Monmouthshire County Council is inviting local businesses that would like to serve food and drink in outside spaces to get in touch. In a move to further support the revitalisation of high streets, the council is behind plans to create a ‘Café Culture’ environment. For cafés, pubs and restaurants with limited outdoor space, this will give the opportunity to place tables and chairs outside where there is space to do so safely.

The first step will be for interested businesses to apply for CAFE SPACE permission via the MyMonmouthshire App, which can be found on www.monmouthshire.gov.uk. The online application form will ask for additional supporting information such as a sketch of the area required and evidence of public liability insurance.

Restaurants, cafés and pubs will need to consider the following points when applying:

  • Is there sufficient pavement width outside the property to accommodate tables and chairs whilst still maintaining 1.5m clear space for pedestrians?
  • How will social distancing be managed?
  • Are there other outside spaces that can be considered as seating areas?
  • Will the proposed location of tables and chairs affect existing access along the highway for pedestrians, cyclists and traffic?
  • Does your proposal require closing off part or the whole of the road to through traffic, and if so what impact will this have?

Monmouthshire County Council Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Neighbourhood Services, Councillor Jane Pratt said: “Given the latest Covid-19 regulations, it is likely many more establishments will be considering utilising outdoor spaces than ever before.

“I would urge owners of cafés, coffee shops, public houses and restaurants to take this opportunity to think about how the Café Culture approach could work for their premises and to make an application from July 13, when the hospitality sector is allowed to reopen. Every effort will be made to process these swiftly, however there may be a delay should demand be high.

“I have every hope this will not only help more businesses recover from the devastating financial impact of the pandemic, but it will also make our high streets even more attractive for returning shoppers.”

Monmouthshire County Council is working in partnership with the local town council to solve one of Chepstow’s stickiest problems – the scourge of chewing gum carelessly deposited on roads and pavements.  The prevalence of chewing gum is second only to cigarette butts on the UK’s littered streets but is much more difficult to remove from the environment.  As well as creating an eyesore, and inconvenience for those coming into contact with used gum, it is vitally important that people dispose of it hygienically, particularly as the Covid-19 virus continues to pose a threat.

While a stick of chewing gum costs about seven pence, the removal of each piece from streets and pavements is nearer ten pence.  Just before the pandemic lockdown, Chepstow Town Council requested the county council to assist in removing gum by steam-cleaning, but a recent survey has revealed an incredible 3,438 pieces squashed into pavement cracks, cobbles and tarmac surfaces in certain areas of the town.

Chepstow Town Council has installed signs in Bank Square, St Mary Street, Welsh Street and the bus station reminding shoppers, as well as café and pub goers, to place used gum in a bin.  Leading confectioner Mars Wrigley, the makers of the UK’s most popular brands of gum, has provided the signage that has impacted favourably elsewhere to change behaviour.

As well as signs, the town council is investing in Gumdrop bins – the world’s first receptacles designed not only specifically for the disposal of waste chewing gum, but also made with waste chewing gum.  Gum collected in the distinctive pink ball-shaped bins is recycled into wellingtons, mobile phone covers and a variety of other useful products by environmental reprocessing company Gumdrop.  Several of these bins in neighbouring Caldicot have already reduced the amount of gum thoughtlessly cast to the ground.

The two councils will carry out another survey in a few months to assess the difference bins and signage have made.

Councillor Jane Pratt, Monmouthshire’s Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Neighbourhood Services said: “I’m delighted to work together with Chepstow Town Council to seek an improvement to our local streets and pavements.  Disposing of chewing gum by dropping it on the ground is anti-social behaviour as well as a danger to health.  Let’s all make a concerted effort to place our used gum where it belongs –  in a bin.”

  • For further information contact Sue Parkinson, Education and Awareness Officer of Monmouthshire County Council’s Street Services team – SusanParkinson@monmouthshire.gov.uk

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a humanitarian tragedy touching all corners of the world. Monmouthshire has not been spared with 73 deaths in the county attributed to the virus and nearly 400 known cases in all for our residents. This loss of life is a terrible thing; as a County Council we extend our deepest condolences to those who have lost loved ones.

Peter Fox, Leader of the Council, said: “The County Council has changed everything that it does since March 2020 and focussed all of our resources on protecting life. We have set aside other priorities and our staff have been redeployed into areas where they have been able to make a positive impact. We have acted with a clear plan and we continue to do so. We are four months in and we have many more months in front of us as a health emergency becomes a social and economic emergency.”

The Council will consider an early view of the financial impact of COVID-19 at its meeting on Thursday. Councillor Phil Murphy, Cabinet Member for Resources will present a paper setting out a high level view which identifies an in year deficit of anything between £3 million and £10 million.

Councillor Murphy said “The Council has a strong track record of financial discipline. We have not overspent our annual budget for more than a decade but this situation is beyond any of our planning. We have lost almost all of our income streams, we have supported our social care system to meet its needs and we have found every homeless person a place to stay. We have not had the flexibility to reduce any of our fixed costs which are considerable. We are thankful to UK Government for providing Welsh Government with over £210 million of direct targeted funding assistance for local government. We have taken Welsh Government at its word that they will support every Council in Wales and make good our extraordinary cost pressures. I have no reason to believe that Welsh Government will not honour this pledge but I would ask them to introduce urgency now so that we are clear what we are getting and have certainty on how much more we need to find ourselves. I am also asking that Welsh Government create the ability for all Councils to deal with any residual overspends over a number of years so that we can continue to provide important and necessary services rather than withdraw them when they are most needed. With every day that passes the challenge of making in-year savings grows. I have initiated a full financial sustainability exercise and have asked officers to complete this work for September so Council can form a view on its next steps but I expect these to include a significant draw on our relatively small reserves.

Councillor Peter Fox said, “in over twelve years as Leader of this Council I have never been prouder of the staff, the people of this county, volunteers and businesses. Everybody has made an extraordinary effort to tackle this pandemic and as things stand we have it under control and our towns can start to move again. We do however have to be vigilant and we need the money in place to provide support for people that need it and to contain the virus if it returns. I’m hoping that Welsh Government will step up and make this possible.”


Monmouthshire County Council’s free lettings service offers the area’s housing property-owners advice and support to help with the daunting prospect of letting out a home.  Monmouthshire Letting Service (MLS), which prides itself on its “no-fee, hassle-free” experience, is an agency with a difference, where both landlord and tenant are listened to and valued equally.

The MLS team has a wealth of experience and is eager to provide a friendly, knowledgeable and professional deal.  MLS can help landlords attract the most appropriate tenants for their properties while offering a free full management service in addition to other benefits.

County Councillor Bob Greenland, cabinet member with responsibility for housing said: “Landlords with properties in Monmouthshire looking for a professional lettings experience should talk to the team at MLS.  It is a letting agency with transparency and honesty integral to its working practices.  The team will work with you to help manage and advertise your property as well as find tenants best suited to your circumstances.”

Landlords with properties in Monmouthshire looking for a no-fee, hassle-free letting service should contact Private Sector Housing Project Officer, Lindsay Stewart on 01291 635713 or e-mail: mls@monmouthshire.gov.uk.

Photo: Councillor Richard John, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People

Monmouthshire County Council has today welcomed plans by the Education Minister to allow schools, that can do so safely, to reopen from the first week of September, with all schools reopening from September 14th.

Local plans and preparations are underway between Monmouthshire County Council and schools in the area to review risk assessments, processes and systems. This will ensure individual schools can welcome pupils back safely, in line with guidance by Welsh Government.

Schools which can do so will reopen from the first week of term. Some specific groups of learners might need to be prioritised during this week, such as year 7, 12, 13 and Special Units for secondary, special units for early years and year 6. Parents will receive more specific information from their school and Monmouthshire County Council as it becomes available.

From September 14 th, school attendance will be compulsory. Parents are asked to contact their school if a pupil is unable to attend to discuss their situation further.

Each school setting will have local challenges to address, including staffing levels. Work is underway with colleagues to confirm school transport arrangements. Monmouthshire County Council will work closely with all schools to overcome such issues.

Welsh Government has also announced £29million to boost support for learners to minimise the impacts of the disruption due to the ongoing crisis. The equivalent of 600 extra teachers and 300 teaching assistants will be recruited across Wales throughout the next school year, targeting extra support at years 11, 12 and 13, as well as disadvantaged and vulnerable learners of all ages. Monmouthshire County Council will be working with schools to clarify the details.

Councillor Richard John, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People said: “The last few months have been an emotionally challenging time for children, young people and their families as parents have sought to juggle work and childcare. I warmly welcome the Minister’s plan to allow schools to safely welcome all pupils back full time in September in line with all necessary safety measures and Welsh Government guidance.

“We recognise that hardworking staff in our schools, learners and their families have been placed under considerable emotional, financial and psychological pressure during this incredibly challenging time. Monmouthshire is continuing to work closely with our schools and childcare settings to consider how best to support the ongoing well-being needs of all children and young people.

“I’d also like to thank all our teachers and school staff for the work they’ve done in recent months to stay in touch with their pupils, run our successful hubs and offer distance learning opportunities.

“We are very aware that pupils’ learning has been severely disrupted by the crisis. I welcome the £29million pledge by the Welsh Government to recruit extra staff to support the recovery phase, minimise the impact on pupils and continue the ongoing work to raise school standards.”

Monmouthshire County Council is working with businesses across the county to support a #ShopLocal #ShopMonmouthshire campaign.

For Monmouthshire’s town centres to prosper and for traders to survive then they need everyone to support them. Many residents have been walking and cycling more over the last few months and it’s hoped that this will continue. Equally it is acknowledged that a return to public transport is likely to take some time to return to pre-covid levels. One-hour free parking in Abergavenny, Chepstow and Monmouth and additional Blue Badge parking provision is being provided to encourage people to return.

One-hour free parking and additional Blue Badge parking provision will be introduced as follows in coming weeks:

Abergavenny: 48 additional ‘one hour free’ spaces and 17 Blue Badge spaces (Tiverton Place car park) offsetting the restricted access to nine ‘30 minutes free’ spaces and eight disabled parking bays on Cross Street and the loss of six ‘30 minutes free’ spaces on Frogmore Street. If accessed before the road closes at 10am, the Cross Street disabled parking bays remain available for use, and Blue Badge holder can exit via Market Street.

Chepstow: 63 free Long Stay spaces at Chepstow Leisure Centre while the centre remains closed for business. 15 additional ‘one hour free’ spaces in addition to changing the 15 ’30 minutes free’ spaces on Welsh Street to ‘one hour free’. There will also be the provision of 10 additional disabled parking bays. The five spaces that are within the road closure on Bank Street will be reopened as soon as the amended legal Order is in place and access is made safe for motorists and pedestrians.

Monmouth: 35 additional ‘one hour free’ spaces and 12 additional disabled parking bays at Cornwall House car park, offsetting the loss of 35 ’30 minutes free’ spaces on Monnow Street. The disabled parking bays on Monnow Street and Blestium Street remain available for use, including the four bays just within the Monnow Street road closure.

Councillor Bob Greenland, Deputy Leader of Monmouthshire County Council, said “It is our hope that the ‘one hour free’ parking scheme will welcome more residents and visitors back into our towns, encouraging everyone to Shop Local, Shop Monmouthshire. We are also looking to offer some additional Blue Badge parking provision. It has always been our aim to do everything we can to help businesses get back on their feet after the devastating impact of COVID-19. We are hoping that the loss of income from our car parks will be offset by more people being able to feel confident in returning to our high streets, and spending their hard-earned money by shopping locally. This scheme will be in place until at least 30th September 2020.”

“We have made physical adjustments in many of our towns to make it easier and safer for pedestrians to move around. We recognise that this presents some challenges to motorists and we have mitigated these where possible. We have been asked by some to provide free parking up until the end of the year. If we could we probably would but such an approach would cost the council in excess of £500,000. Our finances are in a precarious position already given the demands around flooding and pandemic work in the first half of the year, so we can’t stretch this far.

Speaking about changes in the layout of some town centres Cabinet Member Councillor Jane Pratt said “We have listened to residents’ feedback on these schemes, which are part of an ongoing trial. We have never had to introduce such measures before, so it’s been a learning process for everyone. Our concern is, and always shall be, the safety of our residents. We’re doing everything we can to enable shoppers and businesses to follow social distancing guidelines, which includes keeping pedestrians out of harm’s way from traffic. In addition to this we must ensure that our high streets are accessible to all, and that means addressing the needs of those who use Blue Badge parking bays. I believe that the plans being introduced now will address this and if residents have concerns about where to park and accessibility, our contact centre is there to help on 01633 644644.”

For more information click here

UPDATE 9/7/20 We are offering extra Blue Badge parking provision and one hour’s free parking in a number of towns. This will involve updated legals Orders, reprogramming the parking machines in some places, and painting of bays. We will post a further announcement as soon as this is all in place.

KA campaign has been launched across Wales encouraging people to contact social services if they are worried that a family member, friend, neighbour or someone that they know in their community is at risk of abuse, neglect and harm.

Social Services in Wales has seen a reduction in referrals to its services since lockdown. Abuse, neglect and harm hasn’t stopped but opportunities to spot the signs have reduced as access to childcare settings, schools, social situations and interaction between people has been limited.

It is now more important than ever that we look out for each other and people are advised to contact Monmouthshire County Council’s social services safeguarding team on 01873 735492 if you are worried about an adult at risk;  01291 635669 if you are concerned about a child; or call 101 if they are worried that someone could be at risk.

Councillor Sara Jones, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Community Safety, said: “Social services are open and ready to help if people are concerned that a family member, friend or neighbour needs support. Although we have tried to maintain contact with people already known to us before lockdown, there is a risk that abuse, neglect or harm is happening behind closed doors and is even being exacerbated by the pandemic.

“I would encourage anyone who is worried to make the call to social services. It can be a difficult decision but one which could help to save someone from suffering abuse, neglect or harm. You can also call 101 or, in an emergency call 999. During this difficult time it’s down to all of us to look out for each other – together we can keep children, young people and adults safe.”

Visit the Safe Help website https://gov.wales/safe-help/keeping-people-safe for more information about local social services and how to raise your concerns. If your call is more urgent dial 101, or in emergency call 999.

Although the number of Covid-19 cases have diminished, the virus has not gone away and that without caution, in particular observing social distancing, there is the risk of further cases and even deaths. While some residents feel confident returning to our shopping streets, many others are not. Unless safe shopping environments can be created, many of our shops, particularly in smaller towns, will not survive.

At present, footfall in Usk’s Bridge Street is still low. There is work to be done to enable shoppers and visitors to feel safe returning to the shops in order to regenerate local businesses. Usk could be at risk of major decline should many of its valued businesses go under.

Monmouthshire County Council believes firmly that it is its duty to help provide a safe environment for shoppers – and this means making sure people are able to safely social distance. Whether the guidance stays at a 2-metre distance, or this is reduced to one, social distancing is a challenge in Bridge Street.

A one-way pedestrian system, requiring a new pedestrian crossing was rejected. Apart from technical issues, it was anticipated that many people, wishing only to use shops on the one side of the street, would ignore the requirement to cross the road twice to return to the car park.

“Doing nothing is not an option at this stage,” said Councillor Bob Greenland, Deputy Leader of Monmouthshire County Council. “The Town Council, wishing to avoid a one-way system, proposed traffic lights whereas the council’s preferred option was for a temporary one-way traffic system. The closure of Bridge Street to traffic for gas main works in 2018 and the two-way diversion then, worked much better than many expected and while it is understood that many local residents may not wish for this one-way system to be tried, it is essential if we are to achieve social distance along Bridge Street. 

“What is proposed now is a part only of those diversions that were effective two years ago.  The trial one-way system will be installed and monitored carefully by officers and adjustments can be made, if deemed necessary and appropriate,” explained Councillor Greenland. “We are open to feedback, which can be submitted via the council’s website, and will be monitoring the measures closely.”

As part of these measures, the parking prohibition by the fish and chip restaurant remains in place and the council is seeking to work with the police to enforce the current HGV restrictions.

*Feedback to these measures may be given via Monty the Chatbot (the icon on the bottom right of this screen).

Today (01/07/20), the Gwent Local Resilience Forum, including the five councils, agreed to increase the number of mourners permitted to attend funerals at cemeteries within the five local authority areas of Gwent to 20. This will come into effect on 02/07/20.

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and in line with government restrictions, it is still necessary to limit the number of people in any public space and ensure necessary social distancing.  Therefore, the number of mourners permitted to attend cremations at the Gwent Crematorium will remain at 10.

However, the councils fully recognise and understand how difficult these restrictions can be for the family and friends of the deceased.

The level of demand and related risk at these sites has been under constant review and restrictions were eased as soon as it was deemed safe and appropriate to do so for both the public and staff.

All decisions are made following a review of risk assessments and take into account a number of factors, including the ability to safely maintain and enforce the two metre social distancing requirements and the impact any increase in attendance would have on the continued health, safety and welfare of all those attending, managing and officiating the funeral.

The current numbers support the continued protection of the public, the ongoing effort to slow the spread of the virus and ensure bereavement services can continue to manage a safe and dignified funeral.

The original decision to limit the numbers of mourners was not taken lightly. Respect for the deceased and compassion for the bereaved is an important part of our decision-making, but protecting the health and wellbeing of the public, funeral and cemetery staff must be the foremost concern during this ongoing public health emergency.

Partners of the Gwent Local Resilience Forum will keep this matter under continual review while the Covid-19 pandemic continues to affect the Gwent area.

Wildflowers have attracted pollinators in increasing numbers thanks to the selective mowing approach

This year has seen significantly more wild meadow areas across Monmouthshire’s open spaces, as the council’s ground maintenance teams have left verges and parks largely unmowed to allow wild flowers to grow and attract more pollinators.  These measures have helped to support biodiversity and contribute to Monmouthshire County Council’s climate change action plan. Feedback has been very positive, and it the council’s actions were recently highlighted by the BBC natural history series Springwatch.

The move to a more restrained mowing approach throughout the spring has brought with it learning and adaptation and a new set of challenges as the summer approaches.  The extended period of non-mowing gave a fantastic opportunity to witness a host of flora within parks and public spaces grassland.

Management to protect the ecological value of meadow grassland will entail some cutting and in many situations the grass will also need to be collected. This will help lower nitrates within the turf, presenting a more suitable environment for indigenous flora to germinate again.

The logistics of this operation are complex, not least due to the council’s fleet of mowers not adapted to handle this type of grassland.  In addition, the council will need to look into the transportation and disposal of grass cuttings, something not undertaken on this scale before.

“To leave this work until the end of the summer will be extremely problematic, and should any difficulties arise we would have little capacity and resilience within our teams to manage this workload. Therefore, we have made a decision to start trialling some cutting and collecting of smaller verges and patches of meadow grassland on our open spaces where the flora has now finished flowering,” said Councillor Jane Pratt, Cabinet Member with responsibility for parks and open spaces.

“This will allow us to stagger the workload and inform our logistics planning.  We will also get a better understanding of the limitations of the machinery we have available and give us information to consider purchases of new machinery.  Importantly, the unusual circumstances this year will continue to play a role in helping us learn what we can and cannot achieve.  This is invaluable in developing how we will adapt the management of our open spaces over the coming years.”

“Monmouthshire has been the focus of interest by other councils throughout the country, who want to learn more about what we have done and what we are planning for the future. Monmouthshire County Council’s reduced mowing programme has also received recognition recently from the naturalist Iolo Williams on BBC Springwatch. This acclaim is due to the work of not just the council, but residents, community groups, Monmouthshire Housing Association and town councils, who have wholeheartedly supported campaigns such as Nature Isn’t Neat and No Mow May. We are keen to keep working to improve biodiversity further and build upon this success,” said Councillor Pratt.

The council will continue the ‘meadow management’ regime of Monmouthshire’s open spaces for the foreseeable future.

The likelihood of the Welsh Government’s requirement to stay local being lifted on Monday 6th July and self-contained visitor accommodation (without shared facilities) being allowed to reopen on 13th July has resulted in Monmouthshire’s tourism industry making preparations to welcome visitors back to the county. 

Tourism is an important element of Monmouthshire’s economy and in 2019 the county welcomed 2.28 million visitors who spent almost £245m and supported over 3,100 full-time jobs, helping to boost high streets and associated businesses.

The council recognises that it’s never been more important to support local businesses, and as high streets reopen it’s taken steps to encourage support for independent shops and town centres.  As well as efficiently administering £22.4m worth of grants from the Welsh Government to 1,728 businesses, it has developed a new shop local campaign in partnership with Monmouthshire’s trade groups and town and community councils.  Also, a volunteer ambassador programme is in the pipeline to provide a warm and friendly welcome for visitors to the county’s town centres.  Ambassadors will share their local knowledge and advise on COVID-19 specific restrictions or adaptations in place.

Despite incredibly difficult times for tourism and hospitality businesses globally, an increasing number of Monmouthshire’s enterprises have displayed resilience to play a significant part in supporting communities during lockdown.  The Angel Hotel group (which includes Abergavenny’s Angel Hotel, the Art Shop & Chapel and The Walnut Tree restaurant) joined an initiative to help raise £100,000 to provide quality food to front line NHS staff and during the pandemic’s peak 120 meals were supplied every evening to the nearby Nevill Hall Hospital.  Monmouth confectioner Granny Browns and Chepstow restaurant Panevino also donated sweets and chocolates and delivered food to frontline NHS staff.

Meanwhile, the Wye Valley’s Silver Circle Distillery and the Budweiser Brewing Group in Magor diversified their operations to produce much-needed hand sanitiser for local hospitals and care homes to address a nationwide shortage.  And in the north of the county, Road House Narrowboats of Gilwern offered its shop entrance as a collection point for food items donated by the local community.  These were transported each week to Abergavenny’s food bank.  In addition, many businesses have adapted their procedures to offer local delivery and click and collect services.

County Councillor Paul Jordan, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for tourism said: “The Covid-19 pandemic and February’s severe floods have hit the county’s tourism and hospitality businesses severely so we very much look forward to welcoming visitors back to Monmouthshire when travel restrictions are lifted.  We hope they will make the most of our attractions and activities and enjoy their time spent in this beautiful corner of Wales.  We ask however that they observe any remaining restrictions relating to the current pandemic and behave responsibly, respecting our communities.”

The council is encouraging the county’s tourism businesses to obtain the new Visit Wales ‘We’re Good to Go’ industry standard to demonstrate to visitors and residents that they adhere to the respective government and public health guidance, that they’ve carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment and that they have the required processes in place.  Visitors should look out for the We’re Good to Go kite mark when planning their visit.  For details of We’re Good to Go businesses and for up to date pre-arrival information log on to: www.VisitMonmouthshire.com

The Welsh Government has today launched a Start-Up Grant scheme to support those who are self-employed but fall outside of the UK Government’s Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) because they only started trading in 2019.

