ensuring people have the information they need to enable them to access all the packages of support available to them. There are some fantastic activities for young people to get involved in and ultimately help shape the face of the service, so, I would encourage all our creative young people to get involved in the competition.”

For further information relating to the relaunch of the service and access to childcare visit: www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/monfis or email: childcare@monmouthshire.gov.uk

Artist’s impression of the new wellbeing centre in Caldicot

Caldicot residents are being invited to get involved in helping to shape and develop ideas for a new community wellbeing centre, work on which started last month.

The new centre – expected to be open this summer – will transform the Monmouthshire County Council’s existing ‘One Stop Shop’ Community Hub at Woodstock Way into a state-of-the-art space for community collaboration around recycling, art, making and wellbeing.

It will be run by the community for the community, offering a wide range of opportunities for volunteering and to exchange skills and talents. The centre will also provide the chance for residents to meet wellbeing organisations that provide support services, as well as provide a place to catch up over a coffee and access a wide range of activities.

Monmouthshire County Council has been awarded capital funding for the new centre through the Welsh Government’s Circular Economy Fund, which invests in projects that reduce waste, encourage recycling and support green enterprise. Initiatives that promote the reduce, reuse and recycle message will be at the heart of the Caldicot centre, which will include a Library of Things, a Repair Café, a Community Fridge and a Makers’ Space.

Library of Things: Working in partnership with Benthyg Cymru, whose message is ‘Borrow Don’t Buy’, the Library of Things will allow residents to borrow things that they don’t need to own, donate things they own but don’t need and meet people to share knowledge and skills with the community. The library will include toys and games, gardening equipment, power tools, entertainment equipment, kitchen essentials and camping equipment.

Repair Café: In association with Repair Café Wales, Caldicot’s Repair Café will take place regularly in the main activity area at the centre and will be a place where the local community can bring their broken household items to be repaired for free by volunteers. The types of things that can be fixed includes clothes, household electrics, technology, woodwork, children’s toys, furniture and bikes.

Community Fridge: The project, in partnership with Wye Gymnastics, is designed to cut down on food waste by giving away free food from supermarkets and other food outlets that is past its sell by date, but is still fresh and within its use by date.

Makers’ Space: Located in a wooden clad shipping container, the Makers’ Space – in association with charity organisation Men’s Shed and recycling organisation Precious Plastics – is a place where people can come together make a range of new products from wood, recycled plastic and a variety of other materials. It will be a chance to learn new making skills, share talents and gain inspiration by creating a community of makers. The space will feature a fully kitted out carpentry workshop and will also host a state-of-the-art laser cutter and plastic recycling machinery that granulates single use plastic and turns it into material that can be shaped into new products.

Older residents and those with mobility difficulties will also be able to enjoy trishaw bike trips later in the year, a great way to get out the house and explore the area. The project will be run in partnership with Bridges Community Centre and Cycling Without Age. More information can be gained by contacting Marianne Piper at the Volunteering for Wellbeing Project (marianne.piper@bridgescentre.org.uk or via 07980 941946).

Over the next couple of months, the council will be running a competition to name the new centre and are keen to hear residents’ ideas about what other things they would like to see at the centre. If you would like to get involved contact Fred Weston (fredweston@monmouthshire.gov.uk; 07890 559 566). Closing date for suggestions for the new centre’s name should be sent by4pm on Monday 31st May.

Updates on Caldicot’s wellbeing centre will be shared on the council’s website as the work progresses – Monmouthshire.gov.uk

For more information about Men’s Sheds https://menssheds.org.uk/

Library of Things: https://borrow.benthyg.org/

Precious Plastics: https://preciousplastic.com/

Bridges Community Centre http://www.bridgescentre.org.uk/

At its Annual General Meeting on Thursday 13th May, Monmouthshire County Council appointed its new Leader, Councillor Richard John. He has taken over from Councillor Peter Fox, who has stepped down from the role following his appointment as Member of Parliament for Monmouth at the Senedd in the recent election.

Cllr. Richard John, confirmed as Leader of Monmouthshire County Council at its AGM on 13th May 2021.

At 38 years old, Former Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Richard has become the youngest council leader in Wales and has already appointed Monmouthshire’s first gender-balanced cabinet. Councillor Sara Jones has become Deputy Leader, alongside the current Deputy Leader Councillor Bob Greenland.

“It is a real privilege to have been elected to lead Monmouthshire County Council at this critical point in the county’s recovery from the pandemic,” said Cllr. John. “This has been the most challenging year for so many of our residents and our immediate priority is to ensure the wellbeing of our communities and enable our residents to get back to living their lives. This means helping our businesses, including those in retail and hospitality, to get back on their feet, offering children and young people the best possible start in life, enabling more opportunities for good physical and mental health and ensuring dignity and independence for older people.”

Richard John was elected to Monmouthshire County Council in the Mitchel Troy ward in May 2017 and has served as Cabinet Member for Education and Leisure since that time. During his tenure, Cllr. John opened two brand new schools in Caldicot and Monmouth, set in motion plans for a new school in Abergavenny, and led major changes to school catchment areas to enable more Monmouthshire pupils to attend Monmouthshire schools. He has successfully federated leaderships across several schools, paved the way to upgrade the county’s leisure centres and has overseen many improvements in school standards.

“I am truly humbled by the faith that colleagues have placed in me and I will do everything I can to make Monmouthshire an even better place to live, work and raise a family,” said the father of two.

