Home

ARCHIVE 2009 - END OF 2010

RIVERFRONT FUNDING BOOST

Dec 28 - Subject to confirmation in February of the Welsh Assembly Government’s draft budget, a new portfolio of 71 organisations will share funding of just over £24.25million in 2011/12 and The Riverfront in Newport has been awarded £125,000 of that, an increase of £65,000 on 2010. With this funding, The Riverfront can build on the development of audiences for a range of work that is unique to Wales and essential viewing for the people of Newport, increasing attendances and attracting more audiences from outside the City. The Riverfront will be able to continue to develop as the hub of performing arts creativity in Newport, initiating and supporting exciting projects that build audiences, offer professional development opportunities to artists and continue to build a creative base for Newport. The Riverfront will continue to build long term relationships with locally and UK-wide significant companies. There will be more development work with companies with whom The Riverfront has short term or more ad hoc relationships with and continued and additional support for emerging artists and companies. In the medium term, the increase will allow The Riverfront to venture into fully-fledged production of performances aimed at engaging young people with live events.

The news was welcomed by the Theatre “When The Riverfront opened just six years ago, it was an iconic building with great spaces to create and present work within, and ambitious plans to develop its programme and audiences. Six years later, when it has exceeded expectations in terms of numbers of people through the building by 49% and contributed hugely to this auspicious Ryder Cup year, we are delighted that the Arts Council has made such a positive decision in relation to our future funding. Their support, on top of impressive levels of commitment from Newport City Council, will enable us to contribute further to the cultural and economic life of the City and to create more for the audiences of Newport and beyond.” Nicolas Young, Theatre and Arts Director at The Riverfront.

The benefits include ensuring a broad range and variety of work is available for the people of Newport. These developments will go alongside the continuation of comedy, music, family-friendly, film and other strands of the professional programme, as well as on-going development of opportunities to participate in activities and make use of the facilities.

Increasing the amount of work produced in Newport will have knock-on effects both on the financial viability of The Riverfront through increased use of the café and other ancillary features of the Centre, and ultimately on the City as a whole as it encourages arts practitioners to live and work here. Councillor Mike Hamilton, cabinet member for continuing learning and leisure "This is a wonderful announcement by Arts Council Wales which will enable The Riverfront Theatre and Arts Centre to continue and build on the excellent work that is done there. It is a tribute to the Riverfront Theatre and Arts Centre, director Nicolas Young and all the staff. People from across the city and beyond, from young musicians and emerging artists to ballet lovers and film fans, have benefited from all that it has to offer."

TWO ARRESTS AFTER CHRISTMAS DAY ROBBERY

Dec 26 - Police have arrested two people in connection with the robbery of a taxi driver early on Christmas Day. Officers attended a report of a robbery at 0149 GMT on Saturday morning outside the Royal Gwent Hospital in Cardiff Road, Newport.

Taxi driver Irfan Latif, 38, who works for Globe Taxis in Newport, had his car stolen in the incident. Gwent Police confirmed their investigation was continuing. A force spokesman said: "We received a report from a taxi driver saying he had been robbed outside the Royal Gwent Hospital on Cardiff Road, Newport. Two people have been arrested in connection with this incident and enquiries are ongoing."

MORRISONS' SNOW HERO LAUDED

Dec 26 - Dalton Philips, Morrisons' Chief Executive has lauded an employee at the company's Rogerstone store in a Daily Telegraph interview. A 73-year-old baker from the storecalled Imi abandoned her car and walked five miles to get to work during the recent snowstorm.

COUNCIL DELIGHTED WITH RESPONSE TO RETAIL SCHEME

Dec 26 - Newport City Council is now preparing to move to the next important stage in its plans for a multi-million pound new city centre shopping scheme. Officers will spend the next couple of weeks considering the formal expressions of interest it has received from developers.

A shortlist will be drawn up and submitted to the cabinet sub-group for approval in January. “We are delighted with the level of interest shown in this project which is a key priority for the council,” said Councillor Matthew Evans, leader of the council. “We have done everything we can to get a developer on board as quickly as possible following strict European regulations. However, we are confident that we will be able to take a partner on in July. We know the Newport scheme is an attractive proposition because so much of the groundwork has already been done – the council has acquired all the properties in the development area and much of the infrastructure, such as road improvements, are in place.”

COUNCIL TO PROVIDE GRANT TO COMPLETE ART COLLEGE WORK

Dec 23 - A £44,000 grant from Newport City Council has been approved to assist with the completion of work on the former Art / Technical College building in Clarence Place. The renovation of the building is currently on hold with the previous owners now in receivership. The receivers, Alder King, are seeking a quick conclusion to the outstanding work in order to that the conversion of the building in to 66 apartments can be completed. The Civic Enhancement Scheme grant will contribute just under half of the funding required to complete the windows and doors of the upgraded building.

COUNCIL WINS AID FOR ENERGY SCHEME

Dec 23 - Newport City Council has been successful in its bid to secure up to £615,000 from the Welsh Assembly Government’s Arbed scheme, to help improve the energy performance of hard to insulate properties in the city.

Arbed, the strategic energy performance investment programme, has been established to help fund home energy and renewable measures to fuel poor and low income households in Wales. The scheme is due to run until March 2011 and is aimed at privately owned homes in designated areas of the Bettws and Ringland. These areas were chosen due to high levels of fuel poverty and the number of non-traditional build houses. Jason Gunter, Housing Manager said “The council has an affordable warmth strategy and the aims of the Arbed scheme fit well with this. The strategy aims to reduce the number of households in fuel poverty, tackle climate change and improve people’s lives in the city.”.

LIB DEMS BLOW £30K IN FAILED BID TO WIN NEWPORT EAST

Dec 12 - It will come as no surprise to Newport East electors to discover the Liberal Democrats out-spent Labour by three to one in their failed bid to win the seat at the recent General Election. In fact some electors are still using the publicity dumped through their letter boxes to keep themselves warm or , more likely, amused during the long winter evenings. Figures published by the Electoral Commission reveal Ed Townsend's campaign spend amounted to £30,617.11, whereas successful Labour candidate Jess Morden paid out only £9,036.34. In all likelihood given the plight of the Lib Dems this is the only opportunity they will ever have to win in Newport East. In Newport West, a Labour - Tory marginal, Paul Flynn's campaign cost £8,461.79 but was out-spent by Matthew Williams' £12,967.97 for the defeated blues.

STUDY REVEALS NEWPORT'S CLOSE LINKS WITH ENGLAND RATHER THAN VALLEYS

Dec 11 - New research highlights that major Welsh conurbations including Newport still retain their strongest links with England. A group of researchers at Cornell University in the USA and University College London have used one of the world's largest databases of telecommunications records to redraw the map of Great Britain. The research is based on the analysis of 12 billion anonymized records representing more than 95% of Great Britain's residential and business landlines. More than half of Newport's calls are made to English areas.

David Blackaby, a professor of economics at the University of Swansea, who specialises in labour markets told Wales Online: “The geography of Wales means the connections are east west rather than north south. What you tend to find is young people move from rural areas to cities. The more highly educated move out of Wales, their first job will often be in London.”

Swansea-based cultural historian Peter Stead said historic links and ease of travel also influenced people’s movements. He said: “People from Lancashire have always gone to the North Wales coast, in a way the North Wales Coast is an extension of Lancashire. The big English cities are quite near the Welsh border..

The other thing I think is rugby. There’s a very strong English premier league with teams like Bristol, Bath and Gloucester, they should be playing in Wales all the time. Broadcasters have been making efforts to pull north east Wales into the devolved Wales. In some ways it may have been better if north east Wales had developed its links to Manchester and Liverpool.”

NEWPORT population - country of origin 2001 census - Wales 81.12 per cent, England 13.43, Northern Ireland 0.26, Republic of Ireland 0.59, Scotland 0.79, other EU countries 0.90 (biggest group - Germany 428 persons), outside of EU 2.91 (biggest group - Pakistan 731 persons). Of those working 8,400 travel more than 20 km to go to work.

COUNCIL TO DISPLAY NEW SHOPPING SCHEME PROPOSAL

Dec 11 - Residents and visitors to Newport’s city centre will be able to see plans for how the city’s shopping area could be transformed at a special exhibition at Newport Indoor Market from 11am – 3pm next Wednesday (15 December). Newport City Council will unveil publicly how it would like the new multi-million pound city centre shopping scheme to look. The concept design, which is set to transform John Frost Square into a vibrant shopping area, will be simple and modern.

Leader of Newport City Council, Cllr Matthew Evans, said: “The exhibition is the chance for people to see the kind of quality, high-end shopping scheme we would like in Newport. We want a vibrant development to entice people back to shop in the city and for major retailers to have a presence in the heart of the city. “Visitors to the exhibition will see what we are aiming for and hopefully be encouraged and see that we are pulling out all the stops to attract a developer. The people of Newport have been waiting a long time for this and we hope to make it a reality soon.” The exhibition will provide information and show images of how the proposed city centre development could look. Visitors to the exhibition will able to learn more about the scheme which is a key component of the 2020 master plan for the regeneration of Newport. Officers from Newport City Council as well as Newport Unlimited will be at the exhibition to discuss the scheme in more detail as well as answer any questions. The council is currently inviting interest from potential developers with the deadline 20 December. Those who meet the required criteria will be invited to tender at the end of January 2011, and it is anticipated that the preferred developer will be chosen by the end of July 2011.

CITY STATION CRITICISED

Dec 9 - Newport's £22 million station has been heavily criticised by passengers. After a string of complaints about the station, city council and regeneration bosses are demanding a meeting with Network Rail to end problems dogging the Assembly Government-funded site – which publicity posters insisted make the industrial city look like a futuristic Tokyo.

Gareth Beer, chief executive of Newport Unlimited, the company responsible for regeneration of the area, said: “There are concerns that have been expressed about some aspects of the station, from members of the public themselves who use the station.” Some have been unimpressed the cafe is still located by the old station and that they have to go to the back of the new premises to visit the relocated WHSmith. On platform one the electronic sign announcing when the next train is due is still outside the old station building. Staff sources at the site have admitted to Wales Online that they dislike it.

6500 CAUGHT BY M4 SPEED CAMERAS

Dec 9 - More than 6,500 drivers have been caught speeding since average speed check cameras were introduced on the M4 in Newport figures show. The cameras between Junctions 24 (Coldra) and 28 (Tredegar Park) trigger penalty notices when the 50mph limit is exceeded.

Forty three million vehicles - 110,000 a day - have driven through the stretch since September 2009. The body which polices it said a "tiny fraction" were flouting the law. Jim Moore, manager of the Wales road casualty reduction partnership said: "It is encouraging to see that, on the whole, motorists are complying with the reduced speed limit of 50mph while important roadworks take place. "We hope that this compliance continues over the next few months while work is completed for the safety of motorists and the roadworkers, who are operating day and night." The intention is to replace the average speed cameras with a variable speed limit like that on the M25 near London.

SWEDISH BANK OPENS BRANCH IN BUSINESS PARK

Dec 9 - Robert Hitchins Limited has leased 1,800 sq ft at its new, high-quality courtyard development at 24 Severn in Langstone Business Park, Newport, to Handelsbanken, one of Sweden’s leading banks. Cooke & Arkwright and M4 Properties acted as joint agents on behalf of the landlord in the deal. The Handelsbanken branch will be one of more than 90 opened in the UK so far as part of the bank’s expansion programme. Handelsbanken first began operating in the UK in 1982 and was ranked top for customer satisfaction and loyalty in 2009 and 2010. Its decentralised network, where decisions are made at branch level has proved popular, setting it apart from the more centralised model familiar in most of the banking sector. The Newport branch is the third in Wales, with others situated in Cardiff and Swansea.

LARGE SALT ORDER TO ARRIVE IN CITY

Dec 9 - In order to meet the demand from local authorities an import of 12,000 tonnes of salt is scheduled to arrive in Newport from Sweden in late December. The Welsh Local Government Association and the Assembly Government are building up an order list from authorities for a second import order, which they hope will arrive in January.

CABINET BACKS FREE PARKING PROPOSAL

Dec 8 - Newport City Council has backed an innovative measure to provide free parking in all Council car parks for the first two hours. The intention is to assist the trading position of the city centre. In addition, buses from Chepstow Road and Caerleon Road will stop on the Queensway for a trial period up to 8 January 2011. The cost to the City Council of loss of car parking income is put at £700,000.

TORIES SELECT CANDIDATE IN NEWPORT EAST

Dec 5 - Newport East Conservatives met on Tuesday night to select a candidate to fight the seat at next year's Welsh Assembly election. They chose Nick Webb, a public affairs consultant and political analyst with a specialism in PR for planning and development matters. The Conservatives start in third place, although at the 2007 election were less than 1,900 votes behind the incumbent Labour Assembly Member, John Griffiths.

APPEAL OVER ASSAULT

Dec 2 - Gwent Police is appealing for information following a serious sexual assault that is reported to have occurred in Newport city centre in the early hours of this morning, Thursday 2nd December. The incident occurred between the hours of 3am and 5am in the Old Green/Riverfront area of Newport.
The victim, a 21 year old local female, is described as 5 feet 2 inches tall, of slim build, with long mousy coloured hair. She was wearing a light coloured body warmer with a fur hood and blue jeans. Police are appealing for anyone who may have seen her within the timeframe specified to contact them. Officers are also interested in speaking to a man and the occupants of a vehicle that were seen in the area during that time.
The man is described as being of mixed race and approximately 28/29 years old. He is tall, of thin build but with big/muscular arms. He was wearing dark clothing. The vehicle is a dark coloured Ford Fiesta which was seen on High Street at 4.55am this morning.

COUNCIL URGED TO TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION OVER CITY CENTRE

Nov 13 - A meeting of city centre traders has urged the City Council to take immediate action to prevent the loss of major retailers. Next and M&S recently announced their intention to relocate away from Commercial Street.

Ken Ellis, chief executive of the city’s Chamber of Trade, said the situation was serious. “Action needs to be done in lots of different ways,” he said. He proposed cuts to business rates as a potential way forward for trade in the area, and said planners needed to start thinking “outside the box”. He said the proposed closure of Newport’s Passport Office would have a significant impact on footfall in the city centre. Newport East AM Mr Griffiths acknowledged Newport is facing a worrying time, but pointed to the city’s historic market, traditional architecture and revamped university campus as reasons to be optimistic. “Though it has always been difficult being squeezed between Cardiff and Bristol, with the need to find a distinctive identity for Newport a challenge and nearby Cwmbran another rival, there are pluses for Newport," he told Wales Online.

Newport City Council recently launched its search for a replacement developer for the centre. Council leader Matthew Evans, said: "We are confident that we will find a partner who will help us deliver a first class scheme that will revitalise the city centre. We expect to be able to draw up a short-list of potential developers early next year." Paul Flynn, Labour MP for Newport West, said it was a "serious crisis" but there were good signs. He said he and Mr Evans had been in talks with Marks and Spencer to try and change their mind. He added: "Losing the development was atrociously bad luck but it was nobody's fault. There is a danger that by talking the city down we make things worse. We need to halt the spiral of decline and reverse it into a spiral of improvement." An assembly government spokesperson said: "Despite the UK government's proposed closure of Newport passport office, the Welsh Assembly Government is committed to doing all it can to support the city."

Details of the city centre shopping scheme here

CITY CENTRE REMEMBRANCE

Nov 13 - Newport will remember those who have given their lives for their country at a service at the Cenotaph on Sunday morning (14 November, 2010). Organisations taking part in the parade will assemble outside the Kings Hotel in High Street at 10.15am. Leaving at 10.35am, the marchers will go over Town Bridge and to the Cenotaph in Clarence Place where Newport Borough Band will be playing. They will be joined by Newport’s mayor Councillor Bill Langsford, his party and the clergy. A two minute silence will follow the Last Post, played by a bugler from the Royal Welsh Regiment, and the firing of the guns. After reveille is sounded, wreaths will be laid and there will be a short service before the parade marches back to High Street. In the evening the Mayor and Mayoress will attend the Mission to Seafarers service of remembrance in the Chapel of St Peter, Newport Docks.

ONLY 30 PASSPORT JOBS TO BE SAVED

Nov 12 - The number of workers retained at the passport office in Newport could be as few as 30, MPs have been told. Sarah Rapson, of the Identity and Passport Service (IPS), told the Welsh Affairs Committee between 30 and 45 jobs would remain. She confirmed to the committee at Westminster that it could be "as low as 30". More than 250 jobs are expected to go if plans to close the existing office are approved.

Home Office minister Damian Green is also due to give evidence to the committee. The meeting was called after Mr Green, the minister who is in charge of passports, announced at the beginning of October that consultation was to begin on the closure of the Newport office. The decision sparked an angry response from unions, opposition politicians and staff, with hundreds taking to the streets of the city in protest.

Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan later announced up to 45 jobs would be safeguarded. Giving evidence to the Welsh affairs committee, Ms Rapson said: "We are looking at a range of between 30 and 45." When asked by the Newport East MP Jessica Morden if that meant the number of staff retained could be as few as 30, Ms Rapson said: "It may be as low as 30, yes."

APPEAL AS BIKES RECOVERED

Nov 6 - Police in Maindee are appealing for anyone who has lost or had bikes stolen after three were recovered from an address in St Julians yesterday. The three bikes are described a BMX Magna Acid in blue and silver; an Apollo XL in Blue and silver and a Silver Badmax mountain bike.
 
Three males, aged 14, 15 and 16 from the St Julians area have been arrested on suspicion on being found on an enclosed premises and have been bailed pending further enquiries. If anyone has information they are asked to call Gwent Police on 01633 838111 or crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

 

 

 

FRIARS WALK 2 PLAN

Oct 22 - Developers are being sought for a multi-million pound scheme which would transform part of Newport city centre. The aim is to turn John Frost Square into a "modern, vibrant" shopping centre as soon as possible. Advertisements inviting interest from developers will be put out next month.

A previous £200m scheme to build a shopping centre in the same area was scrapped last year after developers pulled out. Newport council said developers had already indicated that the latest scheme was "very attractive". "We will be expecting potential partners to meet our high specifications as we want a quality development that will encourage shoppers back and persuade major retailers to stay in the city centre," said Councillor Matthew Evans, leader of Newport City Council. "The people of Newport have been waiting a long time for a new shopping scheme and we are determined to do everything in our power to make it become a reality. A lot of the groundwork has already been done so when a new development partner is chosen, work can begin very quickly and officers have been working around the clock to ensure we can go to the market next month."

MORDEN SLAMS SPENDING REVIEW IMPACT ON CITY

Oct 21 - Jessica Morden, MP for Newport East has said the Chancellor's spending review will have a negative impact upon Newportonians and fears further job losses "The Tory and Lib Dem spending cuts today will be cold comfort for constituents in Newport East. There was nothing today about a plan for jobs and growth which must be the starting point.  As a community we are already fighting the proposed closure of the Passport Office in Newport  and today was absolutely no comfort for those public sector workers (and other workers who rely on them for their livelihoods) who are worried about their jobs, homes and children’s future. There’s also no answer from the Government to the question where their much trumpeted new private sector jobs are going to come from.  Its just bad news on top of bad news with the announcements about the Passport Office, the Defence Training Academy at St Athan, and no mention of the electrification of the Great Western main line. "

Newport City Council issued a statement saying "Newport City Council is facing extremely difficult economic conditions and one of the toughest budgets it has ever seen, having to make savings in the region of £40m over the next four years. At present we do not know how the review will directly affect Newport and the impact will become clearer when the Welsh Assembly Government publishes its own draft budget in mid-November. The council has prepared for the anticipated budget reductions and has spent the past few months making budget projections and proposals for improvements to ensure we are in a position to deal with the cuts in the best way possible. The decisions that have to be made will be difficult but to protect and continue to deliver first class, front line services these need to be tackled head on. "

CALL OVER CATHEDRAL VAT TAX BREAK

Oct 21 - Newport West AM Rosemary Butler says that a decision to scrap the grant which is helping with urgent repairs to the roof of Newport Cathedral must be reconsidered by the UK Government. The cathedral authorities are currently eligible for a grant which covers VAT on repairs to listed places of worship. If the grant is lost next March it could lead to a loss of £200,000 - money which the roof restoration fund badly needs.  She urged Culture Minister Alun Ffred Jones to put pressure on the UK Government to change its mind. "Those who are responsible for the upkeep of listed places of worship in England and Wales are facing a major problem next March, because the grant which currently helps congregations to carry out repairs to roofs and other maintenance work by refunding VAT will be axed.

COUNCIL BACKS PASSPORT OFFICE CLOSURE CAMPAIGN

Oct 18 - Members of the public and council employees will now be able to sign the petition to save the Passport Office in some council-owned buildings. Copies of the petition can be found in the reception areas of the Civic Centre, Newport Central Library in John Frost Square, The Riverfront and Newport Centre. Council Conservative leader Matthew Evans urged people to sign the petition which calls on the Home Secretary to abandon the proposal to close Wales’ only passport office. “The city council is fighting hard to keep this valuable service in our city and retain the jobs in Newport which economically makes sense,” said Councillor Evans.

 

CITY MARCHES FOR JOBS AND TO SAVE ITSELF

Oct 16 - Newport rang out to the cries of 'save our jobs..save our city' after a devastating couple of weeks following the announcement of the proposed closure of the Passport Office.

More than 245 jobs face the axe in the planned closure, with a further 27 to go as four local offices are shut.Trades union members and politicians joined the public to march through the city centre to a rally. The UK Government's passport service says closure of the Newport office would achieve the greatest reduction in spare capacity in its operations. It announced on 8 October that it would begin 90-days consultation on the closure of the main passport office with the loss of 300 jobs.

Labour MP for Newport West, Paul Flynn, said the cuts amounted to "butchery" of the passport service and would hit the city hard. He said: "The message must get across to Government - this is not a cut, this is butchering jobs. There's nothing rational about this - it's unfair, it's brutal, it's cruel and cuts away jobs from Wales in a way only Tories can do. Any party that supports this will be political pariahs in Newport and Wales for a generation. Newport's economy was rebuilt from the ashes of the decline of industry and now we're seeing those replacement jobs that came in being undermined in this crude way by government."

Speaking at the rally, John McInally, vice-president of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, said: “I want to make it absolutely clear that we will pour our resources into defending jobs in Newport and across the country. And I want to thank the people of Newport for turning out in such numbers to this absolutely magnificent protest this morning."

COMMENT - I joined the rally this morning. This is the sort of event that makes me proud to be a Newportonian. Many of the marchers were women, kids had made placards 'save my dad's job' it was spontaneous, spirited and resolute. We have been targeted before but the city is indomitable and will fight back, we just need proper, unified political leadership to harness the incredible will and spirit of our people. If you have never been political get in to politics, influence matters, let your opinions be heard, there has never been a more important time for our city or our country.

CITY CUSTOMER CENTRE MOVES NEARER

Oct 16 - A face to face customer centre for Newport's public service bodies including the City Council has moved a step closer with Cabinet approval for the occupation of the entire former railway station building on Queensway.

APPEAL FOLLOWING DRAIN COVER THREATS

Oct 15 - Gwent Police is appealing for information and urging people to be vigilant following thefts of drain covers from a number of streets in the Newport area. A total of 14 drain covers have been stolen since Saturday 9th October from Comfrey Close, Sorrell Drive, Salisbury Close and Bideford Road.

It's believed they are being stolen for scrap metal. The thefts cause a public safety issue with drains being left open and there are also cost implications. The force has an ongoing operation to target scrap metal thefts which includes visting scrapyards. If you see anyone acting suspiciously, removing drain covers, even if they seem to be wearing high visibility clothing please contact the police and officers will check they are legitimate. Anyone with any information regarding scrap metal thefts is asked to contact Gwent Police on 01633 838111 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

M&S MOVES IN BODY BLOW TO CITY CENTRE

Oct 12 - Newport city centre was today hit by another body blow with news that Marks and Spencer will be leaving their Commercial Street store in early 2012 and relocating to Newport Retail Park. Staffing levels will increase from 70 to 100 as the store moves to a bigger site.

MINISTER CLAIMS OFFICE CLOSURE 'NOT INEVITABLE'

Oct 10 - Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan says the threatened closure of the passport office in Newport is not inevitable. Speaking on the Politics Show Wales, Mrs Gillan said that no decisions had been taken yet and that she was lobbying ministerial colleagues.

Ms Gillan has condemned the union for the "irresponsible" way she said it revealed details on Friday of the threatened closure, but said she could not rule out job losses at the office. Speaking on the Politics Show Wales, she said: "The Identity and Passport [Service] is looking at their operations right across the board and I understand they will be starting a period of formal consultation about the Newport office on 19 October. No decisions have been taken yet and that is why I've invited the chief executive to a meeting in my office next week. I was already talking to ministers when this news came out sadly on a Friday afternoon - I don't think that is really a very good time for people and families to learn about the proposed talks."

FURTHER BODY BLOW TO CITY CENTRE

Oct 10 - In another body blow to Newport City Centre it has been confirmed that two city centre stores will close. Next and Monsoon will both close their doors by January 2011 as their current leases come to an end.

FIRST MINISTER'S FURY OVER CLOSURE

Oct 9 - First Minister Carwyn Jones is to write to David Cameron over the decision to close the passport office in Newport, open since 1967. Mr Jones said the assembly government had been given no warning about the closure which could see 300 staff lose their jobs. Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan has said no final decision has been made and she would lobby the workforce's case. But Mr Jones said the government had "completely lost the plot on this one".

He told BBC Wales: "It's unbelievable to think that out of seven passport offices there should be nothing in Wales but passport offices in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. They seem to think its acceptable that Wales and the west of England in fact shouldn't have a service and that people should have to travel to either London or Peterborough." He criticised the lack of consultation, saying the announcement had come "completely out of the blue". "I want to know first of all when the Wales office knew about this? I'd like to know what the Wales Office plan to do about it? And certainly the workers in the passport office will have my full support in trying to save their jobs," Mr Jones said.

Paul Flynn MP stated "Closure of Newport Passport Office is a theft of Welsh jobs by London - the reverse of 40 years of relocating jobs to Wales from London."

PASSPORT OFFICE TO CLOSE WITH LOSS OF 300 JOBS

Oct 8 - The passport office in Newport is set to close with the loss of 300 jobs. The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) said the move would have a "devastating" impact on the local economy. There are also fears passport interview offices in Swansea, Wrexham, Newport and Aberystwyth could close. The Identity and Passport Service (IPS) confirmed it was consulting on closing the Newport office. The PCS union said: "The closure of the Newport office will leave Wales with a vastly inferior service to the rest of the UK."

CITY CLAIMS RYDER CUP SUCCESS

Oct 6 - Newport can look back with satisfaction at having hosted a memorable, exciting and above all successful 38th Ryder Cup, according to the City Council.

While crowds of people watched the golf at the Celtic Manor, more than 5,000 people descended on the city centre to watch the golf live on the big screen in John Frost Square. A record television audience also tuned in to watch the action. Leader of Newport City Council, Cllr Matthew Evans, said: "Newport can look back with satisfaction and knowledge that they hosted the most memorable and successful Ryder Cup ever that was full of drama, history and excitement. Everyone left feeling upbeat and singing the praises of Newport." Being host city to The Ryder Cup has left legacies for residents with improvements to the city centre, regeneration projects changing the landscape of Newport and residents able to enjoy festivals and events. Youngsters flavoured the atmosphere of The Ryder Cup with schools invited to the final practice day and opening ceremony having followed The Ryder Cup-themed curriculum while more youngsters have been introduced and taken up golf. Celebrations will continue this weekend with the culmination of the Big Splash events with the Fire Finale at Rodney Parade at 7.30 on Saturday 9 October. There will be live music, special effects, dancing dragons, fire trapezes, flame-wielding performers and fireworks.

Newport Unlimited stated "The Ryder Cup was televised in more than 200 countries, each day (Friday to Sunday) 45,000 visitors came to the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport - and Europe won!  For the first time in the cup's 83-year history, the tournament had to be completed on a Monday - the result of more than half the average rainfall for October falling in just two and a half days - and 35,000 spectators came back for the thrilling conclusion. It was clear that an enormous amount of effort went into making sure this fantastic opportunity to promote the whole of Wales to the world was fully exploited.  The spotlight on Wales and Newport across the world has shown it as a dynamic business and leisure location, and a capable host for world-class events."

WEATHER DISRUPTS GOLF

Oct 1 - The first day of the Ryder Cup was disrupted by the weather with less than four hours play possible due to heavy rain. Play was suspended between 9.45am and 5pm as the course was deluged. The Foursomes resumed at 5pm with Europe up in one, down in two and level in the other match. Tournament officials were looking to re-jig the schedule on Saturday, when better weather is expected, to prevent play slipping in to an unprecedented fourth day on Monday.

Katherine Jenkins sings at the ceremony

RYDER CUP OPENS!

Thousands of people have attended the opening ceremony of the Ryder Cup in Newport. First Minister Carwyn Jones led proceedings at Celtic Manor and said it was a "once in a lifetime opportunity" to put Wales firmly on the map.

He was joined by singers Rhydian Roberts and Katherine Jenkins. European team captain Colin Montgomerie and his United States counterpart Corey Pavin also named their line ups for the first day on Friday.

Welsh male choir Only Men Aloud sang a rendition of the Welsh national anthem, members of the Welsh Guards, complete with distinctive bear skins, raised the Stars and Stripes and the various European flags as the national anthems rang out.

OFFICE SPACE POTENTIAL HIGHLIGHTED

Sep 30 - The Newport region can offer businesses a fresh alternative to taking up office space in Cardiff, according to a review by property consultants Lambert Smith Hampton. The report covered office space running along the M4 corridor and discovered that the stock of offices in Newport is one-sixth the size of Cardiff. However, it successfully managed to attract big name companies in both the public and private sector such as Lloyds TSB, HSBC and the Office for National Statistics due to its close proximity to the Welsh capital and the business hub of Bristol. Robert Carew-Chaston, of chartered surveyors Hutchings & Thomas said: “Newport has a much bigger catchment area than either Cardiff or Bristol, but does not have the associated costs”. “We need to use the magnets of Bristol and Cardiff to our advantage. They both have a lot going for them, such as Cardiff’s Millennium stadium. Newport will never be the capital of Wales, but it can use Cardiff’s amenities to benefit people in Newport”.

The report highlighted that the biggest office space site in the locality is Celtic Springs Business Park, which can be found next to junction 28 of the M4 motorway, followed by Gwent Europark and Queensway Meadows. Rents within and just out of the city centre stood at a competitive £16 and £15 per square foot respectively. Still, the area hasn’t been able to escape the effects of the recession. Brian McDougall of relocation consultants OMIS said: “Newport’s business base is broad but weak, with too much dependence on vulnerable industry sectors and a handful of large employers. The local unemployment rate has nearly doubled since the downturn in 2008 and shop vacancies in Newport are now the highest in Wales”.

CITY POLICE TO TOLERATE SEX TRADE DURING CUP

Sep 26 - A senior police officer in Newport, the host city of golf's Ryder Cup, says his force tolerates brothels as long as they follow strict criteria. Supt Julian Knight says it is better to work closely with those in the sex industry to enable proper monitoring. He told BBC Radio Wales' Eye on Wales that the law on prostitution created a dilemma, but he had to be pragmatic.

Supt Knight told the programme: "You have to be pragmatic about this. It is illegal. "Society has a very Victorian moral code around this, as a result of which we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place. The law on prostitution says that while it is not illegal to sell sex for financial gain, certain activities relating to it are. These include two or more people selling sex from the same premises.....I have a list of 12 premises," he said.

"We know not only where they are, but also the type of individuals that are there, the type of services they offer, and the gender. That allows us, with our partner agencies, to monitor them closely and to try to develop appropriate ways to get out of this lifestyle."

BAKERY TO CLOSE WITH 114 JOBS LOST - BRACES EXPRESS INTEREST

Sep 23 - Warburtons has confirmed 114 jobs could be lost at its Newport bakery and the site might be shut altogether. The family-owned breadmaker is considering proposals to close its facility at Rogerstone for "operational reasons". Warburtons appreciated it was a "difficult period" for staff. Meanwhile, Brace's Bakery said it had contacted the firm, unions and assembly government about taking over the site and saving jobs. Employees have been briefed and a decision on the future of the Newport bakery will be made next January.

A formal consultation began on Wednesday and will last for a minimum of 90 days. David Williams, general manager of bakeries in Newport and Bristol, told BBC Radio Wales that the decision had been taken because of surplus capacity at the two bakeries he managed. He said the company had been forced into efficiency savings as a result. "It is purely in line with demand. The total bread market and in the south west is not growing in line with our original estimates and forecasts," he said.

CITY SOLDIER KILLED IN AFGHANISTAN

Sep 21 - Sergeant Andrew James Jones of the Royal Engineers, serving as part of Combined Force Lashkar Gah, was killed in action during a vehicle patrol in the Bolan district of Lashkar Gah on Saturday 18 September 2010 alongside Trooper Andrew Martin Howarth of Fondouk Squadron, The Queen's Royal Lancers. He was serving as part of Fondouk Squadron, The Queen's Royal Lancers, and was providing security to the people of Helmand province by denying insurgents' freedom of movement. Sergeant Jones was born in Newport, South Wales, on 8 January 1975, and attended Lliswerry Comprehensive School before choosing to join the Royal Engineers. He completed basic training at the Army Training Regiment Bassingbourn in February of 1998, before passing out of the Royal Engineers Combat Engineering Course in August of the same year.
 
He deployed to Kosovo with 31 Armoured Engineer Squadron, 32 Engineer Regiment, before being posted to the Royal Engineers Armoured Trials and Development Unit in Bovington Camp, Dorset. After this Sergeant Jones was posted to D Squadron, The Queen's Royal Lancers, as an Engineer Reconnaissance Troop Sergeant in February 2009. His service with D Squadron saw him conducting demolition on ranges in Scotland, leading a team over the Yorkshire Three Peaks in 24 hours and overseeing the site reconnaissance and placing of bridges for The Queen's Royal Lancers Battle Group in British Army Training Unit Suffield, Canada, in 2009. For his deployment to Afghanistan earlier this year he was placed in 1st Troop, Fondouk Squadron, The Queen's Royal Lancers, and immediately made a name for himself as a tirelessly efficient, sharp-witted and boundlessly enthusiastic individual.
His wife said in a statement: "Andrew was a happy, funny and caring man. He was a loving husband, father and son, and he will leave a gaping hole in our lives."

MASKREYS TO CLOSE

Sep 21 - Furniture chain Maskreys is to close after 112 years of trading. Chairman Robert Maskrey is retiring and the firm's three stores in Cardiff, Newport and Bristol will shut at the end of November. The move will lead to a phased redundancy of the firm's 87 staff, including 75 based in Wales. The Cardiff-based distribution centre will also close but the company is to operate until the end of the financial year to honour its commitments. The family firm, with a history spanning three generations,was founded in 1898 by John Maskrey, Robert Maskrey's grandfather, who died in 1925. Mr Maskrey stated: "We are categorically not going into liquidation. While trading has certainly been tough during the recession, as it has been with every other independent furniture retailer in the country, this is not the reason for Maskreys shutting."

BODY OF CITY MAN FOUND IN RIVER

Sep 19 - The body of a man found in the River Usk at Newport, has been identified as father-of-four John Le-Sauteur. The 31-year-old, from the Maesglas area of the city was last seen at Newport Town Bridge on Clarence Place in the early hours of Sunday, 12 September.Gwent Police said his body was discovered at 1245 BST on Friday.

Officers said the death is not being treat as suspicious and the coroner has been informed. The discovery of Mr Le-Sauteur's body follows a week long search after he was seen entering the water at around 0100 BST at the Town Bridge on Sunday. His family had issued an appeal for him to contact them, saying: "We all love John and we miss him." Gwent Police have also confirmed that Mr Le-Sauteur went into the River Usk of his own accord.

TORY FALLOUT OVER ASHGAR NOMINATION

Sep 16 - A Newport Tory Councillor has accused the party of the worst sort of tokenism over the selection of the parties regional list in south east Wales for next year's Assembly elections. David Fouweather claims he was told he could be suspended from the party unless he backed the selection of Mohammad Asghar, the only AM from an ethnic minority, who defected to the Tories from Plaid Cymru after spending years in the Labour Party. Mr Asghar, 64, an accountant who was born in Pakistan, announced last December that he was quitting Plaid to join the Conservatives. In recent months, as the time approached to select regional list candidates in South Wales East for next year’s Assembly election, it became clear that some local members were unhappy with Mr Asghar’s performance and wanted to deselect him. Last month, however, the party’s South East Wales Area Council voted to endorse both Mr Asghar and fellow AM William Graham for the top two slots on the regional list. A postal ballot to decide which of the two will be placed at the top of the list will take place next week.

The Western Mail has obtained a copy of a letter sent last week by Mr Fouweather to Catrin Edwards, who chairs the Conservative Party in Wales. It states: “I am writing to you to express my concerns regarding the adoption of the two area Assembly list Members for South East Wales. From the outset this process was interfered with by people who had little or no connection with the area. There were numerous telephone calls made to myself by a representative of the party chairman’s office in London. These calls made it quite clear to me that Mohammad Asghar had to be re-adopted at all costs because of the embarrassment that it would create for the party."

APPEAL OVER CITY ROBBERY

Sep 15 - Gwent Police is appealing for information following a robbery that occurred at approximately 11.30am on Monday 13th September. An 80 year old female was pulled to the floor on Somerset Road by a male who made off with her handbag. The female suffered cuts and bruises and was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital, she was released later the same day.

The offender is described as white, aged between 30 and 35 years old, approximately 5'8" - 5'11" tall, and of thin build. He is bald, has a thin face and was clean shaven. He was wearing faded blue jeans and a jacket. Following enquiries officers have established that the offender had followed the female out of the Post Office on Caerleon Road onto Somerset Road before committing the robbery. In investigation is currently underway and officers are appealing for anyone with information or anyone who may have witnessed the incident to contact them on 01633 838111 or to call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

SEXUAL ASSAULT IN SOMERTON

Sep 15 - Gwent Police is appealing for information following a report of a sexual assault in Newport in the early hours of this morning, Monday 13th September. A male approached a female in the lane off Somerton Park Road which goes towards St Patricks Church at approximately 12:20am.

The 29 year old female was pulled to the floor and sexually assaulted, she struggled free and the offender made off in the direction of Corporation Road. The female suffered bruising and scratches but did not require hospital treatment. She is currently being supported by specially trained police officers. The offender is described as white, approximately 6 feet tall, possibly in his thirties, wearing white trainers, a black hooded top and a black zip up jacket with a white piping and white emblem on the back. Anyone with any information about the incident is asked to contact Gwent Police on 01633 838111 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

STATION OPENS ON TIME

Sep 13 - The new £22m railway station in Newport has opened for the first time to passengers. The futuristic station, which features a roof built with the same material as the Eden Project in Cornwall, is almost twice the size of the old building. Its concourses opened to passengers on Monday morning, and the new footbridge will be in use later this month. Network Rail said the station opened on schedule ahead of the Ryder Cup at the nearby Celtic Manor Resort from 1-3 October.

Thirty-one air-filled plastic cushions are being used in the concourse of the redeveloped station. The design embraces the divide between the two distinct halves of the city, caused by the bisecting railway tracks. Passenger facilities, ticket offices and platform access are split equally between the two concourses either side of the tracks. Alongside the revamp, Network Rail and Newport City Council have done extra work to spruce up the existing platform canopies and refurbished the taxi rank outside the station.

CITY TO REAP LIMITED BENEFITS FROM RYDER CUP

Sep 11 - A number of economists and local business people expect Newport to reap little or no benefit from the Ryder Cup between October 1 and 3. The world's third largest sporting event will attract over 250,000 visitors to the area and a television audiences of millions. Paul Byett, managing partner of chartered accountancy firm UHY Peacheys told Wales Online "Blame cannot be apportioned to either Newport businesses, Newport City Council, the Celtic Manor Resort or the Ryder Cup organisation for this. The simple fact is that Newport is not an attractive retail or leisure centre due to years of under-investment. Plans for new hotel and retail developments were shelved due to the credit crunch so the reality is that Newport does not have an infrastructure to allow itself positive long-term benefit."

SAINSBURY TO CREATE 120 JOBS

Sep 8- Sainsbury’s new store is set to create an additional 120 jobs in Newport. The Sainsburys store in Crindau is scheduled to open for business on September 22 on the former Crindau gasworks site, replacing the existing store in Shaftesbury. The retailer said all 250 staff at the old store will be transferred to the new supermarket where they will be joined by over 100 new recruits. According to reports, Sainsbury’s has received around 500 applications for the 120 jobs that have been created by the new store.

The Newport supermarket includes a restaurant, a 670-space car park, and a petrol station, as well as a number of eco-friendly features such as rainwater-harvesting equipment and the use of natural light. The site of the current Sainsbury’s store will be used to build houses, flats and a hotel after outline planning permission was granted by the council last November.

INCREASE IN KINGSWAY LETTINGS

Sep 6 - Newport's Kingsway Shopping Centre will see an increase in lettings over the next few weeks. In addition to B&M Bargains (occupying the former Woolworth store), jewellers F Hinds and Aura are taking new stores opposite Peacocks as is stationer Paperbox. The Centre claims a 35 per cent increase in footfall during August due to promotions and free parking incentives.

PARTIES COMPLAIN OVER MISSING SUBMISSIONS

Sep 4 - Newport City Council's Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties have called for a boundary commission report to be scrapped after some submissions sent to it went astray. The Local Government Boundary Commission for Wales this week published a report on electoral arrangements in Newport in which changes to ward boundaries were recommended, as well as a reduction in the number of councillors from 50 to 45. But submissions from local Conservatives and Liberal Democrats went astray and were not considered by the team of Commissioners. Councillor Ed Townsend, the Lib Dem deputy leader of Newport council, said: “This is incompetence and we believe the report should be scrapped."

Edward Lewis, secretary of the Local Government Boundary Commission for Wales, said he accepted that the two parties’ submissions had not been considered. He said: “I have now sent the report and the missing submissions to the Local Government Minister. The decision is his as to whether he reads the submissions in addition to the report or uses his power to ask for a new report.”

MAN CHARGED AFTER BRIDGE CLIMB

Sep 2 - The man who climbed the Transporter Bridge in Newport yesterday (Wednesday September 1st) has been charged with two offences under the Highways Act 1980 (Wilfully obstructing the Highway and Depositing an item on the Highway). He has been bailed to appear before Newport Magistrates on 11th October. The man - a 49 year old from the Streatham area of London named as Achan Ssan - has been arrested following a Fathers for Justice demonstration.

Yesterday's protest got under way at 6.30am when Mr Ssan climbed the 242 foot structure in Newport. He was supported from below by a number of fellow fancy-dress campaigners — including  Nigel Ace. Mr Ace from Gower added "Currently the courts are highly biased towards the mother, and are able to get away with this as they are closed to the public. We want an open transparent family courts system brought into line with the crown and magistrates courts. This will prevent corruption, bias and implement a culture of accountability with the judiciary."

TIGHTROPE WALKER DRAWS CROWDS TO BIG SPLASH

A Frenchman ended the Bank Holiday walking tall after being involved in what was claimed to be the UK's highest wire-walk across Newport's river footbridge. The stunt by Olivier Roustan, 45, from Toulouse was part of the city's events to mark golf's Ryder Cup in October. At the highest point he was more than 76m (250ft) above the River Usk, in a distance covering 90m (295ft). He was at the riverfront's Big Splash event with other circus performers.

One of his biggest challenges was walking a 20 metre incline during the feat, which was watched by hundreds of people. The aerialist spent two days in Newport in February assessing the safety issues involved in tackling the challenge.

He was helped into position for the attempt by three highly trained industrial climbers, one of whom had flown over from Chamonix especially. Roustan had previously scaled the Cathedral of Albi near his home city, which is over 500 years old and the largest brick building in the world. Other previous walks included between the masts of a ship and over burning braziers. See it on YouTube.

NEW CITY STATION TO OPEN ON SEPT 13

Aug 30 - Newport's new £22m railway station will open in time for one of golf's biggest events, it has been confirmed. Network Rail said the futuristic station, featuring a roof built with the same material as the Eden Project in Cornwall, will open on 13 September. Visitors attending the Ryder Cup at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport from 1-3 October will be among the first to experience the new-look station. The new development is almost twice the size of the old building.

Up to 100 workers will be putting the finishing touches to the station over the next two weeks, building pavements, tiling floors and fitting out the interior. Councillor Matthew Evans, leader of Newport council, said: "I'm looking forward to the opening of the new railway station, which I believe will create a lasting legacy for the benefit of all Newport residents as well as further enhancing the city's position as the main transport gateway for south Wales."

There are two new concourses, with improved information points and more shops, and an additional new entrance to serve passengers from the northern side of the city. The station will also have three lifts, CCTV and new waiting shelters. Mark Langman, area general manager for Network Rail, said: "Work continues on schedule to meet our deadline and we will keep working hard over the next two weeks to deliver this scheme for passengers. " Network Rail said the station had been developed with the environment in mind, with the "bubble wrap" roof built using a material, ethylene tetrafluoroethylene, used by the Eden Project. The material is said to be recyclable and does not degrade under ultra-violet light or atmospheric pollution. The station can also capture and re-use rain water, and the space in the public concourses is naturally ventilated. The designers said a "key consideration" was how to minimise the building's energy demands and carbon emissions. The old station building is set to become a contact centre for the City Council.

ASHGAR NOMINATED

Aug 30 - Mohammed Ashgar, former member of Plaid Cymru and Labour, has been selected as a Conservative nominee for next year's Welsh Assembly elections. The 64-year-old AM was selected, along with current South Wales East Conservative AM William Graham, as a candidate at a meeting of the South East Conservatives on Friday night. There will now be a postal vote for the preferred candidate.

Commentary from Wales Online "The defection of Mr Asghar – the first and only ethnic minority AM – was seen initially as a coup by the Conservatives. Soon, however, the accountant made it clear that a major reason for leaving Plaid was that party’s refusal to approve his wish to employ his daughter, a former Plaid candidate who defected to the Tories at the same time as her father. A Conservative source told the Western Mail: “The party hierarchy is desperate to ensure that Oscar is endorsed for next year’s election. Concern apparently goes all the way to the top of the party. They are worried that deselecting an ethnic minority AM will send out all the wrong signals and be embarrassing to the party at the time of the conference."

SEX ASSAULT - POLICE APPEAL

Aug 26 - Gwent Police are appealing for information following a serious sexual assault that took place in the early hours of Sunday morning (August 22nd). The victim, a 46 year old woman from the Newport area, was seen to leave the Cross Keys Public House in Market Street Newport at around 1.05am. She was with a man at the time. He  is described as in his late 40s, mixed race, approximately five feet six inches to five feet eight inches tall, stocky build and had a shaved head. He was wearing a checked shirt and walked with a pronounced limp. It is believed they caught a taxi from outside the Capitol Taxi Office in Upper Dock Street, to the Maesglas area of Newport. Police are appealing for the man to come forward, for anyone who recognises his description or was in the Cross Keys Public House on Saturday night to contact Gwent Police on 01633 838111 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

PRAISE FOR GCSE PERFORMANCE

Aug 26 - This year’s provisional GCSE results from the Welsh Joint Education Committee (WJEC) show that 97.9 per cent of exams entered by Newport pupils were graded at A*-G. At the higher grades A*-C the pass rate was 64.2 per cent which is an improvement on the previous year’s excellent results and brings the authority closer to the Welsh average. The proportion of entries achieving the top A*-A grades was 19.2 per cent which is equal to the Welsh average. Brett Pugh, Chief Education Officer, said: “The consolidation shown in this year’s results are a wonderful example of the continued hard work of our students and teachers. These results will help to further the opportunities for young people in the current economic climate."

CITY HOSTS DISASTER RELIEF EVENT

Aug 22 - The charity Islamic Relief has hosted a fundraising events in Newport for the victims of the Pakistan floods. A dinner and charity auction was held in Newport Centre yesterday, with a  event at Cardiff City Hall today. Both events included a witness account from Habib Malik, Scottish director of the charity. Islamic Relief is working with the UK Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) to provide aid. Organiser Fatehullah Tahir said the dinners were the first in Wales to raise money for the Pakistan flood victims and followed similar fundraising events. He said around 170 people attended Saturday's event in Newport, and around 500 people were due to attend Sunday's event in Cardiff.Tickets for both three-course dinners were priced £10 and would be followed by a charity auction and other fundraising activities, he said.

EXAM SUCCESS CLAIMED FOR CITY

Aug 19 - Newport City Council is today congratulating students and school staff on their 2010 AS and A2 results as the performance of Newport schools has improved yet again. Newport schools maintained their high performance in A Level examinations with results consistently above the Welsh averages. The number of students attaining the newly introduced A* grade in Newport is 8.5 per cent, this is 2 per cent higher than those who achieved A* grades in Wales and is higher than those who obtained the grade in England of 8.1 per cent.

Students achieving a pass grade (Grades A*-E) is 98.1 per cent and is above the Welsh average of 97.1 per cent. In Newport, the percentage of students achieving WJEC Grades A* or A was 32.1 per cent this is considerably higher than the national average of 24.4 per cent. Passes at Grade A*-C were 79.1 per cent. In the AS examinations, 88.2 per cent of Newport students achieved a pass grade (Grades A-E) this is above the Welsh average of 86.9 per cent. The percentage of Newport students awarded the highest grade (Grade A) was 19.5 per cent and is 3 per cent higher than Welsh average of 16.3 per cent.

More students than ever entered WJEC exams at both A and AS Level in Newport – 3 per cent and 9 per cent up from last year. For A Levels this is the reverse of the all Wales trend with lower numbers entering A Level examinations. Chief Education Officer, Brett Pugh, said: “These results are a great testament to the ability of our students and the capability of our schools. I wish the students every success for the future and pass on my appreciation and thanks to the staff in our schools.”

STEEL INVESTMENT BOOST

Aug 17 - Business leaders, politicians and unions have welcomed the news that there is to be a huge investment at Corus' Port Talbot steelworks. £185m will be spent refurbishing a blast furnace at the plant raising hopes that production will continue at the site for several more decades. The rebuild will extend the life of the furnace by 20 years. The investment is also a boost for the Corus plant at Llanwern, Newport, which rolls steel produced at Port Talbot. The Port Talbot furnace is to undergo a rebuild, starting in July 2012, which will equip it with technology to improve its safety, environmental performance and reliability.  The project will yield the additional benefit of balancing the iron and steel making capacities at Port Talbot, increasing the capacity of the two blast furnaces by up to 400,000 tonnes per year.

RODNEY PARADE REGENERATION ON THE WAY

Newport Rugby Club and the Newport Gwent Dragons can today announce their intention to start work on the first phase of the ambitious scheme to transform Rodney Parade into a 21st Century stadium.

NGDs Chairman, Martyn Hazell said “We are delighted to have reached a position where we are confident we can make a start to the redevelopment of the stadium early in the New Year.  The last year has been difficult economically but now the plans are in place, the finance is available and our contractors are preparing their final plans and materials.”

The first phase will see the demolition of the Argus Terrace and the development of a new grandstand that will include hospitality boxes and seat up to 2,700 spectators.  The Rugby Club is also looking to introduce temporary facilities to improve the match day experience for spectators pending the completion of subsequent phases of the overall redevelopment scheme.

Hazell went on to say “We are very conscious that some spectators who currently use the Argus Terrace may prefer to stand and so we are planning to re-introduce terracing behind the goal area at the Club House end of the ground. We are also planning to improve overall access to the spectator areas and to offer dining facilities for those who wish to have a meal before the games.”

Plans for new terracing have been lodged with the City Council and a planning application for the dining area will be made shortly.  These are seen as temporary arrangements pending the redevelopment of the Club House end of the ground which will be the final phase of the overall scheme.

Will Godfrey, Chairman of Newport Rugby Club said “Given the economic uncertainties at the moment we know that it will take several years to complete the scheme in its entirety and we have to do it step by step.In the interim we are putting in temporary facilities to improve those parts of the stadium that will be redeveloped at a later date.”

In addition, the Rugby Club is working with the City Council to explore ways of improving the external appearance of the existing Hazell stand on Rodney Road, pending its redevelopment under the third phase of the overall scheme. Designs are currently being developed to re-clad the outside of the stand in order to brighten up this part of Rodney Road.  Depending on cost implications there is also the possibility of a mural depicting the history of rugby in the city.The second phase of the scheme will be a new stand at the south end of the ground and this will include a much needed community centre.  No timescales are available for this at the present time but the Club hopes to start planning for this once the phase 1 works have become established.

FIRE DAMAGES HISTORIC TEA HOUSE

Aug 13 - Fire seriously damaged the 100-year-old Grade ll rustic tea house in Newport’s Belle Vue Park in the early hours today. “Having viewed the damage, I am extremely upset and disappointed about this act of wanton vandalism,” said Councillor Mike Hamilton, cabinet member for leisure and continuing learning. This charming building, built in 1910, was returned to its former glory as part of the major restoration of the park which was completed in 2006. For visitors to the park, the tea house was a pleasant place to sit and rest for a while and it was also used for various activities such as story-telling sessions for children. We would appeal to anyone who has information about the fire to contact Gwent Police.”

CITY CENTRE 'BEHAVIOUR' IMPROVES

Aug 13 - Calls to Gwent Police relating to antisocial behaviour in Newport City Centre have reduced significantly since a dispersal order was introduced in June. In the six month period prior to the dispersal order being introduced, police received 165 calls reporting antisocial behaviour in the affected areas – an average of 28 calls per month.Since the order was introduced just 26 calls have been made to Gwent Police – equating to less than 13 each month. Officers have dispersed around 20 adults in the area for alcohol-related disorder since the dispersal order came into action. Three men – aged 66, 43 and 30 – have been arrested for breaching the order by returning to the area within 24 hours of being dispersed.

VIDEO REMOVED AFTER COPYRIGHT CLAIM

Aug 10 - You are probably sick of it all but...the music video parody paying tribute to Newport which became an internet hit has been removed from YouTube following complaints by a music publisher. Newport State Of Mind has been taken down by YouTube due to a copyright claim by EMI Music Publishing Ltd. Director MJ Delaney and friends rewrote Jay-Z's Empire State of Mind with Newport in place of New York. The spoof prompted another version by Newport rappers Goldie Lookin Chain who claimed it lacked local knowledge.

Although the originally posted video has been removed from YouTube following the copyright claim, other versions remain online. These include footage of the live performance at the Transporter Bridge and Goldie Lookin Chain's response.

NEW PLAYGROUND OPENS IN MAINDEE

Aug 10 - Children are able to enjoy playing on some new equipment after a refurbished play ground in the Maindee area of Newport re-opens. Councillor Mike Hamilton, cabinet member for leisure and lifelong learning, cut a ribbon at Jubilee Gardens to mark the new start. Playground manufacturer SMP donated free footballs which were shared by children at the opening ceremony. Improvements include new equipment, a baseball hoop and safety surfaces.

CALL FOR CITY RYDER CUP AMBASSADORS

August 6 - Newport City Council is currently looking for local people who have a passion for the city to be voluntary ambassadors and to ensure the city is portrayed in the best light. The City Council states "A key part of the role of an ambassadors is to ensure people leave with a positive impression of the city and have an enjoyable experience while visiting Newport. Volunteers will need to commit to a minimum of two days between September 28 – October 3."

If you are interested in becoming an ambassador go along to the open day on either August 5 or 12 anytime between 2pm – 8pm at the Riverfront in Newport to find out how you can get involved. For more information please contact Kerry Richards on 01633 656 656 or email newport.festival@newport.gov.uk

MP LAUDS RETURN OF OUR BRIDGE

August 3 - Jessica Morden MP joined hundreds of other people from across Newport at the reopening ceremony of one of Newport’s most famous landmarks, the Transporter Bridge.  

At the ceremony, the people of Newport were treated to performances from Newport Male Voice, Côr Casnewydd (the Newport community children's choir) and the YouTube sensations Alex Warren and Terema Wainwright playing Newport (Ymerodraeth State Of Mind), their take on Jay-Z's New York State of Mind.  Jessica said “It is just brilliant to see this iconic landmark in full working order. I have to thank the Welsh Assembly, the Council and Cadw for the money they have ploughed in to restore the bridge.  The reopening ceremony was professionally organised and the acts were outstanding. It was, of course, nice to see Alex and Terema perform their YouTube hit; their live performance sounded exactly like their YouTube video. What a great day for Newport.” 

The bridge was closed in December 2007 due to worries over the bridge’s safety. However, with restoration money amounting to £1.2 million, most of it, £800,000, coming from the Welsh Assembly Government, and the huge promotional backing from the Friends of Newport Transporter Bridge, the bridge is once again able to transport passengers.

Following the development of the east side of the river and the construction of the Orb Steel Works in 1897, Newport Corporation decided to build a Transporter Bridge. Newport Pictorial 1906 explains that“A most important work is now in progress and approaching completion. This is a Transporter Bridge, intended to improve cross-river traffic and thus to supplement, and of course relieve the existing Town Bridge, which even with the bracketed widening of the footpaths, is no longer equal to the great and increasing public requirements.” Parliamentary approval was obtained in 1900, construction started in 1902 and was completed by 12 September 1906 when the new bridge was opened by Viscount Tredegar. The Newport Transporter Bridge is arguably the finest of its kind, the towers standing 645 feet apart and rising 242 feet above road level It is electrically powered, the gondola being pulled across by a cable wound round a drum in the motor house on the East bank at a maximum speed of 10 feet per second. The 1959 film 'Tiger Bay' was filmed partly on the Bridge (though artistic licence somehow moved it to Cardiff docks!). The film starred a young Hayley Mills who is now Honorary Life Vice President of the Friends of the Bridge.

Jess Morden, Labour MP, Newport East, Alex Warren, Matthew Evans, Conservative City Council Leader, Terema Wainwright, John Griffiths, Labour AM, Newport East

CITY WINS WALES IN BLOOM AGAIN

Aug 2 - Newport has won the city category of Wales in Bloom for the fifth year running - beating off Cardiff, Wrexham and Swansea. This is the 12th time Newport has emerged victorious, but it may be the last due to the lack of future funding for the competition attributable to public expenditure cuts.

The Milton Hotel in Llanwern picked up the silver medal for the best hotel / public house frontage with its spectacular display of hanging baskets. City Council leader Matthew Evans professed himself 'absolutely delighted' and offered his thanks to all those who had supported this year's winning effort.

Left - the panda display at Malpas Road forming part of the Newport in Bloom presentation this year

DEAL OVER FARMHOUSE

July 31 - A deal has been struck between Celtic Manor Resort, Newport City Council and CADW, the historic monuments trust, with respect to Little Bulmore Farmhouse. The farmhouse was at the centre of controversy recently when Newport City Council planning committee rejected an application by the Celtic Manor to re-site the building. According to the South Wales Argus "the three parties have reached a compromise to carry out a “clean up” of the building, removing the modern extension from the outside of the house while leaving the original 16th century building untouched. Work has now started and will be finished in time for the Ryder Cup in October."

TRANSPORTER RE-OPENS

July 30 - Newport's transporter bridge has reopened after a £1.2m restoration with a performance of a hit song about the city which has won acclaim on YouTube. The bridge was closed in December 2007 because of safety concerns.

But work which started in January this year has now been completed in time for the Ryder Cup in Newport in October.

The reopening featured Alex Warren and Terema Wainwright playing Newport (Ymerodraeth State Of Mind), their take on Jay-Z's New York State of Mind. The transporter bridge features in the song and video, which has had more than 1.8m views on YouTube since it was posted on 20 July.

Some 300 people turned up for the ceremony and to see the pair perform their song which affectionately name checks many of the sights and sounds of Newport.

DYKE ATTACKS 'SHIT' NEWPORT YOU TUBE VIDEO

July 28 - Regular correspondent of thisisnotgwent.co.uk, O.Dyke, has slated the 'cymricised shit' of the You Tube Video parodying the Alicia Keyes' song 'Empire State of Mind. Dyke told our reporter "Accents too Welsh, Gavin Henson, Bellamy, Mill Stad, Bassey, Tom Jones, that long place name 'gogogoch. GWENT dragons. What have these things got 2 do with the 'port". Dyke said the video's authors were presenting a Welsh stereotype as Newport. "Newport is a border team, with strong English roots. This is cymricised shit."

By contrast, Conservative Newport City Council leader Matthew Evans stated "This video is witty, gritty, imaginative and creative and I think this is great publicity for Newport. It’s making us the talk of the town. I have been inundated with emails from people sending me the link and I’ve already posted it on my Facebook page.”

The song includes 'Head out to Caerleon, off-white Transit, Febreze on the dash for the stain where my nan sits' and 'On the dancefloor raving, pack of 16 Benson, some fighting bouncers… turns out it's Gavin Henson.' In place of the original homage-to-New-York chorus, the Welsh version has: 'Newport: concrete jungle, nothing in order, not far from the border.' 'When you're in Newport, chips, cheese, curry makes you feel brand new, washed down with a Special Brew.'

At least the nonsense song has inspired some discussion about the city. BBC Wales correspondent James McClaren stated "One of the things I like very much about Newport is that it feels real - sometimes raw. It doesn't have the same shininess that the 21st century Cardiff has. There's a studied cool to Cardiff that makes it great for leftfield music - indie music thrives. Newport is more rock 'n' roll, less concerned with the trimmed edges of its beard than the AC/DC patch on its rucksack. It is - and I mean in the best possible way - is less Cool but more cool. A lot of Newport's culture thrives under the radar; while Cardiff's music and arts scenes get the press coverage, Newport just gets on with it. There's a gentle rivalry which pretty much boils down to Newport thinking Cardiff takes itself too seriously.'

One blogger backed O.Dyke stating "Seriously what do Craig Bellamy, Gavin Henson, the Milliennium Stadium, Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Steve Jones, Catherine Zeta Jones, Llanfair PG and "big leeks" have to do with Newport? What is this "Big up to Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Assembly" all about? The majority of Newportonians didn't even want the Welsh Assembly and Plaid Cymru regularly come stone cold last in any election. Whoever wrote these lyrics just threw together a bunch of stuff relating to "Wales" and then tries selling it as somehow related to the "small Welsh town of Newport". They can't even get that right.'

Today the makers of the hit internet video announced they are planning to release the song as a single. The team behind Newport (Ymerodraeth State of Mind) – which has clocked up almost 1.4m YouTube views – are meeting record label Universal in London today and are hoping the song will be available in a fortnight. They even aim to stand in front of the Transporter Bridge on Friday to put on a public performance, to celebrate the re-opening of the Bridge!

Frank Barrett, The Mail on Sunday's travel editor and Newport native, said: 'Why isn't Visit Wales using this video as its tourism promotion campaign? 'There are all sorts of fantastic reasons for visiting Newport - I'll think of them in a couple of minutes: oh yes, this is where Courtney Love met Kurt Cobain, honestly. And the Passport Office is pretty good.' The Mail on Sunday goes on to state 'With its close proximity to the Brecon Beacons and a few sights of its own, including Newport Castle and Britain's best preserved Roman amphitheatre in nearby Caerleon, it certainly does not lack appeal....The city is already braced for visitors from all over the world in October, when it hosts the Ryder Cup, the gold competition that pits US teams against Europe.'

Visit Wales did set up a tweet to include the following 'facts' about the 'Port "

Positive Energy website stated "The core of the idea was to make it positive, not to go with the negative energy that many focus on but to celebrate the town of Newport and have fun making the video ... and it shows, brilliant. The whole production was done for an investment of less than £100 plus the time and energy of people with great talent that will fly in their chosen directions of the back of this.

First job I’d suggest is for Newport council is to find £100,000 of EU funding to give to these guys as this summer 2010, tourists from New York to London will making a d-tour via Newport to see if for themselves, especially if Boris sends an email to his pals in NYC. Then hopefully these guys will then put some money into a programme to encourage those with no brass to just give it a go. To come up with ideas that celebrate their communities and make some noise. You might not get heard the first time but keep on trying and the most surprising things will happen." 

PRODUCTION RETURNS TO NEWPORT STEEL PLANT

July 27 - Steel production at the former Alphasteel plant in Newport has resumed.Mir Steel UK said 80 employees began a partial re-start on Monday and the firm had plans to take staff numbers to 140, dependent on demand and orders.Union Community said it would be a "bittersweet moment" for former workers who tried to keep the site going. Around 400 workers were sent home days before Christmas 2007 when the site's former owners went into administration.The hot strip mill at the plant has capacity for a million tonnes a year.

MAN ARRESTED OVER ASSAULT

Jul 25 - A 27 year old man from the Newport area has been arrested in connection with an incident in Newport in the early hours of Sunday morning, 18th July, where a man was assaulted. He is currently in custody being questioned.

POLICE REQUEST HELP OVER ASSAULT

Jul 22 - Police investigating the assault that occurred in Newport in the early hours of Sunday morning (July 18th) are appealing for any possible witnesses caught on CCTV to come forward.

A man in his fifties was walking along Shaftsbury Street (not Wyndham Street as previously thought) at approximately 5am when he was approached by a man who asked for money. The offender punched and kicked him causing extensive facial injuries. The victim was also sexually assaulted.

Police are searching through CCTV from different locations close by and would like people who were in the vicinity between the hours of 3am and 7.30am to come forward to identify themselves and speak to detectives about anything they could possibly have seen. Specifically, police want people who were caught on CCTV at the Shell garage Malpas Road; Sainsburys Garage and Macdonalds on Lyne Road to come forward.

Police are very keen to speak to a man who was seen in the Tewkesbury Walk area between 5am and 6am that morning. He is described as a white male, approximately six feet tall, with dark short or shaved hair. He was wearing a white top and walked in the direction of the Rising Sun Public House.

COMPROMISE HOPE OVER RYDER CUP FARMHOUSE

Jul 22 - According to Wales Online talks are under way to strike a compromise over the future of a dilapidated farmhouse on the Ryder Cup course. With just 72 days to go until Wales hosts the world’s third biggest sporting event, it is hoped a deal can be struck between the Celtic Manor Resort and Newport council that would see the Grade II-listed building “cleaned up”.

Meanwhile, there were assurances yesterday that Newport’s two major infrastructure projects, a new train station and the M4 roadworks, would be completed ahead of the competition. Celtic Manor’s billionaire owner, Sir Terry Matthews, said earlier this month he would pull future investment from Newport after city councillors vetoed plans to remove the derelict farmhouse overlooking his flagship Ryder Cup course.But talks over its future could yet see a compromise agreed. A source said: “If common sense prevails we will come to some kind of an arrangement to clean it up, but it is going to be there for the Ryder Cup.” One proposal is for the unsightly shattered windows, plastic roof and breeze block-built extensions to be removed, leaving the core of the historic building untouched.

CITY TO SET UP 'FANZONE'

July 20 - Newport, host city of the 2010 Ryder Cup, has announced plans to stage a Fanzone in the city's John Frost Square for the duration of the competition.

With tickets for all three days of the competition at the Celtic Manor sold out, the Fanzone will give supporters a chance to savour all the excitement as Europe and the USA golf teams go head to head. Spectators heading to the Fanzone over the weekend of October 1 to 3 will be able to watch all the drama unfold on the big screens.Live music, food stalls and mini-golf will also help to capture the spirit of the Ryder Cup as Newport seeks to unite families and golf fans from around the world. It will be free-to-access and has a total capacity of 2,000 people. As Colin Montgomerie and his European team aim to recapture the trophy they lost at Valhalla two years ago, the Fanzone is expected to reach fever pitch come the conclusion of the final pairings on Sunday afternoon. Councillor Matthew Evans, leader of Newport City Council, said: "It's an exciting year for Newport and we want to make the Ryder Cup experience as enjoyable as possible for locals and visitors alike. The Fanzone is going to be a great place to take in the golf and the atmosphere will be electric".

NO DECISION ON RAIL LINK UNTIL 2011

July 19 - No decision on whether an Ebbw Vale to Newport rail line will go ahead will come before next year, the assembly government has confirmed. Transport Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones is waiting on a feasiblity study from Network Rail into its economic and logistical viability. The findings are not expected before March 2011. Meanwhile, an extra £21m in European funding is going to a scheme to help improve railway stations across Wales. Dozens of stations could benefit from improvements such as new waiting facilities and better security under the Wales Enhanced Station Improvement Plans. The funding from the Convergence European Regional Development Fund will go towards improving access and security at stations across Wales. "We know modern stations are important to passengers in Wales and we want to achieve even more successes for them," said Chris Rayner, route director at Network Rail. The National Transport Plan published by the assembly government in March committed to examining the viability of an Ebbw Vale to Newport line.

The leader of Newport City Council, Matthew Evans, told the Argus that the situation over the Ebbw Valley line link to Newport was “absolutely disgraceful”, while Assembly Member Rosemary Butler said pushing for the line has been like “beating your head against a brick wall”.

SUPER DRAGONS VANDALISED

July 18 - Newport City Council is calling on residents to look after our SuperDragons after five of them were badly damaged on the opening weekend of the trail.

The SuperDragons are situated across Newport creating a trail for people to follow and on the weekend they were put in different locations with the trail officially starting today (Monday), however, over the weekend five of them were attacked by vandals. Leader of Newport City Council, Cllr Matthew Evans, said: “It is extremely disappointing that at this early stage of the SuperDragons project the mindless acts of a few individuals has meant that some of the dragons have had to be removed from the trail. The SuperDragons project is for the people of Newport and local artists have spent many hours working on their SuperDragon and they have already brought pleasure to a lot of people. For them to be damaged on the opening weekend of the trail is totally unacceptable. The project is part of the Newport Festival 2010 which is about taking pride in our city; it is a shame that not everyone who lives in our city shares this sentiment.”

The SuperDragons that have been damaged were situated at Tredegar House, the Wave, the Footbridge, Barrack Hill and High Street. Four of them have been so badly damaged that they have had to be removed from the trail and are currently being repaired. They are expected to go back on the trail in the next few weeks.

POLICE APPEAL OVER ASSAULT

July 18 - Police are appealing for information after a man in his fifties was assaulted in the Wyndham Street area of Newport early yesterday morning (Sunday July 18). At approximately 5am the victim was making his way along Wyndham Street when he was approached by a man who asked for money. The offender punched and kicked the victim causing extensive facial injuries. The victim was also sexually assaulted.

The offender is described as a white male, between 20 and 30 years old, five feet eleven inches to six feet tall wearing a white t shirt and black trousers. Detective Chief Inspector Ruth Price is leading the investigation: 'This kind of unprovoked physical violence is rare. The victim has been brave in coming forward and providing officers with as much detail as he could. The victim is described as in his mid fifties, six feet tall, of very slim build and wearing a dark green jacket. We would appeal to anyone who has any information to contact us' Forensic investigations and house to house enquiries have been ongoing and additional patrols are taking place in the area.

'IMPAIRED' DOCTOR ALLOWED TO PRACTISE

July 17 - A doctor suspended after two patients died in her care  will be allowed to continue to practise. The General Medical Council (GMC) said Dr Salawati Abdul-Salam's fitness to practise medicine remains "impaired". She was suspended in March after she misdiagnosed baby Aleesha Evans, of Newport, who died of blood poisoning after being discharged. Dr Abdul-Salam can now only practise if she adheres to a raft of conditions and must be reassessed within 15 months.

Dr Salawati Abdul Salam was suspended by the General Medical Council (GMC) following her treatment of nine-month-old Aleesha Evans, who died after the medic failed to diagnose the baby was suffering from blood poisoning. Aleesha was feverish, vomiting after being fed, had a blanching rash on the abdomen and a raging temperature of 37.9C, when she was brought into hospital on August 9, 2006. Dr Salam, then a Specialist Registrar, did not examine her or take a history of her condition from her parents, Craig Evans and Shiree Hanbury. Instead she arranged for the baby's immediate discharge without establishing the reason for the fever and without seeking advice from a senior colleague, the GMC, sitting in Manchester, heard. Less than 24 hours later, Aleesha, died at Cardiff's University Hospital from multiple organ failure, triggered by blood poisoning from a meningococcal infection. Dr Salam was suspended from practice by the GMC for four months, until August 18 2010, as a result of an investigation which found her care of Aleesha "demonstrated a complete lack of attention to detail and a serious degree of carelessness". The four-month suspension angered Aleesha's parents , who mounted a campaign calling for the doctor to be struck-off and gathered a petition with 8,000 signatures to support their cause.

ICELAND BATTLE CONTINUES FOR COUNCIL

July 17 - The battle between Newport City Council and Iceland Foods will come to a head in Cardiff but the hearing will not be before August. Iceland wants a judicial review on the council's plan to re-use its original compulsory purchase order. The firm said it wants the matter resolved.

The council began compulsory purchase proceedings for properties in the square, including one owned by Iceland, four years ago. Iceland objected at the time but, after a public inquiry, an independent inspector backed the council's position. However in March this year, just days before before the completion date of the compulsory purchase order, Iceland applied for a judicial review on the matter. The company lodged its application in London, where last week a judge decided the case should be heard in Cardiff because of the significance of the issue to the people of Newport. The council, which had agreed a process for re-tendering the shopping centre scheme to a new developer, has now learned that the hearing to see if a review will be held will not take place before 10 August.

DROP IN NIGHT-TIME CITY CENTRE CRIME

July 15 - The Safer Newport Partnership has reported a significant drop in late night crime and antisocial behaviour in Newport City Centre so far this year. Gwent Police figures comparing the first six months of this year with the same period in 2009 (January to June) show that incidents between the hours of 6pm and 6am in the city centre are down by 20.5% - or 254 fewer incidents than the previous year. When the figures are broken down further, violent crime is down 6.4% (13 fewer crimes) and antisocial behaviour is down a massive 34.7% (180 fewer incidents).

One of the biggest challenges police officers face in Newport is keeping people safe in the city centre at night. As well as providing extra officers at peak times, Gwent Police has been working closely within the Safer Newport partnership to encourage people to drink responsibly. Comment - this is not as good as it seems as night time trade in Newport has fallen considerably in the past year.

BRYNGLAS SCHOOL CLOSURE THREAT

July 15 - The spectre of closure is again hanging over Brynglas Primary School. Newport City Council Cabinet has voted to start formal consultation on the proposal to close the school and to develop a facility for dealing with autism.

The Cabinet was told of the continuing decline in numbers at the school and of the resultant financial pressures which had led to concerns about the economic viability of the school. Cabinet was told that such pressures are likely to mean that in time, the school will be unable to fulfill its duty in delivering the full breadth of the curriculum, where they may be unable to afford sufficient numbers of staff with appropriate expertise to deliver all subjects.

Monkey Man (above) Darling Buds warm up gig at Le Pub  (below)

CROWDS THRONG CITY TO PAY TRIBUTE TO TJ's

July 11 - More than 4,000 people attended a gig in John Frost Square Newport city centre yesterday in memory of John Sicolo, who ran the city’s most famous music venue, the Legendary TJ’s.

Goldie Lookin Chain headed a line-up of bands from the 1990s for the show in the city’s John Frost Square, which saw the Darling Buds play together for the first time in more than a decade.

Other bands playing together for the first time in years included Novocaine, Doctor Bison, Flyscreen, Rollerco, Varispeed and Disco. Mr Sicolo opened TJ's in 1971, and it developed a reputation as a place for up-and-coming bands to make a name for themselves after it was championed by BBC DJ John Peel.

The all-day gig saw local bands and new acts take to the stage, before slots from a number of hit acts. Andy Barding, one of the organisers, said they were inundated by bands. "Everyone wanted to play - the difficulty was choosing which bands would get a slot on stage," he said.

"With the overspill we've got some other gigs happening around the town the night after - a lot of the bands were just desperate to play in tribute to their old friend John."

Mr Barding said the venue's reputation was largely down to Mr Sicolo himself. "He was a very magnetic character and very well known across the world, especially in America and Canada, for his hospitality," he said.

"Every band that would come in on tour would get a nice meal home cooked by John and most times they'd be staying in his spare room.

BUSINESS BACKS MATTHEWS

July 10 - Newport City Council has been forced on to the defensive following the decision by councillors to refuse a planning application to demolish and resite the Little Bulmore Farmhouse. City businesses have thrown their weight behind Celtic Manor boss Sir Terry Matthews. Neil Underwood chairman of City of Newport Business Club said the councillors' decision was "simply staggering". He said "The ramshackle building amounts to little more than a dilapidated farmhouse with an unsightly breeze block extension tacked onto the side. Just what will the visiting Americans and mainland Europeans make of it when they arrive at Celtic Manor or see this blot on the landscape in their newspapers and on TV screens as they most surely will - I just can't begin to imagine. Wales, and Newport in particular, will simply be regarded as an international laughing stock. Is that what Newport City Council wants? I think not."

David Russ, managing director of South Wales Chamber of Commerce said: "Newport City Council cannot afford for a decision this small to affect the long-term economic prospects of Newport if Terry Matthews, a man of his stature, and a brand as powerful as the Celtic Manor leave Newport. We therefore urge Newport City Council to re-think its decision in declining the proposal."

MATTHEWS FALLS OUT WITH COUNCIL

July 9 - Sir Terry Matthews, the owner of the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, says he will pull the plug on his future investment plans for the city, after a planning row. Matthews says city councillors have "blown it", after refusing permission to move an old farmhouse at the Ryder Cup venue. But Newport councillors rejected the plea as the 17th Century property is a listed building. Sir Terry said it was a "slap in the face". Members of the City Council's planning committee decided on Wednesday to reject an appeal to dismantle the 400-year-old property that lies on the edge of the 18th hole on the course. It would have been rebuilt at a nearby location. Council planning officers had advised council members to approve the application to move the farmhouse, stating that they felt it was the best solution. Council leader Matthew Evans expressed his concern at the decision taken on Wednesday. "I am bitterly disappointed and mystified by the planning committee's decision," he said. The Committee report states "The Committee felt there was a requirement to retain the building in its present state and location, and supported the comments of specialists (Glamorgan Gwent Archeological Trust).

Councillors attending Planning Committee on Wednesday - Councillor White (in the Chair), Dudley, Knight, Ron Jones, Poole, Richards, Kellaway, Fortey, Delahaye and C Townsend.

CITY OPTS FOR PART-NIGHT LIGHTING

July 9 - Newport City Council has taken a different route to other local authorities in the area by opting to save money but switching off street lights on industrial and principal roads at night. They did considered but did not back the option to turn off streetlights at night as is the case in Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent.

ROYAL MAIL MISSES TARGET IN CITY

July 9 - The Royal Mail missed first class delivery targets in every region in Wales last year, annual results show. The group failed to hit its 91.5% next-day delivery target during 2009/10 due to industrial action and bad weather. Newport was named as the worst-performing area, missing its target by more than 3% with an 88.2% achievement rate.

WORK STARTS AT NEW RECYCLING FACILITY

July 7 - Construction has started on one of the first commercial anaerobic digestion facilities in Wales at the factory of one of the largest suppliers of ready meals to Marks & Spencer. Welsh environment minister Jane Davidson today (July 7) attended a ground-breaking ceremony at the RF Brookes plant in Rogerstone near Newport for the facility, which is being developed by energy and waste management firm InSource Energy. The 10,000 tonnes-a-year capacity facility is expected to cost £5 million to construct and benefited from a £500,000 grant from Welsh Assembly Government.

TOP AWARD FOR CITY SCHOOL BUILDING

July 5 - Newport High School was named project of the year at the Wales Constructing Excellence Awards 2010. Mayor Councillor Bill Langsford and council leader Councillor Matthew Evans were presented with the award in a ceremony at the SWALEC stadium.

After being chosen from five finalists, the scheme will now go forward to the UK awards which take place in London later this year. Councillor Evans said: “I am delighted that this landmark scheme was recognised with this prestigious award and would like to thank all those in the council and our partners who were involved in the building of this new school which is providing 21st century educational facilities.” Officially opened by the Princess Royal, Newport High School was the first to be completed in the council’s major secondary school redevelopment programme. Ironically, the Cllr Evans's Government has pulled the plug today on the Labour flagship Schools For the Future programme in England.

RECYCLING IMPROVEMENTS

July 2 - Wastesavers have confirmed that Newport residents can now put out breakfast cereal boxes for recycling in the blue kerbside box. This extension has been made possible due to changes in the way Wastesavers paper re-processors recycle the newspapers and magazines sent to them. Over the past 12 months requirements have been relaxed, and Wastesavers can now take a range of paper related products including envelopes, greetings cards and now breakfast cereal boxes for recycling. Once recycled, your paper products come back to life as newsprint. In fact the paper you are reading right now could have once been an envelope or even a take-away menu.

Items that you can put in your blue box for recycling are:  Newspapers, magazines, office paper, junk mail, envelopes, greetings cards, breakfast cereal boxes, clothes, shoes, mobile phones and toner cartridges.

TREDEGAR HOUSE TO CLOSE DURING RYDER CUP

June 30 - One of Newport's top tourist attractions is to close for the period of the Ryder Cup. Newport City Council has entered into an agreement with Ryder Cup Limited to enable Tredegar House and Grounds to be used as a park and ride facility for the Ryder Cup. This agreement grants exclusive use of the site to Ryder Cup from Monday 27th September to Monday 4th of October inclusive. The Council states "It will therefore be necessary to close the site to the public for this period. The regular users of the park will be made aware of availability of Tredegar Park and other open spaces for their use and enjoyment during this week."

APPEAL OVER CASHPOINT THEFT

June 30 - Gwent Police is appealing for information after an ATM machine outside the Asda store on Pencarn Way, Duffryn, Newport was attacked and a substantial amount of money stolen. It happened sometime between 11.45pm and midnight on Sunday 27th June. The cashpoint was totally destroyed and approximately £20,000 worth of damage was caused. If anyone has any information about the incident they are asked to call Gwent Police on 01633 838111 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

RETAIL NEWS

June 30 - The former Barratts shoe shop is to be occupied by discount book retailer, the Works.

POLICE UNCOVER MASSIVE DRUGS FIND IN ALWAY

June 28 - Police in Alway have arrested two people for possession of drugs with intent to supply, money laundering and benefit fraud. On Wednesday (23rd June) at 7.30am officers raided a house in Mount Bax, Alway after receiving intelligence from members of the local community. Newport East Neighbourhood Policing team coordinated the raid, which also involved the Gwent Police Support Group, Dog Section, and Financial Investigation Unit.

Officers forced entry to the property and arrested a 29-year-old man and 30-year-old woman after a trained drugs dog located £15,000 in a tumble drier and a small amount of cannabis. Investigations continued at the scene and a rucksack was later found containing 6kg of uncut amphetamine, with a potential street value of £500,000. The drugs were sent for forensic analysis while the cash and a number of expensive items found in the house were seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The two arrested individuals have been bailed pending further investigation. Sergeant Dave Morgan, of Newport East Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “This is a great result as we have stopped a massive amount of drugs from reaching the streets and causing harm to the community. “Drug dealing is a PACT priority for the Alway ward and we constantly gather information from members of the public regarding drug-related activity taking place in the area. “We will continue to work closely with the public to reduce crime and make the area a better place to live.” Anyone with information on drug crime in their area can call Gwent Police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

WORK TO START ON NEW SCHOOL

June 28 - A ceremony was held today to mark the start of work on a new £29 million state-of-the-art building to replace the present Hartridge High School.

Mayor Councillor Bill Langsford, Newport City Council leader Matthew Evans and Councillor David Atwell, cabinet member for young people’s services, were among those attending the event. “I am delighted that we are able to make progress on this beacon project. Providing top-class schools and improving Newport’s already high educational standards are important priorities for the authority,” said Councillor Matthew Evans.

“As we have seen from the new Newport High School, which opened last autumn, pupils, staff and the community will all benefit from the superb new facilities when the building opens its doors.” Councillor David Atwell, cabinet member for young people’s services, said: “This is a major step towards to seeing our vision of a new, fit-for-purpose school become a reality. Pupils and staff will now be able to see the building taking shape and look forward to the day when they are able to move in.” Hartridge High is the second school being built as part of the council’s major secondary school redevelopment programme and has been selected as a demonstration project by Constructing Excellence under the themes of sustainability, procurement and consultation. Construction will be completed by the Leadbitter Group, who successfully delivered Newport High School, Bettws Lane, for Newport City Council.