The Start-Up Grant aims to provide a lifeline to those who established their business after the 31 March 2019, and help them to continue trading through the Covid-19 outbreak. The purpose of the grant is to support newly created businesses with immediate cash flow support to help them survive the economic consequences of the Covid-19 outbreak. The grant seeks to complement other Covid-19 response measures to support businesses, social enterprises and charitable organisations in Wales.

The total pot for the Start-up Grant across Wales is £5million, and will provide eligible businesses with a grant of £2,500 each. It is predicted that this scheme will support in the region of 2,500 businesses. It will be operated on a first come, first served basis.

“We’re hoping that this latest scheme will be able to help some of those smaller, independent businesses that have fallen in the gap between the existing schemes offered by Welsh Government thus far. I would urge any businesses that think they may meet the criteria to go online and use the eligibility checker as soon as possible, as once the fund is fully allocated, the scheme will be closed.” Said Councillor Bob Greenland, Deputy Leader, Monmouthshire County Council.

Businesses can apply from noon on Monday 29th June 2020, and the scheme will close when the fund is fully committed. The grants will be administered by Monmouthshire County Council. The aim is to process each application within a 30-day period.

The Welsh Government’s eligibility criteria for the Start-Up Grant is:

– HMRC Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) Number

– VAT Registration Number or a VAT exemption certificate

– Written correspondence confirming registration with HMRC

Businesses can check their eligibility for a Start-Up Grant using the Economic Resilience Fund eligibility checker on the Business Wales website https://fundchecker.businesswales.gov.wales/  If eligible, businesses will be directed to the online application form.

For more information:
https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/app/uploads/2020/06/Start-Up-Grant-Guidance-Notes.pdf

ENDS


Monmouthshire County Council has provided a new opportunity for people interested in fostering to enjoy an informal introductory chat.  The Fostering 5 service is available each Tuesday from 3pm to 4pm and Thursday from 7pm to 8pm and it can be accessed by booking time with a member of the council’s fostering team who will contact those applying with a phone or video call.

Fostering 5 offers the chance of a friendly five-minute dialogue but each booking can be extended to 20 minutes if necessary.  To book a slot log on to: shorturl.at/acEHT

Councillor Penny Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for fostering said: “Our new Fostering 5 service will provide you with information, options and answers quickly and informally with no obligations if you have ever thought about fostering.  Fostering 5 can guide you to the gateway which could make all the difference to a child’s life.”

For more information, call 01873 735950 or visit monmouthshire.gov.uk/fostering


Road safety measures in Usk are to be revised following feedback from the Usk community and meetings between Monmouthshire County Council and Usk Town Council.

The temporary traffic light system, cones and barriers will be removed today. Following a meeting with Usk Town Council, a number of alternative options have been discussed and reviewed but they were not deemed suitable. The County Council’s revised option of a one-way system will be put in place by the end of the week commencing 29th June 2020.

The one-way system will operate using Bridge Street for motorists heading east of Usk towards the A40. Twyn Square to New Market Street will then be used to send motorists west through Usk over the Usk Bridge.

The installation of the traffic light system, as originally laid out as the preferred option by Usk Town Council, was implemented on a trial basis, with Monmouthshire County Council seeking views from residents and the Town Council on how it was working. The alternative option of a one-way system will also be a trial.

In line with the feedback, other measures will remain in place, including the proposal to provide an area wide 20mph speed limit throughout Usk and the prohibition of waiting at any time on Castle Parade between the Usk Traditional Fish and Chips shop and the fire station. The council is also reviewing signage and enforcement of the HGV restrictions through the town.

Cabinet Member for Innovation, Enterprise and Leisure, Councillor Bob Greenland said:  

“COVID19 has presented many challenges that communities across the world have had to come to terms with at speed. With community transmission of the virus under control, we now have the chance to give businesses, particularly retail the chance to re-start but only if traders and customers can comply with the 2 metre social distancing guidelines. Usk – given the nature of Bridge Street – is the hardest challenge in Monmouthshire and if we want the town to have shops we are all going to have to accept some adjustments. We understand why UTC has been keen to try a traffic light system to avoid the introduction of a one way system whereas Monmouthshire County Council believes a one-way system using Bridge Street in one direction and Twyn Square through to New Market Street in the other is the best solution. It is clear that the initial siting of traffic lights has not worked. We are unable to try different configurations for the traffic lights that will resolve the issues experienced. A one way pedestrian system was considered but rejected. These work best in traffic-free streets but rarely elsewhere. There were several issues that ruled it impractical in Usk.

“So we will be removing the current measures and implementing a trial one-way system. We are aiming to introduce this by the end of next week. It is important to emphasise that without change shops will not be able to trade safely and will likely close. This is an outcome that would be devastating for Usk”

Loyal blood donors in Monmouthshire have responded to a request from the Welsh Blood Service to ‘donate differently’ by rolling up their sleeves to make a lifesaving donation at one of the Service’s new regional hubs.

Across Wales, of the 6,808 individuals that visited a Welsh Blood Service donation session in May 63% of donors attended a clinic that was not their usual donation venue.

In Monmouthshire, 1,259 donors came forward to give blood in May, with 248 attending a donation session for the very first time.

Following a series of Covid-19 related venue cancellations and social distancing restrictions, the Welsh Blood Service was unable to host donation sessions at the thirty community venues it would typically visit across Wales each week.

The Service introduced a new collections schedule at the beginning of April which saw collections taken from five regional donation hubs at different locations in Wales each week. Donors were asked to travel to donate at their nearest hub.

Alan Prosser, Director of the Welsh Blood Service, said: “When it became clear we couldn’t continue with business as usual, we knew we’d have to ask donors to donate differently. Our regional donation hubs have replaced our usual local collections programme and the response from donors has been remarkable.

“98.3% of the appointments we’ve made available since lockdown have been taken and many of these appointments have been taken by donors who have been prepared to go even further out of their way than they usually would just to make a potentially lifesaving donation.”

The Service has also observed a sharp rise in the number of new donors coming forward to donate.

Mr Prosser continued: “In May 2019, around 11% of those that attended our donation sessions were new donors. This May, around 19% of our attendance has been people who had never given before.

“We’ve also see a surge in the number of donors who haven’t given in years returning to our sessions to help us boost stocks. It’s been amazing and we’re hugely grateful.”

Blood stocks in Wales have remained healthy throughout the pandemic as the reduced collections activity has mirrored a reduction in the volume of blood used by hospitals. However, the Service is urging donors to continue to attend their local sessions as and when lockdown restrictions are lifted.

“Blood stocks are currently very healthy thanks to the commitment of new and existing donors but we need people to keep giving blood to ensure we can continue to meet hospital demand in the coming months. Travel to donate is considered essential travel and anyone who is fit, well and eligible to donate can book an appointment through the welshblood.org.uk website.”

The regional donation hubs sessions for July in Monmouthshire and surrounding areas are:

  • Caldicot 1st/2nd July
  • Llanyrafon 13th/ 14th July
  • Monmouth 16th/17th July
  • Pontypool 24th July
  • Newport – Christchurch Centre 23rd/ 24th July

(issued on behalf of the Welsh Blood Service)

Monmouthshire County Council has announced the proposed plans for improvements to Church Road in Caldicot. They are intended to address a number of local needs that have been identified by the county council and other local organisations. 

These include managing traffic and parking during school drop-off and pick-up times, reducing traffic speed, improving the environment for local residents to walk and cycle, whilst developing the road into a more attractive and ‘green’ street by introducing more trees, planting and wider footways. These improvements will also enhance the link between the town centre and Caldicot Castle and Country Park.

This project is the outcome of extensive consultation over the past few years where people were asked which areas in Caldicot they would like to see improvements made.

The Church Road proposals form part of the wider regeneration plans for Caldicot Town, and plans are being developed to improve the area for businesses, residents and visitors alike.

In 2018, Caldicot Town was chosen as Monmouthshire’s priority regeneration scheme and forms part of the wider Cardiff Capital Region (CCR) regeneration plan.

The scheme is largely funded by a Welsh Government grant and the council is waiting to hear if the money has been awarded. If the funding is put in place this year, then it is anticipated that work would start early next year, with exact timing to be confirmed in due course.

Councillor Jane Pratt, Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Neighbourhood Services said: “I am very hopeful that the Church Road scheme will proceed. It sits well with the improvements to the Cross and helps to link the castle to the town by walking or cycling rather than by car.”

Councillor David Evans, Mayor of Caldicot commented: “The Cross scheme is bringing major improvements to the town centre and this enhances it further. Our focus will then be upon gaining further investment to improve the remainder of the town centre. I very much hope the funding is put in place so that the Church Road scheme can proceed.”

The proposals have already been shared with the residents and businesses of Church Road, as well as Castle Park Primary School representatives.  They are now available for wider public consultation and can be viewed via https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/caldicot-regen/church-road/

Residents and businesses are encouraged to provide feedback via the surveys on the page.

Monmouthshire’s markets will reopen to the public and traders next week.  Abergavenny and Caldicot markets will reopen on Tuesday 30th June with Monmouth’s reopening on Friday 3rd July.

The decision follows guidance from the Welsh Government allowing non-essential businesses to reopen.  Monmouthshire County Council has been working to ensure the markets and outside areas operate in accordance with the latest social distancing and government guidelines to ensure a safe shopping experience for traders and shoppers.

The reopening of the market coincides with the current #shoplocal #shopmonmouthshire message from Monmouthshire County Council, which encourages residents to think of supporting local businesses as lockdown measures begin to ease. Shoppers can expect to see the usual selection of fresh produce, home crafts and locally sourced goods.

In preparation for reopening, all three markets will be subject to cleaning. Communal touchpoints will be cleansed throughout the day and cleaning will be undertaken each evening after the markets close.  The council has emphasised that social distancing must be maintained between stallholders and customers at all times.

Customers will be encouraged to pay for goods by contactless payment.  In addition, people shopping at Abergavenny will have to queue to enter the market hall while applying hand sanitiser, available at the entrance and around the premises.  They will also be required to follow one way walking routes installed by market staff.

Opening days for the markets are as follows:

Abergavenny – Tuesday 30th June, Friday 3rd July (the market is expected to return to a four-day opening from 6th July)

Caldicot – Tuesday 30th June, Saturday 4th July

Monmouth – Friday 3rd July, Saturday 4th July.

Cabinet Member for Resources, Councillor Phil Murphy said: “Market spaces are vibrant hubs in our communities and the role of these spaces stretches far beyond just a place to buy produce.  I know many of our residents will look forward to seeing familiar faces of Monmouthshire’s brilliant traders once again.  We want shoppers to return feeling confident that their safety is the main priority.  It’s wonderful to see these important focal points of our towns returning and we encourage all residents to think of their local butchers, bakers and jewellery makers when next heading into town.”


Thanks to a generous gesture by local firm Gwent Energy, Monmouthshire County Council’s community hub in Chepstow has received a defibrillator which could help save lives in the town.  The defibrillator will be set into an external wall and will be available for use at all times.

Gwent Energy specialises in energy-saving technology and provides the electric vehicle charging point next to the community hub.  Phil Powell of Gwent Energy said: “A few years ago, Gwent Energy CIC installed an electric vehicle charge point next to the community hub in Chepstow, as our area was lacking in charging infrastructure. Funds raised from the use of this charge point help to provide community benefit for Monmouthshire. As all of our community events have understandably been cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were instead presented with the wonderful opportunity to use our community funds to purchase and install an important and potential life-saving kit.”

Councillor Paul Jordan, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for the county’s community hubs added: “We’re very grateful to Gwent Energy for providing a defibrillator at Chepstow Community Hub where it will be conveniently situated for the centre of the town.  We hope we’re never in a position when we have to use it but it’s good to know that if the occasion demands we can help to save a life.”

Meanwhile, a successful application to charity Welsh Hearts, which provides public-access defibrillators, screening for heart conditions and CPR training for the public in Wales, will result in the installation of a similar apparatus at Usk Community Hub in the near future. 

Monnow Street and St John Street in Monmouth will close to vehicles from Thursday 25th of June 2020. The council has carried out an emergency order to ensure people visiting the high street and town centre are safe when shopping and socially distancing. The measures mean vehicles will be prohibited from travelling via the streets, with an exemption for delivery vehicles needing to service the town.

The temporary measures are part of a number of changes to Monmouthshire’s towns and villages, with the aim of supporting local shops and businesses to begin trading safely following the Welsh Government’s recent announcement regarding the reopening of non-essential businesses.

The measures include: temporary speed limits, closures of streets and putting up signage in areas where there is a potential risk to pedestrians who may be socially distancing from passers-by. It’s hoped the changes will encourage the public to make the most of the active transport opportunities available to them by walking, cycling or catching public transport to visit Monmouthshire’s beautiful towns and villages.  The measures have been put in place on a trial basis and the council is seeking constructive feedback from residents and businesses on how the changes are working.

The measures coincide with the council’s new ‘Shop Local, Shop Monmouthshire’ campaign which is supporting businesses to reopen with all the necessary safety measures in place. Banners, social-distancing markers and planters are being used to help return the county’s towns and villages to the vibrant hubs they were before lockdown, however, in the short-term it will be necessary to provide barriers, cones and signage to segregate traffic (pedestrians, cyclists and cars).

Cabinent Member for Infrastructure and Neighbourhood Services Jane Pratt said: “These temporary measures are part of Monmouthshire County Council’s wider initiative to support businesses as they begin to reopen after what has been a challenging period. We understand there will be a knock-on affect for people who may be used to driving through the high street but these measures have been implemented with our residents’ safety in mind. We would encourage everyone to reflect on how they travel during this time. If you are able to cycle or walk then it’s a perfect time to enjoy the summer months while doing your bit to help the environment. And don’t forget to Shop Local, Shop Monmouthshire.”

Details of all changes to Monmouthshire’s towns and villages can be found at:

https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/shop-local/changes-in-your-town/?preview=true

Birth registrations in Monmouthshire and across Wales can now re-commence.

As the register office is currently dealing with a backlog of registrations, appointments will be prioritised based on baby’s date of birth – with those who have waited longest being registered first. The register office has started to make appointments for the week beginning 29th June.

Parents whose babies were born before 1st April 2020 are being encouraged to get in touch with us to make an appointment. For babies born on or after 1st April, parents are asked to contact  the register office for more information.

New arrangements have been made for all births within the Gwent area / Aneurin Bevan Health Board. The five local authorities of Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport and Torfaen are working together so that parents can attend their local office to complete the registration and purchase their baby’s birth certificate at that appointment.

New parents will need to attend a register office in person but offices will be minimising this interview time by collecting information beforehand.

Local authority websites are below:-

Contact details Email address Telephone number
Blaenau Gwent Registration Service registrars@blaenau-gwent.gov.uk 01495 353372
Caerphilly Registration Service registrars@caerphilly.gov.uk 01443 864166 or 864170
Monmouthshire Registration Service RegisterOffice@monmouthshire.gov.uk 01873 735435
Newport Registration Service registrar@newport.gov.uk 01633 235510 or 235520
Torfaen Registration Service registrars@torfaen.gov.uk 01495 742132 or 742133

Monmouthshire County Council is introducing a new Request & Collect service for library books in response to restrictions posed by the coronavirus pandemic.  Customers can browse the library service on-line catalogue and use the My Monmouthshire app to choose their preferred books and reserve a time to collect them.  Collections will initially be available from Monmouth and Chepstow Community Hubs.

Staff will quarantine returned books for 72 hours to prevent the spread of coronavirus which means choices may be more limited than usual.  Demand is expected to be high and if people’s preferred titles are unavailable the council’s library team will suggest alternative books from the same genre.

For those unwilling or unable to travel, the hubs’ digital services continue to be available.  E-books and audiobooks are free for library members via the Borrowbox app while the RB Digital apps offer free downloads for a wide range of magazines.

Speaking about the launch of the service, Monmouthshire’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for community hubs, Councillor Paul Jordan commented:

“Losing yourself in a book is great way of escaping from all the stresses and strains of the present situation.  For children, reading is essential for their continuing development and education – and a wonderful way to keep them occupied.

“During lockdown the staff that would usually be running the library service have been redeployed, helping with the Monmouthshire County Council response to COVID-19, by supporting vulnerable people and ensuring prompt payments of grants to local businesses while continuing to provide story-telling, short story competitions and other activities on-line.  For many people nothing can replace the enjoyment of reading a physical book and library staff are thrilled that they are once again able to provide a physical book lending service.”

The online Request & Collect booking system opens at noon on Tuesday 23rd June.  Collection appointments will be available from Tuesday 30th June on Tuesdays and Thursdays in Chepstow and Tuesdays and Fridays in Monmouth.

Corovavirus pandemic restrictions mean there will be no access to other services usually available from the buildings – for example, computers, photocopying and toilets.  Residents with any council-related queries can access the My Monmouthshire app, the council’s chatbot Monty or call the Contact Centre on 01633 644644.

More information about the service is available at: https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/community-hubs-libraries/

New customers can register for membership online: https://wales.ent.sirsidynix.net.uk/client/en_GB/mmou_en

Residents lacking internet access can access the service by ringing 01633 644644.

Recycling bags are accessible from the following locations: https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/recycling-bag-outlets/

Monmouthshire County Council has been working to support businesses and help residents feel confident about returning to their town and village centres, as non-essential shops prepare to reopen from Monday 22nd June.

As part of this process the council recently ran a survey to get a clearer picture of how residents felt, what their concerns were, and to ask for ideas and feedback about how the county’s towns and villages might look in the future.

Following these findings and discussions with the Town and Community Councils and the local Monmouthshire Business Forum, the Council is launching ‘Shop Local, Shop Monmouthshire’ today. This campaign celebrates the unique nature of the county’s villages and towns, encourages residents to support independent businesses by shopping locally, and provides businesses with clear guidance about what they need to do in order to reopen.

Cllr Bob Greenland, Cabinet Member for Enterprise and Land Use Planning said: “Independent businesses have faced major challenges since lockdown was announced so we want to give them as much support possible as they work towards reopening. Our website will now have a dedicated section addressing their needs. On the ‘Shop Local, Shop Monmouthshire’ pages they can access essential information and resources that can be downloaded, such as posters, signage. It will also include the information they need to ensure their customers and staff are as safe as possible, such as how to conduct a risk assessment. The information will be updated regularly as legislation changes to ensure that it is beneficial long term as well.”

Monmouthshire County Council is also working with the town and community councils to put measures in place progressively from next week, that will help make residents feel more confident, such as social distancing signage, a 20mph speed limit in key central areas to enable pedestrians and cyclists to feel safer, health and safety measures, and ensuring businesses are aware of what they need to do to be ‘COVID secure’.

The measures being brought in will be tailored to each town. In Abergavenny, Chepstow, Magor and Monmouth there will be a number of noticeable changes, such as stenciled social distancing signage on pavements, barriers, reduced speed limits, and trial road closures or one way systems. In Caldicot, there will be enhanced restrictions within the existing pedestrianised area.  These were decided on collectively by each town council and community council, town by town with Monmouthshire County Council. Consultations with business forums have also taken place.

In Usk, the council will be adopting the town council’s recommendations regarding measures. These include traffic light controls on Bridge Street to create a single carriageway and allow for widened pedestrian areas. In Gilwern and Raglan, there will be minimal changes as a result of the consultation with the community council.

All the measures put in place will be evaluated in real time, and adapted according to how they are received by the community and how effective they are.

Cllr Jane Pratt, Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Neighbourhood Services added: “As preparations are made to reopen Monmouthshire’s towns and villages, we want to ensure that this is done as safely as possible.

“We have listened to the feedback from residents who took part in the survey and know that although these initial measures are short-term, they could form the basis of long-term changes and improvements to our towns. It is reassuring that the majority of residents who responded expressed a clear determination to shop locally, so we want to do everything we can to make that as enjoyable and safe as possible. ­­The survey has brought to light many wonderful ideas and useful feedback, including more online shopping opportunities with local businesses, more Active Travel schemes, more outdoor cafes, and socially-distanced events.”

So this is not the end of the process, we will learn quickly and be adapting plans as we go forward, and will improve based on feedback. We would still love to hear residents’ ideas. These can be submitted via our Facebook account or Ask Monty on the council’s website and will be shared with the appropriate town and community councils. We are open to conversations with other town and village communities who may feel they could benefit from some of the measures introduced ­­”

For more information visit www.monmouthshire.gov.uk and click on the Shop Local, Shop Monmouthshire link.

In light of the Welsh First Minister’s announcement today, in which he is advising non-essential retail businesses may reopen from Monday 22nd June, Monmouthshire County Council is stressing the importance of businesses remembering to flush through their water supply thoroughly.

Since lockdown restrictions were put into place on 23rd March, many buildings and sites have been closed for a prolonged period. With hot and cold water systems out of action for several weeks, the chances of bacteria forming which can cause Legionnaires’ disease – a potentially fatal type of pneumonia – are much greater.

Standing water is any water which has been held in pipes or storage tanks for longer than 24 hours. It can result in the water in internal plumbing systems becoming warmer, microbiological growth (such as bacteria) in the water and an increase in plumbing metals seeping into the water.

“It is vital that businesses take this seriously,” said Councillor Penny Jones Cabinet Member for Social Care, Safeguarding and Health. “As preparations are being made for reopening, water isn’t necessarily the thing on everyone’s mind. But, the risk of exposing yourself and customers to bacteria, even Legionnaires’ disease is very real.

“All hot and cold water systems need to be considered, including those at: retail outlets; hairdressers; beauty salons; offices; hotels; gyms; sports clubs; golf clubs; hotels; pubs; clubs; restaurants; camp sites; volunteer-run premises and anywhere that has a water supply which is currently shut down or is experiencing restricted use. Under health and safety law, employers, business owners and landlords must manage the risks of exposure to Legionella bacteria. So, I am asking all business premises to please familiarise themselves with Welsh Water’s advice and follow the very straightforward measures recommended.” said Councillor Jones.

For a step-by-step guide to ensuring your business’ water supply is safe follow the steps advised here: https://www.dwrcymru.com/en/Business/Covid19-Impact/How-to-restore-your-drinking-water-system.aspx

If businesses would like additional advice contact Environmental Health on 01873 735420.

Proposed plans for the multi-million pound redevelopment of Caldicot Leisure Centre have been unveiled by MonLife, Monmouthshire County Council’s provider of leisure, tourism and cultural services.

MonLife has revealed its plans on a dedicated website – www.monlifeleisuredevelopment.co.uk – which also encourages residents to participate in consultation for the proposed development

The proposal follows the successful completion of the project at Monmouth Leisure Centre, completed in 2019. It also reinforces the commitment by MonLife to invest in initiatives which will benefit the health and wellbeing of the community, not only now but also for future generations.

The proposed new facilities will include a children’s adventure play area, extended fitness suite, a power-assisted exercise studio, a spin studio, fitness changing rooms, a studio/community room, a changing village for the pool and outdoor changing facilities.  In addition, plans are in the pipeline for a café, new reception area, viewing for the pool, new skatepark, additional parking spaces and refurbishment for the swimming pool.