As Ward Councillor for Mitchel Troy, Richard has organised litter picks and community clean-up sessions. He has also served as a school governor and a scout leader and is also a trained chef.

“I’m looking forward to working with councillors of all political colours and of none, and our county’s partners, together with the Welsh and UK Governments to deliver for the people of Monmouthshire,” said Cllr. John, who has a background in languages, with a degree in French and Spanish.

Commenting on the new council cabinet, Cllr. John said: “I have appointed a dynamic and progressive top team, from a wide range of professional backgrounds, and we’re all united by a sense of urgency to get things done and make a difference for our communities.

Outgoing Leader, Councillor Peter Fox OBE said: “Over the past four years Richard has been an outstanding Cabinet Member, he has earned the trust and respect of residents and councillors alike. He’s forged strong relationships across Wales representing the county, especially important right now as we emerge from the pandemic. I am more than confident that he will be an outstanding Leader.”

Cllr. Fox has been a Monmouthshire County Councillor for over 20 years, and the Leader for 13 years. He was awarded the OBE for Services to the Cardiff Capital Region in 2017 and has recently been elected as the Monmouth constituency representative at the Senedd. Peter will remain in Monmouthshire, where he lives with his family and four grown-up children on the livestock farm he runs in the south of the county.

Councillor John’s first act as Leader was to pay tribute to Cllr. Fox: “The way in which Peter Fox has led this authority for 13 years has been exemplary, and has brought plaudits from so many people across the county. Peter is a great collaborator – he played a key role in securing the Cardiff Capital Region deal, amongst so many other achievements. A more humble, genuine and inspiring man you could not hope to find. Peter has inspired so many of us to believe in ourselves, to strive for the best for our county. The impact he has made to our local authority has been beyond measure, I am sure I speak for everyone in Monmouthshire when we thank him for all his hard work.”

Above: The new cabinet for Monmouthshire County Council has been confirmed as: Cllr Richard John, Leader; Cllr Sara Jones, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economy; Cllr Bob Greenland, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Governance & Strategic Planning; Cllr Phil Murphy, Cabinet Member for Resources; Cllr Paul Pavia, Cabinet Member f or Education; Cllr Lisa Dymock, Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing and Social Justice; Cllr Penny Jones, Cabinet Member for Social Care, Safeguarding and Health; Cllr Jane Pratt, Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Neighbourhood Services.

Photo: Councillor Mat Feakins

At Monmouthshire County Council’s annual general meeting on Thursday 13th May, Councillor Mat Feakins was confirmed as the council’s new Chairman to serve for the next twelve months. Councillor Feakins was elected following nomination by outgoing Leader Peter Fox. 

Councillor Fox said: “Cllr. Mat Feakins has proved himself as an excellent member of the council. His keen interest in Monmouthshire’s community and his astute business acumen has been a great asset to this county. He has been held in high esteem by Monmouthshire residents during his recent role as Mayor of Monmouth. Mat is a man of many talents and experience. He will be an excellent ambassador for this county.”

This will be Councillor Feakin’s first time as Chairman following tireless work within the Monmouth community. Mat has recently served as Mayor of Monmouth Town Council and has been an active councillor for a number of years, championing the rights of residents and pursuing the goals and aims of local businesses.

Following the announcement, Cllr. Feakins said: “I am delighted to be elected chairman and look forward to the next 12 months in which time we hope to be through the worst of the pandemic. I wish to convey my sincere thanks and gratitude to all those who have worked tirelessly to get us through this significant period of time, from those in the fields to those on the medical front line, from those in the recycling and waste department, in social care, and to the team that deliver meals on wheels across the county.  We could not have got through this without the dedication of team Monmouthshire County Council.”

Born in Carmarthen and schooled in Somerset, Mat has always been a team player, enjoying the first XV, first XI and county squad for athletics; returning to the family farm just outside Monmouth for ten years before leaving the country to pursue his ambitions.

One of the very early pioneers of the internet, Mat migrated to the Caribbean and established one of the very first internet lotteries in the world. Whilst there he also established several related companies to include an on-line payment gateway and offshore bank.  He later swapped the tropical climate and island life for a new venture offering offshore legal services in southern Spain.

Returning to the UK for family reasons, Mat had to essentially start over and quickly set to work as a labourer on a building site, hodding bricks and carrying blocks. Saving up over a number of years, he trained as an electrician and quickly grew an electrical contracting business, which blossomed into renewables and culminated in becoming the principal contractor on over £70m worth of solar PV development across the UK, building out over 500,000 solar panels, which continue to provide electricity for over 50,000 homes.

Mat continues to be actively involved in renewables and energy and has since returned to his roots in farming in Monmouthshire. He is a member if the Energy Institute, Institute of Engineering and Technology and the Institute of Directors.

Leaders of the council’s political groups paid tribute to the work significant work performed by outgoing Chairman, Councillor Sheila Woodhouse, on her two years of office.  “Cllr. Woodhouse chaired the council through the unprecedented times of the COVID pandemic and through the storms which have affected Monmouthshire’s communities, continuing to be incredibly kind and caring and supporting others through some very difficult times,” said Councillor Fox said.

Cllr. Feakin’s charity for the year will be The Prince’s Countryside Fund and his Chaplain will be the Venerable Cherry Vann, Bishop of Monmouth. Councillor Ann Webb has been confirmed as Deputy Chairman of Monmouthshire County Council.