NEW BUSINESS PARK OPENS

June 26 - A new business park has been officially opened in a joint venture between the Welsh Assembly Government and the Centre for Business. Phoenix Park in Newport was completed in 2008 and is Wales’ newest industrial park, with 45 purpose-built industrial units providing a total of 43,000 sq ft of workspace.

The park was officially opened by Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones. David Russ, managing director of Centre for Business and South Wales Chamber of Commerce, said: “The launch was a great way to celebrate the opening of a brand new project, post recession, that will ultimately boost the Newport economy.”The gated estate will lease new, high-specification units and the development benefits from links to two junctions of the M4 and other major distribution routes to the rest of Wales and the Midlands.

PRIVATE CHARTER TRAINS FOR RYDER CUP

June 26 - The Train Chartering Company is supplying three private charter trains for travel to the 2010 Ryder Cup for Ryder Cup Limited. The trains will operate one return journey daily, Friday 1st, Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd October, on the route: London Paddington via Reading, Swindon and Bristol Parkway to Newport. There is a coach transfer service between the station and the course as there is no pedestrian access.

LAPTOP THIEF CHARGED

June 26 - A thief from Newport who stole two laptop computers from a store in Salisbury, Wiltshire was behind a series of thefts across the country, a court heard.  Christopher Spence, 41, appeared before magistrates in Salisbury on Thursday charged with stealing two laptops worth £679 from the Currys store, Southampton Road, on February 10. The court heard he was caught after a supervisor at the store became suspicious and took down the registration number of his car before reviewing CCTV footage. Spence, from Newport pleaded guilty to theft and admitted he had later sold the laptops in a pub for £250. He was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £339 compensation and £85 costs.

PARENTS DEMO AGAINST DOCTOR

June 26 - The parents of a nine-month-old girl who died after being misdiagnosed have handed in a petition of nearly 8,000 signatures demanding that the doctor who treated her is struck off. Aleesha Evans, from Newport died after Dr Salawati Abdul Salam failed to diagnose she was suffering from blood poisoning. Instead, the doctor said Aleesha had a viral infection and discharged her.

Less than 24 hours later, Aleesha died at Cardiff's University Hospital from multiple organ failure, triggered by blood poisoning from a meningococcal infection. Following the baby's death in August 2006, the General Medical Council launched an investigation and in March this year found Dr Abdul Salam's care of Aleesha "demonstrated a complete lack of attention to detail and a serious degree of carelessness". The doctor was suspended from practising for four months, a decision which angered Aleesha's parents, Craig Evans and Shiree Hanbury. Mr Evans and Miss Hanbury were joined by 47 supporters outside the GMC's offices in London on Friday. Wearing yellow T-shirts claiming "Justice 4 Aleesha", they chanted "Dr Salawati out". They then handed Ben Jones, assistant director of strategy and planning at the GMC, a petition of nearly 8,000 signatures from their supporters in Newport demanding the doctor be permanently struck off.

SEVEN ARRESTS AFTER CITY CENTRE BRAWL

June 24 - Police are investigating an assault on a woman both inside and outside a city nightspot. Gwent Police said the woman was attacked at the Meze Lounge, Market Street, Newport, on Tuesday night. Police also said two people were in custody after a man was assaulted outside the Crosskeys pub on the same evening. Fifteen officers attended as a crowd spilled out into the street, and CCTV cameras were used to monitor them. Police said five other people were arrested for being drunk and disorderly.

POLICE CRIME 'LOCK DOWN' IN PILL

June 24 - Newport West Neighbourhood Policing Team coordinated a ‘lock-down’ of Pill on Monday (June 21st) in a drive to reduce crime in the area.   While neighbourhood officers patrolled the area on foot, the Gwent Police ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) Unit covered the main route into and out of Pill. The police vehicles used were fitted with ANPR technology, which scans number plates and checks them against police records. Any vehicles connected with a range of offences - from no insurance to firearms incidents - were stopped while officers investigated and searched vehicles where necessary.

The ‘lock-down’ was carried out as part of Operation Prudent, a continuing Gwent Police drive to reduce crime in Pill and reassure law-abiding members of the local community. A similar initiative was run in Pill in November 2009.

The results of the ‘lock-down’ on Monday are as follows:
•    202 Police National Computer checks completed
•    Three arrests (for possession of cannabis, an assault, and a wanted person)
•    Two fixed penalty fines were issued for possession of cannabis
•    Two vehicles were seized for no insurance
•    22 fixed penalty notices were issued for a variety of motoring

POLICE SORT OUT TROUBLE ON THE BUSES

June 22 - A Gwent Police operation in Newport has been launched to prevent antisocial behaviour along bus routes in the city. A team of four PCSOs sponsored by the city’s main bus operator Newport Transport carried out Operation Bust on May 21st, June 4th and June 5th in hotspot areas of Lliswerry and Ringland.
The operation, which also involved Newport East Neighbourhood Policing team, was launched in reaction to complaints received from Newport Bus drivers and residents regarding antisocial behaviour.

During the operation officers stopped 30 people aged between 13 and 40, two arrests were made and one caution was issued. The team confiscated 21 cans of lager, six bottles of lager and three cans of cider from underage teenagers. One youth on an off-road motorbike was issued with a warning notice for riding illegally.

The PCSO team have sent antisocial behaviour warning letters to the homes of 25 teenagers who were stopped during the operation. PCSO Owen Reynolds, who helped coordinate the operation, said: “In the past Newport transport have had to pay out thousands of pounds to repair damage caused to their vehicles on bus routes. “Antisocial behaviour can cause distress to bus drivers and slow services down, so we conducted Operation Bust to highlight the issue and show it will not be tolerated. We will continue to ensure the bus routes in Newport are patrolled regularly and anyone caught causing offences will be dealt with appropriately.”

Since the team of PCSOs, funded by Newport Transport, was formed in February 2008 the bus company has seen instances of criminal damage to its vehicles reduce dramatically. Chris Blyth, Managing Director of Newport Transport, said: “The safety of our customers is paramount to us and the work of our dedicated team of PCSOs is testament to this belief. As a company we are delighted that the team’s recent operation targeting antisocial behaviour was such a success and that our customers can remain confident that their safety is our top priority when they travel with us.” To report incidents of antisocial behaviour please call Gwent Police on 101.

CITY CENTRE DEVELOPMENT EDGES FORWARD

June 21 - Newport's approach to a new city centre development has taken a few tentative steps forward with the establishment of a Cabinet sub committee aimed at giving strategic direction to the project and developing an effective relationship with the preferred development. The new city centre shopping and leisure development is the key regeneration project as far as city residents are concerned. The City Council leader Matthew Evans has indicated that a preferred developer should be selected by the end of this calendar year.

POLICE APPEAL OVER MARKET STREET SEX ASSAULT

June 21 -  Gwent Police is appealing for witnesses and information following a serious sexual assault that occurred in Newport overnight on Friday 11th June.  The incident occurred at around midnight. A 32 year old woman engaged in conversation with a man on Upper Dock Street.  Together, they walked towards Market Square Car Park which is where the sexual assault took place.  
 
The offender is described as an Asian male in his early 20s with black hair.  He was wearing a light coloured jacket and top and light coloured trousers.  Police are particularly keen to trace three females who may have witnessed the incident.  It is believed they were using a silver car, and spoke to the victim and suspect following the assault between the hours of 00.45 and 01.00 on Saturday 12th June.  
Anyone with information relating to this incident is asked to contact Gwent Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

FIVE TREATED AFTER PILL HOUSE FIRE

June 20 - Five people were treated for smoke inhalation after a fire at a house in Newport on Saturday morning. They managed to escape the blaze in the three storey house on Commercial Road at around 0730 BST. A fire investigation has started.

SOMERTON MAN JAILED FOR FIVE YEARS

June 19 - A Somerton man has been jailed for five years after his 15-year-old stepson accidentally shot himself in the head while posing for photos with a gun. Michael Hole, 50, earlier admitted charges of child cruelty and possessing an illegal firearm. He failed to check it was loaded before asking Lewis Bailey to put the weapon against his head for the pictures. Lewis made a "remarkable recovery" but may suffer future medical problems, Cardiff Crown Court heard.

Hole, a father-of-four, saw his stepson having a fit on the bedroom floor and dialled an ambulance. The court heard he told the operator: "A little boy has shot himself in the head. Hurry up - he's dying." He then fled the family home before paramedics arrived to find Lewis in a pool of blood but still conscious.

CITY'S INNOVATIVE TV RECYCLING SCHEME

June 19 - A new free TV recycling service is being offered to all Newport residents as of 17 June 2010, following the huge success of a scheme which collected TVs from older and housebound residents earlier this year. The scheme recycled over 400 televisions and monitors in the April 2010 campaign, so is now being rolled out to everyone in the city. The door-step collection service is run by environmental company Footprintmatters2u.

Tim Hourahine, FootPrintMatters2U Technical Sales Director,said: "The launch of the TV recycling collection scheme for older and housebound residents had a response far exceeding expectations. We collected over 12 tonnes of TVs and monitors, around 400 sets, and still the phone keeps ringing with requests for collections.”

Many Newport residents have taken to upgrading their TVs because of the recent digital switch over or to watch the World Cup in all its glory. Tim Hourahine said: “Don’t leave your old TV gathering dust in the garden shed, spare room or loft. Give it a new lease of life, it can be recycled and end up as a new product.“With the change-over to digital television and the start of the World Cup, anyone who has changed their TV will be able to recycle their old set by calling us to collect or of course by taking it for recycling to the City’s C.A. site”. Newport environmental company FootPrintMatters2U will collect unwanted TVs for free from any Newport home. They will then be recycled by European Recycling Platform (ERP), one of the UK’s largest electronic waste recycling schemes. TVs are taken to a recycling plant in the UK to be specially treated, so that all hazardous materials are safely removed and the valuable metals and other materials in them can be used to make new products.

DRUGS SEIZED IN DUFFRYN - THREE ARRESTS

June 17 - Neighbourhood police officers have arrested three people after finding drugs in a van parked in Duffryn, Newport. On Friday (11th June) at around 9pm Newport neighbourhood support officers stopped and searched a car in Schooner Way, Duffryn. Suspicious behaviour by three men travelling in the car triggered a police investigation and later the same evening officers found more than 2kg of white powder, believed to be pure amphetamine, in the back of a van parked in Duffryn. The three men, all in their 20s and from the Newport area, were subsequently arrested by Officers for possession of Class A drugs with intent to supply. The two vehicles were seized and properties in Ringland and Duffryn were searched by specialist Gwent Police search officers and neighbourhood policing teams. Although the uncut drugs have been sent for forensic analysis, officers estimate that the street value of the stash could run into tens of thousands of pounds. The three men arrested have been bailed pending further investigation.

TOWN PLANNER PRAISES 'OUTSTANDING' CITY REGENERATION

June 17 - Ann Skippers, President of the Royal Town Planning Institute, visited various regeneration projects in Newport, including the new university campus and riverfront, and described what she saw as “outstanding”.

“I was amazed by Newport - there is a great deal going on. I was particularly impressed with the new University campus; it is a state-of-the-art facility which not only combines fantastic resources for teaching and learning, but will be a landmark building that the local community can use as well. The quality of thought that has gone into the long-term planning of the area is outstanding. The area next to the riverfront is taking shape and already it is clear that the development schemes along the river will ensure that the people of Newport have a city that they can be very proud of. Newport is a real hidden gem and I can't wait to return."

Councillor Matthew Evans, leader of Newport City Council said:” A transformation is taking place along Newport's waterfront with once derelict industrial areas becoming areas where people will enjoy living, working, studying and visiting. Among the many exciting projects are the new university campus, an iconic building which will introduce a new atmosphere to the city centre, and the eco-friendly Mariner's Quay development at Old Town Dock in Newport, which is being built to Code Level Five of the Code for Sustainable Homes. The Riverside Park will complement these developments with pedestrian and cycle paths running alongside the River Usk and will provide another valuable asset for the city. I was delighted to welcome the President of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), Ann Skippers, to visit these schemes in Newport, as they run very near to completion."

POLICE ENFORCE DISPERSAL ORDERS IN ROGERSTONE

June 17 - Gwent Police received just one call relating to antisocial behaviour in Rogerstone on the weekend two dispersal orders were introduced. The Gwent Police Support Group, whose main role is to deal with very serious crime and public disorder, helped Newport West Neighbourhood policing Team patrol the area to enforce the dispersal orders in the Afon Village and Thornbury Park areas.
Officers dispersed 20 teenagers aged between 13 and 17 for making excessive amounts of noise, swearing and unruly behaviour on the weekend. Those dispersed had their names and addresses taken and warning letters will be sent to their parents. The Support Group and neighbourhood officers will again enforce the dispersal orders this weekend and their patrols will continue for the duration of the dispersal orders.
 

POLICE SEIZE OFF ROAD BIKES

June 15 - Police are tackling the illegal use of off-road motorcycles in Bettws and Malpas, seizing 13 bikes since April.Newport West Neighbourhood Policing Team took action after residents attending PACT meetings in April told officers that off-road bikes were being ridden in an antisocial manner. The issue has been made a PACT policing priority by local people and patrols have been stepped up in hotspot areas.

So far officers in Bettws and Malpas have confiscated 13 bikes and issued five warning notices to illegal riders, ranging in age from young teenagers to adults. After receiving one Section 59 Police Reform Act warning notice, people who continue to ride an off-road motorcycle on the streets, or in an antisocial manner, may have their bikes seized under Section 165 of the Road Traffic Act. Two riders who had their bikes seized were arrested and subsequently charged with drink driving. A further four riders have been summoned to court for serious traffic offences and could face disqualification from driving.

COUNCIL CABINET TO DISCUSS FUTURE OF LADYHILL

June 14 - The City Council's Cabinet will consider the future of Ladyhill Day Centre in Alway at it's meeting tomorrow. The report is entitled 'Transforming Day Services' . It proposes that the Ladyhill service will be spread around other providers. The closure of the Centre is described as 're-provision' in the report. The Council states that it needs to save £200,000 from its 2010/11 budget and cam achieve this by the closure of Ladyhill. The report states "Discussions have already taken place with Seren, Fairlake Properties, Linc Cymru and Abbeyfield Cymru Ltd. In addition we have discussed the adjacent land with Newport City Homes. We are exploring the potential for high quality housing for older people, available on a mixed tenure basis, for rent and purchase/leasehold and assessing the need for a small provision of supported housing again on mixed tenure basis for young people with learning disabilities. This would be likely to be no more than eight units of accommodation."

At Ladyhill all current service users have been assessed by the Council's Social Services department. Of the people re-assessed 71 will transfer to Extra Care, 24 will transfer to either Hillside or Spring Gardens, 4 will go to Kensington Court Day Centre, 14 will access the (proposed) day activities centre at Parklands. There were 113 service users registered on 21 May 2010. In addition, the Deaf Club will re-locate to Beechwood House, subject to a lease agreement. Those currently working at Ladyhill will be offered the opportunity to work elsewhere in a 'job match' exercise.  Labour opposes the closure. "The centre is a crucial front-line service which caters for some of Newport's most vulnerable people from across the city." Jessica Morden MP and John Griffiths AM are backing the campaign to save the centre.

THEATRE AWAITS FUNDING REVIEW

June 13 - The Riverfront Theatre is awaiting the outcome of a review of funding by the Arts Council for Wales (ACW). ACW chief executive Nick Capaldi said the review had been "difficult" and some are bound to be disappointed. The assembly government is due to announce the ACW's budget in December. Some have welcomed the reorganisation, but others say the arts world is currently "in limbo".

The exercise started before the recession hit home but the squeeze on public finances will obviously make an impact, said Mr Capaldi. In its current £24m porfolio are 97 Welsh arts organisations, ranging from small community projects to large organisations like Welsh National Opera.

Nicolas Young, director of the Riverfront in Newport, said the £60,000 the council-owned theatre current complex receives made a "huge difference to the nature of our programme". He said many groups were "in limbo" and unable to make decisions and unable to commit to developmental projects until the review is made public.

STUDENTS TOUR 'AWESOME' NEW CAMPUS SITE

June 12 - “Awesome” and “amazing” were among the reactions of students who had a guided tour of the new City Campus being built for the University of Wales, Newport and treated to a preview of the state-of-the-art facilities that will be available to them when they become the first to study there in January.

The students, from the University’s Business School and School of Art, Media and Design, were the first to explore the new campus which will feature an innovative Hothouse at its core where artists, business researchers and entrepreneurs will work together to create new commercial ideas and help drive entrepreneurship and creativity as part of the city’s regeneration.“It was great to be given a glimpse inside the new campus and see how it’s shaping up,” said 23-year-old Pablo Riesco who is studying Economics and Accounting.

“It’s a very eye-catching, visually exciting building and I’m sure we’ll get a lot more students wanting to come to Newport when this new campus opens. It’s well located in the city centre and as well as being very accessible for trains and buses, provides great access to all the amenities in the city.

Fashion Design students Khadijah Eniafe and Sophie Mason were also enthusiastic about the new campus.“The building is very modern with lovely views across the river. It has much bigger lecture theatres and a lot more space,” said 21-year-old Khadijah who comes from Nigeria. “The fashion space is bigger than we currently have and all three years of fashion students will be sharing it, enabling us to help each other and exchange ideas.”

MAINDEE BURGLARY BLITZ BRINGS FOUR ARRESTS

June 10 - Four youths believed to be part of a Newport burglary gang were arrested yesterday in morning raids (9th June). The Operation Conifer team, who are dedicated to solving and preventing burglaries in Newport, deployed more than 30 officers trained in forced entries and specialist searches to carry out the raids on the burglary suspects.

Officers executed the four search warrants in the Maindee area of the city at 7am and arrested three of the male suspects, two aged 17 and the other 16. The other male suspect, aged 16, was not at home at the time, although officers caught up with him later in the morning and arrested him. All four suspects remain in custody for questioning. Another two search warrants were carried out later in the day, although no arrests were made as the suspects concerned are currently serving prison sentences. Officers recovered a large quantity of electrical items from the searched premises, mainly digital cameras and flat screen televisions. Work will now begin to determine if the items seized can be matched to property stolen in burglaries.

AMBITIOUS CITY COUNCIL CUSTOMER PROJECT

June 10 - Newport City Council is unveiling an ambitious customer project aimed at making public services more accessible to its citizens. At present City residents are required to call its Call Centre or trudge up to the Civic Centre if they want a service but in a year's time they will be able to deal face to face with the Council's officers. The new face to face centre is yet to be decided with the present railway station a favoured location. The centre will cover a range of services including Benefits, Council Tax, Planning, Highways and Homelessness. In addition, the centre will provide the ability to use other services including registration for a GP, tax and pensions, and housing. The report to the City's Cabinet quotes "A family is moving into Newport: they could obtain & access social housing, obtain school places and register the family with a GP and Dentist all in one visit to the Face to Face Centre." The report also proposes that the Council purchases a document management system to assist its Housing Benefits service in order that paperwork and claims for customers are digitally scanned.

BURST WATER MAIN AFFECTS SPORTS VILLAGE

June 10 - Emergency repairs were carried out this afternoon to a burst water main near the Newport International Sports Village. Welsh Water was carrying out the work and has said the water supply to the village, which includes the South East Wales Regional Pool and Newport Tennis Centre, would be cut off for a maximum of two hours at around 4pm.

POLICE CLAIM TO BE WINNING THE FIGHT AGAINST BURGLARY IN NEWPORT

June 9 - A team of Police detectives dedicated to solving and preventing burglaries in Newport are celebrating a successful first year. Since Operation Conifer began 12 months ago, work by the detectives has led to 384 arrests of suspected burglars. Nine detectives and four police officers are currently working on the Operation Conifer team. Some of their most recent work will culminate in a day of action on Wednesday (9th June) in Newport, where a number of early morning search warrants will be executed. The Operation Conifer team will deploy officers trained in forced entries and specialist search teams to carry out the raids on burglary suspects.

Since the beginning of April 2010, the Operation Conifer team have introduced a traffic light system to target suspected offenders as low, medium or high priority.
Using the traffic light system the team have targeted and arrested five prolific offenders, who have all been either recalled to prison or given new prison sentences in court. The team of detectives then work closely with their partners in probation and the youth offending team in Newport to ensure burglars are offered an alternative crime-free lifestyle when they are released from prison.

Since the traffic light system was introduced, burglary numbers in Newport for April dropped by 28% in May. Detectives now expect numbers to fall further when more prolific burglars are arrested and put behind bars, or into the courts system. Detective sergeant Matt Sedgebeer, who is leading Operation Conifer, said: “We have adopted a zero tolerance approach and compiled comprehensive files of evidence against the most prolific burglars to ensure the courts put them behind bars.
“By using the traffic light system we have been able to identify the worst offenders in Newport and concentrate our investigative resources on them. Our proactive team of detectives has proved to be very successful and I want to reassure the residents of Newport that we know who most of these criminals are and we will stop those who haven’t already been put behind bars from offending.” Detective Inspector Chris Watts added: “We are using a number of methods and reacting quickly to reduce burglaries in Newport. Our team is working very hard to find additional witnesses to burglaries and to gather forensic evidence to bring charges against suspected culprits. I can reassure people that those responsible for the majority of burglaries in Newport have already been stopped.” Residents are reminded to keep their homes secure at all times and report anything suspicious, no matter how small, to Gwent Police. One third of burglaries in Gwent are committed when residents have left doors or windows open or unlocked.

Operation Conifer is ongoing and anyone with information that may help burglary investigations should call Gwent Police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

UNI CHIEF'S PAY RISE CRITICISED

June 9 - The vice-chancellor of a Newport University was given an 8% pay rise last year, it was confirmed yesterday – 16 times higher in percentage terms than ordinary staff. Dr Peter Noyes, the top academic at University of Wales, Newport, saw his salary rise from £172,000 to £186,000. The previous year he had a rise of 11%. Last night the University and College Union (UCU) condemned the latest increase, saying it was wholly inappropriate at a time when the higher education sector is facing serious cutbacks.

DATA CENTRE TO RUN ON RENEWABLE ENERGY

June 8 - The massive new data centre in Celtic Springs, Newport operated by Next Generation Data has become the first in Europe to be run entirely on renewable energy. NGD Europe has committed to purchase 100% renewable energy from SmartestEnergy for the 70,000 m2 facility, which includes BT and Logica among its tenants.

“In an industry which consumes over 2% of the UK’s total power supply, it is a significant step to ensuring our operations are as competitive, efficient and environmentally-friendly as possible,” says Nick Razey, CEO of Next Generation Data. Mark Larard, director of the Data Centre Advisory Group for global real estate advisors, Jones Lang LaSalle, says that the IT industry is in a “state of flux” over how to address the power issue. “NGD continues to challenge industry expectations, and it will be interesting to see if others try and follow,” he adds.

SURVEY LABELS CITY WITH DIRTY STREETS

June 8 - For what it's worth Newport has among the dirtiest streets in Wales according to a survey by the GMB union.  Blaenau Gwent has the dirtiest streets for the fourth year running with a quarter of its highways ranked below “acceptable”. Newport and Wrexham are just above them. Neighbouring Torfaen was rated the cleanest.

Allan Garley, GMB Wales Secretary, said: “The next thing that failed politicians may come out with is that people, as well as paying their council tax, should clean the streets themselves.” Mr Garley said clean streets are perfectly feasible everywhere, it’s just a matter of ensuring there are enough properly trained and equipped street cleaners to do the job.

CITY  TEEN NAMED VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR

June 7 - Seventeen-year-old Ashley Pyke from Newport, has been named the Co-operative StreetGames Young Volunteer of the Year 2010. The announcement was made at a special youth conference held by the Co-operative StreetGames Young Volunteers programme as part of National Volunteers Week.

The awards, now in its second year, recognise the outstanding work being carried out by young people involved in the Co-operative StreetGames Young Volunteers initiative. The programme, which operates throughout Wales and England, was established to help young people from disadvantaged areas gain sports coaching and community leadership skills by volunteering at their local neighbourhood sports project. Ashley volunteers at the Newport Positive Futures project which delivers sport to young people throughout Newport.

MAGISTRATES COURT PLAN MAY BE HIT BY SPENDING CUTS

June 4 - A £10 million plan for a new Magistrates Court in the George Street district of Newport could be one of the first victims of the new Conservative-Liberal Government's £6.2 billion spending cuts. An £81 million development for Birmingham Magistrates Court has been 'postponed indefinitely' as major capital programmes are shelved to save money.

Paul Rynsard, managing partner at Supreme Court architect Feilden & Mawson, which is developing the Newport scheme told bdonline.co.uk he had deep concerns about the entire Court  programme’s future. “We have been given no indication that [our project] is not proceeding,” he said. “It is a small scheme, less than £10 million. However, I do not think anybody is anticipating that the programme will be taken forward. It will always be sensible to cut capital rather than revenue. People have put a staggering amount of effort into learning the processes, and all that knowledge is going to wilt. What they were trying to do was to come into the 21st century and make court buildings less aggressive. They had really worked hard to do that, but court buildings are pretty well down the pecking order when you compare them to hospitals or schools.”

OFFICERS RECOMMEND REFUSAL OF MEGABOWL RETAIL PROJECT

June 3 - With an appeal already pending for the site the City Council's planning committee is set to consider the proposal for the Megabowl site in Newport Retail Park. The application relates to the conversion and alteration of the unit to create a 5,117sqm convenience retail store. There is no named operator associated with this application. The design year identified is 2011. The unit has been empty since 2005 and is symptomatic of Newport's dreadful leisure offer. The City Council's Planning Officers state "The applicants in this case have lodged an appeal against the failure of the Council to issue a decision on this application within the 8 week time period. The lodging of the appeal means that responsibility for determining this proposal now rests with the Planning Inspectorate and not the Council. Therefore, this report is being presented to inform Members of issues arising from this case and material considerations." Officers recommend refusal of the scheme.

TWO MEN FOUND DEAD IN ALWAY

June 3 - Two men were found dead in a flat in Arthur Bliss Road in Alway yesterday afternoon. More details to follow.

CITY AND WALES WARNED OF ONE OFF BENEFITS OF RYDER CUP

June 2 - As steel balls appear in John Frost Square and the City Council commits a further £225k to the Newport Festival Wales has been warned the 2010 Ryder Cup could be the only time the nation hosts golf's showpiece tournament. The Celtic Manor will stage October's event between Colin Montgomerie's Europe and United States as the Ryder Cup comes to Newport and Wales for the first time. Jim McKenzie, Celtic Manor's director of golf courses, has told us to enjoy this "one-off" as golfing chiefs should share the Ryder Cup around. "I believe this will be a one-off opportunity," said McKenzie. "There are five or six countries who attended the symposium for the 2018 bid, all of whom have made a big contribution to the Ryder Cup, all of whom deserve the Ryder Cup and all of whom will get the Ryder Cup at some point."

And Ryder Cup Wales chief executive Rob Holt hopes Wales impress to ensure the golf's crown jewel returns. "The European Tour have said they won't stage a Ryder Cup in the UK until 2030," admitted Holt. "But let us be positive and hope we have a fantastic event with wonderful weather and is such a success that the tour thinks let's go back there again." The Ryder Cup is only eclipsed by the football World Cup and the Olympic Games in worldwide audience terms as it is expected to attract an audience of two billion people in 195 different countries.

63  JOBS SET FOR ADMIRAL LANGSTONE OFFICE

June 1 - The Newport office of Admiral Insurance is set to expand with 63 additional jobs set to be recruited by end of June. The workforce in the base at Langstone Business Park will expand to 460.

CITY HONOURS WELSH REGIMENT

An infantry battalion which has completed two tours in Afghanistan - losing three soldiers - has exercised its right to march through Newport. The Royal Welsh regiment was given the freedom of Newport in 2001. Their freedom of the City was re-affirmed by Mayor Bill Langsford (left).

Among those attending was Sarah Adams, the mother of Private James Prosser, from Cwmbran who was killed in an IED blast whilst driving a Warrior vehicle last September.

Members of the public and ex-servicemen also lent their support, which was welcomed by Major General Roddy Porter.

 

REVIEW CLAIMS CITY PRE-RYDER CUP BOOST

May 28 - Poised to maximise the economic boost from the Ryder Cup 2010, Newport has benefited from an estimated 1,600 new jobs and around £98 million to the local economy since 2003, according to an independent review.

These key findings have been published in a report, Newport Unlimited Interim Evaluation, which looked at the performance of the Urban Regeneration Company Newport Unlimited in its first five years from 2003 to 2008. The report was based on an independent review by economists at AECOM. The review stated: "Newport URC has made a positive economic impact on Newport and has acted as a catalyst in bringing about impacts that would not have occurred had the URC not been established. It is clear also that this impact would have been significantly greater had we not entered a national economic downturn and recession during 2008." The independent review, commissioned by the Welsh Assembly Government, found that Newport Unlimited has made a positive economic impact on the city, helping to drive up employment, raising the city’s profile as an investment location, delivering regeneration projects such as the George Street office district, the new City Centre University Campus, and exemplary developments such as the Code 5 Sustainable Homes development in Old Town Dock.

Newport Unlimited Chairman Grant Watson said: "It must be noted that the review covered 2003-2008 and therefore does not take account of the recession and the change in market conditions, which resulted in a number of major regeneration projects being put on hold. We have been working to achieve a more balanced programme, which will involve local people and local businesses, focusing on training and skills, as well as focusing on developments and infrastructure."

FIRST MINISTER PRAISES YOUNG VOLUNTEER

May 27 - Newport’s Ashley Pyke has been named as the 2010 Co-operative StreetGames Young Volunteer of the Year for Wales and was praised by First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones for his outstanding contribution to delivering sport in his community.

The awards, now in their second year, recognise the outstanding work being carried out by young people involved in The Co-operative StreetGames Young Volunteers initiative. The programme, which operates throughout Wales and England, was established by The Co-operative and youth sports development charity StreetGames, to help young people from disadvantaged areas gain sports coaching and community leadership skills by volunteering at their local neighbourhood sports project. The volunteers, who joined Carwyn Jones for a special presentation at the Senedd, had all been nominated for the awards which look at a number of factors including skills and qualifications gained, general attitude, impact on other young people and their community, as well as their personal journey and achievements.

Ashley, aged 17, volunteers at the Newport Positive Futures project which delivers sport to young people throughout Newport. Despite having a turbulent family history and arriving in Duffryn without knowing anyone, Ashley has become an integral figure in the community. As well as leading sports session for local young people, Ashley has also mentored other volunteers experiencing troubles, is involved with attracting funding to the project and has pushed himself to gain qualifications which have meant that the project has been able to extend the activities it offers. He has also gone on to use his new found skills and confidence to gain employment with a local ‘Soccer Tots’ programme for under six year olds. First Minister, Carwyn Jones, said: “I’m pleased to be here today to recognise the achievements of these young people who provide an important and useful service to their local communities at the same time as gaining a wide range of skills which will stand them in good stead in the future.”

COUNCIL TAKES ACTION OVER LANDLORDS FALSELY RECEIVING BENEFIT

May 26 - Newport City Council awarded first ever Housing Benefits Rent Repayment Order to be issued in Wales. Following a Residential Property Tribunal on 5 May, two Newport landlords have been ordered (on 24 May) to pay Wales’ first ever Rent Repayment Order to Newport City Council for falsely receiving housing benefits. The order is for the sum of £1120.63 with 14 days to pay. The landlords, Mr Brian Boddy and Mr James Carroll have also been issued with a formal caution from Newport City Council for unlawfully operating their premises, 79 Alexandra Road, as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). Investigations showed the house had been in operation as a HMO since July 2009 and that the landlords were receiving the housing benefit payments as well as tenant’s rent at the property, for a total sum of £1120.63. The council applied to the Residential Property Tribunal for a Rent Repayment Order under the Housing Act 2004 and was awarded the total sum on 24 May.

CRIME PREVENTION ORDER SET FOR ROGERSTONE

May 26 - The Safer Newport Partnership is set to introduce two new dispersal orders in the Rogerstone area of Newport to reduce levels of antisocial behaviour.
Safer Newport decided to take action after receiving complaints from residents about large groups of youngsters gathering in the area on Friday evenings and into the early hours of Saturday mornings. During one night in February this year Gwent Police received 19 calls from residents reporting antisocial behaviour including underage drinking, shouting and swearing, urinating, littering, and the intimidation of residents, businesses and passers-by. After gathering information and evidence, Newport West Neighbourhood Policing Team and Newport City Council authorised the implementation of two dispersal orders - one covering Afon Village and the other Thornbury Park and surrounding streets. Both orders will run from Tuesday 8th June 2010 until Tuesday 7th December 2010 and the powers will be enforced on every Friday and Saturday during this period.

Dispersal orders give police officers and PCSOs the power to direct any groups of two or more people, or vehicles, to leave a specified area. Anyone who refuses to leave, or returns to the area within 24 hours, when ordered to do so can be arrested under the Antisocial Behaviour Act 2003. The only exclusions to the order will be any prearranged public events that may be held in the area.

TOILETS RE-OPEN AFTER CAMPAIGN

May 26 - After a determined campaign by traders and shoppers the public convenience in Austin Friars will re-open immediately. The City Council report states "The 2010-2011 Council Budget made a number of reductions to budget which required service changes in order that budgets could be met. As part of these cuts, it was decided that one of the City Centre toilets would close. Austin Friars public toilets were chosen as they are underground giving poor access downstairs and are also located close to the main City Centre public toilets in the Bus Station. Since the closure of Austin Friars public toilets in April 2010, it has become evident that there is a demand for the facilities. As a result, it is proposed to reopen these facilities." However, the Council warns "Reduced staffing levels means Cardiff Road and Austin Friars public conveniences will be more liable to vandalism."

FIRST MINISTER WHOLEHEARTEDLY SUPPORTS CITY REGENERATION

May 25 - The University of Wales, Newport is a vital partner in much of the regeneration taking place in the area, according to the First Minister of the Welsh Assembly Government, Carwyn Jones AM. Talking about the exciting prospect of the Ryder Cup coming to Newport in October, he said, “The University has a partnership with the Celtic Manor through its Golf School, and I congratulate the students at the University’s Golf School in reaching the semi-final of the UK Universities’ Golf Cup.

“Just as the Rugby World Cup helped to kick-start the regeneration of Cardiff, the Ryder Cup can do the same for Newport, and help to make Newport a destination for people from all over the world,” he added.

Welcoming the First Minister, Chris O’Malley, Chair of Institute of Welsh Affairs Local Branch and Pro Vice-Chancellor of Newport’s University, spoke about the many major developments happening in the area, and particularly in Newport.

SEX TRAFFICKING CONCERN OVER RYDER CUP

May 25 - It's Newport not Amsterdam but a Welsh Assembly Government is concerned about sex trafficking as a result of the Ryder Cup in our city later this year. The Ryder Cup golf tournament is "highly likely" to increase the number of women trafficked to Wales for the sex trade, it is claimed. A report by assembly members said evidence from other countries suggested trafficking increased significantly for major sporting events. They recommended setting up a new post of trafficking director to deal with the problem in Wales. The Ryder Cup takes place at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport from 1-3 October. The Knowing No Boundaries report said: "Greece licensed a large number of additional brothels in the months leading up to the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, and mega-brothels were installed near the German football stadia during the football World Cup in 2006. It is therefore highly likely that the Olympics as well as other major sporting events to be held in Wales, such as golf's Ryder Cup in Newport this October, will attract a significant increase in the number of women and children trafficked for the sex trade as demand increases."

FATHER FACES JAIL FOR SHOOTING SON

May 25 - A father was warned he faces jail after his teenage stepson accidentally shot himself in the head while posing for a photograph with his illegal handgun. Mike Hole, 50, of Somerton, Newport, dialled 999 fled the scene, thinking the boy would die, and hid his semi-automatic gun, Cardiff Crown Court was told.

Lewis Bailey, 15, had emergency surgery and has since made a full recovery. Hole pleaded guilty to child cruelty and admitted a charge of possessing a prohibited firearm.

ROYAL WELSH FREEDOM PARADE

May 24 - Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh will exercise their right to march through Newport City Centre on Saturday (May 29). A short ceremony will be held outside the civic centre at 12 noon to reaffirm the freedom of the city upon The Royal Welsh.

Newport’s mayor Councillor Bill Langsford will present a copy of the reaffirmation scroll to the Colonel of the Regiment Major General Roddy Porter MBE. It says the ceremony is taking place in recognition and appreciation of the famous record and glorious traditions of The Royal Welsh as well as the long association between Newport and the Regiment in which many citizens have been proud to serve. Freedom of the city gives The Royal Welsh the “right, honour and distinction of marching through the streets of the of the City of Newport, on all ceremonial occasions with drums beating, bands playing, colours flying and bayonets fixed”.

Following the ceremony, the soldiers will step off at 1pm from Commercial Street (outside Wetherspoon’s Tom Toya Lewis public house) to the D-Day Memorial Statue in High Street. They will be led by the mascot, Billy the Goat, and the RW Band. During the parade, the Colonel and the Lord Lieutenant will take the salute in Westgate Square.

HOTEL SITE UP FOR GRABS AGAIN

May 23 - A 1.3 acre hotel development site on the Old Town Dock is up for grabs after Ramada pulled the plug on their plans for the area. EJ Hales has been instructed by Newport Unlimited to advertise the sale of the site adjacent to the Southern Distributor bridge with proposals for a -

NEWPORT BASED FIRM SPONSORS CARDIFF AGAIN

May 21 - The Cardiff Blues has extended its shirt sponsorship deal with technology solutions provider EADS for an additional three years, from 2010-11 to 2012-13. EADS, which employs 1,200 people at its £35 million technology centre in Newport, has been the principal commercial partner of the team since 2008-09.  “We're really proud of our sponsorship of the Cardiff Blues which reflects EADS' commitment to Wales and the further development of the Welsh knowledge-based economy,” said Robin Southwell, CEO of EADS UK.

EBBW VALE RAIL LINK STATEMENT SOON

May 20 - The Welsh Assembly Government has promised a statement on the long delayed Newport - Ebbw Vale rail link 'soon'. Ieuan Wyn Jones, Transport Minister stated: "It states quite clearly in our National Transport Plan that it is our intention to ensure that there is a train service from Ebbw Vale to Newport and work is underway to allow that to happen. The plan commits to improvements to Gaer Junction by 2011, followed by detailed feasibility work for hourly services from Ebbw Vale to both Newport and Cardiff."

ACCIDENTAL DEATH VERDICT IN BOURNEMOUTH CRASH CASE

May 19 - The driver of a petrol tanker involved in a fatal crash in East Dorset in November was exceeding the speed limit for his vehicle, an inquest heard yesterday. Ian Netherway, 44, escaped injury but teacher Wendy Rumbold, 70, from Bournemouth, who drove into his path, died from multiple injuries. Mr Netherway from Newport, told Bournemouth Coroner’s Court: “I’m being prosecuted for exceeding a class of vehicle speed limit; not the road speed limit.”

On legal advice, he exercised his right not to answer any questions at the hearing which could later incriminate him. Police collision investigator Sgt James Allmond assessed Mr Netherway’s speed, before the accident on the A31 near the Coventry Arms pub on November 12, as 57mph and 54mph before emergency braking was applied. Although the limit for that section of road is 60mph, the maximum speed for the articulated goods vehicle is 40mph. No defects were found on either vehicle and assistant deputy coroner Brendan Allen recorded an accidental death verdict.

ADMIRAL INCREASES NUMBERS

May 18 - Specialist car insurer Admiral will have taken on more than 750 people by the end of June at its offices in Newport, Swansea and Cardiff, it says. The only Welsh firm in the FTSE 100 - the list of the UK's top companies - it already employs more than 3,000 people in Wales and another 800 elsewhere. The firm has recruited 490 people this year and plans to add further 261. "Car insurance is compulsory. The recession isn't hitting us like other industries," said a company spokesman. The firm said its recruitment drive - Admiral's workforce will have grown by 11% in the first half of 2010 - was in large part due to the record growth it is experiencing.

DRESSING NEWPORT UP

May 18 - Leading city dressing company SLS is busy adding more colour and passion to Newport for the Newport Festival 2010. SLS (which counts dressing Liverpool during its year as Capital of Culture 2008 among its claims to fame) is using temporary flagpoles; lamppost banners, catenary banners, tree wraps, hoardings, building wraps, shop window displays, screens, event displays and lighting to add sparkle to the city, in a year-long dressing programme which is funded by the Welsh Assembly Government and aims to echo community spirit and reflect the events that are taking place.

Local artists will be contributing to the artwork used in dressing the city to capture the spirit of Newport and their work will be displayed in Bettws, St Julian’s, Hartridge, Lliswerry, Duffryn, Bassaleg, Caerleon and Underwood. The launch of the Festival 2010 in January saw the first touches of dressing being added, with flagpoles around The Riverfront Theatre. In March more flagpoles were added to other parts of the city centre, on Bridge Street, High Street and Westgate Square.

NEW MAYOR FOR NEWPORT

May 18 - Councillor Bill Langsford today became the mayor of Newport. The latest in a long line of mayors dating back to the 14th century, Councillor Langsford received his chains of office in a ceremony in the civic centre. His wife, Sue, was also made mayoress. The couple have been married for 39 years and have a son, Damian. Councillor Langsford was brought up in Somerset and moved to Newport in 1966 where he met his wife when they were both working for British Rail.A keen sports fan, he is season ticket holder at Somerset and Glamorgan County Cricket Clubs as well as Newport RFC and Newport Gwent Dragons. Councillor Langsford was first elected to the Council for Labour in 1995 and has represented Malpas since 1999.

IF YOU VOTE LIBERAL YOU GET TORY RULE - MORDEN TELLS LOCAL LIB DEMS

May 17 - Newport East MP Jessica Morden has challenged local Lib Dems to back Nick Clegg's decision to hand the keys to 10 Downing Street to David Cameron's Tories.  "During the campaign in Newport East, the Lib Dems were trying to get people who usually vote Labour to vote for them by claiming to be a left of centre and saying that they'd fight for social justice. Today, the Lib Dems have betrayed these people and shown their true colours by agreeing to prop up a Tory Government. From now onwards, voters in Newport will know that they have a simple choice: if you don't want a Tory Government, vote Labour - you can't trust the Lib Dems with your vote. If you believe in social justice and Labour values, only Labour will stand up for you. I therefore look forward to welcoming centre-left voters in Newport back to Labour. Already, across the country large numbers of people have been applying to join the Labour Party - the only opposition to the Tories in Parliament."

PUB FINED FOR SELLING CIGARETTES TO UNDER AGE PERSON

May  17 - On 11 May, Goldcroft Inn Ltd (trading as the Goldcroft Inn, Goldcoft Common, Caerleon) was fined £2,500 at Abertillery Magistrates Court and ordered to pay £530 costs and a £15 victim surcharge to Newport City Council. The court case stemmed from an operation carried out by Newport City Council’s Trading Standards officers, involving 16-year-old volunteer who was able to purchase cigarettes from a vending machine at the pub without being asked for identification. A spokesperson for the council said “Newport Trading Standards is committed to tackling the availability of tobacco products to children. Such sales are irresponsible and have a detrimental effect on the health of the city’s children. Traders who break the law will be dealt with robustly, so if you doubt the age of a customer then always ask for identification.”

GRIFFITHS CRITICISES COUNCIL OVER TOILET CLOSURE

May 17 - John Griffiths, Newport East AM, has criticised Newport City Council for their decision to close public toilets in Austin Friars. The Conservative - Lib Dem coalition closed the facility on April 1 in the latest in a long line of service closures and cuts. Griffiths is backing the 5,500 strong public petition to re-open it saying the coalition should do more to encourage shoppers to visit Newport.

BUS COMPANY INTRODUCES SMART CARD FOR TRAVELLERS

May 16 - Newport Transport users are to become the first outside London to use pre-paid smart cards to travel. The passes, which are similar to London’s Oyster cards, will be introduced tomorrow. They will be available in weekly, monthly and annual card types and will work by being held against the bus ticket machine. In addition, a top-up card allowing passengers to add a minimum of £5 credit to their cards via mobile phone will be launched next month, the company said. Chris Blyth, managing director of Newport Bus, said the move was intended to encourage more people to use buses. “We are delighted to be the first bus operator in the UK to launch this kind of commercially available smart card."

Later this month Newport Bus is also to launch a top-up payment card for less frequent bus users. Adults taking up the Passport card can expect to pay £12 for unlimited use over a week of Newport Bus's four dozen or so services in the city and to and from Cardiff and Cwmbran. The monthly rate is £46.80. The annual rate is £561.60. Concessionary rates are available for students and children.

CITY WOMAN FOUND SAFE AND WELL

May 16 - 53 year old Susan Bishop who had gone missing from her Newport home, and hadn't been seen since Monday 10th May, has now been found safe and well.

NEWPORT MAN ARRESTED OVER STABBING

May 13 - A 58-year-old woman has been stabbed during a mid-morning walk. Gwent Police recovered a knife and arrested a man after the attack on Hereford Road in Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, at about 1010 BST. The woman suffered stab wounds to her body and was taken to nearby Nevill Hall Hospital. It is understood her condition is not life-threatening. Police have increased patrols in the area, and are carrying out house-to-house inquiries. Officers are also speaking to a number of witnesses. The arrested man is aged 39 and from the Newport area.

DRIVER CHARGED WITH SLEDGER'S DEATH

May 11 - A driver has been charged over the death of a teenager whose toboggan ploughed down a hill and was in collision with a car, police has said. Anthony Farley, 19, died after sliding down a snow-covered hill on to a main road. Mr Farley, from Bettws, who had a baby son, was pronounced dead at the scene. His 23-year-old friend, who was also on the toboggan, was taken to Nevill Hall Hospital with head injuries. The accident happened at the bottom of Armoury Hill, near Ystrad Deri, on February 21. A 34-year-old man, who has not been named, has been charged with causing the death of Mr Farley. He is also charged with driving other than in accordance with his licence, not having insurance and failing to stop at the scene. The man is due before Caerphilly Magistrates' Court on May 25.

FLYNN LAUDS HIS 'BEST VICTORY'

May 10 - Paul Flynn MP has lauded his victory in Newport West as the best of his tenure, owing to the difficult political and eonomic circumstances. He stated "It's the best victory because of the odds against us. The Tories had a bottomless pit of cash. Their leaflets outnumbered ours by three to one. Happily they were insultingly patronising and poor quality. Ours were smarter and prettier. The Murdoch microphone left in Gordon's pocket did not help. The daily Cameronian lies on every other  billboards in the city were disconcerting and paid for by  Lord Ashcroft's tax evasion cash." But he warned supporters to prepare for another general election soon "A word to all Newport West Labour supporters. Don't throw away or re-cycle your party signs or unused leaflets. We will need them for re-use in the near future."

CRUISE SHIP MAY BE RYDER CUP ACCOMMODATION OPTION

May 8 - Newport City Council has confirmed that it is awaiting the success of a marketing campaign that could see the City's Dock area as a base for Ryder Cup visitors with accommodation aboard a luxury cruise ship. The Diamond Cruise Ship is being marketed as an accommodation option for the Ryder Cup, however, final confirmation of the Ship coming to Newport will depend upon sales. If it confirmed that the Cruise Ship will be visiting, the approach routes will be considered in partnership with Associated British Ports. Outside the Ryder cup preparations, the Council is working with Associated British Ports on promoting Newport’s attractions and including them in itineraries. Work is currently being undertaken on future itineraries for 2 cruise ship companies.

LABOUR CLAIMS CITY DOUBLE

May 7 - Newport retained its two Labour MP's following the outcome of yesterday's General Election. Jessica Morden fought off a huge effort by the Liberal Democrats to snatch Newport East. Ed Townsend, Deputy Leader of Newport City Council, managed an 8.3 per cent swing but Ms Morden held on by 1,650 votes. Ms Morden stated ""The Liberal Democrats put a lot of resources into Newport East, but we had a very home-grown group of supporters who have worked tirelessly to bring about this result," she said. In Newport West, veteran MP Paul Flynn easily beat off a challenge from Conservative Matthew Williams, the Tory swing of 3.2 per cent was well below the national average.

Newport East - Jessica Morden Labour 12,744 37.0% -8.2 Ed Townsend Liberal Democrat 11,094 32.2 +8.5 Dawn Parry Conservative 7,918 23.0 -0.5 Keith Jones British National Party 1,168 3.4 +3.4 Fiona Cross Plaid Cymru 724 2.1 -1.7 David Rowlands UK Independence Party 677 2.0 -1.0 Liz Screen Socialist Labour Party 123 0.4 -0.5 Majority 1,650 4.8 Turnout 34,448 63.6% +5.7%

Newport West - Paul Flynn Labour 16,389 41.3 -3.6 Matthew Williams Conservative 12,845 32.3 +2.8 Veronica German Liberal Democrat 6,587 16.6 -1.3 Timothy Windsor British National Party 1,183 3.0 +3.0 Hugh Moelwyn Hughes UK Independence Party 1,144 2.9 +0.5 Jeff Rees Plaid Cymru 1,122 2.8 -0.8 Pippa Bartolotti Green 450 1.1 -0.4 Majority 3,544 8.9 Turnout 39,720 64.8 +5.5

NISV POOL CLOSURE

May 7 - Due to essential maintenance the South East Regional Swimming Pool at Newport International Sports Village will be closed from Monday 17 May and will reopen on Monday 24 May. For information on other swimming pools and opening times in Newport call 01633 656656

POLICE APPEAL OVER CITY SEX ASSAULT

May 6 - Gwent Police are appealing for help after a woman, 31, was sexually assaulted in Newport after a night out in the city centre. Police say her movements remain unclear on the night, but after leaving High Street she was attacked, and ended up in the Brynglas area hours later.

Detectives say the assault took place between 0150 BST and 0330 BST on Saturday 17 April. A 36-year-old man arrested on suspicion of sexual assault has been released. Police said the victim was seen on CCTV cameras walking along High Street on the night of the attack, at the end of a night out socialising. However, she disappears from view, and it is thought she may have walked along Malpas Road, and may have entered a vehicle in the area. She arrived in the Brynglas area at 0330 BST. It was during this missing time that the assault is reported to have taken place. Police are appealing for anyone who may have information about the assault or witnessed the victim during those hours to contact officers. The victim is described as white, 5ft 7in tall (1.7m), slim with short dark hair and wearing black jeans and a white collared "Henley" t-shirt.

STOP THE TORIES BANDWAGON STARTS IN NEWPORT

May 5 - Labour's Welsh leader Carwyn Jones and Secretary of State for Wales Peter Hain were in Newport to encourage voters in the City to stop the Tories. The partnership was hoping to shore up Labour support as they campaigned to stop a Tory Government. Mr Hain said: "I'm asking everybody in Wales to come out and vote Labour, including those who may not be Labour supporters, aren't necessarily in agreement with everything we do. We've got to make sure the Tories do not run Wales again, and I'm confident that Wales can win under Labour and it's vital that we do. I'm asking every voter - Labour supporter, Plaid Cymru, Liberal Democrat, an independent or just fed up, to come and support Labour, especially in constituencies where there is a close Labour-Conservative fight."

Kirsty Williams, Liberal Democrat leader in Wales, was in Newport yesterday campaigning with Newport East parliamentary candidate Ed Townsend.

CITY RESIDENTS INVITED TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT RYDER CUP

May 5 - Newport residents are invited to find out more about the Ryder Cup. Four roadshow events have been planned for May and will provide an opportunity to find out more about The Ryder Cup as well as the many events and activities that are planned for 2010. The first roadshow will be held on Tuesday 11 May at the Newport Centre and every Tuesday until June 1, roadshows will be held in different venues across the city.

Dates and venues are as follows:- Tuesday 11 May - Newport Centre, Castle Room / Tuesday 18 May - Caerleon Golf Course, Clubhouse / Tuesday 25 May - Ringland Community Centre / Tuesday 1 June - Newport Centre, Castle Room / The roadshows will run from 5.30pm until 7.30pm. There will be a presentation at 5:30pm and then an opportunity for informal questions and answers.

TORIES PLAY THE IMMIGRATION CARD IN NEWPORT EAST

May 4 - Newport East's Conservatives have controversially played the immigration card in their attempt to maximise votes ahead of Thursday's General Election. A four page leaflet to voters in Newport East is headed "Immigration - Too Much?" The leaflet claims the Conservatives will 'reduce immigration by 75%' without any substantiation and claims that Labour 'gave 200,000 immigrants British passports during 2009'. The latter is also unsubstantiated. The clear pitch for the white working class vote includes vehement criticism of Liberal Democrat policy stating they "would open the floodgates, allowing further expansion of the EU, and even more foreign workers". The leaflet from Dawn Parry's campaign is a sign perhaps of their desperation that the Conservative campaign in Newport East has not made significant inroads and that the Lib Dems, more active on the ground, have been more prominent opposition to Labour than the Tories.

Ms. Parry recently complained that Conservative posters and billboards had been removed in Newport and some outlying areas. In addition, the Conservatives temporary HQ in Church Road had been defaced with the message 'burn this building....all welcome to Wales, except Tories'. The parliamentary candidate told the Argus last week some garden boards and large boards on Chepstow Road in Newport had been defaced with what she said were “little Hitler moustaches” drawn on to her face. Originally from the Rhondda, Ms. Parry is a Councillor in Weston-super-Mare and owns a bed and breakfast establishment in the Somerset town.

BASSALEG PUPIL WINS ANTI-RACISM AWARD

May 3 - A student from Bassaleg School attended a prize-giving ceremony for Show Racism the Red Card’s Anti-Racist School Competition 2010, at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Thursday 29 April. Yasu Patel was runner-up in the Year 7-9 category. Her prizes were tickets for a Newport Gwent Dragons game and the chance to be a team mascot.

EVESWELL HOSPICE DEVELOPMENT REFUSED

May 2 - Newport City Council Planning Committee has turned a planning application by St. David's Hospice to build a new facility in the east of Newport. This application sought planning permission for the erection of a new day centre and chemotherapy out-reach clinic at land to the north of Kensingston Court Day Centre off Eveswell Park Road. Due to the topography of this site the proposed building would need to be split-level, being two storeys on the rear and three storeys on the front. The building would provide 1,100sqm of floor space having a footprint of 675sqm. A large number of local residents wrote both in support of the scheme and against it. Those in favour stated that St Davids Hospice undertake valuable work in support of cancer patients, that the existing chemotherapy clinics in Newport are heavily subscribed and the alternative facilities are over 30 minutes drive from Newport. Those against criticised the loss of a green space in the Beechwood ward and the traffic potentially created by the development. Planners turned the proposal with particular regard to its negative impact on a largely residential area. The decision is a blow to the Hospice as the Welsh Assembly Government had offered a grant of £2 million for the development of a palliative care centre in the City.

CITY VIZION TO INCORPORATE RESTAURANT UNITS

May 2 - Newport's restaurant and leisure sector may receive a much needed boost from proposals for the latest phase of City Vizion. The City has none of the major restaurant chain boasted by neighbours but this may change with approval for units to be incorporated in to the revised development in the Rodney Parade area of the city.

It is proposed that the ‘entrance’ to the development from across the bridge would comprise a public plaza area framed by a curved 6-storey feature apartment block (with café/restaurant/retail uses on the ground floor) on the southern side of the boulevard and two 4-storey apartment blocks on the northern side including a smaller café/restaurant/retail unit in part of the ground floor area. The inclusion of the café/restaurant/retail uses is considered appropriate in order to enhance the vitality of the location which is at a key junction between the riverside walkway/cycleway and the axis created by the footbridge and proposed boulevard running through the site.

MARCHERS CALL FOR DOCTOR TO BE STRUCK-OFF

Apr 30 - Over 150 demonstrators have walked through the centre of Newport calling for a hospital doctor to be struck-off following the deaths of two patients in her care. Dr Salawati Abdul-Salam was suspended by the General Medical Council for four months in March. The hearing was told in 2006 she had wrongly diagnosed a nine-month-old girl, Aleesha Evans, of Newport, who died of blood poisoning the next day. Dr Abdul-Salam said she would not comment due to patient confidentiality. Protesters were wearing yellow T-shirts with the slogan "Justice for Aleesha". The march ended outside the Royal Gwent Hospital where Dr Abdul-Salam was working at the time. During the hearing in March she admitted making errors with four patients in her care and said she was "sorry" for her actions. She had sent Aleesha home from the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport saying she had a viral infection that needed only Calpol and Nurofen.

VIRTUAL MUSEUM FOR NEWPORT SHIP

Apr 29 - Local residents and history enthusiasts will now have the opportunity to explore Newport’s medieval past and see how the medieval castle and ship may have looked in the 15th Century, by visiting an online virtual museum. The University of Wales, Newport will this week reveal an interactive visualisation of the ship that allows people to walk around the ship’s underwater remains and visit a 3D museum containing historical information and publications.Visitors will be able to "walk" around the ship's underwater remains and see it in its medieval landscape.

Matt Chilcott, development director at the university's Institute of Digital Learning, said: "This innovative digital approach enables Newport to share its rich heritage with a range of audiences all over the world in a new and exciting way. "For example, tourists planning to visit Newport can now have fun exploring the area's history before they even arrive in Wales." He continued: "This cutting-edge project in the field of digital heritage is an example of the work we are doing here at the university to explore how online 3D technologies can be used to help visualise history, and bring it to life as an effective learning, teaching and public engagement medium."

ROWECORD SIGN UP TO JOBS CHARTER

Apr 29 - Rowecord has become the latest company to sign up to the Newport Construction Initiative Charter (NCI). Ben Hoppe, OBE and chairman of the family business, and Newport’s mayor Councillor Glyn Jarvis signed the Charter at the firm’s headquarters next to the famous Transporter Bridge.

NCI is a groundbreaking business partnership led by the city council which is designed to encourage construction employers to recruit and train local people. “As a company which is committed to its employees, customers and the communities in which we operate, we are delighted to sign up to the Newport Construction Initiative Charter,” said a spokesman for Rowecord. “We want to provide products and services which are the best in the market and product segment in which we compete and our workforce is an important element of that objective.”

COUNCIL WARN OVER NOISE NUISANCE

Apr 29 - People who play their music too loud risk having their equipment seized and destroyed by Newport City Council. This is just one of the penalties facing those who cause a noise nuisance. Figures released by the council to mark Noise Action Week highlight the misery that can be caused by such behaviour. In Newport in 2009/10 there were 1,322 complaints about loud music or televisions and another 528 in relation to animals, usually barking dogs. Persistent offenders could end up in court facing fines of up to £5,000 or even imprisonment.

REVIEW IN TO DEATH CHILD CONCLUDES THAT EVENT COULD NOT HAVE BEEN PREDICTED OR PREVENTED

Apr 29 - Following the death of a four-year-old child on 19 June 2009, Newport Safeguarding Children Board conducted a Serious Case Review which has been published today. The report was conducted following guidance from the Welsh Assembly Government to establish what lessons could be learned about the way local professionals and agencies work together in relation to this case and make recommendations accordingly.

Newport City Council is one of the agencies involved in the report which concludes, ‘the death of child 1 would appear to be a sad, tragic event, which could not have been predicted or prevented by any specific action or intervention from any of the agencies.’

Chair of Newport Safeguarding Children Board, Stewart Greenwell, said: “The death of this four-year-old in June 2009 was a tragic event and once again I would like to express my condolences to the family. These were clearly a set of unfortunate circumstances that no one could have foreseen. There were some shortcomings from a number of services in their contact with the family but it is encouraging that all agencies have accepted the recommendations and are already implementing the necessary changes.”

The report identifies that there were a number of good practices with the family during their time in Newport. The report states that even if the child’s mother had received a full psychiatric assessment in the autumn of 2006 followed by appropriate diagnosis and treatment, it is impossible to state in retrospect whether this would have reduced the likelihood of the mother harming her child.

START TO FOURTEEN LOCKS RESTORATION WORK

Apr 28 - Next week (on 7 May at 10am) Mayor of Newport Councillor Glyn Jarvis will be joined by students from Pill Primary School at the Fourteen Locks Canal Centre, to celebrate restoration work on two pairs of locks on the Cefn Flight of Fourteen Locks, as part of the Education through Restoration project. Newport City Council and the Monmouthshire, Brecon and Abergavenny Canals Trust secured over £1million funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and other funding bodies to restore the locks on the Scheduled Ancient Monument and provide an education programme. The contractors, Cuddy, began on site in March 2009 and the restoration works are scheduled to last six months. Canals Trust Chairman Bernard Illman said: “The Trust is delighted that work has now started on four of the locks of the Cefn Flight and we are looking forward to the autumn when our trip boat will make its first passage through the restored structures.”

GLAN USK SCHOOL OPENS

Apr 27 - Pupils and staff were among those celebrating a special day at Newport’s newest primary school building today. Construction of the long-awaited replacement school for Durham Road Juniors and Infants began in March 2008. Now called Glan Usk Primary, the new building in the Glebelands opened to pupils in January this year and today Newport’s mayor Councillor Glyn Jarvis officially opened the new school.

Invited guests were treated to performances by pupils before Councillor Jarvis unveiled a plaque. Glan Usk Primary, which also includes a nursery, has integrated formal and informal teaching areas, a drama studio, two halls, a kitchen and extensive additional facillties. Pupils also have access to outdoor areas such as an all-weather pitch, multi-use games area, a pond for nature study, gardening zones and an outside classroom. Facilities are also available for community use.

The new building incorporates many sustainability features, such as natural lighting and ventilation, and an under floor heating system.It is a far cry from the cramped and crumbling Victorian buildings – and concrete playground - used by the school previously. Children had to walk to a canteen in a nearby street, to local churches for school concerts and to the Glebelands for sports events. Head teacher Jeff Beecher said: “Both staff and pupils are delighted with our new surroundings and we are grateful to the people who planned, designed and built this superb accommodation." The project is a Public Finance Initiative contract, partially funded by Welsh Assembly Government PFI credits, between Newport City Council and Newport School Solutions Limited which includes the provision of support services to the school for 25 years.

PLANNING UPDATE

Apr 27 - Among planning applications published today are a proposal from Tesco to erect two wind turbines adjacent to their distribution centre near Llandevenny and a plan to convert the Drovers Arms public house on Goldcroft Common in Caerleon in to residential accommodation.

COUNCIL TRUMPETS ROAD MAINTENANCE STRATEGY

Apr 26 - Newport City Council has been trumpeting the positive progress made by their Project 21 strategy today. Project 21 was a three year £21 million plan to resurface all the city's roads.

The scheme, which began in June 2009, will see the entire network of roads and footways in Newport being resurfaced, and corroded lampposts replaced. After heavy snowfall earlier this year the council said it had seen a "significant" reduction in the number of reports of potholes, compared to the first 10 days after the snow the previous year.

Leader of the council, Councillor Matthew Evans said: "Co-ordinated and prioritised road improvements have seen an end to the expensive and illogical 'patchwork quilt' approach. Project 21, the largest of its kind in Wales, has been designed to tackle the backlog of repairs in the city and reduce the number of liability claims thanks to the improved condition of the city's streets." Meetings have now been lined up with councils keen to learn more about the Newport strategy.

LEAFLET CLAIM IS LAUGHED OFF BY LIB DEMS

Apr 26 - A leaflet mistakenly claiming that Lib Dem candidate Ed Townsend is the MP for Newport East has been laughed off by his party. Labour criticised the presumptuous leaflet requesting an apology. In it Townsend stated "I’ve always put local people first as our MP." Mr Townsend’s office told the Argus it "was a genuine typing error and that the letters stopped being sent out as soon as the error was known".

 

ELECTION FOCUS ON CRIME IN NEWPORT EAST

Apr 25 - The muted election campaign in Newport stepped up a gear with the focus on crime and anti-social behaviour in the east of the City. Gwent Police has admitted that burglary rates in Newport and the area are at the same level as London this week. Dawn Parry, Conservative candidate, has produced a leaflet castigating the Government for being 'soft on crime'. Jessica Morden, sitting Labour MP stated she wanted earlier intervention to prevent crime, action to tackle the problems caused by problem families, and a right to legal injunctions for repeat victims, funded by the police or council who let them down. She said only Labour was providing the resources to properly fund the police. Ms Parry stated that more needed to address anti-social behaviour "I believe that local action teams set up to combat anti-social behaviour will work. It places responsibility in the hands of local community residents who are best placed to identify where the problems stem from." Ed Townsend the Liberal Democrat candidate, who is trumpeting his party as the only one who can beat Labour said , "More police officers would help, but we need a solution that is wider than just policing. The only way we can make things better is through partnership - with police, schools, councillors, community workers, churches, parents and local residents all working together."

Plaid Cymru's candidate Fiona Cross told the BBC: "Plaid Cymru is committed to restorative justice and community sentencing, where appropriate. We call for a national community safety strategy for Wales, more drug rehabilitation places and programmes, drug and alcohol education in every school in Wales and better amenities for young people in their communities." NEWPORT EAST candidate list is as follows - Fiona Cross (Plaid Cymru) Keith Jones (British National Party) Jessica Morden (Labour) Dawn Parry (Conservative) David Rowlands (UK Independence Party) Ed Townsend (Liberal Democrat)

COUNCIL COMMISSIONS KEY RETAIL STUDY

Apr 23 - Newport City Council and Newport Unlimited have commissioned Colliers CRE to carry out a study of retail provision in the city and area.  The study, commissioned by Newport City Council and Newport Unlimited Urban Regeneration Company, will provide an evidence base and inform the retail policies and proposals of the Newport local development plan 2011-2026. It will also assist the council in assessing retail planning applications. The research will include a household telephone survey to establish shopping patterns and an assessment of the need for additional floorspace. The final report will be delivered in June.
Colliers CRE head of research consultancy Dr Richard Doidge said: "The study comes at a crucial time for Newport, since it has to compete ever harder for retail sales against the nearby regional shopping destinations of Cardiff and Bristol, both of which benefited from major new shopping centre openings during 2008/09. New retail provision in Newport city centre is likely to be a key driver of the city’s regeneration and economic transformation over the next decade."

LATEST SECTION OF CYCLE ROUTE OPENS

Apr 23 - The latest section of the Newport to Caerleon cycle route has been opened by Newport's Mayor , Councillor Glyn Jarvis, with a supporting speech by Rosemary Butler AM.  Pupils from Caerleon Comprehensive School and representatives from Newport City Council, Sustrans, Capita Symonds and local cycle groups attended the launch. The new path is now open to cyclists and walkers and forms an important section of the cycle route which will eventually link central Newport with Wentwood Forest and beyond. It’ll provide a safe route to schools in Caerleon, and a link between the two University campuses at Caerleon and Newport’s riverfront. Funding has been made available by the Welsh Assembly Government (£480,000), Sustrans and Newport Unlimited. A further £549,000 has now been allocated by the Welsh Assembly Government for next year’s section between Home Farm and Caerleon Comprehensive School. Mrs Butler stated "This is a very important section because it shows how an imaginative use of natural surroundings can encourage people to cycle. It’s the first genuinely rural part of the route and local people have already shown a tremendous amount of interest in it. It’s a tribute to all those who have worked so hard on the design and the funding and gives us a foretaste of what can be achieved as the route progresses into and beyond Caerleon."

WOMAN DIES AT HOSPITAL GIVING BIRTH - REPORT

Apr 22 - A new mother has died at the Royal Gwent Hospital after giving birth, according to Wales Online. The unnamed women died in intensive care at the  Hospital in Newport 10 days ago. The case has been referred to the coroner, but the report claims "tragedy will once again put the spotlight on maternity services provided by Aneurin Bevan Health Board". The exact cause of her death has not yet been confirmed, but it is thought she suffered a secondary postpartum haemorrhage.

CITY BUS COMPANY INCREASES PASSENGER NUMBERS

Apr 22 - Newport's municipal bus service, Newport Bus, increased its patronage by 100,000 in 2009/10. Its fleet of 90 buses carried 7.6 million passengers. Chris Blyth, Managing Director, claimed "Major investments have been made in staff, vehicles and the services we operate and this will continue throughout 2010. In a time of recession we have resisted the approach of adopting fare increases to balance profits in favour of a investment strategy focused upon our customers. By improving our buses and services, despite the difficult financial climate, our customers have shown their satisfaction with the positive increase in bus user numbers.”

The company will later this month also launch a website where customers will be able to plan their bus journeys online and book tickets.Mr Blyth said: “We believe these new improvements and investments will continue to help passenger numbers grow during the current financial year.” The company employs 250 people including more than 145 bus drivers.

UNI SCOOPS GREEN AWARD

Apr 22 - A unique approach to waste reduction and sustainability has scooped a prestigious environmental award for the University of Wales, Newport and earned it the accolade of being “a great example of how the public sector can make cost savings during this difficult economic climate". The University won the Envirowise Innovation Award 2010 for its innovative on-site bio-diesel project which turns waste oil generated on campus into fuel for powering vehicles.

MAYOR MAKING CEREMONY SET FOR CELTIC MANOR

Apr 21 - Cost cutting Newport City Council will be holding their mayor making ceremony at the Celtic Manor Hotel this year. The event in the Manor Suite on May 18 will be attended by all members, their partners or guests and other invited individuals. The hire of the hotel suite will cost £4300 with other costs edging the budget for the event up towards the £8000 limit. The choice of venue is change from last year at Newport Centre but the Council states "This event allows the Council and the city to celebrate the new Mayor taking up his or her new role as Newport’s First Citizen. This is attended by all elected members and their partners or guests. It currently concludes with a lunch at which about 150 individuals attend. It is considered that this is an important occasion and an opportunity for the new Mayoralty to be celebrated by the Council and the city."

ODDS NARROW IN CITY SEATS

Apr 21 - Bookmakers odd have narrowed in the two Newport parliamentary constituencies reflecting the close battle in the opinion polls and the unexpected surge by the Liberal Democrats. In Newport East Labour's Jess Morden remains clear favourite to win the constituency but odds on the Liberal Democrats Ed Townsend have improved significantly with the Conservatives well behind in third place. In Newport West it is nip and tuck between incumbent Paul Flynn and Conservative Matthew Williams with bookmakers evenly divided as to the leading candidate. The Lib Dems are not expected to register. In the absence of opinion polls in the area and in Wales generally the only indication of voter choice has come from the polls in marginals and national opinion polls, all seem to indicate an above average swing away from Labour in south Wales.

COUNCIL REVIEWS SCHOOL SNOW CLOSURES

Apr 20 - A review of Newport school closures in the past winter due to severe weather has concluded that the primary responsibility for making the decision to close a school should remain with the Head Teacher and the School's Governing Body. However, a number of important changes are proposed to ensure schools staff report to a place of work to assist the City Council's education service.

Responses to the consultation from parents, in particular staff working in other sections of Newport City Council, voiced dissatisfaction that this meant school staff had been treated differently from other Council employees – many thought that school staff should have to attend the school nearest to their home in the event of adverse weather, as is required of other Council workers, or be required to take leave. The review by the City Council's Overview and Scrutiny Committee notes that more must be done by schools staff to attend work or to report to their nearest open school. Initial feedback from Head Teachers questioned whether this was possible given the security issues and requirements for CRB checks. However, it was confirmed by Child Protection and Human Resources Officers that it would be possible for a member of school staff to attend another school on a temporary basis during times of snow.

Members discussed the different health and safety considerations in opening a site to staff or pupils, and that it could be possible for a site to be reasonably safe for staff to access, but not suitable for access by large numbers of children. If a school was open to staff only, they would have been able to undertake other non-pupil contact duties during that time. The Forum also agreed that the costs incurred by the Council's Grounds Maintenance in clearing school sites of snow should be recharged to the schools.

TJ's TO SHUT

Apr 19 - Following the death of owner John Sicolo it has been confirmed that Newport music venue, TJs, will close. Mr Sicolo's daughter Leanne posted a message on Facebook to music fans that after looking at the books the venue's financial problems proved more serious than they thought. "My dad was TJ's and Clarence Place is just a building but it is very hard for me to except that TJ's will be finally gone after it has been in my family for nearly 40 years," she wrote. "I am so sorry because I know the club meant a lot to all of you ... we all have very good memories, everyone different, so I want you to keep those memories and when you think of them or my dad it puts a big smile on your face. My dad will never be forgotten if we all do this because he is in everyone's heart, and we all miss him so much."

CITY DATA CENTRE IS FOURTH LARGEST IN WORLD

Apr 16 - The new Next Generation Data Centre opened in the former LG Hynix building in Coedkernew is the fourth largest in the world and the largest in Europe according to Data Centre Knowledge. The Centre covers 750,000 square feet. The main users of the data centre opened in March are multi-national companies including Logicalis and BT. The huge facility was built to house an LG semiconductor plant, but was vacated shortly after it was completed in 1998. NGD has converted the site into a three-story data centre facility that will feature more than 375,000 square feet of technical space, enough capacity for more than 19,000 cabinets of servers and storage. The data centre is designed to accommodate private data centre pods, and also has shell space to accommodate data centre container installations.

1. 350 East Cermak / Lakeside Technology Center (Digital Realty): 1.1 million sqft/ 2. Metro Technology Center, Atlanta (Quality Technology): 990,000 sqft with 560,000 sqft of data centre space 3. The NAP of the Americas, Miami (Terremark): 750,000 sqft / 4. NGD Europe, Newport Wales (Next Generation Data): 750,000 sqft, 375,000 sqft data centre space / 5. Container Data Centre, Chicago (Microsoft): 500,000 sqft / 6. Microsoft Dublin (Microsoft): 550,000 sqft / 7. Phoenix ONE, Phoenix (i/o Data Centres): 538,000 sqft / 8. CH1, Elk Grove Village, Ill. (DuPont Fabros): 485,000 sqft 9. 9A and 9B. Microsoft Data Centres in Quincy Washington and San Antonio: 470,000 sqft / 10. The SuperNAP, Las Vegas (Switch Communications): 407,000 sqft

COUNCIL TO MOVE ON JOHN FROST SQUARE DEVELOPMENT

Apr 15 - The City Council Cabinet has set out plans to move forward the redevelopment of John Frost Square, considering procurement options for the re-tendering of the opportunity to the market. After considering the options available, the Cabinet was advised that the restricted tendering procedure was considered to be the most appropriate method for selecting a preferred development partner in this case. This will allow the Council to invite the most appropriate developer to work with it on the much-needed project. In a separate development the City Council has set aside a significant sum for the legal fight with Iceland Foods concerning the Compulsory Purchase Order of its stores near Austin Friars.

WORK TO BEGIN ON NEW HARTRIDGE SCHOOL

Apr 15 - Work will begin on the enabling works for the new Hartridge School next month (May 2010). The school building is expected to be completed in March 2012, the City Council were advised of the proposed timescale this week by design partner HLM Architects.

SIMS GROUP PROSECUTED OVER SCRAPYARD DEATH

Apr 14 - The owners of a scrap metal yard have been fined £200,000 after a lorry driver was killed by a crushed car. Adrian Turner, 50, from Wolverhampton, was hit by a metal bale which rolled off a heap at the yard in Newport Docks in April 2008. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted yard owners Sims Group UK Ltd, of Stratford upon Avon.

In a statement Mr Turner's family said the financial penalty handed down offered them little comfort. They stated "It should be an absolute priority to ensure death and injury to employees and others on site is avoided. We have been torn apart by Adrian's death and wish that no other family has to endure the loss of a loved one in the manner we did."

While delivering scrap to the site on 28 April, 2008, Mr Turner was told to deliver his load to the metal shredder area of the yard. He left his cab and was opening the rear doors to his trailer when the one-and-a-half tonne metal bale on the scrap pile came loose and rolled down into him.

QUEENSWAY ROAD PURCHASE WILL BRING NEW ROAD SCHEME

Apr 14 - A plan to ease M4 congestion has been heralded following confirmation that the Welsh Assembly Government has purchased Queensway Road from Corus for £7.7 million. The road links the Newport entrance to the Corus steelworks site in Lliswerry with junction 23A of the M4 at Magor. Plans will now be drawn up to see how the road can be improved to allow public traffic to use the route. The aim is to upgrade the road to a dual carriageway. Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones said: “The M4 is a vital economic artery through South Wales and we are taking action to make sure it is improved and that traffic flows smoothly. I announced last year that a new M4 relief road was simply too costly on economic and environmental grounds. Since then we have been working tirelessly to look at every option available to improve the road and address safety and capacity issues. Buying the Queensway Road is the latest step in our plans." According to the press release the first phase of road construction is set to start "immediately" when the Welsh Assembly Government and Newport City Council begin to upgrade the road. Traffic management arrangements will be put in place to carry out the necessary work and a specific communication will be issued closer to the start of the works.

CIVIC RECEPTION FOR FOOTBALL HEROES

Apr 13 - A civic reception will be held for Newport County AFC this Sunday, April 18, to celebrate the club’s success in winning the Conference South Championship. Before and after the ceremony, the players will board an open top bus which will tour the city’s streets.

Newport’s mayor Councillor Glyn Jarvis will present a crystal football to the club in recognition of their outstanding success this season which has won them promotion to the Blue Square Premier League. The open top bus will leave Newport Stadium at 11.30am and travel along Corporation Road, Clarence Place, Queensway and to the main entrance of the civic centre. Following the reception, the players will again board the bus to make their way back to the stadium via Queensway, Clarence Place, Chepstow Road, Somerton Road and Nash Road. On Sunday 18th April the City will host a Civic reception for Newport County AFC to celebrate their success in winning the Conference South Championship here at the Civic Centre.

ROYAL VISITOR IN CITY TOMORROW

Apr 13 - HRH Prince Edward, The Earl of Wessex and trustee of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, will undertake a day-long visit to Newport, South Wales on Wednesday 14 April. The visit will see Prince Edward visit numerous Duke of Edinburgh’s Award projects throughout Newport and his first visit will be to the Rivermead Centre in Rogerstone.

Prince Edward will then visit the Info Shop in the city centre where he will meet a group of young mum’s who have completed the Duke of Edinburgh’s award alongside caring for their children. Following the visit to the city centre, the next stop on the journey will be to Bisley Office Furniture Factory before Prince Edward finishes his tour at the Wales National Velodrome for an afternoon of activities. At the Rivermead Centre, HRH Prince Edward will meet the Mayor Councillor Glyn Jarvis and Mayoress Glenys Jarvis along with Duke of Edinburgh’s Award director for Wales and Newport as well as gold participants before viewing the facilities the centre offers. At Bisley Office Furniture factory there will be a private lunch and a presentation by an inspirational gold award holder. Prince Edward will also meet key figures from local and national businesses. The final stop of the visit will be to the Velodrome where young people from across Newport (approx 300) will participate in a Duke of Edinburgh’s challenge event.

POLICE RE-APPEAL OVER SDR FALL INCIDENT

Apr 12 - See details here.

POSTAL VOTE REMINDER

Apr 12 - Newport residents wishing to use a postal vote for the General Election on May 6 are being reminded that the last date for registration and applying for a postal vote is April 20. Contact 01633 232134; email uvote@newport.gov.uk or call in person at Entrance 3 in the civic centre during office hours.

EASTERN SUBURB PLAN SET TO START ON SITE

Apr 9 - Work is expected to start soon on Newport's Eastern Suburb, Glan Llyn, on the site previously occupied by the Llanwern Steelworks. A leading regeneration specialist, St. Modwen, has signed an agreement with Newport City Council, allowing plans for the redevelopment of the former Corus Llanwern steelworks into a £1 billion urban community to commence. It is understood the first 140 homes will be built on the area as the development gets under way.

Glan Llyn, owned by St. Modwen, will see 4,000 new homes built over the next 20 years, creating 6,000 new jobs, as well as a business park, three lakes, a railway station, a retail area and primary school. The site will be divided by an upgraded link road from Junction 23 of the M4 all the way through to the Southern Distributor Road. Developer St Modwen has been involved in "remediation works" for the last four years, clearing the site.

Councillor Matthew Evans, leader of Newport City Council, said: “I am delighted that St Modwen and the council have been able to move this important regeneration project forward. It has a significant strategic part to play in the future of Newport. We look forward to seeing a new community taking shape on this brownfield site and welcome the many new employment opportunities which are due to be created. St Modwen has shown confidence in Newport and that speaks volumes particularly in the current economic climate.”

25% OF M4 SPEEDSTERS FINED

Apr 8 - Only a quarter of drivers caught exceeding the speed limit on controversial new 50mph zone on the M4 have been fined, Wales Online has revealed. Since October, more than 16.5million vehicles have negotiated speed check cameras between junction 24 and junction 29 in Newport. But Gwent Police revealed just 2,031 speeding offences were recorded in those six months – partly because drivers can clock 56mph without being prosecuted, or can slow down in between cameras to bring their average speed down. And of those, just 524 had been issued with fines – equivalent to around three a day. A Gwent Police spokesperson told us: “Current prosecution guidelines state that an allowance is given for the Association of Chief Police Officers to prosecute when exceeding the limit by 10% + 2. This is to allow for manufacturing differences in vehicle speedometers.”

HOUSING DEVELOPMENT DEMONSTRATES GREEN CREDENTIALS

Apr 8 - The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) initiative Halving Waste to Landfill received a boost with the decision of one construction company to not only join the scheme but also to publicise its good working practice and commitment to reducing waste by displaying the HWTL logo on its hoardings. This is the first time a contractor has produced panels with the logo for its hoardings, a precedent WRAP hopes others will now wish to follow. The new panels were first placed at Leadbitter's Mariner’s Quay development and will now be rolled out to other company construction sites across the country. Mariners Quay, Newport, is the largest sustainable new housing development in Wales—and one of only a handful across the UK to achieve a Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH) Level Five rating—and it is also a site where exceptional measures have been taken to reduce waste. WRAP had been keen to develop site hoardings incorporating its logo for some time and worked closely with the company to do this. It is now intended that these hoardings will be used nationwide to demonstrate the work being done to reduce the amount of waste produced from construction work. The unveiling of the new hoardings coincided with a visit to the project by Dr Mike Watson, Head of Construction at WRAP, who wanted to see how the contractor, one of the first signatories to WRAP’s halving waste to landfill initiative, had embraced the challenge. Dr Watson said "I am delighted with Leadbitter’s drive to curtail the amount of construction waste sent to landfill. Since signing the voluntary agreement in 2008, and then engaging with their own supply chain, they have been directly responsible for adding more than 30 new signatories to the 320 total list".

SIGNIFICANT CUTBACKS TO CITY LIBRARY SERVICES

Apr 7 - Newport City Council's Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition has agreed significant reductions in the City's library services. All branch libraries will be closed on Saturday afternoons. The main City library will shut at 4pm with its cafe replaced by vending machines. In addition, the music and DVD facilities provided will be withdrawn gradually. Bizarrely, the plans also include the introduction of lone working in a number of branch libraries. The proposals will save £49,000.  Alway Councillor Ray Truman (Labour) has criticised the decision by Lib Dem Cabinet Member Mike Hamilton "The proposed decision to close branch libraries on a Saturday afternoon is counterproductive. For example on a Saturday afternoon in Ringland Library the building is packed with young people using the various facilities on offer. Surely any decision to deny them of this service does not make sense? It makes more sense to me to have people using the facilities in the library rather than be locked outside the building with nothing to do. I'm sure its the same with some other branch libraries. The proposal to extend lone working in libraries is something that comes with a risk. I have serious reservations about this.....In the past we in Newport have taken great pride in our libraries and the service that they provide. However the above proposals will seriously challenge the service and there is a risk that we will fall behind on the standards of what we offer our citizens."

ABOVE INFLATION INCREASE FOR CARE CHARGES

Apr 7 - The City Council's coalition has implemented an inflation busting increase in charges for domiciliary, day care and residential services. The average increase is 4 per cent with some charges rising by up to 39 per cent. The Council argues that the increases have not been sufficient in the past but Councillor Langsford (Labour, Malpas) has criticised the proposals stating "I think that we are hitting the vulnerable once again and I am against any increase in charges that is above inflation."