Councillor Richard John, cabinet member with responsibility for MonLife said: “Monmouthshire’s elected members 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, not only now, but also for our future generations.”

Residents will be invited to voice their opinions on the scheme by completing an online survey and signing up for regular updates by visiting: www.monlifeleisuredevelopment.co.uk.  They will subsequently be entered into a prize draw for a chance of winning a MonActive annual membership worth £335 or a Fitbit Charge 4 fitness tracker.  Two winners will be drawn on Monday 3rd August 2020 and contacted via email.


Anti-litter campaigners and Monmouthshire’s recycling and waste staff have appealed to residents for help to counter the increasing amount of litter left on the banks of the River Wye at Monmouth.  Groups of people congregating on the riverside have left huge quantities of cans as well as plastic and glass bottles on a regular basis.

Volunteer litter pickers have cleared the site but struggle to cope with the amount of rubbish abandoned.  The council has offered further help to the volunteers.

Local anti-litter campaigner Emma Bryn said: “We are so lucky to live in such a stunningly beautiful part of the country, which we share with some amazing wildlife. Littering here is thoughtless on so many levels.  We are very privileged to live and enjoy this incredible area and so ask that anyone taking bottles and cans to any location, including this beautiful riverside spot, should take their empties home and recycle them.”

Councillor Jane Pratt, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for recycling and waste added: “Despite the phenomenal response to the issue of plastics in our oceans raised in the BBC series The Blue Planet, we hear that local volunteers are struggling to cope with the amount of litter on our river banks.  Such littering is particularly damaging to the environment as it can easily enter the river and ultimately the sea where it will cause significant harm.  Please remember that this is your environment, please respect it and keep it beautiful by taking your litter home.” For further information log onto https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/recycling-and-waste/dogfouling/

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:


 Monmouthshire County Council has submitted a bid for a new railway station in Magor, together with the Magor Action Group on Rail (MAGOR) local community group. The bid for a walkway station – a station accessed by the local population primarily via walking and cycling – has been made to the Department for Transport’s New Station Fund and aims to provide improved and sustainable accessibility to key destinations for residents of Magor with Undy. 

 Population expansion in the area and employment growth in Cardiff and Bristol have led to an increased demand for public transport.  The proposed station would be served by hourly trains to both cities as well as Newport, Chepstow, Gloucester and Cheltenham.

 The entire population of Magor with Undy, expected to rise to 10,000 over the next few years, is within one mile of the preferred site for the station, which presents an opportunity to open a unique community-engaged and integrated walkway station, adjacent to a planned community centre.

 The proposed facility will include features normally associated with modern stations such as cycle parking, LED lighting and CCTV as well as bus stop and waiting facilities with first-rate pedestrian access. 

 Leader of Monmouthshire County Council, Councillor Peter Fox said: “The return of railway travel for Magor with Undy after many years will be welcomed by the community and will offer many benefits.  It will bring employment, retail, healthcare, education and leisure opportunities closer for residents and reduce traffic growth on congested local roads.  It will significantly reduce the emission of greenhouse gases from transport and promote sustainable integrated travel. The council and MAGOR have previously applied for funding from the New Station Fund, and while we received very positive feedback from the DfT, we were unsuccessful as other proposals were further advanced. With more investigative work having being done and a stronger case, we are hopeful that this time it may be successful.”

MAGOR’s Ted Hand added: “The Magor with Undy Walkway Station concept is unique. A station that will do what it will say on the station sign – a walk/cycle/public transport accessible station. As far as we can ascertain, it would be the first dedicated walkway station to open in 100 years and a first for Monmouthshire, Wales and the UK in recent years. It will be a case of back to the future for our community.  Hopefully, it will be the first of many of this type of station to open in the UK – stations that are specifically designed to reduce pollution, integrate public transport and get people active. All these elements will be essential to address climate change. The aim is also to provide a much needed holistic and integrated solution to public transport in Severnside, joining up the bus services and having a park and ride station at Severn Tunnel Junction, together with a walk and cycle to Magor with Undy Walkway Station.”

Contact Monmouthshire’s Transport Planning and Policy Officer, Christian Schmidt – ChristianSchmidt@monmouthshire.gov.uk – for further details.

“If you want to travel fast, travel alone. If you want to travel far, travel together”

This captures some interesting dilemmas for us as we look to our future. Our initial COVID response has been very fast and very effective. We have taken command of our own destiny, taken advantage of our own talents and abilities whilst ‘selfishly’ focusing on our place and our people. We have been focussed and relentless for 12 weeks and hammered along with our Plan on a Page. We have shut down / shut out many long meetings that have, in part, characterised our organisation and replaced them with evidence, analysis and a need for action.


Our purpose has been to do whatever it takes to protect life. There have been no reported deaths in our county for 8 days and only 1 new reported case in the last 4 days. Progress is being made.
This week we have opened our council run post-office in Usk, we have committed to take over the food parcel scheme for shielded people from Wales Government, we are likely to enable people to join our green waste scheme and we will be building a click / collect approach to the issue of library books.


All of our schools are putting in place arrangements that will enable children to return to their schools in a couple of weeks time and we are building plans to safely re-open all of our town centres as soon as Wales Government give the green light. We are doing our ‘travel alone’ stuff ever so well.


We now move into our next stage. All of the above needs to continue as we build a better picture of the next three months. Social distancing will remain with us, distance restrictions on travel are unlikely to be relaxed, there will not be a vaccine and we have to avoid that R number edging back towards 1. But we have to live and we have to get ready for a new environment.


Many residents of Monmouthshire will lose their job and with that their income and stability. Many more will be fearful and anxious of returning to public spaces. It’s likely that many will have lost fitness, missed scheduled medical procedures, be claiming benefits for the first time in their lives and will be worrying about how they meet their mortgage / rent whilst feeding their families. At the same time there will be others that have actually saved money, reduced their outgoings and taken advantage of the opportunities afforded by quieter times. Thousands have been volunteering and been neighbourly and new friendships will have formed. The social web and inter-connectedness of our people has become even more complex and it’s this space that we are now drawn towards. New challenges to us, new asks of us and many will require us to ‘travel with others’ to make the impact we need to make.


We have a rich history of being a great partner and these skills will need to return now because we have to make sense of a challenging social picture and satisfy ourselves that we have the right support arrangements available for those that need them. I am seeing third parties starting to re-establish overly complicated governance mechanisms – we are going to need to get our voice heard but we haven’t got time to live in these places.
So as a Strategic Leadership Team and at Cabinet level we are starting to think about all this stuff and will be codifying a new plan over the next couple of weeks. It will have to be flexible but I think it will be more focussed on supporting people who have gone through the toughest of times rather than protecting life. It will be about helping people to feel safe in their local communities and it will fan the flames of social action and volunteering. To deliver we are going to have to hold onto our flexibility and trust in each other. 


To conclude I have a picture of one of our new volunteers. Meet Leo. Leo has been helping Ian Blomeley who is one of our colleagues working in Countryside / Green Infrastructure to check out the condition of of footpath network. Those little legs have covered some miles but I think he’s enjoyed it. Thanks Ian and the team – our footpath network is a phenomenal asset but like everything else it needs care and attention. Let’s hope we all get to use it more in the months ahead. It would be a shame if Leo’s efforts aren’t put to good use.


Monmouthshire County Council has announced that as of Wednesday 10th June, it is reopening its applications service for garden waste permits. Collections restarted last month and now the backlog has been cleared the service can be accessed by those who need to renew their permit or the request one for the first time.

Councillor Jane Pratt, Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, said, “We’re pleased to be able to offer this service to more residents and we’re expecting a lot of applications. Therefore, please allow 14 days for the permit to arrive. If you require a garden waste bag you’ll need to email contact@monmouthshire.gov.uk or phone the contact centre on 01633 644644. We appreciate that there are many residents who have been waiting for this news, and would like to thank them for their patience while we have been working to get as many services operating again as possible.”

To apply for a garden waste permit visit www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/recycling-and-waste/garden-waste

Carers who look after loved ones or friends have been sharing their personal experiences with Monmouthshire County Council at the start of Carers Week 2020. The annual campaign, which runs from the 8th – 14th of June, aims to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities across the county.

This year’s theme – ‘make caring visible’ hopes to shine a light on the thousands of unsung heroes across the country who aren’t often recognised for the work they do. The campaign also aims to help people who do not think of themselves as having caring responsibilities to identify as carers and access much-needed support.

To help raise awareness of unpaid carers Angela Harris, who looks after her 92-year-old father, has shared her experience of caring during the pandemic and the challenges it has presented. She said: “This pandemic has affected us all. My dad is finding it difficult not going out but we have explained to him we must stay in, we must be safe. At this moment in time we are just taking one day as it comes.”

Carers Week is often a highlight of the year for the Monmouthshire Carers Project, with the team offering a full programme of events. 2020 has seen the team thinking outside the box due to the current pandemic and the team has put together virtual events and training for carers including virtual coffee mornings to help keep people connected.

The Monmouthshire Carers Project is also using the week to highlight the support available to carers. They are calling on any carer who might need help or advice to get in contact. Support available includes social workers, community nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists and the reablement team.

Cabinet Member for Social Services, Health and Safeguarding, Cllr Penny Jones said: “I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the work of so many wonderful carers across Monmouthshire. No matter what type of caring you do, whether it’s caring for a family member or looking after a friend, you make a real difference to their lives. This week is all about you and praising the fantastic roles you play. Thank you!”

Any carer wanting to be involved and try out some of these new opportunities using digital technology  is asked to register with the team.

Email Tracey Davies – Carers Co-ordinator – tracey.davies@gavo.org.uk or Telephone 01291 675474

Buses traveling from Chepstow, after exiting Mitel Roundabout the ‘74’ will turn right onto ‘Chepstow Road’ – turn left onto ‘Woodstock Way’ – turn right onto ‘Caldicot Bypass’ – turn right at the traffic light onto ‘Newport Road’ & ‘Jubilee Way’, after approaching the mini roundabout the service will turn left onto ‘Sandy Lane’ and continue its normal journey.

The service will operate the same route (vice-versa) from Newport.

Caldicot residents may have noticed that signage has been erected by Alun Griffiths Contractors around the Cross Destination works area regarding a temporary road closure.  The closure is necessary as part of the carriageway resurfacing works currently being carried out on behalf of Monmouthshire County Council. 

It will be a two-phase closure.  During phase one a section of carriageway between the Church Road junction and the mini roundabout (Sandy Lane) will be closed from the 13th January – 10th June, 2020.

During phase two a section of carriageway between the Church Road junction towards Chepstow Road will be closed from Wednesday 10th June, 2020 for approximately 8 weeks

Traffic will be diverted through Woodstock Way for both phases and diversion signage will be in place.  The maps shown below demonstrate the area to be closed and the diversion route for both phases.

There will be a temporary two-way traffic light system in place between Church Road and either Sandy Lane or Chepstow road, depending on which phase is in progress.  Church Road will be accessible from both directions at all times.

Bus companies and Monmouthshire County Council bus services have been informed of the scheduled road closures and diversions, current timetables will not be altered.  The existing bus stops on Chepstow Road will be relocated near Jubilee Way car park and a temporary bus shelter will be provided on the verge side of the road with ‘Temporary Bus Stop’ signage provided at both locations.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused as a result of the temporary traffic management arrangements and appreciate your support during the next few months whilst the essential work is being carried out, we aim to keep disruption to a minimum during this period.

t

Monmouthshire County Council has placed a temporary traffic control order on various roads in the Clydach and Maesygwartha areas following concerns expressed by local residents. The council’s Prohibition of Driving (Except for Access) order comes into force on Monday 8th June and is necessary because work on the A465 Heads of The Valleys improvement scheme has led to non-residential traffic using local roads as a short-cut.

The effect of the order will be to temporarily prohibit driving – except for access – on the following roads:

·         Church Road

·         Orchard Close

·         Cymro Road

·         Old Abergavenny Road

·         Main Road

·         Rhonas Road

·         Maesygwartha Road

·         Forge Row, Beaconsfield

·         Old Rectory Close

and will extend into Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s highway network up to the new Hafod Roundabout.  The order will continue for 18 months or until the Heads of the Valleys works have been completed, whichever is the earlier.  Access will be maintained at all times for properties fronting the affected lengths of road during the period of the restriction.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for Infrastructure and Neighbourhood Services, Councillor Jane Pratt said: “I’m confident that this legal measure will have the desired effect and satisfy the residents of Clydach and Maesygwartha that they will no longer be inconvenienced by drivers seeking a rat run while work continues on the Heads of The Valleys dual-carriageway scheme.”

Monmouthshire County Council is asking as many residents as possible to take part in a new survey that seeks opinions and ideas about how Monmouthshire’s town and village centres could look in the future. As the county looks towards a gradual reopening of businesses and facilities, the council would like take the opportunity to re-evaluate many aspects of town – and village – centres to boost local businesses and make staying local more rewarding than ever before. 

“After the huge impact of lockdown on businesses and individuals, it seems only right to take the opportunity to rethink our town centres. How can we make them places where people will want to spend more time? We believe that we can work towards less traffic, cleaner air, more spaces to walk around, and more activities within the town centre itself. So not only would you be going to do your shopping – and we’ve got so many fantastic locally owned shops in the county – but as well as that, you’d perhaps be spending your leisure time there,” said Councillor Bob Greenland, Deputy Leader of Monmouthshire County Council, with responsibility for Economic Development.

“We are talking to our businesses and Town Councils, but we want to know what residents of Monmouthshire would like to see. We want their ideas and suggestions. This is a timely opportunity to make a real difference, for everyone to have a say in shaping the plans for the future look of our county’s towns.”

The survey is available in Welsh and English and can be found via https://bit.ly/2Brrqex and will close on 14th June 2020**. This has been prompted by the need to support Monmouthshire businesses as the county begins to ease lockdown, and into the future.

“If we can make our town and village centres even more attractive to residents and visitors, this will help our struggling businesses. With so many hit hard by the economic effects of the pandemic, shopping locally once businesses that can reopen do so, will make a real difference. We will make sure they are as safe for residents to use as possible. So in addition to asking everyone to get involved and respond to the survey, we are also asking residents to Shop Local, Shop Monmouthshire. It will help revive our town and village centre businesses after they have faced so much over the last few months.”

**Please note that, following notice being given, the closing date was brought forward from 25/6/20 as the situation has evolved.Thank you to all residents who have responded, your views and feedback is valued.

In response to the Welsh Government’s Test, Trace, Protect strategy, partners including Public Health Wales, the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and the five Local Authorities in Gwent have joined forces to establish the Gwent Contact Tracing Service which will go live on Monday June 1.

People who test positive will be contacted by the contact tracing team and asked to share details of other people they have been in close contact with, for example at home or at work.

Staff in the contact tracing service will then call all these ‘contacts’ and provide advice on what they should do. Depending on the situation, this might include:

  • Isolating at home for 14 days
  • Having a test for covid-19
  • Daily follow-up phone calls to people in order to check for  symptoms
  • Providing vulnerable people with specific advice and guidance
  • Reinforcing advice on hygiene at home and in the community, and social distancing

Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care and Safeguarding, Councillor Penny Jones said: “Contact tracing is a tried and trusted way of limiting the spread of coronavirus in the community. 

The test, trace and protect strategy will support the people who have tested positive for Covid-19 and track the people they’ve could have transmitted the virus to through recent contact.

If we all play our part, keep social distancing and isolate when instructed, we will reduce the transmission and spread of the virus. This will be a major factor in easing lockdown restrictions and enabling the social and economic recovery in Gwent.”

Judith Paget, Chief Executive of the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, said: “I’m pleased to see the track and trace programme launch in Gwent.  The approach will allow us to identify cases and ensure people who test positive isolate at home and their contacts are provided with the advice they need.  This will work to reduce the spread of coronavirus across Gwent.  I’m very proud of the work we’ve done so far, while I recognise there is still more to be done to protect the NHS and the people of Gwent.”

The most common symptoms of coronavirus are recent onset of one or more of the following:

  • A new continuous cough
  • High temperature
  • Loss of or change to sense of smell or taste

You should stay at home for seven days if you have symptoms.  If you live with someone who has symptoms but are well, you should self-isolate for 14 days.

For more information please visit the Public Health Wales website: www.phw.nhs.wales/coronavirus

Businesses in Monmouthshire should act soon if they wish to apply financial support. The Welsh Government’s Business Grants fund is closing on 30th June. More than 2,000 businesses have already registered, and many of them are already in receipt of grants of £10,000 or £25,000 which have been administered by Monmouthshire County Council. This funding is available to eligible businesses within the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors and are non-repayable. However, hundreds of businesses are at risk of losing the chance to receive this support.

Councillor Bob Greenland, Deputy Leader of Monmouthshire County Council, said: “We really want any business owner who thinks they might be eligible to get on to Business Wales website and register. At this point we believe as many as 500 businesses are going to miss out on this funding. Businesses with more than one premise can complete an application for each site. This is a vital lifeline. I would ask everyone to pass on this message so we can ensure that as many businesses as possible can get the help they are entitled to.”

Monmouthshire County Council is encouraging business owners to take the first step and check eligibility by visiting the COVID-19 Welsh Government’s business grants website: https://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice/support/financial-support-and-grants and apply online.

For additional information visit: https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/business-advice/  

Photo: Deputy Leader of Monmouthshire County Council Bob Greenland.


In recent weeks there has been much coverage in the local and national media telling the story of those on the frontline in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. From health workers to other key workers and public servants, they are rightly getting plaudits for their brave and tireless work. We have also read and seen reports week after week of other heroes in our communities who have shown ingenuity, selflessness and community spirit to help tackle the crisis.

In light of the exceptional circumstances caused by COVID-19, Her Majesty The Queen has agreed that the Birthday Honours List that was due for publication on 13th June will be delayed until the autumn. The original Birthday List was drawn up well in advance of the COVID-19 crisis and therefore did not reflect the extraordinary efforts currently underway to tackle and mitigate the crisis. Postponing the Birthday Honours means that we have the opportunity to recognise people who have:

● Worked on the frontline of their organisation or in their sector to directly support the most vulnerable members of society and people who have caught COVID-19.

● Provided critical care to COVID-19 patients.

● Made significant innovations in order to support the vulnerable and those with COVID-19 ​or​ their communities and sectors.

● Gone to extraordinary lengths to keep critical services going.

● Volunteered in the community or for service organisations in support of those affected by COVID-19.

There is a new COVID-19 honours nomination form on GOV.UK that can be used by any member of the public to nominate an individual who has been responding to coronavirus for a national honour. It is a much shorter, simpler form than usual and people making nominations do not need to provide letters of support and should not be daunted by the process. The information is at – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-honours-nomination-form

In welcoming these arrangements, the Lord Lieutenant, Brigadier Robert Aitken CBE said: “Since the crisis began, I have heard and read about examples of the exceptional contribution being made by so many individuals across Gwent in response to Coronavirus. I am hugely grateful to each and every one of them. In these unprecedented circumstances, I feel more strongly than ever that we must do all we can to ensure that the efforts of people in Gwent are fully and properly recognised with national honours. So, I encourage anyone who lives or works in Gwent to go ahead and nominate individuals for consideration for a national award for their outstanding role in the response to COVID-19. I really hope we can make the most of this opportunity as an important way of demonstrating clearly how proud we are of the achievements of people in Gwent in the face of real adversity and challenge posed by Coronavirus.”

‘Support your community and make a difference by volunteering,’ that is the call from Monmouthshire County Council at the start of National Volunteers Week 2020. The council is asking for people to offer their time to support others as it aims to build on its growing army of excellent volunteers.

Volunteers have been vital in helping Monmouthshire’s most vulnerable residents during the current pandemic and more than 60 local self-organised groups with hundreds of volunteers have sprung up in response to Covid-19. They have been supporting local people with collecting shopping, medication, telephone befriending, dog walking, letter posting, delivering recycling bags and even a television repair. These groups and the volunteers have been quick to act, responsive and friendly. Producing neighbourhood level responses to a national crisis and ensuring that in these difficult times, nobody is without food, medicine, friendship or support has been pivotal – local community action at its best.

The 1st – 7th June event will also see the council celebrating the incredibly valuable work of the many volunteers from across Monmouthshire. 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.

Volunteering roles in the local communities include:

·       volunteering in the arts, theatres and museums

·       giving their time in school to listen to readers or help out with a club

·       supporting walking for wellbeing clubs

·       supporting meals on wheels

·       supporting foodbanks

·       giving their time to the local hospital

·       participating in intergenerational activities.

People wanting to lend their time to supporting others are also being encouraged to sign up to the new ‘Our Monmouthshire’ website (https://ourmonmouthshire.org/ ) which has details of many varied ways people can help without a long term commitment.  This website also features a fantastic new ‘time banking’ function.

Monmouthshire County Council Chair, Sheila Woodhouse said: “Giving of our time to support and serve the local community, in whichever way works for us, enriches the heartbeat of our local communities and strengthens the very fabric of our society. Doing your bit for the community has a huge impact – whether through helping to give somebody a voice, or having your voice heard; whether ensuring local people have enough food to eat or ensuring a street remains litter free. Giving of our time for others is also great for our own wellbeing. The work of volunteers from across the county is amazing – and we would like to pay tribute to you all.”

Public transport in Monmouthshire has been given a boost with the announcement that the Welsh Government has awarded the council £290,000 to improve bus stop infrastructure across the county.  The award, received on 21st May, follows a successful bid for a grant by the council from the government’s Local Transport Network Fund.

The funding will enable Monmouthshire County Council to provide new bus shelters, seating, bus stop poles and flags, timetable cases, raised boarding areas and lighting in many locations.  The council’s initial priority is to install new shelters at Abergavenny, Chepstow and Monmouth Bus Stations as well as at Thornwell Primary School and the Bulwark shopping area in Chepstow.  The next measures will be to upgrade and replace broken shelters, timetable cases and seating along the X74 route between Magor, Caldicot and Chepstow, and after that, a review of existing bus infrastructure across the county will be undertaken to develop specific plans for the future.

All work in connection with the grant must be completed by 31st March next year and plans are already underway to deliver the new shelters.  The X74 project will be subject to tender while the infrastructure review will require a specification before further steps can be taken.

Councillor Jane Pratt, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for Infrastructure and Neighbourhood Services said: “This welcome funding will improve travelling by public transport in the county through increased comfort and safety as well as providing better timetabling information.  I look forward to seeing the completion of these projects by next March.”

Gardens, large and small are fantastic places for all kinds of plants and animals. Wales Nature Week is all about nature in our gardens and the fun starts on Saturday, with events running until Sunday 7th June.

Share your encounters with the amazing variety of birds, native plants, bees and bugs that share your garden. You may be lucky enough to have a hedgehog visit. And of course, you can join in if you don’t have a garden by spotting nature from your window.