The Community Nature Spaces project is working to bring together communities and revitalise un-used or unloved playgrounds and make them accessible play areas that embrace nature. Residents and stakeholders were invited to take part in a public consultation in February and by the end of March, Monmouthshire County Council and the consultants Pegasus had received in excess of 130 responses. Now, the council is asking residents of Monmouth’s Rockfield Estate to share their thoughts once again, in order to finalise plans for nine sites across the community.

The recent lockdowns have reinforced the importance of having a variety of good quality outdoor spaces that are easily accessible by everyone, so that they can spend time safely outdoors experiencing what nature has to offer in local neighbourhoods.

Ideas that fall within the Community Nature Spaces scope include community food growing, fruit trees and mini-orchards, re-wilding areas and the creating of mini-meadows on mounds and slopes for wild play and to encourage pollinators, and local provenance tree nurseries and planting for pollinators.

A spokesperson for Monmouthshire County Council said: “We’d sincerely like to thank everyone who has got involved and contributed so far – the detailed designs shaped by this consultation are now available on the Community Nature Spaces website (monnaturespaces.co.uk). We would now like to hear from local residents and groups that would be interested in becoming more involved in the project as it moves forward, or in specific aspects of the project, such as community food growing. The emphasis on community is key to this project coming to successful fruition.”

The detailed plans show the council’s current aspirations for the sites, subject to the further public consultation. Monmouthshire County Council have secured funding to deliver the Community Nature Spaces project during the 2021/22 financial year. In addition, separate consultations will be undertaken regarding the play areas at Hendre Close, Goldwire Lane and King’s Fee in Monmouth, which will all be improved for both play, enjoyment and wildlife.

Monmouthshire County Council has been working in partnership with Monmouth Town Council, Transition Monmouth, ACE (Action on Climate Emergency), Gwent Wildlife Trust, Rockfield Community Centre, the local schools and NRW (Natural Resources Wales) consultants Pegasus Group, and residents to develop Community Nature Spaces that benefit local communities at various locations, initially in Monmouth.

The Local Places for Nature funding is administered by the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) on behalf of Welsh Government.

Welsh artist Nathan Wyburn wants to shine a light on the work Foster Monmouthshire’s foster carers do, as Abergavenny Market Hall prepares to light up orange this Foster Care Fortnight.

While many of us have had family and friends there to support us during difficult times faced over the last year, many children and young people across Wales need that support more than ever before. Now, as Foster Care Fortnight – a national awareness raising and recruitment campaign run by The Fostering Network – begins, Monmouthshire County Council is calling on more people in the county to consider fostering.

With this year’s theme being ‘#WhyWeCare’, Welsh artist, Nathan Wyburn, who is known for his unique methods of creating art, has produced a piece using LED lights to help prove how any house can become a safe and loving home. Nathan said, “I was sent a poem that encompassed everything foster carers do in providing a brighter future for children across Wales and wanted to create something that champions them in the way they open the doors to their homes – and their hearts.

“I chose to turn those words into art with a piece that signifies a home being the literal light at the end of the tunnel for children and young people.

“I think one of the biggest myths around fostering is that you have to have a big house with a big garden to be a foster carer – and that’s just not true.”

A video showing a time-lapse of the piece coming together and overlaid with said poem shows how the context of the art is unclear, “It’s only when the lights are switched on, there is clarity,” adds Nathan.

“A sense of possibility and positivity shines through!” Now people across Monmouthshire are being asked to show their support for Foster Care Fortnight by placing a lamp in their front window next Thursday (20th May) to ‘shine a light’ on the work being done by Local Authority foster carers, and celebrate their efforts in transforming children and young people’s lives. Buildings across Wales, including Abergavenny Market will also be lit up in orange to observe the remarkable work they do. Councillor Penny Jones, Cabinet Member for Social Care, Safeguarding and Health said, “Foster carers provide day-to-day support, love and stability to children and young people who can’t live with their birth families.

“While many of us may have been unhappy about spending the best part of the last year cooped up at home, for some young people they can only dream of having the sense of safety, security and comfort that home has provided us with. It’s quite simply something that can seem out of reach to some children and young people.”

Hundreds of new foster families are needed every year in Wales to care for children of all ages, and in particular for sibling groups, older children and young people, children with additional needs, and unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.

“There are many misconceptions surrounding fostering.” added Councillor Penny Jones.

“For example, some people think you have to be in a relationship or married – or own your own home – and that’s simply not true.

“One of the things about fostering is that it’s not about changing a child, it’s about letting them be themselves and helping them discover who they are so they can flourish. Therefore, we welcome applications from people who can bring a wide range of life and work experiences with them to the role.

“Many people in Monmouthshire will have spare rooms that could become a sanctuary, transforming a child’s life and ensuring they thrive.”

Foster Monmouthshire will be sharing content across their social media channels throughout Foster Care Fortnight to help more people understand and value fostering and the positive difference it can make to young people’s lives. If you think you could make a difference by becoming a foster carer in Monmouthshire visit www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/fostering or 01873 735950

Monmouthshire County Council / Cyngor Sir Fynwy

Election of a Member of the Welsh Parliament for Ethol Aelod o’r Senedd r gyfer

Monmouth / Sir Fynwy

Thursday 6 May 2021 / Dydd Lau 6 Mai 2021

Monmouthshire County Council has today confirmed that the traffic lights on Bridge Street in Usk will be removed by 7am on Monday 10th May, allowing for the return to two-way traffic. The decision has come following a review of the traffic management system and feedback from businesses and residents.