COUNCIL SLAMMED OVER MANSION HOUSE PLAN

Apr 7 - Proposals by Newport City Council to build a car park on the east lawn of the City's Mansion House to pave the way for its use as  a registry office have been criticised by a vocal group of local residents and councillors. They have formed a Facebook site calling for the Council to consider a safer option of using existing entrance and exit ways for vehicles. One resident of Stow Park Circle states on the site ""I have been privileged to live in the Circle for fifty years- it being one of the few parts of Newport to remain unspoilt by development. The Mansion House has always been a special place for the people of Newport to visit and enjoy. To allow the Council to desecrate the gardens would be the final nail in the coffin of Newport's heritage." See the site here.

NEWPORT HOUSING EXPANSION UNDER WAY

Apr 6 - Despite the interruption caused by the recession there are significant signs of development activity with the City Centre. Alongside the new University Campus and Railway Station a swathe of residential developments are on site.

The former Technical College in Clarence Place will provide 66 residential units when it opens later in 2010. The Persimmon development near the Southern Distributor on the former British Dredging site is nearing completion with 85 houses and 50 flats available now. Taylor Wimpey are shortly to recommence work on the City Vizion site near Rodney Parade creating 486 residential units. On the former Orb Steelworks the same company are onsite building 176 properties in Lysaghts Village. The Parc Lysaght development opposite will include 69 residential properties (57 houses, 12 flats) adjacent to the new Morrison's supermarket as part of Linc-Cymru's new scheme for the area including a refurbished Institute building. Redrow are building 120 properties on their Alexandra Gate development on the west side of the Distributor bridge, part of a development of 399 properties. Fairlake are currently building 101 homes along the riverfront in their Mariner's Quay scheme. Westmark are completing block 2 of their 154 flat Newhaus development in the Old Town Dock.

Despite the recession the scale of this development will provide a major boost to Newport's economy over the coming year with other developments ongoing in areas such as Langstone and Duffryn as well as a number of plans for the Caerleon area. The major scheme waiting in the wings from St. Modwen involving the building of over 4000 homes, schools, parks and lakes on the western end of the Llanwern steelworks is imminent with an outline statement already approved by the City Council.

BNP ANNOUNCE NEWPORT CANDIDATES

Apr 5 - The British National Party’s Welsh regional organiser, Brian Mahoney, has announced two General Election candidates to stand in Newport, bringing the total number of contested seats in Wales to twelve, with more to follow. “Keith Jones will stand in Newport East, and Timothy Windsor will stand in Newport West, said Mr Mahoney. Newport was subjected to an Islamic march through its streets, led by Mohammed Ashgar, AM for Plaid Cymru. Treacherous Plaid Cymru’s vision for Wales in cultivating the taxpayer funded ‘Operation Black Vote’ took a bit of a knock recently when their very own Mohammed abandoned them and jumped ship to the Conservatives, who had to allow him to employ members of his own family at taxpayers’ expense. Mohammed has openly declared his ambition to establish a family based Muslim political dynasty in South East Wales with his daughter Natasha Ashgar (another Muslim Plaid Cymru candidate, although her current allegiance is not known),” continued Mr Mahoney.“We have other ideas.” The BNP did not stand in either Newport seat in the 2005 General Election.

TREDEGAR HOUSE VW SHOW CANCELLED

Apr 2 - The Volkswagon Show scheduled for Tredegar House over the Easter holiday weekend has been cancelled by the City Council. The popular event scheduled to run until Monday was shelved due to the poor weather. The organisers stated "We have been contacted by the country house and area council, and have been told that due to the up and coming weather conditions the grounds in and around the area where the show was to take place would not be suitable.It seems a clause in the contract between the country house and ourselves stipulated this, and the decision to cancel this event was not down to the organizers but the council themselves.There is no one more disappointed and unhappy with this decision than ourselves, and have been in talks with the council to try to rectify the situation, but after exhausting all options we have no option other than to inform you now of the cancellation."

THEATRE SHUTS FOR EASTER BREAK!

Apr 2 - Newport's Riverfront Theatre and Arts Centre will be closed for the entire Easter break! The city's premier venue will also not be able to take bookings from customers for up and coming events. It reopens on Wednesday April 7.

CITY RESIDENTS CUT THEIR CARBON EMISSIONS

Apr 2 - Residents of Newport helped to reduce carbon emissions by 13440.68 tonnes last year by recycling over 10 and a half thousand tonnes of dry recycling, along with 609.61 tonnes of food waste. Dry recycling is collected weekly at the kerbside in the green and blue boxes from every household in Newport. Residents can put out textiles (clothes and shoes), magazines, junk mail, newspapers, envelopes, directories (i.e yellow pages), mobile phones and printer cartridges for recycling in the blue box.

The green recycling box can be used to recycle aerosol cans (e.g.hairspray, deodorant), drink cans, foil, glass, plastic bottles (type 1 and 2) and food tins/cans. Wastesavers Chief Executive, Penny Goodwin said: ”Recycling is such an easy way to reduce our carbon emissions, and Newport residents are doing a great job. We need all Newport residents to continue recycling if want to reduce our carbon emissions significantly and lead the way in Wales.”

POLICE SEEK HELP WITH BIKE THEFT

Apr 1 - Gwent Police is appealing for information to locate items stolen in a burglary in the Malpas area overnight on 17th-18th February 2010. A garage at an address on Grove Park Drive was broken into and rare and customised bikes to the value of approximately £20,000 were stolen.

The stolen bikes are described as follows:

1 x 'INTANSE' mountain bike frame
1 x 'COVE' chrome mountain bike
1 x 'SPECIALIZED SX TRAIL' full suspension mountain bike - red in colour fading into black
1 x 'ORANGE' full suspension mountain bike - grey in colour
1 x 'GENESIS ALTITUDE' titanium mountain bike - grey in colour
1 X 'YALE' tool box blue in colour containing 'SHIMANO HOLLOWTACH2' tools

An investigation into the incident is ongoing. Police would appeal to anyone who may have been offered the items or has information about the incident to contact them on 101. Alternatively they can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

BUDGET ANNOUNCEMENT COULD BRING NEWPORT JOBS BOOST

Mar 31 - Newport's growing reputation as a centre for public sector jobs could be boosted by the Budget announcement recommending the move of 15,000 civil service jobs out of London. Writing in today's Western Mail Robert Carew-Chaston of chartered surveyors Hutchings & Thomas puts the case for relocation to Newport. He stated "Newport recently came third in a list of the 28 best office locations in the UK in the highly-regarded Lambert Smith Hampton Office Location Index. The chart, which placed Newport on almost maximum points, listed centres on criteria of rental cost, quality of premises available, labour costs, availability of skilled workforce and the potential to recruit staff locally. Major office expansion in Newport is possible due to its enormous labour catchment area. Newport is at the centre of the South Wales/Severnside area which, with a population of some 1.5m within 45 minutes drive of the centre of Newport, is the second largest conurbation in the UK." The Patent Office, the Office for National Statistics and the Prison Service have had highly successful relocations to Newport creating a significant public sector cluster in the west of the City adjacent to M4 junction 28.

LIMITED AMBITIONS OF ASSEMBLY TRANSPORT PLAN

Mar 30 - The Welsh Assembly Government has revealed very limited ambitions for the south east Wales and the Newport area in its five year transport plan published yesterday. Major projects that would aid the area's infrastructure such as the M4 relief road and Severnside Airport are completely ignored in favour of the following threadbare aspirations

  • Complete the works at Newport rail station to improve transport interchange facilities for passengers.
  • Complete the improvement to Gaer Junction by 2011, and as the next stage complete the detailed feasibility work to provide hourly services from Ebbw Vale to both Cardiff and Newport.
  • In line with the regeneration of Ebbw Vale, appraise the feasibility of a new rail station in the town centre.
  • Deliver a package of measures designed to improve the efficiency of the M4 in south-east Wales, including public transport enhancements, making the best possible use of the motorway and improving the resilience of the network.
  • Integrate the development of cycle routes in south-east Wales that are supported under EU Convergence funding through the Heads of the Valleys, Valleys Regional Park and Valleys Cycle Network projects.
  • POLICE RENEW APPEAL OVER INJURED MAN

    Mar 29 - Gwent Police is re-appealing for information following a man being located on the side of the Southern Distributor Road (SDR) in Newport with serious head injuries. The 20 year old man from the Lliswerry area was found at approximately 11.30pm on Saturday 27th March on the side of the SDR outside Carcraft. Police believe the man, who had been out socialising in the Maindee area of Newport earlier that day, left Maindee Square at approximately 11.15pm in a dark coloured people carrier with a sliding door.

    The man was seen exiting this vehicle on the SDR and then the vehicle continued to travel along the road down towards the slip road to Stephenson Street. The injured man was conveyed to the Royal Gwent Hospital and later transferred to the University of Wales Hospital where he remains in a critical condition. Police inquiries are continuing to establish the circumstances of the incident and officers are renewing their appeal for the driver of the vehicle to come forward.

    Officers are also particularly interested in speaking to anyone who may have seen the man getting into the vehicle on Saturday night in Maindee Square at approximately 11.15pm. He is described as 6 feet 1 inch tall, of medium/stocky build with short dark brown hair. Both his arms are heavily tattooed. His right arm has tattoos of hearts, tribal patterns and a skull with chequered flags and a red spider's web coming out of it and his left arm has tattoos of Japanese flowers and a koi carp fish. He was wearing a blue and white striped t-shirt and blue jeans. Anyone who witnessed the man in Maindee Square/getting into the vehicle or can offer information to identify the vehicle or driver is asked to contact Gwent Police as soon as possible on 01633 838111.

    FOOD WASTE COLLECTIONS TO BE EXTENDED

    Mar 29 - Newport City Council’s successful food waste collection service is set for another expansion. Throughout April 6764 homes will be added to the scheme, with another roll out planned in June. All the streets involved in the roll out will be formally notified and will receive caddies, liners and a detailed guide on how to use the new service. The service will be extended to streets in Bassaleg, Rhiwderin, Alway, Caerleon, Pontfaen and Marshfield.

    POLICE FIND INJURED MAN ON SDR ROADSIDE

    Mar 28 - A 23-year-old man is in a critical condition in hospital after falling from a moving vehicle in Newport. Police are trying to trace the driver of a dark coloured people carrier or Land Rover type vehicle involved in the incident in Newport on Saturday night. Part of the A48 southern distributor road near Carcraft, where he was found lying at 2330 GMT, has since reopened. Gwent Police said they are "keeping an open mind" over how he came to "exit" the passenger side of the vehicle. Detectives believe he was socialising in the Maindee area of the city and had bought a kebab prior to getting into the vehicle in Maindee Square. He was found later lying by the roadside and police said following the incident, the vehicle continued to travel along the distributor road towards the slip road to Stephenson Street.

    CITY COUNCIL TO SHARE SERVICES WITH NEIGHBOURING AUTHORITIES

    Mar 26 - Newport City Council has agreed to formalise shared working with two neighbouring authorities as part of its drive to reduce costs. Newport's Chief Internal Auditor will provide a similar role for Monmouthshire on a formal basis from now onwards as part of a new agreement between the two Councils. In addition, Newport's Student Services function will be transferred to Cardiff City Council from April.

    MEMBERS ALLOWANCES FROZEN

    Mar 26 - Members allowances for Newport City Council are set to be frozen for the 2010/11 financial year to reflect the difficult economic circumstances being experienced by residents. Members currently receive a salary of £13,030 per annum. The Leader receives an additional £30,591 and Cabinet Members £15,396. The Leader of the Opposition receives an additional £9,236.

    NEWPORT PAYS RESPECTS TO TJ'S OWNER

    Mar 25 - Newport paid her respects today to John Sicolo, the inspiration behind the TJ's music venue in Clarence Place. Sicolo died on Sunday March 14. A massive turnout at St. Paul's Church in the city centre commemorated the life of a merchant seaman from Pill who became a leading figure in Newport's rough and ready independent music scene. The funeral cortege started its route with a slow drive past TJ's greeted by a round of applause from those gathered to remember Mr Sicolo. This evening many people were still gathered at TJ's as a number of bands played in his memory.

    A tribute issue of the Frug zine has also been produced. See here. Donations will go towards a possible memorial for John Sicolo in Newport.

    FIREARMS DISCOVERED IN RINGLAND POLICE RAID

    Mar 24 - A high voltage stun gun, pepper spray and small quantity of cannabis has been seized after a police raid in Ringland, Newport. Gwent Police officers executed a warrant issued under the Firearms Act and the Misuse of Drugs Act in Howard Close, Ringland, at 10.15am on March 18th. After the weapons and drugs were discovered by a search team, one 41-year-old man was arrested. The man was questioned and bailed pending forensic analysis of the seized weapons.

    Sergeant Dave Morgan, of Newport East Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “We received intelligence that illegal activity was taking place in the area and we acted on it quickly. This coordinated police response - involving officers from across the Newport East Neighbourhood Policing Team, response offices and firearms team - stopped dangerous weapons from potentially getting onto our streets.  We want to reassure people living in the area that we are taking tough action on crime." Anyone with information on crime in their area can call Gwent Police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

    CAR WRITTEN OFF IN M4 CRASH

    Mar 24 - A Citroen C1 was left wrecked and straddling the central reservation of the M4 this morning after crashing with an HGV, according to Wales Online. The smash happened between the red hatchback and the lorry between the Coldra Roundabout and Brynglas Tunnels in Newport at 7.45am this morning. Remarkably, no-one was injured in the crash, though the car is believed to have been written off. A spokeswoman for the Police said: “Lane one was temporarily closed while car was recovered.” Tailbacks stretched along the three-lane carriageway for more than a mile in both directions. The road was cleared by 9.10am.

    YOUNGSTERS URGED TO HELP WITH ST. JULIAN'S CLEAN UP

    Mar 24 - Police in St Julians, Newport, are appealing for youngsters to help them tidy the local area at a special clean-up day during the Easter holidays. Newport East Neighbourhood Policing Team joined forces with Church of Christ minister Paul Halliday to organise the St Julians Clean-up Day on Wednesday 31 March.

    Newport City Council, local councillors, Newport City Homes and Keep Wales Tidy are also involved. Car company Vauxhall have offered to supply the transport on the day. High school pupils under the age of 16, particularly those living in the Old Barn Estate area, are invited to take part on the day. The day will involve two-hour morning and afternoon sessions and lunch will be provided for all helpers at the Church of Christ on East Usk Road. Youngsters who take part will also be rewarded with a high street shopping voucher. St Julians ward police officer Alex Jones said: “The clean-up day promises to be a fun event, which will be rewarding for youngsters who take part in a number ways.Helpers will see a visible difference to their local neighbourhood, but they will also be rewarded with a shopping voucher and a tasty meal for lunch."

    CITY COUNCIL IN LEGAL BATTLE WITH ICELAND FOODS

    Mar 24 - Newport City Council is set to be embroiled in a legal battle with Iceland Foods over plans for the Compulsory Purchase of their stores near John Frost Square. The City Council were seeking to obtain the order as part of their plans for the redevelopment of the City Centre. The process due to be completed on March 8 was halted following a legal challenge from the supermarket chain.

    JOJO MAMAN BEBE BOSS IS BUSINESSWOMAN OF THE YEAR

    Mar 23 - The owner of a nursery retail firm who cycles to work and encourages her staff not to take a "jobsworth" approach to work has won a top business award. Laura Tenison, founder and managing director of Newport-based JoJo Maman Bebe, has been named the Veuve Clicquot Businesswoman of The Year. She started the company, which sells mother and baby clothes and products, from scratch in 1993. It now employs 280 people and has an annual turnover of £21m. She said "I encourage staff to pursue their dreams in life and offer flexible shifts, school hour shifts and the chance to work from home. We have husbands and wives working for us who swap babies over in the car park as they arrive and leave for work."

    CITY LAUNCHES RYDER CUP BASED EDUCATION INITIATIVE

    Mar 23 - Newport City Council Local Education Authority and The European Golf Tour have joined forces to launch a new, bilingual Ryder Cup-themed curriculum to pupils from years 2 to 8 in schools across Newport. In a world first, teachers, head teachers and education officers in Newport have embraced being the host city for The 2010 Ryder Cup and created an exciting curriculum using golf and The Ryder Cup as a theme. Via this curriculum, children from across Newport will be taught new skills from literacy and numeracy to equalities, sustainable development, ICT and technology.

    Newport schools St Julian’s Primary and Langstone Primary have both been trialling the new curriculum, which is due to fully launch into schools across the city in September and will run for seven weeks, coinciding with The Ryder Cup at The Celtic Manor Resort. Schools across Wales will be able to access curriculum materials via an online resource as part of the Welsh Assembly Government’s National Grid for Learning Cymru initiative.

    COUNCIL GRANTS £7.5K TO CATHEDRAL

    Mar 23 - In a further grant to support Newport Cathedral the City Council is providing £7,500 towards the repair and maintenance of boilers in the building. The Headley Trust have announced that they are making a grant of £50,000 to the Newport Cathedral Campaign to carry out a £2 million restoration project. The Cathedral has raised approximately £1 million so far. The Cathedral has appointed Davies Langdon as Quantity Surveyors to join the team of professionals who along with the Cathedral Architect Michael Davies of Davies Sutton (Architects) in order to draw up the required plans for the restoration work.

    POLICE APPEAL OVER GEMELLI'S BURGLARY

    Mar 23 - Gwent Police is appealing for information and witnesses following a burglary at Gemelli's Italian Restaurant on Bridge Street, Newport.
    The incident occurred on Tuesday 16th March at approximately 5am. Forced entry was gained and a small quantity of cash was stolen. The offenders were seen making off from the scene in a red rover 5 door saloon.  Three men have been arrested in connection with the incident, they have since been released on police bail pending further enquiries. Anyone who may have witnessed the incident or has any information that could assist officers with their enquiries is asked to contact Gwent Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    PUBLIC TRANSPORT GRANT UP

    Mar 22 - The Welsh Assembly public transport grant for Newport has been increased for the first time in two years. The allocation to the City Council will increase from £395k to £411k for 2010/11. The funding is used  to subsidise economically unviable routes.

    RESIDENTS LACK PRIDE IN CITY - SURVEY

    Mar 21 - A City Council survey of 300 Newport residents has revealed a mixed view of the City. The survey revealed that 69 per cent of those questioned felt that Newport was a good place to live. 53 per cent stated that they felt that Newport was improving and had become a better place to live recently. However, only 44 per cent of those surveyed felt proud of Newport. The survey will be carried out on a regular basis by the Council's contact centre, particularly to review residents' opinions of the City's role in the Ryder Cup.

    BELLWAY APPEAL HURRANS' DECISION

    Mar 21 - Developer Bellway has appealed the decision by Newport City Council not to grant permission for the building of 60 homes on the former Hurrans Garden Centre in Langstone. The City Council Planning Committee split five votes to four, overturning an officer recommendation for approval, when it agree the decision on February 10. Bellway's appeal will be heard by the Planning Inspectorate for Wales.

    The plan attracted a wide range of objections from Langstone residents. They included the following "the village of Langstone is being destroyed by the on-going building of new homes;  the area already suffers from electricity supply problems due to overburdening of the system;  primary and Infant schools in Langstone are full with some classes taking place in terrapins; there is no state Nursery in Langstone. It should be linked to the school and established on the application site; Langstone has no facilities for residents such as shops, post office and community centre. The Council think they can put more houses in Langstone without providing any facilities for residents; - there is no dedicated doctors surgery for a community of 2770+ residents. The development is unsustainable in a rural area; the provision of social housing is out of character for the area and will have a negative effect on the resale value of properties."

    NEWPORT PERFORMS POORLY IN TRAVEL SURVEY

    Mar 19 - Newport has come out of fifth in a Travelodge survey revealing Britain's ten least visited cities. The city that came out top, Bradford, has been branded ''dangerous, ugly and boring'' and where travellers least want to go. Wakefield was seen as 'dull and depressing'. Other locations high on the do-not-visit list were Dundee, due to bad weather there, Sunderland (nothing to offer with dislikeable local accents) and Newport itself, which was seen as having a high crime rate. ''We live in a world of misconceptions, and often don't realise it," said Travelodge spokeswoman Shakila Ahmed.''A significant proportion of the images of cities we have in our minds may be biased, out of date and not in tune with reality.'' The full list 1. Bradford 2. Wakefield 3. Dundee 4. Sunderland 5. Newport 6. St David's 7. Wells 8. Ely 9. Ripon 10. Lichfield

    DOCTOR SUSPENDED AFTER FATAL ERRORS

    Mar 19 - A doctor with a "disregard" for patient safety has been suspended for four months by the General Medical Council. Dr Salawati Abdul-Salam wrongly diagnosed nine-month-old Aleesha Evans, of Newport, who died of blood poisoning the next day, a hearing was told. She admitted making errors with four patients in her care and said she was "sorry" for her actions.

    The hearing had been told that in 2006, Dr Abdul-Salam had sent Aleesha home from the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport saying she had a viral infection that needed only Calpol and Nurofen. The trainee specialist registrar had not examined the baby, noting her condition was "unremarkable". But she was suffering from meningococcal septicaemia, blood poisoning, and died the following day.

    AUSTIN FRIARS TOILET TO CLOSE

    Mar 19 - Another public toilet in Newport is to close as part of expenditure cuts by the City Council. The Facility at Austin Friars is underground and has poor access downstairs. The City Council states "Having regard to this factor and the alternative provision nearby (in the bus station), closure of this Facility is recommended as the way to meet the Council’s budget." This will save £25,000 per annum. It will close on 26 March.

    UNEMPLOYMENT STILL ON THE RISE

    Mar 18 - The latest detailed unemployment statistics show joblessness in Newport still on the rise despite a national / UK trend showing a reduction. National Statistics figures show the number of Jobseekers Allowance recipients in the Newport East constituency has increased from 2570 (in January) to 2605 a month later, 5.8 per cent of the workforce. In the neighbouring Newport West constituency the numbers increased from 2710 to 2759, 5.5 per cent of the workforce. The UK's claimant count rate stands at 4.9 per cent of the workforce.

    MAN CHARGED WITH 2008 MURDER

    Mar 17 - A 27-year-old man has been charged with murdering a woman in Newport almost two years ago. Aleksandra Lipska, born Kaczmarska, 27, was found dead after police were called to a house in the Maindee area of the city on 13 May 2008.  A man was arrested this week and Gwent Police said on Tuesday evening that he had been charged with murder. He is due to appear before Newport Magistrates' Court tomorrow (Wednesday) morning.

    FLYNN/MORDEN TABLE COMMONS TRIBUTE TO COUNTY

    May 17 - Newport's two MP's, Jessica Morden and Paul Flynn, have tabled a Commons motion congratulating Newport County on their promotion from the Conference South "That this House warmly celebrates Newport County AFC's phenomenal 24 points lead at the top of their division which secured their promotion into big time football after 21 years of difficulties and exile: congratulates Dean Holdsworth, the rest of the squad and management and the record number of Amber Army faithful for their brilliant achievement: looks forward confidently to even greater triumphs in future."

    WAG REPORTS RECOMMENDS NEWPORT UNLIMITED CHANGES

    Mar 16 - A review commissioned by the Welsh Assembly Government has recommended changes to the way Newport Unlimited, the City's regeneration company, is run.  Formed in 2003 urban regeneration company Newport Unlimited was tasked as being the engine room for change in Newport working alongside WAG and the City Council. The review, however, warns that Newport Unlimited is "very disconnected from the people, businesses and communities in Newport". This needs to change so that local people are better informed and see Newport as a 'city of change'. The organisation's website has not been updated since December! The review recommends a review of Newport Unlimited's Masterplan for Newport and a 'reality check' on the developments planned and the dates for delivery. It concludes  "This interim evaluation has concluded that the URC approach has proved to be a powerful and effective mechanism for driving forwards the physical regeneration and economic change needed in Newport. To date much still needs to be done which will require the continued co-ordination and direction of partnership efforts and resources."

    ARREST OVER 2008 MURDER OF POLISH WOMAN IN MAINDEE

    Mar 15 - Police investigating the murder of a woman almost two years ago have arrested a 27-year-old man. Aleksandra Lipska, born Kaczmarska, 27, was found dead at a house on Dewstow Street, Maindee, Newport, in May 2008. The suspect, who is from Cardiff, is being questioned by detectives at Ystrad Mynach police station in Caerphilly county.

    Police are appealing for anyone with information to contact them on 101 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111. Det Supt Paul Griffiths said: "This investigation has been ongoing for nearly two years and I am appealing to anyone not previously approached by police who has any information with regards to Aleksandra's death to come forward." Police and the ambulance service had been called to the house in Dewstow Street in the early hours of Tuesday, 13 May where they found Ms Lipska's body. At the time of the murder, detectives appealed to the Polish community in Newport for any information that could help the investigation. Detectives distributed posters in Polish and set up a telephone line with a Polish and English voicemail message.

    MINISTER OPENS WIND TURBINE DEVELOPMENT

    Mar 15 - Wales’ environment minister Jane Davidson has officially opened two wind turbines developed, constructed and now operated by Wind Direct at the site of Solutia Chemicals, Newport. The Wind Direct project, which is the largest of its kind in Wales, was also chosen as the background to the launch of the Welsh Assembly Government’s Energy Policy Statement - A Low Carbon Revolution. The two Nordex N90 2.5MW wind turbines will supply up to a third of the facility’s electricity requirements; aligning closely with the Welsh Assembly’s vision of a low carbon future.

    TJ's OWNER DIES IN HOSPITAL

    Pay your tributes to John Sicolo here

    Mar 14 - One of the leading lights of the music scene in Newport for 40 years and owner of TJs, John Sicolo, has died in hospital aged 66.  One of TJ's staff told BBC Wales that Mr Sicolo had died at 0600 GMT on Sunday at the Royal Gwent Hospital, Newport. "The cause of death is not yet known," he said, adding, "Rest in peace, mate." The TJ's Facebook site has received many messages of condolence. John's daughter Leanne Jane Sicolo said in response to them "thank you everyone for your kind messages my dad died early hours of this morning he passed away in his sleep he will be sadly missed by everyone who knew him love you dad x."

    Mr Sicolo was a former merchant navy seaman, where he served as a cook. He is described on the club's website as 'half Welsh, half Seychellean'. He founded the club in 1971, first christening it El Sieco's before renaming it TJ's Disco. The late BBC DJ and presenter John Peel dubbed the venue "the legendary TJs" on his radio shows. Oasis, Echo and The Bunnymen, Catatonia, Manic Street Preachers, the Buzzcocks and Primal Scream were among the thousands of bands who appeared there.

    Paul Flynn MP for Newport West stated TJ's gave Newport fame, excitement and musical chutzpah. "It was TJs that won for Newport the title the New Seattle. A generation of Newportonians relished the buzz of hearing top World groups on their own doorstep. They fondly remember TJ's at it's thrilling best, robust, loud and bursting with talent." The future of the club had been shrouded in uncertainty and Mr. Sicolo had planned to sell off some of his memorabilia to keep things afloat. In the next month there was a busy schedule of events including the return home to Newport of Skindred.

    Joe Strummer play one of his last gigs at TJ's. Strummer was fond of the club and of Newport.

    PLAN TO LINK FOOTBRIDGE TO JOHN FROST SQUARE

    Mar 13 - A plan to link the Usk Footbridge to John Frost Square has been put forward by the City Council. At present pedestrians from the footbridge access the shopping areas of Newport via the bus station. The walkway from the bus station to John Frost Square is dark and unpleasant. The City Council is intending to put in place a steel staircase between Llanarth Street, adjacent to the Kingsway Centre entrance and the walkway from the footbridge creating a continuous link between the river and the city centre. At this stage the staircase is intended to be temporary until new proposals come forward for the City's new shopping centre.

    The application seeks consent for the erection of steel public steps, realignment of 2.4m high hoarding and reconstruction of public footpath at land to east of John Frost Square to Llanarth Street, John Frost Square. The improved footpath and staircase is intended "to create a strategic route and vision between the City Centre and the riverside whilst also stimulating interest in the new adjacent Kingsway Shopping Centre units resulting from the increased passing trade". The total length of the site being redeveloped would measure 29m with the staircase being 6.125m of this length. The footpath and staircase would span a width of 2.65m. The staircase would bridge a gap in levels of 2.34m and would be constructed from a hot dipped, galvanised steel and would be finished with etching primer and a gloss coat. The staircase would be enclosed by a balustrade measuring 1.1m in height, the balustrade would consist of galvanised steel support poles infilled with a mesh panel welded to the inside frame, the top of the balustrade would be act as a handrail, these would run down either side of the staircase and also through the middle creating additional support.

    The steel staircase structure can be easily dismantled for use elsewhere if a more permanent scheme should be implemented. The application states the proposed scheme "would create a strategic route and an additional point of pedestrian access to the riverfront and also the City Centre Footbridge pending a more comprehensive scheme as part of the future redevelopment of Friars Walk". It is expected to receive planning permission shortly from officers though Newport Civic Society expressed concerns about how 'temporary' this structure would actually be.

    Left - the walkway (top) near the Usk Footbridge and the view from the Llanarth Street  end near Clarks towards John Frost Square and the proposed location of the new staircase adjacent to the former Co-operative Bank.

    TROOPS RECEIVE ROUSING RECEPTION

    Mar 12 - The 1st Battalion of the Welsh Guards received a rousing reception from hundreds of shoppers and office workers as they marched the length of Commercial Street in Newport this afternoon. The homecoming parade marks the end of their campaign in Afghanistan.

    Afterwards they went to the Civic Centre where Major Terry Harman said: “Thank you for the reception we have just received in your wonderful city.” He then gave a presentation, in the council chamber, on their work in Afghanistan. He explained that as well as fighting the Taliban, the Welsh Guards were involved in reconstruction and partnering the Afghan National Army. Major Harman also spoke of the importance to the soldiers of the support they received back home. Referring to the youth of some of the Welsh Guards he said: “They ask for nothing and give everything. They are men among men.” Councillor Glyn Jarvis, the Mayor of Newport, said: “It is a very proud day for us today, to welcome the Welsh Guards to Newport.

    MAN IN WHEELCHAIR ROBBED IN CITY CENTRE

    Mar 12 - A man in a wheelchair has been robbed at a car park in Newport. The 41-year-old was approached by a man in his mid 20s in the city centre on Wednesday night and wheeled into the car park on Bridge Street. A bag containing cash, bank cards and personal items was stolen before the offender fled the scene. The offender is described as a white male, about 5ft 7ins (1.7m), slim, and wearing a green jacket with a hood. Police are appealing for information. The victim was travelling along Commercial Street into Bridge Street in his wheelchair when he was approached by a man who offered to help him.

    Despite saying he did not need help, he was wheeled into a nearby car park and his black cloth bag was taken, some time between 2230 and 2300 GMT. Gwent Police said the victim, who is from west Wales but was staying in Newport, was not injured. He called to two men for help and they ran after the offender but were unable to catch up with him. The two men returned to check the victim was okay but left before police arrived. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Gwent Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

    £200 MILLION DATA CENTRE OPENS

    Mar 11 - One of the largest data centres in the world has opened in Newport following a two-year construction project. The facility, located in the former Hynix semi conductor building has a 750,000 sq ft tier 3 data centre and has cost £200 million to complete. Owned and operated by Next Generation Data, it has triple-skipped walls, bomb-proof glass and is surrounded by prison grade perimeter fencing quipped with state of the art security.

    Welsh Assembly government minister for science, innovation and skills Lesley Griffiths said: "For a highly respected company such as Next Generation Data to locate and develop this site here in Newport sends out a strong, clear message. Next Generation Data will provide opportunities for higher level skills, including the technician base required to ensure the company, and economy, remains competitive far into the future." Next Generation Data, the owner and operator of the new data centre which has worked closely with the Welsh Assembly Government on the project, is now making available a wide range of custom built co-location data halls to large UK and international organisations. Contracts totalling over £20 million have already been concluded with BT and Logica which began moving their extensive data centre IT operations into the high security NGD Europe facility last month.

    HOMECOMING PARADE FOR TROOPS

    Mar 11 - Soldiers from the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards who have served in Afghanistan will parade in the city centre tomorrow. It will start at 2pm outside Weatherspoon’s in Commercial Street and proceed through Commercial Street. As they pass Westgate Square, the Lord-Lieutenant of Gwent Simon Boyle and Regimental Adjutant Colonel (Retd) Tom Bonas will take the salute in the presence of the Mayor and Mayoress, the High Sheriff of Gwent and the leader of Newport City Council. The parade will proceed through Bridge Street before ending in Cambrian Road. In the summer of 2009, the Welsh Guards took part in some of the fiercest fighting ever seen in Helmand supporting 19 Brigade during Operation Panther’s Claw.

    CAMBRIAN CENTRE COULD BE SUPERMARKET LED DEVELOPMENT

    Mar 10 - Yet another supermarket could re-open on the site of a former shopping centre in Newport that had been due for a £90m facelift. A plan to demolish the Cambrian Centre to build shops and a 100-metre tower was scrapped last year when developer Modus went into administration. New owners Scarborough Development Group are now considering building a supermarket on the land, believing it is more economically viable. There have been plans to regenerate Cambrian Centre going back to 2004.

    Mark Jackson, managing director at Scarborough Development, said: "The food store market is understandably proving to be one of the more robust in this recession, and is a great sector in which to be investing and in which to found our new business." The Cambrian Centre used to house a Somerfield supermarket before it was closed down to pave the way for regeneration.

    Welcoming the news of the acquisition Robert Carew- Chaston, director of Newport- based Hutchings & Thomas Chartered Surveyors told Wales Online : “I’m keen to know more about Scarborough Development Group’s plans for Newport but on the face of it this is fantastic news for our city. This could well be the first sign of hope generally and for the city that the private sector is now ready to act and get back into the marketplace and take up what are in the case of the city of Newport ‘oven ready’ development sites such as the one worked up by Modus for the centre of Newport." Rosemary Butler AM stated ""I was ...glad to hear that the Modus subsidiary company which originally set out to develop the Cambrian site, has now been acquired by the Scarborough Development Group. That's another piece of good news and I hope that the Friars Walk redevelopment will also get back on track . All this, as well as the Ryder Cup in October, means that Newport is still very much on the map."

    CAERLEON CYCLE ROUTE BOOST

    Mar 10 - Newport West AM Rosemary Butler has welcomed the news that another crucial section of the Newport-Caerleon Connect 2 cycle route has been given the necessary go ahead by the Welsh Assembly Government. The Pillmawr Road to Home Farm section is due to open in April, and  the Assembly Government has now agreed to provide  £549,000 from its National Transport Grant fund to help build the next section of the route from Home Farm to Caerleon Comprehensive School.  A major feature of this section will be a railway bridge near St Cadoc's Hospital as part of the Assembly's Safe Routes in Communities programme for 2010/11. There are plans to extend the cycle route eventually through Caerleon and the Celtic Manor Resort to Wentwood Forest . Other partners in the scheme include the transport charity Sustrans, Newport Unlimited, Newport City Council, Newport University and transport consultants Capita Symonds.

    EVENTS BOOST CITY CENTRE TRADE

    Mar 9 - A City Council report has revealed the City Centre is increasingly dependant on events for its sustainability. The report to the Council's Overview and Scrutiny Forum notes that retailers welcomed the events organised by the City Council throughout the pre-Christmas period and the boost to trade provided by the free parking initiative. However, the report notes the need to do more particularly during Newport Festival year. The report paints a downbeat picture of retail trade in the centre "From July 2009 to November 2009 footfall in Newport City Centre showed a gradual decline, this is in line with other towns and cities across the UK with an average 5% decline during these months. This would reflect the economic climate. November to December showed an increase in footfall in Newport reflect the pattern across the UK as a whole which saw an average increase of 11.2%, however, year on year figures compared to 2008, showed a steady decline."

    PLANNERS BACK CHANGES TO CITY BUILDINGS

    Mar 9 - Changes to a number of well known City buildings are backed by Council planning officers in their report to the Council's Planning Meeting tomorrow. Councillors will be asked to consider -

    DEVELOPMENT COMMEMORATES STEEL MILL OWNERS

    Mar 8 - Taylor Wimpey has this week revealed the name for its new development in Newport, Lysaght Village. The developer has named the site, which is being converted into 549 new homes, after the city’s steel mill owners, the Lysaght family.

    Born in Ireland in 1832, John Lysaght inherited the Temple Backs factory, a modest ironworks enterprise in Bristol, in 1857. Starting out with just six employees, John Lysaght recognised the increasing demand for sheet iron usage in construction and built the factory into a profitable trade.

    John’s eldest son, Frederick Percy Lysaght, took over management of the family business in 1895 and it was thanks to his success that sheet mills were first brought to South East Wales from Wolverhampton along with many workers from the Black Country. As demand for galvanised steel increased, Frederick Lysaght chose to build a new ironworks factory on farmland bordering the River Usk in Newport. He chose this site because of its close proximity to plentiful coal supplies and its accessibility via the river and nearby train lines. Construction started in 1896 and in October 1897 the new factory was named The Orb Works after John Lysaght’s ORB trademark, which he had established in 1857. Some of the buildings constructed using his corrugated iron included the market halls in Swansea and Llanelli and a concert pavilion at Aberystwyth Pier.

    Sara Taylor, regional sales and marketing director, commented: “Located in the city where steel works originated in South Wales, our sales team felt that Lysaght Village was a fitting name for Taylor Wimpey’s latest development in Newport. Over 3,600 people were employed by the Lysaght family during the Second World War and their steel works heralded the city’s expansion onto the east bank of the River Usk – where our other development, City Vizion, is situated."

    MAN REMANDED IN CUSTODY AFTER SHOOTING STEPSON

    Mar 6 - A 50-year-old man has been remanded in custody in Newport charged with child neglect after his stepson aged 15 suffered a gunshot wound to the head. Michael Hole also faced charges of possessing a prohibited weapon and perverting the course of justice, when he appeared before city magistrates.Lewis Bailey is in a serious condition in the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, after Tuesday's incident. Mr Hole of Hawthorne Avenue, Newport will next appear in court on Tuesday. He spoke only to confirm his name, address and date of birth.

    SKATE EXTREME BADLY DAMAGED BY BLAZE

    Mar 6 - Fire crews have been tackling a fire at a skateboarding and biking centre in Newport. They were called to Skate Extreme in Herbert Road at 0415 GMT. Five fire crews and a hydraulic platform were originally at the blaze, which caused substantial damage to the building. Fire investigators, along with two fire crews, are still at the scene. The centre includes ramps and pipes for skaters.

    GRANT FOR STOW PARK CHURCH

    Mar 5 - Stow Park Church in Newport is to benefit from a major £98,811 funding boost, thanks to a grant from the Welsh Assembly Government. Rosemary Butler AM (Labour, Newport West) has welcomed the news as a shot in the arm for community life and the local economy. The Assembly's Community Facilities and Activities Programme funding will lead to the construction of a new community centre at Stow Park to replace the existing hall. The church's congregation ­ formerly the Newport United Reform Church ­ has now amalgamated with the congregation of the Stow Park Presbyterian Chapel and it was decided that the old church hall was too old and unusable and that a modern multi-purpose building was needed to replace it.

    LIB DEMS OPPOSE BANKSIDE PROPOSAL

    Mar 5 - Victoria Lib Dem councillors are opposing a development at the Bankside Industrial Units near George Street Bridge. An application has been submitted to the City Council to close the site and replace it with a residential development. Victoria Ward Councillor Mike Hamilton said: "The site is home to 14 local businesses employing around 58 people. These include a range of small businesses from catering, online companies to manufacturing. Many of these businesses have been supported by council grants whilst others have offered training to local people.Given the present economic climate it seems to be crazy to be thinking about closing local businesses. In this area, more flats are already on the way including the Taylor Wimpy City Vizions Project, the reopened Art College site and the riverbank development in neighbouring Lliswerry ward. It is difficult to see the market for more flats in the ward."

    FLOOD DEFENCE GRANT AGREED

    Mar 5 - A £4.8 million plan to improve flood defences in the Riverside area has been announced. Newport City Council applied for the funding after an Environment Agency showed the existing flood wall near Bond Street and Frank Street was not strong enough to withstand high tidal river levels. Gaps between East Usk Road and Clarence House also increase the chance of flooding and the problem is made worse by a 70 year river wall supporting the pavement in Riverside.

    HOSPITAL SALMONELLA ALL-CLEAR

    Mar 4 - Eight patients at Newport's Royal Gwent Hospital initially thought to have salmonella have now tested negative. Health officials say it was likely they did not have a "true" salmonella infection and the original results were a "false positive." Three others, two of them hospital patients, previously found to be provisionally positive have now been confirmed and will have further tests. GPs have been contacted to alert them the bug may be present in the area. Salmonella is usually associated with eating contaminated foods. The eight people are said to be recovering well. The cases were investigated by Aneurin Bevan Health Board, Public Health Wales and Newport City Council's environmental health department.

    POLICE INVESTIGATE SHAFTESBURY ROBBERY

    Mar 4 - Gwent Police is appealing for information following a robbery which occurred on Thursday 25th February in the Sainsbury's car park on Wyndham Street, Newport. The incident occurred at approximately 3.30pm when an 81 year old lady was loading her shopping into the back of her car. The lady was approached from behind, pushed out of the way and her handbag was grabbed off the back seat. The offender ran off through a fence along Pugsley Street in the direction of Shaftesbury Park.

    The lady did not sustain any injuries. The offender is described as being a white male, in his late teens-early 20s, of medium build and approximately 5 feet 9 inches tall. He was wearing a dark coloured baseball cap, dark trousers, and a dark jacket with two light coloured stripes down the back of it which divided it up into 3 panels. Police believe the same individual may have been seen in the Shaftesbury Park area at approximately 3.45pm. Anyone with information, or anyone who may have witnessed the incident is asked to contact police on 01633 838111 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    MAN ARRESTED AFTER TEENAGER IS SHOT

    Mar 4 update - A 50 year old man has remained in custody today following the shooting incident in Somerton on Tuesday.

    Mar 3 - A 50-year-old man is being questioned on suspicion of attempted murder after a teenage boy was shot. Gwent Police were called to a house in Somerton, Newport, on Tuesday, where they discovered a 15-year-old boy alone and suffering from a head injury. The boy, named locally as Lewis Bailey, was transferred to the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, where he is in a serious condition. Police have confirmed the arrested man and the teenager know each other. Officers were called to the house in Hawthorne Avenue at about 1620 GMT on Tuesday by ambulance staff. It is not known who made the initial 999 call. A Gwent Police spokesman said: "Officers attended and found a 15-year-old boy alone in the house. He was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital with a head injury." The 50 year old man is understood to be the boy's father Michael Hole.

    Specially trained family liaison officers are supporting the family of the young boy. Officers from Gwent Police Major Incident Team remain in the local area this evening to establish the circumstances around the incident and to locate the firearm used in the incident, which they believe at this time to be a type of handgun. If a member of the public discovers a firearm they are advised not to touch it but to contact police immediately.
    Anyone who with any information or concerns should contact Gwent Police on 101 or Crime-stoppers on 0800 555 111.

    DIGITAL SWITCHOVER STARTS

    Mar 3 - Viewers in Cardiff, Newport and south east Wales have begun the switch to digital that will make Wales the UK's first digital nation. Forty-six years after BBC Two was launched, the channel's last remaining analogue signal in Wales was turned off permanently at the Wenvoe transmitter, and engineers started switching on digital signals at 75 relay transmitters serving more than 280,000 homes. The changes also affect existing Freeview viewers who may find their BBC TV channels are missing. These services have moved to new frequencies and can be restored by retuning Freeview TVs and boxes. The second and final stage of switchover at the Wenvoe transmitter group takes place on 31 March, when the remaining analogue channels will be switched off permanently. On this date, further Freeview channels from ITV, S4C, Channel 4 and Five will also become available from relay transmitters for the first time.

    SAFER ROUTES FUNDING FOR CAERLEON COMP

    Mar 2 - Newport City Council has received a Welsh Assembly Government Safe Routes in Communities Transport Grant of £549k to further extend the walking and cycle path which links the city centre to Caerleon. A new route is set to be constructed between Home Farm and Caerleon Comprehensive School with a new footbridge crossing the railway, offering major potential for cycling and walking in Caerleon. It will also link the University of Wales campuses and provide safe routes to and from school for the students at Caerleon Comprehensive School. This scheme is also an important element of the Sustrans Newport Connect2 project.

    COVETED AWARD FOR CITY BUSINESS SCHOOL

    Mar 2 - Newport Business School at the University of Wales, Newport has been awarded the ‘Public Sector Accountancy College of the Year Award 2010’ at a prestigious award ceremony at St James’ in London, hosted by PQ Magazine. The Award follows on from recent good news that the University’s students have achieved pass rates significantly in excess of national averages in the final ACCA (Association of Certified Chartered Accountants) examinations. Members of the Newport Accountancy teaching team travelled to the awards ceremony, which was attended by representatives of all the main accounting bodies.

    UNSUNG HEROES RECEIVE RECOGNITION

    Mar 1 - Unsung heroes from the city were honoured by the City Council at a ceremony in Parc Golf Club. Council employees who went beyond the call of duty were also recognised in the first ever Extra Miles Awards. Newport City Council joined with the South Wales Argus to call for readers to nominate citizens who they believed deserved an award for their achievements, dedication and bravery.

    Awards were given to nearly 40 individuals and organisations. Councillor Matthew Evans, leader of the council, said: “The Extra Mile Awards is a new initiative which has given us the opportunity to formally recognise the many individuals and groups of people who have done something extraordinary, or not quite so extraordinary, in their everyday lives but have clearly gone the extra mile." Winners included

    HOMECOMING PARADE FOR WELSH GUARDS

    Mar 1 - The First Battalion of the Welsh Guards are to parade through Newport on March 12th (from 2pm) as part of a series of homecoming parades. The Guards were part of Operation Panther's Claw in Afghanistan designed to clear Taliban strongholds. The Battalion undertook its first operational tour to Helmand Province in June 2009 as part of 19 (Light) Brigade. In the summer of 2009 as the national elections in Afghanistan approached, thousands of British, American and Afghan soldiers conducted a joint operation to clear the Taliban from an area north of Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital of Helmand. The Panther's Claw offensive cleared the insurgency from that area of Helmand province, freeing 90,000 local residents from Taliban control.

    WOMAN FINED FOR FLOSSING WHILST DRIVING

    Feb 28 - Gwent Police state they have fined a 36 year old woman for careless and unattentive driving for flossing her teeth while at the wheel of her car on the M4 near the Coldra Junction in Newport. The unnamed woman was fined £60. Police warned that many drivers put lives at risk out of vanity. A spokesman advised Sun Online said: "We've caught women applying lipstick and make-up and men using an electric razor on their way to work. But this is the first time we've seen someone flossing their teeth."

    BOOST FOR CITY CENTRE SHOPPING SCHEME

    Feb 27 - The Financial Times reports that Scarborough Development Group, part of Sheffield United FC chairman Kevin McCabe’s property empire, has bought some of the failed Modus group from its administrators.

    Ernst & Young sold the assets of Modus Properties and eight retail developments to Scarborough for £37m ($57m). They were called in to 15 Modus companies in June 2009. Brendan Flood Modus’ founder and a co-owner of Burnley FC, said he had been in talks with Mr McCabe before its collapse. Tom Jack, joint administrator, said: “This is a significant deal to have completed, particularly given the current challenges in the property market for developers and investors. The sale will ensure commercial, retail and leisure schemes will now be completed in a number of key locations, including the North-West and Wales.” According to the article cities and towns that should now get new shopping areas include Newport, Congleton, Boston and Wigan.

    Update - February 28 - the companies and sites sold include the Cambrian Centre in Newport. The former Friars Walk development does not seem to be part of the acquisitions by Scarborough.

    CITY POLICE IN ORGANISED DRUGS BUST

    Feb 26 - Seven people have been arrested for drug trafficking offences following raids on homes in Bettws, Newport. Thirty-five police officers raided eight homes on Friday morning, where they discovered amphetamines and cannabis with a street value of £5,000. Large amounts of cash, weighing scales and other drug-dealing paraphernalia were also seized, police said. Four men and three women, aged between 19 and 40, remain in custody while investigations continue. The raids took place after information was received from the local community, Gwent Police said. Four flats in Bettws Shopping Centre, as well as homes in Monnow Way, Helford Square, Welland Crescent, and Tone Close were raided.

    NEWPORT FIRM'S PETITION AGAINST CARDIFF CITY

    Feb 26 - A small Newport business has taken out a second winding-up petition against Cardiff City. Shine Food Machinery has been fighting the football club through the county court in Cardiff over a debt of more than £750,000. The company, which installs commercial kitchens, fitted out the catering kitchens at the Bluebirds’ new stadium. According to Wales Online it is a relatively small, family firm based on a Newport industrial estate which made a loss of £123,000 in its last published accounts for 2008 on a turnover of £10m after being hit by rising fuel costs, the falling value of the pound and the collapse in public spending. Shine took out a winding-up petition in the county court in Cardiff on December 21 last year against Cardiff City Stadium Limited, a sister company of the football club for whom it carried out the work on the stadium.

    SALMONELLA OUTBREAK ALERT

    Feb 25 - Health officials in Newport are investigating eight cases of salmonella at the city's Royal Gwent Hospital. A hospital spokesman said it was not yet clear whether those suffering from the bacterial infection had caught it in the community or in hospital. GPs in the area have been contacted to alert them to the possibility the bug may be present in the community. Salmonella is usually associated with eating contaminated foods. The eight people are said to be recovering well. Some showed symptoms of the illness when they came into hospital but others did not, the spokesman said. The cases are being investigated by Aneurin Bevan Health Board, Public Health Wales and Newport council's environmental health department. In a statement, the health board said: "We are contacting local GPs to alert them to the possibility of salmonella in patients presenting from the community with symptoms. "

    Salmonella is a type of bacteria. It is usually found in poultry, eggs, unprocessed milk and in meat and water. It may also be carried by pets. The salmonella bacteria attacks the stomach and intestines. In more serious cases, the bacteria may enter the lymph tracts, which carry water and protein to the blood, and the blood itself. The bacteria attack all age groups and both sexes. Children, the elderly and people who are already ill are much more likely to get a serious infection. Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhoea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment.

    SCHOOL MEAL PRICES UP

    Feb 25 - Newport City Council has upped its standard school meal charges by 10 per cent for secondary schools by 20 pence to £2.20. Prices for junior and infant are increased by 20 pence and 10 pence respectively to a set price of £1.90. The Council state "As part of the budget setting process for financial year 2010/2011, an increase in income is required to meet the Council’s guideline adjustment of 1% for other and adult meal income."

    PRINCESS ROYAL OPENS NEWPORT HIGH

    Feb 25 - The Princess Royal today officially opened the new Newport High School, Bettws Lane. As well as meeting pupils, staff and community leaders, Her Royal Highness was introduced to the architects and builders responsible for the building. After a tour of the building, The Princess congratulated all those who had been involved with the new school. “Enjoy the facilities and make the best possible use of them to give you a terrific start in life,” she told a hall full of pupils and guests. Council leader Councillor Matthew Evans said: “We were delighted to welcome The Princess Royal to Newport High School."

    CITY COUNCIL CLAIMS RYDER CUP IS REWARDING NEWPORT

    Feb 25 - Newport City Council is claiming significant and lasting benefits will accrue to the City from this year's Ryder Cup. Their latest publicity claims "As host city, Newport has been able to access funds that would not have otherwise been available to us. This welcome investment has enabled us to bring forward a programme of regeneration works which will ensure that hosting the Ryder Cup in Newport leaves a permanent legacy that will remain long after the golf has finished."  The publicity states a host of Welsh companies have also benefited by being awarded contracts linked to The 2010 Ryder Cup, including the design and construction of the Twenty Ten Course and Clubhouse at Celtic Manor Resort. Companies that have secured contracts include Alun Griffiths Construction (Abergavenny), Hansons of Bedwas, Inturf of Bridgend, HLN Architects, Lewis and Lewis of Newport, Whitehead Electrical, Paramount Office Interiors and Afan Landscapes. Local company Asbri Golf has also secured a lucrative license agreement within the Welsh market to design and supply official merchandise for The 2010 Ryder Cup. Jim Davies Civil Engineering of Blackwood and The Cuddy Group who are based in Neath have been appointed to construct the park and ride sites at Tredegar House and Llanwern. The Tredegar House project itself will create a lasting legacy for Newport providing improved facilities for the future events. A £3.8 million public realm enhancement programme, dedicated education programmes and improved road networks will enhance Newport's future. However, sceptics will point to failed developments in the centre of Newport and the lack of facilities may mean neighbouring locations benefit equally from the presence of the event here.

    ADMIRAL CITY JOBS BOOST

    Feb 24 - Admiral Group has announced plans to more than double its claims department by hiring over 200 new members of staff The insurer currently employs 188 people at the site in Newport and said the new positions would span a range of roles at all levels-from registering claims through to management positions.

    Ceri Assiratti, people services manager at Admiral, said the decision was due to the group's customer base growing by 16% to 1.8m by the end of Q3 2009. She added: "Growth in the business is expected to continue over 2010. We need to grow our number of employees to service those customers." Admiral said its original target was to reach full employment by the end of 2011. It now plans to appoint 30 new employees per month until the positions are filled, which it said could be as early as September this year. The claims department was Admiral's third site, opening in October 2008 with 30 new recruits who joined 39 staff that had relocated from Cardiff and Swansea.

    Ms Assiratti said: "Newport has proved a huge success and we will continue to expand here. It was initially projected the site would be full by the end of 2011, but we have found a wealth of talent in the area." Admiral, which launched in 1993, said it had around 2,900 members of staff across South Wales and more than two million customers worldwide.

    LLANMARTIN MAN ARRESTED OVER BIKE THEFTS

    Feb - 24 Gwent Police is appealing for the owners of 4 stolen bikes that were recovered following a spate of burglaries across Gwent over the Christmas period to come forward and identify them. The burglaries took place in several areas including, Llanmartin, Langstone and Machen.

    Police officers recovered the stolen bikes from an address in the Magor area on February 5th 2010. A 36 year old man from Llanmartin has been arrested on suspicion of burlgary and has since been released on police bail pending further enquiries.

    The bikes are described as follows:
    -Yellow and black SPECIALIZED "HARDROCK" mountain bike
    -Black GIANT "BOULDER" mountain bike
    -Navy ADAMS trailer bike
    -Pale green "GT BIKES"
    -BMX - custom made

    Anyone who identifies any of the bikes as one of their own is asked to contact Newport CID officers on 01633 838111.

    GREEN BUILDING PLAN FOR RIVERFRONT

    Feb 23 - More than 100 green homes are being planned for Newport's river front. Newport based housing provider, the Seren group, is currently developing new homes for Mariners Quay in the Old Town Dock. This will be a total of 86 one and two bedroom apartments and 15 two, three and four bedroom houses. The first homes are expected to be completed in June or July this year.

    Once built, the properties at Mariners Quay will be available on a tenure neutral basis. This means that the homes will both be available to rent through Seren’s housing arm, Charter Housing, and to buy through the shared equity scheme operated by their development arm Fairlake. Whether the resident chooses to buy or rent is dependent on their individual circumstances. This builds on what is described as 'the cutting edge work Seren Group and Newport City Council have undertaken to implement the Assembly’s vision of neutral tenure in Wales'. The new homes will use green technology including triple glazing and maximum insulation, water efficient fittings and rainwater harvesting to reduce water usage, an on site biomass fuelled central heat and electricity generating boiler using locally sourced woodchips, and sun boxes to catch the warmth of the sun. Residents will receive a ‘green guide’ and a meeting about how to get the best out of their new homes. The buildings will be so efficient that utility bills could cost as little as £5 per week.

    MORE CONFIDENCE IN POLICE APPROACH TO CRIME-FIGHTING

    Feb 23 - More than half of people living in Newport are confident that the police and their partners in community safety are dealing with anti-social behaviour and the crime issues that matter to them. More than three thousand people, living in the five local authority areas which the force serves, were surveyed. In Newport 57% are confident that the police and partners are tackling anti social behaviour and the things that matter in the community. A spokeswoman stated "We have invested heavily in neighbourhood policing, with more officers than average devoted to local beat work. They engage with communities in all sorts of ways to make sure they know about the work we are doing to tackle anti social behaviour and other crime."

    BETTWS MAN KILLED IN TOBOGGANING ACCIDENT

    Feb 22 - A 19-year-old man has died from Bettws and another man was injured after they crashed into a car while tobogganing on a plastic sheet in Tredegar.Anthony Farley and a relative slid onto a main road from a grass bank at around 1610 GMT on Sunday. Gwent Police say the driver of the car they collided with did not stop and the men were found by a member of the public off Armoury Hill in the town. A man, 34, was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving. Mr Farley was pronounced dead at the scene in the Ystrad Deri area of Tredegar. He leaves an eight month old son, Ieuan Meek.

    CITY COIN ROBBERY SUSPECT IS BAILED

    Feb 22 - A 54-year-old man from the Northampton area arrested on Sunday in connection with a robbery at a security depot in Newport has been released on bail. A four-figure sum made up of coins was stolen from the Loomis UK depot in Queensway Meadows industrial estate on Friday evening.

    Gwent Police officers have found two of the three vehicles used in the raid, and have appealed for more information. All three vehicles were described as having distinctive markings. The vehicles were driven into the area some time before the robbery at 1910 GMT on Friday, said police. Det Supt Geoff Ronayne said: "I am still appealing to anyone who was is the vicinity of the Queensway Meadows Industrial Estate on Friday and might have seen anything suspicious or out of the ordinary to contact police by dialling 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. I am also very keen to speak to anyone who saw any of the vehicles used by the offenders to contact the police. The lorry had some distinctive markings on the cab and the Volkswagen Transporter is not that common, members of the public may recall seeing two or three of these vehicles together travelling in convoy or parked up."

    WALKING STICK ALARMS FITTED FOR CITY OAPs

    Feb 21 - Walking sticks are being fitted with personal attack alarms by police in Newport as elderly people raised fears about their personal safety.  400 alarms have been fitted to walking aids and motability vehicles for people living in sheltered housing schemes in the city, the idea originated following discussions with pensioners at the Shaftesbury Court housing complex. The alarms can also be fitted to crutches, walking frames and wheelchairs. Police hope the high pitched alarms will reassure and give confidence to elderly people who have them. The alarms are loud and high pitched and can be activated easily with the push of a button in times of danger or distress.

    EDUCATION ALLIANCE FORMED

    Feb 21 - In what is described as "a far reaching and innovative initiative" the Governing Bodies of Coleg Gwent, The College Ystrad Mynach and the University of Wales, Newport have agreed to enter into talks exploring future strategic alliances. The governors of the three institutions state they are clear that such an alliance would be a step change towards achieving the vision of an integrated post-16 further and higher education learning network in South East Wales.  The talks will investigate the possibility of a merger between Coleg Gwent and The College Ystrad Mynach and innovative ways of planning for further Higher/Further Education development between the University of Wales, Newport and the merged college. This could lead to a further merger embracing all three organisations in the longer term or other approaches to working together.

    CITY AWARDS PLAN

    Feb 19 - The City Council is sponsoring its first awards evening at which staff and members of the Newport community will be recognised for exceptional work, acts of bravery, fundraising and many other activities which have either been of benefit to a council service or  local community. The Council Leader, Matthew Evans, agreed maximum expenditure of £5,000 for this event.

    Throughout the past year research has been undertaken to identify people within Newport who have in some way have given of themselves for the benefit of others. In addition since the start of the New Year a campaign has been run in association with the South Wales Argus who have invited nominations from the public to find other unsung heroes within the City. Internally an initiative has been launched to find staff who have gone the extra mile within their field of work. The Council are to host all winners of the Extra Mile Awards at a Presentation Evening and Dinner to be held at the Parc Golf Club on Thursday 25th February 2010 at 7.00pm. The Mayor, Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council along with 2 Cabinet Members and the Council Directors will act as hosts for the evening.

    UNI'S GREEN CREDENTIALS RECOGNISED

    Feb 19 - The University has been declared an outstanding study in sustainability after winning a prestigious environmental award. The University is celebrating after being awarded the Envirowise Innovation Award 2010 for its unique approach to waste reduction.  Judges selected the University for its strong commitment to sustainability and for the significant and original steps it has taken towards improving its environmental performance. The University is one of the first in the UK to create its own bio-diesel project, producing its own bi-diesel from waste oil generated on site and using the fuel in their vehicles. In the last three years the University has recycled around 5200 litres of waste vegetable oil and reduced emissions by 85% which amounts to approximately 12 tonnes of carbon dioxide. 

    SNOWFALL IN CITY

    Feb 18 - Snow fell in Newport for most of the day as it brought a covering to many areas particularly in the east of the City. No significant disruption was reported and with minor exceptions services were unaffected. Conditions are expected to worsen this evening as the temperature falls below freezing with the risk of significant ice. The Met Office has issued an early warning for further snow in much of Wales and central England for Monday.

    CLOSE ENCOUNTER REVEALED

    Feb 18 - Previously classified papers released by the Ministry of Defence reveal a Newport funeral director had an otherworldly experience whilst driving towards Ebbw Vale. We can all identify with that, I hear you say. But the driver claimed his car was surrounded in a beam of light for five terrifying minutes, during which his radio and mobile phone stopped working. According to the report, the man at first saw what he thought was a "massive star" moving towards his vehicle as he drove in Ebbw Vale. Having stopped the vehicle, he was able to get out and walk about in the light, which was described as being very bright. There was no sound, although the car emerged from the incident covered in "dust and dirt". The driver, who was left feeling frightened and sick, developed a skin condition the next day.

    FIRE AT TIMBER WORKS BROUGHT UNDER CONTROL

    Feb 17 - Firefighters from seven stations across south Wales have tackled large fire at a Newport timber merchants. The blaze, said to involve a large amount of timber, started at 0320 GMT at the Terry Howell timber and builders merchants on the Maesglas Retail Park, Newport. Firefighters from Duffryn, Maindee, Malpas, Cwmbran, Aberdare, Caerphilly and Barry responded to the call. A spokeswoman said they had the fire surrounded and under control and the operation was being scaled down by 0750 GMT.

    COUNCIL LAUDS NEW BUDGET FOR CITY

    Feb 16 - Newport City Council's new budget agreed at today's Cabinet has been lauded by its political leadership. Councillor Matthew Evans, leader of the council, said: “Our priority is to deliver services in the best way possible and to protect our most vulnerable residents and frontline services. The proposal to raise council tax, coupled with the ongoing improvements, will help us ensure a robust budget and safeguard the services most important to our residents.Newport will continue to offer one of the lowest council tax rates in the UK as well as driving forward some considerable improvements to services.” A 3.95 per cent increase in the Council Tax was agreed, although inflation-busting the Council states the increase is eight pence per day in an average Band D property. Other highlights from the Budget selected by the Conservative-Liberal coalition.

    Extra money for schools

    Within the budget, schools were already one of only a few areas to receive a real cash increase. Councillors recognised that this was a very important area and committed a further £500,000 to ensure that education in Newport remains among the best in Wales and that our young people are given the best possible start in life.

    Leisure maintenance

    An additional £50,000 was committed to the leisure premises maintenance budget. Newport boasts some excellent facilities and this money will ensure that they are well maintained and that residents are encouraged and supported to live a healthy and active lifestyle.

    Support for small businesses

    An additional £20,000 has been allocated to support small businesses. This will be via a grants scheme.

    Supporting the city centre

    The Christmas free parking initiative proved very popular and supported city centre businesses. £50,000 has been set aside for similar promotional schemes that will encourage footfall in the city centre throughout the year.

    POLICE APPEAL TO ROBBERY WITNESS

    Feb 16 - Gwent Police is re-appealing for information to trace a witness to a robbery that occurred on Monday 25th January in Newport. At approximately 5.30pm a female, who was walking from Fields Park Road into Saint Marks Crescent, was approached from behind by a man who tried to grab her bag, off her shoulder. The female tried to keep hold of it and there was a struggle which led to the female being dragged onto Fields Park Road.

    The offender ran off towards the Shaftsbury area. A man who witnessed the the incident assisted the victim and chased the offender, recovering the bag which had been discarded when the offender ran off. Officers want to trace this man as he could hold vital information that could assist the investigation. He was driving a large 4x4 which was dark in colour and there was also a teenage boy and another child in the vehicle. The 50 year old female was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital - she suffered cuts and bruises. The offender is described as white, approximately 20 years old, 5'10" tall of a medium build with short blonde hair, wearing a blue top and light blue jeans. The male who witnessed the incident and anyone else with any information about this case is asked to call Gwent Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

    FILM PROMOTES CITY IN RYDER CUP YEAR

    Feb 15 - Newport's self promotion during Ryder Cup year is the basis for a new film pushing the attributes of the City to residents and to visitors. See the film here.

    WORK IS UNDER WAY AT SAINSBURY'S SITE

    Feb 15 - Work is under way at the site of Sainsbury's landmark 'Gateway to Wales' in Crindau. The new superstore will be just two minutes from the M4 with its own designated slip road linking the dual carriageway (Heidenheim Drive) with the site. Sainsbury's acquired the former Gas Works site from the National Grid in April 2008. A new bridged road access is being built from the A4042 Heidenhiem Drive to connect with a new roundabout on Albany Street. This new access from the A4042 will serve the Sainsbury’s store and the wider Crindau area. A dedicated access route to the store is formed from this roundabout. An 8 pump petrol filling station (PFS) complete with jet and car wash is located from a mini roundabout on the access road. The access to the customer car park passes through a box culvert bridge to face the main entrance elevation to the store.

    The store will comprise the following:● A sales area of 7063 sq m incorporating general merchandise and food sales.● Back of house facilities extending the full length of the store with general goods delivery at one end and goods on line (GOL) at the other.● The main entrance lobby facing on to the car park.● Public WC and baby change facilities located near the John Sainsbury's Restaurant (JSR) - A new Goods Online delivery facility to serve the surrounding area is also provided in a dedicated service enclosure. - In total 670 parking bays are provided including 29 disabled bays and 28 parent & child bays all with safe and easy access to the store.

    COUNCIL TAX TO RISE BY 3.95 PER CENT

    Feb 14 - Newport's Council Taxpayers face a rise in their charges of 3.95 per cent. The Revenues Budget for 2010/11 before the City Council Cabinet on Tuesday proposes the increase, is significantly ahead of the rate of inflation - currently 2.4 per cent. Despite the increase in funding from the central taxpayer Newport continues to be affected by a fall in come from capital receipts and the downturn in the property market. The current administration argues that it is trying to improve the financial position of the Council and is reducing reliance on reserves.

    BIG INCREASES IN COUNCIL LEISURE FEES

    Feb 13 - The cost of using City Council leisure facilities is set to rise significantly following the decision by the Conservative-Liberal coalition to implement a new charging structure from April 2010.  Most of the increases proposed are way ahead of inflation at a time of rising unemployment in Newport. Some of the worst examples include

    Charges for wedding receptions at Belle Vue Park will rise from £395 to £445. The Council's Fitness Solutions membership will increase to £32 placing it ahead of Torfaen and Cardiff. The Council argues it must find budget savings towards its £9 million deficit. The decision has been criticised by Councillor Mark Whiticutt (Labour). He said "Charges are being increased when facilities such as those at Lliswerry, which are needed by the community are being closed. In other words ordinary people are being asked to pay more for less at a time when people need to use these facilities more to cope with the stresses and demands of the recession. I  call for a reconsideration of the increase in these charges."

    DRUGS GANG JAILED

    Feb 11 - The last seven members of a twenty-strong drugs gang who conspired to transport heroin with a street value of £700,000 into the Newport area have been sentenced. The men were charged as a result of an 18-month police operation codenamed Rebus. Between July 2007 and September 2008, Gwent Police recovered 7kg of heroin brought from Birmingham to Newport. Supt Julian Knight of Gwent Police told the BBC it was "an excellent result" for "a complex operation". In last of three trials at Newport Crown Court, Garry Rabjohns, 21, and Benjamin Brown, 26, both of Newport, were given prison sentences of six years and six and a half years respectively. Ofe Ahmed, 31, of Birmingham, was sentenced to five years and Tariq Hussain, 37, of Newport, was given four years. Abdul Mohib, 23, from Birmingham, received 15 months in prison. Shah Hussain, 27, of Birmingham, and Amir Ali, 31, of Newport, were both given nine months suspended sentences and ordered to carry out 140 hours of unpaid community work.

    MANSION HOUSE PLANS APPROVED

    Feb 11 - Work could begin this month on converting a historic building into a new Registry Office for Newport. Planning permission was granted for the proposal in the former Mansion House. Originally built as a private home, the building was used for many years as the official residence of the mayor.But a decision was made in 2008 to cease using it for that purpose and a number of different proposals were put forward. After an "in-depth investigation" by the overview and scrutiny forum for resources, which included asking the public for their views, the favoured option was to relocate the present registrar service from Goldtops to the Mansion House. Tory Councillor Peter Davies, cabinet member for resources, said: “I’m delighted that the proposal has been approved and I hope that work might be able to start later this month.”

    NIMBY DECISION OVER LANGSTONE PLAN

    Feb 11 - The public outcry over a proposed development in Langstone has won opponents a short lived reprieve. The City Council Planning Committee split five votes to four, overturning an officer recommendation for approval of a 60 home development by Bellway Homes on the former Hurrans' garden centre site.

    CARPENTERS ARMS RE-OPENS

    Feb 11 - Reversing the trend for public houses to close, the Carpenter's Arms in Newport is re-opening its doors after it was bought and fully refurbished by pub chain J.W. Bassett Pubs and Bars.

    BE-WISE BUILDING TARGETED FOR CITY CONTACT CENTRE

    Feb 10 - The former B-Wise building at the lower end of Commercial Street adjacent to Park Square car park has been identified by the Council as an ideal location for its new face to face contact centre. Although funding barriers have still to be overcome the refurbished building could provide an ideal location for the City Council's customer centre. A Welsh Assembly Government Invest to Save bid has already been approved and a Project Manager has been appointed with effect from February 1. The new centre will act as a 'one stop shop' for most enquiries relating to the City Council and also provide an outlet for other service providers and advice services.

    RESIDENT CRITICISES COUNCIL PRIORITIES

    Feb 10 - A Ringland resident criticised the Council's priorities at a recent Ringland Neighbourhood Meeting. The resident was extremely upset about the closure of Ladyhill Centre and the proposal to cease delivery of hot meals. It was felt that monies being spent on the Ryder Cup should go to these causes rather than providing banners etc. "People should come before the Ryder Cup."

    UNIVERSITY BEGINS TRANSITION TO NEW CAMPUS SITE

    Feb 9 - University of Wales, Newport has started to address the transition of several thousand students to the new City Centre campus site. University managers recently met with students affected by the move. Immediately, students have been made aware of severe constraints relating to parking at the new Campus site. Only 18 disabled spaces will be available with the possibility of subsidised parking at the nearby Kingsway Car Park and a park and ride scheme from Newport Stadium. The lack of parking will act as a planning incentive as the University demonstrates its 'green' credentials in order to facilitate the extension of the campus to include a new research facility on adjacent land between the current site and Castle Bingo, subject to negotiations over the land with Newport City Council. Students have been advised that security will be paramount with swipe cards enabling access to lecture theatres and other facilities, but public access to the open main area of the building will also be encouraged. (We are grateful to a first year student for supplying this information).

    MAN CHARGED WITH TESCO ROBBERY

    Feb 8 - A 29 year old man has been charged in connection with three robberies:

    - on 16 October 2009 at Tesco, Harlech Retail Park, Cardiff Road, Newport.
    - on 4 November 2009 at B and A Cash and Carry on Hadfield Road, Cardiff
    - on 13 November 2009 at Tesco Pengam Green, Cardiff

    He appeared at Cardiff Magistrates Court on Saturday 6 February. A man and woman have also been arrested and bailed in connection with the above three robberies.

    FIREMAN INJURED BY APPLIANCE

    Feb 8 - A firefighter from Malpas on an early morning emergency call was seriously hurt when an appliance accidentally rolled forward and hit him. South Wales Fire Service said he hurt his leg and shoulder in the incident at Henllys, Cwmbran. Ambulance crews and colleagues treated him, before he was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport. An investigation has been carried out by police, the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency and the fire service. The injured firefighter had been called to help after a car overturned outside the Castell-y-bwch Inn in Henllys at 0345 GMT.

    PROSPECTS BLEAK FOR PROPOSED KINGSWAY STORE

    Feb 8 - Prospects appear bleak for the proposed Kingsway outlet for Ethel Austin and Au Naturelle as the chain went into administration over the weekend. The retail chain also has a store in Commercial Street.

    FIRE-FIGHTERS BRING BLAZE UNDER CONTROL

    Feb 7 - South Wales fire crews have tackled a blaze in a large number of wooden pallets in Newport. The fire service were called to the Norbert Dentressangle haulage company in Corporation Road on Saturday night. A total of eight fire engines and four water bowsers were in attendance at the height of the blaze, and they were damping down on Sunday morning. A lorry was also destroyed in the blaze.

    POLICE DRUG INTERVENTION PROGRAMME EXTENDED

    Feb 6 - In an extension to the ‘Tough Choices’ programme, which aims to reduce offending by drug users by forcing them to choose between drug treatment and assessment or punishment by the courts, Gwent Police is now one of a number of police forces in Wales and England that will be trialing the testing of people arrested for violent crime and public order offences for the presence of Class A drugs. This will focus on the Newport area. Tough Choices, which is an expansion of the Drug Intervention Programme, was introduced in April 2009 and has previously enabled the testing of people suspected of drugs offences or other trigger offences such as acquisitive crime on arrest. Gwent Police was the first Welsh force to carry out the testing last year. Those who fail to take the test are charged with failure/ refusal to provide a sample for a Class A drug and are placed before the court.

    During February and March, anyone over 18 years who is arrested for a wide variety of offences related to violence and public order in Newport will be screened whilst in custody. If they have any history of using, or being suspected of using, heroin, cocaine or similar substances they be required to take a test to see if these drugs are present in their systems. Anyone who refuses can be charged with a separate offence and will have to appear in court . Those testing positive will be seen and assessed by a Drugs Referral Worker, either whilst they are still in custody or at an appointment after they are released and offered help and encouragement to address their habit.

    COUNCILLORS TO CONSIDER PLAN FOR HURRANS SITE

    Feb 6 - City Councillors will be considering an application this week from Bellway Homes to develop the former Hurrans' Garden Centre in Langstone. The decision is a politically sensitive one as the area is represented by two Conservative Councillors. Bellway intend to build 60 houses on the site in a locality with a significant number of executive-style estates. The proposal is recommended for approval by officers but it has attracted a wide range of objections from Langstone residents. They include the following, an insight into the views of locals

    "the village of Langstone is being destroyed by the on-going building of new homes;  the area already suffers from electricity supply problems due to overburdening of the system;  primary and Infant schools in Langstone are full with some classes taking place in terrapins; there is no state Nursery in Langstone. It should be linked to the school and established on the application site; Langstone has no facilities for residents such as shops, post office and community centre. The Council think they can put more houses in Langstone without providing any facilities for residents; - there is no dedicated doctors surgery for a community of 2770+ residents. The development is unsustainable in a rural area; the provision of social housing is out of character for the area and will have a negative effect on the resale value of properties."

    The Planning Committee report confirms that Langstone is not a village "The site is not considered a Village and lies within the urban settlement boundary of Newport and accordingly Policy H2 states that such development is acceptable in principle." £366k will be sought from the developer towards local play facilities, £206k will be required as a contribution to local schools and 12 homes will be made available for rent to be managed by a registered social landlord.

    POLICE CAMPAIGN BRINGS REWARD

    Feb 5 - This week the Police has been focussing on a high intensity, high visibility enforcement campaign to locate and apprehend prolific and priority offenders, known offenders and wanted people for offences such as burglary, car crime, assaults and drug offences. There were twenty six arrests in Newport (Burglary x 1, Theft x 5, Drug offences x 5, Assault x 1, Fraud offences x 1, Criminal damage x 3, Drink driving x 2, Actual Bodily Harm x 3. No bail warrants x 5).Detective Chief Inspector Ian Roberts said; “Gwent Police is determined to protect the public from harm by relentlessly pursuing criminals and ensuring that they are brought to justice. This two-day operation focussed specifically on identifying offenders committing the type of crimes that can most affect the everyday lives of people..We maintain our promise to protect and reassure the public and they can be confident that police resources and activity will focus on addressing the issues that matter most to them.”
     

    CITY MPs REPAY EXPENSES

    Feb 4 - Newport's two Members of Parliament have repaid over-claimed expenses after an audit of all claims made going back to 2004. According to the information released today from the investigation by Sir Thomas Legg across the UK, 389 MPs, more than half the current and past MPs reviewed, were recommended to repay £1.3m.

    Paul Flynn Newport West Labour, was overpaid a total of £2,625.61 for mortgage interest (£404.49 for 2004-05, £499.09 for 2005-06, £53.89 for 2006-07, £1,487.99 for 2007-08 and £180.15 for 2008-09). This total includes a duplicate payment for £1,359.52 covering April to June 2007. Total - £2,625.61 - paid. Mr Flynn said there was no financial gain as the amounts under-claimed were far greater than sums overpaid. He said: "The discrepancies are due to accounting anomalies in claiming on existing rules and being judged on new ones. For instance, my claim for a TV licence in 2006 was made in early 2007. No claim in 2006 and two in 2007 was acceptable under the existing rules. My claims on second homes allowance have been modest - last year less than half the permitted allowance, this year less than a quarter. I no longer claim the allowance and I do not expect to claim it in the future." Jessica Morden, Newport East, Labour was paid £380.55 twice for household goods in January 2006. Total repayment made by Ms Morden £380.55.

    TRANSPORTER BRIDGE WORKS EXTENDED

    Feb 4 - Refurbishment work on Newport's Transporter Bridge has been extended following a decision by the City Council. The bridge's two towers will now be repainted by T.I. Protective Coatings, the company carrying out the refurbishment. The 2009/10 and 2010/2011 Capital Programme includes an allocation of £350,000 which together with an £800,000 Welsh Assembly Government Grant through the City Enhancement Framework and a Grant from CADW of  £75,000 provides the £1.225 million budget estimated to be necessary for the urgent refurbishment works, set to be complete in time for the Ryder Cup.

    17 YEAR OLD CHARGED WITH RAPE

    Feb 3 - The 17 year old male from Newport who was arrested in connection with a serious sexual assault which occurred on Bailey Street, Newport in the early hours of Saturday morning (January 30th) has been charged with rape and appeared at Cwmbran Magistrates Court this morning.

    POLICE WARN OVER BOGUS CALLERS

    Feb 3 - Police are urging residents to be vigilant following an incident of a bogus official calling at a household in Newport purporting to be a gas meter reader. The incident, which happened during the morning of Wednesday 27th January occurred at a property on Margaret Avenue, Newport. The homeowner stayed with the caller for the duration of his visit. Nothing was stolen.

    It was only later, when she was contacted by her genuine gas supplier and asked them about the previous visit that she realised that he was in fact a bogus official. The man is described as being white, in his mid 30s, approximately 5 feet 6 inches tall and of slim build. He had short dark hair and was wearing a dark sweatshirt, a reflective jacket and blue jeans. Anyone who may have seen this man or hold information about this incident that could assist enquiries is asked to contact Gwent Police on 101.

    DATA CENTRE AHEAD OF SCHEDULE

    Feb 3 - Next Generation Data Ltd announced today that two large-scale custom built data halls for BT and Logica have been completed in record time at its new NGD Europe tier 3 mega data centre in Newport allowing both anchor tenants to commence managed services operations ahead of schedule. This follows Next Generation Data winning long-term contracts from BT and Logica last autumn worth over £20million for the provision of space and infrastructure at NGD Europe which at 75,000 sq metres is one of the world’s largest data centres.

    Build outs for both client organisations were finished in less than 16 weeks compared to the industry average of 24 weeks and in spite of the challenging weather conditions during late December and early January. “Making these halls ready in record time for BT and Logica was largely down to excellent planning and project management by our resident and highly experienced operations team, the calibre and professionalism of our chosen infrastructure partners and sheer hard work by all concerned,” said Simon Taylor, Chairman of Next Generation Data. He added: “Demand for space at NGD Europe is growing fast from corporate, government and cloud computing organisations which are fast realising that our out-of-town facility offers them much more scale, power, resilience, connectivity and security at far less cost compared to the traditional data centre locations in London and the South East. We are already preparing two further custom halls for client occupation very soon.” NGD Europe, sited in the former LG building, is being used by BT to deploy hundreds of server racks to deliver increased capacity for IT and communications services provided to business customers in the UK and globally; Logica is using the facility to help manage the IT requirements of its government clients.

    CAERLEON LIBRARY SET TO RELOCATE

    Feb 3 - The City Council is seeking grant funding from CyMAL (the advisory body for Museums, Archives and Libraries) within the Welsh Assembly Government in order to relocate Caerleon Library. The Library has been situated in the Comprehensive School for a number of years.

    The grant aid would be aimed at delivering modern library facilities in order to attract more people to benefit from the enhanced range of education and learning opportunities now offered by public libraries. The Council would take up grant funding to relocate the library in Caerleon into the Town Hall working with the Youth and Community Service to provide a wider range of community facilities in an existing building within Caerleon. The grant aid up to a maximum of £300k would be used to install lift access to the first floor where the library would be located, create an entrance area for the library, install public access PC’s and equip a small learning space. Local Councillor Gail Giles (Labour) has expressed concern "Whilst I fully support maintaining and improving the library facilities in Caerleon, and accept that the present site is not ideal, I have considerable concerns about the implications that a move to the Caerleon Town Hall would have on access to this facility for other users, both regular and occasional."

    ARREST AFTER SEX ATTACK

    Feb 2 - A 17-year-old youth has been arrested in connection with a serious sex assault on a woman aged 22 outside a Newport nightclub, say Police. The assault is alleged to have happened outside the city centre Fire and Ice club in the early hours of Saturday. Officers said the woman reported she had been approached by a man, who it is believed later attacked her in Bailey Street, a short distance from the club. The arrested teenager is from the Newport area, officers said. The victim of the attack is receiving continuing support from specialist Gwent Police officers. Det Ch Insp Ian Roberts, who is leading the investigation. said this kind of incident was rare in Newport.

    "We have strong links with licensees and retailers who work very closely with our officers to ensure people have as safe a night as they possibly can," he said. "However, we are investigating a serious incident and we need information from the public to assist us in solving this case. "We are appealing for anyone who might have seen any suspicious activity in the area of Bailey Street between 3am and 5am on Saturday morning to come forward as they might hold vital information that could assist our investigation. Mr Roberts said anyone with information can approach officers patrolling the area and speak to them, call police on 101, or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

    NEW LIBRARY OPENS AT TREDEGAR HOUSE

    Feb 1 - A library and learning centre is now available for the Duffryn area. Situated at the entrance to Tredegar House, it is part of the newly-refurbished library and visitor.Funding of £223,000 was secured from CyMAL to carry out the renovation work.Visitors to the library will be able to access the extensive stock. They can borrow up to 20 items including books, audio books and large print items as well as using the PCs. Opening hours are as follows: Winter / Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 10am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-4pm - Summer / Tuesday 10am-12.30pm; Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday 10am-5.30pm.

    SEXUAL ASSAULT IN CITY CENTRE - POLICE APPEAL

    Jan 30 - Police are hunting a man in his 20s after a woman was seriously sexually assaulted outside a nightclub. Gwent Police said the 22-year-old woman was assaulted outside Fire and Ice in Newport between 0200 and 0500 GMT on Saturday.The male attacker is described as of Asian appearance and approximately 5ft 8in (1.7m) tall. He was of slim build with short black hair brushed forward and he was wearing jeans and white trainers.

    Detective Chief Inspector Ian Roberts, who is leading the investigation said: "The victim is currently being supported by specialist officers and we are appealing for anyone who might have seen any suspicious activity in the area between 0200 and 0500 GMT, to come forward as they might hold vital information that could assist our investigation. "I would like to reassure visitors to Newport city centre and local residents that we have set up a dedicated team to investigate this incident, and whilst serious sexual assaults remain a rare occurrence in Gwent police patrols in the area have been increased." Anyone with any information is asked to approach officers that are patrolling the area, call Gwent Police on 101, or call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    NEWPORT ROBBERIES - MAN CHARGED

    Jan 29 - A 26 year old man from the Newport area who was arrested in connection with robberies in Newport has been charged with two offences of robbery. It relates to two incidents - one on Saturday 23rd January on Ledbury Drive, near to its junction with Glastonbury Close and the other on 11th December in Pugsley Street. He has been bailed in connection with a number of other robberies in the Newport area and is due to appear before Newport Magistrates tomorrow morning.