To get the week off to a bumper start, join in the Big Garden BioBlitz on May 30th. Open to all, fun and free, simply go out and spot nature in your garden or from your window. Most importantly, tell everyone about your garden sightings and don’t forget to share them and tag @WBP_wildlife and @LNPCymru and @MonmouthshireCC

Join Buglife Cymru’s Conservation Officer and bee expert Liam Olds for a live Q&A on bees on Monday. If you have a question, a concern or just a story to share about bees in your garden, then ask the expert at 3pm on Monday, LIVE on Twitter @NPTWildlife

“After the recent announcement that Monmouth is the UK’s first Bee Town, it’s clear to see that here in Monmouthshire we are passionate about the environment. I look forward to seeing the many wonderful photographs of butterflies, insects, flowers and all manner of wildlife that residents of all ages will be sharing over Wales Nature Week,” said County Councillor Jane Pratt, Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Neighbourhood Services.

Throughout the week, conservation experts will be on hand to answer questions online, moth expert and county recorder, Barry Stewart will be revealing the results of a night of moth trapping live from his garden during Wales Nature Week (2nd June). Meanwhile, the Big Nature Quiz on 4th June hosted by the Wales Local Environmental Record Centres is sure to be a hit – be sure to connect online for the 7pm start.

“Events such as this highlight the importance of our natural world, as well as offering everyone the chance to stop and take a closer look at the wildlife in their neighbourhood,” said Councillor Richard John, Biodiversity Champion for Monmouthshire. “It’s going to be fascinating to see what people manage to spot in their gardens as they take part in the activities online.”

To round the week off, immerse yourself in nature to benefit from its healing powers on Nature Wellbeing day on the 6th June followed by a spot of armchair birding on the 7th June.

For a full list of events and how to get involved: https://wcva.cymru/wales-nature-week-2020/

Editor’s note: Wales Nature Week has been organised by the Local Nature Partnership (LNP) Cymru Project. The LNP Cymru initiative is a three-year project running until April 2022, funded by Welsh Government and coordinated by WCVA.

The partnership consists of all local authorities and national parks in Wales, Wales Biodiversity Partnership, WCVA and the Local Environment Records Centres. The project aims to build a nature recovery network across Wales, engaging people, communities, businesses and decision-makers in both practical action and strategic planning for a healthy, resilient and nature-rich Wales.

All key (critical) workers, their household members and their immediate contacts can be tested for COVID-19 at the testing centre at Rodney Parade in Newport.

Individuals that are symptomatic of COVID-19 should email COVID-19.Testing.Unit.ABB@wales.nhs.uk directly to request a test – they should email on the first day that they experience symptoms. Employers can continue to make a referral on behalf of their employees, especially if it is part of a strategy to get their staff back to work.

The main symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature);
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual);
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal.

Employees should always follow their employer’s sickness policy and it is the employee’s responsibility to inform their employer if they become unwell and the outcome of their test. If someone is not experiencing these symptoms but they are not well enough to attend work, they should follow the employer’s sickness policy as they would in normal practice. If an individual requires urgent medical advice, they should contact their GP or call 111. If they are experiencing life threatening symptoms, they should call 999.

Everyone tested at Rodney Parade will receive a text message with their result with a link to follow for advice and guidance.

The testing site is located at Rodney Parade in Newport and all appointments must be pre-arranged using the booking process outlined above. The centre is open from 08:00 until 18:00, seven days a week.

Everyone should continue to follow guidance from Public Health Wales, which can be found here: https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/latest-information-on-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/.

Photo: County Councillor Bob Greenland.

UK-based companies can now apply for a convertible loan of between £125,000 and £5million, to support continued growth and innovation in sectors as diverse as technology, life sciences and the creative industries.

The government has now made an initial £250million available for investment through the Future Fund scheme.

The Future Fund is targeting companies that have been unable to access other government business support programmes, because they are either pre-revenue or pre-profit.  It seeks to support innovative UK companies with good potential, that are essential in ensuring the UK retains its world leading position in science, innovation and technology. These companies typically rely on equity investment and have been affected by COVID-19.

The Future Fund is open to UK-based firms, that have previously raised at least £250,000 in equity investment from third parties in the last five years. Loans are subject to businesses securing match funding from private investors, potentially including venture capital funds, angel investors and those backed by regional funds. They will also need to have half or more of their employees based in the UK or generate at least half of their revenue through UK sales. The loans will convert to equity if not repaid.

“The Future Fund is the latest option for businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19, building upon the portfolio of funding avenues that have already been launched. It is my hope that this latest scheme will reach even more of those businesses that have fallen outside the existing offers,” said Councillor Bob Greenland, Cabinet Member for Enterprise and Land Use Planning.

Companies can check they meet the criteria for funding by going to www.uk-futurefund.co.uk/s/  

If they have secured private match funding, one of their investors can register online at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/future-fund to start the application process.

The fund will be open for applications until the end of September 2020.

Council seeks vacant properties to accommodate homeless over pandemic Monmouthshire County Council has issued an appeal to owners of vacant properties to make them available as temporary accommodation. The properties would be used to give shelter to homeless people while the coronavirus pandemic persists, and the council would be particularly interested in rented accommodation, holiday lets and rooms in B & B’s or hotels in the county. The council would take responsibility for paying rent for properties or rooms during the course of the arrangement. The pandemic has highlighted specific issues that have an adverse effect on vulnerable people and Welsh Government guidance seeks to address these, in particular those relating to rough sleepers. The council has to ensure that homeless people have access to facilities that allow them to adhere to public health guidance on hygiene or isolation in order to lower the risk of transmission to themselves and others. As a result, the council is charged with increasing the availability of emergency accommodation. Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for Social Justice and Community Development, Councillor Sara Jones said: “The council’s housing team is looking for suitable properties that could be used for emergency short-term accommodation. I’d be very grateful if landlords or owners of vacant properties we could rent on a temporary basis would get in touch with us.” Landlords and property owners able to help the council or seeking further information should contact Lindsay Stewart – lindsaystewart@monmouthshire.gov.uk – telephone 01291 635713 or 07899 040624.

Monmouth has officially been named as the UK’s first Bee Town. This recognition, awarded on World Bee Day, follows the excellent work led by Monmouthshire County Council, Monmouth Town Council and Bees for Development to make the town a better place for pollinators.

The announcement follows Monmouthshire’s successful 2019 ‘Nature Isn’t Neat’ campaign which is now being rolled out to all counties within Gwent. The campaign is funded through the Welsh Government Rural Communities under the LEADER measure of the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.   

The ‘Nature isn’t Neat’ campaign has introduced measures including selective mowing of council-managed green spaces and verges. This has allowed wild flowers to flourish, bringing with them more insects, bees and butterflies. This has reaped ecological rewards not just to Monmouth, but to towns and villages across the county.

Councillor Jane Pratt, Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Neighbourhood Services said: “This is fantastic news. Monmouth has led the way when it comes to promoting the importance of bees in the eco-system. The town has come together to support pollinator-friendly gardening. All those who have worked to promote this in the county council, the town council, at Bees for Development and all the residents of Monmouth should feel rightly proud.

“As a council we have supported the Nature Isn’t Neat scheme, since the Climate Emergency was declared last year. The results of which are there for everyone to see and we have received positive feedback from residents on social media. We will continue to implement measures as and when possible to continue to improve the biodiversity and natural habitats of our county.”

The idea for Monmouth Bee Town has been in train for some years now, with several individuals and groups in and around the town being active in making conditions here better for pollinators. Bees for Development, the Monmouth-based charity which uses beekeeping to alleviate poverty around the world, proposed making the status official in 2019, and the Town Council has enthusiastically taken the concept on board.  

Nicola Bradbear, Director of Bees for Development said: “Monmouth is a hotspot for people with expertise in bees, ecology, botany, pollinator-friendly garden design, and beekeeping with honey bees.  We now have a map of interesting bee sites in Monmouth, and are delighted by this unique bee profile for Monmouth.”

Monmouth is home to the annual Bee Festival, which unfortunately has been cancelled this year due to the pandemic. Organised by Bees for Development and held in The Nelson Garden, the Bee Festival has grown to attract hundreds of people each year to enjoy the fascinating world of bees, the benefits they bring us, and the sharing of practical information on how you can make your garden more bee-friendly.


Monmouthshire County Council has marked National Mental Health Awareness Week by highlighting some of the services it has provided to ensure residents can cope well during the coronavirus pandemic.  The council has focused on mental health while lockdown is in force and instigated a number of initiatives to help the county’s communities.

The council’s Community Wellbeing Development team has published a useful booklet listing sources of advice with information on how organisations are providing services during lockdown.  Among the organisations featured are Citizens Advice, peer mentoring service Cyfle Cymru, mental health charity Mind, Women’s Aid, Monmouthshire Housing Association’s Social Inclusion Project, the People First group for those with a learning disability and PaCE (Parent, Childcare and Employment), an employability project helping parents into work by addressing childcare barriers.

The Community Wellbeing Development team itself is supporting individuals and groups to tackle loneliness and isolation by setting up on-line communities, linking people with like-minded individuals, offering practical support to print leaflets and posters and even arranging organised singing from windows!  For details or a copy of the booklet contact Fred Weston – fredweston@monmouthshire.gov.uk – or telephone 07890 559566.

The council’s Community & Partnerships service is supporting residents undergoing self-isolation by connecting them with local volunteers who can assist with tasks like collecting essential shopping and prescriptions.  Meanwhile, local volunteer groups are helping people to stay connected in their communities with fun online activities such as dress-up days and virtual open gardens.  The team has also made calls to over 2,500 shielded people to check on their well-being as well as supporting community volunteering and local food banks.  Residents can find out more by emailing partnerships@monmouthshire.gov.uk or calling 01633 644696.

Home schooling, lack of routine for children and other factors associated with the pandemic lockdown have placed extra pressure on families so the council’s Building Strong Families team has set up a temporary advice line.  As well as offering support, the team also offers ideas and resources for activities that parents can share with their children.  Residents wishing to access the facility should telephone 01633 644152 or 07970 166975 – text and WhatsApp are available – or email: earlyhelppanel@monmouthshire.gov.uk

Monmouthshire’s Cabinet Member for Social Care, Safeguarding and Health, Councillor Penny Jones who has responsibility for mental health commented on the service: “Understandably, in these times of uncertainty and change, things might appear overwhelming at times.  Our family support workers know the importance of access to the right assistance, which is why we are running our advice line.  Our panel coordinator will take your enquiry and one of our experienced family support workers will call you back at a time that suits you to offer a listening ear, support, advice or guidance.”

The importance of reading for pleasure cannot be underestimated during lockdown and members of Monmouthshire Libraries can download free eBooks and eAudiobooks through the council’s Borrowbox service.  In these challenging times, the Reading Well collection of titles promoted by the Reading Agency can help understand and manage mental health with some titles available to download as eBooks or eAudiobooks.  For more information visit https://reading-well.org.uk/wales

The Reading Agency’s Mood Boosting Books have been chosen for their uplifting and mood-boosting qualities and some of the titles are available through Borrowbox.  For more information log onto https://reading-well.org.uk/books/mood-boosting-books

Monmouthshire Libraries also offers a free online magazine service, RBdigital, with access to current and back issues of popular wide-ranging magazine titles.  To access Borrowbox and RBdigital visit: https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/community-hubs-libraries/digital-downloads/

Councillor Penny Jones added: “The coronavirus pandemic has impacted on all of us and we recognise that lockdown may adversely affect people’s mental health.  We regard any advice and assistance that the council can offer as vital to help the county’s communities while we stay at home and stay safe.”

Our offices will be Closed on Monday 25th May

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

There will be no Refuse collection Monday 25th May, collections will be one day late.

Press release – Monmouthshire libraries encourage residents to pick up a book to improve mental wellbeing

Reading can go a long way to help improve mental wellbeing. That’s the message from Monmouthshire libraries as the council marks Mental Health Awareness week. People are being encouraged to pick up a book and make the most of Monmouthshire’s online services during this challenging period.

Studies show reading for pleasure can help you escape, utilise your mind, get your creative juices flowing, help you learn and discover new things and take you on wonderful journeys. It comes as the Reading Agency reveals the UK is reading more during the lockdown, with 1 in 3 adults reading more, rising to almost 1 in 2 (45%) 18-24 year olds.

Members of Monmouthshire libraries can download free eBooks and eAudiobooks through the council’s Borrowbox service. Borrowbox is the all Wales library digital platform for eBooks and eAudiobooks. Temporary online library memberships have now been made available for anyone wishing to use their time at home to get into a book.

The Culture and Sport Department of the Welsh Government has made £250k available to public libraries in Wales, which will enable them to provide additional Borrowbox digital resources to read and engage with. The funding has also been used to extend the range of titles on Borrowbox to support children and young adults during the lockdown period, alongside materials for health and wellbeing

Residents are also being encouraged to pick up a “Reading for Mental Health” title during these challenging times. This collection can help a person understand and manage their mental health. A range of these titles are also available to download as eBooks or eAudiobooks.

For more information please visit https://reading-well.org.uk/wales

Cabinet Member for Community Hubs, Councillor Paul Jordan said: “We know this is a challenging time for everyone and facing these unusual circumstances can have an impact on a person’s well-being. Just something as small as picking up a book can benefit our mental health and I would encourage everyone to make the most of our fantastic online library services.”

Mood Boosting Books have been chosen for their uplifting and mood boosting qualities. Some of the titles are available through Borrowbox. For more information please visit https://reading-well.org.uk/books/mood-boosting-books

Monmouthshire Libraries also offers a free online magazine service, RBdigital, with access to current and back issues of popular wide-ranging magazine titles.

To access Borrowbox and RBdigital visit  https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/community-hubs-libraries/digital-downloads/ENDS

Under the current lockdown measures, many of the usual opportunities to identify domestic abuse such as contact with professionals at routine appointments have been lost, meaning older people could be missing out on potentially life-saving help and support.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Monmouthshire County Council’s safeguarding teams and support services are still up and running, investigating concerns and ensuring that people get the help they need so they are safe.

A campaign led by a newly-formed action group set up by the Older People’s Commissioner, which includes Gwent Police, Age Cymru and the Welsh Government, is highlighting the work being done stop the abuse of older people. It is urging the public to report any concerns they may have if they fear an older person may be at risk of, or is experiencing, abuse.

While contact with other people is limited at this time, there are still signs to look out for that could indicate someone is experiencing abuse. These include physical signs, such as unexplained bruising or other injuries, or behavioural changes, such as becoming withdrawn, not being allowed to leave the house (even for daily exercise), reduced contact (including by phone or email) with family or friends, or changes in the way someone uses social media.

Anyone who has concerns about an older person should contact Monmouthshire County Council’s social services safeguarding team on 01873 735492 or their local police on 101 (in an emergency call 999).

“We all have a role to play in protecting older people. Looking out for the signs of abuse and reporting any concerns we have could literally be life-saving. I would urge anyone who has any concerns that an older person they know may be at risk of experiencing abuse to contact their council’s safeguarding team or the police,” said Councillor Sara Jones, Cabinet Member for Social Justice.

The action group is also encouraging professionals who may come into contact with older people through their work to complete a new online domestic abuse training course that has been developed by Aberystwyth University’s Dewis Choice Projecthttps://choice.aber.ac.uk/.

The training covers a range of areas, including the ways older people may experience domestic abuse, the barriers that may prevent people seeking help, the impact of abuse on people’s mental health and well-being, and the sources of help and support available. The training also includes a safety planning toolkit which has been developed based on the real experiences of over 100 victim-survivors that engaged with the Dewis Choice Initiative. 

Sarah Wydall, who leads the Dewis Choice Initiative said:

“Since isolation began, we have seen a rise in the number of practitioners contacting us for advice, particularly for guidance around safety planning in these new circumstances. We know from our experience that isolation can increase the severity of abuse and limit people’s opportunities for seeking help and support. By offering this online training and copies of our practitioner guidance, we are able to equip frontline staff with the resources to provide the best possible response to older victim-survivors of domestic abuse.”

Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Heléna Herklots CBE, said: “I would also urge key workers throughout Wales who are coming into contact with older people to complete the Dewis Choice training, as this will give them the knowledge and information they need about how to identify abuse and where they can go to get an older person vital help and support during this difficult time.”E

For more information about the work of the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, visit www.olderpeoplewales.com

ENDS

Monmouthshire County Council’s Trading Standards is keen to support a national initiative called Business Against Scams, which seeks to stop businesses falling victim to criminals currently exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of the initiative, a short online video is available free of charge, accessible to all businesses. It highlights the specific scams that are circulating at the moment and how businesses that would normally be unaffected can become situationally vulnerable. It explores how factors such as financial pressures, isolated home working and unfamiliar IT are all being manipulated to extort money from businesses.

All local traders have to supply is their name and address and after viewing the presentation they can access promotional materials that can be share amongst staff.

“This is a really helpful initiative,” said Councillor Sara Jones, Cabinet Member for Social Justice and Community Development. “Businesses are already struggling to keep going in extremely challenging circumstances, without having the additional stress of potentially being ripped off by scammers. Business Against Scams’ video is an essential resource to help protect from scams. Knowledge is the best defence we have.”

For more information about Business Against Scams and to access the video https://www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk/BAS

Monmouthshire’s foster care team is looking for committed and caring people to offer a home to children and young people within the county.  In these difficult times, it’s more important than ever that children feel safe and secure, and becoming a foster parent can be one of the most rewarding things a person will ever do!

The council is seeking people who can be positive role models and give a child or young person support, encouragement and a sense of belonging.  Applications are welcomed from those single or attached as well as people from all types of background.

Backed by the council’s fostering service, Monmouthshire is able to offer local support and training to complement the high standards of care provided by the county’s foster carers.  Fostering is just one of the very many services Monmouthshire provides and the council aims to ensure that the result is a positive one.  The application can be completed online or over the telephone, so coronavirus restrictions will not provide a barrier to residents wishing to help.

Foster parents receive great satisfaction from seeing children develop and keeping them safe as well as witnessing them achieving and reaching their potential and ambitions.  Many carers will keep in touch and make a difference to children’s lives, even when they reach adulthood.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for fostering, Councillor Penny Jones said: “You can make a massive difference to a child or young person’s life.  You could keep a local child settled in their own school or help a young person with a difficult past.  Fostering will give you a new perspective on life, you can develop new skills and qualifications and make a real difference locally.  If you’ve thought about it, now is the perfect time to apply and give a young person another chance.”

For further details text Foster to 60060, visit Monmouthshire.gov.uk/fostering, email foster@monmouthshire.gov.uk or telephone 01873 735950 – foster parents will be offered great support from the council and the opportunity to network with others in similar positions.

1The Gwent Integrated Autism Service, a partnership between the area’s five local authorities and the Aneurin Bevan Health Board, has set up online advice sessions to provide help and support for those with the condition and their families.  These will be part of a trial to replace face-to-face meetings while the coronavirus pandemic persists.  The pilot sessions will be available on 19th May, 26th May and 2nd June at 10.30am, 11.30am, 1pm and 2pm, and if successful the service will continue.

Gwent IAS manager Siân Delyth Lewis said: “Our virtual advice assistance sessions are a new development created to meet the community need for advice and support around autism while we’re in the grip of coronavirus.  We’ve had to put our face-to-face provision on hold so this is a way we can continue to support people in the community.  Feedback from previous sessions has been very good and we wanted to find a way to maintain support.”

Residents wishing to participate should book appointments by emailing asdservice.abb@wales.nhs.uk or telephoning 01633 644143.  The sessions will be run by two of the Gwent IAS support staff and conducted using the Microsoft Teams messaging app – guidance will be provided to help access the app.  Participants will need an electronic device with internet connection and they will be able to discuss any issues relating to autism.

The service has given an assurance that it is available by telephone or email to anyone uncomfortable with a virtual appointment or the use of Microsoft Teams.

County Councillor Penny Jones, Monmouthshire’s Cabinet Member for Social Care, Safeguarding and Health said: “This is a very difficult time for many, especially those with a long-term health condition, and people with autism often struggle to cope with change and managing anxiety.  I very much welcome this valuable initiative with its innovative method to support people living with autism and their families.”E


Monmouthshire County Council has announced that its Llanfoist and Five Lanes recycling centres will be reopening on Tuesday 26th May. Detailed plans have been put into place to ensure that residents’ visits to the centre are managed in a safe and structured way, complying with all current advice on social distancing.

In this initial period of reopening the council has stressed that visits to the centre should only take place if classed as essential, if it is a risk to safety or health to keep the waste at home. If the items can be recycled by the regular collections, such as cardboard, then these items should still be placed in the appropriate red or purple recycling bags for collection.

Residents will not be able to just turn up. Pre-booking is essential. Anyone turning up without a booking will be turned away at the gate. Details on how to book will be released next week, as soon as the new system is up and running and thoroughly tested. Keep an eye on social media and on the website www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/recycling-and-waste/ for details as soon as they are available.

Councillor Jane Pratt, Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, said, “We appreciate the importance of opening Llanfoist and Five Lanes  recycling centres, and thank residents for their patience while they have had to be closed. In order to reopen we’ve had to consider the safety of everyone concerned.”

“As a result, we ask that if you or anyone in your household has symptoms of COVID19 or is currently shielding, please do not visit the centres. Only go if it is essential. Do observe social distancing when you visit, and take your own gloves or hand sanitiser with you. It’s important to reduce your time at the recycling centre, and this is why we are asking for everyone to pre-sort their recycling before they leave home. Residents should take their permit with them to the centre,” Councillor Pratt explained. “Most important of all, please book if you want to use the recycling centre. Don’t just turn up. If we all work together, and stick to the guidelines, those who need to use the centres will be able to do so safely.”

Larger items of recycling can also be collected from your kerbside. The bulky waste collection service is restarting on Monday 18th May, and residents will be able to ring Homemakers on 01873 857618 from 9am to book a collection. For further details visit https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/bulky-waste-and-large-item-collections/ Due to the backlog caused by two months’ closure, the service will only collect a maximum of three items (£15 charge). If residents had a collection booked, that was not collected due to lockdown, Homemakers will be in touch.

Garden waste collections will also recommence from Monday 18th May. At this time the council is unable to process any new or renewal applications, but it is hoped this will be addressed soon. The council’s website has more information about garden waste at  https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/recycling-and-waste/garden-waste/

ENDS

Monmouthshire has set out a blueprint for administering the authority’s aims while communities face the coronavirus virus pandemic.  Cabinet met remotely last Wednesday (6th May) and agreed our strategy with an emphasis on the protection of life with support for our county’s communities so they can be sustainable and resilient.

Council Leader, Peter Fox said: “The Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has posed an unprecedented challenge to our way of life.  By clearly setting our strategic aims we will focus on the things that matter most to our residents, businesses and organisations, shaping our immediate response and our transition towards normality.”