As Wales now enters Alert Level 3 of its COVID plan, with schools and the majority of businesses having reopened, the short-term interventions introduced by the council in 2020 have been re-evaluated. When the measures were introduced last year, the COVID-19 case rates across the county were significantly higher and the vaccine roll out had not taken place. Now, with more vehicles on the roads through Usk once again, the council has taken a view that benefits of the temporary traffic measures are being negated by the issues experienced recently by motorists and businesses.

A spokesperson for the council said: “The easing of lockdown restrictions and the reopening of schools and businesses have resulted in increased traffic volumes in Usk and we have been aware of longer queue times and queue lengths along Bridge Street recently. We are concerned that with the increased traffic levels, the temporary lights are no longer operating effectively and have concluded that now is the right time to remove them. Although pollution levels remain well below trigger levels, we are also concerned that increased queue lengthscould result in a potential impact on air quality, which we want to avoid.”

“The pavements in Usk are narrow, so we will be reliant on residents and visitors to remember to maintain social distance wherever possible and, where this is not possible, to wear a mask.”

“A combination of the temporary traffic lights, improved signage and increased enforcement have helped reduce the number of lorries exceeding the weight limit of 7.5 tonnes passing through town. The council will continue to work with Usk Town Council and Lorry Watch volunteers to monitor the current regulations, which prohibit lorries exceeding 7.5 tonnes in weight unless they require access for deliveries and loading. We will also continue to work with Gwent Police and GoSafe to ensure the 20mph speed limit in Usk town is observed.”

As we move forward, during the summer there will be an opportunity to engage with the council on the future vision for Usk which will include managing traffic flows through the town, but for now the priority needs to be supporting the businesses of the town and creating a good experience for visitors and residents alike. Although being removed from their current location, the flower barrels will stay in Usk and will be relocated to maintain the unique feeling of our ‘Town of Flowers’.”

Children from across the county took part in the OPen Access Play Opportunities

Last month saw the introduction of new Open Access Play Opportunities for children between the ages of 5-11 across the county.  Organised by MonLife, part of Monmouthshire County Council, it brought together teams from sports development, leisure and outdoor adventure to plan a programme with a variety of activities, each risk assessed and following government guidelines in order to keep the children and staff safe. The Open Access Play Opportunity was offered for seven days throughout the Easter holidays, between 10am-11.55am, and was accessible for children from across Monmouthshire.

Across the four MonLife leisure sites in Monmouthshire, children were able to attend and participate in a range of fun activities all delivered by trained staff. These activities included bottle rockets, daily mile, nature scavenger hunts and dance activities. The atmosphere on each site was filled with fun, with children enjoying themselves. The events held had a positive impact on parents, children and staff as this was the first chance to feel some sort of normality.  “‘I get excited every morning to come to the open access play, to see my friends and to play sport” and “Open Access Play has allowed me to meet new people and make new friends whilst playing sport,” we just a couple of the positive comments from the children taking part. The week’s activities were, in some instances, the first opportunity that children had to re-engage with others in a safe environment since Christmas.

The Open Access Play Opportunities sessions provided the parents and carers in the community with a scheme that they could trust and they can resume some normality of work life. In addition it provided staff with the opportunity to return to the workplace and re-engage with staff.  “The Open Access Play is a great provision to offer a morning of sports, different activities in which children can participate in with their friends, all whilst having fun,” said one of the leisure team.

For more information about current activities available through Monmouthshire’s leisure centres visit www.monlife.co.uk

Monmouthshire County Council is urging people to lock up their lawnmowers for ‘No Mow May’. No Mow May was created by Plantlife as a way to encourage more people to allow spring flowers to bloom and provide food for bees, butterflies, moths and other pollinators. 

Spring is the time of year that many wildflowers blossom and this first flush of nectar and pollen is essential for the survival of many insects, and the other birds and animals that feed on them.  The No Mow May campaign has engaged many organisations and individuals including the National Trust, businesses, and celebrity gardeners such as Monty Don championing the cause. 

Monmouthshire County Council will be taking part in No Mow May again this year, mowing areas only where there is a need, for example for safety at road junctions, to maintain pathways or to enable sports to be played. Citizen scientists who have taken part in Plantlife’s Every Flower Counts survey of household lawns have shown that reduced mowing can provide enough nectar for 10 times more pollinating insects.  Researchers found 200 different plant species on lawns, some of them rarities such as eyebright and knotted clover.  The most common flowers are daisies, white clover and selfheal, and over half a million individual flowers were counted during the surveys. More flowers are found on lawns that are cut every four weeks, because short stemmed flowers such as daisies, selfheal and dandelions have a chance to bloom. A greater variety of flowers, but not necessarily larger numbers, are found on lawns that are left to grow even longer.

Plantlife’s research shows the huge benefits to pollinators of mowing less frequently. They recommend that some areas are cut monthly to allow short stemmed flowers to bloom, and to leave other areas to grow long which encourages a wider range of plants to flower, and these will attract different pollinators such as hoverflies and a greater variety of bumblebees.

Monmouthshire’s Nature Isn’t Neat programme of reduced mowing fits with Plantlife’s findings, as many more green spaces will be mown less frequently across the County in an effort to support the nation’s struggling pollinators and insects.  There are other important benefits to reduced mowing, for example, longer grass has a better root system, which opens up the soil and makes it more absorbent and better able to deal with the kind of heavy rainfall that a changing climate is bringing.  Longer grass can also absorb more CO2, so can act as a carbon sink.

There is still time for local residents to take part in a survey to find out what local people think about mowing green spaces less often, and the impacts of this on wildlife and on people too. 

https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=eQBNLCzFs0uzytjq8ba31W2mRjTOZU1OjeDVRpC1PhBUNjBCRzdFWkZGSjdaWlZJUEFTS0pSNEVBSi4u

The Nature Isn’t Neat programme has been funded by Welsh Government and National Heritage Lottery Fund and has enabled Monmouthshire County Council to purchase specialist machinery suitable for cutting and collecting longer grass, and provide information to local residents about the importance of these changes for supporting biodiversity.

A cohort of 20 eager and inspired public servants from six local authorities across south Wales are about to embark on a six month innovation and research programme designed to build skills and capacity for innovative future public services across the Cardiff Capital Region. The pilot group of the Infuse programme, appropriately named ‘Cohort Alpha’, begin their journey on Tuesday 4th of May 2021.

The Infuse programme, which has been years in the making, has been supported by the European Social Fund through Welsh Government and is a collaboration between Cardiff University, Y Lab, Nesta, Cardiff Capital Region City Deal Office (CCR) and the ten local authorities that make up the region, including Monmouthshire County Council as the lead partner.

Teams will receive around three months of training and support in new skills, tools and methods, followed by three months of coaching in their own organisations as they go back to put them into practice helping to change the future of public service delivery for years to come; developing new innovation skills and capacity by tackling regional public service challenges.

Infuse partners and participants will explore the imperative for innovation by using a regional and collaborative approach to address one of two Infuse themes: Accelerating Decarbonisation in categories such as transport, energy, food and housing, or Supportive Communities establishing new operating models which address complex but supportive community challenges.  Using these shared challenges, Cohort Alpha will bring together cross-regional teams in each of the three skills areas, Adaption, Data and Procurement to work towards solving a part of this challenge, using new tools and methods. The programme will run until 2023, working with 120 local authority and public sector workers from across the Cardiff Capital Region.

Infuse Programme Manager, Owen Wilce, said:

“Our exciting Infuse programme has been years in the making and to see it all come to fruition is a career high for myself and my colleagues who have worked tirelessly to make this happen. We can’t wait to welcome Cohort Alpha and to start reaching into the expertise of this amazing group of people who have dedicated their lives to public service and to improving the lives of others. The Infuse programme has the ability to transform society and provide an effective and collaborative way of working across local authorities in the future. I would like to take this opportunity to welcome Cohort Alpha and wish them all the best as they get started.”

Speaking ahead of the launch, Director of the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal, Kellie Beirne said:

“We’ve had a tough year globally.  No country, community, industry or sector has been untouched by the impact of Covid-19. It’s also been an exceptionally tough year for our public sector officers in Wales. So it’s time to give ourselves the headspace to sit back and think long and hard about how we mobilise for the many challenges ahead. Infuse aims to be a catalyst for this by providing opportunities to refresh both, how we think about public service, and also what it means to be a vocational public servant. Ultimately, the aim is to equip our colleagues with the skills and tools to be able tackle public service challenges head on, and to make a real difference to the communities around us. To all our participants I would say embrace this fabulous opportunity to create impact and legacy. I am looking forward immensely to seeing the positive outcomes that I know will flow from this programme. Good luck to all involved.”

To mark the launch of Cohort Alpha, a podcast fronted by Dr Jane Lynch from Cardiff University will go live from 4th May 2020. Infuse: the podcast takes a deeper look into the societal challenges faced in Wales by talking to leading experts in local government and the public sector. In the first episode, Dr Lynch is joined by Kellie Beirne where they discuss the importance of collaborative working and how the Infuse programme ties into the Cardiff City Deal challenge fund.

For more information about the Infuse programme and links to the podcast please email infuse@monmouthshire.gov.uk or visit: https://ylab.wales/programmes/infuse-innovative-future-services

Our offices will be Closed on Monday 3rd May

If your call is an emergency please telephone 0300 123 1055.

There will be no collections on Bank Holiday Monday 3rd May. All collections will be one day later than normal that week.
You can check your collection day here: http://maps.monmouthshire.gov.uk/

Fortnightly refuse collection calendar for 2021

You can check your next waste collection days by visiting the Local Info page.

Household waste and recycling centres may be busy around the Bank Holidays. Each site has different opening days please follow the link to check.

On Friday 30th April, 2021, it was confirmed that all the requirements of the EPS regulations have been met and the road closure of the A466 at Wyndcliff will start on Tuesday 4th May 2021 to enable vital safety works to commence on the rockface on the A466.

Tintern will still be accessible via the diversion route below:

Throughout the road closure period a full diversion will be in place allowing traffic to travel between Chepstow and Tintern.  Drivers are asked to follow the diversion signs and not rely on satnav, as many of the local lanes are very narrow with limited opportunities for vehicles to pass. Cyclists will still be able to use the A466 during the closure.

For the latest information visit: monmouthshire.gov.uk/a466

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

Wednesday 28th April 2021 Between 09:25 – 09:55 (approx.)

Wednesday 28th April 2021 Between 21:45 – 22:15 (approx.)

Thursday 29th April 2021 Between 10:05 – 10:35 (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.

‘Pick up your dog’s mess or face a fine’ that’s the warning from Monmouthshire County Council as it looks to educate dog owners about the dangers of not cleaning up after your pet.

The council’s pledge comes following a successful awareness day held on 22nd April 2021 across Abergavenny’s Bailey Park, Usk town and Raglan village, where poo bags were handed out to people walking their dogs who need them. Dog owners were also encouraged to use the many dog waste and litter bins at the entrances to Bailey Park to dispose of bagged dog waste, or alternatively take it home where it can be placed in a household waste bin.

In Usk, the Pooper Snooper app has been adopted to help tackle dog fouling in the town. The app maps all the dog poo and litter bins in the town, so it is easy to find out the location of each bin for people with a new dog or who are visitors to the area.  It also provides a method of reporting dog fouling incidents, which can help identify hot spot areas where patrolling could be increased or a bin provided. The more people that use the app, the greater its usefulness in tackling the problem. 

In Raglan, various hot spot sites identified on social media were visited and a pavement stencil used to remind dog owners to ‘Clean It Up’. All of the dog owners encountered in the village were carrying bags, which helps highlight that the vast majority of dog owners are responsible and support the need to ‘bag it and bin it’.

One of Usk’s responsible dog owners lending support to the campaign, which asks residents to pick up after their pets, and to bin their poo bags not leave them strung from a fence or tree.

Apart from the obvious unpleasant issues of dog mess on shoes, pushchairs, bikes and wheelchairs, dog faeces carry very real health risks. Toxocariasis is an infection transmitted from animals to humans through contact with parasitic roundworm eggs, usually through pet faeces that have not been cleared from the ground. People playing sports or sitting on the ground are more likely to be at risk from toxocariasis, which can cause blindness, damage to organs and, in rare cases, septicaemia. The risk can be reduced if owners clean up their pets’ faeces from the ground, and if their animals are treated regularly for roundworm.  Dog faeces are also damaging to farm livestock, and reduce the value of crops such as silage and hay.

Authorised officers of Monmouthshire County Council can serve a fixed penalty notice of £75 on someone who is witnessed not cleaning up their dog’s faeces. If the fixed penalty notice is not paid, a much heavier fine of up to £1000 can be imposed by a magistrate. In addition, any resident who witnesses dog fouling can report it via the council’s website.

Frances O’Brien, Chief Officer for Enterprise said: “Our teams work exceptionally hard to keep Monmouthshire’s green spaces and public areas to a high standard and it’s important as residents or as visitors to make sure we are cleaning up after our pets. Not only does dog fouling carry the risk of a fine but it also carries the risk of health issues. Please make sure you are disposing of your dog’s mess appropriately so residents and their four-legged friends can continue enjoying all of Monmouthshire’s beautiful open spaces.”

For more information about the Pooper snooper app or to report dog fouling in your area visit: natural-apptitude.co.uk/project/pooper-snooper/  To report dog fouling, visit the council’s website at monmouthshire.gov.uk/recycling-and-waste/dogfouling/

Like many 8-year-olds, A has many dreams and wishes, she wants to try new things like horse-riding and gymnastics and do simple things like learning how to swim. Like many young girls, A would love a little puppy to play with and to have someone to do arts and crafts with. Just like any child, A deserves a loving caring home and someone to help her face the challenges that any young person faces while growing up.

In the lead up to Foster Care Fortnight on May 10th 2021, Foster Monmouthshire is calling on kind, caring people to come forward as a foster carer to support A and offer her the safety and comfort that every young girl needs.

Monmouthshire’s Chief Officer for Social Care and Health Julie Boothroyd said: “A has faced a significant amount of instability in her short time in our care. She has been in residential care since Christmas, which has left her often feeling lost and scared.

“A has some challenges, she has sensory issues and sometimes has big emotions which she needs a patient, kind and loving family to help her manage. She is constantly described as polite, someone who loves cuddles and is chatty with a sense of humour. A likes spending time with people,  she loves animals and particularly enjoys arts and crafts, singing and drama. She has a close relationship with her brother who is also living with foster carers that we very much want to support. She is often described by people who spend time with her as kind, bright and insightful. As a young person, A is keen to please and always wants to find ways of being helpful.

“More than anything A needs the love, support and patience that comes with having a stable home where she is the only child, and with caring people around her. She needs someone who won’t give up on her and who can give her the love and attention she needs and deserves.

“We know there is someone out there who can give this little girl the love and support she needs. You will get 24 hours support from a team who will be with you every step of the way and provide you with all the support and training that you need. Fostering does come with its challenges but it can be the most rewarding thing you will ever do. It is an opportunity to change the future. As a MyST therapeutic foster carer you will be given excellent support, training and a salary.”

For anyone wanting to find out more about fostering A or the training and support available to MyST therapeutic foster carers please visit: https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/fostering/

Click here to view our Community Renewal Fund Webinar

Monmouthshire County Council is encouraging local business groups, voluntary and community sector organisations and Universities/Higher Education establishments to apply for a new UK Government Fund that offers £220million to local authorities across the UK for 2021-22 only. The UK Community Renewal Fund offers individual local authorities up to £3million to support collaborative, innovative projects that will align with long-term strategic plans for local growth, target people most in need and support community renewal.

Projects will need to be pilot in nature, and the Fund will provide capacity funding to help Monmouthshire prepare for the introduction of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund in 2022.  Projects should therefore demonstrate innovation through service delivery and the introduction of new delivery approaches and will need to be completed by March 2022.

The council invites anyone interested in the new Fund to join a livestreamed event on Tuesday 27th April at 4.30pm, when the UK Community Renewal Fund will be explained further and there will be the opportunity to ask questions. To register for the livestreamed event, potential applicants should complete the short form on the council’s website.

It is anticipated that the Fund will have a wide reach and will be of interest to local business groups, voluntary and community sector organisations, Higher Education and training providers wishing to collaborate on pilot projects. The Fund is open to applications on Wednesday 21st April and will close at 17:00hrs on Friday 14th May.

The Fund is designed to explore how to tackle local and unique challenges whilst addressing four UK Investment priorities: Investment in skills; Investment in local business; Investment in communities and place; Supporting people into employment.  

Investment in skills to equip people to capitalise on opportunities and needs in Monmouthshire to meet the needs of the green and digital economy. Applications can include work-based training, retraining, upskilling or reskilling members of the workforce or promoting digital skills.

Investment in local business to increase opportunity for all and create an innovation culture through collaborations between higher education and small businesses.  Applications to support entrepreneurs and businesses to create more job opportunities for current or new employees, to develop their innovation potential and support decarbonising measures.

Investment in communities and place will consider project proposals to deliver net-zero and local energy projects; opportunities for promoting culture-led regeneration and community development; supporting the private sector by increasing footfall; improving efficiency and collaboration by joining up local public services to produce better local outcomes; promoting rural connectivity and enhancing accessibility and social, economic and cultural opportunities for rural communities, including rural and green infrastructure.

Supporting people to engage with local services, which support them on their journey towards employment by addressing local barriers to engagement or raising aspirations to find sustainable employment. Testing interventions to maximise the effectiveness of employment programmes aimed at those furthest from the labour market.

Further details of the fund, to register for the livestreamed event, and how to apply can be found at monmouthshire.gov.uk/community-renewal-fund 

Monmouthshire County Council is pleased to offer residents and community groups an exciting opportunity to get involved and to enjoy the nature and wildlife in their own gardens or local open spaces.

The Resilient Greater Gwent project is being funded by Welsh Government’s Enabling of Natural Resources and Wellbeing Grant, and aims to promote nature to encourage communities to value their landscapes and wildlife and to also get involved for their own health and wellbeing. Residents are able to apply for pollinator packs, which include all the tools needed to create a pollinating paradise in their own green spaces. The project follows the council’s commitment to promoting biodiversity and encouraging nature to thrive.

It comes at a time where pollinators are in decline across Wales, Britain and Europe and have been for many years. In Wales, the main groups of pollinators are bees and wasps, flies (including hoverflies), butterflies, moths and beetles. Collectively, these are responsible for pollinating approximately 75% of temperate flowering plant species and critical to maintaining human life. 

Residents wishing to turn their garden’s into the perfect habitat for pollinating species, can apply for a free ‘Pollinator Pack’. The pack includes:

  • Wildflower seeds to scatter in gardens to grow a beautiful variety of pollinator friendly plants and flowers.
  • An insect house to attract a variety of species.
  • Illustrated wildlife guides to help identify the visitors that are attracted to green spaces.

Monmouthshire residents are also being offered the chance to loan a trail camera to record wildlife in community gardens, open spaces or school grounds. These portable infrared trail cameras use motion sensors to record images and video of animals or birds that might pass by. The LED array even allows video footage and pictures to be captured in complete darkness.

These trail cameras are available to loan free of charge. The cameras will be available to community groups, their members as well as schools. 

To apply for a free pollinator pack or to loan one of our wildlife cameras, please email Helen Fairbank, Behaviour Change for Wellbeing Officer at helenfairbank@monmouthshire.gov.uk

For more information about the Resilient Greater Gwent Project, please see https://www.monlife.co.uk/connect/green-infrastructure/green-infrastructure-projects/

Monmouthshire County Council’s Chairman Sheila Woodhouse has expressed her condolences after the announcement of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip’s passing on Friday 9th April.

Councillor Woodhouse said: “I am deeply saddened by the news of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip’s death. On behalf of Monmouthshire County Council, I send our most sincere condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family at this very difficult time.

“The Duke Of Edinburgh has touched the lives of many throughout his lifetime, not only playing a significant role as a member of the Royal Family but through his passion as an environmentalist and Patron of The Duke of Edinburgh scheme. We honour his dedication to public life and his undeniable commitment to supporting Her Majesty The Queen over many decades. His loss will be deeply felt across the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.”

In a display of mourning and respect, all of Monmouthshire County Council’s flags have been lowered to half-mast and books of condolence will be opened at Monmouthshire’s Community Hubs on Monday 12th of April and will remain open until the funeral of His Royal Highness.”

It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.

Further announcements will made in due course.

The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.

Friday, 9 April 2021Monmouthshire County CouncilMonmouthshire County Council

It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.

Further announcements will made in due course.

The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.

Friday, 9 April 2021

Monmouthshire County Council is urging residents to remain vigilant after receiving reports of unsolicited emails offering council tax refunds. The message, which purports to come from the HMRC, reportedly tells householders they have an outstanding refund and encourages them to click on a link. Monmouthshire County Council’s Revenues team would like to confirm that it is not official council correspondence and residents should exercise caution before providing any details to a third party. The council recently had to issue similar warnings when residents described receiving phone calls advising them they were entitled to a rebate on their council tax bill.

If you receive any correspondence regarding your council tax and you are concerned may be fraudulent, please contact the council’s Contact Centre on 01633 644644 or via the MyMonmouthshire service on its website.

For advice about scams and how to avoid them, the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline are also a helpful source of information. You can call them on 08082 231 133 or visit citizensadvice.org.uk/contact-consumer-helpline

MonLife Heritage Museums are proud to announce the launch of a brand new collections website at www.monlifecollections.co.uk The new website provides free access to search hundreds of records, allowing users to read material and view images for items within the collections from across Monmouthshire. The Museums team will continually be adding more to the website, so they recommend that visitors to the site keep coming back to see what’s new.

  • Discover historical objects, works of art, photographs and documents cared for by MonLife Heritage.
  • Search for special people, explore notable places, travel through time and discover different themes.
  • Hundreds of Monmouthshire records are already on our collections search.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, MonLife Heritage have been researching new ways to diversify – between January and March 2021. With thanks to a Welsh Government Local Government Cultural Recovery Fund grant, members of the Museums team have been able to dedicate their role to the creation of the collections website. They have worked alongside Digital Heritage Consultants, Orangeleaf Systems Ltd to build a bespoke website.

Lydia Wooles, from the Museums Online project team, said: “We really hit the ground running with the project, as a team we’ve learned a lot in a short timescale. Records have been carefully selected to provide users with a flavour of the wide variety of artefacts and documents that we hold. It’s been such a rewarding experience working on this project.”

All of the records on the website relate to the story of Monmouthshire and include the nationally significant Nelson collection. From archaeological finds, extensive costume collections, to photographs and postcards – there is something for everyone.

Monmouthshire County Council has confirmed that preparations for important safety work on the A466 between St Arvans and Tintern have begun. From Monday 29th March, tree-felling is being undertaken in the area and from Tuesday 6th April Alun Griffiths Contractors will be on-site setting up, ready to begin stabilising the rock face above the road from Saturday 10th April.

It is anticipated that the project, which will involve rock being removed, will require a four week full road closure between St Arvans and Tintern. Cyclists will be able to pass through, but all other traffic will need to follow the signed diversion.

A spokesperson for Monmouthshire County Council said: “It is essential that we undertake these important safety works as efficiently and quickly as possible. We are making every effort to ensure that the works are completed in the shortest time possible.

“We have had to time the works to avoid disturbing bats while they are hibernating. We sincerely appreciate the inconvenience that the road closure will bring to residents and visitors travelling through the area, but we must undertake this essential work to keep road users safe. Drivers are requested to follow the signed diversion as many of the other lanes in the area are very narrow and winding.  Please do not follow your satnav.  We are grateful to the local community for their patience and understanding. We are working with the businesses in Tintern to support them and keeping residents fully informed, to minimise any potential impact on the village and Wye Valley.”

The road closure is expected to start from Tuesday 6th April, followed by site set-up and commencement of the stabilisation of the rock face on the 10th April. However, this is will depend on whether the bats are still hibernating or not. The bat inspection commence Thursday 1st April, after the tree clearance works are complete. There will then be a seven-day review to establish if the main works are allowed to proceed as planned. If any issues come to light, the council has confirmed it will then need to reassess the situation and decide if it will be possible to reopen the road until they are permitted to commence with the works.

Further details of the road closure, including the diversion route, will be available here.

For information on where to stay, and what to see and do in Tintern, visit visitmonmouthshire.com/tintern

Recycling & Waste

Good Friday: Collections as normal

Easter Monday: No collections ​

Collections from Tuesday 6th April will be running one day later than normal. 

For more information:

You can check your collection day here: http://maps.monmouthshire.gov.uk/

Collection calendar: https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/app/uploads/2021/01/Refuse-Collection-Calendar-2021-ENG.pdf

Recycling Centres are open as normal over Easter.

You must book a slot in advance before you visit the Recycling Centre: https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/recycling-and-waste/household-waste-recycling-centres/

The Contact Centre will be closed from Thursday 01/04/2021 at 5 pm  and will be closed:

  • Good Friday 2/4
  • Easter Monday 5/4
  • Easter Tuesday 6/4

And will reopen on Wednesday 07/04 at 9 am

If your call is an emergency please contact 0300 123 1055.

For additional information visit monmouthshire.gov.uk, or Monmouthshire CC Facebook’s messenger service to ask Monty our Chabot a question.

You can also use My Monmouthshire to log queries or raise service requests.​

If your call is relating to a Monmouthshire Housing Association repair, please call

0345 677 2277

A poster campaign has been launched by Monmouthshire County Council and Gwent Police to highlight measures introduced to promote positive messages about taking your litter home, driving considerately, and keeping noise levels down at a popular trading estate in Chepstow.

To prevent littering, anti-social driving and behaviour, the owners of Larkfield Trade Park, Chepstow, have been working in partnership with the council and police to engage with local residents. This has included running a competition with St Mary’s School in Chepstow to design posters with positive messages, which will be displayed on the site. Key messages include take your litter home, keep noise to a minimum and be kind to your neighbours.

Paul Matthews, Chief Executive for Monmouthshire County Council said: “We have been keen to engage with the local community. Working together with Gwent Police and Larkfield Trade Park, we are hoping that this campaign will make people more aware that any anti-social behaviour has an impact on neighbourhoods. The posters are a key part of this positive message. The children have produced imaginative and creative work and all their efforts are greatly appreciated.”

A spokesperson from Gwent Police said: “The Larkfield Trade Park is close to housing, so any anti-social behaviour would directly impact on residents. We’re pleased to see the community coming together to help us with this. The posters designed by the schoolchildren are fantastic, and will help raise awareness and drive the messages home. ”

Julian Bladen of Bladen Commercial Property Consultants, who manages Larkfield Trade Park, said: “The effort put into the posters by the children of St Mary’s School is commended and it was a difficult decision to choose a winner. It is great to see the children’s awareness of litter and noise, to respect the neighbouring property owners.”

The winning entries have now been selected and the children have received celebratory Easter eggs donated by Julian Bladen, manager of Larkfield Trade Park, as a thank you for their hard work.