    CAERLEON PUB BREACHES LICENCE

    Jan 29 - The proprietors of the Goldcroft Inn in Caerleon pleaded guilty to breaching their licensing conditions at Cwmbran Magistrates’ Court on 22 January. In a prosecution brought by Newport City Council, Goldcroft Inn Ltd and Company Director/Premises Supervisor Samantha Jane Starbuck were each fined £1000 for three offences under the Licensing Act, with council costs of £375 awarded against each defendant. On two separate occasions, in November and December 2008, licensing officers found fire exits in the pub bolted shut or otherwise obstructed, in breach of licensing conditions. In August 2009, noise levels from the pub had been so loud that officers considered another licensing condition – causing unreasonable disturbance to the neighbourhood – had been breached. The Council will now review the pub’s licence, on the basis of preventing public nuisance and ensuring public safety. This hearing will take place on 25 February in front of a licensing sub-committee.

    STUDENT BUS LEFT UNATTENDED

    Jan 29 - Newport Students Union is reporting that drivers of the bus service for students to travel to and from Newport to the University are leaving the buses unattended with passengers on board in order that they purchase snacks and drinks. The Students Union website reports that in one instance "The driver pulled up on Caerleon High Street, outside Piper's Newsagents, leaving the bus engine running and the doors fully open as he got off without explanation leaving the students on board puzzled. The driver then entered the store and returned a short while later with several cans of drink, he joked with a passenger that he wished the soft drinks "were lager", before continuing the journey as normal."

    COUNCIL SLAMMED OVER DETERIORATING CITY CENTRE

    Jan 28 - Opposition Labour councillors have criticised the Council's policy towards the City Centre at this week's full Council meeting. Councillor Ray Truman was concerned that action needed to be taken fast to improve the position as to shopping in the city centre. He was concerned that there were few new shops and that some businesses were moving out. Out of town shopping was faring better. He said it was important for the Council to act quickly to address the situation. Matthew Evans, the Leader of the Council, referred to previous decisions that had impacted on the position, such as the provision of out of town shopping and previous unsuccessful attempts to develop the city centre. City and town centres across the UK were struggling and the current administration was trying initiatives for the city centre such as the city enhancement programme and the decision to provide free parking at Christmas.

    Councillor Richards was concerned that if Iceland Foods were to pursue the Judicial Review they had threatened, that it would impact on the Council’s ability to complete the Compulsory Purchase Order process in the timescale. The Leader stated that the General Vesting Declaration had been served on all interested parties. There had been no further action from Iceland Foods to date and work was being done to secure alternative premises for the company. Negotiations were continuing with all interested parties and work was being done to achieve the transfer of all interests to the City Council on 8 March 2010.

    LIB-TORY CITY COUNCIL FACING MASSIVE CUTBACKS AND JOB LOSSES

    Jan 27 - Newport City Council's Liberal - Conservative coalition has announced cutbacks in service and the potential for a significant reduction in its staffing. The Council has been proudly boasting of its expenditure of roads (funding out of prudential borrowing) at the same time as giving consideration to service cuts in key service areas. Among the targets are meals on wheels for the elderly and the Ladyhill Day Centre in Labour held Alway. At yesterday's full Council meeting local councillor Ray Truman asked the Lib-Tory coalition to think again, he stated "You will be dammed by the vulnerable people of Newport.”

    DOG CONTROL ORDERS GET COUNCIL BACKING

    Jan 27 - Newport City Council has voted in favour of a Dog Control Orders proposal in three of the city’s cemeteries: St Woolos, Caerleon and Christchurch. This means when they are within the cemeteries’ grounds, dog walkers must keep their dog on a lead (with a maximum length of 1.5 metres) and must remove their dog’s faeces. Failure to do so can result in a fine of up to £1000. Cabinet Member for the Environment and Community Safety, Councillor David Fouweather said: “There was a unanimous vote in favour of this and I believe it was a good, sensible decision. The orders are necessary because some irresponsible dog owners allow their dogs to foul on graves or throw a ball, resulting in the dog trampling over graves. It is a pity the council has had to resort to this kind of enforcement because of the actions of a minority of people.”

    FLYTIPPER PROSECUTED BY COUNCIL

    Jan 26 - Newport City Council’s waste enforcement officers, working in partnership with Gwent Police, have successfully prosecuted a Cardiff businessman for depositing waste within the Newport Authority. The businessman, a Mr Khan, was witnessed on the 31 May 2009 depositing a quantity of waste at a well known local fly tipping hot spot in Newport. Two police officers from Newport’s neighbourhood policing team approached a commercial vehicle at Pencarn Lane Newport after witnessing the driver depositing waste onto a public highway. Following an investigation by the authority, the defendant attended Cwmbran magistrate’s court on Monday 18 January 2010. Magistrates determined that it was Mr Khan intention to deposit the waste unlawfully. Upon conviction Mr.Khan was issued a fine of £1000 and ordered to pay an additional £800 in court costs. Cabinet member for the Environment and Community Safety, Councillor David Fouweather said: “The council and Gwent Police both work hard to keep the environment of Newport as clean and green as possible for residents. Therefore we are delighted that Mr.Khan was brought to justice as we want to show the residents of Newport that we will not put up with flytipping.”

    WOMAN ROBBED IN FIELDS PARK ROAD

    Jan 26 - Gwent Police is appealing for information to a robbery that occurred on Monday 25th January in Newport. At approximately 5.30pm a female, who was walking from Fields Park Road into St. Marks Crescent, was approached from behind by a man who tried to grab her bag, off her shoulder. The female tried to keep hold of it and there was a struggle which led to the female being dragged onto Fields Park Road. The offender ran off towards the Shaftesbury area.

    A witness to the incident assisted the victim and chased the offender, recovering the bag which had been discarded when the offender ran off. The 50 year old female was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital - she suffered cuts and bruises. The offender is described as white, approximately 20 years old, 5'10" tall of a medium build with short blonde hair, wearing a blue top and light blue jeans. Officers want to trace the witness who helped the female as he could hold vital information that could assist the investigation. He is asked to call Gwent Police on 101 and anyone else with any information about the incident is also asked to call the police or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

    RECORD YEAR FOR CELTIC MANOR

    Jan 26 - Venue of the 2010 Ryder Cup, the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport has announced a record year for leisure visitors. The five-star, 400 bedroom resort sold 20,000 more room nights to leisure visitors in 2009 than it did in 2008. There was also a 58% increase in green fee income, a 26% rise in bar and restaurant revenue and an 18% increase in spa business. However, corporate business was down by 29% on the previous year and 60 staff were made redundant at the beginning of 2009. The boost in leisure business resulted from a combination of Celtic Manor’s increased international profile as home of this year’s Ryder Cup, which resulted in a 45% rise in the number of overseas visitors, and the introduction of competitive packages for leisure travellers.

    POLICE APPEAL OVER SHAFTESBURY INCIDENT

    Jan 26 - Gwent Police is appealing for information following a robbery which occurred at approximately 3pm on Saturday 23rd January.
    A 70 year old lady was walking down Ledbury Drive, near to its junction with Glastonbury Close in the Shaftesbury area of Newport, when she was approached from behind. The offender grabbed her shopping bag and by doing so pulled the lady to the floor. As a result of the fall the lady sustained head and arm injuries as well as cuts, swelling and bruising to her face. She was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital and released later that day. The offender made off from the scene in the direction of Glastonbury Close with the shopping bag containing a purse and a mobile phone.
    The offender is described as male, thought to be in his late twenties/early thirties. He was approximately 5 feet 8 inches tall, of medium build. He had dark wavy hair and facial stubble. He was wearing a three quarter length light-weight jacket that had dark coloured shoulder panels and a red lower half, mid-blue jeans that appeared slightly worn and a grey woollen hat (possibly with tassels on the side). Gwent Police is appealing for anyone who may have witnessed this incident or who thinks that they may be able to help identify the offender to contact Dc 1368 Benton at Newport Central Police Station on 01633 244999. Alternatively please contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    NEW HEAD TAKES REINS AT HARTRIDGE

    Jan 25 - Peter Jenkins is relishing the exciting challenges he faces in his new role as head teacher of Hartridge High School, according to Newport City Council. Working alongside him is new deputy head teacher Rob King. Both have taken over the top posts as Hartridge prepares for future changes, including a much-needed replacement school building. The 51-year-old has joined the school after nine years as head at Ferndale community school where official inspectors described his leadership as dynamic and of high quality. Mr Jenkins said the opportunity to be part of a new team taking the school forward was one he could not ignore.“Schools are going through transition to a skills-based curriculum which offers a lot of opportunities in terms of developing our youngsters.”Mr Jenkins was also enthusiastic about the new school building with work due to start this summer. “It will give the children the very best facilities in Wales.”

    NEWPORT STILL ATTRACTIVE TO BUSINESS - FIRST MINISTER

    Jan 25 - Newport West AM Rosemary Butler was given assurances by First Minister Carwyn Jones today that Newport is still a place where investment is taking place, despite a report from a firm of leading economic analysts which suggested that Newport is one of the worst affected cities in the UK during the current recession. The Centre for Cities think tank said recently that Newport was near the bottom of the league table when it came to new business start ups and lost private sector jobs. Mrs Butler raised the findings of the report during questions to the First Minister Carwyn Jones.

    Rosemary Butler, Newport West: Will the First Minister comment on yesterday's report from the independent think tank "Centre for Cities" which suggests that Newport is one of the UK's biggest victims in the current recession. It's clear that more new businesses and more  private sector jobs are needed, as well as a higher level of skills for the local workforce. Will the Welsh Assembly Government make a special effort to make sure that Newport doesn't get left behind once the recession ends?

    First Minister: Newport is in quite a favourable position in terms of its geography - its proximity to the M4 and of course the main railway line. Even when we have gone through difficult times, there have been significant investment projects that have been secured in Newport - Admiral Insurance for example, the HSBC  insurance services sector, the new power station, the new railway station, the new university campus of course, the city centre and of course Bettws School. So roughly 2,000 jobs have been created across the city between April 2008 and  September 2009.It shows that Newport is still very much a place where investment is taking place and very much a place which is attractive for business.

    LIGHT RAIL NEEDED IN NEWPORT - ASSEMBLY REPORT

    Jan 25 - Newport and Wales needs massive investment in its rail infrastructure with new tram lines in it major cities, direct connections between the north and south of the country and a high-speed line between South Wales and London, a report has said. The Welsh Assembly Government’s Enterprise and Learning Committee’s raft of recommendations includes light railway systems for Cardiff, Newport and Swansea and improved services between North and South Wales. New trains on the Valley Lines, a Severn Tunnel upgrade and the electrification of key diversionary routes is also needed, according to the report published today.

    DISTRACTION BURGLARY APPEAL

    Jan 25 - Gwent Police is appealing for information and issuing advice following a distraction burglary in the Gaer on Sunday 24th January. At approximately 12 noon a man, purporting to be a window cleaner, called at a house on Drinkwater Close offering to clean inside and outside windows. When the man had left the resident discovered their purse had been stolen.

    The male is described as white, approximately 30-40 years old, with dark hair. He was wearing dark bottoms and a dark jacket.

    Anyone with any information regarding this incident is asked to call Gwent Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

    NEW UNI BUILDING WILL NOT OPEN UNTIL 2011

    Jan 24 - The new Newport University City Centre Campus will not start receiving students until January 2011. The detail is tucked away in a set of frequently asked questions on the University's website. It states "The target for completion of the build is November 2010. The building will then be fitted out with equipment and furniture throughout December 2010 and the first students will be moving in in January 2011." This is slightly later than was previously revealed as it had been anticipated that the campus would open on site in October 2010. 2,700 students will study at the site.

    TORY CANDIDATE'S TWITTER BLUNDER

    Jan 23 - Newport East's Conservative candidate has criticised the policy of allowing working class the opportunity to go to University. Dawn Parry stated on twitter.com that "It's Labour's fault for dropping exam standards so every Tom, Dick and Harry goes to university." Parry, a councillor in Weston-super-Mare was a surprise selection for the seat, having failed selection contests in St Ives, Bristol South and Plymouth. Jessica Morden, the Labour Newport East MP who will fight Ms Parry for the seat at the general election, said: "This shows the Tory Party is still as elitist as ever. Dawn Parry wants to make university a closed shop. Thousands of students across Wales from less advantaged backgrounds have been able to attend college and university and gone on to have successful careers because of Labour’s investment in further education.It’s ridiculous to suggest Labour has ‘dropped exam standards’. What we have done is driven up educational standards and made university more accessible." Ms Parry, who did not go to university, runs a guest house in Banwell, North Somerset. She told Wales Online "“I’m not elitist at all. I’m a Valleys girl through and through.....When I was growing up in the Rhondda, we only had an outside toilet." Ms. Parry's bed and breakfast has a website here. It states "Although being in the countryside, The Elms is just 8 miles from Bristol International Airport and only 7 miles from Weston-Super-Mare mainline train station. We can collect guests by seperate (sic) negociation (sic) from the airport or train station if required."

    NEWPORT FESTIVAL 2010 LAUNCHED

    Jan 22 - Newport’s Riverfront Theatre and Arts Centre played host yesterday to VIP guests, celebrities, press, city councillors and 50 five foot tall dragons, as the plans for the Newport Festival 2010 were launched. Leader of Newport City Council, Cllr Matthew Evans, welcomed guests including award-winning actress Virginia McKenna and golf journalist and children’s author Lauren St.John.

    Councillor Matthew Evans, leader of Newport City Council, said: “2010 will be one of the most exciting years Newport has ever seen. It is a year which promises to unveil a new era for Newport, with a legacy the city and its residents can enjoy for many years to come. There is an action-packed calendar of events from September’s Big Splash event – with a circus and a funfair staged on the banks of the River Usk to the Fire Spectacular in October when the city’s skies will be illuminated by some impressive fireworks. And of course, hunting down the SuperDragons in the city will be a major pursuit for Newport residents and tourists throughout the summer months. Every community will have its own individual legacy from an event or project that is launched in 2010. Young people will have a chance to take part in some of our most memorable events, leaving lasting memories that will stay with them forever, and plenty of vivid tales to tell to future generations.”

    At the launch, the festival plans were outlined and residents can look forward to parades, circus acts, water sports, bands, fairgrounds and aerial artistes who will perform above the suspension bridge. One of the highlights is set to be the SuperDragons who will take over Newport in the summer. The statues gathered at the Riverfront for the launch and businesses are being asked to sponsor a dragon which a local artist will paint and decorate. The dragons will then form a trail across the city and residents and tourists will be encouraged to follow the trial and visit where the dragons are situated. The dragons will be auctioned after the trial with proceeds going to charity. Born Free is one charity that will benefit from the auction and actress Virginia McKenna was a special guest at the launch.

    SOMERTON'S TARDIS GAINS £10K GRANT

    Jan 22 - A former police box, called the Tardis by locals, has been awarded £10,500 towards its repair. The community had been trying to raise money to preserve the old box in Somerton. It is one of a dozen conservation projects to share £410,000 in Welsh assembly government funding via Cadw.

    CITY HAULAGE FIRM FORCED TO CLOSE

    Jan 21 - Two haulage firms have been left reeling by the closure of packaging firm Western Corrugated while a third has had to close. Western, with plants in Cwmbran and Wolverhampton, went into administration on 4 January with KPMG appointed to handle its closure. Long standing Rogerstone haulier Ellis Morgan has been forced to close as a result of the bad debt, believed to be a six-figure sum, caused by Western's failure. Another City haulier JP Bull has been badly affected. A spokesman for JP Bull told roadtransport.com the company had been working for Western since April 2009 and is now owed approximately £165,000, "which the administrator said we are unlikely to see a penny of". As a result of the failure, JP Bull is winding down its Cwmbran operation and has made 12 redundancies.

    Ellis Morgan's website states "Founded in 1820 with just one horse & cart by the great-great-grandfather of the present day proprietors, the company is now in its 6th generation of the Morgan family. "

    KINGSWAY DWP OFFICE TO BECOME CALL CENTRE

    Jan 21 - Massive changes are taking place at Newport's Benefit Delivery Centre in Kingsway. The Department for Work and Pensions made a major announcement prior to Christmas indicating that instead of processing claims staff in Newport would be re-trained as call centre operators. Work has now begun to move the processing of Income Support and other benefits away from the Centre where currently over 400 civil servants are employed. The Newport telephony centre will deal with callers and enquiries from all over Wales as of April 1.

    END FOR CITY CENTRE RANGER SERVICE

    Jan 21 - The City Council will be bringing an end to its City Centre ranger service following the redeployment of the rangers to its CCTV service monitoring the main areas of central Newport. A Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Environment Report of 18 March 2009 and a Leader’s Report of 29 March 2009 approved the temporary suspension of the City Centre Ranger Service and the transfer of the two Rangers in post to "meet some of the staffing needs of the City Centre CCTV Section". The first report of 21 October 2009 concluded that there were significant benefits to enhancing the CCTV Section that outweigh the penalties of maintaining the City Centre Ranger Service and supported the suspension of the Ranger Service. That report recommended a further review to confirm the findings. This report has reviewed the situation and confirms that the suspension is still more beneficial to the CCTV Section. A review of the Community Safety Warden Service has also been completed and resulted in two Wardens working in the City Centre in the afternoon undertaking environmental enforcement.

    FLYNN SLATES CITIES REPORT

    Jan 20 - Newport West MP Paul Flynn has slated yesterday's report doubting Newport's ability to pull out of recession. Flynn describes the group as 'unknown' and claims the City has huge advantages "They claim Newport will be hit hard by the recession because our business base is not as strong as other cities. True, but our public sector base is far stronger that almost every other city of our population. Yes Newport is way down on the set of criteria adopted. But if the city had been judged on the most successful in attracting public sector jobs, we would have been on the top of the table. Newport is home for the Intellectual Property Office (formerly the Patent Office), the shared services of all UK Prisons, the Office for National Statistics and a main Passport Office. These are permanent offices of high repute that required highly skilled staff. It is hoped that other public sector jobs will be attracted to the city."

    NEWPORT'S RECOVERY FROM DOWNTURN WILL TAKE LONGER - STUDY

    Jan 19 - A study by the Centre for Cities in to the UK's 64 leading cities has classed Newport as vulnerable and likely to take longer than other cities to recover from the recession. The report states "Cities such as Stoke, Burnley, Barnsley, Newport and Doncaster, with their weaker business base, have a much tougher outlook.  These cities all lost private sector jobs over the pre-recession decade.  Their rate of business start ups is low and many of their residents have no qualifications." By contrast it states "Brighton, Milton Keynes, Reading, Cambridge and Edinburgh have the right ingredients to succeed after the recession has passed.  They have strong private sectors, high levels of entrepreneurship, highly educated workforces and large shares of knowledge-intensive jobs. " Between 1998 and 2008 Newport has lost 13.3 per cent of its private sector workforce amounting to 6700 jobs. Despite the intervention of Newport Unlimited set up following the partial closure of the Llanwern Steelworks economic change in the city has been slow.

    APPEAL OVER MAINDEE CASHPOINT THEFT

    Jan 19 - Police is appealing for information following a theft which occurred in Lloyds TSB Bank on Chepstow Road in Maindee. The theft occurred on Wednesday 30th December 2009 between 3.35pm and 3.45pm.

    The victim, a 77 year old man, was withdrawing cash from an ATM inside the Lloyds TSB branch. As the money was being dispensed a man, who was behind him in the queue, reached in front of the victim and took the money from the machine. He then ran out of the branch in the direction of Glebe Street and the Godfrey Morgan Wetherspoons public house.

    The offender was described as a white male, aged between 25 and 30 years old and approximately 5 feet 10 inches tall. He was of thin build with short fair hair and a pale complexion. He was wearing black tracksuit bottoms with an orange stripe, a black nylon tracksuit top and black woollen gloves.

    Gwent Police is appealing for anyone who may have witnessed this incident or anyone who knows the identity of the offender to contact them on 101 or to call Crimestoppers

    ECONOMIC IMPACT STUDY FOR RYDER CUP

    Jan 17 - Ryder Cup Europe has selected IFM Sports Marketing Surveys to undertake Economic Impact Studies on The Ryder Cup contests between Europe and the United States at The Celtic Manor Resort, Newport in 2010 and at The Gleneagles Hotel, Perthshire, Scotland, in 2014. 

    The survey, undertaken on behalf of Ryder Cup Europe, Ryder Cup Wales, Event Scotland and UK Sport, will include investigating actual expenditure on the event by spectators, sponsors, organisers, facility providers, local businesses, media providers and international visitors to measure the impact on the venues and the regions and the overall economies of Wales and Scotland. It has been determined that hosting major sporting events delivers benefits to a venue and the region in a multitude of ways. This includes increasing awareness, generating local and national pride and enhancing the possibility of a venue or nation to be considered for other sporting events in the future.

     

    The biennial Ryder Cup contest is recognised as one of the top ten global sporting events which is followed by hundreds of millions of people around the world. Richard Hills, the European Ryder Cup Director, said: “The next two home matches will superbly showcase Wales and Scotland as significant sporting destinations. To monitor every aspect of the next two contests we wanted a company recognised for being well versed in economic impact evaluations and with genuine knowledge of the golf industry in terms of research and insight, which is why we have appointed IFM Sports Marketing Surveys.”

    WASTE MANAGEMENT PLANT SET FOR NEWPORT

    Jan 14 - Waste management firm Waste Recycling Group has revealed its proposal to build an energy from waste plant. Currently in procurement, the project will eventually decide on a preferred bidder to provide five local authorities with a solution to deal with their waste over a 25-year period. The local authorities include Cardiff, Vale of Glamorgan, Caerphilly, Newport and Monmouthshire. WRG hopes to build the plant at chemical company Solutia UK’s headquarters in Newport. The waste management firm has entered into an exclusivity deal to use the land to generate electricity from residents’ waste. The EfW facility also has the potential to support a district heating scheme using the steam created when burning the waste. Additionally, the plant may supply Solutia with electricity and steam once it is built. A Solutia spokesman said: “Anything which helps reduce our operating costs in this difficult economic climate will also clearly contribute to the security of employment on the site. So, while it is still very early days, there are many good reasons for being excited about the potential of this project.” WRG aims to submit a planning application in summer 2010 for the facility, which is expected to begin operating in 2014. Solutia and WRG intend to carry out a full public consultation with local residents and stakeholders. Solutia, which has already installed two 2.5 MW wind turbines on the Corporation Road site, welcomed the WRG proposal.

    NEW BRIDGE FOR NEWPORT STATION

    Jan 14 - Contractor Galliford Try Rail erected a new footbridge at the site of the new £13M Newport station for Network Rail over Christmas as part of the redevelopment of the station.

    The 45m long, 180t bridge was hoisted in by a 600t crawler crane during a 56 hour possession from 10.30pm on Christmas Eve. Three main bridge sections and five precast sections that formed the stairs and landings were lifted.Designed to link buildings on either side of the track, the steel bridge is clad in a steel facade and glass panels while its roof is steel and ETFE plastic. Lifts had to be coordinated with the work of 12 engineering trains which were laying track and installing new signalling.

    SCHOOL CLOSURE

    Jan 14 - St Patrick’s RC Primary will be closed tomorrow because of a heating failure.

    DISRUPTION CAUSED BY HEAVY SNOWFALL

    Jan 13 - Another eight to ten centimetres of snow fell in Newport overnight and this morning disrupting some services, leading to the closure of most schools in the City. In addition,  a number of libraries, all day centres and some leisure facilities were closed. Newport Bus maintained a service on all main roads but some side roads were hazardous. The Civic Amenity Site was closed this morning. The City Council's emergency planning was again at full stretch "Gritting and snow clearance continues to operate at 100%. All primary routes are clear and some resources are now being applied to the clearance access routes into secondary schools and side roads and footpaths." Gwent Police is continuing to advise people to drive with extreme care over the next few days and to also look out for friends and neighbours, particularly those who are vulnerable or elderly. Motorists should only travel if absolutely necessary, and to use their common sense. The conditions mean that any snow, or water, on the roads will freeze over and even if roads have been gritted they can still be very hazardous.

    MORE SNOW HEADS IN

    Jan 12 (7pm) - A band of heavy and persistent snow is moving in to south east Wales tonight. With very cold surfaces and temperatures  just above freezing it is expected to produce a moderate fall of snow in Newport. The band of snow is part of push from the Atlantic to break the mass of cold air sitting over northern Europe. The front is expected to lose its strength as it slowly moves north in to the Midlands. The snow is expected to clear by the end of the rush hour tomorrow. School closures on January 13 will be listed here.

    CIVIC MEETINGS CANCELLED

    Jan 12 - A number of public meetings due to be held this week have been postponed or cancelled because of the adverse weather forecast. A meeting of the Alway Neighbourhood Committee, which was due to be held today (Tuesday) at 6.30pm in Somerton Primary School, has been cancelled. The planning committee scheduled for tomorrow (Wednesday) will now take place at 2pm on January 19 in the council chamber. In addition, Malpas Neighbourhood Committee, due to take place on Thursday at 6.30pm in Malpas Church in Wales School, has also been cancelled.

    CITY MAN FOUND SAFE AND WELL

    Jan 12 - 38 year old Timothy Weekes who had been reported missing from his Newport home has now been found safe and well.

    DUFFRYN HIGH SCHOOL OFF THE CRITICAL LIST

    Jan 11 - Duffryn High School is off the critical list of schools requiring significant improvement by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education and Training in Wales. A report received by the City Council details the outcome of the re-inspection of Duffryn High School which took place 19 -21 May 2009.

    The report shows the progress made by Duffryn High School in response to the judgements made following the initial inspection. At that time following a section 28 inspection the school was judged as requiring significant improvement. The new report shows the school to have made good progress in relation to the recommendations for improvement made in February 2008. As a result of this Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education and Training in Wales is removing the school from the list of schools requiring significant improvement. Comments within the report against each recommendation were:

    Recommendation 1 Satisfy statutory requirements for the daily act of worship - “The school has addressed this recommendation”.

    Recommendation 2 Continue to raise standards in all subjects - “The school has implemented a good range of appropriate strategies that are helping to improve standards and examination results in key stages 3 and 4”.

    Recommendation 3 Continue to raise standards of teaching and learning - “The school is making good progress in improving the quality of teaching”.

    Recommendation 4 Continue to seek ways of reducing students’ high level of absenteeism - “The school has introduced new strategies to improve pupils’ attendance”.

    Recommendation 5 Continue to seek ways of improving pupils’ behaviour - "The school’s procedures to improve pupils’ behaviour are very good."

    Recommendation 6 Improve students’ key skills - The school has made good progress in improving pupil’s key skills.

    The verbal feedback to the school by HMI was very positive. They indicated that they considered the school to be “good and improving.” It is a mark of how well the school has moved forward that HMI did not use all of the time allotted for inspection, feeling able to make their judgements on the evidence collected on the first two days of the inspection.

    ALL SCHOOLS TO OPEN ON TUESDAY - COUNCIL

    Jan 11 - All schools in Newport are expected to be fully open on Tuesday 12 January apart from Bassaleg School which will only be open for years 10, 11, 12 and 13, according to the City Council. It is expected that Bassaleg School will be fully open to all pupils on Wednesday 13 January.

    POLICE APPEAL OVER MISSING CITY MAN / TEENAGERS SAFE AND WELL

    Jan 11 - Gwent Police is appealing for information to find a Newport man who has gone missing. 38 year old Timothy Weekes was last seen at his Newport home at 8.10am on Friday 8th January. He is described as white, approximately 6'1" tall, of a stocky build, with short receding light brown hair. He's clean shaven with blue eyes and a Newport accent.

    When he was last seen he was wearing a dark blue tracksuit with white trainers. He has a tattoo of a star on on his right upper arm. Anyone with information regarding his whereabouts is asked to call Gwent Police on 101.

    17 year old Talia Nicholas and 14 year old Tyler Williams who had gone missing from their home in the Rogerstone area of Newport have now been found safe and well.

    SCHOOL CLOSURES

    Jan 10 - School closures in Newport tomorrow will be listed here.

    CAMERON DESCENDS ON NEWPORT

    Jan 8 - Conservative leader David Cameron descended on Newport to cast doubt on the Government's approach to the cold weather. Cameron was at Newport gritting depot as part of a strategy by the Tories to capitalise on unease created by the media about local authority resources, in particular the grit available to keep roads clear. 1500 tonnes of salt have been used by the City Council since the start of the winter. Cameron stated "I think there are questions to ask and there are obviously lessons to learn. To be fair this is a very long and a very deep cold snap, so I think we have to be fair about that. But we are going to see more extreme weather events and we have to prepare for them better and we probably do need to have larger stocks to make sure councils, not just in Wales but up and down the country, have larger stocks so they can cope with longer sessions.It tends to be the case councils are told to have six days of supplies. This snap is going to be lasting for maybe 10 days or more. "We have to reassess and learn lessons from this." Newport City Council had done a great job, "but it's very testing times for them".

    Light periods or showers of snow are heading for Newport this evening. The snow may give a further dusting.

    APPEAL OVER MISSING NEWPORT TEENAGERS

    Jan 8 - Gwent Police is appealing for information to locate two teenage girls who have gone missing from their home in the Rogerstone area of Newport. The two girls, who are friends, haven't been seen since 5.15pm on 3rd January 2010. 17 year old, Talia Nicholas (left in the picture) is described as white, with straight shoulder length dark brown hair, of a slim build, and is approximately 5'4" tall. When she was last seen she was wearing a purple t-shirt, dark blue jeans, boots and could be wearing either a black or white coat. 14 year old Tyler Williams (right in the picture) is described as white, with straight shoulder length blonde hair, of a slim build and is approximately 5'5" tall. When she was last seen she was wearing a white t-shirt, light blue jeans, possibly wearing a grey cardigan and black boots. They both have contacts in the Newport area and are known to frequent the city centre area - anyone with information regarding their whereabouts is asked to call Gwent Police on 101.

    There was a possible sighting of the two girls in Bristol at about 5.30pm yesterday, Thursday 7th January, getting off a bus in the Doncaster Road area, by Southmead Hospital. The two girls, who are friends, haven't been seen since 5.15pm on 3rd January 2010.

    EXTERNAL EXAMS SET TO GO AHEAD

    Jan 8 - Newport’s eight secondary schools are making arrangements for students due to take external examinations on Monday, January 11. Students who are sitting external exams should make every effort to make their own way to school on Monday even if there is a general notification that the school is closed. The City Council states "It should not be assumed there will be regular home to school transport is available." Bassaleg, Caerleon Comprehensive, Duffryn High, Hartridge High, Lliswerry High, Newport High, St Julians, St Joseph’s RC High will be open for external examinations irrespective of the weather.

    CITY BATTLES AGAINST ADVERSE CONDITIONS

    Jan 7 - Temperatures remained below freezing throughout the day in Newport today as people battled to get in to work in icy conditions. Tonight it is expected that temperatures will be up to eight degrees centigrade below freezing. Newport City Council states "Front line services e.g. road gritting and snow clearance have and will continue to operate at 100 per cent. All primary routes are clear and greater resources are now being applied to the clearance of side roads and footpaths which should yield improvements over the next few days."

    Most schools were closed today and will remain closed tomorrow. The full list of closures is here. Closures include Caerleon Comprehensive School (not currently listed). The City Council states refuse collection will continue today and Friday, although, due to difficult working conditions, at a slightly reduced level. Saturday working is now planned in order to catch up on delayed collections. Main council civic buildings operating with only slightly reduced opening hours. All leisure facilities are subject to ongoing health and safety reviews. A number of facilities are currently closed or are operating reduced hours. Tonight’s performance of “Men Who Stare at Goats” at The Riverfront is cancelled because of the adverse weather conditions. Full refunds will be given.

    Newport Transport state "We are trying to maintain a full service on main roads avoiding hilly areas and estates in the interests of the safety of our customers".

    CHANGES TO RINGLAND BUS SERVICES

    Jan 7 - Newport Bus is introducing "improvements" to service frequencies in the Ringland area from January 11 onwards.

    The current flagship 8A / 8C service will change. The new service 8 will run along Chepstow Road, Llanwern Road and part of Hendre Farm Drive. Buses will take the roundabout of the SDR and complete the route in reverse back to Newport Bus Station. The new service will run at 10 minute intervals from 0650 to 1800 weekdays and at fifteen intervals on a Saturday in the peak. Unfortunately, long intervals remain in the evening and Sunday services with gaps of twenty minutes normally and forty minutes on a Sunday morning! Last bus services still run from Newport at 11 o'clock. The current 6/19 service to Alway has been changed to number 6 and 7 with the same frequency as the previous service. A new service has been introduced between the City Centre and Langstone Business Park running along Chepstow Road, Ringwood Avenue, Hendre Farm Drive and on to Langstone Business Park. The new service runs half hourly from 0605 to 2005 Monday to Saturday.

    4PM - FORECASTERS WARN OF DROP IN SIGNIFICANT TEMPERATURES

    Jan 6 - Weather forecasters are warning of a significant drop in temperatures tonight following the heavy snowfall experienced overnight and during today. Temperatures are expected to drop six degrees below freezing in Newport with the figure likely to be even lower in rural areas. The temperature is not expected to get above freezing tomorrow. The Met Office issued a warning this afternoon "Following recent snow with further snow showers expected in western parts overnight, widespread ice is expected on roads and pavements. The public are advised to take extra care and refer to Traffic Wales for further advice on road conditions."

    11AM - SNOW STOPS AND LIMITED SERVICES RESUME

    Jan 6 - The snow has stopped for the time being allowing some services in Newport to resume. However, most schools are closed. The full list is here. All refuse and waste collections are suspended. The Council's civic amenity site is currently closed. Limited bus services are running in Newport provided by Newport Transport. The Stagecoach X24 operating between Newport, Cwmbran and Pontypool is running but not via Sebastopol and Griffithstown. A further period of snow is expected early this afternoon as a small front moves across the West Midlands and south east Wales (this has just reached Gloucester). The main area of prolonged snowfall has transferred to central southern England.

    The snowfall radar at 7.30 last night showing cloud moving towards south east Wales around a developing low pressure area centred south of Swindon

    7AM - DISRUPTIVE SNOWFALL HITS NEWPORT

    Jan 6 - Heavy and prolonged overnight snow has caused the expected disruption to public services and transport in Newport this morning. At present most if not all City schools are likely to be closed, the fully up to date list will be on the Newport City Council website. Newport Bus services are not running as yet. The City Council will be ploughing priority routes and will then clear some bus routes. Arterial routes such as Chepstow Road and Malpas Road are passable with care. Main routes such as the M4 are also passable with care. There are a number of cancellations to rail services including services to London Paddington (see our link on the front page to Newport railway station).

    The snowfall of between 10 and 15 centimetres started at approximately 9.30 last night and is still continuing. It is expected to gradually die out from the north by mid-day although there could be a further 5 centimetres of snow in the interim. The lying snow is blowing in the increasing north easterly wind.

    CITY PREPARES FOR NEW SNOWFALL

    Jan 5 - Newport was preparing for fresh snowfall tonight after a couple of hours of snow earlier in the day led to widespread school closures. Snow fell between 11 and 2 leading to the closure of the following -

    Queens Hill Education Centre, Marshfield Primary, Llanmartin School, Maes Ebbw School, Millbrook Primary School, Hartridge High School, Ysgol Gymraeg Ifor Hael, Langstone Primary School, Monnow Primary School, Don Close Nursery, Bassaleg School, Caerleon Comprehensive School, Gaer Infants School, Kimberley Nursery School.

    Gritting lorries are out in force tonight with snowfall predicted for south east Wales. Disruption is expected to transport and council services. Brian Kemp, the City Council Director responsible for highways stated on BBC Wales that Newport has plentiful supplies of grit and that provision would be made to prioritise services for the vulnerable and elderly during the cold spell.

    SIGNAL WORKERS STRIKE AGAIN

    Jan 5 - Signalling staff in Wales and the Marches area including from Newport are striking for six days this week against the imposition of rosters at the South Wales Control Centre. Network Rail wants to impose an eight-hour roster over the existing 12-hour one. Newport RMT branch secretary Steve Richards said, “We want other signal workers around the country to see the strike and think ‘we can do this too’.” But Network Rail hit back at the claims saying the new shifts would benefit passengers. A spokeswoman said it had invited the union for talks after a first round of strikes last month but they walked away from them and launched another strike. She added: “They are holding the passengers hostage but we have worked hard to ensure no services have been affected.”

    MET OFFICE ISSUE SNOW ALERT

    Jan 4 - The Met Office has issued a severe weather advisory warning for south east Wales ahead of a developing weather situation tomorrow. Weather forecasters are warning that a small low pressure system in the south of the UK will pivot around the Bristol area creating the potential for heavy snow tomorrow night and into Wednesday morning. The Met Office warning issued at 4pm today states "There is a moderate risk of severe weather affecting parts of southern England and east Wales. There is a potential for a period of heavy snow during Wednesday morning with locally large accumulations. The location of the heavy snow is uncertain and will be kept under review." In addition, a period of light snow is expected to arrive in Newport by the morning rush hour tomorrow giving light accumulations of snow. Temperatures are expected to dip significantly tonight before the cloud arrives and are not expected to rise above one or two degrees centigrade tomorrow.

    APPEAL OVER MAN FOUND INJURED IN CITY CENTRE

    Jan 4 - Gwent Police is appealing for information following an incident which occurred outside a nightclub in Newport in the early hours of Thursday December 17th 2009. A 22 year old male from Cwmbran was found with serious head injuries between 1am and 1.30am outside Reflex nightclub on Cambrian Road in Newport. He was taken to hospital and has since been released. Police are investigating what happened leading up to the male sustaining these injuries and are particularly keen to trace two men who were in the area at the time who may be potential witnesses. Anyone with information about the incident that they think could assist officers with their inquiries is asked to contact Gwent Police on 101.

    HOUSE PRICES EDGE UPWARDS

    House prices in Newport continue to increase but still have some way to go to recover the position they were at twelve months ago according to the Land Registry. The latest figures as at end of November     (illustrated by the table opposite) show prices slightly up by 0.6 per cent in November following an increase of 2.7 per cent in October.

    However, the average value of properties sold is at £119,499 some way short of the average price in November 2008 (£125,943). Average prices for England and Wales as a whole are just below values twelve months ago, the market in Newport is under-performing despite the availability of new property. Wider economic factors are having a major impact.

    The main constraining factor is undoubtedly the higher than average level of unemployment. The claimant count, the numbers of economically active people claiming Jobseekers Allowance has risen from 3.6 per cent of Newportonians to 5.6 per cent, up from 3,035 to 4,713, in the period between November 2008 and November 2009.

    FURTHER SNOWFALL IN CITY

    Dec 29 - Snow has been falling in Newport for several hours despite the fact that the Met Office has not forecast it for the City. The snow started falling at lunchtime and has been heavy and persistent for nearly three hours. However, the Met Office severe weather warning has excluded Newport from the wider snowfall forecast for Wales for today and tomorrow. As the latest rain band from the south west met cold air it has started to turn readily to snow but temperatures are still just above freezing. At present the snowfall is not expected to be disruptive and may die out later this evening.

    SCHOOLGIRL WINS ANTI BULLYING POSTER COMPETITION

    A Newport schoolgirl will see her winning anti-bullying poster displayed around the Shaftesbury area of the city. Year Five Brynglas Junior School pupil Shayma Webb won a competition organised by Newport City Centre Neighbourhood Policing Team to improve the relationship between the police and local children. Head teacher Linda Facey was pleased to support the competition designed to ensure pupils feel comfortable talking to police and to highlight Anti-Bullying Week.

    POLICE APPEAL OVER INCIDENT IN BAR

    Dec 26 - Police are seeking witnesses to an assault in a bar in Newport city centre in which a 36-year-old woman suffered serious leg injuries. Officers say she became involved in a dispute with a man in his late teens who tripped her and pushed her over. The incident took place about 2330 GMT in Lloyds Bar on Bridge Street on 16 December. Police say the man was white, of skinny build, about 6ft tall, with short brown hair which was scruffy and gelled. He had jeans and a blue and white large checked shirt with long sleeves. He was clean shaven and spoke with a Newport accent. Anyone with information is asked to call Gwent Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

    RAIL ENGINEERING WORKS REMINDER

    Dec 24 - Rail users are reminded that they will face disruption after Christmas from a number of planned engineering works in a £100m programme organised by Network Rail. There will be no services between Bristol and Newport from December 27 to January 3.

    MARSHFIELD SMALLHOLDER FINED FOR MISTREATING PIGS

    Dec 23 - On 22 December 2009 Abergavenny magistrates court found Anthony George Hayes guilty of three charges of leaving three pigs inside a disused lorry container with insufficient drinking water, at his small holding in Marshfield. Unemployed Hayes, 59, represented himself at court and denied the charges. But the evidence given by three Newport City Council Animal Health Inspectors from the Council’s Trading Standards Section was accepted by the court and Hayes was convicted.

    On 7 May 2009 Animal Health Inspectors visited Hayes’ small holding and found that two heavy porcelain sinks which were inside the pen and should have contained water, were empty with dry mud and faeces inside. Hayes claimed the pigs had turned the sinks over; spilling the water, though the sinks were upright when the inspectors visited. Hayes had received previous advice regarding a similar incident in March 2009. Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 a person commits an offence if he does not take such steps as are reasonable in all the circumstances to ensure that the needs of an animal for which he is responsible are met to the extent required by good practice. Hayes was fined £300, ordered to pay a contribution towards costs of £300 and a £15 victim surcharge. He escaped a banning order on keeping animals as and the magistrates considered the matter to be a low level animal welfare issue. Hayes has since sold the pigs.

    SWIMMING POOL CLOSED FOR MAINTENANCE

    Dec 23 - The swimming pool at the Newport Centre is closed between Saturday 19 December 2009 and Sunday 10 January 2010, due to essential maintenance.

    CITY COUNCIL FAILS IN LEGAL CHALLENGE OVER RECYCLING

    Dec 22 - Newport City Council has failed in its legal challenge over a Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) decision to revise landfill allowances downwards. Newport claims this could cost it thousands of pounds in fines. According to letsrecycle.com the legal ruling means that, from 2010/11, Newport will have to reduce the amount of biodegradable municipal waste it sends to landfill by around 1,600 tonnes a year more than it has in previous years. Newport claimed that it is being "penalised" for being one of three councils in Wales to have "genuinely" reduced its waste arisings, and stressed that it had focused its recycling and reduction efforts on reaching the initially calculated figures.

    FALLING ICE CLOSES SEVERN CROSSING

    Dec 22 - The second Severn crossing between south Wales and south west England has been closed because of falling ice. The old Severn Bridge has also been closed eastbound for the same reason although it is still open westbound. Both motorway crossings were also shut during wintry weather last February, when car windscreens were smashed. The latest closure is causing traffic problems, with queues forming eastbound around Newport as vehicles are diverted off the M4 at the Coldra roundabout. Update - 3pm - the bridge and all lanes of the M4 and M48 are now open.

    SCHOOL CLOSURES (DEC 22)

    Dec 22 - Schools closed in Newport today due to the weather conditions are as follows - Duffryn High School, Duffryn Infants and Juniors, Hartridge High School, Lliswerry Primary School, Maesglas Primary School, Pillgwenlly Primary School, St Andrew’s Infants, St Andrew’s Juniors, St Gabriels RC, St. Mary's RC, Ysgol Gymraeg Casnewydd.

    TRUANTS CAUGHT SHOPPING WITH PARENTS

    Dec 21 - A Safer Newport initiative has caught out eight children skipping school to go Christmas shopping with their parents in the city centre.
    This month school liaison officers from Gwent Police and education welfare officers from Newport City Council joined forces to apprehend the pupils and tell them to return to school. During three days of patrols in the city centre 46 children were stopped in Newport City Centre, 43 of whom were with their parents. Most had valid excuses for being out of school, but eight were found to be truanting and they were sent back to school with the promise of a warning letter to their parents.

    PC Richard Thomas, a school liaison officer in Newport, said: “At this time of year, parents are sometimes tempted to let their children miss school to go Christmas shopping. But this should not be happening as it is illegal to take your children out of school unnecessarily. We caught a good number of pupils who should have been in school. The truanting pupils were advised to return to their schools and letters will be sent to their parents reminding them of their responsibilities.” Research shows that children who attend school regularly are likely to be more successful than those who frequently miss school. A pupil who misses a day of school each week misses the equivalent of two years in their school life, leading to huge gaps in their knowledge base that become difficult to fill. Recent surveys have indicated that 70% of children who do not attend school regularly admit to committing at least one criminal offence.

    SCHOOL CLOSURES

    Dec 21 - The following schools were closed due to ice and snow -

    Duffryn High School, Hartridge High School, Lliswerry Primary School, Maesglas Primary School, Milton Infants School, Pillgwenlly Primary School, Ringland Primary, Rogerstone Nursery School, St Andrew’s Infants, St Andrew’s Juniors, St Joseph’s RC High, Ysgol Gymraeg Casnewydd.

    The City Council also state "Residents are reminded to place their refuse and recycling boxes out for collection as usual during the snow and ice. Collection crews are working hard to collect refuse and recycling as normal, however some collections may occur later than usual. Missed collection may occur in some rural areas due to dangerous driving conditions; however these areas will have collections as soon as possible".

    FIRST SNOW OF WINTER

    Dec 21 - The first snow of winter gave Newport a light covering overnight. A series of showers blew in across the Bristol Channel bringing snow towards the end of yesterday evening. The showers from this source would normally fall as rain but met the very cold air sitting over the mainland and turned readily to snow. The Met Office states that motorists could face difficult conditions this morning as the showers have now cleared and were followed by freezing conditions. The cold spell has been marked by low temperatures day and night with the lowest minimum recorded minus four degrees centigrade on Saturday night. The cold weather is expected to last until Christmas Eve in the Newport area and after a brief milder interlude it is expected to return by the end of December.

    DEAL BOOST CITY COMMERCIAL PROPERTY SECTOR

    Dec 20 - The commercial property sector in Newport has been given a boost by one of the biggest industrial deals in the city this year, according to Wales Online. Advised by Hutchings & Thomas, Collingbourne Properties has acquired a 90,175 sq ft industrial unit premises from Inductotherm Group Europe in a deal brokered with Cooke & Arkwright. The property in Church Street is situated in a prominent location on Usk Way with high visibility and excellent access from the M4. Jonathan Collingbourne of Collingbourne Properties told the website: “The purchase of this site is an important acquisition for us as it is adjacent to other sites within our ownership in this area. It also offers excellent potential for lets and office space given its size and location, and we are currently in the process of dividing this large area into a number of smaller, more versatile units. We have already secured four new tenancies during our short period of ownership and haven’t even advertised the letting space available yet.”

    Robert Carew-Chaston of Hutchings & Thomas said: “The proximity of the premises to the River Usk and its location within the scope of Newport Unlimited’s 2020 Master Plan makes this a strategic addition to our client’s portfolio. While the current climate hasn’t helped in the shorter term, there is no doubt that this is an up-and-coming area of the city which will offer a host of opportunities for redevelopment in the medium to longer term. In the interim period we will be letting the property on behalf of our client.”

    KINGSWAY UPDATE

    Dec 19 - Two new retailers are confirmed for the Kingsway Shopping Centre in Newport. Contrary, to reports locally Poundland will not occupy the former Woolworths store. In fact they will occupy two units immediately adjacent to the Wilkinsons store in the mall. The Woolworths site will be occupied as reported here by a new store combining the Ethel Austin and Au Naturelle chains.

    WEATHER DISRUPTS SPORTING FIXTURES

    Dec 18 - Freezing temperatures has led to the disruption of sporting fixtures this weekend. Newport has escaped the fifteen centimetre snowfalls in the south east of England but temperatures plummeted yesterday evening and are expected to fall well below freezing tonight. Newport Gwent Dragons' fixture against Biarritz at Rodney Parade has been postponed. Following a pitch inspection by match referee Alain Rolland (Ireland) and officials of both teams, the game was called off due to a partially frozen pitch. It will take place at 13.35 tomorrow in Llanelli. The match will still be broadcast live on Sky Sports interactive from Parc y Scarlets. Newport's home fixture against Swansea also scheduled for live television coverage at 6.30 tomorrow night is in serious doubt. A pitch inspection will take place tomorrow morning at 9. Newport County's match against Staines Town at Spytty will also face a pitch inspection during the mid-morning.

    TRADER FOUND GUILTY OF SELLING COUNTERFEIT GOODS

    Dec 18 - A City Centre trader has been found guilty of trading in counterfeit goods. On 15 December 2009 at Abergavenny Magistrates Court, Stephen Pumford pleaded guilty to selling counterfeit floor cushions, duvet sets, curtains, beanbags and lampshades, as well as selling unsafe furniture and displaying a sign that restricted consumers’ statutory rights. All of the dangerous and fake items subject to the charges displayed the logos of top premiership football teams including Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC.

    Pumford was fined £1,040, and ordered to pay costs of £100 and a victim surcharge of £15. Trading Standards Officers at Newport City Council had been investigating this case since May 2009 and had bought a number of items, including a cushion and a duvet set, from Pumford’s shop in John Frost Square, Newport, South Wales. The items were confirmed as counterfeit by the brand owner, Manchester United. Later in the month a raid was carried out at Pumford’s shop where in total 80 Liverpool FC and 51 Manchester United FC products were seized using powers under the Trade Marks Act 1994.

    EMERGENCY SERVICES READY FOR 'BLACK FRIDAY'

    Dec 17 - Safer Newport is urging people to be responsible while out celebrating on the last Friday before Christmas. Dubbed “Black Friday”, it is traditionally one of the busiest nights of the year. Gwent Police have increased officer numbers to reduce alcohol-fuelled disorder in Newport throughout the run-up to Christmas and New Year. Inspector Bob Thompson, of Newport Local Policing Unit, said: “Our officers will be out in force on busy nights to help keep everyone safe, but we also want people to take responsibility for the amount they drink and their own actions.” Councillor David Fouweather, Newport City Council’s cabinet member for environment and community safety, said: “Together, with our partners we have a range of initiatives aimed at reducing crime and disorder this Friday, and other nights, and to try and ensure everyone has an enjoyable, but safe, time.”

     - The police will be in constant communication with door staff, CCTV operators, street pastors and taxi marshals to target their resources effectively.
     - Street pastors: local church member volunteers who help the emergency services by providing a friendly, non-threatening presence to prevent people under the influence of alcohol causing trouble or hurting themselves.
    - City Centre CCTV suite with 46 cameras, operational 24 hours a day
    365 days a year, helps to detect and prevent crime
    - Cab Safe: Anyone in need of a taxi can text CAB to 83222 to receive a text back with the numbers of three randomly-picked and regulated private hire/hackney carriages closest to their location

    NEWPORT TRANSPORT OFFERS FREE HOLIDAY SERVICES

    Dec 17 - Newport Transport is running free services on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve for all travellers to assist city centre trade and to encourage people out of their cars in the busy holiday period. Director Chris Blyth stated  "A record 7.5 million customers have chosen Newport Bus to get them to their chosen destinations in comfortand on time this year. And to say thank you we are making all of our buses – including the X30 Cardiff service – free to travel on during Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. We’ll also be extending the times buses run on both days until 9pm meaning you can enjoy all of this year’s festivities while leaving your car at home. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to all our customers from everyone at Newport Transport."

    Holiday services are as follows - Sunday 20 December Normal Sunday service / Monday 21 December Normal service / Tuesday 22 December Normal service / Wednesday 23 December Normal service /Thursday 24 December Extended Saturday service with last departures from Newport Bus Station at 21.00 hours, all buses free to travel on./ Friday 25 December and Saturday December 26 No service / Sunday 27 December Normal Sunday service / Monday 28 December Normal Saturday service / Tuesday 29 December Normal Saturday service / Wednesday 30 December Normal Saturday service / Thursday 31 December Extended Saturday service with last departures from Newport Bus Station at 21.00 hours, all buses free to travel on / Friday 1 January No service / Saturday 2 January Normal Saturday service / Sunday 3 January Normal Sunday service

    POLICE ARREST FIVE ON DRUG OFFENCES

    Dec 16 - Police in Alway have arrested five people for possession of drugs with intent to supply. On Friday (11th December) at around 6pm officers simultaneously raided five houses in Alway after receiving intelligence from members of the local community. Two of the addresses were in Elgar Circle, one in Vaughan Williams Drive, one in Sims Square, and another in Byrde Close.

    Drugs found in the raids included bags of amphetamine and wraps of cannabis - and one kilo of amphetamine was found in the boot of a car belonging to one of the occupants. Large amounts of cash, scales and other drug dealing paraphernalia were also seized from some of the houses. At one address amphetamine was discovered in a kitchen sink after the occupant tried to flush away the drugs as police entered. Five people were arrested and police have issued a warrant for the arrest of another. The five arrested individuals are on police bail pending forensic analysis of the drugs seized. In addition, one person was given a caution for possession of cannabis for personal use.

    POET'S CLOCK TO BE RETURNED TO CITY

    Dec 16 - A Grandmother clock given to poet WH Davies by the residents of Newport- the city of his birth - is to be returned there from his old house in Nailsworth according to the Stroud News and Journal. A ceremony is planned in which Cllr Steve Robinson, deputy mayor of Nailsworth, will give the clock back to Cllr Glyn Jarvis, mayor of Newport. The clock was given as a tribute to WH Davies by Newport residents in 1930. Nailsworth resident Norman Phillips is the present owner of the clock and is the great nephew of the poet and his only remaining descendent in the UK.

    CAMERAS TO PATROL ACCIDENT AND EMERGENCY WARDS

    Dec 15 - A £300,000 CCTV pilot to tackle violent and aggressive behaviour towards NHS workers is being launched today (15 December) by the Welsh Assembly Government. The one-year scheme will see CCTV cameras installed in four accident and emergency departments across Wales including the Royal Gwent in Newport and five ambulances in Cardiff. Images from the cameras will be used to help prosecute people who are violent and aggressive towards NHS staff. This pilot is one of 54 measures contained in a report commissioned by the Welsh Assembly Government earlier in the year to crack down on violence and aggression against health-care workers.

    The Assembly Government’s health minister, Edwina Hart, said: “It is unacceptable that NHS staff face wilful violence and aggression while going about their day-to-day duties caring for patients. The introduction of CCTV cameras will help provide more evidence to support prosecutions and act as a deterrent, making people think twice before abusing staff.”

    TRAINS RUNNING NORMALLY DESPITE STRIKE

    Dec 15 - Trains are running virtually to normal normal despite this week's signal workers strike. 95 per cent of trains ran normally yesterday according to Network Rail. The company has drafted in signal workers from across the country until the strike is due to officially end on Saturday.

    DOG CONTROL ORDERS FOR CITY CEMETERIES

    Dec 15 - Following problems in the three Newport Cemeteries at St.Woolos, Christchurch and Caerleon the City Council is introducing Dog Control Orders as irresponsible owners have allowed their dogs to foul areas of the cemeteries and to run without the restriction of a lead. The Orders being introduced by the Council after public consultation will regulate this. Breaching a Dog Control Order is a crime. The penalty for which is a maximum fine of Level 3 on the Standard Scale – currently £1,000. Alternatively, the opportunity to pay a Fixed Penalty may be offered in place of prosecution.

    DIABETES EVENT COMING TO NEWPORT

    Dec 14 - People in Newport can check if they are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes as the Diabetes UK Measure Up Roadshow arrives in the City this week. The Diabetes UK Measure Up Roadshow will be in John Frost Square, Newport, between 9am and 5pm on Thursday 17 and Friday 18 December. It will be welcomed to the city by South Wales East AM Mohammad Asghar at 10.30am on 17 December. People who visit the roadshow, which is travelling across Wales, can have a free Type 2 diabetes risk assessment. The roadshow also encourages people to measure their waistline to see if they are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Having a larger waist means you are up to 12 times more likely to get the condition. At risk waist measurements are 37 inches or more for men, or 35 for South Asian men, and 31.5 inches or more for women. Diabetes UK staff will also be on hand to give more information about diabetes and advice about other risk factors for developing the condition.

    AM WELCOMES SUPPORT FOR CITY POST OFFICE

    Dec 13 - Rosemary Butler, the Assembly Member for Newport West, says that the inclusion of Bridge Street Post Office in the latest round of Assembly grants to help Welsh sub-post offices develop their businesses, is a welcome shot in the arm for the local community.  The Post Office is one of 75 across Wales to be awarded part of approved grants of £1.55m over two financial years to help sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses diversify and improve their facility.

    The fund aims to help with business and marketing advice, advertising, training and some set-up costs for new services. Funding can also be applied for improvements such as creating better access to buildings, upgrading computer equipment, improving security or providing better signs for the outside of premises. Rosemary Butler said: "I am delighted that Bridge Street is to benefit from this fund. Post Offices are often a lifeline for vulnerable people. It's a real shot in the arm for the local community. This money will help us to keep Post Offices open by ensuring that sub postmasters and sub postmistresses have sustainable and viable businesses.

    CHRISTMAS RAIL DISRUPTION CONFIRMED

    Dec 11 - Some major sections of the rail network including the area around Newport will be shut down over the Christmas and new year period because of engineering work, Network Rail (NR) has said. There will be 28 separate pieces of engineering work on Sunday December 27 while there will be 21 on December 28, then 16 on December 29 and 15 on December 30. But NR said that 8,000 more trains will run over the festive period than in the Christmas/new year 2008/09 period and that there will be 33% fewer replacement buses.Rail customer watchdog Passenger Focus welcomed the promise of less disruption this Christmas but said it was "regrettable" that the work affecting travel to and from South Wales was taking place over the festive period.

    The Network Rail press release states "Bristol to Newport - 27/12 to 03/01 - the first phase of the £150m Newport area improvement scheme, which will deliver more reliable services for passengers throughout the region, will be completed over the Christmas break.  The job entails modernising signal equipment, extensive rebuilding of tracks around Severn Tunnel Junction station and the building of a new platform.  Preparatory work for the redevelopment of Newport Station ready for the Ryder Cup is also taking place. As a result the rail route into South Wales from Bristol and Gloucester will be closed over the Christmas / New Year period although four other routes into Wales from England remain open".

    MOTHER OF TWO DIED FROM UNDIAGNOSED MENINGITIS

    Dec 10 - A mother-of-two died of meningitis after she was diagnosed with an ear infection, an inquest heard today. Gwent Coroner’s Court heard how Sarah Stitt, 36, of Magor visited numerous doctors over the course of a month complaining of severe earache. Mrs Stitt was admitted to the Royal Gwent Hospital, Newport, on February 8, 2009, after she and her husband Sean insisted that she be kept in because the pain was so bad, but she died within hours.A post-mortem examination revealed that she died of meningitis as a complication of infections in her inner ear and the bone behind her ear. Gwent Coroner David Bowen recorded a narrative verdict, describing the events that led to Mrs Stitt’s death. He said the treatment which partially resolved the inner ear infection had masked the fact there was an underlying infection of the bone behind her ear which, if diagnosed, would have raised the suspicion of meningitis.Meningitis, he said, was not diagnosed until after her death and so the opportunity to treat it was missed. She died after being in constant pain for a month, he said.

    CITY COUNCIL IN DISPUTE WITH ICELAND FOODS

    Dec 10 - Newport City Council could be faced with a difficult and costly dispute following a decision by Iceland Foods to challenge (via judicial review) the Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) of two of its stores in the Austin Friars area of the city centre. The CPO was originally served in 2007.

    The Cabinet of the City Council stated it was very concerned about the basis of the challenge by Iceland Foods who appeared to be putting self interest before the opportunity to develop the city centre to the benefit of their own business and of all other businesses in the city centre. The Deputy Leader Ed Townsend stated that he hoped that Iceland would come to the table and work with Council officers who could facilitate the identification of a suitable alternative site near the original premises. It was confirmed that under the terms of the CPO, Iceland Foods would be subject to compensation for losses.

    Iceland Foods contend that the decision to proceed with the implementation of the CPO at the present time is “unlawful” because

    • The Council is effectively acting ultra vires by using the CPO powers for a different purpose to that originally intended

    • The Council has failed to reconsider the alternative proposals that they put forward at the original CPO Inquiry and has failed to have regard to their “Human Rights”.

    RAIL PASSENGERS DELAYED BY CARDIFF RAM RAID TRAGEDY

    Dec 9 - Rail passengers in Newport and Cardiff were delayed following a robbery in the Rumney area of Cardiff this morning. Two men were killed when a quad bike were hit by a train fleeing the scene of a shop burglary. Two hundred men's specialist outdoor jackets worth £40,000 were stolen from Go Outdoors in Newport Road, Cardiff. Police officers were called to the store just after 0400 GMT - around the time the men, both in their 20s, were hit on tracks in Rumney nearby.

    British Transport Police said the quad bikes had been travelling east towards Newport when they were struck from behind. The passenger train involved was not carrying members of the public at the time, and had been making its way from the Canton depot in Cardiff to Cheltenham for servicing. The crash led to four rail lines being closed for some hours, disrupting morning commuters. Three have since been reopened but continuing delays are likely. A spokesperson for Network Rail said: "There was some damage to the track in the area of the collision".

    A spokesman for South Wales Police said: "The line runs directly behind the store and is normally very quiet at night. It seems somebody came up with the idea of using quad bikes for the raid and to get away. Two people have paid with their lives and two others will have it on their conscience." The store backs onto the railway line which is used by quad bikers as an unofficial race track.

    FLYNN NAMED WELSH MP OF THE YEAR

    Dec 9 - Paul Flynn Newport West Labour MP has been named MP of the Year in the Welsh Yearbook Welsh Politician of the Year Awards. The award was given to Flynn “for being unafraid of speaking his mind on issues like the war in Afghanistan”.

    FARMER PROSECUTED FOR ANIMAL CRUELTY

    Dec 9 - Farmer Darren Matthews has been found guilty of six different charges relating to bovines on his farm at Caerphilly Magistrates Court.On 30 November 2009, Matthews pleaded guilty to the charges, brought under the Cattle Identification (Wales) Regulations 2007 and the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Matthews was investigated and prosecuted by Newport City Council Trading Standards for causing a bovine unnecessary suffering, and failing to adhere to procedures regarding the identification of cattle.In April 2008, the farmer was investigated for an alleged animal welfare issue on a farm in Llanwern, Newport, this led to the discovery of six bovines in an adjacent field, and one bovine carcass. Owners of livestock have to keep records of all animals, and for bovines, passports. The investigation by Trading Standards found he failed to keep up-to-date records on livestock movement and retain passports. He also failed to notify the authorities of the death of a bovine. Matthews pleaded guilty and was ordered to carry out 270 hours of unpaid work, and pay costs of £3,000. In addition, he was disqualified from keeping cattle for 10 years.

    NEWPORT BASED AM JOINS CONSERVATIVES

    Dec 8 - In a bizarre political twist Newport based AM Mohammed Ashgar has left Plaid Cymru and joined the Conservatives. Mr Asghar, the assembly's only ethnic minority AM, said he felt "out of tune" with Plaid policies, in particular its desire for an independent Wales. "I very much look forward to playing an important role in the shadow team in the national assembly and to helping to shape the policies for the Assembly elections in 2011," said Mr Asghar. Asked why he had stood for Plaid Cymru when he was opposed to independence for Wales, he said his voice had been that of "a little parrot in a jungle", with little chance of changing Plaid's stance on the issue. In January 2008 in an interview with Socialist Unity Ashgar stated "Central to our vision is the creation of a proper Parliament with the ability to pass its own laws and with the power to achieve the aspirations of the people of Wales. More powers would mean that we could follow a distinct path with the best policies for Wales, decided in Wales and unhindered by any interference from the UK Government ."

    Ashgar was a Newport City Councillor for Plaid in the traditional Labour Victoria Ward between 2004 and 2008. He was elected via the South Wales East party list to the Welsh Assembly in 2009. Standing in the constituency of Newport East in the 2003 Assembly elections he polled 9.1 per cent of the vote. In the 2005 General Election he polled just 3.8 per cent.

    BETTWS MAN ON HUNTING CHARGE

    Dec 8 - Wiltshire Police have charged a Bettws man following an investigation into hunting and hare coursing in the area. Michael Poyner, 27, from Lambourne Walk, Newport, was charged with daytime trespass in pursuit of game. The crack down on crimes associated with hare coursing led to 14 arrests in less than two months.

    CORPA HOTEL RESIDENTIAL PLAN

    Dec 8 - Newport City Council planners are considering an application from the owner of the Corporation Hotel, Mr Mahmood Ali, to change the use of the building. He proposes to change use from a public house to a residential development comprising 19 units including a two storey side and rear extension. The building on Corporation Road was recently deliberately damaged by a fire (October 29) and has been boarded up since the end of September.

    MORE HOMES PLANNED FOR ALWAY

    Dec 7 - A total of 64 new homes could be built in an area of Alway as part of plans to regenerate the area. Bellway Homes Wales wants to build 46 two, three and four bedroom houses and 18 one and two bedroom flats north of Aberthaw Road. The plan, submitted to Newport Council, covers the lower Alway Regeneration Site which was set up in 2006.

    GOOD INSPECTIONS FOR CITY SCHOOLS

    Dec 7 - Two Newport schools received impressive reports following recent inspections by Welsh Education Inspectorate, Estyn. In the inspection summary, the inspectors described St David’s RC Primary School as, “A good school where standards are generally good with some outstanding features.” Teaching was described as “Highly effective” and the curriculum as having “Significant and innovative aspects.” The inspection team considered that Rockfield (Glan Usk) Nursery‘is a good school with many outstanding features. It is a happy, stimulating and well managed learning environment for all its children.

    STUDENTS WARNED OF DANGERS OF TEXTING WHILST DRIVING

    Dec 7 - A graphic film highlighting the dangers of texting whilst driving has been shown to students at Coleg Gwent's City of Newport Campus. PCSO Deke Williams of Newport East Neighbourhood Policing Team, who is based at the campus in Nash, decided to screen the Cow film to the students during their Road Safety Week. Hundreds of students aged between 15 and 60 turned up to watch the widely acclaimed film, which has received millions of viewers on YouTube and was shown on BBC Two Wales last month. Cow, which stars young actors from south Wales, shows a teenager killing four people in a collision when she uses her mobile phone to send a text.

    BATTLE AGAINST RAIL CRIME

    See Feature Here.

    NEW WELSH LABOUR LEADER PLOTS ELECTION PLAN

    Dec 5 - New Welsh Labour leader Carwyn Jones was in Newport today to plot the party's plan for next year's general election campaign.Welsh Secretary Peter Hain and First Minister Rhodri Morgan also took part in the Welsh Labour election planning event in Newport. It aimed to help Labour activists from across Wales prepare for an expected general election in spring next year. The theme of the day was what Wales would be like under the Conservatives. Carwyn Jones AM was announced as the winner of the election for the new Leader of Welsh Labour earlier this week. The Bridgend AM polled 51.9751% of the votes in the first round of counting in Welsh Labour's electoral college.

    RAIL SIGNALMEN VOTE TO STRIKE

    Dec 4 - Hundreds of railway signalling workers are to take six days of strike action in a row over rosters, threatening "massive disruption" to services, it has been announced. Members of the Rail Maritime and Transport union based in South Wales and the Marches will walk out from Monday December 14 until December 19 in protest at the "imposition" of rosters at a new control centre. The workers, who voted 2-1 in favour of strikes in a ballot, are based in areas including Cardiff, Newport, Port Talbot, Vale of Glamorgan and the Rhymney Valley.

    SUPPORT FOR CITY CREDIT UNION

    Dec 4 - Newport Credit Union has been given £36,000 by the Welsh Assembly to help with internal renovations and the purchase of IT and office equipment as part of a £40,000 refurbishment project. The new funding has been welcomed by Newport West AM Rosemary Butler. She said: "Many people are still finding it difficult to borrow money from High Street banks, and anything which the Welsh Assembly can do to ease the situation is very welcome. I'm urging residents of Newport West to join their local credit union and take advantage of the facilities which are on offer."

    TORIES SELECT CANDIDATE FOR NEWPORT EAST

    Dawn Parry has been selected by the Conservatives to fight Newport East at next year's general election. She won a four-cornered final (against three men) to win the nomination for the seat held at the last election for Labour by Jessica Morden with a majority of 6,838 over the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives (who were separated by less than 100 votes in second and third place).

    She said "“It is an honour to have been selected to be the PPC for Newport East at the next General Election. I am very proud indeed to represent this constituency for the Conservatives. I grew up in South Wales and we have been so badly neglected here by Labour. The electorate are ready for change. I will work very hard to ensure they entrust me with their vote for that change so badly needed here."

    2005 General Election result - Jessica Morden (Labour) 14,389, Ed Townsend (Lib Dem) 7,551, Matthew Collings (Conservative) 7,459, Mohammad Ashgar (Plaid) 1,221, Roger Thomas (UKIP) 945, Liz Screen (Socialist Labour) 260

    RESIDENTS TO LOSE BUS SERVICES

    Dec 2 - Residents of Ringwood Avenue will see a significant deterioration in bus services in changes proposed in the new year. Currently, this area has an eight minute frequency service in the peak Monday to Friday and ten minute frequency on a Saturday. In the off peak services including those on a Sunday are generally every twenty minutes. Newport Transport will offer a half hourly Monday to Friday service covering the area as part of a new service 9 between the City Centre and Langstone Business Park. Following a review by the City Council they have agreed to support a half hourly peak time service on a Saturday. The City Council states "Many of the residents in Ringwood Avenue and neighbouring Bishpool Lane are elderly and would find it difficult to walk to bus stops on Chepstow Road and Ringland Circle." However, the area will no longer be served on a Sunday.

    Newport Transport will be extending services this year until 9pm (instead of 7pm) on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve.

    POLICE APPEAL OVER FATAL COLLISION

    Dec 2  - Gwent Police is appealing for witnesses following a single vehicle road traffic collision which occurred at approximately 11.20am on Wednesday 25th November. The collision took place in Newport on the A4042 between Grove Park roundabout and the Caerleon Road M4 intersection.

    It involved a silver Mazda Xedos with one male and one female occupant. As a result of the collision the passenger, 84 year old Sheila Howells from Newport, was conveyed to the Royal Gwent Hospital. She later died on Sunday 29th November.

    The family would like to thank the staff at the Royal Gwent Hospital and said that Sheila will be dearly missed by everyone who knew her.

    Officers are appealing for anyone who may have witnessed the collision to contact the Gwent Police Collision Investigation Unit on 01633 642 404.

    BT  HEADS FOR NEWPORT DATA CENTRE

    Dec 1 - BT, one of the world’s leading telecommunications companies, has become the first announced customer of one of Europe’s newest, largest and most technically advanced data centre NGD Europe at Coedkernew in Newport. Under a seven-year contract, BT will occupy 380 racks at NGD Europe, Next Generation Data Limited’s 800,000-square-foot centre. BT will begin operations there in February. This secure facility will allow customers of BT Business, BT Engage IT and BT Global Services to increase their computing, network, and electrical capacity on demand. With the agreement, BT Global Services now has 38 customer-facing data centres worldwide. NGD Europe opened earlier this year. The owners are investing more than $320 million over five years. The site offers a highly secure environment including triple-skinned walls, bomb-proof glass, prison grade perimeter fencing, infrared detection, biometric recognition and ex-special forces security guards. It is an excellent disaster recovery site for companies with critical data applications. The site has a direct connection to an electrical sub station, assuring uninterrupted power.

    MARINERS QUAY ON SHOW

    Dec 1 - A public presentation of a new Newport housing development drew a positive reaction yesterday.  Mariners Quay is part of the Old Town Dock, working started on the site on East Dock Road in July. It will be one of the largest schemes in Wales to achieve Level 5 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, with energy costs to residents of less than £3.00 per week. Mariners Quay is a high profile development for Charter Housing, in partnership with Newport City Council, Newport Unlimited and Leadbitter, and will provide 101 homes along Newport’s riverfront. Properties will include a mix of rented and affordable homes. Completion is due June 2011.

    CORONER EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER HOME HOIST SYSTEM

    Dec 1 - A severely disabled man died after he became trapped and suffocated in a hoist system designed to help him move around his home, a Newport coroner's inquest heard yesterday.  Coroner David Bowen said he would be writing to the City Council that installed the hoist urging it to issue emergency call buttons to disabled people using such systems without carers. The inquest heard that Michael Powell, 55, of Pontfaen Road, Newport, lost the use of his legs in a speedway accident in the 70s. His brother, Nicholas, told the court that Mr Powell was fiercely independent and the hoists were installed in the bedroom and bathroom of his home by Newport City Council in 2000. He said he found him hanging in the hoist in his bedroom on January 21 last year.

    FREE PARKING INITIATIVE EXTENDED

    Nov 30 - Free weekend and late night Thursday Christmas parking is to be extended until 2 January 2010. Newport City Council is offering free parking in all council-owned car parks across the city every Saturday, Sunday and late night Thursdays until 2 January 2010.  Leader of Newport City Council, Councillor Matthew Evans said: “Car parking fees can certainly add up for shoppers over the festive season, so Newport City Council has introduced this initiative to ease the financial pressures for shoppers and encourage them to use the facilities we have on offer in our city centre. This is a win-win situation to boost footfall and assist traders.” Participating council car parks include Cambrian Multi-storey, Park Square, Emlyn Street, Faulkner Road, Hill Street, Riverfront, Market, Maindee and Stow Hill. Privately owned car parks including Kingsway and Queensway are excluded.

    PROCUREMENT FOR RECYCLING CONTRACT BEGINS

    Nov 30 - A group of five South Wales councils has formally begun the procurement process for one of Wales' largest ever waste treatment deals, with a projected value of £1.1 billion over 25 years. The 'Prosiect Gwyrdd' partnership issued a notice on the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) last week (November 24), inviting anyone interested in bidding for the public private partnership (PPP) deal to contact them and complete a pre-qualification questionnaire. The partnership - which is being led by Cardiff Council but also involves Caerphilly County Borough Council, Monmouthshire County Council, Newport City Council and Vale of Glamorgan council - is looking to procure facilities to treat the 30% to 35% of its waste that it believes will be left after recycling and composting in the future.

    COUNCIL PROVIDES EMERGENCY FUNDING TO PILL MILLENNIUM CENTRE

    Nov 27 - Newport City Council has stepped in to provide sufficient funding to run the Pill Millennium Centre for three months to allow the centre to stave off financial problems. At its meeting held on 17 November 2009, the Cabinet was informed of difficulties being faced by the Pillgwenlly Millennium Centre which is operated by a Trust as a company separate to the Council. The Council had provided three years revenue assistance with the proviso that the Trust should stand alone financially at the end of three years, as stipulated in the Service Level Agreement between the Trust and Newport City Council. The three year support was to cease at the end of November. The Cabinet was also informed of difficulties which meant that the Trust may not be in a position to run as a stand - alone organisation effective from 1 December 2009. Cabinet expressed concern about the matters raised which had led to the position but wanted to explore ways in which it could assist the Trust to safeguard this community facility if at all possible and within financial constraints.

    TAXI DRIVERS WIN COURT BATTLE WITH COUNCIL

    Nov 27 - Justice Beatson, a Cardiff High Court judge has ruled in the favour of taxi drivers in Newport, who challenged a council decision to impose age limits on vehicles. A new rule had said Hackney cabs must be less than 12 years old, and private hire cars less than eight from 2010. The judge said Newport Council failed to consult properly, a ruling which drivers said would save jobs. The authority said it was "obviously disappointed" and would reconsider the issue "as quickly as possible". In a statement, the council said it would "amend our proposals taking into consideration the comments of the judge". "Our priority has always been the safety of people using taxis in the city and we will continue to tackle this matter," the statement added. The taxi driver's association claimed 59 of the current 135 Hackney drivers in the city would be put out of business by the rule change. Back in March a demonstration was staged in the city centre over the planned changes.

    RAIL PASSENGERS STRANDED BY SIGNAL FAULT

    Nov 27 - Rail passengers were left stranded for over an hour this evening due to a signalling failure on the South Wales main line. Trains between Cardiff Central and Newport were stopped after a vital cable was reportedly struck by lightning. Network Rail said it was made aware of the problem shortly before 4pm and halted engines between the two cities for around an hour.

    BONUS PAYOUT FOR NEWPORT TRANSPORT STAFF

    Nov 27 - Staff at municipal bus operator Newport Transport will each receive a windfall of more than £150 in December after bosses announced details of another strong year for the business. Turnover at the company grew by more than £1m in the last financial year (08/09) to £10.15m, while pre-tax profits broke £180,000 thanks to passenger numbers of more than 7.5m. As part of its Performance Related Pay Scheme staff will share 10% of the company’s overall profits.

    CITY CENTRE ROAD CLOSURE

    Nov 27 - Following a collapsed sewer on Charles Street in Newport city centre, the road has been closed to vehicular traffic between its junctions with School Lane, Talbot Lane and Commercial Street. Work to repair the sewer will start on Monday 30 November 2009.

    MISSING TEEN SAFE AND WELL

    Nov 26 - Sixteen year old Victoria Cox who was reported missing on Monday November 23rd has been located safe and well.

    POLICE SEEK NEWS OF MISSING TEENAGER

    Nov 25 - Gwent Police is appealing for information to locate 16 year old Victoria Cox from the Llanmartin area. Victoria was reported missing to police on Monday 23rd November and was last seen that day in the Ringland area. Victoria is described as white, approximately 5 feet 2 inches tall, of slim build with long black hair. She is thought to be wearing a dark coloured hooded jumper. Anyone having seen Victoria or know of her whereabouts is asked to contact Gwent Police on 101.

    MP CONCERN OVER POLICE STATION CLOSURE RUMOURS

    Nov 25 - Jessica Morden MP for Newport East has expressed concern about the possible closure of Llanmartin police station as part of a rationalisation by the police. She said "“I will be seeking clarification from the Chief Constable of Gwent Police on the proposals to close down Caldicot and Llanmartin police stations. We must ensure that the public feel secure in their homes, meaning we must maintain a visible police presence in their local communities.”

    CITY RESIDENTS WARNED OF COUNCIL TAX SCAM

    Nov 24 - Although Newport City Council has warned that some council tax payers in Wales have been contacted by bogus callers claiming to represent their local council. The caller explains to the person who has been contacted that they have overpaid their council tax and then asks for their bank details to arrange the refund. Council staff will never contact taxpayers by phone in these circumstances. Written proof of an overpayment will always be sent, along with a refund claim form. Taxpayers are advised not to give out their bank details and to contact either the council or the police if they believe that they have received one of these bogus calls.If you have any concerns or would like more advice, please contact Newport City Council on 01633 656656.

    BOUNDARY CHANGES CRITICISED

    Nov 24 - The Welsh Local Government Association has criticised proposed boundary changes to Newport's electoral wards. A Welsh Local Government Association spokesperson said: “Councillors have expressed concerns about the Boundary Commission’s first three reviews covering Denbighshire, Neath Port Talbot and Newport. In particular, there is concern that the proposals combine a number of existing wards creating artificial communities which are not recognised locally, a number of which are large rural wards or a merger of existing rural wards with urban wards.”

    CARDIFF CENTRE HITTING NEWPORT - TRADE CHIEF

    Nov 23 - Ken Ellis, president of Newport Chamber of Trade, claimed the new Cardiff development, St. David's 2, was drawing shoppers away from stores in his city. Newport’s new £222m Friars Walk shopping development was put on hold in June after developers Modus Corovest pulled out. Mr Ellis said: “The situation here is very difficult. Friars Walk would have been a tremendous boost, but the developer pulled out due to the economic climate.

    “Things have been tough enough in Newport in the past 12 to 18 months anyway, but the opening of St David’s in Cardiff obviously hasn’t helped the situation. Some stores are doing reasonably well. Traditionally, in the last couple of weeks before Christmas, people can’t be bothered to travel and tend to shop locally. We have benefited from that in past.”

    UNIVERSITY HELP FOR NEW BUSINESS IDEAS

    Nov 23 - The University of Wales, Newport has launched a new initiative which will see entrepreneurial students and recent graduates given the opportunity to pitch for money to develop their business skills and ideas and turn them into a reality. The Bright Ideas Den (BID) uses the popularity of the ‘Dragons Den’ concept to move away from the traditional business plan competition, encouraging more students to come forward with their ideas to start up and support new businesses.
     
    One such example of a successful ‘bid’ is Paper Giant Studios, whose submission impressed the Den panel. Set up by recent Computer Games Design graduates Codey Dyer and Jamie Evans, Paper Giant Studios was founded with a unique vision; to offer a compelling alternative to the challenge and goal-based game play that dominates the casual games market, by developing innovative, high quality games that emphasise creation, exploration and player choice.

    The success of ideas such as the Bright Ideas Den has attracted the backing of entrepreneurs such as Dr Alf Gooding, who has pledged support for the Den to the sum of £10,000. Dr Peter Noyes, Vice Chancellor of the University of Wales, Newport said, “this innovative initiative is attracting attention from business people who have been there and done that, which proves that the Bright Ideas Den stands out in the spirit of entrepreneurship".

    MAINDEE POOL BUILDING UP FOR AUCTION AGAIN

    Nov 21 - Another sad testimony to Newport's handling of its historic past the former Maindee Swimming Pool building is up for auction on December 3. The Grade II listed art deco building has a reserve price of £52,000 and is described as having "multiple re-development opportunities (subject to necessary planning permissions)". The pools, between Victoria Avenue and Albert Avenue, opened in 1938, and finally closed in December 2005, being replaced by the new pool at Spytty. Listed status means the building’s front facade and internal foyer cannot be changed. Now boarded up to prevent more vandalism, Maindee Baths were bought at auction from the City Council last May with an attached three-bedroomed house for £76,000. The house is no longer included in the property for sale. The building has suffered from vandalism and fire damage from some of the bright people who live in the vicinity.

    The description in the catalogue from Paul Fosh Auctions is as follows - Ground Floor: Main entrance hall, reception area, various inner halls (with access to all other floors), Main pool room with two swimming baths and full circle gallery above, third pool to rear room, pump room, office’s, w.c.’s, changing rooms. Lower GF: Various rooms for sun beds, main changing rooms, w.c.’s and offices, machine rooms. First Floor: Landing, and various gym rooms. Tenancies: To be sold with vacant possession. Tenure: Advised Freehold. If you are interested in buying it, go to the Park Inn Hotel in Cardiff at 5pm on 3rd December. And if you do buy it, do something tidy with it, preferably something for all the people of Newport.

    NEW APPEAL OVER SDR COLLISION

    Nov 21 - Police have renewed an appeal for information about a road crash involving a 12-year-girl in Newport. The girl is in a critical condition at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff after being hurt while she was walking near the transporter bridge. She was involved in an incident with a black VW Bora car on the A48 Usk Way on Wednesday night and was initially taken to hospital in Bristol. The car was travelling toward Spytty Road at 2012 GMT on 18 November. Anyone with information should call 101 or 01633 642404.

    CITY FIGHTS BACK WITH FREE PARKING INITIATIVE

    Nov 20 - In a drastic step to avert a further decline in Newport City Centre the City Council is offering free car parking to shoppers from now until Saturday December 19. Participating City Council car parks include Cambrian Multi-storey, Park Square, Emlyn Street, Faulkner Road, Hill Street, Maindee and Stow Hill. Leader of Newport City Council, Councillor Matthew Evans said: “Car parking fees can certainly add up for shoppers over the festive season, so Newport City Council has introduced this initiative to ease the financial pressures for shoppers and encourage them to use the facilities we have on offer in our city centre. This is a win-win situation to boost footfall and assist traders.” The initiative will be welcomed by retailers struggling to compete with new shopping developments in Cardiff and Bristol and the free parking offered at retail parks in Newport, at Cwmbran Shopping and Cribbs Causeway.

    In better news for the Kingsway Centre it is reported that Poundland, the cut price retailer will be taking up a 9000 square foot store in the mall and a number of other deals are likely to be closed out with new retailers prior to Christmas.

    GIRL 12, SERIOUSLY INJURED IN ROAD COLLISION

    Nov 19 - A 12-year-old girl has been seriously injured in a road collision near the Transporter Bridge in Newport. Police said the incident, involving a black VW Bora car, happened on Wednesday evening at the A48 Usk Way. The girl, a pedestrian who is from Newport, is in a critical condition at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Gwent Police on 01633 838111 or the collision investigation unit on 01633 642404. Officers said the car was travelling toward Spytty Road when the collision took place at around 2012 GMT.

    LANDFILL CREDIT TO FUND CANAL AND CATHEDRAL RESTORATION

    Nov 19 - The credit accrued from the landfill - the landfill tax - will once again be spent by the Council on major projects in Newport. For active waste such as that, collected by the Council, the tax is currently set at £40 a tonne. The Council, as Landfill Tax Operator, is allowed to give a small proportion of this tax to organisations – Environmental Bodies, registered with ENTRUST, the Landfill Tax Regulator, for projects that ENTRUST has confirmed meet the objectives of the scheme. Whilst landfill tax can be used for awards, the tax is only 90% of the award, the Council making up the 10% balance. At the end of the year, any money that could be used for the scheme, but which has not been expended, is returned to the Government. The City Council will be donated £50,000 to aid the restoration of the Fourteen Locks and £10,000 towards work to clear source of the debris in the Canal between the Caerphilly Boundary and Fourteen Locks to better improve water flow. In addition, £50,000 will be contributed towards the renovation of Newport (St. Woolos) Cathedral subject to matched receipts from the Cathedral renewal fund by the end of the financial year.

    NEWPORT CITY HOMES SUPPORTS JOBLESS YOUNGSTERS

    Nov 19 - Newport City Homes (NCH) will shortly be welcoming seven new members of staff for six-month positions in its building trade and community involvement teams, as part of the Future Jobs Fund Project. In partnership with Newport City Council, NCH has created a total of 30 placements for 18-24 year olds who have been claiming Job Seekers Allowance for between 39 and 51 weeks. The positions, which will take place over the next 18 months, will allow the young person to gain work experience that delivers community benefit, to enhance their CV. At the end of the six-month placement, extra support will be offered to help the employees find permanent work. In Newport, the Future Jobs Fund was launched in October and a total of 472 placements will be delivered across the city over the next 18 months. The first phase of recruitment for the positions with NCH involved both staff and residents taking part in the interview and decision-making process.

    WASTE SITE TO CLOSE ON BOXING DAY

    Nov 19 - The Civic Amenity Site in Maesglas will close for the first time on Boxing Day this year. The only other days it is closed are Christmas Day and New Years Day. The Council report approved yesterday states "Over the past five years many neighbouring Authorities have reduced the opening hours of their facilities and now close Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year. Due to the close proximity of major retail outlets anecdotal evidence shows that many of the Users of the site on Boxing Day are from outside the Newport area. As refuse and recycling do not operate on Boxing Day most residents do not expect the site to be open. Staffing the site over Boxing Day means less resources are available on the ramp for the remainder of the holiday period when the site is far busier between 27 December and 31 December between 10.00 a.m. and 4.00 p.m."

    The City bus station public convenience will open on a Sunday from 12.45pm to 5.45pm from January 2010 onwards. The automated toilet facility will no longer be available from this date.

    BUTLER CONDEMNS SCHOOL VANDALISM

    Nov 18 - Two incidents of vandalism occur every day at Newport schools, new statistics have revealed. A school-by school log obtained by Labour Assembly Members John Griffiths and Rosemary Butler show nearly 1,500 incidents of vandalism at Newport schools have occurred over the past two financial years. In total 1,485 acts of vandalism took place at Newport Schools costing the taxpayer £263,089.

    Rosemary Butler AM branded thugs who committed vandalism as "mindless" while John Griffiths said the attacks were destroying a crucial learning environment for children. Duffryn High School is the school most frequently vandalised with 183 attacks since 2007 costing £21,189. Bettws High School cost the most to repair from vandalism with more than £24,000 of damage. Earlier this year, the South Wales Argus reported that former Newport School, Westfield, had been targeted by vandals and even set on fire.

    Rosemary Butler said:  "What our research shows is that thousands of pounds are being spent on repairing damage caused by criminals. I am gobsmacked by these figures. I have every sympathy with Gwent Police and the school authorities on this matter and I offer my complete support. Labour has invested millions of pounds into schools in Wales so our children can enjoy a first class education system. Earlier this year, the Welsh Assembly Government announced an investment of £15 million to help improve the condition of school buildings in Newport through refurbishment or reconstruction. I don't want that ruined by mindless thugs."

    NEWPORT TRANSPORT STEPS IN TO RUN THREATENED SERVICES

    Nov 18 - Newport Transport has stepped in to run two services affected by the withdrawal of Francis Drake bus company. Service 51 from Rhiwderin and the 5 to Foxgloves were back into action yesterday. 

    APPEAL REGARDING MISSING MAN

    Nov 17 - Police in Newport are appealing for information regarding the whereabouts of 37 year old Jason Kerr, who lives at an address in the City Centre. Jason was last seen in the Cwmbrân area on Monday November 9th.

    Jason is described as 5 feet 10 inches tall, of medium build with short dark hair and hazel eyes. When he was last seen he was wearing a black hooded top with gold writing on it, light blue denim jeans and a Manchester United top.

    It's believed he could be in the Maindee area of Newport where he has connections but he also has connections in the Senghenydd area.

    Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to call Gwent Police on 101.

    TANKER DRIVER IN COLLISION

    Nov 17 - A tanker driver from Newport was involved a collision last week that ended with the death of a Dorset woman. The woman who died when her car was involved in a collision with a petrol tanker in East Dorset has been named as 70-year-old teacher Wendy Rumbold of Bournemouth. The collision between a silver coloured Vauxhall Corsa and a white Scania petrol tanker happened at Mill Street, at the junction of the A31 near the Coventry Arms pub and the B3074 at 7.50pm on Thursday. The woman died of multiple injuries. The tanker driver, a 44-year-old man from Newport, was shocked but uninjured. Police are appealing for witnesses.

    113 ARRESTED IN PILL DRUGS CRACKDOWN

    Nov 16 - Story here.

    MAJOR RAILWAY UPGRADE MAKING PROGRESS

    Nov 14 - The first phase of an upgrade in our local railways is nearing completion. The £150 million Newport area re-signalling scheme will mark a brand new start for thousands of passengers at Severn Tunnel Junction. For the first time in 25 years, passengers will be able to embark on their rail journey from the restored Platform 4, which was abandoned during a cutback in the 80s. In addition, the revamped railway, complete with new track, new layout and modernised signalling technology, is set to improve performance, significantly cutting delays. The revamp should allow for the development of new stations utilising the new track capacity. New stations are proposed for Llanwern (to serve the new eastern suburb), Caerleon, Coedkernew and at Newport West Central (to serve the new development proposed for Whiteheads / Mon Sidings). In addition, the upgrade will allow for Ebbw Vale services to be linked directly to Newport.

    Chris Rayner, Western route director, Network Rail said: “The Newport area re-signalling scheme is set to deliver a 21st century railway to South Wales and will also reverse the history of Severn Tunnel Junction. The railway around Severn Tunnel Junction suffered years of decline after it was bombed in World War II. While this work will significantly boost performance, it will also provide the potential for more trains to travel through in the future.”

    Signalling equipment between Severn Tunnel Junction and East Usk Junction in Newport will also be completely modernised with new technology, which will be controlled – for the first time in Wales – from the new signalling centre in Cardiff. This move has created 11 new jobs for the region and six additional signallers are set to join in the later part of next year.

    This pattern of work will carry on over the next two months and engineers will also make use of the quiet period during the Christmas period to continue the improvement work into New Year’s Eve, in time for time-table change on 4 January.
    Rail services between Newport and Bristol and Newport and Gloucester will be replaced by coach services on 27 December 2009 – 3 January 2010.
    Replacement bus services are:

    SAINSBURY'S PLAN APPROVED

    Nov 12 - Plans for the present Sainsbury's Supermarket at Wyndham Street, Shaftesbury have been approved by City planners. The supermarket is set to relocate to Crindau. The outline plans approved yesterday are in relation to access to a mixed redevelopment including a five storey hotel and a mix of residential properties including 120 one and two bedroom flats.

    LANDSLIP CLOSES RAIL LINE

    Nov 12 - Commuters have been among those affected as heavy rain has brought disruption. Up to two tonnes of rock fell on the railway line near Chepstow, leading to the closure of the line between Newport and Gloucester. An Arriva Trains Wales spokesperson said the rockslide near Chepstow, including large boulders, was due to heavy rainfall.

    The site was considered too dangerous to be assessed by engineers. The line is closed until further notice, expected to be for at least the next 24 hours. Arriva Trains Wales has organised replacement buses between Newport and Gloucester and advised passengers to allow more time for their journeys. Those travelling to and from Caldicot are advised to use the Severn Tunnel Junction as an alternative.

    NO COLD CALLING ZONE IN BISHPOOL AND TREBERTH

    Nov 12 - The Safer Newport Partnership has launched a ‘No Cold Calling Zone’ in an area of Ringland to put a stop to bogus callers.
    Residents of the Treberth and Bishpool area will soon see an end to unwanted callers at their front doors after a ‘No Cold Calling Zone’ was authorised by the Safer Newport partnership with input from Gwent Police, Newport Housing Trust and Newport City Council. Action was taken after Newport East Neighbourhood Policing Team listened to concerns from residents on the estate complaining about suspected rogue traders and distraction burglars.

    Every resident of Treberth and Bishpool will now be given an information pack on the ‘No Cold Calling Zone’ and a window sticker to deter unwanted callers. Signs marking the zone will also be displayed on lampposts around the estate. A Neighbourhood Watch group has recently been set up in the area and PCSOs have spoken to residents who are predominantly elderly and vulnerable to make them aware of how to deal with bogus callers on their doorsteps.

    Pc Leanne Pole, of Newport East Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “Many of the residents in the area are elderly and vulnerable and this ‘No Cold Calling Zone’ gives them a clear authority to turn people away from their doorsteps. It’s not designed to stop legitimate callers such as the milkman or gas board representative - it’s to stop bogus callers. People should always check the identity of people who call at their home and if that means shutting the door on them while you call the company they work for, so be it. The zone is a result of residents calling us, reporting suspicious behaviour and expressing their concerns.”

    CITY UNEMPLOYMENT UP

    Nov 11 - Newport's unemployment picture continues to worsen. The claimant count, those claiming Jobseekers Allowance has risen to 5.5 per cent of the working population, well above the Welsh average of 4.3 per cent. The total number of claimants is up to 4,685, an increase of 1,951 in the past year. Claimant count unemployment is 5.6 per cent in Caerphilly, 5 per cent in Torfaen, 4.4 per cent in Cardiff and only 2.9 per cent in Monmouthshire.

    LOTTERY WINNERS REVEALED

    Nov 10 - A couple from Newport have been revealed as winners of £45.5m on the Euromillions lottery. Les Scadding, 58, and Samantha Peachey-Scadding, 38, from Caerleon shared the £91m jackpot with a syndicate of IT workers from Liverpool. They celebrated with lunch washed down with champagne at the Priory restaurant on Sunday. When he bought his ticket, Mr Scadding, who survived cancer five years ago, was £68 overdrawn at the bank. A grandfather of six, has been out of work as a mechanic and haulage driver since Christmas. He bought the winning ticket - one of two lucky dip lines - at the Tesco store in Spytty Road, Newport, while doing his grocery shopping last Friday.

    When he went back to the supermarket the next night he decided to check his Euromillions tickets. "When I asked the people behind the counter to check the numbers the machine just printed out a pink slip telling me to contact Camelot. I thought I might have won around £50,000 and I rushed home to tell Samantha." After frantic double checking online, he said: "It was a very funny couple of minutes. We just looked at each other while it sunk in before we got on the phone to Camelot." It is the UK's largest-ever lottery prize and the couple are picking up their £45,570,835.50 cheque for half the jackpot.

    Mr Scadding, who is originally from Bristol, has spent £2 a week on the Euromillions since its launch in 2004. The Spytty Road Tesco supermarket is the same one at which Ringland woman Jenny Southall bought her £8.3million ticket in 2007.

    CITY COUPLE HIT EUROMILLIONS JACKPOT!

    Nov 9 - A group of IT workers and a couple from Newport have become the UK's biggest ever Lottery winners, after scooping £91m between them. The married couple from Newport and a syndicate of seven or eight people from Liverpool each won £45.5m after matching the numbers in Friday's Euromillions draw. The Newport couple will be presented to the public in St David's Hotel and Spa in Cardiff tomorrow morning at 10am.

    HIGH DEFINITION FREEVIEW BY MARCH

    Nov 9 - Newport residents will have the option of high definition television via their rooftop aerial from March. The service is already available via satellite and cable but the intention is to get 20 terrestrial transmitters beaming out high-definition free-to-air pictures in time for the 2010 World Cup. The local transmitter (Wenvoe) is one of those selected.

    NEW AMERICAN LOCOMOTIVES ARRIVE IN NEWPORT

    Nov 9 - The first American GE PowerHaul locomotives for rail freight carrier Freightliner have arrived at Newport Docks.

    The two are the first of an eventual fleet of 30 of Class 70s. Four more should leave the US within the next month, but further deliveries are not due until later in 2010.

    OFFENDERS PLACED IN NEWPORT BY VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

    Nov 8 - A report by Vale of Glamorgan Borough Council has revealed that the authority places hardened offenders in bed and breakfast accommodation in Newport. The information was part of a report by the Council into the way hardened criminals are housed when they are released from prison. The review of the Prolific and Priority Offender (PPO) Scheme in the Vale of Glamorgan comes amid growing concern that nationally about 10% of such offenders are responsible for committing 50% of all crime. The idea is that by providing housing and support for such offenders the likelihood that they will re-offend is reduced. The main area of bed and breakfast for homeless families is on Chepstow Road between the Cenotaph and Maindee railway bridge.

    NEW STORE IN KINGSWAY

    Nov 7 - The first of a number of new stores set to add to the line up in the Kingsway Shopping Centre opened its doors today. Calendar Club is adjacent to the former Woolworths store, the latter set to be occupied by a new Ethel Austin / Au Naturelle store. Another new unit opposite is also being fitted and will open soon.

    Calendar Club was formed in 1993 in the US and has since opened in many other countries in the world, including New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. Calendar Club UK was started in 1998 (with 12 stores) and has proven a huge success. Last year they traded from 257 prime sites across the UK and this year they are planning to expand further. Currently they have sites locally at the St David's Shopping Mall in Cardiff and Cabot's Circus in Bristol.

    POLICE APPEAL AGAIN OVER TESCO ROBBERY

    Nov 6 - Gwent Police is reappealing for information following a cash in transit robbery which occurred outside the Tesco store on Harlech Retail Park, Cardiff Road, Newport on Friday 16th October at around 7.45pm. Officers are specifically looking for information in relation to the vehicle thought to have been used to make off from the scene. A dark blue, five door, Mazda 3 was found abandoned on Clodien Avenue, off Whitchurch Road in Cardiff on October 17th. Officers believe this may be the same vehicle that was used by the offenders on the night of the robbery. Gwent Police is appealing for anyone who may have seen anything suspicious in the Clodien Avenue area around this time or anyone who may hold information relating to this vehicle or who abandoned it, to contact them on 01633 838 111 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    PLANS FOR CITY'S LARGEST REGENERATION SITE DRAWN UP

    Nov 6 - Plans for the largest regeneration site in Newport have been drawn up by the City Council and Newport Unlimited. The 90 acre site covering the former Whiteheads steelworks and the Monmouthshire Sidings was identified previously as an area to be developed for a new regional hospital. However, the City has now produced a Draft Planning Framework stipulating that a large portion on the site should be reserved for health care use adjacent to the existing hospital and Cardiff Road. The report states "The City Council is anxious to retain the full range of healthcare functions within Newport; these are currently provided through the nearby Royal Gwent/St Woolos Hospitals. Newport City Council has called for work on the business case for a new critical care unit for the area to include a reappraisal of the clinical implications of building the unit at the two available sites in public ownership - the former Whiteheads steelworks site in Newport and at Llanfrechfa Grange in Torfaen".

    The report proposes a mix of land uses and specifically identifies an allocation for up to 850 residential units based on 450 units on Monmouthshire Bank and 400 units on Whiteheads site.

    The draft framework promotes the comprehensive regeneration of the site to ensure that the benefits of remediation, sustainable infrastructure and highway/pedestrian/cycling connections through the site to important destinations such as the City Centre, Royal Gwent Hospital, Belle Vue Park, adjoining Retail Parks and the potential Newport West Centre Rail Station at Maesglas are fully delivered. It sets aside 5.1 acres for open spaces and space for a health centre and primary school.

    DECEASED IDENTIFIED - FATAL ROAD TRAFFIC COLLISION ON THE M4

    Nov 5 - Gwent Police has now confirmed the identity of the deceased female who was involved in the fatal road traffic collision which occurred on Saturday 31st October on the M4. The collision occurred at approximately 10pm on the westbound carriageway at the Caerleon road intersection when a Heavy Goods Vehicle struck the female pedestrian - who was from the Newport area.

    CITY FIRM PROSPERS FROM MAIL STRIKE

    Nov 4 - Major companies such as TNT and UK Mail say they have received 20,000 extra calls from potential customers in the wake of the Royal Mail strikes, resulting in a 10% rise in business. The business boost isn't confined to the big companies either; Chris Watts, owner of CWS Courier Services in Newport, he has seen a 25% rise in business.

    NEW 'CHARTIST CHARTER' LAUNCHED

    Nov 3 - Welsh Assembly cabinet minister John Griffiths will lead the launch of the People's Charter in Wales tomorrow - exactly 170 years after the Chartist uprising in Newport. The Newport Labour AM will be joined by Plaid Cymru AM Leanne Wood and union representatives for a rally at the Pen and Wig public house on Stow Hill at noon, followed by a march on the Westgate where the original Chartists were shot at by troops and over 20 of them killed. The modern-day charter has been endorsed by individual unions, this year's TUC conference and high-profile public figures such as Stephen Lawrence's mother Doreen Lawrence, film director Ken Loach and veteran socialist Tony Benn. The six-point document calls for a fairer tax system, investment in council homes and sustainable jobs, an end to privatisation and for the banking system to be brought under state control, as well as an increase in benefits and cultural facilities for all.

    CITY DIRECTOR APPOINTED

    Nov 3 - Newport City Council has announced the appointment of Mr Alasdair Bovaird as Corporate Director (Young People and Performance). Mr Bovaird replaces Ms Tracey Lee following her appointment as Managing Director. Ms Tracey Lee, Managing Director, stated: “Newport has an exciting future ahead, but we are not without our challenges. We were looking for, and have found a strong candidate who can support us in making changes that will benefit the people of Newport.” Mr Bovaird currently lives in Essex and will be relocating to the area. He is expected to take up post with Newport City Council in mid November. Boivard was Chief Executive of Uttlesford District Council between 2004 and 2008 and was a Corporate Policy Officer for Argyll and Bute.

    POLE DANCING GYM ASKED TO REMOVE FROSTED GLASS

    Nov 3 -  A gym owner has claimed that a City Council order to remove frosted glass from her property 'could cause traffic accidents as male drivers peer through the windows'. Charlene Elliott, 27, installed the windows at the front of her shop in Clarence Place to protect the privacy of her pupils from passers-by on the busy street in Newport. She told the Daily Telegraph "I really feel like I am doing something good in Newport for a lot of women. My dancers include police ladies, social workers, and they all think this is not right. Pole dancing is great exercise for the upper body and the lower body and a lot of my pupils get confidence from doing it. I am afraid that if we lose the glass people will be too worried to come to classes, the point is that they can enjoy themselves and get fit in private in a safe atmosphere."

    TRAFFIC ORDER TO CURB ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR IN WENTWOOD

    Nov 3 - A new traffic order has been approved by the City Council aimed at tackling anti-social behaviour in Wentwood Forest. A report commissioned by the Forestry Commission and Woodland Trust states "The Wentwood area has, unfortunately, suffered from anti-social behaviour in various forms including fly-tipping, abandoned burnt-out cars, vandalism and illegal vehicle use. This behaviour both severely detracts from the amenity value of the area and dissuades other people from making use and enjoying all forms of quiet recreation within the forest. The City Council order will restrict motor vehicle access on two routes within Wentwood. A letter from Police Inspector Smith states "the person who contravenes a traffic Order, such as the one being proposed, commits an offence and the duty to prosecute rests with the Police. In conjunction with the physical barriers – which can only be provided with the associated Order – the local Inspector believes that the metal barriers to be provided will significantly reduce the instances and levels of anti-social behaviour, thereby reducing the Police’s need to attend such instances".

    M4 PEDESTRIAN DEATH - POLICE APPEAL

    November 2 - Following a fatal road traffic collision which occurred on Saturday 31st October, Gwent Police is appealing for assistance because so far they have been unable to establish the identity of the deceased. The collision occurred at approximately 10pm on the westbound carriageway of the M4 at the Caerleon road intersection when a Heavy Goods Vehicle struck a female pedestrian.

    The ambulance service attended and pronounced the female dead at the scene. The woman is described as being in her thirties, white, approximately 5 feet 6 to 5 feet 8 inches tall and of heavy build (size 18-20). She has hazel eyes and shoulder length brown hair and a mole on her forehead above her right eye. She was wearing a green "Berghaus" waist length waterproof jacket, a black cotton long sleeved top with sequins around the neckline and blue Marks and Spencer denim jeans. She had on grey socks and size 6 and a half black trainers. She has pierced ears but was not wearing any earrings and wore a "Lorus" silver bracelet watch on her right wrist. She also wore a yellow gold ring with three clear gemstones in a line on her right ring finger.

    Police officers are asking members of the public who are concerned about a friend or member of their family matching this description and haven't seen them since Saturday or are unable to contact them to call Gwent Police on 01633 838 111.

    BOUNDARY CHANGES WARNING

    November 2 - Rosemary Butler AM has warned that the latest proposals for local government boundary changes in Newport could threaten democracy. The Local Boundary Commission have published draft recommendations which, if implemented, would reduce the number of council wards in Newport from 20 to 12, and the number of councillors from 50 to 45. Responses to the recommendations have to be in by December 22.

    The Newport West AM says: "It was quite clear from my discussions with constituents before these latest proposals came out, that they would be extremely unhappy with a wholesale merging of wards. I'm disappointed that that prospect is now in danger of becoming a reality and I think there are many communities who would feel a serious loss of identity. Democratic representation will suffer, and I believe that citizens of Newport may feel less inclined to vote. It's ironic that this is coming out on the eve of the 170th anniversary of the Chartist march to Newport, when men laid down their lives for the sake of democracy."

    NOVEMBER ANTI-CRIME INITIATIVE UNDER WAY

    November 1 - Newport Police will be kicking off November with a city-wide clamp down on crime and anti-social behaviour. Not in My Neighbourhood Week, runs from 2-6 November and is a national week of action aiming to encourage local communities to work with the police to combat crime and anti-social behaviour.

    On Monday 2 November Newport residents can see the film COW before it’s screened on BBC Wales later that night. The hard-hitting story, which shows the dangers of using a mobile phone while driving will be shown in front of the Tesco Superstore on Leeway Industrial Estate at 6pm.

    The Safer Newport partnership will be working together, directing offenders to clean up litter and graffiti as part of Community Payback, and throughout the week the police will be targeting drug suppliers and burglars based on hot intelligence from the people of Newport. Gwent Police Assistant Chief Constable Jeff Farrar said: “Anyone concerned about criminal and anti-social behaviour should call us on our new non-emergency number 101 and in an emergency they should dial 999.”

    POLICE TARGET HALLOWEEN AND BONFIRE NIGHT CRIME

    Story here

    PROTEST BUILDING WINS ASSEMBLY GRANT

    October 30 - The building at the centre of a recent controversy has won a substantial grant from the Welsh Assembly Government. The United Reformed Church will be updated using a £135,000 grant from the historic buildings fund. The nineteenth century chapel will be developed by the Islamic Society. The move has been criticised by right wing activists from the English and Welsh Defence League, they pulled out of a threatened demonstration last Saturday.

    Fida Hussain Shah, of the Islamic Society for Gwent, said they had bought the old United Reformed church in Newport's Victoria Road more than a year ago, and were looking to create a community hall for use by young and old in the area, as well as a prayer room, which could be used by different religious denominations. "There's a lot of work to be done and alterations inside - there's a big crack in the wall that needs to be repaired, " said Mr Shah. "But the old look of the building is being conserved and there won't be any external changes at all."

    KILLING COULD HAVE BEEN AVERTED

    October 29 - The killing of a 44-year-old man may have been averted if his mentally ill attacker had received proper care and treatment, a report says. Kevin Price, 45, stabbed former school friend James Fortey five times in Newport in August 2007. A Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) report expressed concern over the care provided to Mr Price. The Aneurin Bevan Health Board and Newport City Council both said lessons had been learnt. They said systems had been improved to do everything possible to ensure such an incident did not happen again. Nobody has been disciplined. HIW said there were "important lessons" to be learned from the case.

    Price, 45, of Stockton Close, Newport, is now indefinitely detained in a secure unit, where he was diagnosed with schizophrenia after the stabbing on Caerleon Road, Newport on August 4, 2007. He was four when he was first referred to Welsh mental health services and was living at home with his parents before the killing. But, said the report, the parents "were not provided with appropriate support", despite the fact they were his primary carers.

    Stewart Greenwell, corporate director for care and customers for Newport City Council, said: "This was a tragic case which has obviously had a profound effect on all those involved. "We would like to reassure all those who require mental health services, and the wider public, that many changes have already been made to mental health provision in the Gwent area and we will continue to review our services."

    FOOD WASTE COLLECTIONS TO BE EXTENDED

    October 29 - Newport City Council recycling services are set for expansion, as we extend our weekly food waste collection scheme to another 7,000 homes. Councillor David Fouweather, cabinet member for community safety and environment, has approved the extension of the scheme, which is a key part of the drive to boost recycling rates across the city. Newport is currently recycling about 40 percent of our waste, but we still have to work to do if we are to meet strict recycling targets. With the support of our residents, we are confident we can reach our goal. All the streets involved will be formally notified later in the year and will receive caddies, liners and a detailed guide on how to use the new service. Food waste is collected weekly from the kerbside using a specially designed Wastesavers lorry.Households already involved in the scheme are recycling 60 tonnes of food waste a month. If every house in Newport was doing the same, the City could collect over 7,000 tonnes of left over food a year – reducing out it’s carbon footprint by a staggering 2,940,000 kilogrammes.

    FIRE AT CORPA HOTEL BUILDING

    October 29 - An unoccupied hotel is on fire in Newport, say South Wales Fire and Rescue Service. Three fire engines, two water bowsers and an aerial appliance were sent to the Corporation Hotel in Corporation Road in the city at 1416 GMT. A fire service spokesperson said the fire is on the first floor of the building. A fire officer is also at the scene. Some appliances have now left the scene but the fire has not been put out. The western end of Corporation Road between George Street and Cromwell Road was closed to traffic.

    SIGNS OF LIFE IN KINGSWAY

    October 27 - Five stores in the Kingsway Shopping Centre look set to be let as interest in the new mall increases. Footfall has increased in recent weeks due to the opening of the new Boswells cafe and a free car parking campaign during October. The former Woolworths store is now under offer (we believe it set to become a combined Ethel Austin / Au Naturale store). The four other potential lets are two units adjacent to Wilkinsons, one next to the former Jessops store, the other is next door to Claire's Accessories.

    CRACKDOWN ON ROGUE TRADERS

    Story here

    COUNCIL TO SUE WELSH ASSEMBLY OVER LANDFILL

    Story here

    The scene in John Frost Square this morning

    PEACEFUL PROTEST PASSES OFF WITHOUT INCIDENT

    Oct 24 - A planned counter protest against the Welsh Defence League went ahead in Newport today overseen by a massive and no doubt costly police presence in the City. Gwent Police issued a statement this afternoon thanking organisers for the peaceful atmosphere at the demonstration and for the carnival atmosphere created in John Frost Square. Assistant Chief Constable Jeff Farrar of Gwent Police confirmed there had been no opposition from the Defence League. See his statement via the following link. Three hundred protestors attended, as well as 50 members of Newport's neighbourhood policing team.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Hu4nptrop8

    NO MARCH BUT VIGIL GOES AHEAD

    Oct 23 - A vigil is due to take place in Newport on Friday organised by people opposed to the Welsh Defence League (WDL). The WDL had planned to protest in the city on Saturday but has told Police the event has been cancelled. Supported by the Muslim Council of Wales and Cytun (Churches Together), protesters will gather to sing songs and listen to speakers. A WDL demonstration against Islamic extremism in Swansea last weekend was met with a larger counter protest. David Phillips, chief executive of the South East Wales Racial Equality Council, said the aim of the vigil at 1900 BST at Westgate Square was to show the WDL was not welcome in Newport. "It's an opportunity for people who would not normally dream of going to a demonstration to come along and show their solidarity," he said.

    The WDL made the following statement on their social network site ""Newport demo is now OFF spoken to the police and they expect a lot of violence from local blacks, who it seems are convinced we are the klan or whatever, as we dont want to be responsible for a riot, by people we would expect to support what we are doing, we are cancelling until we are able to get message out there that we are not a racist group. "

    CITY LIBRARIES PRAISED

    Oct 23 - Newport’s library services are one of the best performing library services in Wales, according to results from the Welsh Assembly Government’s Welsh Public Library Standards. Along with public libraries across Wales, the city’s libraries were measured for quality of service delivered. Standards measured included levels of stock purchased, opening hours, accessibility and customer satisfaction.

    Newport City Council and its library service achieved outstanding performances in the majority of assessment frameworks and the council made the decision to include performance against the Welsh Public Library Standards as one of the key elements within the Performance Improvement Grants. Performance against the Standards has also been designated as a key performance indicator for Newport City Council. Although libraries in Newport are high-achieving the service continues to seek opportunities for development and to strive for improvement. 2010 will see the launch of a new service within the Tredegar Park area of the City.

    ACCIDENTAL DEATH VERDICT IN STUDENT CASE

    Oct 21 - A 19-year-old student hanged himself with a tie after a night out socialising with friends in Hampshire an inquest in Portsmouth heard today. David Harris, of Newport had just completed a set of exams for his business degree at the University of Portsmouth when he was found dead in his bedroom in Southsea, on January 24. The inquest held at Portsmouth heard that Mr Harris, described as a ''larger than life character'' had been out to a pub with friends the previous evening and they had continued drinking at home until the early hours. A verdict of accidental death was recorded.

    EBBW VALE LINK STILL ON A PROMISE

    Oct 21 - The Ebbw Vale - Cardiff line carried its millionth passenger today but a new service linking the Western Valley and Newport still seems some way off. Local Conservative AM William Graham has urged that it is running by the time golf's Ryder Cup is held in Newport in 2010. Last year the assembly government announced a £2.6m investment for improvements at Gaer Junction, as an "essential prerequisite to any future regular passenger rail service between Ebbw Vale and Newport". Ieuan Wyn Jones, Assembly Transport Minister claims that the Gaer Junction work will be complete during 2010 and infrastructure work at Newport station will allow the line to become a reality by 2011.

    HOUSE SIEGE - MAN ARRESTED

    Oct 20 - Police arrested a man this evening after a lengthy siege at a house on Chepstow Road adjacent to Harrow Road in Maindee. A section of Chepstow Road was sealed off late this afternoon while a large number of police including armed assistance sought to remove the man from the house. The siege started at approximately 11am this morning.

    ATTEMPTED BURGLARY IN ROGERSTONE - POLICE APPEAL

    Oct 20 - Police are appealing for information following an attempt burglary in the Rogerstone area of Newport. The incident occurred sometime between 5.45pm and 6pm on 5th October 2009 at an address on Cefn Road. The owner of the property arrived home and disturbed a man attempting to gain entry into the rear of the property. The man then ran off along Cefn Road in the direction of Risca. The offender is described as being a white male, approximately 5 feet 6 inches tall and of slim build. He was wearing a dark beanie and a navy sports jacket. Police are interested in speaking to anyone who may have witnessed the incident particularly a man who stopped and spoke to the homeowner immediately after the offender made off. This man was driving a white car, believed to be a Ford Fiesta with a blue/green company logo on the side. Anyone with information is asked to contact Gwent Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    NEW SCHOOL TO BE HANDED OVER TO COUNCIL

    Oct 20 - The keys to Newport High School and Active Living Centre will be handed to the leader of Newport City Council Councillor Matthew Evans at 4pm on Friday 23 October. The handover will take place in the school’s reception by director of construction company the Leadbitter Group, Steve Burgess. The landmark new development, which will replace Bettws High School and leisure centre, will open its doors to pupils on 9 November to offer advanced teaching facilities, including 34 general classrooms, eight science labs, eight ICT suites, a fully-equipped design technology wing, six SEN areas and a vocational training learning and resource centre. The new Active Living Centre with its state-of-the-art leisure facilities, including a new 25m swimming pool, fitness suite, full size artificial turf pitch, multi-use games areas and sports pitches will be open for community use outside of school hours for residents from all over the city from 9 November.

    Councillor Evans said: “We are committed to providing high quality, modern education facilities for Newport, and I believe this school will offer many generations of children the best education environment to ensure they reach their full potential. I’d like to thank everyone who has worked so hard on this project to ensure it has been a success.”

    FLYNN BLASTS DAVIES FOR INCITING CITY DEMO

    Oct 19 - Newport West MP Paul Flynn has launched a vociferous attack on Newport City Councillor Peter Davies for inciting a demonstration in the City this weekend. The English and Welsh Defence League still state that they have plans to carry out a demonstration against a recent Newport City Council planning decision to allow the United Reformed Church in Victoria Street to become a Mosque and "multi-faith community centre". Flynn states on his website "Responsibility for this ugly conflict rests firmly on the shoulders of one Tory councillor. Peter Davies made a mischievous and inflammatory statement on the change of use of a closed church. After seeking maximum attention for his untrue claim of 'desecration' he did not attend the meeting where his allegations were exposed as falsehoods. I have seen no apology from him for his 'error. Remarkably he has put out an e-mail on the Council web-site which could be seen as an incitement to the marchers to parade near the mosque. This is not responsible behaviour. Newport is run by a Conservative- LibDem coalition. Does Peter Davies reflect the coalition's views in his rabble rousing?  Do they  support his e-mail which fails to apologise and suggest a  a long route for the racists' march ending with a 'last Hurrah' for the marchers near the mosque?" Flynn calls on Newportonians to support "our city in building a harmonious community of many faiths and ethnic groups".

    PROPOSAL TO REDUCE NUMBER OF CITY COUNCILLORS

    Oct 19 - The Local Government Boundary Commission for Wales has published draft proposals to reduce the number of councillors in Newport from 50 to 45. The reduction involves the creation of a number of new multi-member constituencies as follows (numbers of councillors in brackets) - Allt-yr-yn and Shaftesbury (5), Alway and Ringland (5), Beechwood and St.Juilan's (5), Bettws and Malpas (5), Gaer and Tredegar Park (4), Graig and Marshfield (4), Langstone and Llanwern (3), Pillgwenlly and Stow Hill (3). The number of Lliswerry members reduces to three under the proposals, Caerleon retain three and Victoria two. The final date for the submission of representations regarding the proposals is 22 December2009.

    APPEAL OVER TESCO ROBBERY

    Oct 19 - Police are appealing for witnesses following a cash in transit robbery outside the Tesco store on Harlech Retail Park, Cardiff Road, Newport on Friday 16th October at around 7:45pm. Officers specifically want to trace three people who were in the area when a security guard delivering money to the store was approached by a man, wearing dark clothing and white trainers, pushed to the ground and a box containing money was taken. It is believed that the robber had two or possibly three accomplices and they left the scene in a dark (possibly blue) 4 door car. On leaving the Harlech Retail Park they drove towards the Tredegar Park roundabout.

    Officers want to trace the following people who were in the area at the time of the incident;

    - A lady who told a security guard she saw the offenders run off and throw the cash box at the side of the Tesco store which they then recovered. She is described as white, with dark hair, aged 25 - 30 years old, possibly wearing a white top.

    - A man who may have been using the ATM at the store and got into a maroon coloured Ford Escort. He is described as aged between 60 - 70 years old, of a slight build, 5'7"-5'8" tall, balding with grey hair at the side.

    - A man, reported to be of chinese appearance, who was sat on a box full of store catalogues near the entrance to the store. He had silver rimmed glasses and it's believed he may have had a child with him. Anyone who was in the area at the time of the incident or has any information that could assist officers with their enquiries is asked to call Gwent Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

    ANTI-FUNDAMENTALIST DEMO UNCERTAINTY

    Oct 17 - A BBC report states that the proposed demonstration against Islamic fundamentalism in Newport by the Welsh Defence League has been postponed. It was scheduled to take place next Saturday in John Frost Square. Update This has been denied by organisers who say it will go ahead. Further update (Oct 20) - Police state the march is off.

    DATA CENTRE READY TO ROLL

    Oct 17 - One of Europe's largest and most technologically advanced data centres is now open for business following completion of the essential phases of a £200 million project to convert and upgrade the former LG semiconductor plant in Coedkernew, Newport. Next Generation Data Ltd., the owner and operator of the new data centre, is making available a wide range of large scale wholesale space solutions and has already agreed long term contracts with several major blue chip organisations. These will begin moving in their data centre operations from early next year.

    NGD Europe is described as tier 3 data centre facility and is one of the biggest and best equipped of its kind. Among NGD Europe's many unique features is a high capacity power supply direct from the super grid as well as on-site high-speed, low latency fibre connections from the major telecoms carriers. Inside the massive three-floor 75,000 sq metre building there are a number of separate data halls of varying sizes available all with independent services, resilient power supply and cooling systems. Capable of housing up to 19,000 server racks, NGD Europe has been purpose built to support the high level technology infrastructure.

    POLICE CALL HALT TO ILLEGAL USE OF BUS LANES

    Oct 16 - Five people were arrested and 188 drivers given fixed penalty tickets during a two-day police operation to stop the illegal use of bus lanes. A team of four PCSOs sponsored by bus company Newport Transport launched Operation Freeflow last month to deal with an increasing number of drivers using bus lanes illegally to skip traffic queues. Police are now warning drivers in Newport that similar operations will take place across the city in the future. Operation Freeflow ran between September 16 and 20. Police officers from Newport Central Neighbourhood Policing Team, as well as those from traffic and response teams, assisted the PCSOs in dealing with vehicles committing a range of driving offences, primarily in the Stow Hill area.

    The results of the operation saw 188 drivers given £30 fixed penalty notices for breaching traffic orders. In addition, five cars were seized for having no insurance and four people were given £60 fixed penalty notices for not wearing their seatbelt. One man was arrested for drink driving, two men were arrested for obstructing police, and another two men were arrested for possession of cannabis. PCSO Chris Burge, who helped coordinate the operation, said: “Bus drivers have reported that other road users have obstructed them by driving in designated bus lanes, particularly in Stow Hill and Skinner Street. Vehicles can legally use this route into the city centre for the purposes of loading and unloading, but many drivers are illegally using the roads as a shortcut and this is what we are trying to stop.

    CITY TO BRING IN NEW PARKING ORDERS

    Oct 16 - The City Council's Cabinet has agreed a new system of parking orders as the current orders are regarded as unenforceable by the Police. The Cabinet approved the revocation of existing Residents Parking Orders and confirm the making and implementation of new Orders with effect from 1st December 2009. Agreement has now been reached with the Police regarding the legality and enforcement of the Residents Parking Orders. It is proposed that all the existing Orders are repealed and replaced with new Orders under Section 45 of the Road Traffic Act. The Orders will contain specific exemptions for disabled drivers (to ensure that they comply with the Disabled Drivers Regulations) and also an exemption for visitor parking in accordance with the Council’s approved voucher scheme.

    BACKING FOR NEWPORT SHIP MUSEUM

    Oct 14 - Newport City Council Cabinet has backed the proposal for a museum to host the Newport Ship and other artefacts of the City's maritime past. That Cabinet agreed in principle that the Ship should be displayed in a new Museum and that this new museum should be a key feature of the City, provided substantial external funding be secured. The Cabinet authorised the Cabinet Member to actively seek external funding for the project to enable the Ship to "be protected and displayed for the best advantage of the people of Wales."

    FUND HELPS YOUNG PEOPLE TO FIND JOBS

    Oct 14 - The Newport Future Jobs Fund was launched yesterday at Malpas Court in Newport. The government-funded scheme, which has been led by Newport City Council’s Community Development team and its partners, has been a great success – creating 472 six-month contract jobs in Newport, in a period of just 18 months. A number of the scheme’s first employees and employers were present at the launch, along with Cabinet Members from Newport City Council.

    Cabinet Member for Housing and Community Services, Cllr Richard White, said: “It is very encouraging that the Council has been able, together with our partner organisations, to create these opportunities for employment. I hope this will lead to permanent long-term employment for those involved. I wish all the participants success in achieving this aim”. The Future Jobs Fund was announced in the 2009 Budget and is run by the Department for Work and Pensions in partnership with the Department for Communities and Local Government, collaborating with Jobcentre Plus, Regional Government Offices and the Welsh Assembly. The £1 billion programme aims to provide employment for at least six months to young people aged between 18-24 who live in unemployment ‘hotspots’ and haven’t worked in the previous 12 months.

    CITY WINS BIG INCREASE IN FUNDING

    Oct 13 - Newport City Council looks like being granted a big increase of funding from Welsh Assembly Government following publication of the draft local government funding settlement. The Council will receive an increase in funding from the taxpayer of 3.1 per cent, well ahead of the rate of inflation, for 2010/11.

    CANAL SIDE ROBBERY - POLICE APPEAL

    Oct 13 -
    Gwent Police is appealing for information following a robbery which occurred in Newport yesterday, Monday 12th October. A 34 year old man was riding his push bike along Bettws Lane, the path that runs alongside the canal near Kimberley Park, at approximately 10pm last night when he was approached by two men. The two men engaged the victim in conversation and then punched him to the face causing him to fall into the canal. They made off from the scene in the direction of Malpas having stolen his push bike and mobile phone. The victim was able to get him self out of the canal and to safety and did not sustain any serious injuries. The offenders were both white males. The first is described as being of stocky build, approximately 5 feet 11 inches tall and in his 30s. He was wearing a grey coloured beanie hat and an unzipped jacket. The second offender is described as slightly shorter than the first, with black hair and was wearing a white top. Any witnesses or anyone holding information about this incident that could assist police with inquiries is asked to contact DC Andy Dabinette on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    MOBILITY SCOOTER RECHARGE POINT IN CITY CENTRE

    Oct 13 - City disability activists have welcomed the installation of a charging point for electric wheelchairs and scooters in the City Centre. The charging point is the first to be installed by a council in the UK and was donated by Rookwood Hospital in Cardiff, thanks to campaigning from Newport group Disabled Open Opportunity Ringland Social (D.O.O.R.S.), The new charger point will allow users of mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs to recharge the battery while they are out in the city centre. Founder of DOORS Bernard Allen said: “We would like to say thank you to Councillors John Fortey, Richard White and Hugh Clark, who have all helped to push this forward. This is a wonderful thing for disabled people in Newport – it will allow them much more freedom.”

    AIRPORT STYLE SNIFFER DOGS USED IN PILL

    Oct 12 - Specially-trained drug dogs led 28 police officers through the streets of Pill on Saturday (October 10) between 12.30pm and 6pm. A large-scale drugs crackdown was carried out as part of Operation Prudent, which aims to address concerns raised by members of the Pill community and to restore pride in the area. Local people have voted to make drug supply and use a policing priority in Pill at PACT (Partners and Communities Together) meetings.

    Two passive drug dogs - a Labrador and Spaniel - and their trainers were loaned from South Wales Police to be used for the first time in Newport. Passive drug dogs, like those usually seen in airports, are trained to sniff out drug aromas on people as they walk past. The two dogs were alternated every 20 minutes to rest their sensitive noses, which become tired after concentrated periods of work. When the dogs indicated they could smell drugs on a person by sitting in front of them, officers stopped and searched them. A large van followed the police group to provide somewhere for people to be searched in private.

    Of the 13 people stopped and searched, two were arrested and cautioned for possession of small quantities of cannabis. Another person was given an £80 fixed penalty notice for possession of cannabis. As well as enforcing the law, officers gathered a number of intelligence logs for Operation Prudent. Sergeant Sarah Davies, who coordinated Saturday's operation, said: “We are aiming to stop the supply and use of drugs in Commercial Road and surrounding streets. I would like to thank South Wales Police for lending us the passive drugs dogs and for helping us to use this tactic during Operation Prudent".

    BUS SERVICE CONTRACTS AWARDED

    Oct 12 - New bus service contracts have been awarded for the following bus services - service 61 Magor to Newport (via Redwick and Llanwern), service 73 Chepstow to Newport (via Penhow and Langstone), service 74 the evening service from Chepstow to Newport (via Caldicot and Magor). All contracts have been awarded to Veolia Cymru (owned by Bebb Travel). The subsidy for service 61 will be £43,000 per annum for the cross boundary service running in to Monmouthshire the City Council will be contributing just over £14,000. The new services will take effect from 15 November 2009.

    JOBS SECURED BY SALE OF FIRM

    Oct 11 - Forty six jobs have been secured by the sale of a firm manufacturing aluminium castings, administrators say. Precision Cast-Components, of Usk Way, Newport, went into administration in September 2008. The company has been acquired by a new business created by former management and supported by private investment. Alistair Wardell of Grant Thornton said the firm was "a leading business of its kind" with strong relationships with a number of blue chip rail customers. The company has been involved in major refurbishments of the Circle and Metropolitan lines of the London Underground. Mr Wardell said administrators had worked "extremely hard to secure a sale and secure the future of a considerable number of the workforce".

    M4 RELIEF ROAD DECISION CRITICISED BY BUSINESS

    Oct 11 - A survey of three hundred Welsh businesses undertaken by Deloitte and the Western Mail reveals a large number of those questioned feel the decision to ditch the M4 Relief Road will not help the local economy. 32.1 per cent of those surveyed said it will have “large implications” for their businesses.

    ASSEMBLY AGREES ADDITIONAL NEWPORT FUNDING

    Oct 10 - The Welsh Assembly Government has agreed funding of £1 million towards Newport's City Enhancement Framework. The Framework will enable a range of additional projects to be undertaken and complement the existing programme of work that includes a range of physical and environmental improvements to the city’s gateways, landmark structures and key buildings. £2 million of taxpayers money has been committed by Newport Unlimited and £800,000 has already been received from the Assembly towards getting the Transporter Bridge up and running by the time of the Ryder Cup.

    In addition to these works, Newport City Council is committing £1m towards a programme of additional projects during the year. Leighton Andrews, Deputy Minister for Regeneration, said the city enhancement programme supported the on-going regeneration of the city and would help create a positive image and bring benefits to residents. “Newport will be in the media spotlight in the run-up to and during the Ryder Cup and it’s important that we are able to present a positive image of the city which is why I am pleased to announce this additional funding. A considerable amount of investment and work has already been made in the regeneration of Newport and we hope to capitalise on and benefit from the high profile associated with the Ryder Cup."

    NEW MUSEUM PROPOSED FOR THE NEWPORT SHIP

    Oct 8 - Newport City Council's Cabinet will next week discuss a report proposing that the City develops a new museum to host the discovery of the Newport Ship. The Newport Ship was found during excavation work for the Riverfront Theatre on the west bank of the Usk in 2002.

    In 2006/7 a steering group was set up at the request of the Welsh Assembly’s Minister for Culture Media Welsh Language and Sport to examine the future of the Ship Project. The working group comprised representatives of the Welsh Assembly Administration, Cadw, the National Museum of Wales, Cymal, the Friends of the Newport Ship and Newport City Council. This group examined a range of options for the ship and concluded that the greatest benefit would be gained if the ship was fully conserved and reassembled in a new museum that interpreted the find within a wide local history context. The working group also recommended that the display of the ship should be used as a catalyst for renaissance of the Newport’s Museums Service and that this new museum should be at the centre of Newport’s regeneration aspirations in the next decade. The Medieval Ship project has provided Newport with considerable positive publicity since its discovery in 2002. Bringing the project to a successful conclusion will provide lasting benefit for the City, and provides a unique asset to support the future ongoing regeneration of the city.

    The report states "A dedicated museum for the ship is an important aspiration and would enable the internationally important find to be showcased in an appropriate setting. Much debate has focussed on the type of Museum that should be created to tell the story of the Newport Ship. This was particularly so in the months following the Ship’s discovery when supporters of the ship called for a new Maritime Museum. There are also other significant maritime and estuarine archaeological finds including the Barland’s Farm Boat and the Magor Pill Boat which are available to be displayed."

    TESCO WIND TURBINE CONTROVERSY

    October 7 - Newport City planners will consider a planning application from Tesco next week to place a 100 metre high wind turbine adjacent to its distribution centre near Llandevenny. The plan has attracted widespread criticism from the communities in the area. Neighbouring Monmouthshire County Council object stating "the tall turbines would comprise obtrusive vertical features in an otherwise extensive flat landscape. The existing and approved buildings at Gwent Europark, although large, have a horizontal emphasis. The pylons are much smaller and have a horizontal element in the alignment of the pylons and the overhead transmission lines which link them; the site adjoins a registered landscape of historic interest and the turbines would dominate and/or punctuate views of the Levels over a considerable distance, causing harm to the character and appearance of the flat historic landscape, contrary to conservation interests." Thirty one letters of objection have been received from local residents "the proposal is a PR stunt with Tesco trying to be ‘green’." The Community Councils at Magor, Redwick, Goldcliff and Bishton all object to the development as does Upfield Farm Aerodrome and the Wildlife Trust. However, Newport City Council planning officers recommend approval "By the nature of their scale and height it is accepted that all wind energy developments will have some degree of visual effect. However, the setting and visual impact is considered acceptable. It is the role of the Authority to weigh up the visual effect and ecological impact of the turbines against the need for and benefits of clean energy. The Government and Welsh Assembly Government have recognised that such development make an important contribution to meeting renewable energy targets. It is considered that the impact of the turbines can be suitable mitigated and on this basis it is recommended that planning permission is granted."

    NEW STORE TO OPEN

    October 7 - A store combining discount clothes Ethel Austin and home-ware supplier Au Naturale is set to open in Newport. A number of managerial job opportunities are being placed on retail employment websites for the new store. Although the location of the new store is not specified Ethel Austin and Au Naturale have recently taken over a number of former Woolworth stores in Scotland, Kent and the East Midlands.

    POLICE SEARCHING FOR ABSCONDER

    October 6 - Police are appealing for information to locate 26 year old Paul Samuel Morrisey who failed to appear at Cwmbran Magistrates on September 4th. Paul Morrisey from Newport was convicted and sentenced (in his absence) for an assault which occurred on Chepstow Road, Newport in June this year. He received a six month sentence and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

    He is described as slim, of wiry build, five feet nine, short fair hair and is known to spend time in the Spytty and Lliswerry areas of Newport.

    Police are asking that if any members of the public see Morrisey they should call 999 or for anyone who has seen or has knowledge of his whereabouts to call 01633 838 111 or 101.

    ASDA OPENS NEW STORE

    Oct 6 - Asda has opened their new store in Pill claiming it is creating 350 new jobs for the area. Together with food, a customer cafe, the store has George clothing and an electronics section and is within walking distance of Newport's struggling city centre. Mandy Womack, community champion, was a special guest at the opening, with around 300 people queueing to see the new store. Mandy helped raise £850,000 for the Leukaemia Research Fund, and together with Newport Mayor, Glyn Jarvis, opened the store, with Eveswell Primary School Choir providing music. Mrs Womack said she was 'thrilled' to be the first person to have a tour around the store before the opening at 10am to the general public. The supermarket is situated on the former cattle market site.

    CITY STATION PROJECT GATHERS PACE

    October 5 - Here.

    THREE ARRESTS FOLLOWING BETTWS RAIDS

    October 5 - Police have arrested three people for drugs offences after simultaneously raiding four homes in Bettws. On Friday (October 2) 28 Gwent Police officers forced their way into four houses in Crouch Close, Bettws. After finding small amounts of cannabis and amphetamines, officers arrested one 23-year-old man and two women, aged 38 and 43, for drug possession. Another woman, aged 45, was arrested for cruelty to an animal and a malnourished dog was taken away by the RSPCA.

    The raids came after a Safer Newport antisocial behaviour investigation carried out by Newport West Neighbourhood Policing Team, Charter Housing, and a victim support officer from Newport City Council. A total of 31 incidents of antisocial behaviour in Crouch Close were reported between August 1st and October 1st 2009. These included three incidents of serious disorder. Sergeant John Davies, of Newport West Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “This action was planned to show the minority of problem residents in the Crouch Close area that antisocial behaviour and the victimising of people is not acceptable."

    POLICE APPEAL AFTER CAERLEON BURGLARY

    October 5 - Gwent Police is appealing for information following a burglary that occurred in Newport on Thursday 1 October. Forced entry was made to a property on Parkwood Close, Caerleon between 12.45pm and 6pm.A number of items were stolen from the address including a silver Panasonic Lumix digital camera, a charcoal grey Sony PM55 camcorder, a Nintendo Wii and two 3ft tall mahogany wood Castle speakers. The camera and camcorder are of particular value to the victim because they hold sentimental photographs and footage.Police are investigating this incident and appealing for anyone who may have been offered any of the items listed or holding any information that could assist with inquiries to contact them on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    BUS SERVICE IMPROVEMENT TO BUSINESS PARK

    October 5 - Newport Transport has announced an improved frequency to bus service 36 between the City Centre and Celtic Springs Business Park. The service runs along Emlyn Street and Cardiff Road before taking in Pont Ebbw Roundabout and Duffryn Drive. Running from Monday to Saturday the service will run at a 12 minute frequency throughout. Monday to Friday the first bus leaves Newport leaves Newport Bus Station at 0630, with the last bus from the Business Park at 1952. On Saturdays the start of the 12 minute frequency kicks in slightly later with the first bus at 0650 and the last bus returning to the City at 1952. Adult single fares are £1.20, with day tickets set at £2.50 (including services to Cardiff and Cwmbran). Elsewhere, the contracted service 61 to Bishton and Redwick could be under threat. The heavily subsidised service has had a number of operators over the last three years since the contract was taken away from Country Bus Services. Local councillor Martyn Kellaway (Conservative) presented a 300 name petition to the recent full Council meeting calling for the service to be retained.

    PEDESTRIAN HURT IN CRASH

    October 4 - A pedestrian is being treated for serious injury after an accident in Duffryn. A woman and a car collided in Lighthouse Road, Duffryn, on Saturday morning at about 0915 BST.

    ANTI-FUNDAMENTALIST PROTEST HEADS FOR NEWPORT

    October 2 - The English and Welsh Defence League is heading for Newport according to web publicity. The organisation states that it is has two aims - "Remove Islamic Fundamentalists from our streets, and Remove ALL practice of Shari'ah Law in England." It objects to a recent Newport City Council planning decision to allow the United Reformed Church in Victoria Street to become a Mosque and "multi-faith community centre". It's Facebook site is headed for the Newport protest with various badges including the Welsh FA and Newport County with a giant fist over a black and amber flag. On the site they criticise the planning decision stating "SHALL WE SIT BACK WHILE POLITICALLY CORRECT TRAITOR COUNCILLORS HAND OVER OUR CHURCHES AND DESECRATE WORLD WAR ONE MEMORIALS TO APPEASE MILITANT ISLAM?"

    The Welsh Defence League plans to demonstrate against the plan at John Frost Square on Saturday October 24 between 1pm and 4pm. At this week's Council Meeting the Leader of the Council Matthew Evans stated he was concerned about the demonstration and that all agencies were working to keep disruption to a minimum. Whilst a peaceful protest could be facilitated any disorder or violent activities would be dealt with. Superintendent Knight of Gwent Police stated that the police would facilitate lawful demonstration but criminal activity would not be tolerated. Police leave had been cancelled and a multi - agency group was looking at policing proposals and the prospect of counter demonstrations. Councillor Truman stated individuals who wanted to stir up unrest have no place ion the city. Newport was a multi -cultural society and any activity to stir racial tension should be condemned.  Pillgwenlly Labour Councillor Ibrahim Hayat stated that the proposed march was the biggest crisis of his lifetime spent in Newport.

    A piece about the Church on Newport City Council's website states "The church was built for Congregationalists in 1859 by A.O Watkins of Newport. The original layout of this large church still stands, with galleries on three sides and the pulpit at the further short end. The church itself can hold around 1000 people and features beautiful timber pews, piers and choir stalls. A number of beautiful stained glass windows depict images from the New Testament. Interior redesigned by A Swash with carving by Mageston of Bristol as First World War Memorial."

    The building has not been used since 2007. At the Council's site planning meeting on July 16 Councillors considered the issues raised concerning the impact of the proposed alterations on the architectural and historical integrity of the listed building. Lengthy discussion ensued concerning the war memorial plaque and what constituted the memorial. The minute states "It was noted that the War Memorials Trust had been consulted in relation to this matter and that their response was awaited."

    CITY HOUSE PRICES SHOW SMALL INCREASE

    October 2 - Latest Land Registry figures show another small increase in house prices in Newport. The figures for August just published show average prices increasing to £119,312, an increase of 1 per cent on July. However, when compared to August 2008, the figures still show a reduction in house prices of 14.1 per cent. Neighbouring Torfaen saw a reduction of 3 per cent, Monmouthshire saw a 2.1 per cent increase. In a separate survey from Nationwide Building Society they claim house prices across the UK are now nearing the levels they were in September 2008, this is not borne out by the Land Registry figures based on actual sales.

    TRUANCY ON THE INCREASE

    October 2 - Unauthorised absences from Newport schools increased in 2008/9 according to Welsh Assembly Government statistics. 2.2 per cent of days were lost due to unauthorised absences, up from 2 per cent in the previous year. The Welsh average is 1.7 per cent. 9.4 per cent of school days were lost due to authorised or explained absences, the Welsh average is 9 per cent.

    LABOUR CRITICISES PROPOSED DIRECTOR APPOINTMENT

    October 2 - The City Council's Labour Group is refusing to co-operate with a decision to fill the position of Corporate Director (Young People and Performance). Group Leader Bob Bright criticised the decision at this week's Council Meeting stating that in the light of the Leader of the Council’s remarks at the previous Council meeting the Labour Group could not support the appointment of a further Corporate Director which would cost over £100,000. The Leader of the Council had described the need to reduce the budget by £10 million over three years and given the potential austerity being faced by the Council the appointment could not be justified. He also claimed that the previous Managing Director Chris Freeguard had confirmed the structure of an Managing Director and two Corporate Directors as now was sustainable. The Leader of the Council Matthew Evans countered that Newport’s was a very small management team. It was the smallest in Wales and likely to be among the smallest in the UK. The new team would break down barriers between service areas and improve and rationalise services.

    THE RYDER CUP - JUST ONE YEAR AWAY

    October 1 - The Ryder Cup is just one year away from arriving in Newport. The 2010 event, between October 1 and 3, will be marked by the sporting contest at the Celtic Manor and an attempt to bring a sense of celebration to the City.

    The City's Newport Festival 2010 promises daring tightrope walkers high above the city, breathtaking fire shows lighting up the river, fairground rides along the riverside, and big names in music, arts and comedy heading to Newport. Thousands of residents will have the chance to take part in hundreds of events which could include Wales’s largest ever community arts project and to "catch some exhilarating shows that will live long in the memory".

    Councillor Matthew Evans, leader of Newport city council, said: "The next 12 months promise to be among the most memorable in Newport's modern history and a once in a lifetime opportunity to raise our profile on a global stage and create a long lasting legacy feeling good about the city. Clearly the eyes of the world will be in Newport as we build up to the Ryder Cup and the fact that we are a city capable of hosting one of the world’s great sporting occasions should give everyone in the city a huge amount of pride.

    David Russ, managing director of South Wales Chamber and Centre for Business stated "In fairness, I think Newport City Council and the assembly have done everything practical to give the Ryder Cup the best chance of success, it's just a shame that it looks as though it's going to come in the teeth of one of the worst recessions in a generation.We need to make sure that the whole city puts on an event which will fix Newport in people's minds as a place that they want to visit," he told the BBC "Speaking to people at the K Club in Ireland, they reckon that there's a 10 year window of opportunity in which to exploit the Ryder Cup, tailing off towards the end".

    Research by accountancy firm Deloitte shows that almost £100m was pumped into the Irish economy when the Ryder Cup was last held in Europe in 2006 at the K-Club in County Kildare. Spectators spent more than £230 each per day on average, while in the corporate sector the guests spent well over £300 and those from the United States almost £400.

    SPEEDWAY SET TO CONTINUE

    Sep 30 - See here.

    ASSEMBLY U-TURN ON CANCER PATIENT'S COSTS

    Sep 29 - A cancer patient from Newport says he is "relieved" after an assembly government U-turn to pay for the costs of travelling for specialist treatment in Switzerland. Lloyd Evans, 27, faced a bill of up to £7,000 in costs while undergoing proton beam treatment for a rare type of spinal bone cancer. He got NHS funding for therapy not available in the UK. But unlike English patients he was told those from Wales must pay for travel and accommodation. Edwina Hart decided on Friday to treat him as an "exceptional case" and was "disappointed" he had not been told. She said his costs would be funded by Health Commission Wales (HCW). The assembly government had previously said it did not fund travel expenses associated with NHS treatment. Such costs for patients in England are NHS-funded, based on an approved accommodation list and travel guidelines, according to Department of Health guidelines. Mr. Evans told the BBC prior to the decision "I live in Newport which is a stone's throw away from the English border. So if perhaps I lived a 30 or 45 minute's drive over the Severn Bridge fundraising wouldn't be an issue, putting it on my credit card wouldn't be an issue. And you hear the term postcode lottery. Until you are faced with having to raise multiple thousands of pounds to go for treatment which is effectively life-prolonging at the age of only 27, it goes beyond frustration. It really stinks."

    BUTLER BECOMES CYCLING 'CHAMPION'

    September 29 - By agreeing to take cycling lessons later in life Rosemary Butler AM has become one of Sustrans Cymru's cycling champions. The sustainable transport charity has been trying to get more people, especially women, to take up cycling. Sixty seven per cent of women in Wales never cycle at all.

    The Newport West AM and her personal assistant Katie O'Brien both agreed to take part in a course run by Sustrans, and they were named as cycling champions at a special conference in Cardiff on September 22, where they were joined by Jane Davidson, the Assembly's Environment Minister.

    Rosemary Butler said: Having never cycled before I was very keen to become a Sustrans champion. I'm hoping I can lead by example by taking my bike out on the new Sustrans Connect2 route in Caerleon - showing that it's never too late to learn! It will also be great to be able to cycle with my grandchildren."

    Sustrans have made it a priority in 2009 to encourage more women to take up cycling, and they hope that women like Rosemary Butler and Katie O'Brien will set a good example.

    CITY COMMENDED IN BRITAIN IN BLOOM AWARDS

    September 28 - Newport was presented with a Royal Horticultural (RHS) Silver Gilt last week as one of the winners of the Britain in Bloom City category. The judges visited Newport earlier in the year, and were impressed with the garden competitions that take place. The criteria used to assess Newport included horticultural achievement, environmental responsibility and community participation.Stephen Davison, head of public protection and environment services said: “Winning this award is a huge achievement for Newport and its residents and demonstrates how proud and hard working everyone is within the city. By working together the standard of our floral displays does not only help to attract visitors and economic benefits to Newport, they provide a source of joy for our residents”.

    REVIEW OF COMMUNITY WARDEN SERVICE

    September 28 - Newport Councillors are holding a meeting, which is open to the public, on 2 October 2009 at 10:30 in the Civic Centre as part of their review of the role of the council’s Community Safety Warden Service. Gwent Police will be addressing Newport Councillors as part of the Scrutiny Review. Councillors have asked Superintendent Julian Knight to meet them to discuss the level of policing which Newport will receive in the future, and how anti social behaviour will be tackled.

    DEAN WARNS NEWPORT CATHEDRAL MAY CLOSE

    September 27 - In a letter in today's Sunday Telegraph the Dean of Monmouth the Very Reverand Richard Fenwick has warned that Newport Cathedral may have to close at the end of this year. He says that the cathedral requires £1.5 million to repair its entire roof. He states "Unless the task is begun by the end of this year, we may well have to close the cathedral – one of Wales’s great pilgrimage churches since AD500."

    Madame Penelope Fillon, wife of the French Premier, visited Newport Cathedral last Saturday to lend her support for the Cathedral’s Emergency Campaign to restore its medieval roof. Mme. Fillon is a native of Llanover which falls within the diocese covered by Newport Cathedral. The daughter of an Abgergavenny Solicitor Colin Clarke, she married the French Premier in the 17th-century church of St Bartholomew, Llanover in June 1980.

    Newport Cathedral Emergency Campaign is focused on raising at least £1.5m for urgent restoration and repair work. The roof of Newport Cathedral is reaching a critical stage and work must begin as soon as possible. There are also other repairs needed to ensure the Cathedral can be enjoyed now and for future generations of worshippers and visitors. The cathedral has set up a Fundraising Team that is dedicated to reach the target of £1.5m needed. For more information go to http://www.newportcathedral.com/.

    NEW ALWAY POLICE STATION OPENED

    September 26 - A new police station in Alway, Newport, was officially opened by His Royal Highness, Prince Edward, this week (on Wednesday). Chief Constable of Gwent Police Mick Giannasi and Superintendent Julian Knight of Newport Local Policing Unit welcomed the Prince and showed him around the new station. Prince Edward then unveiled a plaque inside the station to mark the official opening. The new station is part of the Alway Regeneration Housing Scheme, which also includes the replacement of Alway Parade shops, a new community facility, the building a multi-use games area, and accommodation for older people.

    Chief Constable Mick Giannasi said: “We are committed to providing a policing service which meets the needs of our citizens by providing facilities like this one which lie at the very heart of our local communities.What is pleasing about this particular station is that it has been developed in a partnership between the police authority, Newport City Council, and Bellway Homes as part of the regeneration of the area. It has been particularly welcomed by local residents and is already making a difference in terms of restoring pride and confidence in the community.”

    COMMUNITY LINK FUNDS PARK PATROL BY BIKE

    September 26 - Neighbourhood police officers have been gifted two new bicycles to help them patrol the Tredegar Park area more effectively. The Tredegar Park Ward policing team, based at Duffryn Police Station, previously had to share one bicycle between them. Pc Darren Morgan and PCSO Rod Caddy approached local councillor Mike Brunnock for funding and they were given £500 to spend through the Duffryn Community Link. PCSO Rod Caddy said: “Bicycles allow us to better police the ward as we can cover large areas more quickly than on foot. “We can also get to incidents and pursue criminals much quicker on two wheels. “I’d like to thank Councillor Brunnock and Duffryn Community Link for buying these new bicycles for us. I’d also like to thank Halfords in Newport for giving us a discount on the bikes, which made it possible for us to fund bike lights and repair warranties.”

    45 JOBS CREATED AS DISTRIBUTION CENTRE IS OPENED

    September 26 - Llanelli-based Owens Road Services has opened a 90,000ft2 warehouse, which it will operate as a regional distribution centre for a major brewery, creating an estimated 45 jobs. The company will run the facility - which features a transport yard and vehicle servicing facility - at Reevesland Industrial Estate in Newport. Ian Jarman, environmental and legislation manager at Owens Road Services, says: "Due to the continued growth of the company, we had been searching for additional, suitably large warehouse accommodation with good access to the road network, which is vital to the operation due to ever increasing fuel costs. He adds: "It is hoped this will attract further business to the company."

    DRIVER JAILED FOR STEPDAUGHTER'S DEATH

    September 25 - A 41-year-old Llanmartin man who crashed his car into a bollard at speed, killing his stepdaughter as he tried to frighten his passengers, has been jailed for eighteen months. He was sentenced for causing death by dangerous driving. Edward Goddard, of Llanmartin, Newport, lost control of his speeding Ford Scorpio, killing mother-of-two Kaylee Goddard, 20. Newport Crown Court heard Goddard was so affected by the tragedy that he has taken to self-harm. The judge, Roderick Denyer, said the 18-month sentence was as low as he could make it. Goddard was so angry at being called out late to pick up his stepdaughter and her two friends in April 2008 that he pretended to drive at bollards at speeds of up to 110mph.

    NEW BUILDS SET TO INCREASE

    September 25 - Newport has seen a dramatic increase in the number of new builds according to the National House Building Council. The NHBC states that the number of new building certificates issued has increased by 163 per cent when comparing the summer of 2008 and 2009. The total number of certificates received by the NHBC reflects the total number of applications to build new homes, and registrations of properties submitted to the organisation. James Groombridge, managing director of Barratt South Wales, said: “This provides good evidence that there are signs of recovery in the region's housing market.”

    POLICE APPEAL AFTER ROGERSTONE BURGLARY

    September 25 - Gwent Police is appealing for information following a burglary that occurred in Newport on Tuesday 8th September 2009.
    The burglary was at a property on Bethesda Close sometime between 8.20am and 6.10pm. A number of items were stolen including some distinguishable items of jewellery: White gold double butterfly ring / Yellow gold oval emerald and diamond ring / Welsh gold ladies wedding band. These items have sentimental value to the owner.

    Other stolen items include: An Advent laptop - grey keyboard and black casing / An Acer netbook laptop - navy blue keyboard and black casing / A black Hewlett Packard laptop / A blue Ipod Shuffle / Black Motorola V3 mobile phone / Samsung D600 mobile phone / A money box with a picture of Jim Royle from the “The Royle Family” on it. Police are investigating this incident and appealing for anyone who may have been offered any of the items listed or holding any information that could assist with inquiries to contact them on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    SAINSBURY'S STORE GETS GO-AHEAD

    September 25 - The proposed Sainsbury's store in Crindau has been given the initial green light by Newport City planners. The plans require final clearance from the Welsh Assembly Government. Planning officer Mr Hand told the committee plans will be coming before them for a residential development and hotel on the site now occupied by Sainsbury.

     

    BUTLER WELCOMES TRANSPORTER BRIDGE CASH BOOST

    Newport's iconic Transporter Bridge is to be given £800,000 by the Assembly Government, to help it reopen by the time the Ryder Cup starts. Restoration work will start in January and the work should be completed in August. Newport West AM Rosemary Butler has been pressing Ministers for some time to find extra cash for the bridge. Shortly after the announcement she and Pill Councillor Ron Jones showed Deputy Regeneration Minister Leighton Andrews the site, along with other projects in the area.

    "This is fantastic news for the people of Newport," she said. "It will bring a much needed boost to the city." The bridge originally opened in 1906, and closed in December 2007 for safety reasons.

    The refurbishment work will form part of the £3.6 million city enhancement scheme prior to the Ryder Cup.

    COUNCIL TO CALL FOR RETHINK ON HOSPITAL DECISION

    September 23 - Newport City Councillors are being asked to support a motion calling on the Welsh Assembly Government to give further consideration to their decision in principle to site the new regional hospital in Llanfrechfa. The Councillors tabling the motion (David Williams and Ed Townsend) are calling for the two available sites (Llanfrechfa and Whiteheads in Newport) to be used for the development as there is likely to be a ten year wait for the new facility.

    The motion tabled for the full Council meeting on September 29 states

    ‘This Council notes:

    1: the health minister has indicated it could be as much as 10 years before the Gwent Clinical Futures project is implemented;

    2: that the Royal Gwent Hospital buildings no longer meet the health requirements of the people of the area.

    3: that additional money will have to be spent on short term changes to the Royal Gwent Hospital to cover the expected 10-year delay in implementing Clinical Futures This Council calls for work on the business case for a new critical care unit for the area to include a reappraisal of the clinical implications of building the unit at the two available sites in public ownership - The former Whiteheads steelworks site in Newport and at Llanfrechfa Grange in Torfaen - bearing in mind an expected opening date as late as 2019.’

    POLICE APPEAL AFTER FATAL RHIWDERIN CRASH

    September 23 - Gwent Police is investigating a fatal road traffic collision which occurred on the A468, Bassaleg to Machen Road in Rhiwderin. The incident occurred at approximately 9.25pm on the evening of Tuesday 22nd September 2009 and involved a green coloured Citreon Saxo and a silver coloured KA car. A twenty year old local man was killed as a result of the collision. Another male is currently receiving treatment at a local hospital. His injuries are described as not being life-threatening and he is described as being in a stable condition. Gwent Police is appealing for any witnesses to contact them using the non-emergency contact number, 101 or to contact the Collision Investigation Unit direct on 01633 642404.

    NEW 'FOOD FESTIVAL' FOR CITY

    September 23 - A new 'Food Festival' heads for Newport, this Friday, 25th September. This is part of an attempt to attract new visitors to the City. The Festival is an extension of the regular Newport Farmers Market which is run in John Frost Square on the 2nd and 4th Friday of the month by the same people who run the award-winning Riverside Real Food Market in Cardiff. The event is supported by Newport City Council.

    MATERNITY SERVICES MOVED OFF CRITICAL LIST

    September 22 - Maternity services which were previously deemed "unacceptable" have improved enough to be taken out of special measures. The move to monitor Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust was announced in May 2008 because of inspectors' concerns about the safety of women and babies.

    A new report by Health Inspectorate Wales said although the trust has made progress - enough progress to be removed from special measures - its maternity services will be monitored again in 2010. "We will, however, continue to keep a watching brief on maternity services in the trust to ensure that the further improvements required take place and are embedded," HIW chief executive Dr Peter Higson said. Concerns had been raised in 2008 that there were not enough midwives to provide a safe service after the Royal Gwent Hospital had to turn away high-risk pregnancies. The special measures intervention came after an investigation by Wales' chief nursing officer into the services, including unannounced visits to both Nevill Hall hospital in Abergavenny and the Royal Gwent in Newport. Two areas were found to require special attention - an acknowledged shortage of staff and a lack of leadership and management.

    CAFE PROVIDES BOOST FOR STRUGGLING KINGSWAY

    September 21 - The struggling Kingsway Shopping Centre has been given a welcome boost with the opening of the new Boswell's cafe and restaurant. The publicity for cafe states that it offers "all day food favourites from paninis, wraps and jackets to pastries and salads as well as a selection of hot and cold drinks." It is hoped the cafe situated opposite the entrance to the new car park will increase footfall and attract new retailers. The shopping centre was recently refurbished by owners UBS Triton. Its main anchor store Wilkinson is popular with shoppers but the loss of retailers Woolworths and Jessop has affected its popularity. There are twenty nine empty brand new units in the centre including two and three level stores fronting John Frost Square. However, it seems the centre may have turned the corner. The 24,651 square foot former Woolworths store is now under offer and four other smaller units are described as 'in discussions' with property agents.

    INTERIM REPLACEMENT ONLY FOR BURROWS

    September 19 - The Welsh Assembly Government has confirmed that Newport Unlimited, the regeneration company charged with transforming Newport by 2020, will remain without a permanent Chief Executive. As previous Chief Executive John Burrows returned to a post in the Welsh Assembly bizarrely no publicly stated arrangements have yet been made for a replacement. His departure comes just a year before the City hosts the 2010 Ryder Cup. In a statement the Welsh Assembly Government state that Gareth Beer, its head of strategic regeneration, would be joining Newport Unlimited as its interim chief executive while the search continues for a permanent replacement. In a statement on Friday the Assembly Government said that despite the current economic climate “the future of the city is positive with many regeneration projects under way”. Matthew Evans, leader of Newport City Council, said: “2010 is going to be a very exciting year for us and Newport Unlimited will continue to play a major role in creating a modern, progressive and successful city.” Mr Evans said: “John has lead his team in admirable fashion and ensured his expertise has been used to benefit Newport. We wish him well for future ventures. We welcome Gareth and look forward to forging a relationship that will support Newport’s development.” A Newport Unlimited Board Meeting note on July 17 states "A discussion took place regarding the future management arrangements for the Company in the light of the Chief Executive’s secondment from the Welsh Assembly Government expiring at the end of August 2009."  

    SAINSBURY SCHEME SET TO GET THUMBS UP

    September 19 - The major new Sainsbury's store proposed for Crindau has been recommended for approval by Council planning officers subject to referral to the Welsh Assembly Government. The supermarket chain states it will create 200 additional jobs and it is hoped act as a catalyst for the Crindau Gateway regeneration scheme. The new store will be double the size of the current outlet at 10,347 square metres (the current store in Shaftesbury Street is 5,037 square metres). As part of its scheme Sainsbury's states it will fund a new link road from Heidenheim Drive to the new site, the link road will be 300 metres from the current junction 25A roundabout near the M4. In addition, it will provide other local road, pedestrian and public transport enhancements. The store will include a total of 670 parking spaces and act as a hub for the Sainsbury's home delivery service.

    BURROWS MOVES ON

    September 18 - John Burrows, Chief Executive of Newport Unlimited has left the company after three years in charge. Mr Burrows took over responsibility from Graham Moore in 2006. A statement from the company said that Mr Burrows was returning to the Welsh Assembly in a new role.

    CITY COUNCIL CLOSES LLISWERRY LEISURE CENTRE

    September 17 - Newport City Council's Conservative-led coalition has taken the decision today to close Lliswerry Leisure Centre from 31 October 2009. The decision from Cabinet Member for Leisure Mike Hamilton comes in the face of a defiant campaign from centre users and local residents to keep the facility including swimming pool open.

    The report states that "the condition of the Lliswerry Leisure Centre had deteriorated over the last two decades with very limited investment in updating the facility to such an extent where large capital investment was now required to repair and renovate the facility." The statement is contested by local councillor Allan Morris "I have never read a report that opens by blaming the previous administration for two decades of under investment, During part of this time I was chair of Leisure and do not recall anyone ever bringing a lack of investment at Lliswerry Leisure centre to my notice during my time in office."

    Hamilton stated in June that over £300,000 was required to renovate or develop the facility to allow the Centre to compete with private leisure providers in the City. Critics argue that the figures quoted are wildly exaggerated by the Council for political purposes. The Council 's report states that even if it was believed that the capital to refurbish the facility was found, it was extremely unlikely that new users would be attracted to use the Leisure Centre due to the fact that the Newport International Sports Village was in the ward of Lliswerry and offered all of the leisure provision that the current Lliswerry Leisure Centre offered. However, opponents state that the swimming pool and other facilities at the Sports Village are for more serious sportsmen and women rather than the community facility provided in Lliswerry. In 2009/10, 27,212 visits had been recorded from April to August compared to 82,645 in 2008/09 and 119,225 in 2007/08 thus demonstrating an apparent downward trend in participation.

    However, the Council's report also cites a high level of participation at the centre in swimming lessons. 495 individuals participate in learn to swim programmes at the Centre, more than Newport Centre. It is claimed that the pupils could be accommodated at the new Active Living Centre at Newport High School in Bettws on the other side of Newport! The funds released by this will in part be released to provide additional funding for Underwood Leisure Centre, which is under a different management arrangement and has much lower levels of participation than Lliswerry. Underwood is in a Conservative held ward, Lliswerry is held by Labour.

    "TORY COUNCIL IS LOOKING AFTER ITS OWN" - LABOUR

    September 17 - Councillor Paul Cockeram (Labour - Malpas) has slammed the closure of another Council-owned facility by the new administration "Here again we have an administration hell bent on closing our facilities,without really having a full and open discussion on the issue. The facts in my opinion are not correct and do need challenging. When are the present administration going to put an end to these cuts (Mansion House, Health Suite and now Lliswerry Leisure Centre). I remember they found £100,000 to repair the Underwood Centre which we do not even own. It is so obvious to me and speaking to others they are looking after their own. I just hope the people in Newport East at the next election realise who closed their Leisure Centre, not us."

    Local Councillor John Richards stated "Spot polls carried out on small sections of the public are not the way to implement the democratic process and I question the use of these methods to arrive at decisions that affect the lives and leisure of thousands of people. I believe the financial figures that have been quoted by the cabinet member need more detailed examination in the best interests of the democratic process."

    Councillor Giles (Labour - Caerleon) stated "In response to this consultation the questionnaire shows that whilst people may be aware of other facilities in Newport, they prefer to go Lliswerry Leisure Centre, and are loyal, very regular visitors. I also note that the majority travel by car. The report does not specify where they travel from, however, a number may well be from Caerleon, which lacks a swimming pool. I note that respondents identified that the temperature of the pool at Lliswerry was more comfortable than at other Newport pools. It is stated that the warmer temperatures are of benefit to older people but then dismisses their needs as the remit is to provide 'recreational opportunities'."

    Councillor Ron Jones (Labour) stated "I wonder what pressure has been put on officers to portray this concept of the needs of Lliswerry pool ,this is not the officers that i worked with for a few years ,they were people who fought for Leisure and all its needs, aware of the fact that the fight was hard enough to get the initial provision and not destroy it. I am really sorry that finances are now more important than the people who put us where we are."

    Councillor Whiticutt (Labour) states "The report seems desperate to overcome some of the facts of the survey - that over 80% use the facility daily - which seems an extraordinarily successful user rate! That the vast majority (over 70%) would use the centre more if it was up-graded - the fact that a relatively small minority of 28% indicated they did not know or or would not use the centre more if it were refurbished. This is clearly something of a misrepresentation to put it mildly some might say a distortion of the figures."

    CITY SEEKS FUNDING FOR FOOD WASTE PLANT

    September 16 - Newport City Council is seeking funding from the Welsh Assembly Government to build a food waste plant in the City as it expands its food waste collection trials. The City Council requires the Anaerobic Disgestion Plant to meet European Community biogradeable waste standards.

    ROADS PROJECT ON TARGET

    September 16 - The City Council's highway maintenance entitled Project 21 is on target according to a report to the Cabinet.  Contractors have been appointed and works on phase 1 have been underway since June 2009. A major coordination effort has been made, not only between the various contractors working in each zone, but also with all of the statutory undertakers, to ensure works are planned and programmed now, and newly laid footways and carriageways are not dug up needlessly. Phase 1 of the £21 million project included twelve zones across the city, based on need and litigation levels. It is anticipated that by the end of March 2010 year one will be approximately 90% complete. A further 8 zones are planned for phase two starting in June 2010, again with a 12 month construction period. It was reported that recently returned questionnaires from the Underwood area were positive about the work carried out in the area.

    FIRE DESTROYS LLANWERN WORKS CLUB

    September 15 - A disused sports and social club in Newport has been damaged in a fire which broke out overnight. At its height, nearly 40 fire-fighters tackled the fire at the building in Spytty Road, the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service said. The Llanwern Sports and Social club was severely damaged in the blaze which was reported at 0032 BST and there is to be an investigation. The fire service called in crews from Maindee, Duffryn, Cwmbran, Caerphilly, Caldicot and New Inn.  Crews used a hydraulic platform and one jet, and a crew from New Inn remained at the scene on Tuesday morning to relieve colleagues and damp down. No-one was injured.

    PONTFAEN TO GET NEW DISPERSAL ORDER

    September 15 - The Safer Newport Partnership is set to introduce a new dispersal order in the Pontfaen area of Lliswerry to reduce levels of antisocial behaviour. Safer Newport decided to take action after receiving complaints from residents about youngsters gathering in a number of streets. Since August 2008 police received 140 calls from residents reporting antisocial behaviour, criminal damage and underage drinking. After gathering information and evidence, Newport East Neighbourhood Policing Team and Newport City Council authorised the implementation of a dispersal order.

    Dispersal orders give police officers and PCSOs the power to direct any groups of two or more people, or vehicles, to leave a specified area. The order in Pontfaen will run from October 18th 2009 until April 18th 2010. It will cover Pontfaen Shopping Centre, Pontfaen Road, Fallowfield Drive, Hillview Crescent, Mulcaster Avenue, Eastmoor Road, Westmoor Close, Fosse Close, and Fosse Road. Anyone who refuses to leave, or returns to the area within 24 hours, when ordered to do so can be arrested under the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003. The only exclusions to the order will be any prearranged public events that may be held in the area. Neighbourhood officer Pc Leanne Pole said: “We applied for this dispersal order after listening to the concerns of the public. Residents who attended PACT meetings in recent months voted to make antisocial behaviour a policing priority. The introduction of the order will give us the power to break-up groups of people hanging around on the streets and causing trouble.”

    BETTWS MAN LOCATED SAFE AND WELL

    September 15 - Forty year old Gino Lear, who had been missing from his Bettws home since September 10th, has been located safe and well.

    M4 OVERNIGHT CLOSURES TO START

    September 14 - A series of overnight closures of the M4 around start this week "to ensure the safety of drivers and workers during upcoming construction work" according to Traffic Wales. The M4 between junction 24 and 26 westbound is shut from 8pm tonight until 5.30am. Tomorrow the section between 23A (Magor) and 24 is closed during the same time frame. On Friday night the eastbound section is shut overnight between junction 26 and 24. The closures will allow for the full implementation of the new average speed cameras. Drivers are asked to check the Traffic Wales website, the Welsh Assembly Government's traffic information service.

    POLICE APPEAL OVER MISSING BETTWS MAN

    September 14 - Gwent police is appealing for information to help locate a man who’s gone missing from the Bettws area of Newport. 40 Year old Gino Lyndon Lear, has been missing from his home since the 10th of September 2009 but is thought to still be in the Newport area.

    He is described as white, of a slim build, slightly balding with dark curly hair and brown eyes. He is believed to have been wearing a blue jacket. Anyone with any information concerning his whereabouts is asked to call Gwent Police on 101 or on 01633 838 111.

    UNIVERSITY SATISFACTION RATING AHEAD OF CARDIFF - SURVEY

    September 13 - Student satisfaction with University of Wales, Newport is ahead of Cardiff University according to the Sunday Times University Guide 2010. The definitive guide to universities and colleges within the UK states that 75.8 per cent of students are satisfied with all aspects of the education offered by Newport's university (Cardiff is 74.6 per cent). However, the University ranks well behind on other indicators and overall is ranked 109th out of 127 institutions assessed, although this is ten places up on last year's ranking. The rate of drop out from Newport's courses amounts to 22.4 per cent  (11th in the UK). It is well placed for graduate starting salaries with students from Newport achieving £19,290 (52nd in the UK). The university has 3783 students and 196 teaching staff and will benefit in September 2010 from a £35million city centre set to house its business school and a large part of its school of art, media and design.

    CITY ENHANCEMENT PLAN TAKES SHAPE

    September 11 - The City Council is preparing plans for £3.6 million in physical and environmental improvements throughout Newport in the lead up to the Ryder Cup. The Enhancement Programme will focus on the City’s key gateways/entrances and routes into the centre, which will ensure the City, provides a positive image both up to and beyond the Ryder Cup. The works will be funded through Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) support. The report to next Tuesday's Council Cabinet states "A key factor to the Framework will be the delivery of a strong legacy of improvement to the City of Newport. These ‘themes’ will tackle the most pressing issues in terms of the City’s image to visitors and the local community, including gateway entrances into the City from the M4, unsightly buildings and key landmark structures."

    £800,000 has been set aside by WAG for the refurbishment of the Transporter Bridge, Newport's iconic structure. In addition, designs are being developed for Gateway Projects at Coldra, Tredegar Park, Heidenheim Way , and the Abernant junction into Celtic Manor, a New Railway Station Footbridge (£457,000) and the refurbishment of the former Rising Sun building near the Harlequin Roundabout (£150,000). The Action Plan also includes

    RYDER CUP LEGACY FOR TREDEGAR HOUSE

    September 11 - An improved and extended car park will be created at one of Newport’s most high profile and historic tourist attractions thanks to the Ryder Cup. The city council’s planning committee has granted planning permission for the new car park and coach facilities at Tredegar House which will act as a park and ride location during next year’s tournament. The works, which are being funded by the Welsh Assembly Government, will see the main car park resurfaced and a new coach area created, providing much needed improvements to the historic venue’s parking facilities. Councillor Matthew Evans, leader of the council, said: ”The new car park at Tredegar House will be a great asset for one of our most high profile and popular tourist attractions and is a prime example of how hosting the Ryder Cup in Newport will leave a permanent and positive legacy in our city. It is the latest in a range of infrastructure projects in our city ahead of the Ryder Cup next year. Projects such as the works at Tredegar House, improvements to the Coldra and the refurbishment of the Transporter Bridge will leave a lasting legacy for Newport residents and businesses that will have benefits way beyond 2010.”

    BIO-FUEL PLANT TURNED DOWN

    September 10 - Newport City Council planning committee turned down a planning application from the Vogen Group to build a biofuel power plant at Alexandra Dock despite the advice of officers to grant approval.

    CITY PRESSES AHEAD WITH PLANS FOR NEW RETAIL SCHEME

    September 9 - Newport City Council Cabinet will consider proposals for preparatory work for a new retail development following the collapse of the previous Modus deal. The City Council intends to take the lead in preparing the site for the development. In addition, it will be seeking to take control of the property assets in the area including the substantial amount currently in the hands of administrators operating on behalf of Modus.

    Officers have commenced negotiations with the Administrators regarding the purchase of their land interests but, failing this, they will be acquired compulsorily under a General Vesting Declaration, together with all the other remaining properties within the Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) boundary including John Frost Square. The Declaration will vest all of the property interests in the Council with 28 days of the Order, but this will also trigger entitlement to CPO compensation. The report states the Council should get on and prepare the site "The acquisition of the property interests, the development of a detailed scheme and the commencement of preparatory demolition works by the Council would go a long way towards "de-risking" the project for any future development partner and make it more attractive to the market. It would also simplify and accelerate the process. "

    The report, to be considered next week, calls on the Council to act quickly "As there appear to be no clear signs of the dire state of the investment market improving in the short term, the Council, if moving quickly, could maximise this opportunity and secure the property interests in the re-development area whilst property values remain depressed, particularly now that key ‘larger’ owners/interested parties have gone into administration."

    NEW SPEED RESTRICTIONS IN NASH

    September 9 - The City Council is introducing orders to restrict speed on roads in Nash. The single carriageway Nash Road and Broadstreet Common will be subject to 40 mph restrictions if the orders are passed after public consultation.

    FUND TO BOOST CITY PROJECTS

    September 8 - Newport citizens are being encouraged to contact the City if they want to stage an event or launch a project in your community but need some support to get it started. The Newport 2010 Community Chest is a unique fund for the city, set up to help make a difference and bringing communities together and get people feeling good about Newport. It could range from a community arts event, a concert, an exhibition, a mural or volunteering project, an open day, an even for children - anything that will bring people together in your community. The Council has a fund of at least £125,000 with grants available from £210 to £2010.

    POWER PLANT PROTEST GOES AHEAD

    September 7 - Up to 100 people have held a second demonstration over the use of foreign labour at the construction site of the new Uskmouth gas fired power station. Unemployed construction workers from the Unite and GMB unions gathered at the plant. The unions are calling on employers to honour a commitment to find 80% of staff from among local jobless people. Site contractor Siemens called the protest "inappropriate" and said 81.5% of employees were British or Irish. It said it made every effort to attract local applicants. The protesters blocked the road to the construction site from early on Monday morning, according to the BBC. A 'mass meeting' was called before protesters dispersed just after 0900 BST. The first protest involving around 40 people was held three weeks ago early in the morning at the plant site.

    RECYCLING EXTENDED

    September 7 - Newport Wastesavers will now collect envelopes and greeting cards in the blue boxes provided to residents. This extension to the kerbside collection service means that residents can recycle more than ever. With the ever increasing recycling services being made available to residents, there should not be a great deal of waste ending up in the general refuse bin going to landfill. The City Council state "We would like to thank residents for doing a fantastic job of recycling during the past few months, as we have recently hit a recycling rate over just over 40%. This is a major achievement and clearly shows that we are all taking the recycling message seriously."

    Wastesavers would also like to remind residents about the junk mail recycling scheme they have in place. Any mail that residents receive through the post which is not addressed directly to a resident within the household is classed as junk mail. This can include flyers; take away menus, free newspapers, sales leaflets. These items can also be put in the blue recycling box.

    USKMOUTH PROTEST PLANNED

    September 4 - Workers at Uskmouth Power Station in Newport are to stage a protest because they say local workers are being denied the chance to apply for jobs. The demonstration will take place on Monday next week in a repeat of the row which saw widespread strikes at oil refineries and related sites across the UK. They have urged workers throughout the country to attend the protest. A spokeswoman for Siemens, which is managing the design and construction of the plant, said local companies had been invited to tender for work and encouraged to attend local supplier days. She said 81.5% of employees that were currently safety inducted to work on the Uskmouth site were British or Irish.

    HOMES PLAN FOR HURRAN'S SITE

    September 2 - Newport City Council has received a planning application for 60 homes of the former Hurrans Garden Centre site in Langstone. In addition, Taylor Wimpey has submitted plans for 122 dwellings on the former Robert Price Builders Merchants in Rodney Road at the eastern end of the Usk Footbridge.

    ORCHESTRATED CAMPAIGN AGAINST BIOFUEL PLANT

    September 2 - City Council planners have confirmed that there has been an orchestrated campaign by the group biofuelwatch against the proposed Vogen Energy Plant proposed for the Alexandra Dock area. City planners are recommending approval but the campaign group has drummed up significant opposition - 23 letters, 223 e-mails and 331 postcards have been received from objectors stating that the plant will damage the ecology of Indonesia and Malaysia and local air quality.

    A public exhibition and information event was held on 25 August 2009 in the Newport Centre providing information about the proposed development, an opportunity to ask the applicant questions or discuss concerns, and an opportunity to record comments on the proposals. 35 comments supporting the proposals, 6 against, 2 undecided, 10 businesses wishing to provide business support, and 183 people interested in employment opportunities. Ultimately, the latter may be the deciding factor.

    BANK HOLIDAY RETAIL GLOOM FOR CITY CENTRE

    September 1 - The need for urgent action to save the retail offer in Newport City Centre was emphasised by yet more gloom from the representative of the city's retailers. Ken Ellis, president of the Newport Chamber of Trade, told Wales Online retailers were suffering in the city as the result of the collapse of the Friar’s Walk shopping development, making already tough trading conditions considerably worse. “Retailers are suffering very badly from lack of footfall,” he said “The Bank Holiday doesn’t help matters – because people are off for a longer period they tend to travel and will go to Cardiff and Cribbs Causeway rather than into Newport. I’m very concerned about how Newport is going to fare over Christmas. It’s struggling week by week as it is.”

    ALWAY SCHOOL CLOSED FOR EXTRA DAY

    September 1 - Due to extensive works being carried out over the summer break, Alway Primary School is having to close for an additional day. This means that school will not re-open to pupils until Monday 7 September. "We are extremely sorry for any inconvenience this may cause" said Richard Hughes, Headteacher.

    CITY 'MOST AFFORDABLE UNIVERSITY TOWN'

    August 31 - Story here.

    ARGUS CIRCULATION FIGURES FALL 5.6 PER CENT

    August 30 - Sales of the Newport and south east Wales regional newspaper the 'South Wales Argus' have fallen to a historical low. The latest Audit Bureau of Circulation figures show daily sales of the paper are now averaging 26,667 a fall of 5.6 per cent on the same period in 2008. Overall sales of regional dailies dropped eight per cent overall from a total of 3,126,756 in the six months to June 2008 to 2,868,544 in the first half of this year. The most popular regional paper, the Wolverhampton based Express and Star averages nearly 129,000 readers. From its first publication in 1892 until 7 March 2008 the paper was an evening paper printed in Newport. From 10 March 2008 the paper was a morning paper printed in Oxford or Worcester.

    LITERACY AND NUMERACY TESTS FOR TAXI DRIVERS

    August 29 - Newport City Council is introducing basic literacy and numeracy tests for taxi drivers as part of their commitment to ensure that those with licences meet set customer service standards and also have a knowledge of the City and an understanding of the types of enquiries likely to be made by customers. Prospective applicants for a Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Driver Licence are required to successfully pass the basic English and numeracy test prior to them making an application for a Driver Licence.

    At the start of the test, the applicants are required to produce a photograph and also photographic ID to verify their identity. Cross-reference with the photograph produced at the test is then made when the applicant submits the application for the Private Hire or Hackney Carriage Driver Licence.

    EXAMPLE QUESTIONS

    Look at the questions below which give some fares and some change required. Circle the correct answer from the four given.

    11. A fare is £5.70. You are given a £10.00 note. How much change would you give?

    A) £3.40 B) £4.30

    C) £4.20 D) £3.30

    You will hear five road or street names, in Newport. Using the map provided, write down the map page number and grid reference for the roads and streets that you hear. 10 minutes will be allowed for this section.

    Your passenger says “can you drop me by the train station?” You say :-

    A) By train B) In the bus station

    C) Of course D) Two pounds

    ASDA CREATING 350 JOBS WITH NEW STORE

    August 28 - A new branch of Asda opening on the old cattle market site in Newport will provide locals with 350 jobs, the supermarket chain claims, spanning from management posts to warehouse operatives to sales assistants. The firm has received over 1,000 applications for these jobs, and feels this reflects despite the recession this reflect their popularity as a business and an employer. The new store - one of two to be opened in Wales this year - will take up an impressive 40,000 sq ft, and will be in business from October. Asda is creating 7,000 new jobs this year in the UK, and 3,000 of these are targeted at those who have been out of work for a long time. In more positive news semi conductor company International Rectifier has taken on 70 new members of staff at its Duffryn plant following an upturn in demand.

    TEENAGER ILL IN KENYAN HOSPITAL

    August 28 - Newport teenager on a charity work trip to Kenya has been airlifted to hospital after falling ill. Chris Morrone, 17, from St. Julian's, complained of chest pains and breathing difficulties while on safari. He is under sedation in a Nairobi hospital while doctors investigate what is wrong with him. He was near the end of a trip with 39 other youngsters from St. Julian's High School working for the charity Moving Mountains. His parents have flown out to be at his bedside. Andy Hunt, one of the leaders of the trip which worked with street children, said he was in a critical condition.

    HOUSE PRICES INCREASE

    August 28 - Newport house prices increased during July 2009 according to figures reported by the Land Registry. The average price rose by 0.9 per cent to £117,823 but was still down by 15 per cent on the figure for July 2008 (£138,027).

    DECISION TIME FOR BIOFUEL PLANT

    Aug 27 - UK-based Vogen Energy is planning to bring online a biomass-fuelled power station in Newport. The City Council is currently deliberating permission for the 25 megawatt power station which will power around 44,000 homes from sustainably sourced vegetable oils. The operators are hoping to house the plant on a 4.7 acre brown field site near the city’s South Dock creating 70 jobs, 40 during the initial construction and 30 permanent jobs following completion of the plant. The £30 million project could be completed as early as 2011 if the council gives it the go ahead next week. Haven Energy and Biogen energy plants are already operating in the area, and a third plant would attract other sustainable energy businesses to the area, which could create even more employment opportunities, the company says. Local environmental campaigners claim city air pollution will worsen and will contribute to climate change. Foodnotfuel.org claims  "Biofuel production releases more greenhouse gases through land conversion and chemical fertiliser use than the fossil fuels they replace." So far there are no biofuel power stations in the UK although planning permission has been granted to build one in East London.

    CITY APPLAUDS GCSE PERFORMANCE

    Aug 27 - Newport City Council is congratulating GCSE students and school staff on their 2009 results today. This year’s GCSE results from Welsh Joint Education Committee (WJEC) have matched our best ever results which were achieved last year. The provisional results show that 96.5 per cent of Newport pupils achieved an overall pass rate of A*-G. At the higher grades A*-C the pass rate was 62.6 per cent. The proportion of children achieving the top A*-A grades was 20.7 per cent (1.8 per cent above the Welsh average). Brett Pugh, Chief Education Officer said: “The consolidation shown in this year’s GCSE results is a wonderful example of the continued hard work of our students and teachers. These results will help to further the opportunities for young people in the current economic climate.”

    CHARITY SHOP WITH A DIFFERENCE OPENS

    Aug 27 - The British Heart Foundation opened a new second-hand store in Commercial Street Newport on 26th August to provide quality affordable furniture and electrical items. All money raised will go towards helping the charity raise funds to fight heart disease.

    FURTHER PROTESTS PLANNED AT USKMOUTH

    August 26 - Construction workers have been protesting for two weeks outside the Uskmouth power station site at Newport. This is because the contractor Siemens is refusing to give many unemployed local construction workers work on the site, preferring instead to bus workers in from abroad to breach union agreements. Subsequent protests have been smaller but the anger has not dissipated. The Newport Socialist Party claims "Workers are gearing up for a big protest on 7 September, when workers from all over the country will be rallying at Uskmouth. This day of protest must be built for to show Siemens and all the other construction contractors that this attack on union organisation will be resisted and workers will force them to adhere to the agreements."

    JOBS TO GO AT LLOYDS

    August 25 - Banking giant Lloyds is to axe another 200 jobs, taking the total to 7,500 this year, it has been announced. The latest cuts will hit the bank's general insurance arm, hitting offices in Newport (with up to 50 jobs set be affected) and West Yorkshire. Union leaders attacked the move, accusing the bank of having a "confused" management style following last week's surprise decision to review the planned closure of Cheltenham & Gloucester branches. Lloyds said it was combining the support functions of the Lloyds TSB and HBOS general insurance division into one integrated business, including sales, marketing, actuarial and underwriting operations. Staff affected by the cuts were briefed by their line manager, and Lloyds said it was committed to working through the changes "carefully and sensitively".

    MINISTER TOPS OUT AT UNIVERSITY - here

    BURGLARY AT MAN OF GWENT

    August 25 - Gwent Police is investigating a burglary at the Man of Gwent Public House on Chepstow Road, Newport and appealing for members of the public to come forward to help identify a man caught on CCTV at the premises.

    The break-in occurred sometime overnight from the 4th-5th August 2009.

    A cigarette machine was stolen, along with a quantity of cash from a charity box.

    Police are undertaking enquiries and are appealing to anyone who has any information that may assist or can identify the man in the CCTV stills to contact Gwent Police on 01633 838 111 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    £15 MILLION WASTED ON FAILED ROAD PROJECT

    August 24 - More than £15 million was spent on the M4 Relief Road Project. Long-standing plans for the toll road to ease congestion on the M4 near Newport were dropped by the Assembly Government last month because of the spiralling cost. Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones announced the scrapping of the project stating the bill for the relief road had soared from £340 million to £1 billion. Now, figures obtained by Newport-based AM William Graham reveal £15.57 million had already been spent on the design development of the route between Magor and Castleton between 1998 and 2008. But the Assembly Government said the money had not been wasted as much of the work it paid for could be used in the delivery of cheaper, alternative schemes. The Welsh Conservatives described the decision to abandon the project as limiting the prospects for economic growth in the region.

    Mr Graham said: "The proposed M4 relief road was one of two major strategic requirements for the transport network in south east Wales. It is clear that even as recently as last year the Assembly Government was committed to its development and was spending millions on turning it into a reality. While we accept that major projects such as this inevitably require careful planning over a number of years, £15 million has effectively been wasted by the Assembly Government's decision to abandon it."

    POLICE MAKE TWO ARRESTS IN SEX ATTACK ENQUIRY

    Two men have been arrested in connection with a serious sexual assault on a 14-year-old girl in the grounds of a community centre. Officers had appealed for information after the attack at the Brynglas Community Centre in Newport, in the early hours of Wednesday, 19 August. They state  the arrested men are aged 19 and 20 and are both from Newport. They have been released on police bail pending further enquiries. Anyone with information should contact Gwent Police on 01633 838111 or Crimestoppers on 0800 111 555.

    CITY SCHOOLS POST STRONG A-LEVEL PERFORMANCE

    August 22 - With more students than ever sitting the A and AS Level exams, the performance of Newport schools continues to improve.The overall pass rate (grades A-E) in Newport was 98.2 per cent, which is 0.6 per cent higher than the overall pass rate for Wales. In Newport, the percentage of students achieving a WJEC grade A has increased to 32.1 per cent. This is an increase of 2.1 per cent from last year’s results, and is 7 percent above the Welsh average. Passes at Grade A – C have also increased to 82.2 per cent, which is a 2 per cent rise from last year’s results. In the AS examinations, 23.9 per cent of Newport students achieved an A grade. This is 7 per cent higher than the Welsh average of 16.9 per cent. Students achieving a pass grade (Grade A – E) has decreased slightly (3.7 percent) from last years results to 88.7 per cent. Yet, this still remains above the Welsh average of 86 per cent. The Welsh average has dropped this year by 2.5 per cent.

    SERIOUS SEXUAL ASSAULT - POLICE ISSUE URGENT APPEAL

    August 22 - Police are appealing for information following the serious sexual assault of a 14 year old girl near the Harlequin roundabout, Newport in the early hours of the morning, Wednesday 19th August 2009. The teenager was walking along Malpas Road near the Harlequin roundabout when she was approached by two men who engaged her in conversation. They then all walked into the grounds of the Brynglas Community Centre where she was sexually assaulted. The first offender is described as male, approximately 18 years old with an olive complexion and short dark hair. He was wearing a dark top, three quarter length trousers and white trainers. He had a tattoo on his left arm and spoke with a foreign accent. The second offender is described as a white male, approximately 18 years old and 5 feet 1 inch tall. He was of stocky build and had sandy brown hair and facial stubble. He was wearing a white t-shirt, dark tracksuit bottoms and white trainers. He spoke with a local accent. Gwent Police are keen to speak to anyone who knows the identity of these men or anyone who may have seen them in the vicinity of the Harlequin Roundabout or Brynglas Community Centre in the early hours of this morning. Officers would also like to speak to anyone who was in these areas between 10pm on the 18th August and 2am on the 19th August as they could hold information that could assist in inquiries. Anyone with information is asked to contact Gwent Police on 01633 838 111 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 111 555.

    POLICE OFFICER SENTENCED IN BLACKMAIL CASE

    August 22 - Former police officer Ray Clark was sent to prison yesterday for his role in a conspiracy to blackmail thousands of pounds from two different victims. Clark was sent to prison today for 26 months. Clark, from Western Avenue, Newport, had previously admitted two counts of conspiracy to blackmail. He went on to become a prosecution witness in the case against his co-accused Allan Cole, Simon Somers and Anthony Holwell. Cole 45, of Cae Brynton Road, Newport, and Holwell, also 48, from Coedkerknew, Newport, were both sentenced to a total of seven years’ imprisonment after they were found guilty by jury.

    CORPORATION ROAD STREET ROBBERY APPEAL

    August 22 - Police are appealing for information following a robbery which occurred on Corporation Road, Newport in the early hours of Thursday 20th August. Between 4am and 4.20am, a 45 year old man was approached on Corporation Road by three people, 2 men on bicycles and a woman on foot.  He was verbally threatened and pushed to the floor.  A quantity of cash was stolen from him. The three offenders left the scene in the direction of the Cenotaph on the junction of Corporation Road and Caerleon Road.  The victim sustained minor injuries.

    Police are interested in speaking to anyone who was in the area of Corporation Road around 4am. They are asked to contact DC Andy Dabinette on 01633 245 495 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    PRODUCTION AT LLANWERN TO RESTART

    Aug 19 - In another positive sign for the economy steel production at the Corus hot strip mill at Llanwern near Newport is to restart next month. It has been mothballed since January, but the company says there has been some growth in orders and it wants to satisfy this increasing demand. However, Corus say the restart will not reverse any of the 528 job losses at the plant. Tim Rutter, head of communications for Corus Strip Products UK, told the BBC the hot strip mill at its Port Talbot steelworks is now working "flat out" and senior managers have taken the decision to restart Llanwern to increase capacity.Steel union Community welcomed the move and said it would be seeking a meeting with Corus to discuss the long-term implications.

    UNION CAMPAIGNS AGAINST FOREIGN WORKERS AT POWER PLANT

    Aug 18 - Protestors are calling for local engineering jobs to be created at a gas-fired power plant in Newport. It is claimed up to 40 unemployed engineers gathered at Newport's Severn Power yesterday (August 17th), calling on contractor Siemens to employ more local people. Allan Card, regional officer of the Unite union, said that the protestors want to have equal employment opportunities. "Commitments have been given that local people will be employed but concerns are growing that the opportunity is being missed," he commented. Siemens, which is building the Danish-owned facility, tried to assure the protestors by saying that it employed local contractors wherever it could. According to Unite, there are 161 British and Irish people in engineering jobs at the site, which compares to 150 foreign engineers.

    A spokeswoman for Siemens, which is managing the design and construction of the plant, said local companies had been invited to tender for work and encouraged to attend local supplier days. She said 81.5% of employees that were currently safety inducted to work on the Uskmouth site were British or Irish. "We fully support and abide by the National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry (NAECI) 2007-2010 and as such, Siemens has an explicit policy of using local contractors wherever possible and recruits individuals depending on who we believe is most suitable to perform the tasks in question. We actively work with local job centres throughout the UK to conduct independent job searches and hire locally based skilled workers. We insist our contractors do the same." She said Siemens held regular meetings with Newport job centre and advertised any vacancies through them. Severn Power's Newport power station was given the green light two years ago. It will have an energy capacity of 850MW and employ approximately 650 people.

    NEW SCHOOL WINS COVETED AWARD

    Aug 18 - Newport High School (formerly Bettws School) has become the first secondary school in Wales to be awarded a BREEAM Excellent rating. Developed for optimum efficiency, the building exploits natural ventilation and has been designed to be air tight. The school's heating and power needs will be met using low carbon and renewable technologies, such as a combined heat and power (CHP) system, solar water heating and thermal storage. The result is a 20% improvement over and above the required performance on CO2 emissions. The new facility, which opens its doors to pupils in November 2009, boasts some of the most advanced teaching facilities in the country. Pupils and teachers will benefit from state-of-the art resources including 34 general teaching rooms, eight science labs, eight dedicated ICT suites and six SEN areas, plus a vocational training and learning resource centre.

    Richard O'Neil, Director at HLM Architects, said: “This is an outstanding achievement for the client and the entire project team. Through collaboration and partnership with the school from the outset, we have set a new standard in Wales, which we hope will set the benchmark for future secondary school development.”  The school's extensive on-site sports facilities will include a gym, swimming pool, fitness suite and café, together with MUGA sports pitches.

     

    BIOFUEL PLAN CONSULTATION

    August 17 - Energy company VO-Gen Energy Ltd has applied to Newport City Council in South Wales to build a  power station to run off virgin vegetable oil. The power station would burn up to 40,000 tonnes of vegetable oil per year. It would be built south of the Alexandra Docks and it will rely on imports of palm oil and possibly soya. This is the second company applying to build such power stations in the UK, taking advantage of increased government subsidies for so-called “clean electricty” under the Government's Renewable Obligation. The Council has set up a public event on 25th August 2-7pm in Castle Room at Newport Leisure Centre, letting the public know more about the development and giving the opportunity to ask any questions.

    It is anticipated that up to 30 full time, long term jobs will also be created to run the operation, in addition to those required during the 12 month construction phase. Vogen also intends to establish its corporate headquarters at the facility creating a further 10 to15 jobs. Harvey West, Vogen Energy’s chief executive, said: “It’s an exciting time for bio-energy at the moment and we are committed to developing a flagship renewable energy plant in Newport, using only bio oil from accredited sustainable sources.

    BODY IN RIVER USK IDENTIFIED

    Aug 17 - The body that was discovered in the River Usk on 7th August 2009 has now been formally identified as missing person 85 year old Basil Oliver from St Julian's in Newport.

    CITY BAKER INVESTS AS BUSINESS GROWS

    Aug 15 - Newport bakery D Gibbon and Sons has invested £100k in new machinery for its factory, to cope with increased business. The manufacturer and wholesale bakery supplies its own breads, rolls, cakes and confectionery, including its Gibbons Family Bakers brand, as well as national brands such as Hovis, across South Wales and areas of the UK.The money has been spent on two single-rack ovens, as well as a flow-wrapper and an additional van for its fleet. "The new ovens are less labour-intensive, but we will need to take on more staff because production has gone up," said bakery manager Julian Owen. "One of our major customers is Aldi and, in time, we're looking to set up separate distribution in Swindon. At the moment, we supply around 25 stores local to Newport, but we hope to expand on that."

    SCOTTISH AND SOUTHERN BUYS USKMOUTH POWER STATION

    Aug 13 - Major utility company Scottish and Southern Energy PLC (SSE) said Thursday it has acquired Uskmouth Power Company Ltd. from Welsh Power Group Ltd. for £27 million, taking SSE's electricity generation capacity over 11,000 megawatts. Uskmouth Power Company owns and operates the 363-megawatt Uskmouth coal-fired power station in Newport. The power station comprises three independent power generating units of 121 MW capacity each. The power station dates from the 1960s and was substantially refurbished in 2000, including the fitting of flue gas desulfurization equipment and is one of the cleanest coal plants in the U.K. The plant also uses biomass fuels along with coal.

    "It is generally accepted that the U.K.'s current portfolio of coal-fired power stations still have a crucial role to play in keeping the country's lights on and Uskmouth has the flexibility to help meet demand for power over the next few years," said SSE Chief Executive Ian Marchant. SSE intends to examine a range of options to ensure Uskmouth remains an important part of its electricity generation portfolio, including opportunities to develop new lower carbon generation assets alongside the existing generation assets.

    DRAGONS APOLOGISE FOR E-MAIL BLUNDER

    Aug 13 - Newport Gwent Dragons has 'unreservedly' apologised for a potential breach of the Data Protection Act. The Dragons provided sponsor Motorpoint with a list of e-mail addresses for Dragons and Newport RFC supporters including former season ticket holders. The list was used by Motorpoint to advertise an event on August 22 (see left). A number of recipients expressed their displeasure that their e-mail address had been passed on without their permission.

    Charlotte Moriarty, Media and Events Managers wrote to all recipients confirming the potential breach of the Act "Regarding an email sent out by our partners, Motorpoint, yesterday (Wednesday 12 August.). Newport Gwent Dragons supplied Motorpoint with a mailing list which should have filtered out any person not wishing their emails to be shared with a third party. Motorpoint have only used this email list to send out press releases directly related to their partnership with the Dragons. Please be assured that Motorpoint have erased this mailing list and you email addresses have not been shared with other parties.Newport Gwent Dragons and Motorpoint apologise unreservedly for this error and any distress it may have caused."

     

    COUNCIL CONFIRMS CAPITOL CAR PARK CLOSURE

    Aug 13 - Newport City Council has confirmed the closure of the Capitol Car Park. They state "the old Capitol car park has now closed to the public. There is signage at the Capitol advising people of the closure although there will be some limited parking for council staff only with a valid permit." This follows the opening of the new 1,050 space Kingsway car park, which includes 30 disabled spaces and parent and child spaces, is located in the heart of city next to the library and Newport Centre. The Kingsway car park allows direct access to the newly refurbished Kingsway shopping Centre anchored by Wilkinson and where Peacocks have just re-opened their new larger store. It is open between 8am and midnight providing Newport with modern, secure and accessible parking.

    DISPERSAL ORDER PLAN FOR MAESGLAS

    Aug 12 - Residents of Maesglas will soon see police officers engaging with youths to reduce antisocial behaviour in the area. The Safer Newport Partnership is set to introduce a new dispersal order in Maesglas to reduce levels of antisocial behaviour. Dispersal orders give police officers and PCSOs the power to direct any groups of two or more people, or vehicles, to leave a specified area. Youngsters aged under 16 can also be taken home to their parents if they are found unsupervised in the designated area after 9pm. Police officers and council wardens will also work closely with Community First, Team Challenge, the Youth Offending Service, and Out-reach to involve youngsters in constructive activities. The order in Maesglas will run from September 3rd 2009 until February 4th 2010. It will cover Maesglas Avenue, Maesglas Road, Maesglas Crescent, Maesglas Grove, Maesglas Close, Maesglas Street and all associated walkways and lanes open spaces. The order also includes Bideford Road, Bideford Close, Buxton Close, Winchester close and all associated walkways, lanes and open spaces. Anyone who refuses to leave, or returns to the area within 24 hours, when ordered can be arrested under the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003. The only exclusions to the order will be any prearranged public events that may be held in the area. Safer Newport decided to take action after receiving complaints from residents about youngsters causing a nuisance and committing crime in the area.

    NO COLD CALLING ZONE SET UP IN CAERLEON

    Aug 11 - Residents of the Home Farm area will soon see an end to unwanted callers at their front doors after a ‘No Cold Calling Zone’ was authorised by the Safer Newport partnership, with input from Gwent Police and Newport City Council.Action was taken after Newport East Neighbourhood Policing Team received a number of calls from residents on the estate complaining about suspected rogue traders and distraction burglars. Every resident Home Farm will be given an information pack on the ‘No Cold Calling Zone’ and a window sticker to deter unwanted callers. Signs marking the zone will also be displayed on lampposts around the estate.

    Pc Leanne Pole, of Newport East Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “Many of the residents in the area are elderly and vulnerable and this ‘No Cold Calling Zone’ gives them a clear authority to turn people away from their doorsteps.It’s not designed to stop legitimate callers such as the milkman or gas board representative - it’s to stop bogus callers."

    ANALOGUE TELEVISION SWITCH OFF GETS UNDER WAY

    Aug 11 - The switch off of analogue television received via aerial in Wales is now under way with the switch off of the analogue transmitter in Kilvey Hill serving Swansea and Port Talbot. This will allow for the permanent switch to digital television or Freeview as it is better known. The last analogue switch off in Wales will be Wenvoe, serving Cardiff, Newport and south east Wales, on 3 March 2010 with the whole process completed by April.

    BODY PULLED FROM RIVER

    Aug 11 - Police say the body of a man has been recovered from the River Usk in Newport. Officers were called to a site close to the Orb Electrical Steels plant just before 1930 BST on Friday, after a report of a body in the water. It is understood that the body may have been in the water for some time. A spokesperson for the Police said circumstances surrounding the death are now being investigated. The man has not yet been formally identified. The discovery follows a two-day search in July for a 83 year old man named Basil Oliver thought to have fallen in to the River Usk at Caerleon on July 25. That search was later scaled down without the individual being found.

    CITY WINS WALES IN BLOOM AWARD AGAIN

    Aug 10 - Newport has once again put aside its regeneration woes to carry off the Wales in Bloom title - for the eleventh time. The city beat off the challenge from Cardiff and Swansea. Wrexham finished second. Llanmartin received a merit in the small village trophy and the Milton, Llanwern won the category for pubs, hotels and restaurants for the second successive year.

    BARRAGE COULD LEAD TO FLOODING RISK

    Professor Haslett joins Griff Rhys Jones on Rivers on BBC1 tonight at 9pm to discuss the Severn Estuary

    Aug 7 - The proposed Severn Barrage could lead to flooding in Cardiff and Newport, a leading Welsh coastal scientist has warned according to Wales Online. Professor Simon Haslett, director of the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at the University of Wales, Newport, said a barrage would be on a “losing curve” of energy production and was not a “sustainable solution” because it is likely to create more problems than it solves. However, Professor Haslett believes that the Severn Estuary is an ideal location for generating electricity from tidal energy because of its tidal water, which comes in and out twice daily, and has a range between low and high water of nearly 15 metres (45ft). It seems that academic opinion is moving in favour of tidal lagoons rather than a barrage solution.

    Bur Prof Haslett said: “The barrage is designed to create electricity and to stop sea floods. But its development will lead the sea level to rise by three metres in the estuary and that’s going to drown a lot of tidal mudflats that are currently exposed. It will also increase groundwater levels around Newport and Cardiff, causing a higher risk of localised flooding."

    “As well as the barrage option, which will change the environment considerably, I would also like to see other technologies such as submarine turbines which are like undersea windmills that are hidden from view and have minimal impact,” he added.

    THREE ILLEGAL WORKERS DEPORTED AFTER RAID

    Aug 7 - Three immigration offenders, caught by UK Border Agency officers during a crackdown on illegal working in Newport, have been removed from the United Kingdom. Acting on intelligence, officers visited Dragon Palace takeaway, 472 Chepstow Road, Newport, on Saturday, 18 July. Officers sealed all exits before searching the premises and checking the identity documents of staff to find out whether they had the legal right to live or work in the United Kingdom. Three members of staff from Malaysia - a 27-year-old woman and two men aged 28 and 33 - were found to have overstayed visitors' visas to the United Kingdom and were therefore in the country illegally. The woman was serving customers while the two men were working in the takeaway's kitchen. The illegal workers were taken into immigration detention and have now been removed from the United Kingdom. The business was issued with an on-the-spot penalty notice for employing illegal workers and may now face a fine of up to £30,000 - up to £10,000 per illegal worker. To avoid a heavy fine, the business must prove to the UK Border Agency that they carried out the correct right-to-work checks to employ workers from outside the European Union such as asking for their passports or work permits. Jane Farleigh, the UK Border Agency's regional director for Wales and the South West, said: 'We are working hard to pull the plug on the illegal jobs which lure illegal immigrants to come to the UK in the first place. Illegal working is unfair on honest employers who recruit staff with the right to work in the UK and who pay them a proper salary. Our officers carry out regular visits to businesses in Newport and when we find immigration offenders, we look to remove them from the country.'

    A tough new civil penalty system was brought in last year to provide a fast and effective way of tackling employers who fail to carry out proper checks on workers from outside Europe. A fine of up to £10,000 per worker can be imposed for every illegal worker found at a business. If you are an employer and you are unsure of the steps you must take to avoid employing illegal workers, you can visit www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/employers or call the UK Border Agency employers' helpline on 0845 010 6677.

    RESIDENTS CRITICISE POLICE INACTIVITY IN BEECHWOOD

    August 6 - Residents in the Beechwood area of Newport have rounded on the police for their poor response to anti-social behaviour and burglaries in the area. At a recent Beechwood Neighbourhood Committee meeting the note of the meeting states there was a heated discussion about policing in the area and in particular residents stated they were " angry with the lack of response from the Police in respect of the burglaries and ASB from youths in and around Beechwood Park. Despite reporting incidents the Police had not attended nor had they received feedback. This was not good enough they wanted some commitment from the Police".

    DC Skillet from the Police CID branch reported that there had been an increase in the number of dwelling burglaries in the area over the past few weeks. As a result a dedicated team has been set up to run an operation. Residents were urged to be vigilant and continue to report incidents. He stated the Response Team will attend for 999 calls. Monitoring of anti-social behaviour in Woodland Park, Christchurch Road and Eveswell Court will be prioritised by police. Residents asked if the Council could review its policy of closing Beechwood Park at dusk, the Council officer present stated that this has been discussed but it was felt more serious damage occurred when the gates were locked. There was also the added problem of youths climbing over the gates and the possibility of causing injury to themselves.

    UNUSUAL ANTIQUITY RETURNS TO TREDEGAR HOUSE

    August 6 - An eighteenth century antiquity with ties to the Morgan family who lived in Tredegar House, Newport for five centuries, has been returned to its original home thanks to grants from independent charity The Art Fund, the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, Friends of Tredegar House and the Beecroft Bequest. The miniature walnut cabinet went on display at Tredegar House last week. According to the Arts Daily website it was acquired at a Bonhams auction for £69,600, of which £34,140 came from The Art Fund and £24,360 from the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund. The Friends of Tredegar House raised £6,100 with the Beecroft Bequest funding the remaining £5,000.

    Emily Price, Curator at Tredegar House, said: "We were extremely excited when we saw that this pretty cabinet was coming up for auction, and knew that we had to try to raise the money to bring it back to Tredegar House permanently. Such distinctive and attractive pieces of furniture from the House’s original collection do not come onto the market very often, so last month’s auction was a rare opportunity to enrich our displays. The new acquisition will help us to give visitors a taste of how opulent the House was when the Morgan family lived here." The cabinet appears to have been created c 1720, during the reign of George I. It is thought to have been commissioned especially for Sir William Morgan (1700 – 1731), part of the Morgan family who lived in the House for over 500 years. Elegantly shaped and attractive in its warm, golden colour, the cabinet is particularly rare because of its diminutive size. The body is made from walnut, inlaid with boxwood and ebonised lines. Sir William Morgan was an extravagant spender and had an avid interest in fine craft.

    BUTLER WELCOMES EXTRA FUNDING FOR NEWPORT HOSPICES

    August 5 - Newport West AM Rosemary Butler has welcomed the news that £450,000 of Assembly money has been allocated to hospices in the Newport area. St Anne's and St David's Hospices will receive £170,000 and £280,000 respectively. "It's great news for patients and their families and we mustn't forget the staff and volunteers who work so hard to raise additional money," she said. "Thousands of people in Newport have cause to be grateful for the services provided by their local hospices and this is a tribute to all those involved. I thoroughly endorse the way in which this money will now be spent on hospices in Wales", she added. " It will provide, amongst other things, better computerised clinical records, an improved out of hours service and extra support for patients at home". The allocations are based on the recommendations of an expert group headed by Baroness Finlay, a consultant in palliative care. The group aims to provide a fairer funding system for hospices in Wales.

    KNIFE ROBBERY IN SKINNER STREET

    August 5 - Police are appealing for witnesses to an incident in the middle of Newport city centre on Friday evening (July 31). An attempted robbery occurred at the junction of Skinner Street and Corn Street, Newport between 8.20pm and 8.30pm when a 13-year-old boy was approached and threatened with a knife. The robber demanded money from him. The robber is described as a black male, about 15 years old, with short black spikey hair. He was wearing a black tracksuit with a white tick on the chest. Police are appealing for anyone with information about the incident as a local club was running a musical event in that area of the city centre at the time and there were a large number of people and event stewards in and around the vicinity. Please call Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

    COUNCIL PUTS FORWARD STRATEGY FOR STATION YARD AREA

    August 3 - The City Council has put together a 'design framework' for the Station Yard area near Newport railway station. The development site is a key part of the new station and will provide the opportunity for offices and retail space as well as car parking linked to the development. The City Council mindful of critical and influential members such as Peter Davies (Con. Stow Hill) proposes to limit the scale of high rise development to six storey in this area in order that the 'dominance' of the Civic Centre building and St. Marks Church on the City skyline remains intact. The report states "The scale of development should respond to the local character and context. This is anticipated to result in 3-4 storey high development along Godfrey Road and Devon Place, rising to approximately 6 storeys where appropriate." It also states that it aims to create a " sustainable, cohesive and integrated new office-led mixed use neighbourhood which fulfils the needs of the new and existing communities."

    MAN CONVICTED OF CAUSING DAUGHTER'S DEATH

    August 1 - Edward Goddard, from Llanmartin, Newport, has been found guilty of causing his daughter's death. He was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving at Newport Crown Court and told that he faces a jail sentence. The jury was told that Goddard had been angry at being called out late to pick up his daughter with her friends in April 2008. The 41 year old's Ford Scorpio skidded in to a lamppost, before rolling over several times and coming to rest on its roof. Mother-of-two Kaylee Goddard was not wearing a seat belt and was flung from the car, suffering catastrophic head injuries.

    POLICE WARNING OVER INDECENT EXPOSURE INCIDENTS

    August 1 - Police are appealing for information following two recent incidents of indecent exposure in the Newport area. The first took place on Wednesday 15th July in the subway near Sainsbury’s on Wyndham Street, Newport at approximately 12pm. The 34 year old female victim was walking through the subway when a man approached and indecently exposed himself to her. The offender is described as a white male, between 17 and 20 years old, approximately 5 feet 3 inches to 5 feet 5 inches tall and of slim build. He had brown hair, a pale complexion and his teeth were in a bad condition. He was wearing a white hooded jumper. The second incident took place on Monday 20th July at 8.50am. The 26 year old female victim was walking over George Street Bridge when a man approached her and indecently exposed himself. He is described as a white male, approximately 20 years of age and around 5 feet 5 inches tall. He was clean shaven with pale skin and wavy hair. In both incidents the offender propositioned the victims before indecently exposing himself. Police are investigating both incidents and at this stage are not ruling out the possibility that they may be linked. Anyone who may have witnessed either incident or has any information that could assist police officers with their enquiries is asked to contact Gwent Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    DOG CONTROL ORDERS TO BE INTRODUCED IN CITY CEMETERIES

    August 1 - Following problems in the three Newport cemeteries and due to the sensitive nature of these sites, the City Council is proposing to take tough action against dog owners who allow their animals to foul or cause a nuisance. In recent months, the Council's catchily titled Overview and Scrutiny Forum - Environment and Community Safety has been examining the issues surrounding the control of dogs in parks and cemeteries. There have been complaints of dogs fouling on graves and dogs out of control in the cemeteries, chasing about and urinating on headstones. Following the Forum’s concerns, a report to Cabinet Member David Fouwether states there is a need to address the problem in Newport’s three cemeteries: St Woolos, Caerleon and Christchurch. The report states "There are dog control issues in the three cemeteries which need addressing: the new regulations offer a new, clearer system." Public consultation will now be undertaken on the proposal to introduce Dog Control Orders in the three Cemeteries ( St Woolos, Caerleon and Christchurch) to control the failure to remove dog faeces, and the failure to keep a dog on a lead (leads to be at a maximum length of 1.5m).

    CAR PARK OPENS

    August 1 - The new 1050 space Kingsway Car Park has now opened to shoppers. The completion of the multi-storey car park, the newest of it's kind in South Wales, provides a safe and well-lit environment and will be the main shopper car park for Newport City Centre, linking directly into the Kingsway Centre. Directions to the car park are included on new electronic signs which are located on the major routes into Newport. It will be open between 8am and 12 midnight seven days per week. Car park charges are £2 for up to two hours on a normal shopping day, increasing to £10 for five hours or more. In the evening the charge will be £2 or £1 all day on a Sunday or bank holiday. It is hoped the new car park will provide a much needed boost for the refurbished and modernised Kingsway mall.

    RESIDENTS INVITED TO RYDER CUP PRESENTATION

    July 29 - Newport residents are invited to come along and hear more about the city’s planning for the Ryder Cup 2010 at a special meeting taking place this week. The Ryder Cup 2010 seminar will take place in the council chamber at the Civic Centre on Wednesday 29 July at 10am. Council members will receive a presentation from the chief executive of Ryder Cup Wales, Rob Holt, a representative of Gwent Police and relevant council officers who will answer questions from councillors about the preparations for the tournament and Newport 2010.

    HOUSE PRICE FALL LEVELLING OFF

    July 28 - House prices fell slightly in Newport again in June 2009 but the trend appears to be for prices to level off. The average price of a dwelling in Newport according to latest Land Registry figures is £115,470 in June 2009 compared to £141,141 in June 2008, a fall of 18.2 per cent. House prices were at their peak in October 2007 with average prices at £145,039. Newport seems to have been badly hit by the fall in house prices - neighbouring authorities have seen falls but not at the level felt here (Torfaen -8.7 per cent, Monmouthshire -14.2 per cent, Cardiff -12.7 per cent).

    MORE DETAILS OF CITY STATION REVAMP

    Work begins on site

    July 27 - News was released today concerning the multi-million pound revamp of Newport Railway Station. The 11 month project will see the venue almost double in size with a platform extension to cope with longer trains and an entrance on the northern side. The new look station will be clad in a material developed for the space industry and used on the Eden Project. Arriva Trains Wales head of stations Peter Northcott stated that the new space-age station would be a "landmark building for the city". Engineers have begun the initial work recently. The plans state it will increase the station's size to 2,100 sq m (22,500 sq ft).

    Network Rail claims accessibility and safety are at the heart of the new design, with two new terminals and an additional new entrance to serve passengers from the northern side of the city. A station footbridge will connect passengers to all platforms while the station will also have three lifts, CCTV, a modernised customer information system and new waiting shelters. Both terminals will also have improved ticketing and information points and more shops. There will also be a new and expanded car park with 250 spaces and platform 4 will also be extended by 50 metres to accommodate longer trains in the near future. Mike Gallop, route enhancement manager, Network Rail said: “This is the beginning of a new chapter for people in Newport and for rail passengers travelling into Wales. There is still much to do and we have a big task ahead, we will continue to work hard to make the new station happen. By 2010, passengers will be greeted with a stunning station that is bigger, eco-friendly and an icon for the city of Newport and the railway in Wales.”

    Newport City council leader, Councillor Matthew Evans, said the development would "act as a springboard to attract further regeneration in this part of the city centre. The modern and unique design of the new station will create an improved first impression for visitors arriving in the city for the Ryder Cup, but more importantly will create a lasting legacy which will benefit all Newport residents." Newport is the third busiest railway station in Wales, passenger use is exceeded only by Cardiff Central and Cardiff Queen Street.

    RETAIL UNIT TO BECOME CHURCH

    July 26 - The City Council has approved a request from Newport City Church Trust to use unit 14 of the Cambrian Centre as a Church. The premises are located on the second floor of the Cambrian Centre (formally The Designer Room) and are currently vacant.

    NEW CAFE RETAILER SET FOR KINGSWAY CENTRE

    July 25 - There are welcome signs of life in the Kingsway Centre - upmarket cafe retailer Boswells has taken over unit 8 in the shopping centre, opposite the entrance to the mall from the new car park (due to open in early August).

    The Didcot based cafe group describe themselves "as a fast moving counter service operation specialising in shopping malls, located in the South and South West of the UK. We offer a great value, satisfyingly extensive menu, served by friendly staff in relaxing and comfortable restaurants. We open early, serving breakfasts, pastries and coffees, followed by an extensive lunch menu of freshly made sandwiches and salads, toasted panini, pasties & pies, jacket potatoes and grills.  Our afternoon offer includes cakes, patisserie and sweet treats."

    They currently have a number of stores in southern England (including Reading left), this will be their first store in Wales, it's scheduled to open in September.

    CITY RAIL STATION UPDATE

    July 25 - Newport Station's redevelopment is the main focus of interest currently for the city's transport infrastructure. However, there is no sign of significant work commencing on this project as yet - fourteen months away from the project deadline! The £13 million contract was awarded to Galliford Try in April. The most recently published minutes from Newport Unlimited's Board Meeting (June 16) state "Work on the concourse started in April and visible signs of activity should be apparent by July 2009."

    According to Newport Unlimited negotiations are continuing with Network Rail and Welsh Assembly Government about:

    START OF UNI TERM DELAYED FOR RYDER CUP

    July 25 - As a one-off University of Wales, Newport, are delaying the start of the academic year to maximise income from the Ryder Cup. The 2010-11 academic year will start on October 25. This will allow the University to avoid the anticipated disruption to roads and to make accommodation available for the event scheduled between October 1 and 3. Presumably, this will also allow additional time for the completion of the city centre campus.

    COUNCIL LEADER SLAMS CONFUSION OVER HOSPITAL ANNOUNCEMENT

    July 23 - Newport City Council leader Matthew Evans has slammed the Welsh Assembly Government for the confusion regarding the site of Specialist Critical Care Centre, the proposed replacement for the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport. Torfaen County Borough Council are reporting that the hospital will be sited in Llanfrechfa, Cwmbran. Their press release states "At a meeting with Executive Members for Torfaen County Borough Council yesterday, Health and Social Services Minister, Edwina Hart, emphasised her commitment to the Specialist Critical Care Centre (SCCC), as part of the Gwent Clinical Futures plan, and confirmed the centre will be located at the Llanfrechfa Grange site in Cwmbran". She said; "The SCCC remains an integral part of the redesign of health services in the Torfaen area. We know that the future lies in making sure that as many services as possible are provided in primary and community care - close to where people live and avoiding unnecessary admissions to hospital, which is why we have chosen the Llanfrechfa site." However, there is no equivalent press statement on the Gwent Healthcare Trust website. Matthew Evans, commenting on the release, questioned the way the information had been released and stated he would be seeking urgent clarification. In any case the £292 million new venture is on hold, due to the Assembly's chronic funding problems, and may not be built for a considerable period of time, wherever it is sited.

    BETTWS HIGH COMES OFF THE CRITICAL LIST

    July 23 - Following a re-inspection by the schools inspectorate Bettws High School has been removed from a Welsh Assembly Government critical list. The school had a re- inspection following a full inspection in November 2007 when it was then judged as requiring significant improvement. As part of the Welsh Assembly Government’s requirements for schools requiring significant improvement, Estyn undertook a follow-up inspection in February 2009 focusing on the key issues identified in the Section 28 inspection. Bettws High School is judged to have made good progress in relation to the recommendations for improvement identified in the Section 28 inspection in November 2007. As a result of this progress Her Majesty’s Inspector of Education and Training in Wales is removing the school from the list of schools requiring significant improvement.

    The report states that overall there are signs of improvement in teaching. There is greater consistency of routine and expectation. The school is working hard to improve attendance. The whole school attendance figure for 2007- 08 of 88.4% continues to be below the average for similar schools but is nearly two percentage points higher than the figure for the school for the previous year. Referrals for serious behaviour have reduced by 25% since last year; the number of fixed-term exclusion days have been reduced significantly. Key Stage 3 teacher assessment results in the core subjects have improved since 2006. The results compare well with similar schools.

    ROBBERIES - POLICE APPEAL FOR INFORMATION

    July 23 - Gwent Police is appealing for information with respect to the following incidents that occurred yesterday.

    A 42 year old man was walking along Factory Road when he saw a group of males.  One of them walked over to him, sprayed an unidentified liquid from a bottle into his face and stole his briefcase.  It is believed he then made off towards the train station. The victim received no injuries but was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital as a precaution. The briefcase was later recovered by police nearby. The offender is described as a white male, approximately 5 feet 9 inches tall and of slim build.  He had short dark hair which was possibly spiked and was wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt with a pattern design on the front.

    The second robbery occurred on Rugby Road at approximately 12.40pm. The 21 year old male victim was walking along Rugby Road when he was approached by the offender. He was verbally threatened and assaulted. The offender stole a mobile phone and some tools and then made off over the public footbridge towards Newport City Centre. The victim was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital with minor facial injuries. The offender is described as a white male, approximately 22 years old and between 5 feet 7 inches and 5 feet 8 inches tall. He was of small build and had a tattoo on his neck which is believed to be a female's name beginning with "Ch". He was wearing a lime green polo neck t-shirt, blue jeans and black shoes. He spoke with a local accent.

    A distraction burglary occurred at approximately 4.15pm yesterday, Wednesday 22nd July. A man called at a house on Edward VII Avenue in Newport stating he was working for the Water Board and needed to check the water pressure. The male is described as white in his early twenties, of a medium build, with thick black hair, a navy top and black trousers. It’s believed while this male was in the house another man entered. When the man left the owner discovered money had been stolen from her purse.
     

    PAIR FACE JAIL OVER BLACKMAIL PLOT

    July 22 - Two men from Newport have been found guilty of conspiring with a police officer to blackmail two victims. Allan Coe, 45, and Anthony Holwell, 48, were told they faced lengthy jail terms. Ray Clarke, 40, an ex-South Wales Police constable, had already pleaded guilty to two counts of blackmail and gave evidence at Cardiff Crown Court. Mark Brogan, 37, of Newport, has also admitted conspiracy to blackmail. They will all be sentenced on 21 August. Holwell and Cole had denied two counts of blackmail against builder Mark Griffiths and gaming machine businessman Ronald Hancock in October 2008.

    CITY HAS HIGHEST DIAGNOSIS RATE OF INFLUENZA

    July 22 - Latest statistics suggest the number of cases in Wales have quadrupled over the past week, with an estimated 2,000 people now suffering flu-like symptoms. The highest rate of diagnosis is 143.8 per 100,000 people in Newport, and the lowest 25.9 per 100,000 in Neath Port Talbot. The National Public Health Service (NPHS) said not all of these people would have swine flu and not everyone with flu-like symptoms would contact their GP. But officials expect that the proportion of cases will increase as the virus spreads in Wales. The Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Tony Jewell, estimated that up to 30% of the population could catch swine flu at some point over the next 12-18 months.

    CITY PLANNING NEWS

    July 22 - In anticipation of their new store in Crindau, Sainsburys has submitted an outline planning application for a residential development and hotel for its existing Shaftsbury site. New planning applications have been placed with respect to the Technical College building in Clarence Place as its conversion in to 66 flats gets under way. On Commercial Street, the former Stationery Box store, currently boarded up, looks set to be let to a new retailer. In Treberth a new sheltered housing development is proposed by Newport Housing Trust including plans for 52 apartments.

    CANAL RESTORATION WORK AHEAD OF FESTIVAL

    July 21 - A section of a canal in Newport is being restored to make it navigable in time for a national waterways event next year. The Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal is to host the inland waterways trailboat festival in May 2010, at Malpas, Newport. Volunteers are working at Bettws Lane Lock and Ty Ffynnon Lock on the lower section of the Crumlin Arm. They have been putting in slipways and mooring posts, as well as learning "heritage skills" to re-point lock walls with lime mortar. The section is not navigable but the Waterway Recovery Group (WRG) and the Monmouthshire, Brecon & Abergavenny Canals Trust hope work by their volunteers over the next months will enable this section to be used for the Welsh Waterways Festival. The festival will be sited at Kimberley Park at Malpas, with visitors able to use more than two miles (3.2km) of open water canal.

    POLICE APPEAL OVER MALPAS ARSON INCIDENT

    July 20 - Gwent Police is appealing for information following a serious arson incident in Newport. Liquid was poured, from a red can, over the front door of a property which was subsequently set alight. Officers are treating it as arson with intent to endanger life.  It happened on Moxon Road in the Malpas area at approximately 10:39 on Monday 15th June 2009.  

    The incident, which was caught on CCTV, involved a white male approximately 25 - 35 years of age with short dark brown hair and a large tattoo on his left forearm. He was wearing a white t-shirt, dark blue knee length shorts and yellow 'timberland style' boots. Anyone who may have witnessed the incident or who has any information is asked to contact Gwent Police on 101 or anonymously on Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.

    COUNCIL AND POLICE CONTINUE TAXI CRACKDOWN

    July 20 - The City Council and police are continuing with their ongoing crack-down on taxis operating illegally in Newport. Last month, officers from the council’s licensing team and Gwent Police carried out a joint enforcement operation in the city centre, Caerleon and Maindee targeting the illegal practice of drivers plying for hire in unlicensed vehicles. Seven drivers were found to be breaking the law. Only council-licensed ‘Hackney Carriage’ black taxis may lawfully pick up passengers in the street without the journey having been booked in advance. Private hire drivers who pick up people that have not pre-booked are not only committing an offence, but are also putting passengers at risk as their insurance becomes invalid – also an offence.

    The council and police have run a number of joint enforcement exercises over the past year. On June 30 at Abergavenny Magistrates’ Court, a number of successful prosecutions were made against five private hire drivers caught illegally plying for hire during an operation in Caerleon in November 2008. Taslim Ali, Pervez Ahmed Khan and Sajawal Khan all pleaded guilty by post and were ordered to pay between £350 and £385 each in fines and council costs. Full credit was given in respect of their early guilty plea. Two other drivers, Ramzan Ali and Anwar Ali, failed to respond to the summons and the case was proved in their absence. They were ordered to pay £516 and £581 respectively in fines and council costs. From October, Newport’s private hire cabs will have to display triangular door stickers which will clearly identify them as licensed vehicles for private hire purposes.

    CONFERENCE TO FOCUS ON THE FUTURE OF AVIATION

    July 20 - Visitors to the UV Europe conference, running from Wednesday to Thursday at Celtic Manor in Newport, will get a glimpse of aviation’s future. The conference which has previously tended to focus on defence applications will draw attention to the growing use of unmanned air vehicles in civil applications. The conference programme has been expanded to address military and civil unmanned systems operating in all 3 environments - air, land and sea. For military systems it will look in detail at the strategic, operational and tactical levels, and for civil systems.

    POLICE DROP OPPOSITION TO SIGNIFICANT COMPENSATION IN PAEDOPHILE CASE

    July 18 - The family of a Cardiff three-year-old girl assaulted by a paedophile say police have apologised and stopped opposing a civil claim for negligence. The youngster was snatched from her home by Craig Sweeney, 24, who was on early release for another attack. Her family said a series of errors by South Wales Police meant Sweeney was only caught several hours later in January 2006, by another police force. South Wales Police said: "We did not do everything we could have done".

    Sweeney - who was known to the family - had snatched the girl from her home after she had returned home from a shopping trip and while her mother made a telephone call. He drove her to his Newport flat in Caerleon Road where he was living after being released early from a three-year sentence for indecently assaulting a girl aged six. The Independent Police Complaints Commission later criticised South Wales Police saying that part of the child's ordeal could have been prevented by prompt action. The family subsequently launched a civil action against the force claiming negligence and failing to protect their child from inhuman and degrading treatment. The child's father told BBC Wales online: "We are pleased that South Wales police have recognised that they failed our daughter on the night of 2 January 2006 and that she should be compensated for that failure. Had it not been for the officers of Wiltshire police, our daughter would probably not be alive today."

    NEW SWINE FLU CASE IN CITY

    July 17 - The latest swine flu information from the National Public Health Service Wales confirms another case in Newport. A fourteen year old caught the illness from contact with another confirmed swine flu case and is now recovering at home.

    Dr Roland Salmon, Director of the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, National Public Health Service for Wales, said: “The rise in numbers of people contacting their GP with flu like symptoms illustrates the spread of the disease across Wales. Not everyone however who has contacted their GP with flu like symptoms will have swine flu and not everyone with swine flu contacts their GP so it is difficult to accurately record the spread of the virus across Wales."

    QUEEN'S HOTEL REOPENS

    July 17 - JD Wetherspoon is re-opening the former Walkabout in Newport as a pub and hotel with 29 en-suite bedrooms today. The company has spent £900,000 redeveloping the site during a ten-week building project. The pub is managed by Russell Sorrell and the hotel side of the operation, known as the Wetherspoon Lodge, is managed by Jon Lee. Wetherspoon has retained the original name of the premises, The Queen’s Hotel. The pub features two bars on two floors, as well as a dance floor. The hotel also has a reception area, a function room with its own bar (which is available for hire), as well as five training rooms. Manager Russell Sorrell said: “The Queen’s Hotel is a well known building and I believe that it will once again play an important part in Newport’s social scene.” The site is one of a number of cheaper leasehold venues the company is picking up in the marketplace. Wetherspoon used the strength of its covenant to persuade the property’s landlord to drop the rent from £135,000 to £100,000 per annum.

    MEN DENY BLACKMAIL CHARGE

    July 16 - Two men accused of conspiring with a serving police officer to blackmail thousands out of two different victims have denied the charges against them. Anthony Holwell and Allan Cole, from Newport, told Cardiff Crown Court they had no idea of plots by Ray Clarke, 40, also of Newport. Clarke was with a police firearms unit when he offered to protect a gaming machine businessman from a fake threat of being "robbed by Gypsies". He has pleaded guilty to blackmail. He has since been dismissed by South Wales Police. A fourth man, Simon Somers, 48, of Newport, was acquitted after Judge Roderick Denyer QC ruled there was insufficient evidence to show he had knowledge of the conspiracy.

    COUNCIL LEADER SLAMS ASSEMBLY OVER M4 RELIEF ROAD DECISION

    July 16 - City Council leader Matthew Evans has criticised the announcement by the Welsh Assembly Government that they have dropped the M4 relief road scheme. He told the South Wales Argus "We are bitterly disappointed with this announcement, which is a severe blow for businesses and residents in Newport, but also along the whole M4 corridor in Wales. The proposal for a M4 Relief Road has always had cross party support in Newport, with our residents and businesses bearing the brunt of this totally inadequate stretch of motorway and its inability to cope with the volume of traffic travelling along it."

    ASSEMBLY DROPS M4 RELIEF ROAD PLAN

    July 15 - The Welsh Assembly Government has dropped the proposal to build a relief motorway to the south of Newport. The measure designed to improve traffic flows around the city is said to have increased in cost from £340 million to £1 billion since the original estimate in 1998. The CBI Wales said: "This is a bad day for the economy in Wales." Conservative assembly members called the decisions "depressing and disturbing". The  environment campaign group Friends of the Earth Cymru said the six-lane motorway scheme through the Levels was a "victim of its own price tag in a credit crunch". Ieuan Wyn Jones, Deputy First Minister presented the information as part of a five year Welsh Transport Plan. He had announced updated plans for the 14-mile (22.5km) M4 relief road in September 2007, saying the scheme, proposed to run from Magor to Castleton, could open in 2013.

    He said the assembly government would instead spend between £64m and £110m improving the existing M4 network  Measures would include improvements around Tredegar Park junction, the Brynglas tunnels and the Coldra roundabout, bringing into public use a seven-mile dual carriageway through the Corus site in Newport from Magor to Queensway Meadows and improving the southern distributor road through Newport.

    NEWPORT - EBBW VALE LINK BY 2011

    July 15 - The Assembly Government Transport Plan contains the following commitments  -

    NEW WELSH LANGUAGE PRIMARY SCHOOL OPENED

    July 15 - The mayor of Newport, Councillor Glyn Jarvis officially opened the city’s new Welsh medium primary school today. Ysgol Gymraeg Ifor Hael is the city’s second Welsh-medium primary school and is located in Bettws, on the site of the former St David Lewis RC Primary School. Guests at the opening were treated to musical performances by children from Ysgol Gymraeg Ifor Hael, Ysgol Gymraeg Casnewydd and Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw.

    CITY'S GREENEST SCHOOLS CELEBRATE SUCCESS

    July 15 - Some of Newport’s greenest schools are today celebrating their Green Flag success.Over the last few years, Newport has excelled in the international Eco Schools program with 77 per cent of schools now having achieved a Green Flag – the highest percentage in Wales.

    Coordinated by the council and Keep Wales Tidy, the international Eco Schools programme makes environmental education an important part of school life – the green flag award is the highest achievement in the campaign. And in another first for Wales, Newport has achieved two eco-clusters – both Bassaleg High and St Josephs RC Comprehensive were joined by all their feeder schools in attaining the required standard. This year has also seen 12 schools raise the banner for a second time and Duffryn High School has become the first secondary school in Newport to do so. Minister for the Environment, Jane Davidson and the Mayor of Newport, Councillor Glyn Jarvis, Leader of the council and cabinet members, joined over 300 pupils at Duffryn High School to celebrate the successes.

    Cllr Matthew Evans, leader of the council said: “These excellent results are testament to the hard work of our pupils and staff. All our schools are busy tackling key environmental issues including litter, recycling, sustainable energy, healthy living, school grounds and global citizenship, and there is much that we can learn from this commitment.

    INCREASE IN POST-GRADUATE COURSE APPLICANTS

    July 14 - University of Wales, Newport, is reporting an upsurge in applications for post-graduate courses. In a BBC study the University indicated it had seen a 59 per cent increase in applications, reflecting the uncertainties in the labour market.

    HIGHER INCIDENCE OF SWINE FLU IN CITY

    July 14 - Newport is reporting a higher incidence of swine influenza than any other area of Wales. According to the NHS Wales Weekly Influenza Surveillance Report out of 60 cases in Wales, 11 were in Newport. Flu consultations in Newport GP surgeries have increased to 54.2 per 100,000 population.

    Symptoms of swine influenza are similar to those of seasonal influenza, usually a feverish illness accompanied by one or more of a cough, sore throat, headache or muscle aches.If you have flu-like symptoms and have returned from an area where swine flu is circulating or have been in close contact with a confirmed case, stay at home, phone your GP or NHS Direct Wales on 0845 4647. You will be assessed and receive treatment if necessary.

    CAMPAIGN GROUP OFFERS ALTERNATIVE TO M4 RELIEF ROAD

    July 14 - A campaign group has launched a package of alternatives to an M4 relief road in advance of forthcoming consultation on the Welsh national transport plan.

    The Campaign Against the Levels Motorway (CALM)'s prospectus highlights the options for cheaper, more sustainable alternatives to a motorway proposal. The group is concerned about the potential environmental damage to communities and wildlife across the Levels and the road's contribution to climate change in encouraging increased car use.The prospectus details a combination of favoured options. These are based on integrated local transport planning for Cardiff, Newport and surrounding areas, making better use of existing road capacity and traffic demand management. Alarmingly, it proposes the closure of junction 27 of the M4. Read the full prospectus here.

    CALM chairman Julian Branscombe said: "The proposal to build a new motorway cutting across the Levels to the south of Newport is unsustainable and unaffordable for the foreseeable future." He added: "The prospectus is intended to remove this impasse by offering a set of alternative resolutions to the issues that construction of a new motorway is designed to tackle."Recognising the group's concerns, Welsh Assembly Government deputy first minister Ieuan Wyn Jones responded: "The business case for the proposed M4 relief road will be submitted to the minister for economy and transport later this year to inform the national transport plan."

    CRUISE SHIP CALLS IN AT NEWPORT

    July 13 - As promised 200 metre long cruise ship ms Prisendam called in at Newport Dock today. 800 tourists, mostly from the United States, disembarked to enjoy local tourist highlights including Cardiff Castle. The Holland America line cruise ship, which has 428 crew members, will continue her voyage to Falmouth in Cornwall after leaving Newport.

    The vessel is on a Round Britain cruise, and her previous port of call was Waterford in Ireland. Following its historic docking the Prinsendam's master, Captain Albert Schoonderbeek, welcomed the mayor of Newport, Glyn Jarvis, on board, along with the mayoress and deputy mayor. Matthew Kennerley, ABP port director, south Wales, said: "While cruise ships are no strangers to some of our other Welsh ports, such as Cardiff and Swansea, we are very pleased that Newport is handling a cruise ship for the first time." Many of the tourists on board have ancestral links to Wales, Ireland, Scotland or England. Associated British Ports spokesman James Champness said: “It’s a great feather in the cap of Newport and another sign that Wales is now well on the map.”

    COUNCIL STOPS PAYMENTS TO RACE BODY

    July 13 - Newport City Council has halted payments to ges of race equality workers after the body that employed them ran up debts of more than £180,000. Previously  the Council has paid the salaries of employees at Sewrec (the South East Wales Racial Equality Council), a group which provides advice and support to members of ethnic minority communities and gives policy advice and training to public and voluntary sector bodies. Under the terms of an agreement between the council and the organisation, the latter received an annual grant, currently standing at £40,000. Sewrec was meant to repay excess salary costs to the council with money received from other sources.

    A spokeswoman for Newport City Council said: “We are no longer providing payroll services to Sewrec.We are currently in discussions regarding their current financial situation and a resolution to outstanding payments owed to the council.” Councillor Peter Davies, City Council cabinet member for resources, told Wales Online he was surprised that the debts had mounted up to such a degree.

    MORE JOB LOSSES AT LLANWERN

    July 10 - One hundred and forty nine jobs at two Corus sites in south Wales are under threat following a 'functional review'. The steel giant said the cutbacks will be split across the sites in Port Talbot and Llanwern in Newport. The positions affected are business roles that support manufacturing in the strip products division, such as human resources, finance and laboratories. A consultation period is to begin on Monday, but unions said the cuts will be "devastating". The functional review was announced at the start of the year at the same time as 528 redundancies at the Llanwern site, due to the mothballing of the hot mill. Community union general secretary Michael Leahy said: "This is more bad news for Welsh steelworkers, coming as it does on the back of heavy job losses, particularly in Llanwern. We understand these jobs are in business support functions and it will be devastating for those affected and their families. "

    TEN PROJECTS DOMINATE CITY'S THINKING

    July 9 - The City Council's Conservative led administration has outlined ten projects that will dominate their policy agenda in the period between now and 2012. Council leader Matthew Evans will take a lead in many of the projects as he seeks to energise the City's approach to modernisation of services, regeneration and the economic downturn. The report entitled 'Major Strategic Projects' presented by new Chief Executive Tracey Lee to the Council's Cabinet on July 14 outlines the areas -

    Project 21 (Prudential Borrowing for Highway Maintenance) - The report states that the aim of the project is that "the roads and pavements of the city are repaired and brought up to a high standard, residents are more satisfied with the city council, local firms and people benefit from the programme".

    New schools for new buildings - "The education provided by our secondary schools is amongst the best in the UK, local firms and people benefit from the regeneration programme. This project involves the rebuild of Bettws and Hartridge High Schools, design and planning work for Duffryn High school and feasibility work for the remaining secondary school stock. In addition, the project scope includes the City Council’s involvement in the refurbishment of Gwynllyw."

    City Centre Regeneration - "The City Council and Newport Unlimited will lead the agreed programme of actions necessary to complete the CPO and acquire properties in the City Centre in readiness for the major redevelopment of the Riverfront and Commercial Centre."

    Support for the City in the economic downturn - "The City Council leads the local action to help tackle the recession, local firms and people benefit from regeneration, the regeneration programme for the city continues."

    Implementation of a face to face centre - "Services are improved and costs reduced through effective partnering with the public sector, residents are treated with respect, key partners come together to join up services for the most vulnerable."

    The Ryder Cup - "Wales and Newport host a successful Ryder Cup."

    Long term stability of the general fund - "The Council continues to balance its budget and maintain a sensible level of reserves."

    Review of Local Service Board and associated partnerships - "The City Council works with partners to help all its communities develop and thrive, ensuring that key programmes concerned with tackling crime and disorder, improving the life chances for the City’s young people, and community empowerment more generally are at the centre of decision-making."

    Development and Implementation of new relationship with Health - "A large scale restructure of health services is underway in Wales which will mean that the current Local Health Boards and Health Trusts are disbanded and replaced with 7 new Local Health Boards. It is important that we ensure there is continuity for residents during times of change, that Newport is able to influence Health Board policy and ensure services are delivered in a way that meets resident’s needs and make sense locally."

    Project Gwyrdd - "Five local Councils in the region – Newport City Council, Cardiff, Monmouthshire, Caerphilly and The Vale of Glamorgan have set up Project Gwyrdd to procure a long term solution for dealing with residual waste. The project is designed to take advantage of economies of scale whilst keeping complexities of partnership working to a minimum."

    NEWPORT PLAYS HOST TO ITS FIRST CRUISE SHIP CALL

    July 9 - On Monday, 13 July, the luxury cruise ship ms Prinsendam will visit Newport – according to ABP, owners of the docks, this is the first cruise ship to call at the port in its history. The elegant vessel is operated by Holland America Line, and, at over 200m in length, is capable of carrying almost 800 passengers. Prinsendam is due to enter Newport Docks at 11.00am.

    NEWPORT MAN LOCATED SAFE AND WELL

    July 9 - Nicky Harris, who was last seen at his Newport home on Friday July 3rd, has been located safe and well, according to Gwent Police.

    PAPER BOY WINS LIFESAVER AWARD

    July 8 - A Newport teenager who went to help a seriously injured pensioner who had collapsed on her floor has won a top accolade. Daniel O'Brien, 16, a pupil at Bassaleg School, has been awarded the St John Ambulance in Wales' Young Lifesaver of the Year ward. Daniel was on his paper round with his sister Lauren when they heard the woman's cries of agony from inside a house on their route. After hearing her cries, Daniel shouted through the door and the injured OAP told him she had been lying on the floor for two hours, unable to reach her emergency button. The teenager ran to a neighbour, who managed to get in to the property so Daniel could tend to the woman. He found her shivering on the floor, and her legs had turned purple. Daniel wrapped his coat around her and called the emergency services, who gave him first aid guidance and told him how to apply pressure to an open cut the woman had suffered. He stayed with the woman until the arrival of an ambulance.

    COUNCIL APPROVES SPEED RESTRICTIONS

    July 8 - Newport City Council has approved two speed restrictions on roads in the eastern area. The B4237 (Chepstow Road) will see an extended 30 mile per hour zone from Treberth to Royal Oak ending near the southern entrance to the Celtic Manor. It has been suggested that the existing maximum speed limit of forty miles per hour is too high due to the presence of amenities, including a Tesco Express store and public house, and the general residential nature of the area. This could contribute to an increase in risk associated with a high level of vehicular turning movements and pedestrian flows. There have been 3 personal injury collisions on the B4237 within the last three years. In the 40 mph zone traffic surveys were undertaken the following mean traffic speeds were obtained:

    a) Near Tesco Express - 31.1mph eastbound, 33.1mph westbound

    b) Adjacent to 17 The Coldra - 36.8mph eastbound, 36.5mph westbound

    The recorded speeds are still noticeably lower than the existing posted speed limit, indicating that drivers do not perceive forty miles per hour to be a safe speed at which to proceed.

    In addition, a speed limit of 30mph is being introduced in the Llanmartin and Underwood on the B4245 road between Langstone and Magor. The speed limits approved are subject to formal consultation with the public prior to introduction.

    ANOTHER NEWPORT MAN HAS SWINE FLU

    July 8 - A 66-year-old Newport man is in hospital with swine flu.The man has underlying health conditions but is recovering. His illness is linked to travel from New Zealand.

    NEW PLAN FOR CITY MAGISTRATES COURT

    July 7 - Newport City Council planners will be asked to consider plans submitted by HM Courts Service for a new magistrates court for the City. The Magistrates Court is currently situated adjacent to the Crown Court at the Civic Centre. The new court will join other landmark buildings in the City's George Street office district, also home to Newport City Homes, Yell and the Red Cross. The planning application is for "ERECTION OF NEW 3 STOREY COURT BUILDING AND OPEN TOP ROOF PLANT AREA, CONTAINING 4 MAGISTRATES' COURTS, PUBLIC AREAS, CUSTODY PROVISION AND EXTERNAL PUBLIC SQUARE."

    DEMOLITION MARKS NEW ERA FOR STEELWORKS SITE

    July 7 - Lawson Demolition Ltd, part of Lawson Group Ltd, has commenced the clearance of part of the 30 hectare Orb steelworks site in Newport as part of a redevelopment project being carried out by Taylor Wimpey South Wales to provide a mix of affordable and private residential properties. Lawson is working to clear 21 buildings on the northeast section of the site, including office blocks, a training centre, gate office, conference and medical centres, in addition to an old air raid shelter. Demolition will include all hard standings and foundations. In addition, they will also carry out asbestos removal and disposal, with other waste from the demolition being crushed and reused on site. Demolition work began in June and is expected to last until October 2009, with housing construction on the site being completed during 2010.

    POLICE APPEAL OVER INDECENT EXPOSURE INCIDENT

    July 7 - Police in Newport are appealing for information regarding an indecent exposure, which occurred on Tuesday 30th June 2009. They state "The victim, a 44 year old local female was walking through Black Ash/Kemp Park off Commercial Road, Newport between 4.30pm and 4.45pm when she passed a man who was stood by the toilet block. The man dropped his trousers, indecently exposing himself. The victim then quickly left the park."

    The man is described as white, in his early 50s, of average height and plump build . He had fair hair, balding on top. He was wearing a dark green t-shirt and carrying a black rucksack.Anyone who may have witnessed the incident or holds information that could assist officers with their enquiries is asked to contact Gwent Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    Police officer in blackmail plot

    July 7 - A former police officer told Cardiff Crown Court he emerged from bushes with a replica gun in a bid to blackmail a man to hand over thousands of pounds. Ray Clarke, 40, of Newport, was with a police firearms unit when he offered to protect Ronald Hancock from the fake threat of being "robbed by Gypsies." He has pleaded guilty to blackmail and been dismissed by South Wales Police. He is giving evidence against Anthony Holwell, Allan Cole and Simon Somers, all of Newport, who all deny blackmail.

    Clarke told the court: "I got the handgun out and said 'how far do you want me to go? He got upset then and said he didn't want to be robbed. He cried as well.  put my arm around him and said 'we will get this sorted out for you'." Mr Holwell, 48, and Mr Cole, 45, deny two counts of blackmail against builder Mark Griffiths and gaming machine businessman Ronald Hancock.

    EYESORE CAR PARK TO CLOSE

    July 7 - The Capitol Car Park is to close when the new Kingsway Car Park opens in early August.

    NEWPORT AUCTIONS SCOOP UNTAXED MOTORCYCLE CONTRACT

    July 6 - The Government announced today that quality bikes seized on behalf of the DVLA for road tax evasion will no longer be automatically scrapped, but will be auctioned off instead. NSL Ltd seizes more than 100,000 untaxed vehicles every year. They are held at impound yards around the UK for up to 14 days. Until now, all vehicles that are not claimed within that time have been sent to the crusher, regardless of their value. Following a successful eight-month trial, Newport Auctions, the independent auction house at Usk Way has now scooped the nationwide contract to save the most valuable vehicles from the scrap heap. Starting tomorrow the fortnightly auction will feature approximately 150 of their most valuable cars, motorbikes and commercial vehicles.

    Jon Collingbourne, managing director for Newport Auctions, says that this will be great news for those who cannot afford a new bike, and a real shot in the arm for the UK's used bike market. “When we started the trial last year, we didn't know what to expect. Since then, we have been staggered at the quality and variety of the stock available to us,” he says. “We have access to all makes and models, and the majority of stock is clean, tidy and less than eight years old. Each vehicle is fully valeted and supplied with a V5 document. The majority will also be supplied with a new set of keys. “Obviously, many people cannot justify a trip all the way to Newport, so we have made everything available online. Our catalogues are updated continually with information and multiple photographs of each vehicle. People can review each vehicle in detail before placing an online bid. “We do not want feed the problem of unlicensed bikes on the roads, so every successful bidder must provide us with full photographic and address identification, so that we can register the bike in their name before releasing it,” he says.

    Tim Cowen, of NSL, commented: “There is no excuse for not taxing your vehicle, and we are delighted to be able to assist DVLA in clamping down on vehicle tax evasion. “Some of the untaxed vehicles we seize are in very good condition, and we are very pleased to be working with Newport Auctions to help make these available to law-abiding motorists,” he says. The first of the fortnightly auctions for seized vehicles will take place at 11am at Newport Auctions tomorrow (7 July) and then on alternate Tuesdays.

    THREE FURTHER SWINE FLU VICTIMS CONFIRMED

    July 5 - Three further swine flu victims have been confirmed in Newport bringing the total to five. The three new cases include a 56 year old man. There are now more than 7,500 laboratory confirmed cases in the UK: 50 in Wales, 6,162 in England, 1,325 in Scotland and 43 in Northern Ireland. Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Tony Jewell, said: "We knew that there would be an increase in the number of cases and we have robust plans in place to deal with it. Scientific advice now is that there will continue to be a rise in the number of cases across the UK and, knowing the infection is circulating we should move to treatment rather than trying to slow the spread of disease."

    'NO MONEY FOR NEW HOSPITAL'

    July 5 - Mike German, South East Wales AM has asked the Assembly Government to come clean about their plans for healthcare in the locality and in particular the proposed Specialist and Critical Care Centre, which would mean the closure of the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport. It appears from briefings to the Health Minister Jane Hutt recently published that there is no new money available for the new development due to other more significant constraints on the health service in Wales. In addition, the Health Minister has stated there is a lack of robust evidence on how the scheme would be structured and supported by local health boards. Given the parlous state of public finances over the next five years it is unlikely this project will go ahead. The Minister has asked for interim investment to be made in the Royal Gwent Hospital.

    THOUSANDS SUPPORT MAINDEE FESTIVAL

    July 4 - Thousands supported Newport's main multicultural festival today. The Maindee Festival has been running for fourteen years and attracts widespread support from the City's many different communities. Mayor Glyn Jarvis officially opened the festival flanked by Council leader Matthew Evans and AM, John Griffiths. The opening ceremony followed a street procession of colourful costumes and vibrant music including all participants of ages. The procession started at Newport rugby ground, heading along Corporation Road, Harrow Road and then on to Maindee Primary School. In the grounds of the school there were a host of events and stands including a stage with live music presentations, starting with a performance from a Bangladeshi group. Our slideshow is here.

    CITY DEVELOPMENT PARTNER PARENT COMPANY IN ADMINISTRATION

    July 2 - Shopping centre developer Modus Ventures has been placed in administration with KPMG appointed as administrator. Modus Ventures was at the heart of a web of companies the entrepreneur Brendan Flood used to hold his property and retail interests. Modus Ventures is a parent firm of Modus Corovest who were involved in the development of Friars Walk, another part of Modus (Modus Cambrian Ltd.) also owns the Cambrian Centre in Newport.

    As many as nine other companies holding individual sites, including schemes in Wakefield and Wigan, have also gone into administration. KPMG has warned the collapse is likely to be the first of many in the commercial property sector. Richard Fleming, KPMG’s head of restructuring, said: “It is a large and complex group, with many lending institutions funding both completed and part-completed developments. We believe it will be one of the first in a long line of commercial real estate casualties.”

    SAINSBURY PLANS SUBMITTED

    July 2 - The plan for a huge new Sainsbury's store at the former Crindau Gas Works site has been submitted to the City Council's planners. The application states it is for the erection of a retail supermarket with ancillary restaurant, car parking, servicing, landscaping, petrol filling station and car wash and new vehicular access off the A4042. It will form part of the proposed Crindau Gateway development, see the details here.

    ROGERSTONE TORIES SHAMED IN TO ALLOTMENT U-TURN

    July 2 - A Tory-run Community Council in Newport which threatened to take away a pensioner's allotment because she was growing flowers has changed its mind. Edith Avery, 89, of Rogerstone, Newport, was told she could lose her plot of 30 years because she must grow mostly vegetables. But after media coverage and pressure from her local MP, Mrs Avery, 89, said Rogerstone Community Council had had a change of heart.

    Mrs Avery, of Cefn Road, said: "I had a letter delivered by hand at 7.20am saying they've allowed me to stay and have given me my tenancy back." The widow, who was an RAF Coastal Command teleprinter operator during the World War II, added: "They said it was because of my age and my war record. Perhaps they felt a bit guilty.

    Paul Flynn MP slated the community Council "The jobsworths on Rogerstone Council were forced to climb down in the face of a gale of public anger. The report I have had from tonight's meeting suggests that their about turn was anything but graceful. One councillor tried a sideswipe at me saying that I should be involved in more important matters.There are few issues more important than defending a vulnerable lady of mature years against the small-minded bullying of puffed-up dictators. The leading members of this council should consider whether they are fit persons to hold public office. Clearly their judgement is hopeless."

    He went on to say "The Council should apologise for the unnecessary distress and worry they have caused. Perhaps a gift of flowers for Mrs Avery's allotment would be an appropriate gift. I am sure the rates could afford that."

     

    TWO SWINE FLU CASES CONFIRMED

    July 1 - Two swine flu cases have been confirmed in Newport. A 21-year-old woman has received hospital treatment with her illness linked to travel to Spain. She has now been discharged from hospital. A nine-year-old boy also from Newport has been confirmed with the virus which is also linked to travel to Spain.

    MOTHER CHARGED WITH MURDER OF HER DAUGHTER

    July 1 - A 34-year-old woman has been remanded in custody "for her own protection" after appearing in court charged with the murder of her daughter. The body of four-year-old Zoey Anne David, was found in her bedroom in the Maesglas area of Newport on 19 June. The girl's mother, Zoe David, was also found nearby with serious injuries. She had been taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital. The 34-year-old was remanded into a psychiatric clinic for 28 days and her case was sent to Cardiff Crown Court.

    Paul Latner, prosecuting, asked that Ms David be remanded in custody for her own protection. David Leathley, defending, made no application for bail. An inquest into Zoey Anne's death will be opened by the Gwent coroner later at the Newport Civic Centre. According to Gwent Police, the provisional cause of death is consistent with suffocation. Deputy Gwent Coroner Wendy James adjourned the inquest to allow Zoey-Anne's body to be released for her funeral.

    An inquiry is to examine the decision to take the four-year-old girl off the child protection register two years before she was suffocated at home. A spokesman for the Newport Safeguarding Children Board said a review will see if there are any "lessons to be learnt" from the case. "Following a meeting of the serious case review sub-group of Newport Safeguarding Children Board, it was recommended that a serious case review should be conducted into this tragic case," he added. "This review will establish whether there are any lessons to be learnt about the way in which agencies work together to safeguard children."

    POLICE DISMANTLE INTERNATIONAL PROSTITUTION RING

    Jul 1 - Members of an Eastern European organised gang have been sentenced to more than 30 years in prison for operating an International Prostitution ring. It follows an investigation which involved a number of forces and the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) but began when police officers located and rescued a young woman from the Maindee area of Newport in October 2007. The victim was 18 when she came to Manchester in July 2007, having been promised work as a cleaner or in a shop. She was handed over to a Member of the gang Xhevdet Cikaj who told her she would have to work as a prostitute. When she refused and asked to return to Lithuania he imprisoned her, terrorised her and forced her to comply. When she attempted to escape she was beaten and threatened by Xhevdet Cikaj and Lavdrim Cikaj (no relation).

    After being forced to work as a prostitute in Manchester she was then 'sold on' to two other members of the gang in South Wales for £2,000. Edita Tavoraite and Tafil Kadria told the victim she would pay off her 'debt' by working as a prostitute. Operation Adject began in September 2007 following a co-ordinated national search for the victim. She was rescued by Gwent Police officers who worked closely with the SOCA Vulnerable Persons Team to ensure that the victim was safe and well cared for. As a result of the information and evidence provided by the victim and other investigation work, SOCA officers arrested and charged the gang members in September 2008. Passing sentence at Preston Crown Court on June 19, His Honour Judge Brown told the three men and one woman, that their victim would never be able to return home because of the shame she feels from her ordeal.
    Mick Layton, Deputy Director of SOCA, said: "This was a terrifying position for a young woman to find herself in. She had no friends in the UK and was entirely dependent on the people who abused her. She was deceived, exploited, and treated as a commodity. It is a tribute to the bravery and determination of the victim in this case that we have been able to identify and successfully prosecute the people responsible.”

    HIGHWAY CONTRACTS AWARDED

    Jul 1 - According to Contract Journal five firms are on board so far for a £20m highways maintenance deal in Newport. The work for Newport City Council is divided into four lots. Lot One covers carriageway resurfacing and will be tackled by Tarmac and Hanson.Lot Two involves footway reconstruction tasks and will be carried out by Alun Griffiths. The third package of work, street-wide improvements, includes both carriageway resurfacing and reconstruction, plus associated footway projects such as kerbs and highway drainage but the contractor(s) awarded the work is not stated. The final package, Lot Four, covers carriageway surface dressing and footway slurry sealing, but a contractor has not yet been appointed to the job. The term-maintenance contracts will run for three years, with work on site starting this summer.

    COUNCIL CALLS ON CITIZENS TO CELEBRATE 2010

    Jun 30 - Newport City Council has set aside £1 million for events to mark the coming of the Ryder Cup to the City. They state "We want to make 2010 a year that everyone remembers, where special events across the city bring together communities and get people feeling good about Newport."

    To mark the year that one of the world’s greatest sporting occasions comes to Newport, the council wants to ensure that as many people as possible have the chance to take part in celebrating their community by supporting a programme of events and projects, large and small, taking place right across the city. To make this happen, they are setting up a Community Celebrations Chest – a fund for people in Newport to create a lasting impression in their community. It may be for a community event or a project to brighten up your area – something to bring people together and create a lasting impression for 2010 and beyond. The Council believes there is plenty to be proud of in Newport; the city boasts a rich sporting and cultural heritage; thousands of years of fascinating history; stunning countryside and a strong community spirit "This is your opportunity to be part of a city-wide programme of community events that celebrates Newport in 2010." In addition, to this the City Council is planning a major programme of high profile events that will offer something for everyone and will making an announcement on some of the exciting plans for this later in the year.

    NEW POLICE POWERS TO TACKLE ANTISOCIAL BEHAVIOUR IN CITY CENTRE

    Jun 29 - The Safer Newport Partnership is set to introduce a new dispersal order in Newport City Centre to reduce levels of antisocial behaviour.
    Safer Newport decided to take action after receiving complaints from residents about youngsters gathering in a number of city centre streets. Between June 2008 and June 2009 police received 467 anti-social behaviour calls to Skinner Street, compared with 325 calls to the same location the previous year - a 44% rise. After gathering information and evidence, Newport Central Neighbourhood Policing Team and Newport City Council authorised the implementation of a dispersal order.

    Dispersal orders give police officers and PCSOs the power to direct any groups of two or more people, or vehicles, to leave a specified area. The order in the city centre will run from August 1st until January 31st. It will cover Skinner Street, Skinner Lane, Upper Dock Street, Corn Street, Commercial Street (from Corn Street to Stow Hill), High Street, Griffin Street, Market Street, and the pedestrianised area between Stow Hill and Cambrian Road. Anyone who refuses to leave, or returns to the area within 24 hours, when ordered can be arrested under the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003. The only exclusions to the order will be any prearranged public events that may be held in the area.

    Neighbourhood officer for Newport City Centre, PC Nicola Williams, said: “We applied for this dispersal order after listening to the concerns of the public.  Residents who attended PACT meetings in recent months voted to make antisocial behaviour a policing priority. The introduction of the order will give us the power to break-up groups of people hanging around on the streets and causing trouble. We will move people on if they are behaving inappropriately in the city centre and anyone who breaks the conditions of the order will be firmly dealt with.”

    COUNCIL SETS ASIDE GRANTS TO REDUCE NUMBER OF EMPTY SHOPS

    Jun 29 - Newport City Council has set aside £150,000 for businesses and retail premises in the city in an attempt to assist with regeneration. The new regeneration fund has been reserved as an initiative to support businesses through the current economic downturn and also in recognition that the City Centre retail sector is suffering particularly badly at the present time with many vacant shop units.

    The Council has decided to allocate £100k for City Centre businesses through the Commercial Improvement Area Grant scheme prioritising the following areas of high shop vacancies: Lower Commercial Street / Charles Street / Cardiff Road / Market and Newport Arcades / Clarence Place. In addition, the City Council has decided to allocate £50k for manufacturing businesses throughout Newport through the Economic Development Grant scheme. This will benefit businesses experiencing difficulty securing finance for expansion in the current economic climate. The Council claims "During the last 3 months business enquiries have started to increase and include a range of business start ups, some manufacturing businesses planning to expand but short of funds to do so, and several city centre based enquiries regarding property improvements and bringing back into use vacant buildings." The measure was supported by Labour Councillor John Guy, he stated, "“I appreciate that we have limited resources but I am glad to see that we are doing what we can with the available funds to help small local business to propagate and also some to survive in economic circumstances which are very testing and which they have no personal control”.

    FOOTBALL FAN 'OPENED DOOR ON PURPOSE' - INQUEST

    Jun 28 - A football fan from Newport deliberately opened the emergency door on a coach before falling to his death on the M5 motorway near West Bromwich, an inquest heard. Daniel McFarlane, aged 22, from St. Julian's died on January 31 after he opened the emergency door of the 49-seater vehicle while it was travelling south at more than 60mph near Junction 1 of the M5. Daniel was part of a 37-strong unofficial coach party of fans returning to Newport after attending the Manchester United v Everton match at Old Trafford.

    The inquest heard that before opening the door an argument had taken place after glass was broken on the coach.At Smethwick Council House yesterday, trip organiser Darren Wallis told the hearing he had asked Daniel, who had been drinking all day, to clean up the glass but he refused. The inquest also heard an argument broke out between Daniel and another passenger and as a result of this row Daniel had been told he would have to get off the coach at the next service station.

    Mr Wallis said: “He walked down the stairs and I said “oi stupid, get off the door” and he said “you want me off the bus, I’ll get off here”.Witness Lee Nicholas of Humber Road, Newport, said he saw Daniel jump out of the door and saw a car swerve to avoid hitting him, but he was then hit by a second car. A post mortem revealed Daniel, who worked as a shutter installer, died of serious multiple injuries, which included multiple fractures, haemorrhages in both lungs, his kidneys and his brain.It also showed he had taken cocaine. Pc Stephen Pearson said there was nothing the car driver or coach driver could have done to prevent the death and Daniel would have known he was opening the exit door and not the toilet door.He said: “In order to open the door in the first place a concerted effort must have been made to do so.”Black Country coroner Robin Balmain adjourned the inquest and issued two arrest warrants for two witnesses who had failed to attend the hearing.

    Following his death friends and family had left dozens of roadside tributes for a Manchester United fan who died when he fell from a coach on his way back from a match. More than 30 bouquets, three Manchester United shirts signed by family and friends, a football scarf and a framed caricature drawing were among the tributes placed beside the St. Julians roundabout.

    COUNCIL REVEALS £3.2 MILLION UNDER-SPEND

    June 26 - Despite the economic downturn Newport City Council has revealed a £3.2 million under-spend in 2008/9 budget. A statement of accounts to the Council for consideration on June 28 notes "Restrictions on all non essential spending remained in place throughout the year. This was on supplies and services and staffing where that could be achieved without affecting front line services. Those instructions have again had a significant effect and remain as a management action plan to improve the Council’s overall financial position in the light of potential cuts in central funding." The Council realised a £1.7 million windfall from the transfer of its housing stock to Newport City Homes. 

    WESTGATE CHAMBERS REDEVELOPMENT

    June 26 - Prospective purchasers and inquisitive Newportonians will have their first opportunity to view the new Westgate Chambers development in Commercial Street, Newport.

    The development and refurbishment by London Newport Ltd. offers one bedroom properties from £90,000 and two bedroom penthouse apartments from £130,000. Some properties are available to let via Martin and Co. of Station Street. There are 24 flats / apartments within this stunning new development. There is also a lift facility for this four storey development. Viewings will be available throughout the day on July 4 and 5.

    FLYNN CALLS FOR COMMONSENSE FROM COMMUNITY COUNCIL

    June 26 - Paul Flynn MP has called for Rogerstone Community Council to show some commonsense in their dealings with a 90 year old constituent. Mrs Doris Avery has been asked to grow only vegetables on the allotment near the back gate pf her house. He states on his website "For thirty years Mrs Avery has tended a four perch allotment situated a few feet from the back door of her cottage in my constituency at Rogerstone.  Once she grew vegetables. Now it is mainly flowers and shrubs. The allotment is the delightful view from her kitchen window. Even on a wet day such as today it is a well-tended pleasing sight. Next Monday is the day that the petty dictators of Rogerstone Community Council have threatened to 'clear' the allotment.  They have returned Mrs Avery’s rent. They have put the phone down on her telephone calls. Her offence is that she is growing flowers. There are some vegetables. I have appealed to the Council to show a little common sense and flexibility. Destroying her work of 30 years would be a cruel and heartless act."

    NEW CITY MANAGING DIRECTOR APPOINTED

    June 25 - Newport City Council is pleased to announce the appointment of Tracey Lee as Managing Director. Ms Lee joined the authority in August 2008 as a Corporate Director and has led the young people and performance portfolio.

    Matthew Evans, Leader of the council, said: “Since joining Newport, Tracey has demonstrated a strong vision for improvement and a clear ability to deliver. I am confident that as Managing Director she will help drive forward both the council and our city. These are both exciting and challenging times for us and we look forward to working with Tracey to achieve our goals.” Tracey Lee said of her appointment: "I am thrilled to be taking up this position and look forward to working with colleagues and partners across the city.” Married with a son and daughter, Tracey relocated to the area last year. She came to Newport from Ipswich Borough Council where she held the post of Corporate Director for over seven years.

    NEWPORT TEENAGER LOCATED SAFE AND WELL

    June 25 - Fourteen year old Alex Jones who had been missing from his Newport address since Sunday June 21st has been located safe and well.

    JOBS TO GO AT EADS

    June 24 - It is being reported that up to 75 jobs may be lost at EADS Defence and Security Systems, based in the west of Newport at Celtic Springs Business Park.. The company, which has 1,200 people at its £35m technology centre in Newport, is creating next-generation technology solutions and services, principally in the areas of secure IT, communications and cryptography.

    HOME DISCOUNT OFFER TO SERVICEMEN

    June 24 - Military servicemen and women are being offered special incentives to help them get their feet on the property ladder. Personnel employed by the Army, Royal Navy or Royal Air Force as well as anyone who served in the wars in Afghanistan or Iraq all qualify for Barratt South Wales’ Armed Forces Discount Scheme. Anyone set to retire from the forces this year will be eligible until the end of 2009. They will be offered a £500 discount for every £25,000 or part thereof on the cost of the property they are buying. For example, on a home costing £126,000 they would qualify for a reduction of £3,000. The launch of the country-wide offer will coincide with the first ever National Armed Forces Day on 27th June. The offer applies to Barratt Homes developments in Newport.

    GIRL WAS PREVIOUSLY ON 'AT RISK REGISTER'

    June 23 - A four-year-old girl found suffocated at her home had once been on a child protection register, it has emerged. Newport's Safeguarding Children Board said it understood Zoey-Anne was on the register in 2007 and may now carry out a serious case review as a result. It has already begun considering if lessons could be learnt from a review. On Tuesday, it emerged the Zoey was placed on the child protection register by the Newport Safeguarding Children Board when her family moved to the area in 2007 from London. By the end of that year the board - which comprises Newport City Council, Gwent Police and the local health board - took the decision to take Zoey Anne off the register. A spokesman for the board said: "Following the tragic death of a young child on 19 June 2009, the Newport Safeguarding Children Board has already begun the process of considering a serious case review."

    SHOCKING RESULTS IN POLICE TAXI CAMPAIGN

    June 22 - A police clampdown on taxi services in Newport has revealed some disturbing results including a number of taxis operating with defects, one without insurance, some in breach of  their licence conditions and others committing driving or motoring offences. Gwent Police carried out a one-day operation on Friday 19th June to identify offences being committed by taxi drivers in Newport. Their officers teamed up with representatives from the Licensing Department of the Local Authority, Department for Work and Pensions, VOSA and HM Revenue and Customs to target offences committed by both Hackney Carriage and Private Hire drivers. During the 12 hour operation officers stopped taxis to check that drivers were complying with their license conditions, vehicles met the required standards and all drivers were in possession of the correct documentation. Further checks were also made for fuel offences, benefit fraud and vehicle defects.

    Results included the following:
    90 vehicles stopped and checked by HM Revenue & Customs for revenue evasion
    24 vehicles checked by VOSA, 9 prohibited for vehicle defect offences
    13 fixed penalty notices issued for various offences including speeding, and not wearing a seatbelt
    1 vehicle seized for no insurance
    1 driver reported for driving licence and insurance offences
    9 drivers reported for plying for hire in breach of their taxi licence

    The operation was formulated following intelligence received by police and concerns being raised by members of the public about the standard of taxi services in Newport. PC Andy Wiltshire who co-ordinated the operation said: “The vast majority of the taxi drivers in Newport operate to a high standard, prioritise passenger safety and adhere to road safety legislation. However, there are a number of taxi and private hire drivers who breach their licensing conditions and flout road traffic law. Through pro-active operations such as this one we hope to improve taxi driving standards and reassure members of the public that the service offered to them is safe and legal. Let there be no doubt, if you breach your conditions or break the law you will be prosecuted and may lose your taxi licence or even your driving licence.”

    POLICE RELEASE STATEMENT IN CHILD DEATH CASE

    June 22 - Gwent Police released a statement today regarding the death of four year old child in Maesglas "Gwent Police can confirm the identity of the victim of the incident that occurred at Bideford Close, Newport on Friday 19th June 2009 as Zoey Anne David, aged 4. All of Zoey's family have now been informed and her grandparents will be releasing a tribute tomorrow. Initial indications from the post mortem examination show that death was caused by suffocation. A 34 year old female remains under arrest and is currently still in hospital."

    FATHERS4JUSTICE PROTEST IN CITY CENTRE

    June 21 - Two men from the group New Fathers 4 Justice (NF4J) have staged a Father's Day protest by climbing cranes dressed as Banana Man and Captain America. David Hodge and Sean Wheeler scaled the cranes beside the new Newport University campus at 0700 BST on Sunday to highlight fathers' rights. Part of Usk Way was closed down for a brief time this morning as police dealt with the protest.

    Mr Hodge came back down at around 1000 BST and Mr Wheeler followed at 1045 BST and both were arrested by police. Matthew Starmore from NF4J said both wanted changes in the law. Mr Hodge, who was dressed as Captain America, had been apart from his three children for 15 years, said Mr Starmore. "He's not been a part of their growing up and he's gone through a great deal of psychological trauma because of it," he said. Mr Wheeler broke up with his partner last year and has full access to his son but decided to protest because he feels so strongly that the justice system is unfair, said Mr Starmore. He said he did not know what they had been arrested for but suspected it was for trespass. He said both men were taken to Newport central police station.

    POLICE STILL WAITING TO QUESTION MURDER SUSPECT

    June 21 - Zoe David, remains in hospital awaiting psychiatric tests after being arrested for killing her four-year-old daughter.  The 34-year-old from Maesglas in Newport has not yet been questioned by police. She was taken to hospital on Friday with serious but not life threatening injuries after officers found the body of her daughter Zoe-Anne in their home. A post mortem examination is due to be carried out on Monday.

    MOTHER IN CHILD DEATH CASE TO HAVE PSYCHIATRIC TESTS

    June 20 - A woman suspected of murdering a four-year-old girl is to have a psychiatric evaluation. She is under police guard in hospital as community leaders called for calm following the death in the Maesglas area of Newport. The youngster, named locally as Zoe-Ann David, was found dead at her home on Friday lunchtime. A 34-year-old woman, named locally as Zoe David, was lying nearby with serious injuries. She was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital where she remains. Police said questioning of the woman would not begin until she was released from hospital. Psychiatric evaluation to determine the woman's state of mind would also take place, a police spokesman confirmed. Newport City Council Chief Education Officer Brett Pugh commenting on yesterday's incident stated "We are shocked and saddened and offer our deepest sympathies and condolences to everyone affected by this tragic news. We will ensure that staff, children at the school and parents are provided with every possible support."

    PAIR FOUND GUILTY OF DRIVING TEST SCAM

    June 20 - Two men living in Newport charged people hundreds of pounds to take their driving theory tests, Cardiff Crown Court heard yesterday. The pair charged £230 for booking the theory test and £200 for their time.Fraud investigators for the Driving Standards Agency believe their operation was just one part of an ongoing, widespread fraud involving hundreds of customers every year. In 2008-09, the team investigated more than 600 cases of reported impersonations with people willing to pay from £600 for a car theory test up to £3,500 for the test for a lorry.

    The two men, Dinesh Kumar, 28 from West Bromwich, and Lovedeep Lovedeep, who has since flown to India, were caught on April 17 last year at a test centre in Merthyr Tydfil. Kumar went in to try the test and was arrested coming out, certificate in hand, and Lovedeep was arrested nearby. Cardiff Crown Court heard investigators became suspicious when their two credit cards were used to book a number of tests with Pearson Vue, the organisation responsible for arranging theory tests, at centres around the country. “Their computer system discovered an inordinate number of theory tests had been booked with two credit cards,” said Hywel Hughes, prosecuting. At the time, the two were living in a property in Newport and when it was raided by police they found a number of provisional driving licences, and a parcel retrieved from the Royal Mail depot, addressed to the property, contained four further licences. Kumar was sentenced to 36 weeks in prison, suspended for two years, was disqualified from driving for 12 months and ordered to do 250 hours’ unpaid work. The court was told that Lovedeep had been allowed to go back to India for a funeral but had not returned.

    SHOCK AS FOUR YEAR OLD GIRL IS FOUND DEAD - MOTHER ARRESTED ON SUSPICION OF MURDER

     
     

    June 19 - A 34-year-old woman is under police guard in hospital on suspicion of murdering her four-year-old daughter. The woman was discovered with serious injuries by Gwent Police at a house in Bideford Close in Maesglas on Friday lunchtime. Officers found the little girl dead in her bedroom. It is understood a 12-year-old boy was in the house at the time of the killing.

    According to the Telegraph newspaper the girl Zoe-Ann David "was discovered on Friday with her mother Zoe David lying beside her seriously injured with wounds to her arms. Her son Wesley, 12, is believed to have discovered the scene after coming home from school at lunchtime."

    Officers were called to the house at around 12pm by the ambulance service. A forensic examination of the property is being carried out and a post mortem on the girl is due to take place on Monday. Police say they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.

    People in the community have spoken of their shock, and governors at a local primary school have been called to an emergency meeting on Saturday. The arrested woman has been taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital where her injuries are not thought to be life threatening. A forensic examination of the property is being carried out and a post mortem examination will be held on Monday. A Newport City Council spokeswoman said: "The little girl went to the local primary school. Letters were handed to parents at the school gates when they arrived to pick up their children explaining there had been an incident involving one of the pupils."

    NEW FOOTBRIDGE IS PART OF RAIL PROJECT

    June 19 - The City Council has confirmed that a new footbridge will be part of the redevelopment plan for Newport railway station. Work on the station is underway and will be complete by September of next year. The footbridge will mean the closure of the subway linking the Queensway with Mill Street on the other side of the railway.

    NEW PLANNING APPLICATION EXPECTED FOR CAMBRIAN CENTRE

    June 19 - The most recent published minutes of the Board meeting for City regeneration company Newport Unlimited reveal a number of important developments. The Old Town Dock Hotel Site is no longer expected to be the site of a Ramada Encore hotel, Newport Unlimited state the area will need be re-advertised. The note of the meeting (in mid April) confirms that the long awaited new Magistrates Court building (in George Street) was still at the design stage and that tenders had been invited. Interestingly, the meeting was also advised at the Cambrian Centre "an outline planning application for retail use was expected in the next few months". The Board noted that this would need to be carefully considered, presumably given the failure of the City Spires development.

    CITY COUNCIL TAX COLLECTION RATE DOWN

    June 18 - Newport City Council is below the Welsh average when it comes to Council Tax collection. Welsh Assembly Government figures show the Council collected only 95.8 per cent of Council Tax in 2008/9 placing it 17th out of the 22 Welsh local authorities. The City has £2.44 million arrears in unpaid Council Tax as at the end of the last financial year. Newport has the second lowest level of Council Tax in Wales.

    INCREASE IN NUMBER OF NEW HOMES

    June 18 - Newport led the way in Wales for the number of new homes being built between January and March 2009. 115 starts were recorded (primarily in the private sector) compared to 96 in neighbouring Cardiff and 33 in Monmouthshire. The number of home starts may be an early indication of improving economic conditions. However, in the same period property sales in Newport slumped with only 104 properties sold in January and February 2009 as compared to 229 for those months in 2008. According to the Land Registry property prices have fallen by 17.5 per cent in the last ten months in the City.

    CITY UNIVERSITY IN DRIVE TO SET UP VALLEYS INSTITUTE

    June 17 - The creation of a new University of the Heads of the Valleys Institute is part of an innovative initiative being proposed to combat the skills shortage among people in the region and play a key role in the area’s regeneration. The proposed new Institute, which is a collaborative venture between the University of Wales, Newport and the University of Glamorgan, will provide people with access to a diverse range of courses at all levels of expertise, from basic skills to postgraduate degrees. The two universities are in discussion with the Welsh Assembly Government about the proposal, and the Minister for Education, Jane Hutt AM, has already publicly indicated that a University Heads of the Valleys Institute is a government priority.

    COUNCIL CABINET BACKS FRIARS WALK DECISION

    June 17 - The City Council's Cabinet reaffirmed their commitment to the Friars Walk development despite the cancellation of their contract with Modus. The Cabinet backed the recent decision by Leader Matthew Evans not to accept a scaled down version of the plan and to re-tender for the scheme. The failure of the scheme has thrown Newport's regeneration plans into chaos and dealt a serious blow to the credibility of regeneration company, Newport Unlimited.

    BALFOUR BEATTY WINS £15MILLION NEWPORT M4 PROJECT

    June 16 - Balfour Beatty’s regional civil engineering arm has secured the £15 million M4 Newport controlled motorway contract for the Welsh Assembly Government. Work will cover installation of controlled motorway technology on the M4 between junctions 23 and 28 in South Wales. Balfour Beatty Regional Civil Engineering Managing Director (Southern) Hector MacAulay said: “We will use our experienced and dedicated local resources and supply chain partners to work closely with our customer to ensure the successful delivery of this project, whilst minimising disruption to the travelling public.” With an initial ground investigation and detail design phase underway, construction is due to start next month. Works include the detailed design and construction of 32, MS4 variable message signs, five new superspan gantries and refurbishing 13 existing gantries, together with associated technology equipment. Scheduled for completion in 2010, the scheme will enable the implementation of mandatory variable speed limits on each lane of the motorway, introducing active traffic management to reduce congestion and improve safety on one of the busiest sections of motorway in Wales.

    UNIVERSITY LAUNCHES FOUNDATION TO HELP BUSINESSES BEAT RECESSION

    June 16 - A bold new initiative has been launched to help businesses use innovation and creativity to counter the economic downturn. The University of Wales, Newport, unveiled The Entrepreneurship Foundation at Creative Capital, an event showcasing the latest thinking in the challenging and changing worlds of media, business, design, regeneration, technology and the creative industries. The aim of the Foundation is to develop innovative managers who can combine senior leadership and entrepreneurial skills and power future business growth, even in the current economic climate. Creative Capital was a free event organised by Newport’s University and sponsored by Newport Unlimited and the Study Group. Held at the spectacular East Wintergarden building in Canary Wharf, it featured an impressive programme of interactive workshops, launches, work from the latest fashion and photography talent, and speeches from senior industry figures.

    CHURCH IN THE CAMBRIAN CENTRE?

    June 16 - Newport City Council planners will be considering a remarkable planning application from Newport City Church to turn unit 14 of the Cambrian Centre in to a church or charitable establishment. The unit is currently disused following the delay to the development of the Centre following the scrapping of the City Spires project.

    SAINSBURY TO THE RESCUE

    June 16 - Newport's Sainsbury store in Wyndham Street came to the rescue of the City's Royal Gwent Hospital on Monday. The hospital was without water for seven hours from mid-afternoon. But the store provided 1500 litres of bottled water for patients, free of charge.

    Council and Fairlake bring empty property back into use

    June 15 - Newport City Council and Fairlake Properties – the development arm of Charter Housing Association – have worked in partnership to renovate a disused property in Pillgwenlly. The house on Mendalgief Road had been empty for some time, and despite working closely with the owner, had remained in a poor state.

    Newport’s empty home strategy targets privately owned properties that have been empty on a long-term basis and works to bring them back into use for the benefit of the community.

    Empty properties are not only an eyesore, but can attract crime, vandalism and anti-social behaviour. This can impact on the police and fire services, and require intervention by various council departments including environmental health, planning and housing. They quite simply cost the taxpayer money. This property had become littered with fly-tipped waste, had attracted squatters and had been boarded up.Councillor Richard White, cabinet member for housing and community services, said: “Empty properties are a blight on our communities. They can cost the local authority and its partners money, when the private owners should be taking responsibility.

    EURO ELECTION ANALYSIS PUTS NEWPORT SEATS ON A KNIFE-EDGE

    June 13 - A detailed analysis carried out by the BBC of the votes cast in the recent European Election reflects the poor nature of the Labour performance on the day. Based on this performance Labour would lose Newport West to the Conservatives but just about retain Newport East. Although unlikely to be repeated in a General Election the results do reflect that Labour voters were perhaps voting for other parties for the first time or not voting at all. In particular, the figures generally reflect a further move away from the traditional parties.

    Detailed figures - Newport West (Total votes cast 18443 - Conservative 4913 - 26.6 per cent, Labour 4437 - 24.1 per cent, UKIP 2502, Liberal Democrats 1740, Plaid Cymru 1309, BNP 1175 - 6.4 per cent, Green 984, Christian 471, Socialist Labour 382, No2EU 328, Jury 128) Newport East (Total votes cast 15484 - Labour 3198 - 20.7 per cent, Lib Dems 3022 - 19.5 per cent, Conservative 2966, UKIP 2473, Plaid Cymru 1152, BNP 1020 - 6.6 per cent, Green 609, Christian 328, Socialist Labour 322, No2EU 233, Jury 101).

    NEWPORT UNLIMITED DEFENDS FRIARS WALK DEBACLE

    June 11 - City regeneration company Newport Unlimited has launched a fight back today after the stunning blow it suffered yesterday following the demise of the £200 million Friars Walk retail scheme. The flagship project was intended to be the centre piece of the regeneration of the City but Newportonians seem destined to wait at least another five years for a retail centre fit for purpose. The regeneration company's website which has lay dormant for most of the last six months was alive today with a statement on Friars Walk and another Newport's regeneration programme. John  Burrows Newport Unlimited Chief Executive tried to raise expectations again "With the roads infrastructure in place, a new multi-storey car park practically completed, and necessary planning permissions granted much of the groundwork that needs to take place for a scheme of this scale to start, has been completed....This is still an exciting time for Newport. With four tower cranes at work in the heart of the City and numerous building projects underway around the city centre and inner areas it is clear that regeneration in Newport is moving forward despite global market difficulties affecting The Friars Walk project....I am confident that a replacement retail scheme will enhance the City Centre in the future". The regeneration company was set up to deliver this key project amongst others but its credibility has been severely tested by this failure to deliver.

    COUNCILLOR CRITICISES BULKY WASTE COLLECTION PRICE HIKE

    June 11 - Malpas Councillor Bill Langsford has criticised a decision by the City Council to retain a price increase for the collection of bulky waste items. In January 2009 the price of such items was increased from £3 to £5. He stated "It is noted that the number of pick ups has decreased slightly and the reason given is because of the economic climate. I do not disagree with this but I am sure that St David's Foundation, Wastesavers, and Raven House Trust are increasing their collections for these types of goods. I did feel that it was unnecessary to increase the charge for this service by 66.66% at a time of economic downturn and still do. I sincerely hope that another increase isn't in the pipeline because of the number of pickups decreasing. Has there been an increase in fly tipping of bulky items?" The Council claims that the price hike has not led to an increase in fly tipping and that the revenue for the service has increased by 26 per cent since the price increase. However, a report to the City Council notes that in the period September to December, 2008 before the price increase they received 2,976 bookings compared to 2,554 bookings in the period January to April, 2009 after the price increase.

    FRIARS WALK SCHEME SHELVED BY CITY COUNCIL

    June 10 - Newport City Council is set to go out to tender for a new city centre development after Modus Corovest, the developers of Friars Walk, revealed they are not in position to deliver the proposed scheme. The action proposed by the cabinet will also see it taking greater control of the development site as part of plans to complete the ongoing compulsory purchase scheme around John Frost Square. The council will be re-marketing the site and seeking a new development partner for a new retail scheme.

    With the roads infrastructure in place, a new multi-storey car park practically completed, and necessary planning permissions granted much of the groundwork that needs to take place for a scheme of this scale to start, has been completed. Councillor Matthew Evans, leader of Newport City Council, said: “As far as the council is concerned we have reached the stage where a definite decision needs to be taken on the future of Friars Walk.We have done all we can as a council to get this scheme to the stage where the developers had to come up with the funding and go on site. They have failed to do this and have now told us that because of the economic downturn they are currently not in a position to deliver the intended scheme. Such is the importance of this project for Newport we are not prepared to accept a scaled down version and will therefore open up the scheme to other interested parties. “Businesses and investors know the huge potential that the city has, and there was no lack of interest in the Friars Walk scheme which was 75 per cent pre-let. The banking crisis has had a huge impact on the commercial property market and unfortunately Modus and Friars Walk have been caught up in the middle of this. We will be taking decisive action at a difficult time. I know that there will be huge disappointment, but we will be failing the people and businesses of Newport if we just allowed the current situation to drift on indefinitely.”

    John Burrows, chief executive of the urban redevelopment company Newport Unlimited, is optimistic about the chances of finding another developer. "It takes about eight to 10 years to get shopping centre schemes completed. Only two to three years of that is the construction stage," he said. "Already about four years of that has been successfully undertaken. Unfortunately there aren't new shops opening next year for the people of Newport." However, the loss of the scheme is a massive blow to Newport's regeneration plans and the credibility of Newport Unlimited. There were extensive delays to the development prior to the economic downturn which led to its eventual demise. In other areas, notably Bristol and Cardiff, shopping developments have forged ahead despite current circumstances. The proposal will be put to the next cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

    KINGSWAY CAR PARK TO OPEN IN JULY

    June 10 - Kingsway Shopping Centre, owned by UBS Triton Property Fund, will open its new state of the art car park in the centre of Newport in July. The 1,050 space car park, which includes 30 disabled spaces, parent and child spaces, is located in the heart of the city adjacent to the city centre, Library and Newport Centre.  The car park allows direct access to the newly refurbished Kingsway shopping Centre anchored by Wilkinson and where Peacocks have just re-opened their new larger store. Kingsway car park will be open between 8 am and midnight providing Newport with modern, secure and accessible parking, the best car parking environment in the City.  40 spaces are available for annual permit holders.  Further information can be obtained from the Centre Manager, Michael Hine on 01633 258151.

    SAFER NEWPORT URGES PUBS AND CLUBS TO USE PLASTIC BOTTLES

    June 10 - The Safer Newport partnership has called for plastic bottles to be introduced in every pub and club in the city centre. From July, city club Escapade will only serve plastic bottles to customers and police are trying to encourage others to follow suit. It is hoped the new toughened plastic bottles will stop “glassing” injuries and make revellers feel safer in licensed premises.

    Many pubs and clubs in Newport already use polycarbonate glasses, which have proved successful in reducing injuries. The “unbreakable” polycarbonate glasses and bottles bounce off floors rather than smash and are strong enough for a car to park on them. PC Rachael Honey, licensing officer for Newport, is working with city centre pubs and clubs to encourage them to introduce the polycarbonate bottles at night. She said: “This is a major step forward for reducing the potential for serious incidents to occur in Newport city centre. We would like to see every licensed premises in the city centre to get on board and exclusively use plastic bottles and glasses at night. People want to enjoy themselves in a safe and secure environment and if everyone uses these new plastic bottles then glass attacks in Newport could be wiped out altogether.” Manager of Escapade, Simon Hughes, said: “We’re looking to make our club, and Newport as a whole, a safe and enjoyable environment for people to visit at night.Glassing isn’t a big problem in Newport, but these plastic bottles can stop it happening altogether."

    £3.8 MILLION FOR CITY 'ENHANCEMENTS'

    June 10 - Newport has received £3.8 million in funding from the Welsh Assembly Government to carry out 'enhancements' to City gateways as part of the preparation for the Ryder Cup. A report to the City Council's Cabinet next Tuesday states "An opportunity now exists to undertake some timely physical and environmental enhancements to the gateways, key routes and to visually prominent vacant/derelict properties, that will greatly improve the image of the City to both visitors and residents alike. As the majority of these works are permanent, not only will the delivery of them compliment perfectly the plans for preparing for the Ryder Cup in October 2010, but will provide a longer lasting legacy for the City. In total, £3.8m has been provisionally secured from WAG to implement these works. A multi-disciplinary Project Team has been established to lead and deliver this, who will prioritise and cost a range of key works covering environmental enhancements, planting, painting, cleaning, and physical improvements to buildings." Gateways include entrances to the City such as the Coldra, Caerleon and Pencarn Way. They also include streets and buildings nearer the city centre including John Frost Square and the Old Technical College.

    MOTORCYCLIST DIES FOLLOWING COLLISION

    June 9 - The 24 year old motorcyclist injured during a collision which occurred on Friday 29th May on Caswell Way, Reevesland Industrial Estate, Newport, has died. The motorcyclist collided with a parked car. Police are still appealing for any witnesses to the collision, which occurred at approximately 8.50am, to come forward on 101 or 01633 642 404.

    POLICE TAKE ACTION AGAINST SPEEDING IN DUFFRYN

    June 8 - Police in the Duffryn area of Newport have taken action against speeding motorists recently. The Tredegar Park Neighbourhood Committee heard local officer PC Morgan advise them that over a 16 day period, at different times, 80 drivers had been dealt with for speeding. 77 of the vehicles showed speeds of under 35 mph the other 3 were over 40 mph. Literature rather than tickets was given to drivers at this stage. A record is being kept and checked for repetitive drivers and tickets will be issued at some point. PC Morgan said he would also carry out speed checks during the evening. Six warnings have been given to off-road bikers and two bikes have been seized.

    RINGLAND VANDALISM COSTS £3K

    June 8 - A recent spate of vandalism at the Ringland library and centre over the half term period has cost local taxpayers £3,000. Councillor Jim Fortey has held a meeting with the Police to discuss a way forward. It was agreed that Police would do a survey of the area and look at how to stop youths accessing the roof of the building. Fortey commented that it was important that this behaviour was stopped and residents were urged to take control and report any anti-social behaviour to the Police.

    'AVERAGE SPEED' CAMERAS SET FOR M4 IN NEWPORT

    June 6 - Average speed checks are on the way for Welsh drivers for the first time, BBC Wales has revealed. New mobile cameras would monitor speed between two points, then issue penalty notices if the limit is exceeded. BBC Wales Dragon's Eye has learnt the cameras are likely to be introduced on a stretch of the M4 motorway around Newport, where there is now a 50mph limit. The system works by monitoring a stretch of road with linked cameras that continually capture images of passing cars, regardless of which lane they are in. The cameras note a car's number plate, and the average speed of the vehicle between two points, often miles apart, is then calculated. If the driver's speed exceeds the limit, an offence is automatically recorded, along with images of the offending car, ready to issue a speeding ticket. The controversial 50 mph speed limit between junctions 24 and 28 has been widely criticised by business and motoring organisations including the CBI and by the Institute of Advanced Motorists.

    MAINDEE DRUGS ARREST

    June 4 - A man has been arrested after 25 cannabis plants were found in a Maindee house. Maindee Neighbourhood Policing Team executed a drugs warrant at an address on Morris Street, near George Street Bridge in Newport on Monday. Officers found a hydroponics set-up along with 25 very mature cannabis plants.A 29-year-old man was arrested at the address on suspicion of cultivation and the supply of cannabis. He has been bailed pending forensic examination of the recovered items.

    PC Andy Lewis, of Maindee Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “We were very pleased to find these cannabis plants before they could be harvested and sold on the streets. We will act quickly on any information offered to us by members of the public to keep drugs away from our communities.” If you have any suspicions relating to drugs offences, call Gwent Police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    DISPERSAL ORDER PLAN TO CUT CRIME IN PILL

    June 4 - The Safer Newport Partnership is set to introduce a new dispersal order in Pill to reduce levels of antisocial behaviour and criminal damage. Safer Newport decided to take action after receiving complaints from residents about youngsters gathering in a number of streets in the Pill area. After gathering information and evidence, Pill Neighbourhood Policing Team and Newport City Council authorised the implementation of a dispersal order.

    Dispersal orders give police officers and PCSOs the power to direct any groups of two or more people, or vehicles, to leave a specified area. The order in Pill will run from July 1st until December 31st. It will cover Williams Close, Francis Drive, Francis Street, Alma Street, Capel Close, Capel Crescent, Raglan Court, Coulson Close, Lewis Street, and the part of Commercial Road from the junction of Alma Street to, and including Princes Gate Gardens (junction of Commercial Road and Frederick Street). Anyone who refuses to leave, or returns to the area within 24 hours, when asked can be arrested under the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003. The only exclusions to the order will be any prearranged public events that may be held on the site.

    Neighbourhood officer for Pill, PC Chris Back, said: “The introduction of this dispersal order will make us better equipped to break-up groups of people hanging around on the streets and causing trouble. We will only implement the order when we feel people are up to no good and anyone who breaks its conditions will be firmly dealt with. Pill Neighbourhood Policing Team is working closely with residents and partners to make Pill an area to be proud of once again.” The dispersal order in Pill will help a Gwent Police campaign recently launched to tackle criminal damage. Even though incidents of criminal damage decreased by 2.5% compared to the previous year, of the 49,219 total recorded crimes in Gwent in 2008-9, there were 12,196 offences of criminal damage - almost a quarter. It is known that most of these incidents are due to graffiti or damage to vehicles. Police have joined with local authorities to ensure that all areas suffering from criminal damage are identified and proactively targeted as well as implementing a publicity campaign highlighting the consequences of committing criminal damage to the culprits.

    Minister Praises Creativity at Newport University

    Fine Arts student Natalie Gibbs’ installation, 'Invasion of a lateral matter' was inspired by the Constructivist movement and features the sculptural forms of perspex mirrors interfaced with video projections.

    June 4 - The creativity of the designers, film-makers and artists of tomorrow was praised by Jane Hutt AM, Minister for Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills when she visited the annual Graduate Show at Newport School of Art, Media and Design. The major exhibition, held at the Caerleon Campus of the University of Wales, Newport, features a dazzling display of diverse and innovative work – including photography, fine art, animation, graphics and multimedia – which complements innovative avante garde installations with more traditional art such as oil paintings.

    Amongst other work animation student Stewart Paton (bottom, right) made a film about evolution with characters drawn from early Victorian text books similar to the ones made Darwin. ‘Please See Label For Instructions’ is a series of portraits that depict school children that are affected by learning difficulties created by Documentary Photography student Emma Borrow. “The children I photographed each have a learning difficulty that may affect their experience in primary and secondary school, and my aim was to highlight the concept of labelling children in schools,” said 21-year-old Emma.

    Emma (bottom left) enjoyed her time at Newport. “I came here because there’s no other course like it in the country,” she said.

    Matt Needle focused on creating a series of posters for the work of his favourite film-maker, Alfred Hitchcock.

    CITY MAN LOCATED SAFE AND WELL

    June 3 - Thirty six year old Jason Kerr who was reported missing on May 31st has been located safe and well.

    COUNCIL TO TAKE ACTION ON MARLBOROUGH ROAD

    June 3 - The City Council has decided to take out action to acquire the area of land at Marlborough Road devastated by fire in August 27. If the land cannot be acquired by agreement the Council has stated it will obtain a Compulsory Purchase Order to secure the site. The Council has set aside £400,000 for this procedure.

    The devastation in the area was caused when a fire broke out at a local joinery business. Sadly this resulted in five houses in Marlborough Road being destroyed. These properties had subsequently been demolished. Four more are fire damaged. One of which has already been partially demolished. The factory was also destroyed by the fire. To date, although the site is secured with fencing, much of the rubble from the demolished properties remains where it fell, acts as a reminder to those directly affected by the fire and to those who still reside in the Street. The site has also been subject to fly tipping which adds to the harm caused to the amenity of the surrounding area and this has been reflected in the number of complaints received by the Council.

    POLICE SEEK HELP TO FIND MISSING MAN

    June 2 - Gwent Police is appealing for information to locate a man who has gone missing from his Newport home. 36 year old Jason Kerr was reported missing to police on 31st May, he hasn't contacted anyone since Friday 29th May. He is described as white, of a medium build, approximately 5'9" tall, with cropped dark brown hair. He has a moustache, an ear ring in his left year and was last see in a white rolled up shirt.

    He has a number of tattoos; the name Diane tattooed on his left arm, "MUFC Champions" tattooed on his right forearm, the three feathers tattooed on his left forearm, a sun tattooed to his right upper arm and a large "V" shaped tattoo on his back. It's believed he may be in the Cardiff or Gwent police force area where he has contacts. If anyone has any information regarding where Jason Kerr may be they are asked
    to contact Gwent Police on 101.

    BOY SUSTAINS 'NUMEROUS' INJURIES IN LLISWERRY ACCIDENT

    Jun 1 - A road accident in Lliswerry on Friday evening has left an eight year old boy with 'numerous' injuries. Police are appealing for information after a collision occurred on Lliswerry Park Drive, Newport, at approximately 7.35pm. The police state the collision occurred between a Renault Clio car and an eight year old boy. Neighbours assisted to remove the boy from underneath the vehicle. The injured boy was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital where he is in a stable condition. The Police are conducting a full investigation and are appealing for witnesses, specifically they need to identify any vehicles parked near the scene at the time. Anyone with information should call Gwent Police on 101 or the Collision Investigation Unit on 01633 642404.

    TOP CITY POST TO BE RE-ADVERTISED

    Jun 1 - The post of Newport City Council's leading officer, Managing Director, is to be re-advertised. The person selected for the post, following the recent interview procedure, has turned the job down for personal reasons. The position comes with a salary between £117,000 and £134,000.

    POLICE APPEAL OVER INDUSTRIAL ESTATE ACCIDENT

    MAY 31 - Gwent Police is appealing for information following a collision which occurred at approximately 8.50am on Friday 29th May. A motorcyclist collided with a parked car on Caswell Way, Reevesland Industrial Estate, Newport. He has been taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital where he is described as critical. There was a male driver in the parked car who was not injured. Anyone with information is asked to call Gwent Police on 101 or the Collision Investigation Unit on 01633 642404.

    ANOTHER DAYLIGHT STREET ROBBERY IN CITY CENTRE

    May 28 - Gwent Police is appealing for information following a robbery which took place, Tuesday 26th May, on Christchurch Road, Newport.
    The incident occurred between 5.40pm and 5.50pm. Two 17 year old females were walking along Clarence Place when they were approached by two males who asked for the time.  They then walked behind them along Caerleon Road, Church Road and onto Christchurch Road where they engaged them in conversation for a second time. They then forcibly took each of their mobile phones. No injuries were sustained. The offenders are both described as being white males, approximately 5 feet 6 inches tall and around 17 years old. Offender 1 is described as being of slim build with short cropped light hair. He was wearing black tracksuit bottoms and a black t-shirt with a multi-coloured square pattern on the front. Offender 2 was wearing a plain black hooded top and black tracksuit bottoms. Gwent Police is appealing for anyone who may have witnessed or have information about this incident to contact them on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    TT ELECTRONICS WINS SIGNIFICANT NEW CONTRACT

    May 28 - A new troubled Newport based electronics company has received a significant boost. TT electronics in Rogerstone has signed a contract in excess of £2.5 million per year to supply PCB manufacturing services to Crowcon Detection Instruments. Crowcon, a Halma company has the most robust and reliable range of gas detection products in the industry, including fixed and portable instruments for detection toxic and flammable gases. Its instruments are used worldwide by oil, gas and petrochemical companies, public utilities, clean water and sewage treatment companies, fire brigades, construction companies and other organisations where accidental leakage of gas or vapour can become a toxic or explosive danger. John Molloy, Divisional Director for TT electronics integrated manufacturing services commented, "Crowcon Detection Instruments is a significant win for the Rogerstone site. The contract is a challenging one, involving the manufacture of a very high mix of complex electronic assemblies, to rigorous standards of reliability and quality. We are proud that we have been able to meet the exceptionally exacting requirements of this contract, and are looking forward to a productive relationship with Crowcon."

    USKMOUTH FACES OWNERSHIP BY CREDITORS

    May 27 - Uskmouth the coal fired power plant owned by Welsh Power, could be owned by its creditors for the second time in its history. An article in the Financial Times today states that at the end of March, Uskmouth was due to repay £120m of debt raised to fund its acquisition in 2006. Instead, the company and its shareholders decided to hand the plant over to creditors as the 363-megawatt coal-fired power station near Newport in South Wales – like other plants – faces a slump in power prices.

    “The collapse in power prices means that in the long term, Uskmouth Power Company would not be able to service its current debt,” Alex Lambie, chief executive of Welsh Power, told the FT. “The company is in constructive talks with creditors with the view to them either taking over the company or selling the company to a third party.” Mr Lambie also added that the company had negotiated a standstill in debt repayments until the end of June to allow a conclusion of talks with bondholders. Uskmouth is not in default, he said. It is unclear what the changes in ownership and financial solvency mean for those employed at the plant. Mr. Lambie indicated that company was in “advanced talks” with several interested parties with respect to its sale.

    Uskmouth (or Uskmouth Power as it is formally known) has been owned by Welsh Power Group Limited since 2004. It is a coal-fired power station that can generate around 360MW, enough for 360,000 homes, sufficient to meet the needs of Newport and its surrounding area. It is reputedly one of the cleanest coal-fired plants in the UK. Welsh Power also owns Dragon Generation - this company plans to build the plant on a 10-acre brown-field site at Newport Docks, a designated area for industrial works, with an investment of more than £140 million.

    POLICE APPEAL OVER GEORGE STREET BRIDGE ROBBERY

    May 26  - Gwent Police is appealing for information following a robbery that occurred in Newport this morning, Tuesday 26th May. The robbery took place between 8.30am and 8.45am on George Street Bridge. A woman was approached from behind, knocked to the floor and her handbag containing her wallet and jade green scarf were stolen. She sustained minor head injuries and was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital as a precautionary measure.
    The offender ran off over the bridge in the direction of Castle Bingo and across the road to the car park leading onto Canal Parade. He is described as a white male, approximately 35 years old, 5 feet 10 inches tall and of medium build. He had short brown hair and was wearing jeans, a navy bomber jacket and white trainers. Police are interested in speaking to anyone who may have witnessed the incident or may have information that could assist with enquiries. Please contact Gwent Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    BUTLER WELCOMES EXTRA SCHOOL FUNDING

    May 26 - Rosemary Butler has welcomed the Welsh Assembly Government's decision to revise its allocation to sixth forms in Newport, bringing more than half a million pounds in extra funding to the area since an initial announcement in January. At the time local schools complained that they were losing out, but it was then discovered that inaccurate data about the volume of learning had been provided to the Assembly - hence the shortfall. The latest allocation means that courses and budgets which might have been threatened will now be protected. Rosemary Butler said: "I'm particularly pleased that Duffryn High School, Bettws High School and Caerleon Comprehensive School have benefited from this increase. Their excellent sixth forms are very popular and this latest Assembly allocation will help them to carry on providing a first class education for local students."

    NEWPORT UNLIMITED REPORT SHOWS NEW LIMIT OF CITY'S AMBITIONS

    May 25 - In marked contrast to previous years Newport Unlimited's Business Plan for 2009 indicates scaled back ambitions for the City's regeneration programme. The City Council's Cabinet will consider the report tomorrow. There is scant mention of the Friars Walk retail development and ironically new supermarket developments from Sainsbury and Asda are given prominence despite the negative impact they will have on the city centre. In addition, the report mentions the Travelodge Hotel on Bridge Street as an achievement even though Newport Unlimited had little to do with it. Other hotel developments associated with Friars Walk, City Spires and the Alexandra Gate housing scheme have all stalled.

    The following projects will be completed in 2009 -

    • Kingsway New Car Park – 1,050 spaces
    • Travelodge Bridge Street – 60 Beds
    • City Vizion First Phase – 50 Apartments
    • River East Housing Developments – 500 Apartments & Houses
    • Gateway Projects on key roundabouts
    • River Defence Works
    The following projects are on site in 2009
    • Railway Station new western concourse
    • Newport University’s City Centre Campus
    • Left Bank walkway and East Bank walkway / Riverside Park, and walkway and cycleway
    • Alexandra Park (Redrow) residential – 400 apartments & houses / Newhaus (Westmark) residential Development – 139 apartments / Riverside North (Fairlake) – 104 apartments & houses
    • Sainsbury development of Crindau Gas Works site
    • Whiteheads Steelworks site – reclamation works
    • Preparing Newport for 2010 (2009 schemes)

    The report states only 56 per cent of Newport Unlimited's 160 projects will be under way or have been completed by the end of 2010. In addition, out of 11,413 new homes planned, 11 per cent have been built. The report claims in excess of 4,000 jobs have been created by the initial programme and associated projects.

    POLICE APPEAL OVER FRIARS ROAD BURGLARY

    May 22 - Gwent Police is appealing for information following a burglary which occurred between 12pm and 5pm on Wednesday 20th May 2009 on Friars Road, Newport. It is believed two men entered the home of an 85 year old lady and stole a flat screen television. The men are described as white, in their early 20s, of slim build with short cropped hair.  They were both wearing tracksuits. Its is believed they may have been walking in the St Woolos direction at approximately 4.45pm. Police are appealing for anyone who may have seen two men in the area between these times carrying a cardboard box/TV or anyone who may hold information about this incident to contact them on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    VIRGIN MEDIA DEALS NEWPORT ANOTHER JOBS BLOW

    May 21 - More than 200 staff at a contractor for Virgin Media in Newport face moving to a site in Swansea under new plans. The cable group said staff at Fujitsu, which supports Virgin Media's broadband fault management, were to be consulted. It said it was proposing to transfer staff from Fujitsu to IBM in Swansea, and to bring some work back in-house. In a separate announcement, Virgin Media said it was also proposing to merge its two sites in Newport and one in Cardiff into one location. In a statement Virgin Media said: "Fujitsu currently support Virgin Media's National broadband fault management and we will be working with them to determine whether any of their staff wish to transfer to IBM. We are also proposing to move some Network Fault Management and customer care work back in-house to our offices in Manchester and Newport. "

    FIRE CREWS BRING DOCKS BLAZE UNDER CONTROL

    May 20 - Firefighters spent over three hours this afternoon tackling a large fire which broke out on a rubbish pile which contained old computers and plastics. The blaze broke out at Sims Metal Recycling Centre, Alexandra Dock in Newport. It is understood between 20 and 30 tonnes of computer equipment and waste plastic were alight at the site. South Wales Fire and Rescue Service received the call at 1300 BST and crews from Duffryn, Maindee, Malpas, Barry and New Inn were sent to the scene. They used a high volume pump and four jets. There were no evacuations and no one was injured, and crews started leaving the scene around 1615 BST.

    POLICE IN MARSHFIELD MAKE SURE KIDS GET TO SCHOOL SAFELY

    May 20 - Police officers have teamed up with Marshfield Primary School to support national Walk to School Week. The Walk to School Campaign is run by the charity Living Streets with funding from Department for Transport and the BIG Lottery fund. It asks parents, pupils and teachers to think about their journey to and from school and the many benefits of making it on foot.

    Marshfield’s neighbourhood officers, Pc Adrian Walters and PCSO Kim Weare, have agreed to accompany a ‘walking bus’ of around 70 children to school. As well as keeping the children safe as they walk, the officers hope to raise awareness of the dangers drivers can pose. Marshfield residents have set speeding as one of the neighbourhood policing team’s priorities and Marshfield Primary continually warn parents not to park inappropriately when picking up their children. Pc Adrian Walters, neighbourhood officer for Marshfield, said:
    “Although the aim of the walk is to help the environment, we are also hoping to highlight the problems that schools face with illegal parking and irresponsible driving. Motorists need to realise that driving and parking irresponsibly can put schoolchildren in danger.

    FORMER REFEREE SLAMS WALES FA OVER CARDIFF BIAS

    May 19 - Former referee Graham Poll has hit out at the Football Association of Wales after their decision not to take further action against Cardiff in relation to the coin-throwing incident that left referee Mike Dean with a cut to his forehead last month.

    Poll said: "There seems to be a reluctance to act with strength, to act to say... 'this is not acceptable'." Poll says the FAW's actions are in stark contrast to the punishment meted out to Newport County following an incident in November 2006. On that occasion the FAW fined Newport £3,000 for failing to control their fans and were also found guilty of failing to control then-boss Peter Beadle, who was sent off in the match. Poll said: "All too often referees are accused of behaving differently with the biggest clubs... and yet it seems that the FAW have fallen into that trap as well." He added: "They [Newport] were fined heavily and yet Cardiff City - once again - escaped."

    Following the match David Roberts, 24, from Pontypridd, appeared before Cardiff Magistrates' Court over the incident at Ninian Park and admitted the charge of ''throwing a missile towards the pitch.'' He was fined £200 and given a three-year banning order, although Mr Roberts denied throwing the coin which injured referee Dean, instead insisting he threw a piece of chewing gum. There is no evidence that he was the perpetrator of the coin throwing incident. Some of the Cardiff-based media have tried to suggest that he was in their attempts to support Cardiff City at all costs.

    COUNCIL CONSIDERS SELLING OFF MORE OF 'THE FAMILY SILVER'

    May 19 - Councillor Peter Davies (Conservative, Stow Hill) has confirmed that the City Council is considering the sale of land at the Mansion House in order to fund a move by the Registry Office from their current premises at Gold Tops. Despite this being the worst property slump in living memory Councillor Davies stated that two building plots could be provided to a developer. Councillor Allan Morris (Labour, Lliswerry) criticised the plan and stated it was a case of the new administration selling off Newport's family silver.

    SEX OFFENDER COMPLAINT IS UPHELD

    May 18 - The police watchdog has upheld a complaint about a police force's management of a sex offender. Malcolm Hewitt, from Newport, was found guilty in August 2007 of sexually assaulting a four-year-old girl. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) found "organisational failings within the force's management of sexual offenders". Gwent Police said the findings of the investigation had been fully addressed before the report was published. A complaint against Gwent Police was made in November 2007 by the child's mother, who alleged the force had failed to take appropriate action relating to a registered sex offender. IPCC commissioner for Wales Tom Davies said: "Gwent Police's policies and procedures for dealing with the management of sex offenders at that time were clearly not good enough and the force took action to put this right.

    ADMISSIONS ERROR DISAPPOINTMENT AT BASSALEG SCHOOL

    May 15 -   It has been revealed that 34 pupils and their parents were informed initially that their children had been admitted to Bassaleg School, only to be told shortly afterwards that there had been an error and they were not admitted. Councillor Herbie Thomas (Labour, Gaer) told this week's Council meeting he was very concerned about error. He did not believe the remaining option to appeal would satisfy the disgruntled parents. David Hando, the Cabinet Member for Young People Services, described the error as 'a disgrace'. It was an administrative error that had led to these events which should simply not have happened. All parents had been approached with an apology and had been invited to meet officials. The cause of the error was under investigation. He said he had great sympathy for the parents but the admission of an additional 34 pupils at the school was not an option for the local education authority. The appeals procedure, however, was independent and each case would be considered on its merits. The Cabinet Member stated that if any of these specific parents had incurred any expense for uniforms and the outcome was that the child would not be admitted to Bassaleg School, the cost of uniforms would be reimbursed.

    CONCERN OVER COPPER THEFTS FROM STEELWORKS SITE

    May 15 - Gwent Police is appealing for information following a number of thefts from the Corus steelworks site at Llanwern. Since the 1st April there have been five reports of incidents where copper and other metals have been stolen. Cutting equipment, being used to commit these crimes, has also been found on site. Inspector Geraint Evans said; "The local neighbourhood policing team is working closely with Corus to try and identify those committing these crimes and have increased patrols in the area. The theft of metal is not only a serious crime, it brings with it serious dangers. We know lives have been lost by people embarking on this type of criminality before and it really isn’t worth the risk. Anyone with information about anyone involved in such activity is asked to call Gwent Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111." Stephen Pearce, Health and Safety Manager at Corus says;"We are concerned that these thieves are putting themselves at great danger. Whilst some units are idle at the moment, there is significant activity on site."

    KITCHEN WASTE COLLECTION SERVICE TO EXPAND

    May 15 - Newport City Council is to expand its new weekly food waste collection service. The existing trial (in the Chepstow Road area) has proven to be very popular and collection rates are even higher than predicted; to further enhance the trial it is proposed to add an additional 3,500 properties at the earliest opportunity.

    MORE DELAYS TO FRIARS WALK

    May 14 - City Council Leader Matthew Evans has admitted that he believes it is unlikely that the Friars Walk developers will be on site later this year as promised. The £200 million scheme seems increasingly unlikely to happen. Evans said that the economic situation had badly affected the scheme. Unfortunately, for Newport both Cardiff and Bristol have expanded their retail developments within recent months and near neighbour Cwmbran will also see a new Morrison's supermarket. This is the latest in a series of Newport City Centre schemes to flounder but Evans insisted it still could happen and 75 per cent of retail space has been pre-let.

    Laura Buchanan Smith, vice president of the city's chamber of trade and a former councillor, said traders are demoralised by the building delays. She told the BBC "Traders are going out of business and I really see that some people are not going to survive, your small independent trader can't survive. We've got the university on the go, we've got the railway station on the go... all the riverfront is done, all the old town dock regeneration in my old ward Pill, and there's nothing in the centre.

    Mr Evans said: "I'd far prefer to justify to people that we have got a scheme progressing which is worth while for the long term benefits of the residents in Newport and to see the cranes moving rather than talk about a golfing event, which is clearly very important for the city. But the city centre regeneration is not about one golf tournament. It's about the long term benefit of all the residents in the city."

    POLICE TEACH NEWPORT SCHOOL PUPILS HOW TO STAY SAFE

    May 13 - This year’s Crucial Crew event, organised by Gwent Police, has received glowing feedback from pupils and teachers in Newport.

    Crucial Crew is a multi-agency event that has been running in Newport for more than 15 years.
    The annual event informs and educates schoolchildren aged 10 and 11 about personal safety and citizenship issues which form part of the National School Curriculum. Newport’s Raglan Barracks hosted this year’s three-week event, which finishes on Thursday (May 14th).

    Primary schools from across the city participated in activities run by each of the agencies involved.
    Each agency has its own “station” and approximately 120 pupils per session will visit each station in groups of 12 on a rotational basis over the course of a morning or afternoon session.

     

    LIB DEMS TARGET ETHNIC MINORITY VOTES IN CITY

    May 13 - The Liberal Democrats bid for the support of Wales’ Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities yesterday as the party launched its European election campaign. While UK leader Nick Clegg met students at Newport’s Coleg Gwent, former party leader Paddy Ashdown met ethnic minorities at the city’s Poppadoms and Dilshad restaurants.

    COUNCIL CLAIMS IT HAS AVERTED LIBRARY CLOSURE

    May 12 - Newport City Council's Conservative led administration claims an 'efficiency drive' has averted the possible closure of one of the City's libraries. The closure of one library in the city and a re-provision of its services was identified as a possible way of meeting the difficult budget pressures that arose from this year’s poor financial settlement from the Welsh Assembly Government. However the success of other efficiency savings across the council has meant that this option no longer needs to be considered. Councillor Mike Hamilton, Lib Dem cabinet member for leisure and continuing learning, said: “Following the excellent news about our successful grant application to develop a new library at Tredegar House to serve West Newport, I am delighted that we have been able to identify other efficiency savings across the council which will enable us to protect our full range of library services. We had considered whether the service in Caerleon, which is located in the school site, could be provided in a more cost effective manner as there are ongoing issues with its suitability."

    STREET PASTORS HEAD FOR CITY NIGHT LIFE

    May 12 - The first ever ‘Street Pastors’ will take to the streets of Newport City Centre later this year to help late-night revellers. Police hope the street pastors will make Newport a safer place at night by helping people under the influence of alcohol before they can cause trouble or hurt themselves. The innovative project, which also has the support of Newport City Council and local churches, has already been hailed a success in more than 60 other towns and cities in the UK.

    Around 20 church ministers and leaders in the city will soon begin a comprehensive training programme to fully equip them to respond to the needs of people they speak to on the streets. The training will take place over a period of 12 days spread over the next few months and the new street pastors will begin roaming the city centre on Friday and Saturday nights in late summer. The Street Pastor Scheme was initiated in Jamaica in 2001 as a Christian response to violent crime. Brixton realised the benefits of this initiative and launched the first UK scheme in 2003 to combat the urban problems encountered in towns and city throughout the country. Safer Newport Partnership Sergeant Bernie Dawson, of Newport Central Police Station, said: “Experience in other towns and cities have shown crime levels to have dropped where Street Pastors are operating.

    DOG OWNER ORDERED TO COMPENSATE INJURED BOY

    May 12 - A Somerton woman has been ordered by Newport Magistrates to pay compensation to a boy after a pit-bull type terrier dog in her possession ripped his ear off. Raqia Hussain must give 12-year-old Rakib Ali £1,000 after she admitted being in possession of the dog that savaged him at the end of March. Mrs Hussain, a 40-year-old mother-of-five from Hawthorne Fosse, pleaded guilty to being in possession of the pit-bull type dog contrary to the Dangerous Dogs Act of 1991 at a previous hearing at the City’s Magistrates’ Court.

    COUNCIL REJECTS SHARED SERVICES PLAN

    May 11 - Three councils in south east Wales including Newport have rejected plans to deliver shared services with other local authorities.  Welsh councils have been urged by the assembly government to work together more closely to deliver savings. However, Newport, along with Cardiff and Caerphilly, has decided against providing joint personnel, training and payroll services.

    The councils which have decided against taking part in the shared service scheme have raised questions about its financial planning. With all 10 councils on board it would cost anything up to £32m to put the scheme together. But the project's own consultants estimate it would not provide any savings for councils until around 2016.

    UNIVERSITY RESEARCHES NEW CLOTHING FOR THE AGEING POPULATION

    May 10 - Hi-tech clothes which merge technology with textiles to improve the quality of life for the ageing population will be created in a ground-breaking research project launched at the University of Wales, Newport. The New Dynamics of Ageing (NDA) research programme will be carried out at the University’s Smart Clothes and Wearable Technology Research Centre which has successfully attracted major research funding for the three year project from the UK’s joint research council. “We are at the beginning of a new industrial revolution as textiles and electronics merge, and this collaborative research project will bring together design and technology to investigate the application of smart textiles in clothing to enhance the well-being and quality of life of the active ageing population,” said Jane McCann, Director of the Research centre and leader of the project

    CALL FOR SCHOOLGIRL TO RETURN HOME

    May 9 - Police are appealing for a vulnerable schoolgirl to return home after her disappearance three days ago. Shauna Payne, 14, was last seen on Tuesday morning at her home in Newport. Gwent Police said it is believed she may be staying with friends in the area and are urging her to make contact. “Police believe she is staying with friends in the Newport area and urge them or Shauna herself to make contact,” a spokesman said. “Shauna is considered vulnerable because of her age.” He added: “If you have seen Shauna or have information about her whereabouts please contact Gwent Police.”

    POLICE APPEAL OVER ATTEMPTED SUBWAY ROBBERY

    May 8 - Gwent Police is appealing for information following an attempt robbery in the Newport City Centre area on Saturday morning. A 57 year old female was walking through Queensway Subway, from the city centre in the direction of the train station, at 11.30am when a male grabbed her from behind and attempted to take her handbag.

    The male offender punched the victim in the face twice, but failing to obtain the handbag made off empty handed in the direction of the city centre. The victim was left shaken with a facial cut and swelling. The offender is described as a white male, 17/18 years old, approximately 5'1"/5'2" tall and of slim build.  He was clean shaven and wearing a black beanie hat and a black waist length jacket. Police officers are interest in speaking to 3 people who were walking in the area at the time who may have seen the offender make off from the scene. A man and woman who were walking together, both white and in their early 30s.  The female was wearing a pink blouse. A man, white and in his late 30s/early 40s, wearing a pink shirt and carrying a briefcase.  This passer-by walked with the victim through the subway to the train station after the incident. These people may be able to provide further information that could assist officers with their investigation. If they or anyone else has any information relating to this incident they are asked to contact Gwent Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    Wind turbines to power chemicals factory

    May 7 - Chemicals manufacturer Solutia is to source electricity for its Newport site from two large wind turbines later this year. Construction begins this month on the project, with industrial on-site wind developers Wind Direct set to build, own and operate the 2.5MW machines, which secured planning permission back in 2007. Solutia, a US-owned company spun off from biotechnology giant Monsanto in the late nineties, emerged from bankruptcy last year and produces chemicals and plastics used to make products including washing powders, floor coverings and safety windows. It could source more than a third of the Newport site's electricity from the planned Nordex N90 turbines, which are expected to generate around 10,000 kWh of power each year - the equivalent of electricity for around 2,000 homes.

    RALLY EVENT SIGNS THREE DEAL WITH CITY

    May 6 - A major car rally, Rally Evolution 2009, has signed a three year deal with Newport City Council. The rally takes in 1300 miles of terrain across Wales in a four day period from November 12 to 15. It will start and finish at Tredegar House. 120 cars will take part all with a maximum engine size of 1.4 litres. Organisers describe it as Britain's hardest rally. It was formerly known as the Lombard Rally and last year drew a crowd of 4,000 to its final stage in Harrogate. For the route and schedule see the map attached here.

    NEW INITIATIVE TO CUT CRIME AT RETAIL PARK

    May 1 - The police are launching a new initiative to cut crime at Newport Retail Park. The Retail Park has seen a number of incidents recently including a foiled raid on a mobile business. Police officers from Newport East Neighbourhood Policing Team are now working with retailers and the retail park’s security firm Akita to gather intelligence on crimes and criminals in the area. The aim of the new Business Against Crime partnership is to keep crime to a minimum on the very busy site, which welcomes between 40,000 and 50,000 shoppers each week.

    Shop managers, security guards and police officers will now meet regularly to discuss suspected and convicted shoplifters, antisocial behaviour and any other crimes that may occur. CCTV footage, photographs and other information relevant to keeping the retail park safe will also be shared among the partners. Newport East Neighbourhood Policing Team will also carry out regular high-visibility patrols at the park.

    ASSEMBLY QUIETLY SHELVES RELIEF ROAD PROJECT

    Apr 30 - The Welsh Assembly Government has kicked yet another project proposed for the Newport area in to the long grass. According to BBC Wales the £1 billion M4 relief road project is unlikely to go ahead due to the current economic climate. Industry sources have indicated that financially the M4 relief road project no longer "stacks up" because of a combination of soaring costs of up to a billion pounds and a lack of public or private capital. John Griffiths, Labour AM for Newport East, and a deputy minister in the assembly government said in the current circumstances he found it difficult to imagine this amount of money being found. "It was very hard to see the scheme being given the go ahead in the near future" he added. The Assembly has already pent nearly £20m on preparatory work for the project. In September 2007 Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones stated "There will be a business case looked at this year, and if that is a robust business case then there's a possibility of a business inquiry in 2009 then hopefully we could start the work in 2010, with an anticipated completion date of 2013."

    LLISWERRY COUNCILLORS SEEK ASSURANCES OVER LYSAGHTS SITE

    Apr 30 - New owners of the former Lysaghts site on Corporation Road have confirmed their intention to regenerate the site. Lliswerry Councillor Roger Jeavons advised local residents at this week's Neighbourhood Committee Meeting that Councillors have met with Linc Cymru who now own the site. Their intention was to develop it with houses, sa uperstore, a hotel and to possibly refurbish the Institute. The new owner has also paid for the final piece of flood defence work. No planning application had been submitted and Councillors would request a public meeting before any plans went ahead.

    WOMAN PLEADS GUILTY IN DANGEROUS DOG CASE

    Apr 29 - A woman has admitted being in possession of a pit bull-type terrier dog which tore off a boy's ear in March. Rakib Ali, 11, was attacked as he played in a friend's garden in the Somerton area of Newport. The mauling only ended when the boy passed out, despite the efforts of neighbours to pull the dog off. Mother-of-five Raqia Hussain, 40, pleaded guilty to a single charge contrary to the Dangerous Dogs Act of 1991 at Newport Magistrates' Court.

    Rakib was playing with one of the defendant's sons in her front garden when the attack began. Nerve and sinew damage was also caused to his left arm during the attack. He was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport but was later transferred to Morriston Hospital in Swansea which houses a centre for burns and plastic surgery. Mike Sage, defending, said she was Mrs Hussain was concerned about the boy's injuries and extended "a full apology for what has taken place". Mr Sage said his client was in receipt of benefits and had little income. Sentencing was adjourned until 11 May for the preparation of a pre-sentence report.

    COUNCIL LEADER WELCOME RYDER CUP MILESTONE

    Apr 29 - The leader of Newport City Council has welcomed the opening of the Ryder Cup 2010 ticket ballot ahead of next year's tournament at the Celtic Manor Resort. Councillor Matthew Evans, said: “This is a hugely important milestone as we move ever closer to the tournament and I am sure people share our sense of excitement and pride that one of the world’s great sporting occasions is being hosted here in Newport. It is great to see that a record number of tickets are being made available to local golf clubs and for charity, and that the practice day tickets will give the opportunity for young golf fans to gain a once in a lifetime experience to see the world’s best golfers from USA and Europe competing in their home city.

    LAND SELL OFF TO PART-FINANCE NEW SCHOOLS DEVELOPMENT

    Apr 29 - Newport City Council has authorised the disposal of significant parcels of land in Bettws and Ringland as part of its finance arrangements for new secondary schools in the area. Land at Hartridge Farm Road (22 acres) and on the current site of Bettws School (14.2 acres) will be sold off to make way for new residential developments.

    PATENT OFFICE JOB LOSSES REDUCED - MP

    Apr 28 - Newport West MP Paul Flynn has been advised that the level of job losses feared for the Patent Office has been significantly reduced. Originally, 100 redundancies were forecast at the site near Tredegar Park. On his blog the MP states that Minister David Lammy informed him on Friday that the Patent Office are seeking to transfer 45 staff to other public service jobs in South Wales and offering voluntary redundancy to 20 others. Flynn hopes to have will have further discussions with the head of the Intellectual Property Office in the near future.

    SKILLS PROGRAMME LAUNCHED IN NEWPORT

    Apr 28 - Newport's Pink Ladies met with Deputy Minister for Skills and Newport East AM, John Griffiths, today to mark the launch of a unique £16 million initiative which will help thousands of people across Wales improve their chances of finding a job. The Pink Ladies scheme - aimed at young women learning new skills in the construction industry - is an example of just one of many projects in Wales which could benefit from the EU-backed Life Skills initiative aimed at tackling the barriers people face when trying to improve their skills and find a job. Made possible with £8 million from the European Social Fund through the Welsh Assembly Government, the Life Skills project matches Big Lottery Fund money with European Structural Funds for the first time. The Pink Ladies Scheme, which provides construction taster sessions in a specially adapted mobile unit, has so far enabled around 100 women to juggle family life with access to skills opportunities while increasing confidence and motivation. Through the Life Skills project many more training schemes like this will be delivered across Wales to help almost 2,000 people into work.

    One person who has benefited from a similar programme is 24-year-old Sarah Gorey from Bettws. The single mother of two wanted to do up her home, but could not afford to pay for any outside help. She signed up to The Pink Ladies project, a series of construction taster classes run from a mobile classroom. After redecorating and improving her home - doing everything from building walls to laying carpet - she has now decided to focus on getting a career in the construction industry. "The sessions have been a real eye opener and I can't get enough of them," she said "While my youngest child is being cared for in the crèche [provided as part of the course], I learn new skills."

    NEWPORT TRUCKER FOUND GUILTY OVER DRUGS HAUL

    Apr 27 - Customs chiefs have welcomed the 16-year jail sentence for a lorry driver who was found with 165kg (363lbs) of ecstasy tablets, worth £2.44m. Leong Paul, 56, from Newport picked up the drugs from a service stop near Antwerp in Belgium, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said. He then attempted to smuggle them into the UK through Dover, Kent, hidden in his vehicle, but the haul was found. He denied smuggling but was found guilty at Canterbury Crown Court. HMRC said it began an investigation after staff discovered the drugs stash as Paul returned from a trip to Gottingen, Germany, in April 2007 . Paul denied any knowledge of the drugs but evidence was collected, including a mobile phone and doctored vehicle tachograph records. After being found guilty by a jury, Judge Adele Williams told Paul that he had attempted to smuggle a drug capable of causing serious harm, and on rare occasions even death.

    POLICE SEEK MAN WHO BREACHED LICENCE CONDITIONS

    Apr 27 - Gwent Police is appealing for information to locate 36 year old Miles Doran who breached his licence conditions after being released from prison on 7th January 2009. Miles Doran was serving an 16 month prison sentence for burglary after being convicted at Cardiff Crown Court on 23rd May 2008.

    Due to the fact that Doran, who was released on licence, breached his licence conditions he has been recalled to prison. It is believed he may have links to the Newport area. He is described as white, 5 feet 9 inches tall of medium build with dark brown facial hair.  He speaks with an Irish accent. If you recognise this person and think you may have information that could assist police with locating him please contact Gwent Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    PoLICEMAN ON BLACKMAIL CHARGE

    Apr 25 - A police officer in the South Wales force appeared at Cardiff Crown Court yesterday accused of blackmail.PC Raymond Clark, 40, of Newport, was charged with conspiracy to blackmail after being arrested by Gwent Police. The case was adjourned until May 22. Clark is suspended from duties by South Wales Police while further investigations are carried out. An Independent Police Complaints Commission spokesman told Wales Online: “The IPCC is managing the misconduct investigation for the professional standards department at South Wales Police. This will also look at the reasons why the identification of PC Clark as a serving police officer in South Wales was not confirmed at an earlier stage in the inquiry.”

    CCTV TO BE INSTALLED IN A&E AT THE ROYAL GWENT

    Apr 25 - In response to the growing number of attacks on emergency healthcare staff the Welsh Assembly Government is launching a CCTV trial at four hospitals in Wales including the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport. CCTV cameras will be installed in accident and emergency units at Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil, Royal Gwent in Newport, West Wales General in Carmarthen and Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor. The camera will also be installed in some ambulances. The move is bound to be controversial, especially as the cameras will be installed in both clinical and non-clinical areas. Health minister Edwina Hart said she was "determined" to address the issue. "Violence and aggression against staff is totally unacceptable and I am determined to stamp out this behaviour," said the minister "I have made clear that the perpetrators of attacks on staff should be prosecuted".

    Food waste to power Marks and Spencer ready meals factory

    Apr 23 - One of the makers of Marks and Spencer ready meals is to use its own food waste to power its factory in Newport. RF Brookes, part of Premier Foods plc, has been awarded £500,000 by the Welsh Assembly government towards its own £5 million anaerobic digestion plant at its Rogerstone site. The facility is expected to be in operation by the end of next year, turning the company's waste material into biogas, which would be used to generate heat and electricity. It is expected to produce about 10% of the factory's power, reducing carbon emissions by about 8,500 tonnes a year. Announcing the funding award yesterday, Welsh Assembly environment minister Jane Davidson said: "This project will be a wonderful example of turning food waste into clean, renewable energy."

    STUDENT TV STATION SCOOPS AWARD

    Apr 23 - A TV station being developed by the Students' Union at Newport’s University has scooped its first award. Newport Television (NTV), an online, on-demand TV channel made by Newport students for Newport students, won the Highly Commended category for the Documentary film ‘Becoming Neil’ at the annual NaSTA (National Student Television Association) Awards. Commenting on the success of the film, by Documentary Film students Alexander O’Toole and Ezra Birne, Newport SU’s Entertainments & Media Officer, Jonny Roberts, said, “We were really proud to see the high quality of NTV's work being recognised and we are determined to come back and win even more awards next year. For an example of their output see here.

    TWO CHARGED AFTER SOMERTON RAID

    Apr 22 - Following the execution of a drugs warrant in the Somerton Park area of Newport on Monday, a 29 year old man has been charged with being concerned in the supply of controlled drugs and firearms offences and a 34 year old man has been charged with being concerned in the supply of controlled drugs. The two men appeared before Newport Magistrates Court this morning (Wednesday April 22nd, 2009) and were remanded in custody. A 34 year old man, a 22 year old man and a 30 year old woman arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of controlled drugs have been released on police bail pending further enquiries.

    CITY CLAIMS REGENERATION PROGRESS DESPITE RECESSION

    Apr 22 - Newport City Council says that the regeneration of the city is still progressing despite the recession. It claims that more than £100 million of regeneration projects are due for completion in Newport during the next 18 months, bringing new jobs and more opportunities for investment as the city prepares to host the Ryder Cup next year. Despite the current economic downturn, major regeneration projects are underway across the city, ranging from new housing schemes, a new university campus in the city centre to new retail and business developments. It states negotiations are also continuing to bring forward the Friars Walk development.

    In the city centre the new £35m university campus and the £25m Kingsway Shopping Centre refurbishment and 1,000 space new car park are on site and making excellent progress. The car park will complement the refurbished Kingsway Shopping Centre and is due to open later this year. The £2.3m Travelodge Hotel in the former City Cinema is now open providing much needed new hotel accommodation for visitors to the city.

    The first phases of both the City Vizion and Newhaus residential developments have been built while other housing schemes which will provide affordable housing around Old Town Dock are due on site this year. On the east side of the River Usk around 500 new properties will have been completed by the end of the year. Around George Street, the flagship £8m Orb office development is complete and its glazed, curved design has created an attractive new city landmark as people approach the city centre from the south. The speculative development will soon have its first tenants, Newport City Homes, who themselves will be creating hundreds of new jobs and investment opportunities for the city.Network Rail’s £25m redevelopment of the railway station is also due on site in April, with its plans for a new concourse at a key gateway into the city.

    Councillor Matthew Evans, leader of the council, said: “The huge scale and diversity of the projects on site in Newport is testament to the enormous potential that the city has. There will be few locations in the UK with such an active and ongoing regeneration programme, particularly during the current economic climate."

    NEW FARMERS MARKET FOR JOHN FROST SQUARE

    Apr 22 - Newport’s new farmers’ market will take up home in John Frost Square this week.Over 20 stalls will offer a wide range of goods including bread, dried meats, free range products, cheese and fish, as well as hot, lunchtime food. The market makes its debut this Friday (April 24) and runs from 10am to 2pm. To mark the occasion, stall holders will be giving away cotton bags, fridge magnets and offering a wide range of tasters. Music also accompanies the launch.

    The market will then run the second and fourth Friday of the month and will accommodate a variety of different traders on each visit.The organisers of successful markets in Riverside and Roath, Cardiff, have taken on the project. Steve Garrett, Chair of the Social Enterprise in Cardiff, has worked closely with the city centre manager in Newport to revitalise the site and bring an excellent range of locally sourced and produced food and drink to the city centre.

    UNFINISHED CIVIC MURALS TO BE COVERED UP

    Apr 22 - The City Council has decided to cover up unfinished murals within the Civic Centre. It commissioned the new murals for the ground floor of the foyer to celebrate its new City Status at the time of the millennium. The murals were not finished because the commissioned artist unfortunately died before their completion. The City Council's Culture and Recreation Overview and Scrutiny Forum considered options to either commission a new artist to finish the murals, obliterate the work by painting over and redecorating the space or to cover the murals in a way that would leave the option of finishing the works at some future date open. This process concluded that covering the murals was the best option. An alternative method of using lining paper has now been explored and according to the Council "offers a second option that is cheaper, will do less damage to the concealed work and does not interfere with the architecture of the space. This method is a cost effective approach and offers reversibility and will not damage the murals." The lining of the murals will cost in the region of £1500.

    FIVE ARRESTS FOLLOW SOMERTON PARK DRUGS RAID

    Apr 21 - Five people have been arrested on suspicion of supplying drugs following a raid on a Newport housing estate. Officers from Gwent Police swooped at a property on Somerton Park and recovered what is believed to be illegal drugs.Detective Inspector Paul Evans urged residents to contact police if they have concerns about possible drug activity in their area.

    HOTEL PLAN FOR PARC GOLF CLUB SITE

    Apr 21 - Newport City Council planners has received a planning application request for a 50 bed hotel at the Parc Golf Club in Coedkernew in the west of the City.

    BUTLER WELCOMES EXTRA COLLEGE FUNDING

    Apr 21 - Rosemary Butler AM has welcomed the news that an extra £3.45m will now be available to Further Education colleges and sixth forms in South East Wales, with the probable effect that  Coleg Gwent  (with a major campus site in Newport) will not experience any cuts in its budget this year. The Welsh Assembly Government has announced that almost every Further Education college and sixth form in Wales will be funded at or above the same level for 2009/10 as they were for 2008/09.

    "Coleg Gwent originally faced a cash reduction of £300,000. I wasn't happy about that, but I was even less happy about the College's proposal to cut 74 jobs, which I considered excessive. Now that Coleg Gwent  is apparently getting the same funding in 2009/10 as it did in the previous year, I appeal to the college authorities to review their plans as quickly as possible. There is even less excuse now for taking such draconian measures. "

    SIGN OF HOPE IN CITY HOUSING MARKET

    Apr 20 - Property website Right Move has recorded an increase in the asking price for properties across South Wales. In Newport the asking price for properties is up by 5.1 per cent compared to a year ago. Estate agents Peter Allan are also reporting their best sales performance for two years.

    PATENT OFFICE FACING CUTBACKS

    Apr 18 - Around 100 posts are under threat at the Newport civil service office where patents, trade marks, copyright and designs are registered. The Intellectual Property Office, near Tredegar Park, formerly the Patent Office, blamed a fall in patent applications, the weak pound and the recession. It said no decision had been made on where the cuts would fall at the office, which employs around 1,000 and has a turnover of £60m annually. A statement said: "Nobody is immune to the current financial situation."

    POLICE APPEAL FOR MISSING ALWAY WOMAN

    Apr 17 - Gwent Police is appealing for information to locate Susan Bishop who was last seen at her home in the Alway area of Newport. The 52 year old hasn’t been seen since 10am yesterday morning, Thursday 16th April. She is described as white, approximately 5’6”, with short auburn hair. She was last seen wearing a white coat.

    Anyone with any information regarding her whereabouts is asked to call Gwent Police on 101.

    FREAK WIND HITS TWO ST. JULIAN'S PROPERTIES

    Apr 17 - A freak wind possibly resembling a tornado has damaged the roofs of two houses in the St. Julian's area of Newport. The semi-detached houses in Haisbro Avenue in the city were hit at about 1610 GMT on Thursday. According to the BBC Veronica Stacey said a neighbour saw the sky turn dark and then watched as the tiles were ripped off the roofs. The BBC Weather Centre faid they believed heavy rainfall "at the top of the scale" had fallen in Newport, which can bring mini-tornadoes. Mrs Stacey, who returned home from work in the pathology lab at the Royal Gwent Hospital to view the damage, said: "Some of the tiles were found five or six gardens down the road."

    POLICE SEEK MAN WHO BREACHED LICENCE CONDITIONS

    Apr 16 - Gwent Police is appealing for information to locate 33 year old Mark Porretta (left) who breached his licence conditions after being released from prison on 5th December 2008. Mark Porretta was serving an 18 month prison sentence for burglary after being convicted at Newport Magistrates Court on 26th March 2008.

    Due to the fact that Porretta, who was released on licence, breached his licence conditions he has been recalled to prison. He is originally from the Newport area. He is described as white, 5'6", of a slim build, with brown eyes and short dark brown hair. He has the name 'Kade' and a heart tattooed on his left forearm and also dots tattooed on his knuckles on his left hand. He also has a scar from his ear to his chin on the right side of his face. If you recognise this person and think you may have information that could assist police with locating him please contact Gwent Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    CITY CONSIDERS SOLAR OPTION

    Apr 16 - Solar photovoltaic cells could be installed on a variety of council buildings in Newport to reduce electricity costs. The City Council's Development and Transport suggests that developers carrying out street lighting work should be required to install solar photovoltaics. According to the report the photovoltaics would help cover some of the costs of running the street lights. At current rates, which could rise when feed-in tariffs are introduced next year, the report estimates a 200 watt photovoltaic panel generates £75 worth of electricity, while a 100 watt street light uses £41 worth of electricity per annum.

    Under recommendations from the Renewable Energy Association, the scheme would prove even more favourable as photovoltaics would earn up to 50p per unit of electricity instead of the 10p used in the calculations. Among the buildings considered is the Civic Centre, the Wales National Velodrome, other parts of the international sports village and various community centres. A scheme has recently been installed at the new Moorland Park community centre.

    In 2004 with the help of SolarGen Solutions, Newport City Council has installed Wales' first solar-powered Variable Messaging Sign (VMS) on the A48 between Langstone and Chepstow. Drivers travelling above the speed limit will trigger the sign, which flashes 'Slow/Araf' & 60-speed roundel as a warning to slow down. A pioneer in the use of 'green' energy, Newport City Council was also the first local authority on UK mainland to install solar powered street lighting schemes linked to the National Grid.

    Right -  A Solar photovoltaic 'tree' in Styria, Austria

    18 PER CENT OF NEWPORT PROPERTIES ON SALE FOR YEAR

    Apr 12 - 18 per cent of properties advertised for sale in Newport have been on the market for over twelve months. According to website globrix.com the stagnation in the market is even more pronounced in other areas of the country including towns such as Aberystwyth, Shrewsbury and Rochdale but it states that Newport is among the worst. Across the UK nearly a third of flats and more than a quarter of houses up for sale have been on the market for more than six months, research has shown.

    Daniel Lee, chief executive of Globrix, told the Press Association: "On the surface these figures make pretty grim reading. However, there is far more optimism. Estate agents are reporting that buyer interest has picked up over the last couple of months. The problem is that this activity in the market isn't yet converting into tangible sales." He said the next couple of months were likely to provide a strong indicator of the current state of the property market, as early spring is traditionally a buoyant time for property sales.

    MP CRITICISES COUNCIL OVER FIRE SITE CLEARANCE PLAN

    Apr 11 - Newport East MP Jessica Morden has slammed the City Council for asking residents in Marlborough Road in Maindee to pay for the clearance of their fire damaged properties. The damage occurred in July 2007 after a fire broke out in the nearby Limebright Joinery. However, a Health and Safety Executive report found that the business was not responsible for the blaze that destroyed or damaged six homes in Marlborough Road. It is estimated by the Council that the residents contribution to the clear up of the site should amount to £55,000. In a comment reported by Wales Online Jessica Morden stated she was appalled residents were being asked to dip into their pockets. She said: “It is absolutely tragic how long it has taken to sort this matter out. I have been pressing the council to resolve this issue for some time. I am disappointed that residents who have lost their homes, and have already suffered great financial hardship, are now being asked to find £55,000 between them. I will be contacting the council to see if anything can be done to help them.”

    However, a Council spokesperson stated "Everyone wants to see the site cleared and in our view this is the fairest and cost-effective way that the council can assist. We are aware that some of the homeowners did not have insurance – this is not an issue for the council and the local taxpayer should not have to pick up the costs. It should be the responsibility of all homeowners to have proper house insurance. However, in order to ensure this issue does not hold up the process any further, a local land charge could be placed on the land so costs could be recovered in the future.”

    JURY OUT ON BUS LANE REMOVAL

    Apr 10 - The jury is out on Newport's decision to remove bus lanes in parts of the city centre. A new report in to traffic patterns by the City Council's transport department reports some improvement to city centre congestion but states this is attributable to new traffic schemes and alternative routes available rather than bus lane removal. City centre does not appear to have increased significantly and in some areas has reduced dramatically. The report notes that new traffic signals including those at the Old Green Roundabout and Harlequin have improved traffic flows.

    On bus lanes it states "As far as we know the removal of selected bus lanes has in itself not had a detrimental effect on bus services on those routes. However, managing traffic demand and bus priority measures needs to be carefully balanced and indiscriminate removal of bus
    lanes is not the answer." The Managing Director of Stagecoach comments in the report “We have noticed the reliability of the services using Malpas Road being affected detrimentally. However we cannot say whether or not this has been caused by the removal of the bus lane or the introduction of traffic lights at the Harlequin Roundabout. The situation was initially bad enough for us to consider routing the buses away from Malpas Road and onto the A4042. We have resisted this at the moment and have noticed since Christmas some improvement in the reliability (compared to the situation since the bus lanes were initially removed on 8th December - not when the bus lanes were in place).

    COUNCIL INVESTIGATES DOCK STREET IMPROVEMENT DELAYS

    Apr 10 - Newport City Council's Scrutiny Committee is investigating why there was a significant over-run in the scheme to improve Lower Dock Street. The street forms a link between Kingsway and George Street Bridge. Its aim was to improve the physical environment of the Lower Dock Street ‘gateway’ to the city centre. This included new paving, trees, street furniture and artwork. However, the £600,000 scheme was due to be completed in December 2006. In fact, work on site did not start until December 2007 and they were not complete until July 2008. The Scrutiny Committee will be reviewing the reasons for the delay in the delivery of this work.

    OFFERS SET TO ENTICE FIRST TIME BUYERS

    Apr 9 - A number of innovative schemes are being used by property developers in Newport to boost the housing market and encourage first time buyers. At The Square, a David Wilson Homes development on Willenhall Street off Corporation Road properties include includes a one-bedroom coach house priced at £100,950 and two-bedroom apartments priced from £115,500. They are offering a scheme called Dream Start. With this scheme, first-time buyers only need to secure a mortgage for 75 per cent of the asking price and there is no deposit. The other 25 per cent is covered by David Wilson Homes and repayable interest free, either within 10 years or on the resale of the property. Bernice McKenna, sales director of David Wilson states ".We’ve successfully helped a number of first time buyers get onto the property ladder with the Dream Start scheme. It’s a great incentive for people eager to buy their first home." At Redrow's Alexandra Gate near Usk Way first time buyers are offered a similar scheme four properties remain in their Debut range. One and two-bedroom accommodation, are available with prices from an initial outlay of just £64,958 and £74,958 respectively using their "easi-buy" deal. The major plus point is that purchasers only have to apply for a 75% mortgage – potentially giving them access to some of the best interest rates around - and they will receive an interest free loan from Redrow for the remainder. They might not even require a deposit. New homes/apartments below £100,000 are also available at two developments not yet built, City Vizion and the Edge in the City Centre.

    MP'S SITE GOES OFF-LINE

    Apr 9 - The official website for Newport East Labour MP Jessica Morden is no longer available. The site has not been properly updated for some time. Ms. Morden was recently embroiled in a row about the expenses she claimed in connection with her duties in 2007-8. She received extra expense allowances of £167,060. She states “In this particular year, the fees office allowed me to transfer money I didn’t spend in the previous year so I could use it on extra office provision, following the birth of my child. The money was spent on staffing and extra office provision. I take great pride in both as they are there to serve the people of Newport East, and I want my constituents to benefit from the best service I can give them.” She has recently been active in support of redundant Llanwern steelworkers meeting the Prime Minister to discuss their plight and has called on the City Council to adopt a common sense approach to its plans for age limits on taxis, saying they should be delayed until the economy improves. 

    BUTLER QUERIES FURTHER EDUCATION JOB LOSSES

    Apr 8 - Newport West AM Rosemary Butler has queried the need for the latest jobs cuts at Coleg Gwent. The college has started a 90 day consultation period after a decision to make 74 redundancies at various campuses including Newport. Hundreds of people in her constituency rely on Coleg Gwent for vocational education and retraining, at a time when the jobs market is becoming increasingly difficult. She said: "Obviously I regret any funding cuts at Coleg Gwent. I would point out however that there has been a relatively modest cash reduction of less than one per cent at Coleg Gwent, whereas some colleges in Wales  have seen a much bigger cut. I fail to see why the management has taken such draconian steps in response, and I seriously wonder whether there's another agenda here. I would like to see a robust analysis being carried out as part of the consultation process."

    GAER PARK ROAD BUS SERVICE REINSTATED

    Apr 8 - Parts of the Gaer have won reinstatement of their bus service following representations to the bus company and City Council. The 32 and 33 services through Gaer Park Road were withdrawn in January as part of a wider review as buses were frequently hindered by parked vehicles on the road. Now the decision has been taken by Newport Bus and Newport City Council to provide a bus service to Gaer Park Road/Parade on 6 month trial period. The Cabinet Member David Atwell had considered a report advising of the receipt of a petition from residents of the Gaer, forwarded by Newport Transport, requesting a review of the recent bus service changes to the Gaer and the reinstatement of a bus service to this area.

    NEW M4 SPEED RESTRICTION THROUGH CITY SECTION

    Apr 8 - New speed restrictions were introduced along a stretch of the M4 around Newport on April 6. To improve traffic flow and safety, motorists will now have to abide by a 50mph speed limit between junction 24, Coldra, and junction 28, Tredegar Park, until next year, when a new variable speed system will be introduced. Signs warning motorists of the change were put in place over the weekend and from the summer of 2010, electronic gantries will be used to update drivers about the speed limit in force along the stretch, as well as its varying conditions. The Assembly Government, which is implementing the change said it was essential to alter the speed on the road due to work to replace the central reservation safety fence and widening works between junctions 29 and 30.

    ACCIDENTAL DEATH VERDICT IN DROWNING CASE

    Apr 7 - A Newport holidaymaker who drowned after getting into difficulty while swimming in the sea in Devon failed to spot nine red warning flags, an inquest in Exeter has heard. Nigel Hunt, 41, from was off Teignmouth coast when the incident happened on 24 July 2008. He was swimming with his teenage son when the pair were caught by a strong current and 10ft (3m) high swells. Mr Hunt was airlifted to hospital but died. South Devon Coroner Ian Arrow recorded a verdict of accidental death.

    MEALS ON WHEELS PRICES TO INCREASE

    Apr 7 - Meals on wheels prices will increase from September by ten pence to £2.20 following a decision by the City Council today.

    CONTRACT AWARDED FOR NEW RAILWAY STATION

    Apr 6 - Construction company Galliford Try is poised to take up a £13m contract from Network Rail to upgrade Newport station ahead of the Ryder Cup golf tournament in 2010. The contractor beat two other firms to clinch the deal to carry out a second phase of work on Platform 4 to ensure it can handle 12-car inter-city trains and is fully accessible to passengers with the installation of new lifts. The first phase Platform 4 extension was completed by Network Rail at a cost £5.5m in summer 2007.

    According to Transport Briefing other works to be carried out by Galliford Try include installing a new footbridge and creating a new concourse facing on to Queensway. Cosmetic improvements will enhance the appearance of the station, achieve greater links between all modes of transport and create a new gateway into Newport, improving pedestrian access between the station and the city centre. The contract forms part of the £22m Newport Station Regeneration project funded by Network Rail and the Welsh Assembly Government.

    WETHERSPOON TO TAKE OVER WALKABOUT SITE

    Apr 4 - The lease for the former Queen's Hotel site on Bridge Street currently occupied by the Walkabout has transferred to JD Wetherspoon. JD Wetherspoon plan a £600,000 refit of the building and following its closure tonight will reopen it in six months time. There are three  Wetherspoon pubs in Newport, on Cambrian Road, Commercial Street and Maindee.

    The lease has been on the market with Christie and Co. for £45,000. It is understood that Wetherspoon has not paid a premium and has negotiated a new lease with the landlord. The venue has 22 en-suite letting rooms and five conference rooms. It has a capacity of 330 in the main bar and 660 in the basement. Takings were £845,462 in the most recent year, with a rent per annum of £135,000, offset by rent collected from two sub-let retail units. The company has been buying a number of second-hand pubs and has reported that development costs are running at 36% less per square metre than last year.

    AMBULANCE CRASHES ON EMERGENCY CALL

    Apr 3 - Two ambulance workers on their way to a 999 call were themselves taken to hospital after their vehicle crashed into a lamp post.

    The ambulance driver and the paramedic were taken in another ambulance to the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport suffering with minor injuries. The incident happened in Cardiff Road at four o'clock yesterday afternoon. It is believed that the ambulance had swerved to avoid a car.

    A third ambulance was sent to the original 999 call. Gwent Police are investigating the crash.

    CITY COUNCIL BACKS WASTE POWER PLANT

    Apr 3 - A new gasification plant is set to be built in Newport after planning permission was granted to BioGen Power. The facility will have the capacity to process 120,000 tonnes of waste and will generate 12 MegaWatts of electricity. BioGen Power will work with Energos to provide the technology for the plant near West Way Road in Newport Docks.

    BioGen Power chief executive Christian Reeve said: “This is a highly suitable location with good electricity connection, direct links to the highway, high potential for heat recovery and close proximity to waste customers. As such, there were no objections from statutory consultees or the general public. “We have plans to develop 12 gasification from waste plants in the UK and conducted a worldwide search to identify Energos as the best technology provider. Critically, this means we can offer a commercially proven, financially viable process that sets new standards of emissions performance and is a best practice alternative to incineration and landfill.”

    RESTRICTED ACCESS TO CIVIC AMENITY SITE

    Apr 3 - Visitors to Newport’s busy Civic Amenity Site on Docksway can expect delays next week due to improvement works. To allow construction to be carried out safely, access to the site will be restricted on April 7 and 8 to residents bringing small amounts of recycling and refuse sacks. Residents planning a visit to the site on these dates would be advised to delay their trip if at all possible. Cars with trailers will be unable to access the site during this period. To extend recycling facilities further, the council is creating new skip bays and resurfacing the site to improve traffic flow and increase the amount of materials that can be recycled.

    LABOUR CONCERN OVER STEVEN APPOINTMENT

    Apr 3 - A political row has broken out over the appointment of the City Council's former Director of Finance Joyce Steven to the board of Newport Transport. Prior to the appointment of Mrs Steven, the Council's Monitoring Officer explained to Labour Councillor Paul Cockeram that any former employee of the Council could not join the Board of any company within which the Council has an interest as an independent Member within three years of him or her terminating their employment with the Council. Any former Members could, however, be appointed to serve as a Council nominated representative on such bodies even if their employment had terminated in a shorter timescale. The Monitoring Officer agreed to confirm the position in writing to Councillor Cockeram. Following a request from the Leader of the Opposition Bob Bright a formal vote was taken on the proposed appointment to the Newport Transport Board. Following the vote, appointment was confirmed.

    CUTBACKS AT NASH COLLEGE

    Apr 2 - Newport's further education college at Nash, part of the Coleg Gwent institution, faces cutbacks following a new financial plan announced today. A standstill position in 2008/09 and a 7.43% cut for further education in Wales in 2009/10 means the College has been forced to find cost savings of up to £3.5 million. The College is also required to give its lecturers a 2.3% pay increase to match that awarded to school teachers. The scale of these cuts has forced Coleg Gwent to consider drastic changes to its operations, including the closure of The Hill Education and Conference Centre in Abergavenny and the relocation of A Level courses from Pontypool to Cross Keys.19 courses at Usk, Newport and Ebbw Vale campuses will close at the end of this academic year in July. Most jobs will be lost at Abergavenny but 23 redundancies will affect staff spread across the six sites. South Wales East AM William Graham said: "These redundancies are a direct result of the reckless cuts being forced on further education colleges."

    CITY COUNCIL REVIEWING FUTURE OF NEIGHBOURHOOD MEETINGS

    Apr 2 - Newport City Council are reviewing the usefulness of their Neighbourhood Committee Meetings. The meetings were introduced by the previous administration as a way of allowing members of the public to engage with officers and councillors of the Council. But an official at a recent meeting between the City Council and the local Community Councils serving many of the rural wards in the city has confirmed that the Neighbourhood Meetings are under review. He stated that "Newport City Council under the new administration, were looking into
    the future of Neighbourhood Committees."

    CCTV CENTRE OPENS

    Apr 1 - Newport’s new £300,000 state of the art CCTV centre is now open, providing an improved deterrent to would-be criminals and reassurance to visitors, shoppers and workers in the city centre. The new CCTV suite includes state of the art monitoring and recording equipment covering 50 cameras in the city centre and another 80 cameras in council properties around the city. The technology also allows for extra capacity for expansion to accommodate even more systems.

    The new system will also allow the council to consolidate its other existing CCTV systems around the city into one centre of excellence, improving the service and making it more efficient. Controversially, the City Council made a decision to suspend its own city centre ranger service. It is claimed that the opening marks a new era for the council’s CCTV section, which was one of the first of its kind in the country when it was formed in 1994. A decision to upgrade the system and move the unit from its cramped accommodation in Corn Street was made by the previous Labour administration in 2007.

    STORMY EXCHANGE AT CITY COUNCIL MEETING

    Apr 1 - Opposition leader Bob Bright has criticised the City Council leader Matthew Evans for remarks made leading to an investigation by the Managing Director and by the Local Government Ombudsman. Evans alleged alleged inappropriate behaviour by a previous Mayor at a Mansion House function. The allegations have proved unfounded. According to www.walesandwest.com Bright  stated: "The subsequent investigation by the managing director (Mr Freegard) said there was no improper behaviour. Your behaviour was despicable and disgraceful and you caused a lot of embarrassment." But Cllr Evans said all the squabbling should be put aside for the good of Newport.

    HOUSING ASSOCIATION CARE HOME TO CREATE 90 JOBS

    Mar 31 - In a welcome boost for the local employment market Housing Association Linc Cymru has announced plans to create 90 jobs at a new care home in Newport. The £6.5m 70-bed Glyn Anwen scheme is the fifth of its kind from Linc-Cymru Housing Association. Linc is in the process of recruiting staff for the community nursing home, located within walking distance of the Royal Gwent Hospital.

    The home will open in phases and Linc is recruiting for 25 nursing, care and domestic positions. A recruitment open day is being held on April 6 at the YMCA Conference Centre, Mendalgief Road, Newport (from 10am). A further 35 positions will be created later this year with an additional 30 staff in place by June 2010. The scheme, which is due to open in July, is being built next to Linc’s Capel Court project in Pillgwenlly. It will incorporate features such as a sensory garden and sensory room aimed at stimulating residents as much as possible; a general secluded garden; in-house cinema and activity rooms.A proportion of its 70 beds will be dedicated to people with dementia and memory loss. All other beds within the scheme will be geared towards general nursing.

    CITY FARMERS MARKET SET TO EXPAND

    Mar 31 - A new farmers market is coming to Newport. The new market will be relocating to John Frost Square and be run by well established operators who work on the Riverside and Roath Food Markets in Cardiff. The stall holders working with the new managers will be bringing to Newport a wide range of fresh and home-made produce. The market runs between 10am-2pm and everyone is invited to the launch on the 24th April.

    WOMAN BAILED AFTER DOG ATTACK

    Mar 30 - A woman has been bailed after questioning by police after an 11-year-old boy's ear was torn off in an attack by a pit bull-type terrier. Officers are carrying out further investigations into the incident in Somerton. The boy has also has to undergo surgery to repair damaged nerves in his left arm after the attack last Wednesday. Gwent Police said the 40-year-old woman has been arrested on suspicion of possessing or keeping a dangerous dog. A spokeswoman for the force said she had been released on police bail pending further enquiries.

    ALWAY REGENERATION SET FOR LANDMARK EVENT

    Mar 30 - A multi-million pound regeneration scheme in Alway reaches a watershed in April with the opening of a brand new community centre, retail premises and police station. An open day will be held on April 7 (between 1pm and 6pm) for local residents to see first hand the new facilities. It will showcase the achievements made on the estate over the last nine years, while exhibition stands will show images of Alway past and present.

    The new community centre combines the features of the existing centre, plus Alway Community Association offices and youth facilities. There is a main hall, meeting rooms, offices, a training/computer suite and a base for the Flying Start initiative – an Assembly funded scheme to provide quality childcare.More than 250 homes will eventually be built as part of the regeneration of Alway, including 50 for rent or assisted purchase through the Newport City Living scheme.

    ROCKFIELD NURSERY SCHOOL TO CLOSE

    Mar 30 - Newport City Council has decided to close Rockfield Nursery School in St. Julians subject to statutory consultation. Nursery provision will be transferred to the new Glan Usk Primary School at the Glebelands currently under construction. The change will take effect from January 2010.

    SEVERN BARRAGE WILL 'BURY OUR HISTORY' CLAIMS SCIENTIST

    Professor Simon Haslett and John Craven pictured at Goldcliff

    A Newport University scientist has warned that the proposed Severn Barrage will have a damaging impact on the archaeology of the estuary burying potential finds under silt and mud forever. Leading coastal scientist  and oceanographer, Professor Simon Haslett states "We know from models that the construction of a barrage would cause the sea-level upstream to rise by 3 metres (10 ft), which will have the effect of submerging all the archaeological sites that occur in the low part of the tidal window, such as stone age and ice age deposits.A barrage would also reduce the speed of the tidal currents and prevent waves from the ocean entering the estuary, resulting in the mud and silt covering most of the foreshore and blanketing all archaeology in a layer of mud that will make future excavations very difficult.  Although some claim that the settling out of mud will produce clearer water that could allow diving for shipwrecks, the water will still be cloudy and the wrecks will now be covered in a layer of mud!”

    Professor Simon Haslett was filmed talking to presenter John Craven on the foreshore at Goldcliff, for the Countryfile programme to be screened today Sunday (29th March).

    DANGEROUS DOG ATTACKS BOY IN SOMERTON

    Mar 27 - An 11-year-old boy is in hospital after being seriously injured in an attack by a dog. He was taken to hospital after the attack by a pit bull-type terrier in the Hawthorn Fosse, Somerton on Wednesday afternoon. Gwent Police said the boy suffered "puncture and tear" injuries which were serious but not life threatening. The boy is now on the high dependency ward at Morriston Hospital in Swansea where police say he is in a serious but stable condition. Last night, the hospital refused to comment on whether the boy had undergone surgery to re-attach the boy's left ear. The dog has since been destroyed and police are continuing to investigate the incident.

    TRIGG TO RESIGN FROM LABOUR PARTY

    Mar 27 - Councillor Noel Trigg, current Mayor of Newport, has announced his intention to resign from the Labour Party at the end of his term in office and to sit as an independent. The 78 year old has cited the divisions on the Council as one of his reasons alongside disillusionment with the Government.

    GRAFFITI AFFECTS "40 PER CENT" OF CITY'S STREETS

    Mar 26 - Graffiti affects almost 40% of streets in Newport according to a campaign group. Keep Wales Tidy has released a survey of graffiti across Wales and called for councils to get tough on those caught defacing communities. Newport City Council said its Graffiti Busters project made offenders remove graffiti from communities. Keep Wales Tidy said graffiti increases the fear of crime, devalues property prices and discourages investment.

    Newport City Council said tackling the graffiti issue was a priority. "An increasing focus on enforcement has already led to a number of successful prosecutions for environmental crimes like fly-tipping and litter," said a spokesman. "As with anyone who blights our local landscape and community, we will look to prosecute these vandals whenever possible.

    COUNCIL SET TO REFUSE TESCO DEVELOPMENT?

    Mar 26 - Newport City Council could be set for a battle with supermarket giant Tesco if Councillors back a recommendation from their planning officers. The latter are recommending refusal of plans to redevelop the run down Black Horse pub off Somerton Road in the east of the city. Tesco is proposing to build two retail units as part of an Express convenience store development with limited car parking. Four petitions containing nearly 500 signatures are against the development as are an additional nineteen individual letters of objection. One letter states "small businesses will be unable to survive and will be more victims of Tesco’s domination of the retail sector. Another Tesco will damage the spirit of the local community and if allowed will be unfair treatment of local shopkeepers, many of whom have been a dedicated and important part of the community. If allowed there would be 2 Tesco stores within a mile of each other which can quite possibly provide Tesco with a monopoly due to their sheer tenacity in the market place and the closing down of its competition." A letter in favour of the development states "for a considerable period the area has been suffering from gradual social and economic decline and a number of vibrant retail and trade outlets have been lost. The community badly needs a boost to provide the stimulus of progressive positive regeneration....The development will provide full time employment in the short term and long term for predicted 30 full time workers." Refusal is recommended by planning officers on the basis that a convenience store would not fit in with the development plan for the City and insufficient parking is provided at the site.

    BETTWS KNIFE INCIDENT - POLICE APPEAL

    Mar 26 - Police are appealing for information following an incident which occurred in the Bettws area. At approximately 9.30pm on Monday 9th March, a 43 year old man was making repairs to his vehicle on the side of the road close to Malpas Cricket Club, Bettws Lane, Newport when two youths entered his vehicle. As the man pulled one of the youths from the drivers seat, the youth cut the man on his leg using a small craft knife. The youths made off over the cricket club grounds. The man received a minor injury. The youths are described as five feet eleven inches tall, wearing dark tracksuits and one of them was wearing a white baseball cap with a New York Yankees logo on it. If anyone has information they are asked to call Gwent Police on 01633 838 111 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    CCTV OPERATORS TO REPLACE CITY CENTRE RANGERS!

    Mar 26 - The City Council has acted quickly to publicise its plans to offset the loss of the City Centre Ranger service. The service will be replaced by that two additional CCTV operator posts created for a period of 6 months. The Council Leader, Matthew Evans asked that position be reviewed in six months to determine whether it was a better use of Council resources in the fight against anti-social behaviour and crime in the centre of Newport. He asked the Cabinet Member for Environment and Community Safety to ensure that in August 2009 he carefully reconsiders the decision to suspend the service and that he reinstates the service unless "it can be ascertained that the new arrangements have proved beneficial and have enhanced the sense of security, good order and well being of visitors and traders within the City Centre when compared to the provision of a visible presence provided by the City Centre Rangers".

    NEWPORT POLICEMAN HONOURED

    Mar 26 - Chief Superintendent Kevin Price will be awarded the Queens Police Medal (QPM) by Her Majesty the Queen at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace on Friday March 27th. The QPM is awarded to police officers in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth for gallantry or distinguished service. It was created on 19 May 1954, when it replaced the King's Police and Fire Services Medal (KPFSM), which itself replaced the King's Police Medal (KPM) in 1940.

    Chief Superintendent Price was born in Newport in 1962. He joined the Gwent Constabulary in 1980, having previously served as a police cadet. He served in various roles throughout his career in uniform and detective posts, the majority of which have been in Newport. In 2001, as Chief Superintendent, he took command of the Newport City Basic Command Unit (BCU). Since taking up this post he has been responsible for a number of significant achievements. To reduce violence in the City he worked closely with the Local Authority and introduced, among other things, wardens and a scheme of licensing door staff at licensed premises. The Newport BCU has recently achieved the best detection rate in the UK for house burglary and performs well in all other areas of crime detection and reduction.

    HSBC TO SHUT CALL CENTRE

    Mar 25 - Banking giant HSBC is to shut its Newport call centre operation as part of huge job cuts across the UK. 90 jobs will be lost at the site in Cleppa Park. The losses come as part of sweeping redundancies across the business with 1200 staff affected. The Unite union has already called for the plans to be scrapped, saying the move is "unjustifiable". Derek Simpson, Unite joint general secretary, said: "To slash 2,900 jobs demonstrates the insincerity of the claim by HSBC to be 'the world's local bank'. Welsh Assembly member for Newport West Rosemary Butler said: "We were so pleased when HSBC announced their expansion plans in Newport only last year. I still get shocked when jobs which were considered safe only a few months ago are overtaken by events."

    CYCLE GRANT MONEY WELCOMED

    Mar 25 - Newport West AM Rosemary Butler has described the Welsh Assembly Government's recent £425,000 grant for the Newport- Caerleon cycle route as a "shot in the arm" for the project. The money will be used to complete the Pillmawr Lane to Home Farm section of the the route over the next six months, and the plan is to eventually link up with the centre of Caerleon and Wentwood.

    COUNCIL MAKES CIVIC EVENTS SAVING

    Mar 24 - The City Council is to reign back expenditure following a recent review. The Leader of the Council, Matthew Evans has decided to remove a number of corporate events including the Council's Civic Dinner, the Councillor's Christmas Buffet and Chief Officers Dinner. He is proposing a civic ceremony to recognise the achievements of citizens and council employees at a cost of £5000.

    The list of dinners / events being removed is as follows -

    Civic Dinner £7,532
    Annual Councillors Buffet - £2,000
    Combining the Emergency Services event - £1600
    Chief Officers Dinner - £1600
    Civic Heads Dinner - £1600

    Evans has also proposed substantial savings to the Council's Mayor Making procedure and also to the so-called Civic Sunday where the new Mayor is presented to Newport citizens. The total savings identified amount to £12,558. Commenting on the report Councillor Martyn Kellaway (Conservative, Llanwern) stated "I welcome the report, but would go further and deduct the "cost per head "cost of the Councillor attended functions from the Councillor’s allowance, and or councillors spouse/partner should pay the market rate for the hospitality." The Council Leader stated that "The proposed savings are in recognition of the need for efficiencies in the revenue budget following the poor settlement from
    the Assembly Government and the work done by all service areas to contribute to efficiencies and savings...I am conscious of the need to examine expenditure on corporate events to ensure that we as elected members also play our part in identifying savings which do not impact on
    front line services whilst at the same time achieving value for money for these events."

    GIRL, AGED 10, SERIOUSLY INJURED IN ACCIDENT

    Mar 23 - Gwent Police is investigating a Road Traffic Collision that occurred at 4:15pm on Saturday 21st March in Ross Street, Newport.  A 10 year old girl was in collision with a car and was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital with serious head injuries where she is in a serious but stable condition.

    Police are not looking for anyone in connection with the incident. They are, however, seeking witnesses and anyone with information should contact Gwent Police Collision Investigation Unit on 01633 643 019 or Gwent Police on 01633 838 111.

    BUS PLUNGES OFF ROAD NEAR TO RAILWAY LINE

    Mar 23 - Gwent Police are appealing for information after a single vehicle collision occurred at approximately 2.05pm this afternoon. The collision occurred as a bus was travelling along Western Valley Road between Rogerstone and Newport . The bus left the road, went through some fencing and travelled approximately 30 feet down a railway embankment. Only the driver was on board and he is not seriously injured. There has been no disruption to train services. Gwent Police Collision Investigation Unit, along with Vehicle and Operator Services Agency, will be carrying out an investigation into the cause of the collision. The road is closed to enable the investigation to be carried out and for the recovery of the vehicle.

    CITY TRANSPORT SAFETY INITIATIVE IS WORKING

    Mar 23 - A team of Police Community Safety Officers responsible for policing Newport’s bus network are celebrating a host of successes after their first year in the job. The four PCSO's are sponsored by travel company Newport Bus in a three-year deal with Gwent Police, with an option for both parties to extend the deal at the end of the term.Last March, Newport Bus announced they will pay £180,000 over the three years for the PCSO's and services from police officers when required.Gwent Police has managed and additionally funded the project with the help of Home Office grants.

    The PCSO team provides a reassuring presence on Newport’s bus network with the aim of reducing crime and antisocial behaviour. They can also use traffic enforcement powers, similar to those of a traffic warden, to help with the smooth running of roads used by buses in the city.

    Since their appointment in March 2008 the Newport Bus PCSO team has:
    •    Assisted 55 arrests
    •    Issued 343 fixed penalty tickets
    •    Stopped and searched 202 people
    •    Made 32 seizures of alcohol
    •    Significantly reduced criminal damage to buses

    A passenger survey carried out by Newport Bus last month revealed that 44% of people feel safer on the bus network since the beginning of the PCSO initiative, 83% have seen a PCSO on the bus network, and 34% have spoken to one of the PCSO's during their journey. Inspector Colin Prosser, of Newport Central Police Station, said:"The PCSO's have worked hard with bus drivers and Community Safety Wardens to eradicate problems on the transport network in Newport."

    MORGAN VISITS NOVELIS WORKERS

    Mar 23 - First Minister Rhodri Morgan, accompanied by Rosemary Butler, Islwyn AM Irene James and Deputy Skills Minister John Griffiths has visited the stricken Novelis Plant in Rogerstone to discuss alternative employment prospects for  the workforce. The plant is due to close at the end of April, and the Welsh Assembly Government wants to see maximum use made of the ReAct scheme, under which redundant workers become eligible for retraining. Careers Wales will be providing advice. Four hundred and forty workers are due to lose their jobs at the aluminium plant because of a massive downturn in orders. Most will be made redundant towards the end of April, but between 20 and 30 will be kept on for a while to help clear up the site. First Minister Rhodri Morgan said: "This isn't going to be easy but it helps to concentrate everybody's minds"I think between now and April 30 there's going to be a lot of work done."

    COUNTY RESPOND TO RACISM ALLEGATION

    Mar 22 - Newport County has responded to allegations by former player Kevin Stephens that he left the club due to racist taunts aimed at him by Exiles supporters recently including at the home match against Bath City on Wednesday. A statement attributed to County manager Dean Holdsworth states "Kev Stephens has, by request left the club. An allegation of racism has been documented. Newport County will not tolerate any such behaviour, and any person(s) found guilty of such will be banned from the football club with immediate effect. We will do our very best to prevent this allegation arising again. Such behaviour will not help us attract players to the club nor will it promote players wanting to stay. Kev Stephens was a popular player at the club in and out of the dressing room, his loyalty and commitment has never been questioned and everyone associated with the club from Directors, Management, Staff and Players are upset to see him leave under such awful circumstances and we thank him for his contributions during his time with us and wish him well for his future." The response from Newport County fans since the story broke recently has been mixed but it seems some still corroborate that there is a significant disruptive element that still exists in the club's fan base. Some deny, however, that County fans have been involved in racist chanting.

    The journalist who broke the story, Michael Pearlman, called on fans to deal with racist supporters who are undermining the image of Newport County. In a recent article he states "..surely it is the fans who have to take action over what Stephens says took place on Wednesday? The moron who threw the coin against Swansea was never identified and unless he is the Invisible Man, that means others protected him who knew his identity. The only way to avoid headlines such as yesterday’s is to identify those responsible and report them to club officials." Stephens told Pearlman that Bath striker Stuart Douglas was subjected to monkey noises and racist terms during Wednesday’s clash. Stephens also insists it isn’t the first time this season he’s heard racist abuse from a small section of County supporters, described by Stephens as a “small minority of idiots”. Braintree player Louis Riddle also made a complaint of racism against County fans earlier in the season.

    80 JOBS AT RISK AT TT ELECTRONICS

    Mar 22 - Up to 80 jobs could be axed at Rogerstone’s TT electronics plant, it has emerged. Staff at the Tregwilym Industrial Estate site have been warned that a downturn in trade could see their posts lost in around a month’s time. As a result, a 30-day consultation is currently taking place between workers, company bosses and union officials.

    HI-TECH FACILITY WILL CREATE 27 JOBS

    Mar 20 - Identigen, an Irish company which has developed a DNA system to ensure meat entering the food chain is safe is establishing its UK headquarters and a hi-tech laboratory at Newport. Backed by the Assembly Government’s Single Investment Fund, Dublin-based Identigen is creating a new laboratory centre at Newport’s Imperial Park to service the UK market. Identigen will employ 27 staff when the laboratory is fully fitted.

    The company's area of expertise is in genetic identification, giving retailers, meat processors, producers and local governments the ability to trace meat back to source. Its core business is in helping food firms to ensure that foods are either GM free or comply with food labelling legislation.

    CITY CENTRE RANGER SERVICE SUSPENDED

    Mar 19 - Newport's Conservative-led City Council has decided to suspend the City Centre Ranger service. The original service was set up to assist to minimise crime and anti-social behaviour in the central area. The Council report on the decision confirms that "the City Centre Rangers Service be suspended, recognising that whilst a fully resourced rangers service could have a meaningful role in the City Centre, the salary of the two remaining rangers would be better spent in addressing the staffing short fall in the City Centre Closed Circuit TV Unit. There is no funding available
    within Environmental Services and Public Protection to fully resource the Rangers Service."

    UNEMPLOYMENT RISES DRAMATICALLY

    Mar 19 - Statistics released yesterday by National Statistics reveal the claimant count of the number of unemployed in Newport has risen from 2400 in January 2008 to 3787 in January 2009, 4.5 per cent of the working age population. Unemployment is 6.7 per cent among men and 2.1 per cent among women.

    TRACES OF THE SILURES FOUND IN LANGSTONE

    Mar 19 - Rare Iron Age artefacts buried as part of a religious offering have been unearthed by an amateur treasure hunter. According to the Western Mail two bronze bowls and a bronze wine strainer, described by an expert as of “great importance for the UK,” were found by Craig Mills in the Langstone area in December 2007, only nine months after he took up metal detecting. The paper states "It is believed the objects were used by ancestors for eating or drinking and were deliberately buried intact as a religious offering." The items are believed to have been made around AD 25-60 and were buried at the time of the Roman army’s campaign against the Iron Age Silures tribe of South Wales, between AD 47 and 75.

    TAXI RULES ARE PUSHED THROUGH

    Mar 18 - New rules aimed at taxis in Newport have been agreed by the City Council, despite protests. Hundreds of taxi drivers staged a demonstration in Newport on Saturday, bringing traffic to a standstill. The drivers oppose regulations insisting that private hire vehicles are no older than eight years. Hackney cabs must be under 10-years-old. The council says it is a safety issue, but some cabbies say it is prompted by next year's Ryder Cup golf tournament. The city is hosting the event, and it is widely seen as a way of putting Newport and Wales on the international map. The council said taxi drivers had been consulted extensively on the plans and it was an issue of public safety. Speaking after the demonstration on Saturday, Lionel Morris, chairman of Newport Hackney Drivers Association, said: "We're not against the age proposition but we're saying it's the wrong time to put such an expense on us during the recession." Jessica Morden, MP for Newport East, has supported the taxi drivers stance.

    All Hackney Carriage and private hire vehicles in Newport will now be subjected to strict age restrictions to help ensure the safety of passengers and other road users. The cabinet member for environment and community safety, Councillor David Fouweather, authorised the stringent new licensing conditions, following extensive consultation with the trade and members of the public. This consultation period was also extended for two months on the request of taxi owners. Only 13 responses were received during the extended consultation process. Councillor Fouweather said: “This is an issue of public safety. These vehicles are subjected to extremely high-usage and mileage in a city environment."

    RJ MASON GOES INTO VOLUNTARY LIQUIDATION

    Mar 18 - Newport-based haulier RJ Mason Transport has entered voluntary liquidation following a 40% fall in turnover and downward price pressure from customers. The firm appointed Begbies Traynor as liquidator on 27 February, but says it ceased trading at the end of January, with debts of approximately £600,000 and 40 redundancies. "At our peak, we were running 40 trucks, but over the past 12 months that got down to 22. Turnover was running at around 40% lower and we kept throwing money into the company," says director Chris Mason. He added "We experienced a bleak December and customers were still looking to lower costs further. It was just not sustainable for us."

    NEW HOUSING ASSOCIATION FINDS HOME AT THE ORB

    Mar 17 - New Housing Association Newport City Homes has taken 24, 264 sq ft at the Orb in Newport in a major property deal. The new organisation running Newport's former council properties will establish its headquarters at the building, which is being developed by the Welsh Strategic Investment Partnership – a partnership between the Welsh Assembly Government and Babcock and Brown. It is the first deal at the Orb building in the George Street office district and has been agreed on a fifteen year lease. The rent was undisclosed. Matt Phillips, managing partner of Knight Frank’s Cardiff office, said: ‘The building is a good fit for our client who wanted an existing building in the city centre.’ GVA Grimley advised the landlords. Knight Frank and Morgan Cole advised Newport City Homes.

    ASSEMBLY INSPECTOR STATES CITY'S SOCIAL SERVICES ARE 'EFFECTIVE'

    Mar 17 - Gwenda Thomas, Deputy Minister for Social Services, has welcomed the publication today [Tuesday, 17 March] of a report into the way Newport City Council provides social services.Carried out jointly by the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) and the Wales Audit Office, the focused review found the services examined were considered to be effective overall and that the Council is in a good position to 'continue its journey of improvement'. Mrs Thomas said: "The Council has demonstrated competent strategic planning and effective leadership in social services. In particular the review has found that the authority has evidenced its commitment to promoting the independence of adult service users and to supporting older people and younger disabled adults in their own homes.It is noted that further development and improvement is needed in some areas, particularly around workforce recruitment and retention, effective commissioning and some areas of assessment and care management in both adults and children’s services. The authority must continue on this improvement pathway in order to build on improvements already achieved and recognised."

    CARDIFF PLAN TO PREVENT 'CAR-PORT' EFFECT

    Mar 17 - Cardiff City Council's Local Development Plan proposes a green belt around the outside of the city “to manage the long-term strategic growth of Cardiff and to prevent coalescence between Cardiff and Newport”. In order to prevent the so-called 'Car-port' effect the capital city is proposing to form a “settlement boundary” to define the countryside of Cardiff and encourage development within the already urbanised area inside. In the report, officials warn that as the most populous urban area in Wales, further growth “is likely to continue to place pressure on undeveloped land within the county and adjoining areas”. To ensure that Cardiff and Newport do not eventually merge, a large flat area of land north of the St Mellons business park and a south-facing hillside north of the A48(M) have been designated green belt to prevent further development.

    The first statutory Green Belt in Wales is already in place between Newport and Cardiff including the Newport City Council boundary and
    the villages of Marshfield, Castleton and Michaelstone-y-Fedw.

    SEVEN CLAIMANTS FOR EVERY JOB IN CITY

    Mar 16 - A new analysis by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) illustrates the sudden depth of the unemployment problem. The TUC used figures from Jobcentre Plus in January to establish that there were seven Jobseekers Allowance claimants for every vacancy in Newport. The position is not as bad as across the United Kingdom where the figure is one in ten or Wales as a whole where it is one in twelve. Neighbouring Torfaen has one job for every twenty claimants. Unemployment in Wales is currently seven per cent of the workforce.

    BUTLER CRITICISES LACK OF RAIL / BUS STATION LINK

    Mar 16 - Rosemary Butler, AM for Newport West has criticised poor transport links between Newport's bus and railway stations. She said pensioners and others in Newport were frustrated by poor connections between the bus and railway stations. People were having to walk at least half a mile, often with luggage. She asked the First Minister "Could you or your deputy please use your influence with Newport Transport, the City Council or SEWTA - the South East Wales Transport Authority - to provide this very much needed bus service as soon as possible?" The First Minister Rhodri Morgan said that he had first been made aware of the problem when he was a young civil servant in the Welsh Office 43 years ago. The first issue he was asked to look at was why there was no proper connection between the buses running into Newport bus station and the railway station half a mile away. Nothing had happened for 43 years, and he wondered why there wasn't  now a shuttle service. " I think we need to look at that", he said. "We don't run the bus services in Newport but I am amazed that what you say is still true today. Really that is a matter for the Newport Bus Company to think about."

    ATKINS TO CARRY OUT SIGNALLING UPGRADE

    Mar 16 - Network Rail has awarded the principal contractor role for the Newport area signalling upgrade to Atkinse. The work involves designing, installing, testing, and commissioning of 400 signalling units along 35 miles of track between Bristol and Cardiff. The work is due for completion in 2011, and aims to boost service performance allowing for an increase in line speeds and provision of local rail stations and additional services.

    CITY'S SOCIAL RENTED SECTOR HAS REDUCED BY 13 PER CENT

    Mar 16 - The Welsh Assembly Government has revealed that Newport's social rented sector including former council houses (now owned by Newport City Homes) reduced by 13.4 per cent during the period from 1997 - 2007. The number of properties reduced in this sector largely due to sale of council houses from 14668 to 12706.

    RECRUITMENT COMPANY RECEIVES FUNDING BOOST

    Mar 16 - Newport based specialist search and selection company Agg Jones Search and Selection has secured equity and debt co-investment from Finance Wales, HSBC and the Welsh Assembly Government as part of a £475,000 expansion. The company provides recruitment services to the financial, professional services, technology and private equity/venture capital sectors through its offices in Newport, London and Manchester. Finance Wales has taken an equity stake in the company and HSBC is providing debt investment. The management team has also secured a Single Investment Fund grant from the Welsh Assembly Government. Commenting on the investment, David Jones, one of the co-founders of the company, says:  “This round of funding will allow us to further develop our offering across the UK by continuing to invest in highly experienced consultants operating in their respective niche markets.”

    COPPER THEFT PROMPTS POLICE WARNING

    Mar 13 - Following the theft of two metres of copper earthing conductor from Shaftesbury Pumping sub station in Newport, Gwent Police would like to warn the public about the dangers of metal theft. The theft was discovered on Wednesday (March 11th, 2009). Inspector Terry Davies from the Community Safety Department said:"The theft of metal is not only a serious crime, it is also a serious risk to lives. The thieves in this instance have got away with it but we know there have been those who are not so lucky and have tragically lost their lives embarking on this type of criminality. I would say to those who want to embark on this type of crime that it is just not worth the risk. If anyone knows anyone taking part in this type of activity they should call police immediately, they might just be saving lives." If anyone has any information about this incident or any other incidents, they should contact Gwent Police on 01633 838 111 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    TAXI DRIVERS PROTEST OVER AGE LIMIT

    Mar 13 - Some of Newport's taxi drivers have staged a demonstration against plans for age limits on their vehicles. Taxis were driven slowly around Newport in protest this afternoon. The City Council proposes that private hire vehicles should be no older than six years, and Hackney carriages no more than 10 years, from 1 August 2010. Drivers believe the plan is motivated by the city hosting the Ryder Cup golf tournament in September 2010. Taxi drivers are concerned they will not be able to afford to finance newer vehicles in the recession, although some cab firm owners have backed the plans. In a conciliatory gesture Lionel Morris, chairman of Newport Hackney Drivers Association, said: "We're not against the age proposition but we're saying it's the wrong time to put such an expense on us during the recession. If the proposals are agreed by the City Council on March 18 from August this year newly-licensed cars would have to be brand new if private hire, or less than three years old if a hackney carriage.

    GREEN LIGHT FOR NEW RODNEY PARADE

    Mar 11 - The redevelopment of Newport's rugby ground has been granted planning permission by the city's councillors. Rodney Parade will be transformed into a 15,000 capacity rugby stadium and private and student flats will help to fund the stadium expansion. The plans have been opposed by a small number of residents who fear the new properties will dwarf their homes. The planning committee voted 6-4 in favour of the £40m scheme, subject to over 50 planning conditions. Councillor Matthew Evans, leader of Newport city council, said: “I think every rugby fan, myself included, wants to see the Newport Gwent Dragons and Newport RFC playing in a centrally located, modern stadium with first class facilities for supporters, players and visitors. Will Godfrey, Chairman of Newport Rugby Club said “We are delighted to be given the go-ahead and look forward to working with the Council and the other stakeholders, including our neighbours in the local area, to bring these plans to fruition. We are excited by the prospect of getting closer to our local community and indeed becoming a focal point for it in terms of the facilities that will be provided by this scheme. Our intention is to encourage use of the facilities by local residents and to expand the community and educational initiatives that we currently offer. This requires modern and up to date facilities that we now hope to be able to offer.” Gethin Jenkins, Chief Executive of Newport Gwent Dragons added “Today’s decision is a significant step in achieving a dream which is not just to benefit the Dragons and Newport RFC, but the community as a whole. We have amended the plans over the last nine months or so to meet the Council’s requirements and we are confident that the student accommodation and residential development will provide the funding to make these plans a reality".

    HOMES TRANSFER GOES AHEAD

    Mar 10 - Newport has become Wales’ first city to successfully transfer its housing stock. Newport City Council and Newport City Homes have signed agreements that will see 9,750 rented homes, leaseholders and shared-ownership properties and 300 staff transferred to the not-for-profit social landlord.

    The move will unlock £240 million of investment in the city’s homes. Work will be carried out on properties to bring them up to the Welsh Housing Quality Standard and the transfer will also act as a catalyst for local businesses boosting skills development, regeneration, employment, education and investment. Leader of Newport City Council, Matthew Evans, said: “This is great news for the tenants and indeed many local contractors who will benefit significantly from the substantial cash injection.“This has been a challenging project but we are pleased that we have now been able to finalise the agreements and make sure everything is in place for a smooth and successful transfer."

    COUNCIL 'DISAPPOINTED' AT BUTLER CRITICISM

    Mar 10 - Newport City Council has expressed disappointment with remarks attributed to Rosemary Butler in yesterday's article 'Butler slams housing grant under-spend'. Ms Butler stated that the Council was failing to pass on Assembly grant funding to social landlords for affordable housing schemes. The Council's spokesperson strongly refutes the claim "The Assembly Member for Newport West has clearly been misinformed as the council has not lost any money at all. Newport submitted two bids to the Strategic Capital Investment Fund (SCIF) – one for the purchase of 14 houses, the other for the purchase of available land. Unfortunately the two bids exceeded our allocation, which was one of the lowest in Wales. However, we were able to find alternative funding to purchase the land so that scheme was secure and we were granted the SCIF money to purchase the 14 houses. SCIF money is allocated over a three year period and therefore no money is lost, and we will be able to allocate the remaining £239,353 to next year’s allocation of £740,716 and the 2010/11 funding of £509,242. "

    The City Council claims it has been well prepared for the downturn and has taken an innovative approach to the provision of affordable and social housing, over and above the specific grant aid Ms. Butler made reference to “The Assembly has also just approved ....the affordable housing scheme at Old Town Dock, at a cost of approximately £14million, which will provide 101 affordable homes for rent or low cost purchase. Start on site will be this July, all homes will exceed the Assembly standard and will achieve sustainable homes level 5 which will mean they will be very economical for residents to heat and will have a limited impact on the environment. We are therefore disappointed with the Assembly Member’s comments and would be more than happy to explain to her some of the innovative and successful partnership schemes that have been established between the council, social landlords and developers to ensure we are increasing the city’s affordable housing stock at a time when demand is at its highest.”

    OFFICERS RECOMMEND APPROVAL OF RUGBY STADIUM SCHEME

    Mar 10 - City planners will be considering revised proposals for the redevelopment of Rodney Parade at tomorrow's Planning Committee. Officers recommend approval of the plans, now revised to take in to account public consultation. The new stadium will have an increased capacity of 15,000. There are plans for 110 student flats (with 546 bedrooms!), a training barn, conference facilities, bars and restaurants. Writing in support of the development Newport Unlimited state "Supports very strongly the objective of retaining and improving the rugby ground in central Newport as this is consistent with the objectives of the City Centre Master-plan relating to increasing the vitality of the City Centre and developing cultural and sporting facilities close to the principal transport connections for the region which converge on Newport City Centre. The development of both sides of the River Usk in central Newport would be strengthened enormously by the building of a new rugby stadium at Rodney Parade which would be connected to the City Centre and the new car park and the bus station by the Newport City Footbridge. The whole riverfront strategy would be significantly enhanced by the improvement of the rugby ground 'in situ' in central Newport. Other towns and Cities have let their rugby grounds go outside the Centre and this has not been successful for the central areas. The Millennium Stadium in Cardiff is regarded as being one of the best located stadiums in the UK because it is in the City Centre and brings life and vitality to the City Centre as well as a good visitor experience."

    Forty one letters of objection have been received by the Council, twenty four in favour. The local councillors (Hamilton and Hussain) predictably object to the scheme even offering the following bizarre and ill founded reason "living next to students is worse than living next to a prison due to anti-social behaviour." The Sports Council for Wales backs the project but the Design Council for Wales regard it as a 'gross over-development' of the site.

    BUTLER SLAMS HOUSING GRANT UNDER-SPEND

    Mar 9 - Newport West AM Rosemary Butler has criticised Newport City Council leaders for failing to make full use  of Welsh Assembly Government housing grants. Newport is one of six local authorities in Wales who failed to pass on money to social landlords - including housing associations - for the purchase of affordable housing.

    The Welsh Assembly Government allocated £694,421 to Newport for 2008/09, but the city council has only taken up £455,068.The money is part of the Assembly's Strategic Capital Investment Fund, which was set up to increase the social housing stock in Wales and help builders through the current economic crisis. Rosemary Butler said: "I think it's particularly galling that the unclaimed money will now be handed over to other Welsh local authorities who have managed to find a use for it. Newport should have used  every penny they were given. Housing in Newport, like everywhere else, is badly affected by the recession. The last thing we want  to see is local authorities handing back badly needed money. At a time when Newport is transferring the ownership of its council housing stock to  Newport City Homes it doesn't look  good if social landlords, housing associations and builders aren't being given all the help that's available to them."

    Newport City Council's transfer of its housing stock to new registered social landlord, Newport City Homes, was set to go ahead today. Initially, the new organisation will be based in Malpas depot before transferring to new offices near George Street in the near future.

    GRIFFITHS CALLS FOR CONGESTION ACTION NOW

    Mar 9 - The M4 Relief Road is unlikely to happen. That's the view of Newport East AM John Griffiths following a meeting with Ieaun Wyn Jones, Deputy First Minister in the Welsh Assembly Government including responsibility for transport. The Newport AM raised concerns that congestion and the spate of accidents around the Brynglas Tunnels must be dealt with now, and not wait for the Relief Road which may never be built. He was told work is ongoing to put better traffic management in place and consider an alternative approach. Following the meeting, Mr Griffiths stated, “Given the very substantial cost of a relief road and the expectation that it would be met in large part by private finance, there are ever growing doubts that a funding package can be put in place. Public spending is facing challenging times and the recession makes private finance much scarcer. The Welsh Assembly Government should now press on with a different strategy – better public transport alternatives, smarter traffic management and looking at how the existing M4 can be remodelled to increase capacity”.

    "STATION WILL BE COMPLETE FOR RYDER CUP" SAY ASSEMBLY

    Mar 8 - The Welsh Assembly Government has again reaffirmed that the major redevelopment of Newport railway station will be complete by the Ryder Cup in September 2010. The credit crunch has hit plans for the £22 million proposal to redesign the station. In January regeneration company Newport Unlimited described as a 'major issue'. The proposal promised new buildings, access arrangements, a light and airy concourse and 250 additional parking spaces, due to a multi-storey car park. However, Network Rail has not stated when work will start or whether key aspects of the plan including the car park will be delivered. However, a Welsh Assembly Spokesperson has told Modern Railways magazine "The funding for the regeneration of Newport stadium (£8 million) is still available and the project represents good value for money. Network Rail has assured us that the project will be complete before the Ryder Cup commences".

    MAN CHARGED WITH GBH FOLLOWING STABBING

    Mar 6 - The 25 year old man arrested following an incident at West Park Road in Newport on Thursday 5th March where a man received a stab wound to his chest has been charged with grievous bodily harm.He is due to appear before Newport Magistrates tomorrow morning (Saturday 7th March). The 28 year old male who was injured has been transferred from the Royal Gwent Hospital to the Heath Hospital in Cardiff where his condition is described as stable.

    Vice Chancellor Dr Peter Noyes(centre) with the certificate presented to him by the Mayor of Newport, Cllr Noel Trigg, and Cllr Ibrahim Hayat.

    UNIVERSITY'S CONTRIBUTION TO CITY ACKNOWLEDGED

    The University of Wales, Newport was praised for its excellent facilities and the major contribution it makes towards the health and education of the people of Newport by the city’s Mayor when he presented a certificate to the Vice Chancellor. “I’m delighted to be here today to see the wonderful facilities you have and to present a civic thankyou for the excellent service the University provides for the people of Newport,” said Councillor Noel Trigg. Opening the presentation ceremony, Councillor Ibrahim Hayat, said, “I wanted to make sure the University, with Dr Peter Noyes at the helm, is recognised for its many achievements and the major contribution it makes to the health and education of the local community.

    “I’m a great fan of this University – and the campus here is almost like a sacred place because it changes people’s lives.I grew up in Pill, one of the most deprived areas in Wales, and believe it’s important that we promote the University and its courses and facilities which are second to none. Our aim is to make sure that the young people of Newport are aware of just how good a University they have on their doorstep – and to make sure they put Newport down as the first choice on their UCAS application forms.” Thanking the Councillors for the award, Vice Chancellor Dr Peter Noyes, said, “It’s wonderful to be recognised by our host city, as the future of the university and the city is inextricably linked.” The University is playing a key role in the regeneration of Newport with its new £35m City Centre Campus starting to take shape on the banks of the River Usk.

    ARREST FOLLOWS STABBING INCIDENT IN WEST PARK ROAD

    Mar 5 - At approximately 5.30am this morning, Thursday 5th March 2009, Gwent Police were called to a report of an incident of disorder involving two men and one woman at West Park Road in Newport. A 30 year old male received a stab wound to his chest and has been taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital where his condition is described as stable.A 25 year old man has been arrested in connection with the incident and remains in police custody being questioned. The woman didn’t suffer any injuries. Bassaleg Road and West Park Road, which were closed this morning, have now been reopened. Anyone who witnessed the incident in the early hours of this morning, or has any information that could assist the enquiry is asked to call Gwent Police on 01633 838 111 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

    MUSEUM / CENTRAL LIBRARY SET FOR TEMPORARY CLOSURE

    Mar 5 - Newport Museum and Library will close for an extended period shortly. The Kingsway Shopping Centre redevelopment scheme included providing the Museum and Central Library building with an enlarged foyer. This change was necessary as part of a scheme to harmonise the frontage of the improved shopping centre and also to increase the footprint of those retail units opening onto John Frost Square. The Kingsway redevelopment had been slower than originally planned and the project had been delayed. However, work to fit out the new foyer was soon to commence and would be completed in 16 weeks. The City Council report states the Council intends "To close the building for the minimum time required to lay the new foyer floor as part of the Museum/Central Library foyer refurbishment works being undertaken from 2 March 2009 for 16 weeks."

    MANSION HOUSE SET TO BE REGISTRY OFFICE

    Mar 5 - Following a controversial review of the use of the Mansion House the City Council Cabinet Member Peter Davies has accepted the recommendation of the forum of members that the relocation of the Registration Service is the only potentially viable alternative use of the Mansion House and agreed to implement their preferred options.
    They include to undertake a detailed appraisal into the relocation of the existing Register Office from Gold Tops to the existing Mansion House, and, subject to the outcome of this, put in place arrangements to relocate the Register Office to the existing Mansion House. In a major backtrack Davies has agreed to consider the practicality of continuing to hold occasional mayoral events at the Mansion House in conjunction with its substantive use as a Register Office.

    DRUG DEALER ARRESTED IN RAID

    Mar 5 - Police swooped on two houses in Ringland last Friday evening (February 27th) and arrested two men after finding drugs and cash. At 6.15pm officers from Alway Neighbourhood Policing Team simultaneously raided the two properties on Hendre Farm Drive to execute search warrants.

    A 41-year-old man was arrested at one house after large quantities of skunk cannabis was found, estimated to be worth more than £1,500 if sold on the streets. Equipment used for weighing and packaging drugs was also discovered. The man’s car, computer and television were seized under the Proceeds Of Crime Act, together with cash found inside the house. A 27-year-old man occupying the other house was arrested after drugs, believed to be crack cocaine, and cash were discovered. A television was also seized at this address under the Proceeds Of Crime Act. Both men were questioned and have been bailed pending further enquiries. Sergeant Dave Morgan, of Alway Neighbourhood Policing Team, said:
    “These arrests represent another success for Operation Carousel, which we launched last year to target drug users and dealers in the Alway and Ringland area. The public have told us they want us to target drug misuse, so we have made the issue a priority and our work is ongoing. I can reassure people that drug dealers have no place to hide in this area and I would urge anyone with information to get in touch with me by calling 01633 838 111, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

    ANOTHER MASSIVE BLOW TO NEWPORT ECONOMY - NOVELIS TO CLOSE

    Mar 4 - Novelis said its aluminium sheet mill in Rogerstone, Newport, will close by the end of April with 440 job losses. The company said there had been a "significant decline in orders". Aluminium giant Novelis said a viable plan for keeping open its UK rolling mill had not emerged despite a 90-day consultation with staff. General manager Oliver Picht said the "goalposts have continued to move" as the workforce "prepared to take far-reaching steps" to adapt to a "significant decline in orders". He said: "The order book is still dropping and the proposed measures can't address that sufficiently." The leader of Newport City Council, Councillor Matthew Evans, said the announcement was a "devastating blow for all those who work at Novelis and their families". "The factory has been a major employer in Newport for many years and has benefited enormously from the first-class service its loyal employees have given it," he said. Paul Flynn MP stated "This is not a mothballing or a temporary shut-down it is a full closure that destroys the jobs of 440 workers.All who have commented today paid tribute to the work of the Novelis Rogerstone workers over the past three quarters of a century. In recent years they have excelled in increasing the productivity and profitability of the plant. They deserve better. This is a bitter blow. "

    JURY FAILS TO REACH VERDICT

    Mar 4 - Judge Stephen Hopkins QC discharged the jury after it failed to reach a verdict in the 'Reen Crash Case' (see story below). A hearing will be held at Cardiff Crown Court next week to consider whether or not there will be a retrial.

    JURY RETIRES IN REEN CRASH CASE

    Mar 3 - A jury is considering its verdict in the case of a man accused of killing his friend by dangerous driving. Jamie Linton, 22, was one of five passengers being driven by Marc Vacara in a Vauxhall Corsa nicknamed "The Death Trap", Cardiff Crown Court heard. It is claimed Mr Vacara, 20, was showing off to girls when the car overturned in Redwick but he said he was driving "perfectly properly." Mr Linton drowned when the car plunged into a reen. Mr Vacara, of Bettws, Newport, denies causing death by dangerous driving. The court heard one of the teenage girl passengers was travelling in the boot of the car. Mr Vacara and four of the passengers in the Corsa escaped without serious injury, but Mr Linton was trapped and drowned.

    GO AHEAD FOR NEW HARTRIDGE SCHOOL

    Mar 3 - At a special meeting today, Newport City Council’s Cabinet agreed plans that, it claims, will revitalise the city’s school redevelopment programme. Councillors agreed the proposals put forward by the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council, and work on the new Hartridge High School will now start in July 2010. Leader of the council, Matthew Evans, said: “This announcement and our plans for Hartridge are good news. We are delighted to be able to bring this important project back on track. Our new plans will deliver a much-needed school in the short-term, while ensuring that the council are not burdened with unmanageable costs in the long-term." The new building will be completed in spring 2012.

    The planned capacity of the new Hartridge School is 1450 places. In September 2008, the number on roll was 1028. A significant amount of new housing development is planned for both Hartridge and Lliswerry catchment areas. Due to the present economic downturn however, new house
    builds have been delayed and are estimated to begin again in 2011/2012. This will impact on projected pupil numbers. It is estimated that 36% of children from the Hartridge catchment cluster, choose not to attend their catchment high school.
    • 16% of Hartridge cluster attend St Julian’s School
    • 7% of Hartridge cluster attend Lliswerry Comprehensive School
    • 13% of Hartridge cluster attend a High School out of County
    Once the new school is built, it is expected these pupils will return to Hartridge High School over a 4 year period.

    The Council's Chief Financial Officer has warned "delivery of savings to offset borrowing costs and the earmarking of further receipts to repay prudential borrowing should allow the programme to be delivered. If additional receipts are not forthcoming within the next five years then
    additional revenue budget savings would need to be identified to offset the impact on the revenue budget." The Council has used additional borrowing to get this project under way.

    TODDLER HURT IN CRASH

    Mar 2 - A two-year-old girl has been seriously injured after a collision with a taxi in Newport. Police are appealing for witnesses to the incident which happened at around 1453 GMT on Sunday in the Ringland area and involved a Nissan Primera. The girl is being treated at the Royal Gwent Hospital. Gwent Police said a man was released on police bail today after being arrested yesterday in connection with the road traffic collision person. Any witnesses should contact them on 01633 838111.

    HOSPITAL A&E DEPARTMENT TO BE EXTENDED

    Mar 2 - £3.4 million has been allocated by the Welsh Assembly Government to the Royal Gwent Hospital to carry out a much needed extension of a key facility. NHS trusts were asked to bid for a share of the money and the successful schemes include the refurbishment of the busy accident and emergency department and emergency assessment unit at the hospital. A spokesman for Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs the hospital said: “We welcome the Minister’s announcement which will enable the trust to develop services in key areas.“Emergency care in particular is a top priority at the Royal Gwent where improvements have already been made and can now be extended further. The investment in new equipment will directly benefit both patients and staff.”

    SURVEY FINDS 'COCAINE TRACES' AT RIVERFRONT AND CINEMA - REPORT

    Mar 1 - A survey carried out by the Wales on Sunday newspaper has found cocaine residue in the toilets of Newport's Riverfront Theatre and the Cineworld cinema in Spytty. The venues were among several in the South Wales area that tested positive for the substance, found using professional testing and swab kits. The tests are claimed to have a higher than 90 per cent accuracy rate. A spokesman from Newport City Council, who own the Riverfront, said: “We take this issue very seriously and if staff discover any evidence of people being involved in drug taking it is immediately reported to the police. We have regular cleaning and inspection processes in place to maintain high levels of cleanliness, however we are deeply concerned that our facilities appear to have been abused in this way.”

    OPPOSITION CALLS FOR NO COUNCIL TAX INCREASE

    Feb 27 - A call by Newport's Labour opposition for a zero Council Tax increase was rejected by the full Council on Tuesday. The Labour Group proposed that the regeneration company Newport Unlimited be wound up and the scrapping of a proposal to extend the provision of free school transport to children living two miles or more from school (it's currently three). Bob Bright, Opposition Leader stated that the Opposition Group was fully committed to the city centre regeneration but with this investment in mind he now considered that Newport Unlimited could be wound up and the annual investment from the council invested in a more focussed manner on regeneration within the city centre led by the new Corporate Director. This would allow £1million from the reserve to be used over three years. Opposition Group Members considered that the proposed 0% rate rise was justified owing to the extraordinary economic conditions faced by residents at this time. The proposals, they stated, would benefit everyone in the city and the additional use of balances was sustainable over three years. The Deputy Leader of the Council, Ed Townsend, was disappointed that the amendment was politically motivated. He said the administration’s proposals presented an opportunity for a balanced budget, reducing reliance on balances. The Opposition amendment was defeated by the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition.

    DISPERSAL ORDER TARGETS CAR CRUISERS IN CAERLEON

    Feb 27 - Police in Caerleon will enforce a new dispersal order for an area used by antisocial drivers. For years Caerleon residents have complained to police about youngsters gathering in the Coldbath Road and Broadway area of the village and driving cars at speed late at night. After gathering information and evidence, Gwent Police and Newport City Council authorised the implementation of a dispersal order. The order will run from March 1st until August 31st and gives police officers the power to ask any groups of two or more people, or vehicles, to leave the area. Anyone who refuses to leave, or returns to the area within 24 hours, can be arrested or given a fixed-penalty notice under the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003.
    The only exclusions to the order will be any prearranged public events that may be held on the site. Crime and Disorder Reduction Officer Pc Leanne Pole said: “Over the years there have been problems with youths gathering in the area and drivers using Coldbath Road and Broadway into the small hours, disturbing the peace of local residents. The action we have taken by introducing this dispersal order shows that we are listening to the public and tackling their concerns head-on.”

    ALL WALES CONVENTION HEADS FOR NEWPORT

    Feb 26 - The All Wales Convention, set up to prepare the ground for a possible referendum on full law making powers for the National Assembly, heads for Newport on June 4th. Its aim is to engage widely with the public across Wales, to facilitate a debate about:

    As part of that engagement, the convention will be holding a series of public events across Wales. The meeting is on June 4th at Newport Centre at 6.30pm. Jessica Morden, MP for Newport East stated "The convention is compiling recommendations which will set out the future progression of Wales as a nation. I feel, given the stakes, it is vital people of Wales have their say. I want to encourage people from Newport East to attend this event, if they can. If not, other events are being held across South East Wales. Make sure they hear your voice."

    More than half of people in Wales would vote for the Welsh assembly to have full law-making powers, according to an exclusive BBC Wales / ICM poll. A total of 52% said they would vote for full law-making powers in a referendum, 39% said they would vote against. But only 34% want the Welsh Assembly to have tax raising powers. 19% want to see the Assembly abolished and only 5% want to see an independent Wales.

    GRAHAM RESIGNS AS CHIEF WHIP

    Feb 26 - Newport based AM William Graham has resigned his position as Chief Whip for the Welsh Assembly's Conservatives following his disagreement with a reshuffle of responsibilities within the Group by Party Leader Nick Bourne.

    ARREST AFTER BUS STATION INCIDENT

    Feb 25 - A 28 year old man has been arrested and will appear before Newport Magistrates tomorrow following a knife incident at Newport Bus Station on Monday. He faces a charge of attempted murder. A 39 year old man suffered injuries following the stabbing on Monday evening, although they are not considered life threatening.

    SCHOOL WILL GO AHEAD - EVANS

    Feb 24 - The replacement for Hartridge High School will go ahead next year. Matthew Evans, Leader of the Council claims that the City Council will again use its borrowing powers plus £15 million in additional taxpayers money from the Welsh Assembly Government to fund the new £30 million school. The local paper marked the announcement with yet another photo opportunity for Evans and his deputy Lib Dem Ed Townsend. Evans will now put forward the proposals to a special meeting of the cabinet on March 3. Prior to Christmas local MP Jess Morden and AM John Griffiths criticised the Council's failure to get on with the work following confirmation of the new funding.

    DEATH TRAP CAR WAS GOING TOO FAST - COURT TOLD

    Feb 23 - A young father drowned after a car nicknamed 'The Death Trap' careered off a track and landed in a ditch, Cardiff Crown Court has heard. Jamie Linton, 22, was one of five passengers, including a girl in the boot, being driven by Marc Vacara down the pot-holed track at Redwick near Newport. The BBC reports it was claimed in Court that Mr Vacara, 20, was showing off to young girls in the car before the fatal crash in May 2008.

    Mr Vacara, of Bettws, Newport denies causing death by dangerous driving. The group of three men and three teenage girls were heading in the Vauxhall Corsa towards the sea wall, the court was told. Despite pleas to slow down, Vacara was driving so fast that he lost control on a bend, causing the car to plunge into the ditch, the prosecution claims.  Mr Linton lost his life despite efforts to save him. A back seat passenger Fallon Whaltby, 17, said the car was going "too fast" and told police: "I knew something was going to happen".  The third girl, Samantha Giles, 17, was in the car boot as she was the smallest. The case was adjourned.

    BARRATTS SHOP CLOSES

    Feb 21 - Barratt's shoe shop on Commercial Street has closed, a victim of the closure and administration of the parent company responsible, Stylo. The new Peacocks store in the Kingsway Centre is now open.

    PANASONIC JOBS AT RISK

    Feb 20 - The economic gloom continued today. The Japanese electronics company Panasonic said 209 jobs could go at its Welsh plants. The company said 139 jobs in Newport and 70 in Cardiff could be lost. Panasonic said it would cut 15,000 jobs worldwide earlier in February. Trade union Unite confirmed the company had told it about restructuring plans at the Newport plant, which employs 413 people making telephone systems. Bryan Godsell, of Unite, said workers were "extremely shocked" by the scale of the possible redundancies. The Welsh Assembly Government said it was "very disappointing news" and would be meeting the company early next week. In a statement, Panasonic said 139 positions at its Newport plant where 413 people are currently employed are likely to go.

    SECURITY GUARD INJURED AS HE FOILS RETAIL PARK BREAK-IN

    Feb 18 - Police are appealing for information after an attempted theft at Newport Retail Park, Spytty at 12.30am this morning, Wednesday 18th February 2009. A man described as six foot, of a slim build, wearing black tracksuit bottoms, a black tracksuit top (with some silver detail on the shoulder) and a black beanie hat, that was worn as a balaclava, attempted to break into a burger van. A male security guard on site tackled the offender and was assaulted. He attended the Royal Gwent Hospital with a minor shoulder injury and has since been released - he didn't suffer serious injuries. Nothing was stolen during the incident. The offender ran off towards the Broadmead Estate. If anyone has any information about the incident they are asked to call Gwent Police on 01633 838111 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

    CITY STUDENTS AIM TO RAISE £6K IN FUN RUN TO CARDIFF

    Newport students sprinted off to a flying start to raise money for charity by taking part in a fun run from Caerleon to Cardiff. The students, from the University of Wales, Newport, did the run as part of the Students’ Union’s rag week, with the aim of raising over £6000 to beat the amount raised at the last rag week held eight years.

    Photographic Art student Daryl Wood, who dressed up as Batgirl for the run, has so far raised over £400 in sponsorship for her chosen charity, the Beatrice Tate School for Children with Cerebral Palsy. I saw her myself on the central reservation of the Southern Distributor Road near the Transporter Bridge on Monday evening presumably fighting crime in our own version of Gotham City.

    COUNCIL TAX INCREASE LIKELY TO BE 3.95 PER CENT

    Feb 17 - Newport City Council's Cabinet has recommended a 3.95 per cent Council Tax increase for 2009/10. The increase has yet to be approved by the full Council but this is regarded as a formality. The initial proposal was for a 5 per cent increase but the report of today's meeting states that Matthew Evans, Leader of the Council felt there "was also a need to consider what impact a significant rise in Council Tax would have on Newport’s citizens, particularly at this difficult time." He has therefore decided to recommend the use of £400,000 from the City Council's balances to fund a reduced increase. Although this was supported by all members of the Cabinet there is an indication that there were doubts about the idea. Perhaps significantly the Deputy Leader Ed Townsend (Lib Dem) expressed "concern about the potential impact on future budgets should the financial strategy continue to rely on use of balances". 2009/10 Band D Council Tax will, therefore, be £743.21 for the City Council part of the charge, if the increase is approved. The increase proposed is still likely to be well ahead of the rate of inflation for the coming financial year.

    CITY BORROWS TO CARRY OUT IMPROVEMENTS IN ROADS AND HIGHWAYS

    Feb 17 - Newport City Council‘s cabinet has approved what they claim is 'the largest highways maintenance programme of its kind in Wales'. Proposals for the creation of a three-year £21million improvement programme were presented to the Council’s Cabinet today. It is stated "The initiative will address the backlog of road and pavement repairs in the city, as well as replacing one thousand of the city’s street lights." The Conservative leader of the council, Councillor Matthew Evans, said: “This radical and innovative project will benefit every resident in Newport. It is the most ambitious project of its kind in Wales and it is excellent news for everyone in our city." The money for this will be raised by a scheme known as 'prudential borrowing' , basically a significant increasing in the Council's borrowing to fund capital schemes. The Council claims the extra borrowing will result in longer term savings as insurance claims due to injury or accidents reduce.

    Prudential borrowing - From 1 April 2004 controls on the level of Council borrowing have been reduced, and the City Council has the power to enter into borrowing over and above the level that is supported by either its Revenue Support Grant or Capital Grant from the Welsh Assembly Government.  This is termed ‘prudential’ borrowing and can be entered in to as long as the Council can demonstrate that the revenue consequences of such borrowing (i.e. the cost of the debt) are sustainable, prudent and affordable in the medium to long term.  

    JESSOPS TO CLOSE NEWPORT STORE

    Feb 17 - Photographic retailer Jessops has confirmed that it is to close 17 stores - including the store in Newport's Kingsway Shopping Centre. A spokeswoman said the stores were no longer "financially viable" and a consultation was under way with staff. She would not confirm how many jobs would be lost but the figure is likely to exceed 100. This is another blow to the mall where Woolworths closed in late December. A new Peacocks store is scheduled to open on Thursday of this week.

    POLICE PROBE FIRE

    Feb 16 - Police are investigating a blaze at a former Vauxhall garage and showroom in Turner Street, situated near the main rail line to Manchester and Caerleon Road. The disused building was destroyed as was an adjacent office block. Fire-fighters were called out at 10 o'clock on Sunday evening.

    PLAN FOR SIGNIFICANT COUNCIL TAX RISE

    Feb 13 - Conservative-run Newport City Council is planning for a 5 per cent increase in Council Tax in April - significantly ahead of the likely inflation rate for the coming year. This would increase the City Council element of a Band D property by £36 to £751 per annum. A large increase  in the police element of the tax is also expected (£175 on an average band D). This will be unwelcome news as the full of the credit crunch starts to impact on the City. In addition, Newport has been reeling from a succession of job cuts not least at Llanwern Steelworks where 528 workers will be without a job. Although some will qualify for a rebate on their Council Tax most do not, out of 60,000 households in the City only 25 per cent receive some form of rebate. The rise will be more than five times the cost of living for the coming year. The cost of other household expenses including food, high street goods, mortgage payments and petrol prices have been falling with the rate of inflation predicted to be negative by July or August.

    The City Council states that only 17 per cent of its finance is raised via Council Tax. The vast majority comes from central taxation and it claims it has not received a fair settlement from the Welsh Assembly Government. Despite this the proposed Revenue budget for 2009/10 proposes above inflation increases for key service areas including education. There is little or no mention of City Centre developments in the plan.

    POLICE APPEAL OVER ROBBERY

    Feb 13 - Police in Newport are appealing for information following a robbery which occurred on Ebenezer Terrace near Kingsway at approximately 8pm last night, Thursday 12th February 2009. Two men entered the home of an elderly and vulnerable male resident and threatened him with a concealed object. The men left in the direction of Granville Lane with an item of clothing which has since been recovered by police officers. The first offender is described as approximately 5 feet 4 inches tall and of skinny build. He was dressed all in black, wore a hood, and had a dark scarf covering most his face. The second offender is described as a white male and of a stocky build. He had light hair and was wearing a beige tracksuit. They are both believed to be in their late teens. Newport CID officers are currently following several lines of enquiry but ask that anyone who may have seen the offenders or has any information they think would assist the investigation to call Gwent Police on 01633 838 111 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    COMMUNITIES FIRST FUNDING BOOST

    Feb 12 - Communities First Partnerships in Newport are to benefit from almost £7.89 million of Communities First funding over the next three years says Welsh Assembly Deputy Minister for Regeneration, Leighton Andrews. In Newport West the money will be used in the communities Bettws, Pill, Duffryn, Malpas, Maeglas, Tredegar Park and Gaer, while local racial equality and voluntary organisations will also benefit. Local AM Rosemary Butler said: "This is brilliant news for those who live and work in the more hard pressed communities in my constituency. The Welsh Assembly is very conscious of its responsibility for disadvantaged areas and works constructively with the local authority. This new funding means that local Communities First partnerships, which have already done so much to tackle poverty and provide a new sense of purpose in places like Bettws, Stow Hill and Pill, have been given a big vote of confidence."

    CITY COUNCIL MISSES HOUSING TRANSFER DEADLINE