The council will ensure that every person or family in crisis in its sights receives support and we will provide vital social care services for all who need them, including child protection, care at home and residential care.  We will also play our part in COVID contact tracing, as well as providing access to emergency food parcels for shielded people who cannot leave home, coordinating community volunteering and supporting local food banks.  To date, we’ve made calls to over 1,300 shielded people to check on their well-being.

Key workers’ children will be catered for in hub schools while the county’s other pupils will continue their education at home with emphasis placed on all receiving adequate access to digital technology.

Local businesses are to continue receiving the Welsh Government’s Covid-19 grants and we recognise that the £17m worth we’ve processed so far has been crucial to Monmouthshire’s  economy. We will do all we can to ensure prompt payment continues. 

Staff will receive the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) as required and work will continue to maximise our use of technology to provide vital services efficiently and effectively.  Domestic waste and recycling collections will be prioritised with the number of vehicles increased and resources diverted from other services.

Other measures are in place and these can be found on our website’s coronavirus pages – www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/services/planning-for-emergencies/coronavirus/

Councillor Fox continued: “Despite the challenges of the past few months, our response to the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in innovative methods of carrying out our day-to-day business.  These include rapid improvements in our digital infrastructure, attendance at remote meetings and increased cultural change with diverse teams combining as part of a single system.  These improvements can form part of a lasting legacy of transformation with needs met in new ways.  Meanwhile, my heartfelt thanks go to all staff as well as the county’s volunteers as we tackle uncharted territory.  With your help and cooperation we can succeed in consigning coronavirus to the past.”

Monmouthshire County Council is keen to update residents and clear up any misconceptions about the closure of our Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs).

There seems to be some misinformation circulating that all recycling sites in England have now re-opened, so Monmouthshire County Council is coming under increasing pressure to open its local sites. It is true that a small number of areas in England have reopened their HWRCs, but most councils across the UK (and all in Wales) are in the same position as us.

Current guidelines state that people can only leave their homes for essential travel and, at present, this does not include travelling to recycling sites.

This guidance remains in place and is likely to remain until the lockdown is reviewed by the UK and Welsh Governments. At a Welsh level, the 22 authorities are considering an all Wales approach (or at least a regional approach) as many of the contractors that receive material from HWRCs are currently closed with their staff furloughed. Consequently, our sites cannot reopen unless end destinations for material are in place.

In addition to this key factor, we will need to consider managing traffic to avoid long queues, safe operation of the sites and social distancing. 

The planning that is required around these factors will mean that there is likely to be a lead in time to sites reopening and / or sites will open on a phased basis with a system to control queueing, entry to the site, waste types and waste volumes.

Further updates will be shared as and when the position changes.

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

Friday 8th May                         Between 09:10 – 09:40 (approx.)

Friday 8th May                         Between 21:30 – 22:00 (approx.)

Saturday 9th May                    Between 09:50 – 10:20 (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. 

Independent charity Bridges has seen a large increase in residents accessing its telephone-befriending initiative since the coronavirus pandemic lockdown was announced.  Since the lockdown more people have struggled with loneliness and Bridges has helped to ease the feeling of isolation by expanding its Community Connections scheme. Such is the demand that the Monmouth-based charity has announced more than 130 new volunteers have been trained to support the service.

The Community Connections staff and the Bridges’ Volunteering for Wellbeing teams have worked together to deliver the service to more people than ever. Residents who would like to access this befriending service should call Community Connections on 01600 888481 or email: contact@befriendingmonmouthshire.org.uk

“We were befriending 14 people by phone prior to the crisis.  We now have in excess of 120 people receiving calls throughout the week.  The service is open to anyone who would benefit from a regular, friendly phone call each week,” explained Community Connections Team Lead, Vicki Pitt.

“We hope that, post-crisis, many of the relationships started during lockdown will continue to flourish and that people will be able to actually meet each other face-to-face if they wish to. The telephone befriending service will also continue as a well-established service in its own right.”

There is no doubt that these regular phone calls mean a great deal to those living alone:  Resident Mr P said: “This service has proved to be invaluable to my family during social distancing from my 92-year-old mum. She looks forward to her weekly phone call and it’s great for her to chat to someone outside the family. Thank you!” 

Telephone befriending was set up in 2018 as a short-term measure to support elderly people waiting to be matched with a face-to-face befriender. However, the service proved very popular and even when a befriender had been found, people wanted the phone calls to continue.

Councillor Penny Jones, Monmouthshire’s Cabinet Member for Social Care, Safeguarding and Health, said: “We are all grateful for the tremendous work undertaken by the volunteers at Bridges, which is making a real difference to so many Monmouthshire residents. The Community Connections scheme is an effective and unobtrusive means of providing people with company and is the perfect solution to social isolation during the pandemic. I hope that the friendships forged during these difficult times will offer support and last long after lockdown has ended.”

Bridges is an independent Monmouth-based charity, established in 1984, whose aim has always been to enhance the wellbeing of the local community. The base for its work since 2003 has been Drybridge House, an important part of Monmouth’s heritage. The charity was established to make a difference to the lives of older people, rurally isolated people, young adults with additional needs, people with mobility challenges and those who are economically disadvantaged.

A project instigated by occupational therapists and physiotherapists at Monmouthshire’s integrated health and social care team based in Monmouth’s Monnow Vale has benefitted to the tune of £12,000 thanks to the generosity of two organisations.  The Owls & Acorns intergenerational initiative, which tackles loneliness and isolation among older people, has received a cheque from the National Lottery as well as Monmouthshire Housing Association.

Owls & Acorns started as a pilot scheme two years ago in Raglan Primary to bring together older people and children from foundation phase classes to enjoy arts, crafts and exercises for one and a half hours.  This shared activity benefits both parties and the scheme has since expanded to include Usk Primary as well as Kymin View Primary and Osbaston Primary in Monmouth.  Last year, the scheme was nominated for an Aneurin Bevan University Health Board staff recognition award and has been recognised in local and national media.

The award from Monmouthshire Housing Association was granted via its Pitch for your Project funding scheme which offers the opportunity for local groups and charities with brilliant ideas for their community to bid for a cash donation.  This, together with the National Lottery cash, means security for the current Owls & Acorns activities.

When coronavirus lockdown measures are relaxed the Owls & Acorns team will return to work in Raglan, Usk and Monmouth, and in addition the cash boost will allow them to establish new projects in Monmouthshire where intergenerational opportunities are limited, either in line with existing schemes or in a manner that best fits new locations.

Chief Executive of Monmouthshire Housing Association, John Keegan said: “We are delighted to support this fantastic project to allow it to continue and expand to other parts of the county.  These initiatives don’t happen by accident; they need people dedicated to their community and willing to put in the hours to make those communities strong, active and vibrant.  We have funded several intergenerational projects over the years and love seeing people coming together and finding they have so much in common and are so willing to share their stories and time.  We wish Owls & Acorns continued success and would like to congratulate them on a really high quality bid for support”.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for Social Care and Health, Councillor Penny Jones said: “We’re very grateful for the awards from the National Lottery and Monmouthshire Housing Association.  They are much appreciated as they will improve the well-being of an increased number of older people across the county and offer them an alternative to living with loneliness and isolation.  I have seen for myself how successful Owls & Acorns is and would like to thank the staff involved for their work to develop it.”

Contact LucyHeath@monmouthshire.gov.uk for further information on Owls & Acorns.

We are experiencing issues with our Passenger Transport Team’s phone line 01633 644777

Please use the numbers below to contact the team directly for the time being –

Becky Pritchard – 01633 644797

Joe Nicholls – 01633 644947

Naomi Thomas – 01633 644729

Jacqui Hathaway – 01633 644961

Trina Perkins – 01633 644872

Estyn’s inspection of Monmouthshire County Council highlights the good progress the council has made since its previous inspection in November 2012. It recognises the clear vision and a strong focus on ensuring ‘the best possible start in life’ for children and young people.  High expectations and a commitment to strong partnership working are emphasised.  The development of exemplary safeguarding procedures is praised in the report.

Estyn acknowledges that outcomes for pupils in the authority are good.  Standards of wellbeing are strong overall and attendance is also good. Young people benefit from opportunities to contribute to decisions about issues that affect them and the local authority takes good account of their views.  There is good provision to support the needs of young people in the authority.  At a time when the issues facing young people are particularly acute the Youth Service (a part of the council’s MonLife service) provides a range of worthwhile activities, and beneficial support for vulnerable young people.  There is also a strong commitment to improve further Monmouthshire’s provision and outcomes for pupils with special educational needs (SEN).

Council Leader, Peter Fox said: “I would like to thank Estyn, all the teams involved and our partners such as the Educational Achievement Service (EAS) for their role in this process. This report shows the tremendous efforts made by everyone involved in educating and safeguarding children and young people in Monmouthshire. Everyone should be proud of Monmouthshire County Council’s on-going improvement journey.  Over the coming months the SEN strategy will be updated and more detailed information will be gathered through self-evaluation to better inform improvement planning and direct our next steps. I am really optimistic about the future of learning in our schools”.

Councillor Richard John, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People added: “I am so pleased to see the progress made in Monmouthshire’s schools has been recognised by Estyn.  We are already further developing our plans to improve outcomes for pupils eligible for free school meals, which has been a key focus for us in the recent past.  We acknowledge that we need to maintain the highest expectations on our learners achieving excellent outcomes.

“In my Cabinet role it’s good to see participation rates in extra-curricular activities such as sport being identified as a strength – these services delivered by MonLife help develop aspirations, self-esteem and social skills. I’d like to thank our teachers and other school-based staff and council officers for their excellent work

to help young people achieve.”

 Will McLean, Chief Officer for Children and Young People said: “I am so pleased that the invaluable work of our schools and educational system is recognised in this report.  From our dedicated teachers and support staff through to our challenge advisors and local authority staff there has been a sharp focus on delivering the very best outcomes for our children and young people. Everyone in this key partnership has worked so hard and continues to do so in these extraordinary times.

“The Estyn inspection process provided valuable evidence and validation of our work and I am grateful for the professional manner in which the inspection team undertook their work.  We know that there are areas we need to develop and focus our attention on.  We will redouble our efforts to provide ‘the best possible start in life’ during these challenging times and beyond.”

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a local brewery has diversified to help meet the needs of frontline workers. In recent weeks, Magor Brewery – Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I has produced hand sanitiser instead of beer to help tackle a nationwide shortage. This week, the brewery donated the results of its work – 1,000 litres of hand sanitiser – to Monmouthshire County Council’s social care teams working across the area.

Paula Lindenberg, President, Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I, said: “Demand for alcohol-based hand sanitiser has continued to increase in the UK, and there’s already a shortage. We at Budweiser Brewing Group are so grateful for the heroic efforts of our UK frontline workers, and in this unprecedented time we want to turn our attention to supporting public health efforts and ensuring those around us can stay safe and healthy.”

The sanitiser will now be available to the council’s Operations teams, who will use it in domiciliary care, the Mon Meals service, in care homes, and by recycling & waste workers.

“We will use it not only as a hand sanitiser but to sanitise the insides of vehicle cabs between shifts, on workstations and in premises,” an Operations spokesperson for the  council said. “It will go a long way towards ensuring that we are providing safe conditions for those staff who need to work in the community and the public we provide services for. We are very grateful for this fantastic donation.”


As the UK enters its fourth week of lockdown, Monmouthshire County Council continues to function around the clock to support communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Council Leader Peter Fox has urged residents to stay safe and stay home to minimise the spread of coronavirus while staff and volunteers work exceptionally hard to ensure key services continue to operate.  Everyone, including the most vulnerable in the community, is being supported at this difficult time, though there have been some inevitable disruptions to services to enable the council to concentrate on keeping the county’s residents safe.

The council’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) meets daily to assess pressures on services, respond to requests and support the authority’s many partners as they minimise impacts to the best of their ability.  The ERT will focus on the likely consequences on services and the community of a further three week lockdown.

Children of key workers have been looked after over the Easter holidays at three hubs – Deri View Primary School, Abergavenny, Raglan Primary School and Caldicot’s Dewstow Primary School – by staff from the council’s MonLife services.

The two week period saw 493 attendances for children aged four to 12 with childcare provided from 8am to 6pm.  This vital provision enabled key workers to continue their work, confident that their children were in good hands and having fun.  MonLife staff (including sport development, youth workers, leisure and outdoor adventure workers) offered a range of activities from sports, arts & crafts and forest schools to team building activities, the Daily Mile, singing and much more.

The team received much positive feedback from parents and children.  One enthusiastic child remarked, “It’s just amazing!” while a parent was delighted by her child’s soaring confidence.  She said, “Thank you for all you are doing to make sure the kids feel secure, happy and are having fun”.  The MonLife team handed back responsibility to school staff today (20th April) who will operate from seven hubs across the county.

The council’s trading standards team continues to support businesses in relation to Covid-19 related restrictions and respond to complaints of those failing to comply.  They also advise on PPE (personal protective equipment) and safety requirements, especially by clamping down on the sale of inferior and unsafe products following the lifting of restrictions on normal requirements.

In addition, the team is keeping a watchful eye on current scams.  Councillor Sara Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for trading standards said: “Residents should be aware of fraudulent activity related to the coronavirus pandemic and we have issued warnings about this on the council’s website: https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/trading-standards/  She continued: “Just this week a resident received a specific Monmouthshire County Council tax rebate scam email and I’m sure this will not be an isolated incident.  Anyone receiving an email from ‘support@covid.gov.uk’ should not respond – but please report it to our trading standards team at tradingstandards@monmouthshire.gov.uk or telephone 01873 735420.”

Meanwhile, the animal health service has reported that welfare problems are starting to increase, bringing significant impacts on the council’s resources and the wider community.  Councillor Sara Jones said: “It’s vital that any concerns are brought to our attention as soon as possible and that includes keepers of livestock who may be struggling for all manner of reasons – the sooner we know, the sooner we can help and support.”  The animal health service may be contacted at: animalhealth@monmouthshire.gov.uk or by telephoning 01873 735420.

The council’s food safety officers continue to provide a rapid response to any issues that come to their attention while enjoying cooperation from food businesses.  They have provided advice on social distancing and changes in legislation, and guidance as it is updated.

Food safety officers are also working closely with Public Health Wales to offer support in the care home sector as well as liaising with owners of holiday homes over offers of accommodation for key workers.

By Friday 17th April the council had issued nearly £14m worth of Welsh Government grants to give a huge boost to local businesses, thanks in some part to staff working over the bank holiday weekend.  Businesses that have not yet registered are urged to do so quickly, in order that the council can support them.  Their first step to check eligibility is to visit: https://businesswales.gov.wales/covid-19-grants and then register at https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/business-advice/

The Community Support Team set up to support the local response to the pandemic has already received 227 requests for support with 185 volunteers offering to help their communities.  The team is working with 60 volunteer-led community action groups and volunteers are engaged in essential food shopping, collecting prescriptions and other wellbeing based support.  In addition, volunteers have prepared and delivered over 2,600 hot meals or food packs free of charge to people in need.

Residents needing support or wishing to volunteer should contact: partnerships@monmouthshire.gov.uk or call 01633 644696.

The coronavirus pandemic has placed a considerable amount of pressure on the council’s housing team.  Its priority has been to provide accommodation and a place of safety for homeless and vulnerable clients with a focus on identifying options for new accommodation.  The team is working closely with partner agencies, the Welsh Government and private landlords and has made 50 offers of accommodation while enabling 41 individual moves.

The council’s Careline service has exploited new technology which continues the provision of lifelines without the requirement for staff to enter people’s homes.  Since lockdown was announced the council has provided 24 new Careline units and attended ten urgent maintenance calls to help older residents remain safe at home.

Communication has been a key factor in the council’s approach to the pandemic.  Regular press releases have been issued with advice and information placed on the council’s Facebook and Twitter social media channels.  Chief Executive Paul Matthews has kept staff up to date with daily bulletins while the Chair of the Council, Councillor Sheila Woodhouse, sent a message to residents at Easter.  Council Leader Peter Fox has featured in a number of informative social media videos and in the latest he urged residents to take every precaution against coronavirus.  He said:

“Thank you for everything you’ve done over the past four difficult weeks.  It’s so important to stay inside and it’s really making a difference – without this action, our hospitals would have been overwhelmed.

He added: “We will need to continue lockdown for a few more weeks.  That will be hard, but it’s crucial we don’t stop now.  We can’t let the virus take a further hold.  We must keep it under control and the only way we’re going to do that is by maintaining social distancing, sticking to the rules, staying at home and saving lives.  We can beat this together.”

A growing network of volunteers across Monmouthshire have been praised for their efforts during the COVID-19 epidemic.

Monmouthshire County Council has been overwhelmed by the support and kindness of communities which has flooded in over the last month. Volunteers and community groups across the county have been pivotal in strengthening resilience and supporting those most in need during this difficult time.

The council is currently working with 83 lead co-ordinators across 60 self-organised community groups. Through the delivery of their support, volunteers have been able to prepare and deliver 2,647 hot meals or bags of food free of charge to people in need and the most vulnerable, with over 656 active volunteers known to be helping their communities. These volunteers have answered 2,110 requests for help, with one volunteer-led group in the Chepstow area having received over 1,200 phone calls from people looking for support. The offers of help have included shopping, collecting prescriptions, making a regular friendly phone call, walking dogs, posting letters, delivering recycling bags and even a television repair!

The Community and Partnership Development team continues to work closely with volunteer action groups to offer support, advice and help with coordination. This is carried out by area development teams who support the large network of volunteer action groups. The team is also able to offer a safe recruitment service for people wanting to volunteer during the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes a free DBS check, safeguarding training and support. 

The Community and Partnership Development team’s ongoing work includes:

  • Building a picture of the volunteer requirements for each of the community action groups.  This allows the introduction of new volunteers where appropriate based on need.
  • The processing of over 100 volunteers with an enhanced DBS, safeguarding training and guide to volunteering during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Issuing guidance to volunteers relating to current PPE requirements.
  • Issuing of badges and lanyards to volunteers to allow them to carry out their duties safely and without difficulty.

Monmouthshire County Council’s Chairperson, Councillor Sheila Woodhouse said: “The sense of community spirit in Monmouthshire has always been wonderful but now it has stepped up and it is very obvious that people are looking after each other. I would just like to a say an enormous thank you to everybody. Everyone has been helping and your actions continue to improve the lives of others. We will get through this together.”

Residents who wish to become involved with a local action group or needing the support the Community and Partnership Development team should contact partnerships@monmouthshire.gov.uk or 01633 644696.


A local authority team providing help and support for families has adapted to restrictions posed by the Covid-19 pandemic by setting up an advice line.  Monmouthshire County Council’s Building Strong Families unit has created the service for families to access support and guidance while its workers are unable to carry out normal home visits.  It will continue while coronavirus controls remain in place.

Home schooling, lack of routine for children and other factors associated with the pandemic lockdown have placed extra pressure on families so the council’s Building Strong Families team will respond by providing support from Mondays to Fridays between 10am and 3pm.  The team, located within its social care and health service, also offers ideas and resources for activities that parents can share with their children.  Residents wishing to access the facility should telephone 01633 644152 or 07970 166975 – text and WhatsApp are available – or email: earlyhelppanel@monmouthshire.gov.uk

Monmouthshire’s Cabinet Member for Social Care, Safeguarding and Health, Councillor Penny Jones said: “Understandably, in these times of uncertainty and change, things might feel overwhelming at times.  Our family support workers know the importance of access to the right support which is why we are running our temporary advice line.  Our panel coordinator will take your enquiry and one of our experienced family support workers will call you back at a time that suits you to offer a listening ear, support, advice or guidance.”

People in Monmouthshire are being encouraged to continue, where possible, donating food items to support the county’s food banks.

The council is encouraging people to think of the food banks when out doing their essential shopping. Many supermarkets across the county will have a food bin at the front of store where food donations can be dropped off.

Food banks are vital in supporting people facing difficult or emergency circumstances, and even more significant in the current crisis. People in crisis are often referred to food banks from key agencies such as Citizens Advice, social services, children’s centres and health visitors etc. The referring agency then provides long-term support, if needed, to help address some of the issues behind the reasons for access to the food banks.

If the agency feels someone is struggling to put food on the table, they will issue a foodbank voucher. The referral agency can also provide long-term support if needed to help address some of the issues behind the reasons for a person’s crisis.

Monmouthshire County Council was previously able to refer people to the food bank system via local Hubs and libraries. In the current situation this is not practical and in order to continue supporting those who need emergency support, residents may now contact the council direct. Contact details are included below:

Monmouthshire Contact Centre – 01633 644644

Monmouthshire email- foodbankteam@monmouthshire.gov.uk

For more information about Monmouthshire Food Banks, people can visit

www.monmouthdistrict.foodbank.org.uk

www. chepstow.foodbank.org.uk

www.abergavenny.foodbank.org.uk

www.facebook.com/Caldicot-Food-Bank-184255561731993/

Dear all,


I wanted to write as we move forward through the most challenging time our council has ever faced. We are still reeling from the terrible flooding following the local disaster of a couple of months ago caused by Storms Ciara and Dennis and again it’s all hands back on the deck, 2020 will be year we will never forget.


My message today is in the main directed to you the officers of our authority. I write not just as the Leader but on behalf of all our elected members, who I know share my sentiments and my total admiration for all you are doing through this crisis and I know would share in wanting to articulate our sincere thanks to you all.


We will never actually know how many lives our collective efforts will have saved, but the work that is being put in by all of you will most definitely have contributed to saving many. Keeping the county running as normally as possible during such unchartered and uncertain times is fundamental. It’s fundamental to society as it provides the reassurance to citizens that we are there, reliable and dependable as ever. This is so important to people lives at a time when they are uncertain and fearful.


I want to offer our extreme gratitude to all key workers including our heroic social care and NHS staff who just keep going day after day. Many of us will not know what it’s like going to work every morning, leaving our families and putting our lives at risk. But this is the norm for many of our key workers and we can’t thank them enough. 


I want to thank our Chief Executive and all of our senior leadership team who continue to provide outstanding leadership, direction, coordination and moral support to the organisation. Without this strength we would not have been able to meet the challenge in the way we have.
We have seen these attributes mirrored throughout the Authority where you all have really stepped up to the plate in uncertain times, often against a backdrop lacking clarity, or with uncertainty around things like essential equipment.


There are so many areas where you have pulled out the stops from keeping our fantastic waste collections going; to keeping community meals going to the most vulnerable; providing social care with partners in the community; providing child care for the children of key workers; supporting the hundreds of worried businesses; to keeping things running via the call centres; to those of you being redeployed to wherever is needed; to Partnership teams coordinating the hundreds of fantastic volunteers looking after those shielded, or isolating. The list could go on and on and includes all parts of the organisation. I am truly humbled by what you are all doing and I offer my sincere thanks.


Monmouthshire is a wonderful place and is blessed with fantastic people. I am so proud to lead our county council and look forward to better times again, and I know they will come. After this things will be different for sure and hopefully society will be stronger, more caring, and focused on the things in life that really matter.


For now though our battle goes on and we are making a difference, so in the same way that every Thursday night we clap for our key workers and NHS staff today I and my colleagues applaud you and say thanks.

Have a wonderful Easter 
Stay safe,
Peter

Cllr Peter Fox OBE

Leader Monmouthshire County Council

As the Easter bank holiday weekend approaches Monmouthshire County Council, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and other partners across Gwent are sharing one simple message – stay home.

With good weather promised and a longer weekend for everyone to enjoy, key agencies are warning people may consider venturing out or ignore the government’s advice. It’s important that while the fight against coronavirus continues, everyone does their bit and stays at home.

Monmouthshire County Council and Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, along with key agencies including; Gwent Local Authorities and South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, are setting the public a number of challenges across the weekend.

On Friday 10th of April, residents are being challenged to partake in ‘Good Deeds for Good Friday,’ a day which celebrates the wonderful work of volunteers, communities and workers on the frontline who have gone above and beyond to help others during this difficult time. People are being asked to share short clips of their good deeds – whether that be a friendly phone call to a neighbour or offering to pick up their groceries. Key workers are also being asked to send in their clips of why staying at home can make a big difference to the important jobs they do. 

On Monday 13th of April, it’s all about the Bank Holi-stay. People are challenged take part in a number of activities at home and use the time to reflect on their health and wellbeing. The council, along with the key agencies, will be sharing tips, advice and challenges across social media. Monlife will be delivering a range of exercise videos for people to do from the comfort of their living room or garden. Colleagues from the council’s training department will also be sharing advice on how to look after your mental health when at home. Children are being challenged to get creative and make something Easter-inspired from all the foil, cardboard and plastic left over from Easter eggs packaging. It could be a bouncy bunny, an exciting egg, a cheeky chick. It’s also a great way to reduce the amount of waste created across the bank holiday. Meanwhile, older children and teenagers who might be tempted to head out and see their friends are being tasked with learning the popular #blindinglights dance challenge. So get those dancing shoes dusted off and the paint and glue at hand for a jam-packed weekend of fun for the whole family.

Commenting ahead of the bank holiday weekend, leader of the council, Councillor Peter Fox said: “This Easter weekend will certainly be very different than to ones in years gone by. While we might usually spend the time with loved ones and heading out and about, we are at a crucial point in our fight against the Coronavirus so I ask everyone to continue helping to save lives by staying at home. We can only beat this devastating disease if we all do our bit. Staying home is not just advice, it is the difference between life or death so please only head out for essential shopping and your daily exercise. Staying at home this weekend is a great time to spend time with the children and get involved with these exciting challenges. I look forward to seeing all the videos.”

Judith Paget, Chief Executive of Aneurin Bevan University Health Board commented: “We have started to see very early signs that people staying at home is making a difference. However, there is still a long way to go and our NHS services face unprecedented pressures – please continue to stay at home to stop the spread of Coronavirus. We are coping with the demand on our services at the moment, but that could change if people ignore the government guidelines. By following the advice to stay at home you will protect our NHS services from becoming overwhelmed and many lives will be saved. I would appeal to everyone in Gwent to play their part.”

South Wales Fire and Rescue Service Head of Home Safety & Fire Crime Unit, Group Manager Neil Davies added: “In the past few weeks our crews have attended over 170  deliberately started grass fires. These fires are putting our firefighters lives in danger, posing a serious risk to the community and can cause significant damage to property and the environment. To help us combat this issue, every week were setting #OurHomeHeroes a Chief’s Challenge and over the bank holiday weekend we want you to design a poster that will help us stop deliberate grass fires in South Wales. The most creative posters will be displayed in our fire stations and shared on our social media channels. To enter, simply DM us your entries, tag us @SWFireandRescue or send them to us direct at media@southwales-fire.gov.uk. Children under 13 – please ask a responsible adult to help you. The competition will close at 2pm on Wednesday, April 15th and a winner will be announced on Thursday, April 16th. Anyone who has information about deliberate grass fires should contact 101 immediately, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Anybody who sees a fire, or anyone starting a fire, should call 999 immediately.”

For all those who take part in the challenges, please share your videos #GoodDeedsFriday on Good Friday and #bankholistay on Easter Monday.

Our offices will be closed over the Easter period as follows:

Friday 10th,  Monday 13th & Tuesday 14thApril

If you need emergency assistance during this time

please telephone  0300 123 1055

For Social Services – 0800 328 4432.

Please note there will be no recycling & waste collections on Monday 13th April,

Collections will be one day late during that week  

Councillors, staff and volunteers at Monmouthshire County Council continue to work exceptionally hard to ensure key services operate as the COVID-19 pandemic reaches a crucial stage across the country. The council has sustained its call to residents to stay safe and stay home to minimise the spread of coronavirus and reduce pressure on the NHS.

The scale and nature of the pandemic means that the council has taken every possible measure, including the redeployment of staff and intense planning, to support all residents, especially the most vulnerable in the county.

Westminster and the Welsh government have relaxed or amended legislation and the council’s Emergency Response Team has seized the opportunity to implement changes and reduce impacts on residents as rapidly as possible.

Coordination across the organisation has been key to the many initiatives implemented. Recycling and waste collections have continued as normal although some routes have operated on a different pattern because staff are unavailable due to self-isolation.

The council is endeavouring to ensure any missed collections due to lack of staff are dealt with as soon as possible. Meanwhile, lack of staff has led the council to temporarily suspend its garden waste collection service after Friday 3rd April. This follows last week’s closure of household waste recycling centres across the country.

The council has tried to maintain other services as long as possible, but the safety of residents and waste collection staff is paramount. Reducing non-essential services will allow the council to continue to operate priority waste collections. Additional factors leading to the decision to suspend garden waste collections are that supermarkets are unable to store and issue garden bags and containers safely and the closure of certain parts manufacturers may reduce the number of council vehicles in operation. Customers who have already paid for the service will have their permit extended when the collections service restarts. Supermarkets and other retailers will continue to stock the council’s red, purple and food waste bags.

Up to date information is available at:

https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/recycling-and-waste/

The Monmouthshire Meals service which distributes cooked food to the vulnerable across the county is operating as normal but an increase in demand means that it is at nearly full capacity. To cope with this, an extra evening round of deliveries has been introduced.

The council has created an inter-disciplinary Community Support Team to support the local response to the pandemic which has already received over 125 calls for support with 97 calls from those wishing to volunteer and help their local community. Area development teams are working directly with volunteer-led community action groups offering support, guidance and help with coordination.

The council is actively looking to increase the number of volunteers engaging safely in their community during the COVID-19 pandemic and is offering them an opportunity to obtain a DBS check, complete safeguarding training and receive a guide to volunteering. The team is also able to connect self-isolating residents with volunteer action groups to help them with matters like essential shopping or telephone befriending.

Residents needing support or wishing to volunteer should contact: partnerships@monmouthshire.gov.uk or call 01633 644696.

During the Easter holidays two hubs providing care for children of key workers will be open between 8am to 6pm from Monday to Friday. These are at Deri View Primary School, Abergavenny and Caldicot’s Dewstow Primary School and will be organised by MonLife employees redeployed from leisure centres, libraries, the youth service and elsewhere.

Monmouthshire is a leader in embracing digital technology and it has enhanced its reputation in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Staff are successfully holding virtual meetings across the organisation and participating in a weekly Digital Cwtch session where they can raise issues or concerns. Within days, the council will establish 600 further IT accounts so that employees currently unable to communicate digitally with colleagues can receive emails and access the MCC Coronavirus Communication Hub – a source of news, information, helpful tips, FAQs and emergency contact details – powered by Microsoft.

Like other teams, Monmouthshire’s environmental health food safety officers have adapted well to working remotely from home with support from the council and have enjoyed the resulting benefits of increased trust and willingness to help.

They have been in touch with businesses looking to diversify or change operation while the coronavirus pandemic persists to offer guidance, advice and interpretation of government rules. Environmental health officers have also appealed to the county’s residents to be good neighbours during these difficult times and ensure their activities cause no unnecessary disturbance.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for public protection, Councillor Sara Jones said: “With all of us largely confined to our homes please ensure music levels are appropriate and if taking advantage of the fine weather to carry out garden clearance I ask you to think twice about a bonfire.

Good air quality is crucial for those with respiratory conditions, particularly at the moment, so if planning a bonfire make sure weather conditions are appropriate, burn dry material only and do not allow the fire to smoulder for long periods.”

By Friday 3rd April the council had issued £5.09m worth of grants to 359 businesses and it will endeavour to pay 80% of all eligible grants within three weeks. Businesses that have not yet registered are urged to do so quickly, in order that the council can support them.

Their first step to check eligibility is to visit: https://businesswales.gov.wales/covid-19-grants and then register at https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/business-advice/

Monmouthshire’s Highways Operations team is focusing efforts on urgent and emergency work only and no planned maintenance schemes will be undertaken until the Welsh Government gives the go ahead to lift its restrictions.

The team will react to emergencies, such as road traffic collisions, fallen trees, emergency road sweeping, obstructions and hazards as well as undertaking its normal winter service.

It is also supporting other departments and colleagues in urgent and emergency work. The council is following guidance provided by Welsh Government regarding highways street works for a coordinated approach throughout Wales and consequently, many schemes have been postponed and events cancelled or postponed. In addition, utility companies are concentrating on emergency and reactive works so meetings between them and the council have been suspended until further notice. The council’s weekly roadworks report is of particular assistance to the emergency services and highways duty officers at this time.

The county’s community hubs and libraries remain closed in line with government advice but staff are joining forces with other teams across the council to provide assistance where most needed. All community education services continue to be suspended. Staff have recently upgraded the library registration process so residents are able to register online via the library service catalogue to gain immediate access to digital resources such as audio and e-audio books, magazines and comics.

More information is available on the council’s library online information web pages. Cemeteries in Monmouthshire remain open but in line with government regulations funerals are restricted to five mourners. Drivers from the council’s Passenger Transport Unit (PTU) have been redeployed to collect waste and recycling as well as deliver community meals across the county and parcels from the Chepstow, Abergavenny and Caldicot food banks. The PTU will run a free bus service from Usk to Raglan Post Office on Mondays following the closure of Usk’s community hub and its in-house postal service.

The 65 (Monmouth to Chepstow via Trelech), 75 (Sudbrook – Caldicot – Caerwent) and W (local Monmouth town routes) Saturday services are suspended due to lack of demand but the council’s volunteer-run Grass Routes service continues to operate. To accommodate social distancing only two passengers per vehicle are permitted. Council Leader Peter Fox said: “I’d like to thank all those across the council, in the county and those key workers who are involved in the fight against coronavirus. We’re all working around the clock to keep vital services afloat. Meanwhile, even though it’s great that the vast majority of residents are observing the need to stay at home and stay safe, a stubborn minority are still out and about.

“I can’t emphasise enough that a failure to follow government advice on social distancing means that our ability to contain and ultimately defeat coronavirus is greatly diminished. The more assiduously we follow government advice, the sooner we can return to normal. This is a marathon, not a sprint – we’ll all have to make changes to our lives for many weeks to come. The weather forecast looks promising for the week ahead but please do not be tempted to venture out. I urge everyone to stay safe and stay at home to protect lives.”

 Kind gestures by two high street retailers have ensured that each pupil attending Monmouthshire’s hub schools for children of key workers will enjoy the welcome treat of Easter eggs. Thanks to the generosity of W H Smith of Bristol’s Cribbs Causeway shopping centre and Wilkinson’s Magor depot, 180 children received Easter eggs at schools in Abergavenny, Caldicot, Chepstow, Rogiet, Monmouth and Raglan. Pupils have been supervised and taught by school-based staff but over the Easter holidays they will be replaced by staff redeployed from the council’s MonLife service in two premises – Deri View Primary School, Abergavenny and Caldicot’s Dewstow Primary School. Councillor Richard John, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for Children, Young People and MonLife said: “I’m very grateful to both organisations for providing Easter eggs to those pupils within our seven key worker hub schools. These will be much appreciated I’m sure when they open them on Easter Sunday! I’d also like to thank our wonderful school staff who have successfully adapted to a new form of working in premises other than those in which are normally based while observing practices relating to social distancing. This guarantees that key workers may be confident their children can continue their education overseen by experienced and proficient personnel. I’m also sure that the skills MonLife staff will bring to the schools over the holidays will keep the children fully engaged.”

A new social networking platform has launched to support communities during the Coronavirus crisis and beyond.

Our Monmouthshire has been created to help communities share information and exchange kind offers of help. The aim behind the platform is to reduce social isolation through these connections, helping people access support and offer assistance to neighbours where they can. The council has been working with technology partner Made Open to develop the platform, which offers a safer alternative to many social media platforms that people are using to exchange help and support.

Local organisations are invited to add their service listings which are checked by the team before going live. Members of the public are also required to go through a reference checking process before they can join the time bank and start exchanging offers and requests with other members.

Social distancing has resulted in anxiety for residents who rely on organisational and community support, but self-isolation doesn’t mean you are on your own. There is a lot of help available and we are inviting anyone living or working on Monmouthshire to sign up and get involved.

Councillor Sara Jones, Cabinet Member for Social Justice and Community Development said: “As a council, we strive to build sustainable and resilient communities. In these difficult times this is more than important than ever. Our volunteering networks and kind citizens remain at the heart of meeting those objectives and our job is to support them to continue to do an amazing job. I’m proud to help in launching this exciting new platform which will give our residents the tools to be able to help and support others.

For more information about the platform and the registration, please visit www.ourmonmouthshire.org

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 8th April               Between 08:45 – 09.15 (approx.)
  • Wednesday 8th April               Between 21.15 – 21.45 (approx.)
  • Thursday 9th April                    Between 09:30 – 10:00 (approx.)
  • Thursday 9th April                    Between 21.55 – 22.25 (approx.)
  • Friday 10th April                       Between 10.15 – 10:45 (approx.)
  • Friday 10th April                       Between 22.35 – 23.05 (approx.)
  • Saturday 11th April                  Between 10.50 – 11.20 (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. 

The council is aware that many businesses are not making the most of the support that is there for them.

If you occupy business premises in Monmouthshire with a rateable value of £12,000 or less, or you are a retail, leisure or hospitality business with a rateable value of £12,001 to £51,000 you should be registering for a business grant NOW. A number of those who have successfully registered are already in receipt of the funds. Unless you fill in the online form, you will not receive the help you could be eligible for.

If you come under the Small Business Rates Relief, and you currently don’t pay business rates, you are still eligible to register for the grants.

The grants of £10,000 and £25,000 (which will not need to be paid back) will be administered by Monmouthshire County Council and registrations will be processed as soon as possible, subject to checking.

Welsh Government business grants are available in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is estimated that up to 2,000 potentially eligible firms in Monmouthshire are yet to fill in the online registration form.

These grants will not automatically be paid to you. We need your details, so register online.

Your first step to check eligibility by visiting https://businesswales.gov.wales/covid-19-grants and then register athttps://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/business-advice/  

The Welsh Government also has announced further financial support for businesses not covered by these grants. For more details and other available support  https://businesswales.gov.wales/financial-support-and-grants

People who are employed or self-employed are being encouraged to apply for financial support following the recent announcement from the UK Government. The packages of support are available to help protect incomes during the coronavirus outbreak.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

If it is both agreed between an employee and employer, workers might able to be kept on the payroll if they’re unable to operate or have no other work options. This is known as being ‘on furlough’. An employer could pay 80% of a person’s wages through the UK Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, up to a monthly cap of £2,500, companies can top it up by a further 20% to 100%. The scheme is expected to to be up and running by the end of April.

Further information is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-guidance-for-employees

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

Those who are self-employed and have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak will also be eligible to receive a cash grant worth 80% of their average monthly trading profit over the last three years up to £2500 per month. HMRC will contact people if they are eligible and invite them to apply online, payments will be made in June with a lump sum backdated to March.

Further information is available at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme

Monmouthshire County Council has taken the difficult decision to cease its garden waste collections from Friday 3rd April until further notice.  The council has strived to deliver its waste and recycling services as far as possible, but the number of colleagues within the collections team having to self-isolate in light of the COVID-19 pandemic has made this position increasingly demanding.  In addition, the government has requested non-essential services are locked down to preserve life and reduce the spread of the corona virus.

This follows last week’s closure of household waste recycling centres across the country. The council has tried to maintain other services as long as possible, but the safety of residents and collection staff is paramount.  Reducing non-essential services will allow the council to continue to operate priority waste collections.

Collections of residual waste, food waste and recyclables will continue for as long as possible and releasing garden waste vehicles will help maintain these core services.  Additional factors leading to the decision are that supermarkets are unable to store and issue garden bags and containers safely and the closure of certain parts manufacturers may reduce the number of council vehicles in operation.

Customers who have already paid for the service will have their permit extended when the collections service starts again.

Supermarkets and other retailers will continue to stock the council’s red, purple and food waste bags.

Councillor Jane Pratt, cabinet member responsible for recycling and waste said: “We are acutely aware that a great many householders have only just paid for the garden waste collection service and that some are yet to receive their first collection.  This is not a decision that has been taken lightly.

“Our priority must be protecting the lives of residents and our dedicated team of workers while maintaining our core services as long as possible.  We ask that you bear with us.  We will do all we can to restart the service as quickly as possible.”

She continued: “I would ask that residents do not phone the call centre about garden waste collections at this time. Staff are fully engaged dealing with high volumes of calls regarding vulnerable residents with health conditions. Many of these have been told to self-isolate, so are in need of support to receive food and medical supplies. I am sure everyone will understand that these people’s needs must be prioritised.”

The resumption of garden waste collections will happen as soon as possible.

Meanwhile the council has suggested practical measures residents could adopt to help reduce garden waste. The cutting height of lawnmowers could be raised, while mowing more frequently without collecting clippings will help fertilise the ground and reduce the amount of waste for disposal.  Home composting offers a viable alternative for treating and storing garden material, provides a long-term soil improver and is a practical option while garden collections are suspended.

For further information on the council’s waste and recycling service visit https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/recycling-and-waste

Over the last few weeks, Monmouthshire County Council has been overwhelmed by the wonderful support offered by communities looking to help neighbours and friends during the COVID-19 outbreak. Community action groups have grown in their numbers and amazing acts of kindness have been witnessed. Over 30 community-led action groups have been set up across the county all with the aim of supporting others in this time of need.

Volunteering plays a vital role in the support network offered to the most vulnerable during this time and the council is encouraging more people to think about how they might be able to help their neighbours. It could be as small as a smile when passing by or offering to collect basic supplies like groceries – it all makes a big difference.

To build on this amazing generosity, Monmouthshire County Council’s Community & Partnership Development Team is asking anyone who might be able to offer their time to get in touch with them. The team can provide people with a DBS Check, information and guidance, training and link volunteers to people needing support. The aim of this support is to ensure the people offering the help and those receiving it, feel as safe and comfortable when doing so. The Community & Partnerships Development Team is also encouraging community action group leaders who haven’t yet contact them to get in touch in order to continue developing the network or opportunities.

Cabinet Member for Social Justice and Community Development, Councillor Sara Jones said: “In times like these, Monmouthshire’s greatest asset is its people and communities. We have witnessed amazing acts of kindness and communities coming together even stronger than before. Thank you to everyone who is putting yourselves and your time forward to help others.  I would like to encourage everyone to think about how you could help someone else in your community. Something as small as a phone call to an elderly neighbour or offering to put the bins out for those who are in isolation can make the world of difference.”

Monmouthshire County Council is also issuing advice to people who may be volunteering on simple dos and don’ts in order to keep everyone involved safe.

Do:

·       Pick up the phone to chat to anyone who’s self-isolating. Ask if they need any food/supplies/medicines to be picked up

·       Pick up any urgent or essential supplies during your one trip out that day – simple shop for others while you shop for yourselves

·       If they’ve got a smart phone/tablet teach them how to use it so they can see people – Digital Communities Wales has a team of expert trainers and advisors on hand to help get people on line  just phone them on 0300 111 5050

·       Encourage people to open the window to get some fresh air and listen to the birds

·       Keep washing your hands and follow all social distancing guidelines i.e. stay 2 metres apart

Don’t:

·       Go into people’s homes

·       Go within 2 metres of people (knock doors, and leave bags on the door step)

·       Don’t start being trusted with credit cards or taking money out for people who you don’t

·       know

There are many ways to get in contact – anyone wanting to offer their help is asked toemail Partnerships@monmouthshire.gov.uk where they will be directed to the correct team or telephone Monmouthshire’s central contact number (01633) 644696. People can also register their interest via ourmonmouthshire.org which allows users to share information, ideas, skills and resources. This platform hopes to support this community action and make offers of help much easier to access.

Following the recent temporary closure of the Post Office in Usk due to government advice, Monmouthshire County Council will now operate a free bus service for residents to allow them to access the service in Raglan.

From Monday 6th April Usk, residents will be able to book a place on the bus, which will run on a Monday and Wednesday between 10am and 12pm. A maximum of four people will be allowed per trip to enable social distancing.

Residents can book a slot by calling 0800 085801 24 hours in advance. The booking line is open Monday to Friday 9:00am to 4:30pm, so Monday bookings need to be made on a Friday.  This is a trial at this stage and will be reviewed.

Councillor Paul Jordan, Cabinet Member for Community Hubs said: “It’s great to see this innovative solution to ensure residents can continue to access these important services. We know that the Post Office is a lifeline for people at this difficult time so we hope this interim solution will help those residents continue to use the service.”

Although many have applied for Welsh Government business grants offered in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, up to 2,000 potentially eligible firms in Monmouthshire are yet to fill in the online claim form. The grants of £10,000 and £25,000 will be administered by Monmouthshire County Council and applications will be processed as soon as possible. There are concerns that businesses have wrongly assumed that the grants would be automatically applied. This is not the case. It is vital that any businesses that could be eligible apply online.

Monmouthshire County Council is encouraging business owners to take the first step and check eligibility by visiting the COVID-19 Welsh Government’s business grants website: https://businesswales.gov.wales/covid-19-grants and apply online.

The Welsh Government will advise on further financial support for those businesses not covered by these grants which are not a loan, they are non-returnable grants.  Firms with a rateable value of less than £12,000 are eligible to submit their details on-line for up to two premises, for a £10,000 grant per premise. Firms may still be eligible for the grant even if they don’t have any business (tax) rates to pay. Those premise with a rateable value between £12,001 and £51,000 have the option for grant funding of £25,000 for EACH property they pay business rates for.

Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for enterprise said: “This is a vital lifeline for local businesses at a time of immense strain. I would encourage them to visit the website, check their eligibility and apply immediately. We have already had many applications, but it is clear that a greater number of businesses have not taken the first step of applying. The sooner this is done, the sooner more businesses can receive the help they deserve and need. Please pass this message on to other businesses in Monmouthshire. We do not want anyone to go under as a result of this crisis.”

For additional information visit: https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/business-advice/  

 Monmouthshire County Council is functioning around the clock to support communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. With residents urged to stay safe and stay home to minimise the spread of coronavirus, councillors, staff and volunteers are working exceptionally hard to ensure key services continue to operate. Everyone, including the most vulnerable residents in the community, are being supported at this difficult time though there have been some inevitable disruptions to services to enable the council to focus on keeping the county’s residents safe. Home carers continue to visit people and provide necessary care, while meals are delivered to provide food and a friendly face to residents in need. Free school meals are provided to ensure that eligible students have access to a nutritious lunch each day. No changes have been made to waste collections and the council has requested residents to recycle as much as possible. All household waste recycling centres and Llanfoist’s Reuse Shop will be closed until further notice. In addition, new registrations for the garden waste service and the bulky waste collection service have been suspended. Specific local shops and supermarkets will stock Monmouthshire’s recycling bags for residents to collect. All schools have been closed and seven key worker hubs have been set up to provide childcare for key workers. These are sited in Abergavenny’s Deri View Primary and Llanfoist Primary, Dewstow Primary in Caldicot, Rogiet Primary, Thornwell Primary in Chepstow, Monmouth’s Overmonnow Primary and Raglan Primary. Councillor Richard John, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People said: “I am grateful for the work that is taking place across Monmouthshire to support children of key workers and our vulnerable learners. These are exceptional times and the way in which we do this will change and develop in the coming days, but we are committed to providing this support in a resilient and sustainable way.” The council has urged ratepayers to get in touch if they experience difficulty paying council tax – it may be possible to spread instalments over 12 months to reduce monthly payments or defer initial instalments to a later date. It can also look into the potential entitlement to Council Tax Reduction and free school meals for those on a low income or receiving benefits such as Universal Credit. The council is aiding businesses by undertaking daily payment runs and paying all invoices on the date approved rather than when they fall due, thus ensuring suppliers receive their money as quickly as possible. It has also published a newsletter on its website to advise businesses about how they can help to enable invoices to be paid swiftly. The council will administer Welsh Government business grants and will process them as soon as possible. The county’s businesses are advised to check their eligibility by visiting the Welsh Government’s COVID-19 business grants website. The Welsh Government will offer guidance on financial support for businesses not covered by these grants. Most businesses with a rateable value of between £12,000 and £51,000 can receive support for all premises. Businesses with a rateable value of £12,000 or less can receive support, subject to a maximum of two properties. Meanwhile, businesses are urged to submit their details via the online form on the council’s website to ensure information is up to date. The council’s community hubs in Abergavenny, Monmouth, Chepstow, Caldicot and Usk are all closed, as is Gilwern Library. In addition, all community education services have been suspended. Monmouthshire’s tourist information centres are closed, but the service may be accessed by phone and email: • Abergavenny Tourist Information Centre – abergavennytic@yahoo.com – 07854 997541 • Chepstow Tourist Information Centre – Chepstow.tic@monmouthshire.gov.uk – 01291 623772 Comprehensive visitor information is available on the VisitMonmouthshire.com website but the council’s key message for its tourism base is: ‘Please do not visit Monmouthshire at this time. Stay safe at home, and we’ll be here with a warm welcome when this is all over. Dream Now, Visit Later.’ Office-based staff are working remotely via the Microsoft teams system. Meanwhile, call volumes into the council’s contact centre have been high so more staff have been redeployed into this area to provide support. The council has set up an emergency response team which meets daily to deal with issues as they arise, while information to the public has been provided by a dedicated web section – https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/services/planning-for-emergencies/coronavirus/ – as well as its Facebook and Twitter social media channels. All building closures are itemised on: https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/building-closures/ The council’s licensing team has ensured that closures to pubs and restaurants are followed in line with government policy. It has also closed the county’s taxi ranks. Cold nights have meant that gritting teams have been busy patrolling the county’s roads to ensure they’re safe for motorists. This is particularly important for key workers and emergency services who need to drive to carry out their duties. All MonLife leisure centres in Abergavenny, Caldicot, Chepstow and Monmouth are closed but no payment will be taken from direct debit members while they remain shut. Additionally, memberships have been automatically frozen so customers will not be affected adversely. Also, MonLife has created a YouTube channel – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJuPmBPWvKE2IkAznwMMiSA – which will regularly feature videos promoting fitness. MonLife youth clubs and youth centres are also closed but youth workers will remain active online to offer necessary support and information. Young people and their families can contact them using the online form: https://www.monlife.co.uk/youth-digital-support-form/ Council Leader Peter Fox said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has presented us with an extraordinary and unprecedented crisis but I’m proud of how all areas are working flat out to support people. Key workers continue to deliver essential services and I’d like to thank all employees as well as volunteers for their sterling efforts to keep us safe. It’s wonderful to see the many voluntary groups that are being set up all across the county. If anyone would like to get involved please contact: partnerships@monmouthshire.gov.uk “This is such a worrying time for people. My thoughts are with you and we are here to support you. Comprehensive advice for businesses is available at: https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/business-advice/. If anyone is worried about their council tax you can find information at: https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/council-tax-advice/ “I’d also like to thank the vast majority of Monmouthshire’s residents, businesses and organisations who have adjusted to this very difficult time by staying at home and maintaining social distancing. Continue to stay safe and stay home so together we can defeat COVID-19.”

Council’s trading standards officers provide advice to counter coronavirus scams Monmouthshire’s trading standards team is warning the county’s communities to be aware of people taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to carry out scams. The advice is in line with that given by National Trading Standards – the UK body set up to protect consumers and safeguard business from fraud. Reports have been received from other parts of the country that people have been offered miracle cures or non-existent vaccines for coronavirus while bogus emails have promised a refund on taxes in order to fraudulently obtain personal and bank details. Other scams include an offer to carry out shopping or collect medication and asking for money in advance before disappearing, and people impersonating healthcare workers to gain access to homes. Trading standards officers have issued the following tips to residents to avoid being caught out: • Be cautious and listen to your instincts. Don’t be afraid to hang up, bin it, delete it or shut the door. • Take your time; don’t be rushed. • If someone claims to represent a charity, ask them for ID. Be suspicious of requests for money up front. Check with family and friends before accepting offers of help if you are unsure. • If you are online, be aware of fake news and use trusted sources such as .gov.uk or NHS.uk websites. Don’t click on links in emails. • Only purchase goods from legitimate retailers and take a moment to think before parting with money or personal information. • Know who you’re dealing with – if you need help, talk to someone you know or get in touch with your local trading standards service. • Protect your financial information, especially from people you don’t know. Never give your bank card or PIN to a stranger. Residents who believe they have been scammed should contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. If they need advice, they should call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133. Meanwhile, residents should contact their bank if they think their accounts have been compromised. Councillor Sara Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for trading standards said: “The coronavirus pandemic has brought forward many good people who have offered their services for the benefit of society but the county’s residents should be aware that not everyone out there is trustworthy. Some will take advantage of this unusual situation we’re currently facing. Generally, we should exercise caution and if an unexpected offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.”

Monmouthshire County Council shares plans to support small businesses  As the country takes steps to contain coronavirus virus with people staying at home and many small businesses closing with immediate effect, plans have been developed to help these enterprises continue to trade once the pandemic is over. Monmouthshire County Council will be administering Welsh Government Business grants. However, only business rate payers are currently eligible – for details see https://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice. To apply visit: https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/business-advice/ The Welsh Government will advise on further financial support for those businesses not covered by these grants and updates will be shared on Monmouthshire County Council’s website when they are available – the council advises it’ll be worth bookmarking the site for future reference. Key messages: In order to pay the grant the council needs to know the contact details, bank details and other relevant details of the county’s businesses. A council spokesperson said: “To help us help you, please complete the business registration form as a matter of urgency. As soon as grants become available we will be able to pay you directly.” A quick overview of the current grants available follows: • A grant of £25,000 will be available to retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value of between £12,001 and £51,000. • A grant of £10,000 will be available to all businesses eligible for Small Business Rates Relief with a rateable value of £12,000 or less. • A separate scheme and funding will be announced next week for those businesses which are home based, etc. Again the council will update its website with the information as soon as it is available. • In addition, retail, leisure and hospitality businesses receive 100% business rates relief for the financial year 2020/21. These will have already received their 2020/21 rates bill for this year as the government’s announcement was made after the bills had been produced. The spokesperson added: “ Don’t worry, the relief will be applied by the council and your account will be credited automatically. A new rates bill will be sent to you shortly.” o Support will also be available to enable businesses to pay 80% of their employees’ salaries based on their February payslips – further details will follow. o A new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) has been announced which is designed to assist qualifying businesses during these unprecedented times. The scheme is also available to support long-term viable businesses which may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional finance. The loan will be provided by the British Business Bank through participating providers during the Covid-19 outbreak. Search the Business Wales website for more information. o A new £500,000 fund is available for technology companies which provide digital support solutions for people who need to stay at home because of coronavirus. Search ‘Techforce19’ challenge for more information – funding of up to £25,000 per company is available. o Business Wales is also offering webinars aimed at Welsh SMEs (small and medium enterprises) affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The ‘Covid-19 and Your Business’ series covers key topics in aid of every business owner and sole trader, who want to minimise the impact of the virus and improve the survivability of their ventures. To sign up visit the Business Wales website. Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for enterprise said: “We know that this is a very anxious time for everyone. I would like to thank Monmouthshire’s small businesses for supporting the country by staying safe and staying home. There are various options available to help businesses cope with the challenges ahead. Please contact us, we are here to help.” He added: “Don’t forget, there are things we can all do to help our local businesses to stay open. Where you can, buy locally on line. Many of our cafes, pubs and restaurants are also offering take away and delivery services so why not take a break from the store cupboard and treat yourself and save a local business while doing so.”

Advice on how to improve broadband during coronavirus

Many people may have been asked to work from home or will be relying on digital connectivity while they self-isolate.

Below are some practical steps that can be taken at a property to help boost speeds. Quick fixes for broadband:

  • Check your router – if you’ve had your router for some time, it may need an upgrade. Check with your internet provider to make sure you have the most up to date version.
  • Consider moving your router if you can – for maximum coverage place your router in the middle of the property and make sure it isn’t blocked by any dense structures.
  • Consider WiFi boosters, extenders or powerline networks – these are small and simple devices, that can improve the strength and range of a WiFi signal. They are plugged either directly into your router or into electrical outlets using antennas or cables to replicate and extend a connection. If you have certain rooms where the WiFi signal strength drops off, this could be a solution.
  • Mobile hotspots – this allows a mobile phone to be used as a source of WiFi. This is usually activated in your mobile phone’s settings. Check with your mobile phone provider first to find out if there are any costs for using this service.
  • MiFi devices – these are portable devices that allow you to connect to the internet from wherever there is a good mobile signal. Mobile signals are usually stronger in elevated rooms, or an attic, which may be an ideal location for this type of device
  • Try an alternative connection – where available, mobile/4G broadband can be a quick option for connectivity and this doesn’t mean using a mobile phone. A broadband router can be installed to connect your property to broadband via a 4G mobile network. In areas where a 4G signal might not be strong indoors, an external antenna can be attached to the side of your property. You don’t need cables or a phone line. There are now also unlimited data packages available with a number of providers. Boosting mobile signal indoors:
  • Cavity insulation, thick stone walls, metallic coated insulation materials and many other factors can have a detrimental effect on indoor mobile phone signals.
  • Femtocells may provide a possible solution. These are small, low powered mobile phone transmitters designed for indoor use, with a limited range of typically 200 metres. They are designed to provide a mobile phone signal at a property. Femtocells require an existing broadband connection and are provided by the mobile phone operators, either free of charge, or for a small fee.

Registration for Key workers only

Letter to parents: Preparations to support key workers through the provision of childcare

At the end of the school day on Friday 20th March 2020, all schools in Monmouthshire will close for the near future; we do not know when the return to school will be.

The Government has stated in its latest advice:

          If children can stay safely at home, they should, to limit the chance of the virus spreading. That is why the government has asked parents    to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend.’

From Monday 23 March 2020, we are establishing nine provisions across the county that will enable us to provide support and care for the children of key workers across the county. 

This will enable those workers to continue to make their key contribution in the fight against COVID-19 and is in line with the strategic objectives of our response to the emergency.  We have chosen this scope of provision because it maintains the key objective of school closures i.e. reducing the transmission of the virus.

The nine schools (selected for their size and location) will be:

  • Deri View Primary School (Abergavenny)
  • Llanfoist Fawr Primary School (Abergavenny)
  • Dewstow Primary School (Caldicot)
  • Rogiet Primary School (Caldicot)
  • Overmonnow Primary School (Monmouth)
  • Kymin View Primary School Monmouth
  • Thornwell Primary School (Chepstow)
  • Pembroke Primary School (Chepstow)
  • Raglan Church in Wales Primary School (Raglan)

Monmouthshire will follow the UK Government’s definition of ‘key’ workers – this can be found here.  MCC will be sharing a registration form online this afternoon and all parents presenting on Monday morning are expected to present an id of a relevant service or industry sector.

The provision will be available for children in the following school years: reception to year 8 and will be open from 8.00 (breakfast club) – 3.30.

Members of staff from all of Monmouthshire’s schools will work in these settings not only the ‘host’ school.  The aim is to ensure that there is familiar face for all pupils.  It is our intention, through working with the schools to establish a shift pattern to ensure that there can be a continuity of provision capable of withstanding increasing illness and self-isolation.  Members of the CYP Directorate will also support these provisions and we will review our capacity and potentially look to utilise the skills and talents of our youth service.

Pupils eligible for FSM

From Monday 23March 2020, we will also be able to provide a lunch to all of our children who are eligible for a free school meal.  This will be made available from each of the schools above and will be either a hot meal or a packed lunch on a ‘grab and go’ basis.  This will be available between 12pm and 2pm. 

Secondary aged pupils who are eligible for free school meals and are not in one of the hub schools should collect their lunch from their normal school at the normal time.

The situation we face is challenging and dynamic, these plans, as set out above, are in place for the first week.  At all times we will be reviewing the capacity of this offer to ensure that it remains suitable to meet its objectives.  We have additional schools on standby to augment the service.

All schools across Monmouthshire have made proactive plans to identify all vulnerable learners and staff who are not working at these hubs will be responsible for maintaining contact with these learners during the time of school closures.

Please refer to www.monmouthshire.gov.uk for details of registration, these will be available later this afternoon.

Thank you for your patience as we have worked to develop these contingencies, as I have said we will keep them continually under review and we can develop this offer is necessary.

Yours sincerely

Will McLean

Chief Officer

Children and Young People

Monmouthshire County Council has taken the decision to temporarily close the Borough Theatre in Abergavenny and the council-run museums following advice from the UK government to avoid any unnecessary social contact.

Shows due to take place at the Borough Theatre will be suspended with immediate effect until at least 30th of April.

Museums in Abergavenny, Chepstow and Monmouth will close on Thursday 19th of March until further notice.

Customers will be contacted in relation to event cancellations and postponements. Teams are currently contacting people in the shows’ calendar order and customers are asked to be patient while the teams work through the volume of calls.

While the situation is ever-changing and developing, many of the council’s key services remain open including the community hubs and leisure centres.

Councillor Paul Jordan, who has the responsibility for museums and the Borough Theatre, said: “We understand that this decision to close our museums and the Borough Theatre comes as a disappointment but the health and safety of our communities is our main priority. We continue to monitor the situation and we will aim to get these services reopened as soon as it’s appropriate to do so. These are unprecedented times and the wellbeing and safety of our customers and our staff is paramount in making this decision. We appreciate your support and look forward to welcoming you back to the Borough Theatre Abergavenny again very soon.”

Monmouthshire County Council has issued a warning to watch out for fraudsters targeting the public amid the Coronavirus pandemic.

Fraudsters are increasingly targeting the public and organisations with emails, texts, phone calls and WhatsApp messages offering advice and treatment for the Coronavirus, as well as setting up fake websites selling products and offering ‘cures’.

Scammers have also been setting up bogus websites asking for donations for victims or promoting awareness and prevention tips. Cold callers have been contacting organisations suggesting they must have certain measures in place by a certain deadline.

To help members of the public protect themselves from becoming a victim of fraud, Cifas, The UK’s Fraud Prevention Service is advising:

  • Be sceptical if you receive an email, text or WhatsApp message about the Coronavirus, and never click on any attachments or links
  • Never provide personal data such as your full name, address and date of birth – scammers can use this information to steal your identity
  • Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into donating money, and never make donations by cash or gift card, or send money through transfer agents such as Western Union or Moneygram
  • If you think you’ve been the victim of a scam, then speak to your bank immediately and report any fraud to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040
  • You can get further information on dealing with scams and fraud by calling the Consumer Service telephone number 0808 223 1133, or contact Citizens Advice.

Trading Standards Wales advise residents to contact their local Council for information about services and assistance in their area.

 Carmine Tarquilio will represent Wales in the final of the National Care Chef of the Year competition to be held on 3rd June at Stratford Upon Avon College in Warwickshire. Carmine who prepares meals for residents at Monmouthshire County Council’s Mardy Park Resource Centre in Abergavenny was crowned Wales Care Chef of the Year at a competition held in Bridgend College on 13th March. The competition is designed to challenge chefs to create an innovative, tasty main and dessert menu suitable for someone in a care setting that clearly demonstrates nutritional understanding of the ingredients used, aptitude and flair in the combination of flavours, technical execution and presentation. Each meal is limited to a strict budget of just £2.25 per head and preparation in just 90 minutes! Organised by The National Association of Care Caterers (NACC), the competition’s UK finals will bring together chefs working in the care sector from across the country. Pauline Batty, NACC’s Welsh Regional Chair, said: “This competition highlights the positive impact nutrition and mealtimes have on the physical and emotional health and wellbeing of the elderly and vulnerable in care settings.” Penny Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for social care, added: “I’m delighted that Carmine will represent Wales in the national finals in June and I wish him the very best of success. The council recognises that catering is an important element in the provision of care and that tempting nutritious food plays a crucial part in the lives of our residents and service users.”

In light of the changing circumstances surrounding COVID-19 and following yesterday’s announcement by the Government, the decision has been made to postpone the LDP engagement events until further notice.  The consultation period and opportunity to submit candidate sites remain open, but the deadline for both will be extended accordingly. We will reschedule the events that have not yet taken place and publicise the new deadline in due course.

Students and speakers strike the #EachforEqual pose

As part of International Women’s Day 2020, King Henry VIII Comprehensive in Abergavenny hosted workshops for its Year 9 students. Rhiannon Taylor, of Monmouthshire Inspire, launched the event by giving the students a snapshot of equality issues. “Across the world, around 15million girls will not receive an education, while the figure for boys is 10million. Out of 585 Nobel Prizes awarded for economics and science, only 49 have been awarded to women. Things are improving but there is still work to do” she said.

The event brought together inspirational speakers designed to help young women consider their future goals and feel a sense of empowerment.  These included Jayne Brown, from Big Ideas Wales, who talked about her career path. This has included working as a ski instructor, a fitness instructor and joining conservational projects. “If we help each other, as women, we can do anything,” she explained. “Decide what you want to do, and know that you can do it.” Any teacher or head teachers in schools, colleges and universities who’d like a role model to come in to speak to them should visit the Big Ideas Wales website.

Jayne Brown of BigIdeasWales

Meanwhile, successful property developer Mandy St John Davey said: “I’m a Valley girl. I took every challenge, I said no to nothing.” As National Chairman of Women in Property, Mandy works with women in the construction industry. Explaining the potential of careers such as becoming an engineer, an architect, a solicitor or in a construction role, she said: “Be the change, make your mark. You can be anything you want to be. The world is your oyster. Most importantly, always remember your value.”

Property developer Mandy St John Davey

In addition to a team from MonLife, who talked to the students about the pledges they wanted to make for themselves, such as to be kinder, to be happier, and to pursue their career goals, firefighter Kelly Christopher, of South Wales Fire & Rescue, was also on hand to share her experiences. She talked to the students about life as a female firefighter in what is a male dominated role, explaining that she does exactly the same job and finds it incredibly rewarding.

Youth worker and firefighter Kelly Christopher with a student

Cllr Sara Jones, Cabinet Member for Social Justice said: “I feel really proud to live in a county where people can achieve their goals whatever they might be – career, sport, volunteering – the list goes on. The International Women’s Day events were fantastic, with lots of advice for young people about how to plan for the future. I hope the young women who took part in the workshops today feel inspired to pursue their dreams – whatever they might be. I fully support this year’s International Women’s Day campaign which is committed to building a gender-balanced world. Everyone has a part to play.”

About IWD2020

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day, on 8th March, was #EachforEqual highlighting the campaign for equality. People have been encouraged to strike the #EachforEqual pose. The race is on for the gender equal boardroom, a gender equal government, gender equal media coverage, gender equal workplaces, gender equal sports coverage, more gender equality in health and wealth … so let’s make it happen. Let’s be #EachforEqual.

Jenipher with the children

As part of Fairtrade Fortnight, 24th February-8th March, groups of children from 18 Monmouthshire schools joined forces for a conference at Raglan CiW Primary School. Learning and fun were combined in a series of workshops demonstrating the importance of knowing the origins of our food and drink, how it has been produced and its impact on our environment.

This year’s Fairtrade campaign has been a continuation of its call for cocoa farmers to earn a living income, as well as being an opportunity to share stories that show the positive impact that Fairtrade has on women working on the farms.

The children enjoyed tasting some of the many products available, while learning how to spot the Fairtrade badge. There was also a workshop that explained where food comes from around the globe, as well as a look at the story behind chocolate.

Fairtrade is also supporting more women cocoa farmers to take the reins and stand tall alongside men. Fairtrade standards make sure that they have a voice in their community, are represented in decision-making and benefit from fair trade. Independent income in the hands of women brings swift and positive change to communities.

The day’s special guest was a coffee farmer from Uganda, Jenipher Wettaka Sambazi, who gave a talk about the difference that the Fairtrade campaign has made to the lives of many families, including her own. As deputy chair of MEACCE (Mt Elgon Agroforestry Coffee Community Enterprise), Jenipher has been touring Wales during Fairtrade Fortnight, visiting schools, community groups and churches to share her story. 

“I am a mother of six and might not have been able to afford to send all my children to school if it wasn’t for Fairtrade. I have been able to take control of my family’s lives and now my farm receives a fair and just price for our coffee beans.” Jenipher explained. “The chance to share my story with some of the school children of Monmouthshire, showing them the role and importance of fair trade has been very rewarding.”

Councillor Sara Jones, Cabinet member for Social Justice & Community Development said: “Getting our county’s children questioning where produce comes from and how it has been produced is vitally important, so as adults they make informed choices. Hopefully, one day the vast majority of such goods will have been produced ethically, with the workers paid fairly for their efforts.”

Notes to editors

The schools that took part were:

Ragland CiW Primary School.

Osbaston CiW School, Monmouth.

St Mary’s RC Primary School, Chepstow.

Llanfoist Fawr Primary School, Abergavenny.

Llanvihangel Crucorney Primary School.

Pembroke Primary School, Chepstow.

Durand Primary School, Caldicot.

Magor CiW Primary School.

Thornwell Primary School, Chepstow.

Shirenewton Primary School.

The Dell Primary, Chepstow.

Trellech Primary School.

Cross Ash Primary School.

Chepstow School.

Usk CiW Primary School.

Gilwern Primary School.

Ysgol Y Fenni.

Goytre Fawr.

This year’s Fairtrade campaign has been a continuation of its call for cocoa farmers to earn a living income, as well as the sharing of stories that show the positive impact that Fairtrade has on the women behind your chocolate bar.

About Fairtrade

Fairtrade is the only organisation to guarantee a safety net of a minimum price for farmers in times of global price decline plus a premium, an extra amount of money that goes directly to farmers to invest in business or projects of their choice in their own communities. Residents and visitors are invited to the county’s Fairtrade events organised over the fortnight and look for the Fairtrade Mark to enjoy a taste of chocolate indulgence and support a move towards a living income.

@FairtradeUK  #Fairtrade #SheDeserves

For more information Fairtrade.org.uk

From Monday 9th March, Monmouthshire County Council will be consulting and engaging on its Preferred Strategy for the Replacement Local Development Plan 2018-2033. Public consultation and engagement will run from the 9th March 2020 to the 22nd April 2020 and will include a number of ‘drop in sessions’ throughout the County. Drop in sessions on the Council’s Preferred Strategy will be held in the following locations on the following dates:

  • Shire Hall, Agincourt Square, Monmouth – 11th March 2020 1pm-7pm.
  • Village Hall, Raglan – 12th March 2020 1pm-7pm.
  • St Michaels Centre, Abergavenny – 18th March 2020 1pm-7pm.
  • Drill Hall, Chepstow – 24th March 2020 1pm-7pm.
  • Ebenezer Chapel, Magor – 26th March 2020 1pm – 7pm.
  • Community Hub, Caldicot – 31st March 2020 1pm -7pm.
  • County Hall, Usk – 9th April 2020 1pm – 7pm.”
pupil at school

St Mary’s RC Primary School in Chepstow marked St David’s Day with an eisteddfod that demonstrated the talents of students and celebrated their sense of belonging to Wales.

Each class offered two songs, artwork or poems, with the reception class participating in a short play.  Drawing on their instruction from the Gwent Music Support Service, Year Five students gave a performance on penny whistles while their counterparts from Year Six students sang solos.  All pupils and staff wore red in the form of rugby and football tops as well as traditional costume to add colour to the day’s proceedings.

The school eisteddfod ended in the traditional manner with Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, the Welsh national anthem.

Headteacher Joanne Weightman said; “This was a very successful event which was very much enjoyed by those participating and those in the audience.  We were pleased to carry on the tradition of holding an eisteddfod to commemorate St David’s Day/Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Sant with wonderful performances from our students.”

The most recent report for St Mary’s RC Primary indicates that under Mrs Weightman’s leadership, staff, governors and the whole school community have worked hard to develop a shared vision with changes implemented in terms of the learning environment, provision, planning and developing the Welsh ethos.  The impact of these changes is already starting to be evident.

Monmouthshire’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Councillor Richard John said: “It’s great to see that St Mary’s RC Primary School is making good progress in its journey towards improvement.”

Monmouthshire County Council has updated its corporate plan, ‘A Monmouthshire that works for everyone’. The updated corporate plan re-states the council’s purpose of building sustainable and resilient communities. With local politicians halfway through their term in office this offers an opportunity to reflect on some of their achievements to date while identifying a number of new commitments. Some of the new commitments include: • reducing the council’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2030 and working with communities; • completing the second phase of the Chepstow transport study, taking action based on the findings; • creating plans for the redevelopment of Usk and Caldicot town centres and beginning discussions on plans for Monmouth and Chepstow. Despite being the lowest funded local authority in Wales per head of population the plan shows real ambition and focuses on policy priorities that will deliver the council’s purpose, working efficiently and effectively while planning for the long term future of Monmouthshire. Commenting after councillors agreed the plan, Council Leader Peter Fox said; “The Corporate Plan is a really important document that provides direction and is our way of ensuring we are focused on delivering what matters to the people of Monmouthshire. Many of the things we are doing are incredibly ambitious and focus on the longer-term future of our county such as the commitment to move towards net zero carbon emissions by 2030. “The plan also contains new commitments, such as town centre regeneration and the second phase of the Chepstow transport study. I’m particularly pleased about the support it contains for rural businesses such as improvements in rural broadband and acting as a testbed for rural applications of 5G in sectors like tourism and agriculture.” The corporate plan also sets out how the council will meet its requirements under the Well-being of Future Generations Act. Residents can download a copy of the plan on the council’s website at https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/improvement/ They can also join the discussion on twitter @monmouthshireCC.

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:-

  • Tuesday 10th March                Between 08.10 – 08.40 (approx.)
  • Tuesday 10th March                Between 20:35 – 21:05 (approx.)
  • Wednesday 11th March          Between 08:55 – 09.25 (approx.)
  • Wednesday 11th March          Between 21.15 – 21.45 (approx.)
  • Thursday 12th March               Between 09:35 – 10:05 (approx.)
  • Thursday 12th March               Between 21.55 – 22.25 (approx.)
  • Friday 13th March                    Between 10.15 – 10:45 (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. 

St Mary’s RC Primary School in Chepstow marked St David’s Day with an eisteddfod that demonstrated the talents of students and celebrated their sense of belonging to Wales.

Each class offered two songs, artwork or poems, with the reception class participating in a short play.  Drawing on their instruction from the Gwent Music Support Service, Year Five students gave a performance on penny whistles while their counterparts from Year Six students sang solos.  All pupils and staff wore red in the form of rugby and football tops as well as traditional costume to add colour to the day’s proceedings.

The school eisteddfod ended in the traditional manner with Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, the Welsh national anthem.

Headteacher Joanne Weightman said; “This was a very successful event which was very much enjoyed by those participating and those in the audience.  We were pleased to carry on the tradition of holding an eisteddfod to commemorate St David’s Day/Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Sant with wonderful performances from our students.”

The most recent report for St Mary’s RC Primary indicates that under Mrs Weightman’s leadership, staff, governors and the whole school community have worked hard to develop a shared vision with changes implemented in terms of the learning environment, provision, planning and developing the Welsh ethos.  The impact of these changes is already starting to be evident.

Monmouthshire’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Councillor Richard John said: “It’s great to see that St Mary’s RC Primary School is making good progress in its journey towards improvement.”

Monmouthshire County Council has launched a special task group to deal with the mass recovery operation following the unprecedented flooding experienced across the county.

Recovery Co-ordinating Group (RCG) ‘Attis’ has been set up in conjunction with neighbouring authorities in Gwent and agencies such as Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales.

The council and partners are working hard to assess the damage and impact on residents, businesses, infrastructure and the environment caused by Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis – with over 100 residential properties and a number of businesses already being identified as impacted by the floods in Monmouthshire.

With the cost of the recovery operation expected to run into tens of millions, the task group has already begun seeking financial assistance from the Welsh Government.

The task group is expected to be operational for a number of months, and possibly longer given the scale of the task, until the disruption has been rectified, demands on services have returned to normal levels, and the needs of those affected have been met.

To help the group carry out their response, anyone affected by flooding in Monmouthshire is being asked to get in touch with the council. A simple form can be accessed via the ‘My Monmouthshire’ app or on the council’s website. Staff across the county’s Community Hubs are also on hand to help anyone with the form if they do not have access to a computer.

The council has been overwhelmed by the generosity of people of offering support and donations. These offers have included donations of food, furniture and clothing, as well as offers of housing and transport. A number of people and businesses have also come forward to offer manpower to help with clean-ups and disposal of waste. Anyone who is able to offer support is also being encouraged to get in contact in order for all offers of help to be documented.

Council leader, Peter Fox said: “The impact on our beautiful county, residents and businesses from these extreme events has been devastating and the loss felt by those affected is going to be long-lasting. Through the establishment of RCG Attis we have already begun identifying what levels of support and advice are available to our residents and it will be these offers of support that start us on the long road to recovery. I could not think of a more appropriate name for this group than Attis – the Greek God of rebirth. In these unprecedented times, I’m extremely proud of our communities who have all rallied together to support their neighbours and offer everything from free sofas and food to getting stuck in with the clean-up of debris and waste. You have been remarkable. To those affected, I can reassure you we are working around the clock to get Monmouthshire back up and running.”

Free drop-in surgeries hosted by the Development Bank of Wales, Business Wales and Monmouthshire County Council next week will aim to help entrepreneurs and owners of firms discover more about funding for growth. The Funding for Growth drop-in surgery will be held in Chepstow on Tuesday 3rd March from 9.30am to 3.30pm with thirty minute appointment slots available on a one-to-one basis. Micro loan assistant investment executive Claire Vokes will be present at Chepstow Library (NP16 5EN) to discuss the range of funding available from the development Bank. Ms Vokes said: “Our flexible micro loans can help local businesses to grow. They are quick and simple to access and the money can be used to finance the purchase of a range of small business needs including much needed stock, plant, equipment or even new premises. It could also support cash flow for the purchase of another business. “By working in partnership with Monmouthshire County Council and Business Wales, we are able to provide loans from £1,000 to £50,000 for local businesses. In fact, if you have a business that has been running for two years, we can offer loans up to £25,000 with a decision in just two working days. “We’re keen to talk to as many local business owners and managers as possible so please do come along to our next drop in surgery.” To book a 30 minute slot businesses should email: Claire.Vokes@developmentbank.wales Councillor Bob Greenland, Cabinet Member for Enterprise at Monmouthshire County Council added: “We’re keen to support and encourage business growth and job creation. We’re delighted to recommend these helpful workshops to anyone hoping to boost their own business.”

Monmouthshire Trading Standards is warning people to be aware of rogue traders targeting residents affected by the recent flooding.

It is not illegal for handymen to canvas for work in this way, but it is important that people are cautious and don’t make hasty decisions about agreeing to have work done by traders who come directly to their doorstep. Rogue doorstep trading is an ongoing problem in the UK and work or services carried out can sometimes be unnecessary, of a poor standard, much more expensive than originally quoted or not done at all.

If your home has been damaged by the recent flooding or high winds, getting your house repaired will be something you will want completed as quickly as possible. Monmouthshire County Council Trading Standards have the following advice to help make sure that remedial work goes ahead as smoothly as possible:

Do not agree to have work done by anyone who cold calls or door knocks at your property

Cold callers rarely give householders their contact details or provide them with details of their legal right to cancel a contract within 14 days. They may also tell you that work is required when it is not. If things go wrong you are unlikely to be able to contact the trader again and will have no guarantee for the work.

Obtain at least three quotes for any work

Obtaining a choice of written quotes ensures you can have time to assess and compare the price of work and can make an informed choice about which tradesperson to use.

Check trade body approval or certification

If a tradesperson claims to be a member of a trade body or approval scheme check whether this is true on the scheme or body website. There are advantages to using a trader who is a member of a trade body or approval scheme as they will have been vetted and it is likely that there will be a complaints or arbitration procedure in place in the event that anything goes wrong.     

For certain work, such as electrical or gas work, traders must be qualified and approved as fit to do that work. For gas work, traders must be registered with Gas Safe and you can check who is registered via the Gas Safe website. For electrical work, traders must be registered with NICEIC or ELECSA and you can check who is registered via the NICEIC website and via the ELECSA website. Always check before you engage a trader that they hold the appropriate authorisation to complete work safely and certify it to Buildings Regulations. As well as ensuring the work is safe, you will be required to have certification if you sell your home in the future.   

Do not pay the full contract price upfront

Legitimate tradespeople will generally not expect to be paid anything until work is completed to your satisfaction. You may be required to pay an amount upfront if the work involves expensive parts or fittings but you should only pay the full amount once the work is completed. If work is not satisfactory, the law allows you to withhold a reasonable percentage to reflect any deficiencies in the work.

Speak to your insurance company

If you are insured, make sure you speak to your insurance company before arranging for work to be done. The insurance company may well have their own list of approved contractors or will want to see quotes before they agree to pay for work.

  • We hope that everything goes well with the repairs to your home but if you do need more specific advice at any stage you can ring the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133 (Consumer Service Welsh Speaking – 0808 223 1144). Alternatively, you can contact the Helpline via their website. The Citizens Advice website also has guidance on ways to find a trustworthy trader.

Residents and businesses impacted by flooding are being asked to follow important information as clean-up operations continue across the county.

Over 100 residential properties and a number of businesses have begun their recovery processes after devastation by flood water caused by Storm Dennis.

Flooding carries with it many dangers including contamination and the risk of debris remaining once the water has receded.

Anyone affected by flooding is asked to follow the guidance below:

  • The single most effective way of preventing infection is washing your hands after handling anything that has been in contact with flood water or sludge and silt.
  • If using a pressure washer to clean use face masks to prevent inhalation of aerosols
  • Dead rodents should be handled using rubber gloves and disposed of in secure plastic bags
  • Remove soft furnishings and fittings that are damaged and beyond repair.
  • Remove as much silt and dirty water as possible.
  • Wash down all surfaces with hot soapy water till visibly clean
  • Food preparation areas, food cupboards and refrigerators should be cleaned with hot soapy water then disinfected using bleach. Dispose of any wooden boards and utensils.
  • Dispose of all contaminated food, included anything defrosted. 
  • Allow all surfaces to dry – this will also help kill germs.
  • Contact Monmouthshire County Council’s Environmental Health team for further advice www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/environmental-health-2/

Monmouthshire County Council also encourages people to use the county’s waste and recycling centres to dispose of any items that might have been damaged in the floods.

Further advice can be sought from partner agencies including Natural Resources Wales, Public Health Wales and the National Flood Forum.

Council Leader, Peter Fox said: “As we begin to move into the recovery operation of these dreadful floods, it’s important residents and businesses take the advice we’ve issued to ensure they keep themselves safe and reduce the risk of other potential issues such as the spread of disease. There is plenty of advice available and I would encourage everyone to heed the warnings issued.”

For further information view our Flood Risk Management page

Updates

This message is only visible to admins.

Problem displaying Facebook posts. Backup cache in use.
Click to show error

Error: Error validating access token: The session has been invalidated because the user changed their password or Facebook has changed the session for security reasons.
Type: OAuthException
Solution: See here for how to solve this error

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

Our Educational Psychology Service have been sharing some fantastic resources for schools, families and young people during the COVID-19 Pandemic - click below to see the latest resources added to their website www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/aln-covid-19/ ... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

COVID-19 hasn't stopped people like Felicity supporting their communities through volunteering! Here's what she's been up to over the last few months.

#VolunteersWeek #COVID19 #kindpeople
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

Morning! Just your daily reminder to stay local, stay safe and keep up the social distancing! 💪 ... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

Timeline PhotosRemember to keep a 2m distance when heading outside and when you're around people from different homes. Together we can #KeepWalesSafe ... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

Blooming lovely 💕🌈🌼🌸🌺 ... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

Our public open spaces are extremely important for mental and physical health wellbeing during the pandemic. They are also havens for wildlife.
The recent easing of lockdown combined with glorious weather has led to more people using these spaces. To help us ensure that everyone can enjoy these beautiful spaces, please can visitors remember the rules for social distancing and take any litter home. Together we can #keepwalestidy
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

We know many parents and guardians will have questions about the re-opening of schools following the Welsh Government’s announcement.

We are working with our schools to ensure we can do this as safely as possible. Please bear with us. We will update parents and guardians once plans are finalised.
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

TEMPORARY BUS STOP CLOSURE
A465 Clydach North (Eastbound only) stop will be closed to enable essential work to be undertaken. Starts Tuesday 9th June. Apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

Gwent Police is looking for young people to become Police Cadets. The fantastic opportunity is open to 14-18 year olds. It helps young people to meet new people, learn new skills and volunteer for Gwent.

Cadets learn about the Police and the law and play a vital role in community events, engaging with members of the public and educating them on crime prevention.

For more information visit: www.gwent.police.uk/en/join-us/police-cadets/
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

This week we’re shining a spotlight on volunteering groups across Monmouthshire. Today we’re featuring the Chepstow COVID-19 Helping Group. ... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

Happy tears 💙🌈💙🌈 ... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

Stay Local. Stay safe.
Social distancing is still so important!
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

There are dozens of people just like Helen helping our most vulnerable residents in Monmouthshire.❤️️❤️️

You can help out too by joining Our Monmouthshire. ourmonmouthshire.org/

#VolunteersWeek2020
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

Next week marks the start of #CarersWeek, an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout Wales.

We are looking to speak to carers who can help us raise awareness of what it's really like to be in a caring role.

If you would like to contribute the campaign please contact kellykeyse@monmouthshire.gov.uk
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

Help keep your water flowing ... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

SERVICE UPDATE - USK POST OFFICE RE-OPENING 📨✉️💌

The Post Office within Usk Community Hub on Maryport Street will re-open on Monday 8th June. Opening hours will be 9am – 1pm on Mondays and Thursdays. A queuing system will be in operation to ensure social distancing. Other services at the site, including the library, REMAIN CLOSED at the present time meaning it will not be possible to borrow or return books.

bit.ly/2MnMogO
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

To support the Welsh Government’s Test, Trace, Protect strategy, partners including Public Health Wales, the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and the five Local Authorities in Gwent have joined forces to establish the Gwent Contact Tracing Service which will go live on Monday June 1.

People who test positive will be contacted by the contact tracing team and asked to share details of other people they have been in close contact with, for example at home or at work.

If we all play our part, keep social distancing and self-isolate if you have symptoms or when instructed to by the contact tracing team, we will reduce the transmission and spread of the virus. This will be a major factor in easing lockdown restrictions and enabling the social and economic recovery in Monmouthshire.

For more information please visit the Public Health Wales website: www.phw.nhs.wales/coronavirus
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

If you're a volunteer, we want to hear from you! We want to hear how you've been helping people in your community!To mark #Volunteersweek we are wanting to hear from volunteers about why they love volunteering.

Please send us a 30 second clip starting with “ My name is XXXX and I love volunteering because...”

These clips will be shared on our social media. You can send your clips to communications@monmouthshire.gov.uk
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

Did you know picking up the phone to say hi to someone living in isolation can make a huge difference?

That’s exactly the type of kind things you can offer to support our vulnerable residents.

Check out: ourmonmouthshire.org/

#volunteersweek2020
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

For further information view our Flood Risk Management page

Updates

This message is only visible to admins.

Problem displaying Facebook posts. Backup cache in use.
Click to show error

Error: Error validating access token: The session has been invalidated because the user changed their password or Facebook has changed the session for security reasons.
Type: OAuthException
Solution: See here for how to solve this error

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

Our Educational Psychology Service have been sharing some fantastic resources for schools, families and young people during the COVID-19 Pandemic - click below to see the latest resources added to their website www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/aln-covid-19/ ... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

COVID-19 hasn't stopped people like Felicity supporting their communities through volunteering! Here's what she's been up to over the last few months.

#VolunteersWeek #COVID19 #kindpeople
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

Morning! Just your daily reminder to stay local, stay safe and keep up the social distancing! 💪 ... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

Timeline PhotosRemember to keep a 2m distance when heading outside and when you're around people from different homes. Together we can #KeepWalesSafe ... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

Blooming lovely 💕🌈🌼🌸🌺 ... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

Our public open spaces are extremely important for mental and physical health wellbeing during the pandemic. They are also havens for wildlife.
The recent easing of lockdown combined with glorious weather has led to more people using these spaces. To help us ensure that everyone can enjoy these beautiful spaces, please can visitors remember the rules for social distancing and take any litter home. Together we can #keepwalestidy
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

We know many parents and guardians will have questions about the re-opening of schools following the Welsh Government’s announcement.

We are working with our schools to ensure we can do this as safely as possible. Please bear with us. We will update parents and guardians once plans are finalised.
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

TEMPORARY BUS STOP CLOSURE
A465 Clydach North (Eastbound only) stop will be closed to enable essential work to be undertaken. Starts Tuesday 9th June. Apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

Gwent Police is looking for young people to become Police Cadets. The fantastic opportunity is open to 14-18 year olds. It helps young people to meet new people, learn new skills and volunteer for Gwent.

Cadets learn about the Police and the law and play a vital role in community events, engaging with members of the public and educating them on crime prevention.

For more information visit: www.gwent.police.uk/en/join-us/police-cadets/
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

This week we’re shining a spotlight on volunteering groups across Monmouthshire. Today we’re featuring the Chepstow COVID-19 Helping Group. ... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

Happy tears 💙🌈💙🌈 ... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

Stay Local. Stay safe.
Social distancing is still so important!
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

There are dozens of people just like Helen helping our most vulnerable residents in Monmouthshire.❤️️❤️️

You can help out too by joining Our Monmouthshire. ourmonmouthshire.org/

#VolunteersWeek2020
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

Next week marks the start of #CarersWeek, an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout Wales.

We are looking to speak to carers who can help us raise awareness of what it's really like to be in a caring role.

If you would like to contribute the campaign please contact kellykeyse@monmouthshire.gov.uk
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

Help keep your water flowing ... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

SERVICE UPDATE - USK POST OFFICE RE-OPENING 📨✉️💌

The Post Office within Usk Community Hub on Maryport Street will re-open on Monday 8th June. Opening hours will be 9am – 1pm on Mondays and Thursdays. A queuing system will be in operation to ensure social distancing. Other services at the site, including the library, REMAIN CLOSED at the present time meaning it will not be possible to borrow or return books.

bit.ly/2MnMogO
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

To support the Welsh Government’s Test, Trace, Protect strategy, partners including Public Health Wales, the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and the five Local Authorities in Gwent have joined forces to establish the Gwent Contact Tracing Service which will go live on Monday June 1.

People who test positive will be contacted by the contact tracing team and asked to share details of other people they have been in close contact with, for example at home or at work.

If we all play our part, keep social distancing and self-isolate if you have symptoms or when instructed to by the contact tracing team, we will reduce the transmission and spread of the virus. This will be a major factor in easing lockdown restrictions and enabling the social and economic recovery in Monmouthshire.

For more information please visit the Public Health Wales website: www.phw.nhs.wales/coronavirus
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

If you're a volunteer, we want to hear from you! We want to hear how you've been helping people in your community!To mark #Volunteersweek we are wanting to hear from volunteers about why they love volunteering.

Please send us a 30 second clip starting with “ My name is XXXX and I love volunteering because...”

These clips will be shared on our social media. You can send your clips to communications@monmouthshire.gov.uk
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Monmouthshire

Did you know picking up the phone to say hi to someone living in isolation can make a huge difference?

That’s exactly the type of kind things you can offer to support our vulnerable residents.

Check out: ourmonmouthshire.org/

#volunteersweek2020
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook