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NEWS ARCHIVE

January 2011 - December 2012

NEW RESTAURANT UNITS FOR RETAIL PARK

Dec 29 - Newport Retail Park has received a boost with new plans for two new units, a restaurant and a cafe outlet, adjacent to the proposed new Pizza Express restaurant. The new units will increase the retail centre's food offer and will be situated in a 'little used' area of the car park.

However, the multiplicity of units and quality of stores is sure to lead to congestion and a shortage of car parking spaces at peak times. Stadium (Newport), owners of the site, claim the development will only reduce parking spaces slightly. They argue in their Planning Statement "both A3 units will be not be drive through operations. The development will result in the loss of 5 car parking spaces in the application site, though these are compensated for by the creation of new spaces elsewhere within the wider car park."

COMING SOON - FEATURE - NEWPORT RETAIL PARK - SHOPPING FILLIP FOR CITY

WASHINGTON POST CITES CITY AS EMBLEM OF UK ECONOMIC FAILURE

Dec 27 - A Washington Post characterises Newport as the emblem of the UK's economic failure, noting that the City's run down 'main street' and failure to develop its retail centre are symptomatic of the UK's double dip recession and the 'fiscal cliff' the United States faces if its Congress and President cannot arrive at a budgetary settlement. It notes the spending cuts in Newport have not been as great as other cities but that austerity has hit the city very hard.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/fiscal-cliff-britain-has-already-jumped/2012/12/16/fd405b78-398f-11e2-9258-ac7c78d5c680_story_1.html

WOMAN INJURED IN M4 CRASH

Dec 27 - A 35-year-old woman has been taken to hospital after a three-vehicle crash on the M4 near Newport. Gwent Police said the incident happened near junction 28 on Thursday at 13:30 GMT. The woman was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport, but the extent of her injuries is unknown. Police have been removing the damaged vehicles from the carriageway.

CITY HIGH STREET BLIGHT HITS MAINDEE

Dec 27 - Newport's local retail centres are being hit by a triple whammy of economic austerity, out of town retail and supermarket convenience stores. Maindee, once a thriving high street in its own right, has been badly affected. The large Co-operative store recently closed. Other large retail units remain un-occupied including Peacocks, Globe Inn, Poundstore and A F Thomas, Electrical Stores.

NEW M&S STORE TO OPEN ON JANUARY 17

Dec 24 - Newport's new Marks and Spencer store at the Retail Park in Spytty will open its doors on January 17. The city centre will close on January 16 with all stock there being sold off.

Elsewhere in the retail park Gap outlet, H&M, Bank Fashion, Costa Coffee, Claire's Accessories, J-D Sports, the Perfume Shop and Carphone Warehouse will all take up stores. Pizza Express will occupy the current Carphone Warehouse unit and the restaurant site near McDonalds has been confirmed as a proposed Harvester rather than Nando's restaurant. Stores such as Tesco, Next, Asda Living, New Look, Outfit, Boots and Peacocks already trade there. Existing restaurant outlets include Frankie and Benny's and Pizza Hut.

Left  - the new M&S store.

HOLIDAY PLANS HIT BY TRAVEL PROBLEMS

Dec 22 - Holiday travel plans were hit in Newport today by traffic and rail problems. Long queues of passengers at Newport station were left without trains travelling west due to a signalling problem in the Cardiff area that left them without westbound trains for much of the day. The problem is now resolved.

In addition, the M4 eastbound was closed between Junction 30 and 28 due to a crash involving a lorry and several cars. The crash occurred at 6, the motorway was fully re-opened at 2.

FLOODING AT CEMETERY

Dec 20 - A section of St Woolos Cemetery is currently closed off for safety reasons due to flooding. Council officers have investigated and discovered that the rainfall intensity has been too great for the drainage system to cope, which has caused the watercourse in a nearby park to overflow and it will be necessary to wait for the water to dissipate.

COUNCIL ON DEFENSIVE AFTER PARKING VOTE

Dec 19 - Newport City Council's ruling Labour group has turned a blind eye to a vociferous local campaign to retain free parking for two hours in the city centre. Voting on a Conservative motion to retain the provision went 32-10 in favour of the Labour group with only one Labour member abstaining.

The debate was marked by accusations from Labour that the campaign was trumped up, had little public support and that they would have to cut back on other services in order to retain free parking. Councillor Kate Thomas (Labour, Stow Hill) was criticised for failing to have the courage of her previous convictions. But it was Gaer councillor Herbie Thomas sparked controversy when he was quoted as saying "The town centre is finished. Let's not kid ourselves it is going to be a different type of town centre. People don't shop in the same way anymore, they don't go into town centres to buy furniture or things like that." If the city centre has friends like this, who needs enemies.

Traders reacted furiously to the statement by Thomas calling for his  resignation and some, though not all, have started a new campaign refusing to serve the City's Labour councillors.

MERGED UNIVERSITY GETS NEW NAME

Dec 17 - The new merged institution embracing the universities of Newport and Glamorgan will be called the University of South Wales, it was announced today.

POLICE APPEAL OVER ATTEMPTED ROBBERY IN MAINDEE

Dec 17 - Police are appealing for information after an attempted robbery in the Maindee area of Newport on Saturday (15th December). At approximately 5pm a 21-year-old woman was walking alone on Christchurch Road, in the direction of Duckpool Road, when a man approached her and attempted to snatch her handbag.

The woman pushed the man away and he then punched her to the head before running away empty handed. The victim sustained bruising to her head. The man is described as 5ft 10ins, aged in his 20s, and was wearing a hooded top with a tight-fitting hood pulled up over his head. The hooded top was dark grey with black sleeves. He was also wearing black bottoms and a black scarf which was under his chin and was visible over his hoody. The man smelt strongly of aftershave. If anyone has any information on the incident, or saw anything suspicious, please call 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111

WORK SET TO BEGIN ON CAMBRIAN CENTRE

Dec 15 - Cambrian car park will close on 31 December, after the busy Christmas shopping period, to enable work to begin on a major redevelopment. Scarborough Development Group will be creating offices and shops on the site of the Cambrian centre. Following completion, leading insurance company Admiral is to relocate bringing hundreds of employees to the city centre and the potential of increasing its workforce there in the future.

Other work taking place in the city centre includes a major refurbishment of Newport Market and the grant-funded new bus terminus in Lower Dock Street. Together with the Friars Walk shopping and leisure scheme, which is due to be completed in 2015, these are vital strands of the city centre’s regeneration. While it is acknowledged that there will be some disruption in the short-term, it is believed these projects and the massive investment in the city centre will bring lasting, long-term benefit. Even after the closure of the Cambrian car park which has around 500 spaces, there will still be ample parking in the city with more than 2,855 spaces.These are available in the council’s other multi-storey Park Square car park and its pay-and-display car parks as well as privately-owned car parks such as the Kingsway Centre and the National Car Park facility in Queensway.

CENSUS REVEALS INCREASINGLY DIVERSE CITY

Dec 14 - The 2011 census has revealed an increasingly diverse Newport reflecting the wider demographic changes in the UK. The numbers of people claiming to speak Welsh has dropped but there are other significant changes in the way those in the City see themselves. Far fewer people regard themselves as Christian, only 82,858 out of 145,736. The City's fourth most popular faith is Buddhism.

Alongside the dwindling numbers of Welsh speakers there are 1,794 households out of 61,172 where no English is spoken at all.

80,898 city residents regard themselves as Welsh only, 10,626 as English only, 621 as Irish only, 7,483 have other national identities. Many have mixed identities, for example British and Welsh account for a further 12,062 and British and English 2,809. The number of other national identities has been boosted by migration from other new EU countries following the expansion in 2004, particularly from Poland.

The diversity of Newport's population has increased with the second ethnic group by size being the so-called 'other White' group (including other EU / no-EU countries).

Ethnic group Population Other Asian 1,292
White British 126,756 Asian/Asian British Indian 1,218
Other White 3,416 Arab 926
Asian/Asian British Pakistani  3,127 Mixed Asian/White 669
Black African / Carib British 2,535 Asian/Asian British Chinese 600
Asian/Asian British Bangladeshi 1,749 Other Mixed 405
Mixed Black/White 1,678 Gypsy / Traveller 84
Religion Number Rank (Wales)
Christian 82,858 14
Muslim 6,859 2
Hindu 685 2
Buddhist 360 13
Sikh 141 3
Jewish 99 5

MOTION CALLS ON COUNCIL TO RECONSIDER PARKING DECISION

Dec 14 - The City Council's decision to end free parking receives a new challenge on Tuesday. Conservatives Matthew Evans and David Fouweather have tabled a motion for discussion at a full council meeting. It states “This Council urges the Cabinet Member for Infrastructure to reconsider his decision to end the 2 hrs free parking and 10p parking from February 2013 and leave the current pricing structure in place.” Some Labour councillors have expressed concern at the decision, including Kate Thomas, the member for Stow Hill, the ward covering most of the city centre area.

PURE GYM TO SET UP IN KINGSWAY

Dec 12 - The Kingsway Centre receives a much needed boost but unfortunately it is not from a high street retailer. Pure Gym, a UK leisure group, will be setting up a new facility in units 34 and 35 at the Centre.

The unit is located at the main entrance to the Kingsway Shopping Centre in the city centre and has good visibility from the main road, the bus station and the main shopping square, John Frost Square. It is also opposite the new Newport University Campus....the centre was refurbished in 2007/8; however the centre remains over 50% vacant. Only 15 out of the 40 units are occupied, leaving 25 units remaining vacant.

This vacancy level is symptomatic of the town centre which is also struggling to attract mainstream retail users. The unit is considered to be an underutilised town centre resource.

NUMBER OF WELSH SPEAKERS IS DECLINING

Dec 10 - The 2011 census has revealed that the number of Welsh speakers is falling significantly across Wales and in Newport. Despite an increase of over 11,000 in the City's population the number of Welsh speakers fell from 13,135 to 13,124 (from 10 per cent to 9 per cent). The fall comes despite major investment in education provision in the language and the requirement for bi-lingual media and information in the public and private sector under the Welsh Language Act. The change could mean that policy makers review the priority given to expenditure on the language.

NEWPORT SET TO BE 'SUPER-CONNECTED' CITY

Dec 5 - Twelve cities (including Newport) have been named as beneficiaries of £50m in government cash to help develop ultrafast broadband. Chancellor George Osborne confirmed that Brighton and Hove, Cambridge, Coventry, Derby, Oxford, Portsmouth, Salford, York, Newport, Aberdeen, Perth and Derry are to share the funding.

The second wave of cash follows the £100m provided to ten areas earlier this year. In the Chancellor's annual Budget speech in March, he confirmed that Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and London would receive cash to make them "super-connected cities".

The investment, announced by the Chancellor in his Autumn Statement, will help transform Newport into a ‘super-connected city’. By offering high-tech and digital companies the infrastructure they need, the city will be able to compete for business, investment and jobs with the world’s top digital cities.

BUS DEPOT FIRE: TEENAGER CHARGED

Dec 3 - A 16-year-old boy has been arrested on suspicion of arson after fire destroyed four vehicles at Newport bus depot. Three buses and a training vehicle were lost in the blaze on Corporation Road after the alarm was raised at 02:55 GMT on Monday. Crews from Malpas, Maindee and Duffryn were called, along with a water bowser from Cwmbran, and took just under an hour to deal with the incident, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service said.

Nobody was hurt in the fire. Newport Bus managing director Scott Pearson said the fire had destroyed two single decker buses, one double decker bus and a training vehicle. The fire happened at the top end of the bus depot where the vehicles are washed and fuelled. There was no danger to any fuel ducts or pumps.

Dec 4 update - The teenager has been charged with the arson attack on the depot and vehicles adjoining the depot.

POSITIVE REPORT FOR CITY'S SOCIAL CARE DEPARTMENT

Dec 3 - A body which oversees the work of social services in Wales has a highlighted a number of positive aspects of the services delivered in Newport. The Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales (CSSIW) has reviewed and evaluated the council’s annual social services report.

It identified some considerable strengths including:

Good practice was also noted in several areas including the Serennu Children’s centre; leadership and commitment to the Missing Persons Project in partnership with Gwent Police and joint work with Torfaen council in establishing a costing model and quality threshold for care homes for older people.

TESCO FIRE: POLICE APPEAL

Dec 2 -  Police are appealing for witnesses after a fire in a bin storage area led to a large Tesco store being evacuated. Three fire crews dealt with the blaze in an outbuilding in the car park at the second largest Tesco in Wales on Newport Retail Park on Saturday night. No-one was injured, and there was no damage to the store, but it was cleared of customers as a precaution while the blaze was put out. Gwent Police said they were treating the fire as "malicious".

 

 

HOLIDAY SPORTS FANS WILL MISS THE BUS

Dec 1 - Fans travelling by bus to the game between Newport Gwent Dragons and the Ospreys at Rodney Parade will have to find another way home. Newport Bus will be providing transport on New Year's Eve but services will come to an end between 7pm and 8pm. The match kicks off at 7.05pm. Supporters will be left to find alternative transport and some may stay away from the game as a result. Newport County play Forest Green Rovers at Rodney Parade on New Year's Day but there are no bus services at all on that day.

Newport Bus has revealed its holiday services. On Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve bus services will finish early (as stated between 7pm and 8pm). There will be no services on Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year's Day. Normal services will operate on other days over the holiday period.

Newport Bus and the Aneurin Bevan Health Board are continuing their support of bus services to the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport with up to 14 buses an hour stopping at the hospital from Monday November 19. As part of a partnership between the City’s main bus operator and the local health board, people travelling to the hospital will have 14 buses an hour to choose from to get to the Royal Gwent Hospital with service numbers 30 through to 38 stopping outside the main entrance on Cardiff Road. The 98 and 99 services will discontinue as of November 17.

POLICE CRITICISED FOR HANDLING OF NEWPORT SHOOTING CASE

Nov 29 - The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation into the interactions Gwent Police had with Rachel Williams and her estranged partner, Darren Williams, before he shot and wounded her on 19 August 2011 in Newport, found there were issues with the way the force dealt with her reports of domestic abuse. The report states that the Police should have acted more promptly to arrest Mr Williams following the initial reports of domestic abuse. Mrs Williams had been assessed as being in a position of 'significant harm'.

At 2.21pm on 19 August 2011 a member of the public called 999 to report that Rachel Williams had been shot at a hairdressing salon on Malpas Road, Newport. The offender was immediately identified as Darren Williams, the woman's estranged husband. He had fled the scene and following a police search his body was found in a wooded area off Brickyard Lane, Newport, at around 9pm that evening.

Their son, Jack, 16, was found hanged in the same woodland six weeks later. Mrs Williams said Jack, 16, "became a boy I didn't recognise". Mrs Williams said a serious case review into events leading up to the two deaths, told her what she had known all along - that the authorities had failed him. "None of the agencies communicated with each other, it was a disaster from start to finish. He was badly let down by the system."

Mrs Williams said she was left with no choice but to walk away from their marriage to the former lorry driver after years of abuse. She said the family later discovered that Mr Williams had numerous affairs while the couple were together and had fathered another child. "I had supported him for 18 years," she told the BBC "I tried to help him, but it was becoming more impossible, due to the combination of anabolic steroids and anti-depressants he was taking.  For my own sanity and welfare I could not live with him anymore. I believe he was having some sort of a breakdown. However, this does not excuse him for the mental and physical abuse I suffered from him for all those years."

Mrs Williams' survival of the shooting was described in the serious case review report as "an extraordinary story of determination, fighting off a partner who was more than twice her size and build".

At the time of the shooting Mr Williams was bailed by the court on 12 August 2011 after he had been charged with assaulting Rachel on 9 July. Gwent Police had opposed the bailing of Mr Williams. The IPCC has upheld four complaints out of 13 made and has made a number of recommendations to the force about call handling and dealing with domestic abuse cases. The report states response officers showed little understanding of the seriousness of the issues involved or an appropriate assessment of the risks "On two occasions, response officers on division, who came into contact with the offender and/or victim when additional incidents were reported, failed to notify either the Serious and Violent Crime Team  or Domestic Abuse Unit. The evidence indicated officers were not aware of the necessity to do this. They were unaware Male Y was classed as a high risk offender and Woman L a high risk domestic abuse victim. Furthermore, response officers did not appear to have carried out sufficient research to identify these issues.

Following evidence found during the IPCC investigation Gwent Police decided that two police constables and one sergeant should be subject to management action, and a police constable to be subject to management advice. The force has also accepted all of the IPCC recommendations and suggestions for improvements. A police sergeant retired during the IPCC investigation, although there was sufficient evidence gathered for a case to answer for him.

IPCC Commissioner for Wales Tom Davies said: "This has been a very difficult case for all concerned and I hope that the family and friends of all those involved find some measure of peace. Gwent Police's handling of domestic abuse had been in the public spotlight since the Joanna Michael case and the All-Wales domestic abuse conference held in June 2011. Despite the high awareness and public profile of the positive measures the force had put in place, our investigation into how this woman's concerns were dealt with highlighted issues with call handling, record-keeping and awareness of force policy and procedures. I hope that appropriate lessons have been learned and we have shared the learning from our investigation with Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and the Serious Case Review and Attempted Domestic Homicide Review into how all agencies acted within this case."

CCTV picture of offender

POLICE APPEAL OVER BETTWS ROBBERY

Nov 28 - Police are appealing for information following an armed robbery at Martin's Newsagents, Bettws Shopping Centre, Newport on 27th November. At approximately 6.10am a man entered the newsagents and approached the shop assistant. The man removed a knife from a carrier bag and threatened the shopkeeper, demanding money from inside the till. He left the store with a quantity of cash and tobacco products.

The man is described as white, aged in his late 20s to early 30s, 5ft 8ins, and medium build. He spoke with a local Newport accent and was wearing a black puffa jacket with a light grey hooded top underneath. The hood was pulled tightly around his face so the victim could only see his eyes. He was also wearing dark coloured trousers, black boots and white gloves. The man was carrying a white & green Asda bag for life. The shopkeeper was left shaken, but unharmed. Anyone with information, or who witnessed anything suspicious, should call Gwent Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

ASH DIEBACK FOUND AT CITY SITE

Nov 28 - A disease which kills ash trees has been confirmed at a school in Newport. Ash dieback was found in a new plant in the grounds of Llanwern High School. The plant had come from a nursery in north Wales. The disease has been confirmed by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Newport City  Council said action was being taken to prevent the disease spreading.

TRADERS AND POLITICIANS SLAM PARKING MOVE / SOCIAL WORKERS GET PAY SUPPLEMENT

Nov 27 - Traders and opposition politicians have added their voices to criticisms of Newport Council's decision to end free parking. Figures provided by the Council indicate that car parking patronage in Newport's downtrodden city centre shopping centre area has increased in the current year when compared to the previous year. The South Wales Argus is now mounting a vociferous campaign to retain the two hour free parking provision. The Council claims the provision costs it £1 million per annum in subsidy.

The Council has approved significant market supplement pay increases for social work staff this week that will add to the financial pressures the authority is facing. This move is intended to protect social work provision in the city and retain staff in an area where there is a 33 per cent staff turnover. However, Cllr David Fouweather for the Tories queried whether high levels of sickness were being adequately addressed.

COUNCIL OWN-GOAL SLAMMED AS IT ENDS FREE PARKING

Nov 24 - A coalition of councillors has slammed the Labour-controlled Newport City Council as it plans to end free parking in the city centre from February. The new plan approved by Infrastructure Cabinet Member Ken Critchley will mean that drivers parking in the Council's city centre car park will now pay £1 for three hours parking from February onwards. The report claims that traders do not believe two hours free parking is enough, so rather oddly it has introduced a charge covering all three hours ending the free period.

Labour Councillor Kate Thomas (Stow Hill) objected to the plan "The perception that Newport has inferior shopping amenities and policies that fail to support the public's use of the main commercial areas is wide spread. This measure will increase feelings that the Council is introducing another 'own goal' to put people off using the centre It is widely acknowledged that the centre is in direct competition with Cwmbran and Cardiff. Businesses in the centre will now also be competing with the Newport Retail Park, particularly since the existing perception that M & S is the City’s ‘flag-ship’ store, and that it, like other significant retail businesses are moving out to there. Like Cwmbran this area offers free parking." The Council's Head of Streetscene claimed it was part of the budgetary pressure facing the authority although the saving in the report is given as £100k.

Tory councillors weighed in. Charles Ferris said it would drive more people away from the city and David Fouweather said Cllr Critchley would 'regret the decision'. Labour's Tony Bond said the constant changes of policy on this were not helpful and that the proposal ought to be reconsidered and discussed further with traders.

TATA CREATES NEW JOBS AT LLANWERN ON BAD DAY FOR UK STEEL

Nov 24 - In a bad day for the UK steel industry yesterday but slightly more hopeful for Newport as Tata Steel announced job cuts generally but new jobs at Llanwern. Tata will restart two of its blast furnaces at Port Talbot. This will lead to the re-opening of the hot strip rolling mill at the Llanwern site.

Tata Steel is cutting 900 jobs around the UK, including almost 600 jobs at plants in south Wales. Most of the Welsh losses are management and administrative posts in Port Talbot, while sites in Crosskeys in Caerphilly county, and one near Tredegar, Blaenau Gwent, will close. Other job cuts include 155 in Yorkshire, 120 in the West Midlands and 30 on Teesside.

RETAIL UPDATE

Nov 23 - The Newport Retail Park development is moving on apace with new retailers signed up and progressing planning including Clare's Accessories and Costa Coffee.

In the city centre Carwyn Jones wish for a more mixed economy of offices, shops and homes seems to be coming true with a number of retail properties turning in to residences or part residence, part retail. In the main though the number of charity shops and cash a cheque facilities seems to be on the increase.

UNI MERGE TAKES FURTHER STEP FORWARD

Nov 22 - Two universities which are merging in south Wales have named the senior figures to lead the new institution. Andrew Wilkinson, chair of governors at Newport, and Prof Julie Lydon, vice-chancellor of Glamorgan, will fill those posts at the new body in 2013. The name of the new university is expected to be revealed in December. Plans were abandoned earlier this month to force a three-way merger with Cardiff Metropolitan University, which opposed the idea.

ZERO TURNOUT AT POLLING STATION!

Nov 17 - A Newport polling station in the election for Gwent's police and crime commissioner had a turnout of zero. It is understood the polling station is the Malpas Cricket Club in the Bettws ward in Newport. The turnout across the constituency was 14%, with former police officer Ian Johnston, an independent candidate, beating the Labour challenger Hamish Sandison on second preferences. Voters went to the polls on Thursday when elections were held in all parts of England and Wales outside London.

The Financial Times commented "The voters of Bettws, in common with most of the country, did not seem to share Mr Cameron’s enthusiasm when he declared in July 2010 that he wanted his government to be remembered for something much more exciting than deficit reduction."

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The voters of Bettws, in common with most of the country, did not seem to share Mr Cameron’s enthusiasm when he declared in July 2010 that he wanted his government to be remembered for something much more exciting than deficit reduction.
 
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The voters of Bettws, in common with most of the country, did not seem to share Mr Cameron’s enthusiasm when he declared in July 2010 that he wanted his government to be remembered for something much more exciting than deficit reduction.
 
High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email ftsales.support@ft.com to buy additional rights. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fdaabc78-301d-11e2-891b-00144feabdc0.html#ixzz2Cheqvc5y

The voters of Bettws, in common with most of the country, did not seem to share Mr Cameron’s enthusiasm when he declared in July 2010 that he wanted his government to be remembered for something much more exciting than deficit reduction.
 

SIR TERRY OPENS BIGGEST CHARITY SHOP IN WALES

Nov 15 - One of the largest charity shops in Wales was opened in Newport on Wednesday by Welsh billionaire Sir Terry Matthews. The friends of St Anne's Hospice shop takes over the former High Street site of clothing chain Next. Several big name retailers have left the city centre in the last few years, but the people behind the latest venture are confident they can win people back.

FREE PARKING TO BOOST XMAS TRADE

Nov 15 - Newport City Council is to provide five hours free parking in its multi-storey car parks, Park Square and Cambrian, in the run-up to Christmas and during January. In the same period, it will cost just 10 pence to park for the first five hours in the council’s pay and display car parks. The initiative aims to encourage more people to visit Newport and shop in the city in the festive season and during the sales period.

Councillor Ken Critchley, cabinet member for infrastructure, said: “We want people to use their local shops and support our traders. We have listened to retailers and customers who want to park and shop in the city centre for more than two hours. I’m sure the provision of five hours free parking at this important time will be welcomed by both retailers and shoppers.” The proposed change will be advertised over the next week and will come into force three weeks later. In other city centre news, gas works on High Street are set to be complete shortly. The new Iceland store on Commercial Street opens on November 23. The Christmas light switch on in High Street is on November 22 at 6pm.

POLICE APPEAL AFTER PILL BURGLARY

Nov 14 - Gwent Police is appealing for information following a burglary at an address in New Street, Pill, which occurred sometime on Friday 2nd November. Items of Asian gold jewellery were stolen from the property. A number of electrical items were also stolen, including a 46-inch black Samsung television, a DVD player and mobile phones.

FIRST MINISTER OFFERS NO HOPE TO CITY

Nov 12 - In a couple of statements to the South Wales Argus First Minister exposed the paucity of the Welsh Labour Government's response to the economic challenges facing Newport. Carwyn Jones said that the City would have to put up with less shops in future (it has one of the highest shop vacancy rates in the UK!) or put one of the final nails in the coffin of the Newport-Ebbw Vale rail line.

He said: “I think any plan has to be based on what the city centre has to look like in the 21st century, that means having a greater mix of businesses, accepting there are some shop units that aren’t going to be shops in the future. They may turn into offices, cafés or restaurants.” The first minister said there are many shop units that are too small to be able to prosper with them running as shops. “All you need is a couple of buildings boarded up and you get what they call the gap-tooth effect in America. People think that things are falling apart.”

Mr Jones offered no hope either on the prospect of the Newport-Ebbw Vale rail service being revived. He told the Argus that "the line, in an ideal world, would have links both to Newport and Cardiff, but added a link to Cardiff was important so that when the Valleys lines are electrified they can become an integrated Metro system."

Comment - No his point is it is more important that it runs to Cardiff because Newport does not matter. As usual there were no comments or queries from Newport's lapdog Labour politicians.

ST BRIDES HIT AS WORK STARTS AHEAD OF RAIL ELECTRIFICATION

Nov 10 - Disruption in the Newport area caused by work to bridges ahead of major work electrifying the railway line has begun with a 10-mile road diversion. Network Rail says bridges will need to be raised for electrical cables from London to Swansea and the valleys. A diversion lasting six months has begun at St Brides Wentlooge, Newport. The company says it hopes to keep disruption to a minimum, but a local pub says lack of passing trade means it could close in weeks.

Network Rail said bridges along the rail route would need to be modified, with its project management team still surveying which ones would be affected. A spokesman said bridges would either be raised or the railway line dropped, although this was not the preferred option because of the risk of flooding.

The Pheasants bridge, which carries the B4239 Lighthouse Road over the railway, means a journey from St Brides Wentlooge to Duffryn in Newport is usually two miles. The bridge closure means traffic has to travel through nearby Marshfield and along the A48 dual carriageway to Duffryn and on to Newport city centre.

Sue Jones, landlady at the Inn at the Elm Tree, said business was "zilch" since the bridge closed on Monday. We get a lot of passing trade as we are a hotel and restaurant, as well as a pub," she said. "But we aren't getting that now as the bridge was the main route from Newport. Who's going to drive an extra 10 miles to the pub? The way it's going we'll be lucky to still be open at Christmas. It's scary."

LYSAGHTS RESTORED

Nov 10 - Newport's iconic Lysaghts Institute has been restored to its former glory following a £3 million refurbishment of the building, last used in 2001. Linc Cymru, the housing association also responsible for the provision of housing in the wider development also incorporating a supermarket, worked with the local (Liswerry) community to ensure it met their needs. It will be run as a social enterprise incorporating its famous dance floor, meeting rooms, an IT suite, coffee shop and a fully equipped kitchen.

Lysaghts restored - You Tube

TRAIN IS A VICTIM OF CITY CENTRE VANDALISM

Nov 10 - Newport City Council has donated the vintage Forester locomotive and truck, situated in Kingsway, to Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway. Over the years, the council has spent a considerable sum on repairing and maintaining the engine but it continually suffers from vandalism. It will be moved this weekend to a more suitable home where it can be restored and possibly even put back into use. The locomotive had no connection with the city but represented Newport’s coal and steel industry.

Footnote - The iconic Usk footbridge also seems to have been a victim of vandalism near to Rodney Parade and the waterfalls on the walkway in to town are frequently topped up with washing up liquid (the joke has worn off now). Maybe a bit more patrolling in this area would help?

CITY SET TO SPEND £3.7 MILLION ON CAPITAL SCHEMES

Nov 8 - Newport City Council’s cabinet is being asked to approve additional spending of more than £3.7 million on capital schemes. The majority of the extra finance is from grants or external funding while the rest will come from borrowing schemes and an increase in contributions from developers under planning agreements.

Nearly £1.6 million has been secured from the Welsh Government in Flying Start capital grants. This will be used to carry out work at five primary schools and two community centres to enable delivery of the Welsh Government scheme aimed at tackling child poverty. Introduced in Newport in 2006, the programme presently supports 1,600 children in priority areas across the city and the further funding will allow it to expand to work with another 774 children. It is proposed to carry out adaptations or improvements at Crindau, Malpas Court, Somerton, Ringland and Millbrook schools. Refurbishment work is also planned for the Mary Dunn Club and the Newport East Community Centre, both in Lliswerry, to create facilities suitable for the programme.

Other proposed schemes include additional funding towards extra classrooms for Bassaleg School and modernisation of the city’s CCTV service to realise the aim of making it a 24/7 operations hub. Another Welsh Government scheme, Houses to Homes, will see £1.722 million allocated to a consortium of Gwent councils with Newport City Council acting as the regional “banker”. The money will be used to support strategies which bring empty houses back into use and improve the level of available housing in an area.

UNIVERSITY MERGER COP-OUT

Nov 6 - The Welsh education minister has been accused of a U-turn after withdrawing a consultation forcing a three-way merger of universities in south east Wales. Leighton Andrews said Glamorgan and Newport universities want to merge sooner rather than later. Cardiff Metropolitan University, which has opposed the merger plan, will not be forced to join them for the time being. Mr Andrews made a statement on Tuesday, outlining Glamorgan and Newport universities' decision to move ahead with a merger with effect from next April. He said in the light of the "excellent progress" made by the two institutions on a merger, he had decided to cancel the consultation started involving Cardiff Met.

NO SENTENCE REDUCTION FOR WHANT

Nov 4 - Carl Whant, the man convicted of the murder of Nikitta Grender has failed to have his sentence cut. The former nightclub bouncer jailed for a minimum of 35 years for murdering the heavily pregnant teenager. Whant, 27, of Bettws, Newport, raped and stabbed 19-year-old Nikitta Grender at her home last February, also killing her daughter who was due to be born within two weeks.

He was convicted of murder, rape, child destruction and arson. On Thursday, a judge branded him "a very dangerous man". Whant had asked Lord Justice Pitchford, Mr Justice Hickinbottom and Judge Guy Boney QC at the Court of Appeal in London to reduce his minimum term. The court heard that Whant,  was high on cocaine when he slashed Miss Grender's throat and stomach and set fire to her body

STORES ADDED TO RETAIL PARK LINE-UP

Nov 4 - Although information being provided by Newport Retail Park is limited planning applications to Newport City Council have confirmed in addition to M&S and Gap Outlet the following retailers will be joining the line up there as part of the new development - Bank Fashion, H&M, JD Sports and River Island.

END FOR PANASONIC FOR NEWPORT - 53 JOBS TO GO

Oct 30 - More than 50 jobs are at risk at Panasonic in Newport as the company announced it may close the premises. In March, the firm said it was moving production of telephone exchanges from Newport to Vietnam cutting 164 jobs.

The factory has since been made a customer support centre for Europe but is now facing possible closure with its work moved to Cardiff and elsewhere. The trade union Unite said that its members were "shocked and stunned" by the announcement. It is now proposing to move some of the work to Cardiff but it would still mean job cuts for 53 out of 75 staff. Panasonic, which has been in Newport since 1987, is launching a formal 30-day consultation process with the Unite trade union.

GAVIN MILLS FOUND GUILTY OF MURDER OF POLISH BAKER

Oct 30 - A man has been jailed for life for the murder of a Polish baker he punched, kicked and stamped to death in Newport. Gavin Mills, 25, attacked Jerzy Dubiniec, 60, who had arrived in Wales just a few weeks earlier.

The grandfather, who spoke no English, was attacked on his way home from a night shift in Pill in August 2011. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) described it as a brutal attack on an innocent victim. Mills was sentenced after changing his plea to guilty. He was convicted of murder on the second day of his trial at Newport Crown Court on Tuesday.

GAP TO OPEN SPYTTY STORE

Oct 28 - Gap are set to open their first Newport store in the redeveloped Retail Park at Spytty. The new Gap Outlet store will be situated in Unit 16 adjacent to Unit 17/18 housing Marks and Spencer. The latter close their city centre store on January 16. Their new store, they claim, has created 30 additional jobs. Elsewhere at the Retail Park a planning application has been lodged for a new restaurant between Cineworld and McDonalds.

CITY NAMED AS MCAT HOTSPOT

Oct 27 - A police study suggests Mephedrone or MCAT is twice as prevalent now compared to twelve months ago. Newport city centre and Maindee are named by the report as among 15 hotspots for the drug in Wales.

Police and drug workers are keen to debunk the myth that the drug is a 'safe' or 'party' drug. Elsewhere in the UK there has been a decline in the popularity of mephedrone and similar recreational drugs over the same period.

Until April 2010 mephedrone was considered a "legal high", but given its potency and powerful side effects the drug was reclassified. Potential side effects can include fits, memory loss, potentially fatal heart problems and brain damage. The drug has also been linked to depression and other mental health problems, insomnia, palpitations, hallucinations and suicidal thoughts, and is believed to be addictive. There was a 165% increase in the number of offences involving mephedrone in Wales between April and June this year, compared with the same period last year.

Dan Rowley, a drugs worker at the Kaleidoscope Project in Newport, told the BBC that referrals to him due to problematic mephedrone use had increased over the past year. "I've been running the service here at Kaleidoscope for two years now - and obviously keep a record of the referrals I have in for different problematic drug use - and in the last 12 months mephedrone has gone from zero referrals to nearly half of all my referrals," he said.

http://www.kaleidoscopeproject.org.uk

M&S COULD FIGURE IN NEW FRIARS WALK

Oct 27 - More announcements are expected from Friars Walk developer Queensberry as they seek a financial partner for the redevelopment of the shopping facility for Newport city centre. With Debenhams and Cineworld signed up there are indications that retailers are not set to give up totally on Newport city in favour of other locations. Queensberry has agreed terms with its main fashion retailers and is in advanced talks with national operators for ten restaurant.

According to Estates Gazette it is quite possible that high street anchor Marks and Spencer will make a reappearance in the new centre having just elected to move to Newport Retail Park (store opening January 2013). Queensberry state they are still in dialogue with M&S. It is all still some way off though, if they get funding support they will appoint a building contractor by next June and work will start later in 2013 with the centre set to open in 2015.

GYPSY AND TRAVELLER PREFERRED SITES ANNOUNCED

Oct 27 - A list of preferred sites for potential Gypsy and Traveller sites will be presented to the council’s scrutiny committee for community planning and development on 29 October. The recommended locations were drawn up by a policy review group, set up by the committee, following a careful process which included public consultation and site visits.

More than 7,100 comments were received and each response was read and analysed by an in-house team. The shortlist of 11 sites, which had best met the list of agreed criteria, was considered by the group, along with the responses and further investigations by officers, before they selected a final list of preferred sites.

For residential purposes, the group has suggested the best site is the former road safety centre in Ringland with a potential smaller secondary site on the former Ringland allotment site if required. Members also identified land at Brickyard Lane as a longer-term contingency site if the need should arise in the future. The group has proposed that the best place for a transit site is a yard off the A449 but has also suggested land at Celtic Way, Marshfield, as a suitable alternative if the preferred option could not be developed for some reason. Residential and transit sites have to be identified both for the Local Development Plan (LDP) and to meet a recognised housing need. A permanent site is required for a small number of families already living in Newport and with strong links to the city. They will pay for services and council tax.

COSMETIC SURGERY CLINIC CLOSES, 25 JOBS LOST

Oct 27 - 25 jobs have been lost after a cosmetic surgery went into administration. The Celtic Springs Clinic, situated at the business park of the same name in Newport, mainly carried out gastric band operations. Administrators BM Advisory blamed "cashflow pressures" for the closure, adding that a buyer was now being sought for the facility.

Spokesman Andrew Pear told ITV news : "Despite extensive work undertaken by various parties to realise a sale of the business, unfortunately no suitable buyer could be found. The principal concern is of course ongoing patient care and we are working closely with all relevant parties, including the healthcare regulator and other clinics to ensure that all patients receive the necessary support, treatment and high standard of care they require." A help line has been set up for clinic patients - the number is 01633 815900.

COMPANY EXPANDS SITE

Oct 26 - Baby and maternity clothing retailer JoJo Maman Bebe has doubled the size of its presence in Newport in a new letting deal. Acting on behalf of Threadneedle, Cooke and Arkwright has leased 83,000sq ft on a 1.7-acre site at Reevesland Industrial Estate in Newport, on a 10-year lease to JoJo Maman Bebe – securing 120 jobs in the area. The move will more than double the company’s occupational space and provide new head office accommodation with expanded warehouse and storage facilities.

NEWPORT CITY HOMES LAUNCHES ACADEMY SCHEME

Oct 25 - Newport City Homes has launched its new Academy scheme with 40 new apprentices. The Academy scheme offers paid work experience placements to school leavers and other unemployed people who have little or no qualifications and are experiencing difficulty in finding a job.  The scheme offers apprenticeships to individuals wishing to learn a trade to assist them in obtaining employment in a construction environment and the opportunity to gain a nationally recognised qualification with wide-ranging and valuable work experience in their chosen field. 

Jonathan Armitage, Apprentice said: ‘’ My father is a carpenter and my desire to follow him started at a young age by helping him to do odd jobs.   I had been looking for an apprenticeship for a few years and was delighted when I became successful with NCH. I have been in the role for two months and each day I look forward to coming to work and learning something new, I already feel like a valued member of the team.  I am hoping this apprenticeship will be the start of an enjoyable and fulfilling career; I have a drive to learn the trade and want to go on to be the best I can be’’.

In addition, Newport City Homes has confirmed that  64% of new starters in the organisation for that quarter were previously unemployed.  Peter Cahill, Chief Executive said:  “This is a great example of our progress as a stock transfer organisation.  At the point of transfer we made a commitment to create training and job opportunities for local people and we are proud of our track record to date.”

WIND TURBINE PLAN FOR REDWICK

Oct 21 - Renewable energy company RES has been displaying its plan for three wind turbines on land between Newport and Caldicot. The first project, called Longlands Lane, proposes one turbine located to the north west of Redwick villagr. The second project, Great House Farm, proposes two turbines to the south east of Undy. Each site will use turbines, which are a maximum of 100m in height to the tip of the blade and will be capable of generating at least 1.5 megawatts of electricity that will be fed into the local electricity network. It is suggested that this is enough energy to power almost 800 homes every year.

The energy company, RES, is consulting with local communities prior to submitting planning applications. RES Project Manager, Phil Grant said: "We are looking forward to discussing our proposals for what we consider to be two very good sites and learning the views of local residents and other interested parties. Small-scale schemes like Longlands Lane and Great House Farm are important because they would generate local electricity for use on the local network. They will also make a valuable contribution to meeting Wales' ambitions to increase renewable energy generation and decrease dependence on expensive fossil fuel imports."

There is already a large wind turbine to the north of Redwick situated at the Magor entrance to Llanwern Steelworks.

BELATED HONOUR FOR LIGHTHOUSE ENGINEER

Oct 21 - The engineer behind many of Wales' well-known lighthouses has been remembered 150 years after his death. James Walker, born in 1781, has had a plaque unveiled in his name at West Usk lighthouse near Newport by the the Institution of Civil Engineers Cymru. The lighthouse, which is now a boutique hotel, lit up the mouths of the rivers Usk and Severn for more than a century.

Traditionalist Walker also designed Cardiff's East Bute Dock but famously rubbished Brunel's plans for a Severn Bridge in 1845.

AWARD FOR ROGERSTONE SCHOOL

Oct 19 - Rogerstone Primary school has become the first in Wales to achieve the Investors in Pupils award and education minister Leighton Andrews visited the school earlier this week to present the award. The school has received the award after 'pupils took ownership of their school environment which has seen them set their own class targets, develop and write an induction handbook and mission statement for each class.'

Minister for Education and Skills, Leighton Andrews, said: “I would like to congratulate Rogerstone Primary School on this fantastic achievement and am delighted to be able to present the first school in Wales with the Investors in People award. It is vital that children and young people are involved in the decisions that affect them. Rogerstone Primary has led the way by including pupils in the decision-making process both within the classroom and the school as a whole.Everyone at the school should be very proud of what they have achieved.”

CINEMA SIGNS UP FOR FRIARS WALK

Oct 16 - Cinema chain Cineworld is today named as the operator of the eight-screen multiplex which will be part of Newport’s Friars Walk retail and leisure scheme. Developer, Queensberry Real Estate, has planning in place for the £100m retail and leisure scheme on John Frost Square. In April, Debenhams announced it will provide the flagship store taking 93,000 sq ft. Cineworld will anchor the leisure element of the development and will offer a state-of-the-art, all-digital cinema totalling 26,000 sq ft.  

Construction will begin next year on the 330,000 sq ft scheme which will provide up to 1,100 new jobs and also includes 35 retail units, 10 restaurants, 360 space parking and a new bus station. The new shopping centre is expected to open in 2015. Steve Wiener, chief executive of Cineworld, said: “Cineworld is extremely enthusiastic about this development of Newport city centre and to have secured an agreement to open our multiplex cinema on such a great site. We believe our investment will play a major part in enhancing Newport as a leisure destination and that it will be well received by the public.”

Stuart Harris, head of leasing at Queensberry, said: “We welcome the vote of confidence from Cineworld, Debenhams and Newport City Council for our proposals, and we are very excited about the benefits this will bring to the shopping centre and Newport city centre. “We have agreed terms with our main fashion anchors and hope to announce them soon.” Queensberry is understood to be in advanced talks with leading national operators for the new restaurants.

Leader of Newport City Council, Cllr Bob Bright, said: “We welcome the news that the UK’s number one multiplex cinema chain by admission is joining one of the UK’s top department stores in the new Friars Walk development. This is a further signal to the market that Friars Walk is a leading investment opportunity and brings the scheme one step closer to fruition.”

Gareth Beer, chief executive at Newport Unlimited, said: “The cinema deal is a major step forward for Friars Walk and an important part of the jigsaw for the regeneration of Newport’s city centre. It is hoped that this announcement will encourage further leisure and retail operators to invest in Friars Walk and be part of the city’s ongoing transformation.” Founded in 1995, Cineworld operates 811 screens in 78 cinemas across UK and Ireland. Agent DTZ acted for Queensberry & Wareing & Partners represented Cineworld.  

CENTRE POOL RE-OPENS AFTER OUTBREAK

Oct 14 - A swimming pool which shut last month after 20 people were infected with a water-borne bug is being reopened. Newport Centre swimming pool was closed by the city council after the cases of cryptosporidium were confirmed.

The council said it was "100% satisfied everything is in order" after the pool was drained and re-grouted. Public Health Wales (PHW) has urged swimmers to adopt better hygiene after seeing a rise in cases of the bug, which can survive chlorine in pools. PHW gave the pool a clean bill of health last week after tests revealed no further presence of the bug. We have always stated that the pool will only reopen when we and the outbreak control team are satisfied that it is safe to do so”

The Council said independent engineers had been brought in to advise on maintenance work ahead of the pool's reopening at 13:00 BST last  Saturday.

GYPSY AND TRAVELLER REVIEW DELAYED

Oct 14 - A report from the policy review group, set up by the council’s scrutiny committee for community planning and development, looking at potential Gypsy and Traveller sites in Newport will be given to a scrutiny meeting on 29 October.

The meeting was originally due to be held next week but has been postponed because of the significant number of responses received during the public consultation.Every response is being read and analysed to enable the group to complete the review they were asked to undertake thoroughly and properly. Some of the issues raised during the consultation also require further investigation.

More than 5,500 responses were received during the 28-day consultation. This was a non-statutory process carried out in accordance with scrutiny procedures for public engagement. Eleven sites were identified by the group as best meeting the criteria prescribed by the Welsh Government planning and housing policies. This followed careful consideration of more than 220 other possible locations, against this clear criteria. Not all these sites will be needed to fulfil the council’s legal and planning responsibilities. At least one permanent site has to be found to meet the accommodation needs of a very small number of families who already live in Newport and have strong ties to the city. As now, they will pay for the services they use as well as council tax.

BIG GRANT FOR CITY BUILDING

Oct 13 - The City Council has agreed an application for a substantial Key Buildings Scheme Grant for 186 Upper Dock Street. The property is at the corner of Upper Dock Street and Griffin Street within the City Centre Conservation Area of Newport. It is in a prominent position and is currently home to a convenience store serving the local community, with flats to the upper three floors. Whilst the building has considerable historic character, it is currently in a poor state of repair.

The Key Buildings Scheme recommended a grant of £40,000 towards the restoration of the façade of this significant building. This would represent 66% of the total eligible costs of £60,000. The grant aid is provided by the Welsh Government via Newport Unlimited, therefore, no contribution would be made by Newport City Council. The remaining balance of the works will be funded by the applicant.

The Key Buildings Scheme has been established to examine and address key buildings within the City of Newport. Such buildings have been identified as “key”, given their positioning within the City Centre and their potential to realise their true historical character and value through restorative works.

 

CENTRE BUG OUTBREAK DECLARED OVER

Oct 7 - An outbreak of the water-borne bug cryptosporidiosis at a city swimming pool has been declared over by public health officials. Newport Centre Swimming Pool was closed by the city council after the problem arose on 6 September. Twenty people were confirmed as having the bug. Health officials said they were confident the cleaning of the pool - which will remain shut for the time being - had solved the problem.

Dr Lika Nehaul, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control for Public Health Wales, said: “We are confident that the cleaning of the pool, along with improvements to the pool filter systems, has cleared the problem and that the outbreak can be declared over. I would like to remind the public that personal hygiene is of the utmost importance in preventing infection with cryptosporidium in a swimming pool environment. Anyone who has been unwell with diarrhoea or vomiting should stay away from work or school, and also the swimming pool, for at least 48 hours after they have recovered. Anyone who is diagnosed with cryptosporidiosis should wait two weeks after their diarrhoea has stopped before using any swimming pool. Showering before entering the pool is also recommended, as is handwashing with warm running water and soap after using the toilet.”

MANIC MONDAY - ACCIDENT CAUSES LONG TAILBACKS ON M4

Oct 7 - Traffic is running freely again on the M4 westbound this afternoon following a three-car crash during rush hour which caused delays of up to 90 minutes. The three lanes between junction 26 for Malpas Road and junction 27 for Highcross at Newport were blocked. Traffic was tailing back as far as Magor services at junction 23 with severe congestion reported in Caerleon.

DRAINAGE BOARD SLAMMED IN AUDIT ENQUIRY

Oct 7 - A public body located in Nash in Newport has been heavily criticised in a Wales Audit Office report. The Caldicot and Wentlooge Levels Internal Drainage Board is part funded by Newport City Council. The audit found it acted against the law when it arranged trips for members, staff and relatives overseas , a watchdog has said. The Wales Audit Office (WAO) said the board was governed and managed ineffectively for years. The board said it accepted the findings "without reservation".

In his report, auditor Anthony Barrett says: "In my view, the organisation lost sight of the fact that it was a public body. It failed to remember that it did not exist for its own sake but to serve those who work and live on the Gwent Levels."

The report states the body "was unable to demonstrate that it has always spent public money wisely" . The Board also acted unlawfully on occasions, with some staff and members acting in a way which is likely to undermine public confidence. A failure to introduce governance policies and procedures contributed to inadequate control of the Board's business. The Board's decision-making framework was not properly constituted and because of this the Board was operating contrary to law. Appointments to and membership of the Board's Establishment Committee were unclear and records of its proceedings were found to be inadequate. In some cases minutes of meetings appear to have been drafted to represent the views of the former Clerk and Engineer and former Office and Personnel Manager rather than those of the Board and its committees.

The former Clerk and Engineer was found to be involved in submitting proposals on his own pay to Board committees despite a personal interest in the matter which should have prevented him from participating in the decision-making process. Three members of the Board along with the former Clerk and Engineer were also found to have participated in Board proceedings related to a court case when they had disqualifying personal interests. The former Clerk and Engineer also received overpayments to his salary and the Board should now consider whether to seek recovery of them.

  • The Drainage Board is responsible for the management of the Levels between St Brides and Sudbrook. The Board receives 72 per cent of its funding from levies on Cardiff Council, Newport City Council, and Monmouthshire County Council. The remainder comes from rates payable by local landowners, fees for private drainage work undertaken on behalf of third parties and services provided to other drainage boards.
  • The Drainage Board is an unusually small public body which had only 22 staff when the audit started. It has 37 Board members: 18 are elected by local ratepayers and 19 are appointed by the three local councils which finance the Board through levies. Members of the Board are unpaid, except for the Chairman of the Board who receives a small monthly allowance.
  • LEISURE SITE SOLD TO PUB CHAIN

    Oct 5 - The leisure site owned by Newport City Council on Old Town Dock is to be sold to Marston's, the pub and inn chain. The site has been available for a hotel or leisure development for some time as part of the regeneration of the area. On map on left it marked as 'Old Town Dock Hotel Site'.

    Marston’s PLC operate around 2,150 pubs and bars situated up and down the country, comprising of around 1,650 tenanted or leased pubs and around 500 managed pubs – of which 40 are hotels. They also the UK's largest builder of new pubs with a three-year plan to build 60 new food pubs.

    In other property disposals Newport City Council will also be selling off its Trading Standards depot on Stephenson Street.

     

    NEWPORT SHOULD LOOK EAST NOT WEST FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH

    'Bristol is fastest growing City in the region'

    Oct 2 - Newport should look East as well as to opportunities in the West as part of its ongoing regeneration, according to the Chairman of Newport Unlimited. In a meeting of the Newport business group The Forum, held at the University of Wales, Newport’s City Campus, Bill Mayne told members that Newport could follow in the footsteps of a similar initiative in neighbouring Cardiff.

    Bill Mayne said: “The Cardiff City Region initiative is excellent, but I think the Severnside regional initiative is just as important a priority to Newport. Bristol is the fastest growing city region in the UK, and there are clear benefits from Newport working more closely with this region as well as Cardiff.”
    Mr Mayne said Newport Unlimited – the urban regeneration company for Newport – was principally focusing on the city centre regeneration, working with developer Queensberry Real Estate to bring a major retail scheme to John Frost Square. Although there are a number of empty premises at the moment, the Friars Walk development will put Newport back in the UK’s top 100 shopping destinations and bring more than 1,000 jobs to the city.”

    He added that the redevelopment was one of just two such city centre projects currently being carried out outside the M25, and said Newport Unlimited was playing a key role – but warned that the future of regeneration investment is under review. He added “The Welsh Government is currently evaluating town centre regeneration across Wales. The outcome of the evaluation will inform Welsh Government’s emerging proposals for town centre regeneration policy and future delivery in Wales. We are making a conscious effort to work with local businesses to communicate more about the ongoing regeneration investments we are making in the city and the difference we are making.” The meeting of The Forum, sponsored by University of Wales, Newport, Kilsby Williams and Effective Communication, was attended by a range of local business people from the region.

    SOLDIER REWARDED FOR AFGHAN SERVICE

    Oct 1 - Sergeant Mathew Perry from 2 Rifles has won the Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service for setting up an Afghan police force. The 28 year old from Newport was among soldiers honoured in the armed forces' Operational Awards List. Matthew Perry, also based in Northern Ireland with 2 Rifles, was honoured for his work developing and mentoring a new Afghan local police force in a previously lawless area of Nahr-e Saraj.

    During the first three months of his tour one soldier had been killed and five seriously injured. At the end of Sergeant Perry's stint a school had re-opened with 140 children, and local councillors were able to enter the village without fear.

    "We began by training eight locals to create a local police force," said Sergeant Perry, a former pupil at St Julian's School, who was a corporal at the time."This included weapons handling, how to deal with local civilians, vehicle checkpoints, protecting themselves in contact with the enemy and basic military tactics. We went on one or two patrols a day, interacting with locals and building a rapport. This led to more villagers coming forward with information to help us." The next step was the local police leading their own patrols, supported by the Afghan National Army and Afghan Uniformed Police.

    CITY COUNCIL QUESTIONS BUSINESS CASE FOR NEW HOSPITAL

    Sep 30 - Plans for a new Specialist and Critical Care Centre to be based in Llanfrechfa have been challenged by the City Council. The new facility would see hospital services downgraded with more investment in new services at the proposed development. However, the business case for the new hospital has been queried. Council officers state the development is on a designated greenfield site, has an inadequate transport assessment and will adversely impact upon the quality of life in Caerleon with increased congestion and poorer air quality.

    TORIES WALK OUT OF COUNCIL MEETING BLAMING LACK OF DEMOCRATIC ACCOUNTABILITY

    Sep 26 - Newport's Conservatives walked out of last night's full Council meeting in protest at changes to Council procedures they claim is stifling debate and preventing true accountability. The new Labour administration introduced a new ruling requiring members to give four days notice of any questions in writing denying them the opportunity to ask them off the cuff. Labour's Emma Corten tweeted today "Last nights walk out by the Conservatives at full Council was both embarrassing and petulant."

    HILTON HOTEL HIT BY VIRUS

    Sep 26 - A total of 74 people have become ill after visiting the Hilton Hotel in Newport. An investigation is being carried out after 51 guests and 23 staff were affected by a viral infection, which is probably norovirus, at the hotel in Langstone.They started to become ill last Tuesday and suffered diarrhoea and vomiting. Hilton Worldwide said the wellbeing of guests and staff was of "paramount importance" and it had brought in "stringent" health and safety measures.

    Newport City Council contacted Public Health Wales two days after the first cases of illness started. Dr Lika Nehaul, a consultant in communicable disease control with Public Health Wales, said: "Investigations carried out by Newport City Council's environmental health team indicate that the illness was consistent with a viral infection passed from person to person, most likely norovirus." Dr Nehaul added that the virus could be "easily passed" on and anyone who showed symptoms should not go back to work or school for 48 hours after they recovered.

    NEW PLAN FOR CITY

    Sep 25 - Newport City Council has introduced a new corporate plan for the City following the election of a new Labour administration in May. Newport’s new plan Standing up for Newport is described as offering an 'ambitious programme for the next five years' and was endorsed by full council last night. The election of a new Council has introduced a new set of commitments based around five areas – a caring city, a fairer city, a learning and working city, a greener and healthier city and a safer city. The corporate plan presents the overarching and strategic picture of the council’s priorities and ensures that programmes are suitably aligned to agreed corporate and organisational priorities. The priorities in the new plan include supporting the old and vulnerable, tackling health inequalities and continuing to work hard to reduce youth unemployment and increasing educational aspirations. There is also a focus on anti-social behaviour and keeping the city’s streets clean.

    SHIP MAY HAVE COME FROM BASQUE COUNTRY

    Sep 23 - The medieval ship discovered on the banks of the River Usk in Newport in 2002 may have come from the Basque country in Spain. The vessel has been called the world's best example of a 15th Century ship by archaeologists.

    And new evidence has found that the timbers from the ship have been matched to projects built in the Basque region.It includes new data from medieval buildings in the Araba and Navarra areas of Spain. "The mystery of the origins of the Newport Ship, the remains of the a remarkably well-preserved medieval ship may at last have been solved," said Nigel Nayling, associate professor at University of Wales Trinity Saint David."Artefacts found at the time of the discovery hinted at Iberian connections but recent advances in dendrochronology (tree-ring dating) have provided the first scientific evidence. The results strongly suggest that the ship was originally built in the Basque Country where wooden shipbuilding has a long tradition."

    90 SHOPS VACANT IN CITY CENTRE

    Sep 22 - The City Council has admitted that of 408 shop units in the city centre 90 are vacant (22 per cent). However, their analysis suggests that this has been a slight improvement "Of 408 total properties, there were 93 vacant in January 2012 but only 90 vacant at the last count in August, a decrease of 1%. This suggests that there has been a small net gain in City Centre businesses in this time....the issues affecting retail are by no means a Newport-only problem and also that many of the vacant premises must be kept so to pave the way for the development of the new shopping centre. The redevelopment of the Market and Cambrian Road is proceeding alongside new bus terminals and the Friar's Walk project." Residents may query the analysis as it makes no comment on the quality of the retailers recently lost to the city centre.

    FLYNN SUSPENDED FROM COMMONS

    Sep 20 - Newport West Paul Flynn has been suspended from the House of Commons for five days without pay after what Defence Secretary Philip Hammond claimed were 'scandalous' comments. He accused the Ministry of Defence ministerial team of lying over Afghanistan policy. Speaker John Bercow demanded Mr Flynn retract his statement but he refused, insisting it was more important for him to leave it on the record.

    On his website Flynn stated "The punishment is expulsion from Parliament for five days and loss of a month’s wages. A price well worth paying. My charge was broadcast widely throughout the world.  It stuck a chord that continues to reverberate."

    RESIDENTS CAMPAIGN AGAINST TRAVELLERS SITE

    Sep 19 - Action groups have been set up by residents to oppose proposals for new Gypsy and Traveller sites in Newport mirroring the previous campaign in Bettws. It is claimed over 600 people objecting to plans for four proposed sites in Langstone and Underwood attended a meeting last Friday.

    Newport City Council is consulting on a total of 11 possible sites across the city having dropped proposals for five other sites. Gypsies and Travellers have said that small official family sites were the best way to help their community.

    The Welsh Government estimates there are about 4,000 Gypsy travellers living in Wales. There are currently 793 caravans on 78 sites in 21 of Wales' 22 councils. About 15% are on unauthorised sites. The Welsh Government recognised a need for "substantial changes" in attitudes towards Gypsies, who are not properly understood and suffer from a high level of exclusion. There are two residential sites for Gypsies and Travellers in Cardiff, at Rover Way and Shirenewton, both of which are managed by Cardiff Council. Together the sites have over 75 pitches. Each pitch has its own boundary fence and farm-style gate, and a utility building housing a kitchen and bathroom. Electricity is provided via pre-payment meters at both sites, and at Shirenewton water and sewerage connections for principal mobile homes are provided.

    Andrew Litt

    FIREARMS DEALER JAILED

    Sep 17 - A firearms dealer has been jailed for defrauding investors of more than £8m in a scheme to buy high quality guns.The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said when Andrew Litt's firearms business was in trouble he persuaded investors to lend him nearly £60m.

    Litt, 57, from Newport, admitted two counts of fraudulent trading in August, and was jailed for 32 months at Newport Crown Court on Monday. The sentence follows a four year investigation by the SFO and police.

    Litt was also disqualified from acting as a company director for five years. The SFO said the court heard that Litt told his investors that their money would be used to buy sporting guns he could then sell on for a high profit. But Litt used the money from the newest investors to pay off the first. Litt, a certified accountant and former director of D J Litt (Firearms) Limited, which is now in administration, admitted to knowingly carrying on the business with the intent to defraud creditors.

    He was jailed for 32 months on one count and 16 months for the second to run concurrently.In passing sentence, Judge Patrick Curran QC took into consideration that Litt had assisted the investigation.

    CONSORTIUM PULL OUT OF COUNTY

    Sep 15 - A consortium hoping to invest in Newport County has pulled out. Matt Southall, managing director of Acorn recruitment, stated to the Argus, that the consortium could not agree with the County board about the strategic management and direction of the club. The consortium was prepared to invest up to £750,000 in the club over the next three years to take it forward following the highly successful move to Rodney Parade. The club's representatives have indicated they felt there was a lack of information and written commitment. However, supporters group, Friends of Newport County, believe that the consortium offer should have been treated with respect and that it is a missed opportunity for the club.

    NO PROGRESS ON CLOSURE OF DANGEROUS SUBWAY

    Sep 15 - A poorly lit, depressing and dangerous subway under the main railway line in Newport city centre is likely to remain open for a considerable time. The subway linking Mill Street and Queensway was the subject of two serious incidents in November. The Council stated it had plans to close it and build a new footbridge over the line. Ten months later there are no indications of progress. A response from City Councillor Ken Critchley to a written question indicates that the new footbridge is still some months if not years away "In regards to the proposed footbridge discussions are ongoing with Welsh Government over funding for the new footbridge over the railway line and meetings with Network Rail has achieved an increase in funding from them. A Value engineering task has been undertaken by officers and consultants to reduce the estimated cost of the bridge. The tender price is now with Welsh Government and we are awaiting their confirmation of funding. Once we have approval for the go ahead we will undertake the project and eventually close the subway."

    MARKET SQUARE CAR PARK SET TO CLOSE

    Sep 15 - Market Square car park is likely to close for good following the start of work on the new bus interchange in the area with the loss of 64  car park spaces. The City Council indicates that following the completion of the bus station it is possible a small number of disabled spaces will be retained.

    POOL AT NEWPORT CENTRE CLOSED AFTER BUG FOUND

    Sep 13 - Newport's city centre swimming pool has been closed after an outbreak of the cryptosporidium bug. Public Health Wales and the Environmental Health departments of Newport City Council and Torfaen County Borough Council are investigating an outbreak of cryptosporidiosis in the area. Of 14 cases since the start of August, seven had used the swimming pool at Newport Centre during the period when they would have been exposed to the cryptosporidium bug. Water sampling at the pool has revealed the bug to be present. The pool was closed immediately by Newport City Council when informed of a potential problem on 6 September.

    Investigations are ongoing. Dr Lika Nehaul, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control for Public Health Wales, said: “We know that seven of the 14 people who have become unwell since mid-August have visited the swimming pool at the Newport Centre.However, some had other possible exposure that could explain their infection and so we are keeping an open mind about any possible links between the cases.”

    Cryptosporidiosis is a disease that can cause watery diarrhoea, stomach pain, nausea or vomiting and fever. It can affect people of any age but is most common in children between one and five years of age. Sheila Davies, Newport City Council’s Corporate Director for Regeneration and the Environment, said: “Our customers’ wellbeing is always our utmost priority and as soon as it came to light that there were cases potentially linked to the pool, we took immediate action. The pool was closed instantly as a precaution".

    COUNCIL STARTS TRAVELLER SITE CONSULTATION

    Sep 13 - Newport City Council has started a city-wide consultation on a suitable gypsy and traveller site. The City Council say "It should be emphasised that no decisions have been made at this stage and a final list of proposed sites will be drawn up following the consultation which ends on 4 October. Sites have to be found to meet the accommodation needs of families already living in the city, and a transit site for those passing through, as well as to fulfil the council’s legal and planning responsibilities. Both residential and transit sites must be identified in its Local Development Plan."

    The potential sites at this stage are:

    STILL WAITING FOR THE SUN TO RISE?

    Sep 9 - For travellers moving between the north and south of the city the Old Rising Sun is a familiar sight. The building sitting on the edge of the Harlequin Roundabout and the convergence of Heidenheim Drive and Malpas Road stands as a testimony to the City Centre and its current rate of progress or lack of it. In 2009 planning permission was granted to the owners to develop the property. In May 2010 Newport Matters it was trumpeted by the Council as part of a £3.8 million City Enhancement Programme prior to the Ryder Cup. The building was to be converted in to a quality Indian restaurant. Some works had been carried out, it even had a name 'Vanilla Spice'.

    A report to the Council's Cabinet on 15 June 2010 stated the work was 'on-site' and 'on target'. In late 2010 the owners applied for an entertainments licence but work has long since stopped on site other than remedial or superficial works. The recession or money available for the work may be the issue, we simply do not know. There is no public information available.

    The recent Full Council Meeting sounded a note of hope "In response to Councillor Poole, the Cabinet Member explained that the building was in private ownership and had been in receipt of grant for the external works. It was understood that the owner still intended to go ahead with the development but there were funding issues at the moment."

    But perhaps this is why Newportonians become a little cynical. A big fanfare, the expectation of an improvement in the quality of the city centre, a nice use for a fine old building and then...nothing.

    CAMBRIAN CENTRE WORK TO START NEXT MONTH

    Sep 9 - The redevelopment of the Cambrian Centre is set to start next month. Scarborough Development Group, the company, have had to finalise some ground work issues prior to commencing the project. Insurance giant Admiral is set to relocate from its current base in Langstone to a landmark building opposite the Council's one stop shop, the Information Station. Initially, work will involve the demolition of part of the existing Cambrian Car Park.

    Admiral, part of the Admiral Group, is a car insurance specialist which launched in January 1993. Its head offices are in Capital Tower, Cardiff. It also has offices in Swansea and Newport and Halifax, Nova Scotia. It shares these with its sister companies elephant.co.uk, Diamond Insurance and Bell Insurance. The Admiral Group floated on the London Stock Exchange in September 2004, it is currently the only FTSE100 listed company which has its headquarters in Wales. It employs more than 5,000 people and has more than 3 million customers. The company’s turnover was £2.19 billion in 2011. Admiral traditionally specialised in providing car insurance for those who traditionally had higher premiums; younger drivers who lived in urban areas, primarily in London, the South East England and Scotland. However since the advent of price comparison sites, it has insured a far wider cross section of motorists.

    COUNCIL GIVES GO AHEAD FOR OIL AND GAS DRILLING NEAR WETLANDS

    Sep 6 - Oil prospectors Sonorex have won permission from Newport council planning committee to carry out exploratory drilling for oil and gas at a site 500 metres from the perimeter of the Newport Wetlands. Gwent Wildlife Trust and Newport Friends of the Earth had both objected amid concerns that the drilling could affect the local environment. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which runs the wetlands’ visitor centre, did not respond to a consultation on the issue, and the Countryside Council for Wales, which manages and owns the Newport Wetlands reserve, had no objection. The Countryside Council for Wales stated "provided that our advice is addressed through the implementation of appropriate conditions attached to any planning permission granted, we are of the view that there are unlikely to be significant impacts on designated sites or species and CCW does not object to the ....application."

    Sonorex Oil and Gas is an independent, frontier oil and gas exploration company established in 2001 to explore for hydrocarbon sources in the Bristol Channel Basin. Sonorex' licence area covers 200km2 and straddles the area between Newport and Caldicot. The company has undertaken various studies to determine the hydrocarbon prospectivity of the region.

    For technical information follow this link.

    MATTHEWS OPENS ALACRITY

    Sep 5 - Sir Terry Matthews has called for support for young entrepreneurs as he opened a new scheme in the former Udex building at the Riverfront.

    Launching his Alacrity Foundation mentoring scheme in Newport, Sir Terry said UK government investment in infrastructure "is not enough" to improve the economic situation. "We need to give the next generation in this country a good shot," he told the BBC. It follows a call by the British Chambers of Commerce for more government spending on infrastructure. Half of the funding for the foundation has come from the Welsh government with the rest of the £5.5m sourced from the private sector.

    Commenting on the official opening of the foundation's headquarters in Sir Terry's home city, business minister Edwina Hart said Alacrity added "significantly" to the business environment. She said entrepreneurial and innovative companies were the companies that would help to create the biggest growth in Welsh jobs. "The Alacrity programme is a catalyst for those companies to be created in the ICT sector," she said.

    Find the Alacrity Foundation here.

    ARREST AFTER MAN RESCUED FROM USK

    Sep 5 - A rescue operation in Newport city centre has ended with a man being pulled alive from the River Usk. The man who was naked was arrested for suspected breach of the peace.

    The unnamed man was spotted by a member of the public near the George Street bridge at 15:41 BST on Tuesday. South Wales Fire and Rescue Service sent about 20 officers to the scene, including specialist rescue teams. The man hauled himself up the river bank with the aid of a line paid out by fire officers, said the service. He was then checked over by paramedics.

    COMPANY TO RELOCATE AND SPONSOR FOOD FESTIVAL

    Sep 2 - Newport City Council has announced that The Backyard Company is the main sponsor of the 2012 Newport Food Festival. Antonio Smith, who lives in Newport, is the owner of this growing company which was formed in 2010 and now distributes to 150, mostly independent, outlets. It is currently based in Ceredigion but Antonio is planning to relocate to the city and to expand his sauce-making business, creating around 12 new jobs.

    He stated why he decided to sponsor this year’s festival. “I feel that being a food business, and as I’m from Newport, I wanted to contribute something back to our community and be a part of what is going on. I was there last year and it was really good. We do a lot of festivals around the country and Newport’s was one of the best last year.”

    The Backyard Company will have a stall at the Newport Food Festival and Antonio will be among a great line-up of chefs demonstrating some tasty dishes. Mr Smith was born and raised on his grandfather’s farm in Jamaica and it is the recipes of his great-great grandmother that inspire Antonio’s own mouth-watering creations today.

    Councillor Debbie Wilcox, cabinet member for leisure and culture, said: “It is great news that The Backyard Company is backing the 2102 Newport Food Festival and that this successful and growing firm is due to relocate to the city. The festival is very much about supporting local food businesses and showcasing the fantastically diverse food offering in the city." More information is available at www.newportfoodfestival.co.uk

    CITY TO PILOT WORK ON UNIVERSAL CREDIT

    Sep 1 - Newport City Council has been selected to pilot the local delivery of support for the new benefit being introduced in October 2013 - Universal Credit. Twelve pilots will run from Autumn 2012 to explore how local expertise can support residents under Universal Credit, setting examples for other local authorities across the country. The pilots, spread across Great Britain, will include help for claimants to build online skills to claim Universal Credit and look for jobs, as well as to develop financial management skill

    The local authority led pilots will complement work already underway as part of the preparation for Universal Credit, including Pathfinder and the direct payment demonstration project. The latter is being piloted by neighbouring Torfaen. Universal Credit will replace income-based JSA, income-related ESA, Income Support, Working Tax Credits, Child Tax Credits and Housing Benefit.

    CLOCK TO GO ON ROUNDABOUT!

    Sep 1 - In a plan which smacks of 'do something rather than nothing' Newport's Clock, formerly a feature in John Frost Square, is to be relocated. The clock will be re-sited (it is proposed) on the Queensway Roundabout near the old Newport entrance to Llanwern Steelworks.

    To see it in its heyday go here

    NEWPORT OPEN SPACE TO BE SAFEGUARDED

    Aug 28  - A Newport green area used as a recreation and play area will be protected for generations to come thanks to an initiative celebrating HM The Queen’s diamond jubilee. Ringland Top is to be designated as a Queen Elizabeth ll Field, following a decision by the city council’s cabinet member for human resources and assets, Councillor Mark Whitcutt. The Queen Elizabeth ll Fields Challenge, operated by Fields in Trust, is a campaign to protect 2012 outdoor recreational spaces in communities all across the county as a permanent living legacy of the diamond jubilee. Belle Vue Park has already been approved for nomination and the addition of Ringland Top will give both the west and east of the city its own Queen Elizabeth ll Field.

    COUNCIL HAILS GCSE SUCCESS

    Aug 24 - Newport City Council has congratulated students and school staff on this year’s GCSE results. This year’s provisional GCSE results from Welsh Joint Education Committee (WJEC) show that 98.4 per cent of exams entered by Newport pupils were graded at A* to G, and that 66 per cent of entries achieved the higher grades of A* to C, above the Wales average by 0.6 percentage points.

    The proportion of entries achieving the top A* - A grades was 21.5 per cent, higher than the average across Wales by 2.3 percentage points.

    Councillor Bob Poole, cabinet member for education and young people’s services said: “Today’s GCSE results are fantastic for Newport’s pupils and school staff. I would like to offer my congratulations to students on their success and wish them well on the next stage of their journey. It is especially pleasing to note that the number of pupils achieving the top grades is higher than the Welsh average and this is testament to the high standard of education in our city’s schools.”

    RUGBY CLUB INVESTIGATING 'MISSING' MEMORABILIA COLLECTION

    Aug 24 - Newport rugby club is investigating the whereabouts of historic memorabilia it was loaned worth an estimated £250,000. The collection belongs to the family of Arthur Gould, the first superstar of rugby, who captained Wales to their first Triple Crown in 1893.

    It was loaned to Newport RFC and the family say they want to know what has happened to it. In 1978 the family agreed to loan Newport RFC the collection, which had memorabilia from Gould's career and that of his brother, Edward Wyatt Gould. The family say the collection included a Welsh jersey, Welsh cap, both men's Newport caps and jerseys, as well Gould's gold watch and his brother's Olympic participation medal from the 1908 Games in London. But the club said its investigations "strongly suggest" the memorabilia was returned to the family in the 1990s.

    Chris Brown, chief executive of Rodney Parade Limited, told BBC Wales: "Just as recently as March we had the inaugural dinner of the Newport rugby hall of fame and, in fact, the first person that was inaugurated into the hall of fame was Arthur Gould. Indeed, his family came along, made some speeches and brought along some memorabilia which we do believe included the watch and the medal."

    See our portrait of Arthur Gould here

     

    POLICE APPEAL OVER MISSING TEENAGER

    Aug 22 - Gwent Police is appealing for information to help locate 17-year-old Jennifer Haywood from Newport. Jennifer was last seen on Sunday 12th August at her home address in Rogerstone, Newport. She is described as 5ft 7ins, of slim build, with a pale complexion, hazel eyes and dyed blonde straight shoulder length hair. Officers believe Jennifer may have links with the Merthyr Tydfil, Tredegar and Colchester areas. Anyone with any information regarding her whereabouts is asked to call Gwent Police on 101.

    POLICE SEEK HELP OVER BURGLARY

    Aug 22 - Gwent Police is appealing for information following a burglary that occurred at an address in Risca Road, Newport, between Wednesday 15th and Thursday 16th August. A quantity of jewellery was stolen from the address. If anyone has information, or saw anything suspicious, please call 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

    An artist's impression of the proposed Market Square bus station BUS STATION APPLICATION SET TO BE CONSIDERED

    Aug 22 - Newport City Council will consider the planning application for the new Market Square bus station in the next few weeks.

    In a report to the council, planning company Arup said that to meet transport demands and to "cater for a degree of future expansion", a second bus station was also needed. It said: "It has therefore been decided that an area of land (Market Square) located to the rear of Newport Indoor Market is the ideal location to site this new bus station, as it is very close to the new Friars Walk development and is also centrally located for the rest of the city centre shops and services."

    The proposed Market Square bus station would be built on the site of five existing bus shelters (design left). If approved and once built, signs would link it to the proposed Friars Walk bus station.

    According to the BBC the report said that the bus stations did not need to be sited next to Newport railway station as only a "small percentage arrive by bus" to catch a train. "The main requirement is, therefore, deemed to be bus to bus movement rather than bus to rail," it added.

    NEW PLAN FOR MEGABOWL SITE

    Aug 19 - Johnsey Estates have applied to the City Council to redevelop the former Megabowl building. The building has been out of use since 2005. The City Council granted permission for a mixed leisure and retail development in 2008. A proposal for a non-leisure retail unit in 2010 was rejected. Now the owners of Newport Retail Park are proposing a slight variation to increase the upper floor space applied to individual retail units. The new units will be supported by 380 car park spaces.

    WHITESNAKE FAN TO SUE COUNCIL AFTER SLIPPING IN VOMIT

    Aug 18 - A Whitesnake fan states she is going to sue Newport City Council after she slipped in vomit at a gig at Newport Centre. Lindy Butcher is suing Newport City Council for £10k after she fell and injured herself at the Loft Bar  on December 7 2011. She says that a man helped her up and told her that she had slipped in some sick.

    She revealed that she missed the start of the gig after going to the first aid room for treatment and to get cleaned up. The venue refunded her ticket as a gesture of goodwill but she has suffered longer term effects of the fall. The City Council has yet to release a comment on the case.

    RIVER ISLAND SET FOR SPYTTY STORE


    Aug 17 - River Island will be occupying unit 13a of the development at Newport Retail Park. They have applied to the City Council for permission for new signs to be placed outside of the unit formerly part of the PC World store. Marks and Spencer will be putting their new signage up too across the former Lidl and Range stores.

    A-LEVEL RESULT SUCCESS

    Aug 17 - Schools in the city maintained and improved their high performance in this year's A-level examinations with results consistently above the Welsh averages. The number of pupils getting a pass grade was also above the UK average. The proportion of students achieving the highest WJEC A Level A* and A grades is 26 per cent, remaining above the Welsh average of 23.6 per cent.

    The percentage of those gaining an A* was 6.7 per cent, significantly above the Welsh average of 6 per cent. Students achieving a pass grade at WJEC A Level (Grades A*-E) increased significantly from 94.4 per cent last year to 98.3 per cent and is above the Welsh average of 97.6 per cent and and the UK average of 98 per cent. Passes at WJEC grades A* - C were at 77.9 per cent in Newport, an increase from 76.9 per cent last year.

    In the AS examinations, 85.3 per cent of students achieved a pass grade (Grades A-E), this is slightly below the Welsh average of 86.4 per cent. The percentage of students awarded the highest grade (Grade A) was 16.7 per cent, 0.6 percentage points higher than Welsh average of 16.1 per cent. Passes at grades A-C were at 57 per cent in Newport.

    CLAMPDOWN ON DOG FOULING

    Aug 16 - Newport City Council is clamping down on irresponsible dog owners who risk people’s health as well as letting their pets cause an unsightly nuisance on our streets and public spaces. A “bag it and bin it” campaign was launched today urging owners to make sure they clean up any mess made by their dogs in a public place.

    It should be bagged and the bags disposed of either in a litter bin or taken home. Anyone who does not do this is committing a criminal offence and action will be taken against them. Community safety wardens and dog wardens out on patrol will issue £75 fixed penalty notices to anyone who is caught not clearing up after their dogs. Refusal to pay the fine could land the culprit in court and even more out of pocket.

    CIGARETTES AND WINE SEIZED AT DOCKS

    Aug 15 - More than 25,000 bottles of red wine have been seized by customs in Newport in a crackdown on alcohol smuggling. The haul at a container storage site in the docks area also included 67,000 cigarettes and 92kg of tobacco.

    HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said the haul, including 25,175 bottles of Corte Dorata, evaded duty worth around £90,000. A van, tractor unit and trailer were also seized in the raid but no-one has been arrested. Keith Morgan, of the customs' criminal investigation branch, said: "Smugglers care little for the quality of the product they sell, and they have no qualms about selling to children.

    NEW SMARTCARD ON NEWPORT BUSES

    Aug 13 - From August 13 bus passengers in Newport are being offered an easier way to pay for their journeys with the launch of a pay-as-you-go smartcard. The Oyster style Freedom card can store up to £50 of credit and can be used on Newport Bus services as an alternative to paying cash for paper tickets. Newport Transport said the card would give passengers a "flexible and convenient" way of using bus services. The free, plastic smartcard can be credited on Newport buses or at the city's bus station. When placed on a ticket machine the card will deduct the cost of the journey from the credit stored on the card. You can give your card to anyone to use and you do not need to be with them when they get on the bus for them to use it. If you have friends or family with you when you board the bus you can also use the card to pay for their journeys/tickets as well if you want to.

    JURY FAILS TO REACH VERDICT IN 'MOONLIGHTING DOCTOR' CASE

    Aug 9 - A jury in the case of a NHS A&E doctor accused of fraud has been discharged after failing to reach a verdict. Lucy Dawson, 45, was alleged to be on fully-paid sick leave from the Royal Gwent Hospital, Newport, when working shifts at hospitals  in Worcester and Gloucester. The defendant, from Monmouth, had been paid almost £30,000 in sick pay during a six-month absence, Newport Crown Court heard. She denied the charges.

    Details of when the new case will proceed are expected shortly. The accident and emergency doctor was alleged to be on fully-paid leave from her job at the hospital in Newport, when working 10 shifts at hospitals in Worcester and Gloucester, earning £7,840. She had been paid almost £30,000 in sick pay during an absence during late 2009 and early 2010, her trial heard. The defendant admitted working the locum shifts and getting paid for them, but denied acting dishonestly and said she had been suffering from stress and depression.

    Dr  Dawson allegedly tweeted that she was getting “a stupid amount of dosh” and earning “megabucks” by working elsewhere while on sick leave from her hospital. She was reported to the NHS fraud hotline by her boss, Dr Nick Jenkins, after it is claimed their 13-year affair ended “acrimoniously”. Dr Dawson has since resigned from the Royal Gwent.

    APPEAL AFTER GLANWERN BURGLARY

    Aug 8 - Police in Newport are appealing for information following a burglary at an address on Glanwern Avenue on Saturday August 4th. The burglary is believed to have occurred between 10.30am and 5.15pm. A number of sentimental items of jewellery were stolen including a brooch of a turquoise dragon fly design; a gold bangle of ivy leaf design; pearl clip earrings and a gold square sapphire and diamond engagement ring. If anyone has information or saw anything suspicious in the area they are asked to call Gwent Police on 101 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

    CYCLIST DIES ON SDR

    Aug 8 - A 40-year-old cyclist named as Andrew Leonard Chick has died after an incident involving a car in Newport. The man's bike was in collision with a Volkswagen on the Southern Distributor Road at around 7:50 BST on Wednesday.

    The incident caused tailbacks on city approaches after the road was closed for four hours. A 61-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by careless driving. Gwent Police have appealed for witnesses. The cyclist was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital where he was declared dead. The car driver had minor injuries following the collision and was also taken to hospital. He was later discharged.

    ICELAND STORE ON THE MOVE

    Aug 8 - The Newport city centre Iceland store is on the move. With plans submitted to the City Council recently the store will move into the Commercial Street building vacated by H&M. H&M will be relocating to Newport Retail Park, with their new store set to open in the autumn.

    PATENT OFFICE DEAL 'GOOD FOR NEWPORT'

    Aug 3 - The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has described a deal to share the responsibilities of the European Patent Court between the UK, France and Germany as 'good for Newport'. Writing to Paul Flynn MP he states ""The deal supports our economic growth, creates new opportunities for patent professionals and businesses based across the UK, including the Newport area."

    The European Council agreed on a compromise proposal on 29 June to split the court that will litigate the EU Unitary Patent between France, Germany and the UK, paving the way for it the creation of a single European patent after 40 years of political wrangling.

    TAXI OFFICE TO RE-LOCATE

    Aug 2 - Newport's largest taxi company, Dragon, is set to relocate its main office. The firm will move to High Street at the front of Newport Arcade, premises previously occupied by the BBC.

    LIMITED NUMBERS USE POINTLESS BUS SERVICE

    Aug 1 - A bus service designed to test demand for Ebbw Vale to Newport rail service has, as expected, recorded low usage. The bus provides a link from Rogerstone to Newport from the current Ebbw Vale to Cardiff line.

    Alternative services are available between the two points and between Ebbw Vale and Newport. So the value of the bus service as a test for service demand is highly questionable. Despite this Rosemary Butler AM has called on commuters to use the service or lose it.

    A recent South Wales Argus report found you cannot pre-book tickets for the bus prior to travel. Absurdly return tickets booked online from Ebbw Vale Parkway to Newport cost £9.80 and to Cardiff (12 miles further away) they cost £7!

    COMMENT - The bus link is a politically motivated sop by the Welsh Government who have no intention of restoring rail services between Newport and Ebbw Vale. Unfortunately we have no one at the political level who is taking this issue forward and representing the interests of Newport.

    Newport railway station is the third most used railway station in Wales (after Cardiff Central and Cardiff Queens Street). In 2010/11 2.291 million passenger journeys were made from the station. The station is a key transfer point for passengers coming south or west from Hereford, Abergavenny or Chepstow to join the Great Western Main line. Passengers from Ebbw Vale currently take 56 minutes to make the journey to Cardiff, by alighting at Newport for transfers their journey time would be reduced by 15 minutes. Using the existing service there is little point in them breaking their journey to get on a bus to make this transfer from Newport when they can stay on the train to Cardiff. Reinstating the service to Newport will not just benefit the city but provide a much more convenient transfer point for passengers.

    WATER MAIN BURSTS IN CITY CENTRE

    July 28 - A water supply warning has been issued in Newport city centre after contractors damaged pipes. Welsh Water sent an engineering team to repair the burst water mains at Hill Street on Friday afternoon. Customers were told that they may have low water pressure, or no water supply at all.

    The company said the supply should be back during the evening but some discolouration may occur which should clear within a short period. A spokesperson apologised for the inconvenience and said everything was being done to restore normal service as quickly as possible. A water supply warning has been issued in Newport city centre after contractors damaged pipes. The water gushed 20 metres in to the air on a warm, sunny afternoon with reports of children dancing in the cool water!

    MARKET BUS STATION APPLICATION IN

    July 27 - Plans for a new bus interchange at the rear of Newport Market have been received by the City Council. The hub includes provision for nine bus stops, a waiting area and toilet replacing the five stops currently on the site.

    The new interchange (see design on left) will be closely linked to the bus station development to be provided as part of the Friars Walk Shopping Centre. The City Council is set to receive £4million from the Welsh Government out of their transport commitments towards the new city centre shopping centre bus station.

     

    COUNCIL OFFERS CAR WASH COMPROMISE

    July 26 - A car wash business at a former garage on Chepstow Road has suspended trading pending a Welsh Government planning inspector's report. F&M Valeting has operated a car wash business from the former Texaco petrol station since 2007. During the period it has been the subject of a succession of enforcement notices relating to the disruption caused to nearby residences. The matter has now gone to appeal but the Council has suggested a number of conditions allowing the business to trade but attempting to protect access for, and inconvenience to, local residents.

    INCINERATOR PLAN REJECTED

    July 26 - By a majority decision Newport's planning committee has rejected a proposed waste incinerator plant. The plant would have dealt with non-recyclable waste at a site near Llanwern steelworks and adjacent to the new eastern suburb being developed by St Modwen. Although the planning committee's decision must be non-political, differences have emerged between Labour members. A small but vociferous public campaign was led by Newport's Greens against the proposal. Veolia, the company responsible, have yet to indicate whether they will appeal against it.

    BODY FOUND IDENTIFIED AS MISSING MAN

    July 26 - The body that was discovered in the River Llwyd near Croesyceiliog, Cwmbran on Sunday 22nd July 2012 has now been formally identified as missing person 74-year-old Ronald Bowman from Langstone, Newport.

    NEW BRANDING FOR RETAIL PARK

    Newport Retail Park July 25 - Newport Retail Park has come up with new branding pending the significant upgrade of their offer over the coming months. The site will be boosted by the relocation of Marks and Spencer to a significantly larger store, formerly occupied by the Range and Lidl, and other high street names including H&M, Pizza Express and River Island. The quality of their retail offer will also present a significant challenge to Cwmbran, a free parking shopping destination set up to take trade away from the city. The Retail Park will give the city a shopping centre deserves and act as a main centre for Newport residents until the Friars Walk scheme is complete. The Retail Park has a new website, coming shortly, at www.newportretailpark.co.uk

    NEWPORT BOSS STEPPING DOWN

    July 24 - Newport City Council's Chief Executive Tracey Lee is stepping down at the end of October to take on a new role at Plymouth City Council.

    WILDFLOWER PROJECT WINS APPROVAL

    July 18 - As part of a unique and imaginative project Newport City Council are piloting a new way of managing the road side verges.  With funding from Newport Unlimited, this pilot is creating a fantastic welcome to the city centre which is also going to save money.  This view of the central reservation near the old Sainsbury's was taken on the 25th June 2012.  As the weather changes - so will the flowers.  According to Newport Unlimited "More interesting than grass and no need mow!"    

    25_6_12 wild flowers

    POPULATION RISES BY SIX PER CENT

    Jul 15 - The population of Newport has increased by just over six per cent to 145,700 according to official figures released by the Office for National Statistics as part of the 2011 census. The city's population is projected to rise steeply over the next decade with the development of the eastern suburb and new residential settlements, placing a high demand on services and infrastructure.

    1801 6,657 1981 131,016
    1881 48,069 1991 133,318
    1901 79,342 2001 137,100
    1941 116,434 2011 145,700

    CITY REGION CALL FOR SOUTH EAST WALES

    Jul 13 - Two "city regions" should be developed around Cardiff and Swansea to boost economic performance, according to a new report. An expert panel says creating the areas will increase investment and productivity, resulting in wage rises.Recommendations include a new minister for the city regions and a body to oversee public transport in south east Wales.The City Regions Final Report was presented to AMs on Wednesday after being commissioned by the Welsh government. The proposed Swansea Bay city region stretches to Carmarthen as well as, Llanelli, Port Talbot, Neath, Ammanford and Ystradgynlais. Cardiff city region includes Merthyr Tydfil, Aberdare, Pontypool, Newport, Bridgend and Barry. Newport politicians have been quiet on the concept but it has been welcomed by some in the local media.

    COMMENT - REPORT IGNORES THE MAIN ISSUES

    While there are good arguments for combining planning and transport collaboratively the main motivation for a city region - economic development - is not being fully tested by this proposition. Once again the Welsh Government is looking at the economy of Wales in isolation from the rest of the UK. A city region including Cardiff and other settlements is too small and ignores a significantly larger city (Bristol) with a much larger catchment nearby. Newport and Monmouthshire has more in common with Bristol economically than some areas of south east Wales. Indeed significant numbers in Langstone, Magor, Rogiet etc. make the daily trek across the Severn Bridge or by train to better paid, good quality jobs in Bristol and area.

    Bristol and area has a strong reputation in aerospace and defence. It has good infrastructure. Instead of building up its fiefdom in Cardiff the Welsh Government should be looking at investments that will bring long term returns for the Welsh economy including the Newport area. Consider amongst other things

    COUNCIL ASSESSES IMPACT OF BENEFIT CHANGES

    Jul 11 - Newport City Council’s Cabinet will receive a report at their next meeting which looks at the impact of the national welfare reform on both the council and our residents directly. Changes being made by national government will result in a reduction in welfare benefit payments which in turn is likely to affect levels of deprivation. As a result, the council anticipates an increase in demand for council services and support, all at a time when the cost of delivering many essential services is rising and the funds the council receives are reducing.

    The welfare reform programme is still in its early stages of development and the detail is still emerging. However a number of changes have already, or are due to come into effect shortly, and the impact can already be seen. For example, Council Tax support will become the responsibility of the Welsh Government from April 2013 and Newport’s allocation for 2013/14, in real terms, is expected to fall by 16 per cent or approximately £1.67m. Welsh Government has said that there will be no additional funding to bridge this gap. In addition, a cap on both Local Housing Allowance and the amount of Housing Benefit social housing tenants can claim has been introduced. Councillor Bob Bright, Leader of the council, said: “We anticipate many more changes over the next few years. Although such changes are being made by central government, we have a duty to support our residents to the best of our ability."

    COUNCIL STARTS TRAVELLER SITE CONSULTATION

    Jul 11 - Members of the public are being invited to submit suggestions for locations that may be suitable to accommodate Gypsy and Traveller families. Proposed sites would have to meet the necessary planning and housing criteria.Newport City Council’s new administration has asked a scrutiny committee to re-examine the issue of Gypsy and Traveller sites. It has established a cross-party project team, made up of members of the committee, to draw up a list of sites, following detailed consideration, which will be subject to public consultation.

    The intention is to make the process as transparent as possible and relevant information will be issued as the project progresses, including details of all the sites that have been considered. The team is asking for suggestions of potential locations which might be suitable for accommodating Gypsy and Traveller families and could then be considered alongside more than 200 sites that were identified previously. All the sites will be analysed against a clear list of Welsh Government and other criteria to enable a shortlist to be drawn up. The subject of where to locate gypsy and traveller accommodation can be emotive.

    UNIVERSITIES TO MERGE

    Jul 7 - Newport University is to merge with Glamorgan University in a move they claim will allow them to compete on the world stage. Glamorgan and Newport say the new institution will rival the size of Cardiff University, give students more opportunities and boost the economy. They are working together on a detailed merger blueprint, which will include discussion on the institution's name. Education Minister Leighton Andrews had spoken of his wish for one "super" university in south east Wales. Plans to merge Cardiff Metropolitan, Glamorgan and the University of Wales, Newport, were unveiled in November, but Cardiff Metropolitan - formerly Uwic - was opposed to the idea.

    Andrew Wilkinson, chair of the board of governors at the University of Wales, Newport, said: "The governors of the University of Wales, Newport welcome this development as both institutions seek to build on their respective strengths to develop a new, entrepreneurial model of higher education across south Wales." Stephanie Lloyd, the president of the National Union of Students in Wales, said she welcomed the announcement, and urged both colleges to involve its students in the process.

    SAINSBURY'S GETS GREEN LIGHT

    Jul 6 - The plan for a Sainsbury's convenience store in Caerleon on the site of the Angel Hotel has been granted planning permission following a site visit by councillors.

    CITY COUNCIL WANTS NEW 'M4 CORRIDOR' ROAD

    Jul 5 - Newport City Council has indicated its preference for a baby M4 relief road as part of the consultation on M4 infrastructure issues in the area around the city. The corridor road would link the M4 between Junction 23 and 29. They state "We see this option as providing the required resilience that South Wales needs for the M4 corridor and for Newport and its residents that are so frequently impacted upon during times of incident. As part of these proposals we would insist that appropriate junctions are included as part of the design process that serve the southern communities of Newport, and contribute to their development. This option is the preferred and supported option by Newport City Council, but we must stress the need to accelerate the timescales to deliver this solution. The completion date of 2031 is not acceptable and whilst we understand the significant costs involved in this scheme, you must consider the balance between the cost to the Welsh economy when serious incidents occur, against the cost of delivering full resilience against this economic risk."

    OPPONENTS ORGANISE AGAINST M4 TUNNELS PLAN

    Jul 2 -  Opponents of proposals for a second set of tunnels at a notorious pinch-point on the M4 in south Wales are holding an advice session in Newport later this afternoon. Up to 300 homes and businesses could be affected if new tunnels are built at Brynglas, at a cost of £550m. The idea is one of four options aimed at easing congestion, and gridlock when there is a major accident on the route. Local Government Minister Carl Sargeant aims to make a decision by the end of the year (comment - let's hope he is quicker on this than the Ebbw-Newport rail line. He will be, this is all about getting people to/from Cardiff). The Campaign Against Additional Tunnel (Caat) surgery is at Christchurch Centre, Old Malpas Road, at 17:00 BST.

    It is mainly to help residents fill out "complicated" forms opposing the idea. It comes as the Welsh government's consultation on the options available to smooth traffic flow on motorway around Newport ends this week.

    The group added: "The fundamental issues that Caat strongly oppose, are the consequential impacts this proposal will have on our environment, plant species, wildlife, homes and community. It is understood, by Caat, that slip roads will be closed if this plan is implemented. This will increase congestion in our city and Newport will not benefit from this proposal."

    The building of Brynglas Tunnels - see the link here

    SITES ASSESSED FOR SHIP MUSEUM

    Jul 2 - Twenty sites have been assessed for suitability for a museum housing the Newport ship. Councillor Debbie Wilcox told the Council "The Ship is a national project of international importance and significance. Newport Council commissioned the Colliers report in partnership with Newport Unlimited. The study included carrying out a site options appraisal and setting out a national funding strategy to deliver the museum. Over 20 sites have been examined and have been scored against a number of criteria that impact the deliverability of the project."

    The Council has received a draft final report, and this is now being considered by officers. The conclusion of this consideration will be fed back to Colliers to enable the final report to be produced. Members will then consider the final report. Wilcox added "Given that it is a national project, consultation with national organisations also continues to be undertaken." Sites along the Usk near to where the ship was discovered are believed to be among those assessed.

    FLOOD DEFENCE WORK COMPLETE

    Jul 2 - A £7m flood defence scheme to protect 420 properties in Riverside in Newport has been officially opened. Failing flood defences meant the homes and businesses previously had a one-in-two risk of flooding. The scheme on the River Usk has been designed so that flood walls can be raised further in future. Welsh Government Environment minister John Griffiths said the unveiling was especially poignant because of flooding in parts of Wales this month. "It reminded us all just how devastating the effects of flooding can be," he said.

    CITY CENTRE REGENERATION 'PROGRESSING EXTREMELY WELL' CLAIMS BRIGHT

    Jul 1 - Newport city centre's redevelopment work is 'progressing extremely well' according to Labour leader Bob Bright. He told the Council "The Developers have now reached the final stages on agreements with a number of leisure and retail tenants. The next stage is to take this project to the financial markets to raise the necessary development funding, which is likely to be in excess of £90 million, and which can only be done when we have pre-let commitments from retail tenants to secure approximately 50% - 60% of the estimated rental value of the scheme." The Council leader stated that the work on the Cambrian Centre office complex will start on site very soon.

    A reader has asked me to point out the Council's intention to put a footbridge over the railway station to replace the dreadful and dangerous subway, the scene of a number of crimes over recent years. She states "this would save us pedestrians taking our lives in our hands walking through the dreadful tunnel under the station to Devon Place". Amen to that.

    DOG ATTACK - POLICE SAY 'NO OFFENCE COMMITTED'

    Jun 28 - Police say no offence was committed by the owner of a dog which bit an 11-year-old girl who climbed into the compound where it was kept. Gwent Police investigated after the 11-year-old is understood to have needed stitches to her wound. But officers said the owner of the compound took "all reasonable steps" to secure the compound in Duffryn and let people know the dog was there. Police said two children had climbed into the compound on 18 June.

    BUTLER PRAISES NEW SOLAS CENTRE

    Jun 26 - Newport West AM Rosemary Butler has praised the opening of Solas's new George Street property during a recent visit to the site (the centre was opened by Jess Morden MP).  Two flats and six studios located centrally in Newport will provide high quality supported accommodation for eight young people aged 16 to 25 who are experiencing challenges and difficulties in their lives. Solas also offers specialist support, training, employment and education, providing individuals with a safe environment to develop their confidence and skills. Rosemary Butler, AM for Newport West said: "It was fantastic to see first-hand the facilities that Solas are offering for young people in my constituency, as well as meeting some of the individuals benefitting from the organisation's services. The staff at Solas help to assist young people with the transition to a positive future and independence, and I look forward to following their progress."

    MARLBOROUGH ROAD SET FOR RENEWAL AT LAST

    June 15 - Plans are being drawn up for new housing on a street in Newport, gutted by fire nearly five years ago. Six houses on Marlborough Road in the city's Maindee area were destroyed in the blaze, which broke out in August 2007. Residents in the area have complained of their frustration at the failure to regenerate the site but it appears that following the acquisition of a property by the Council Fairlake Properties will develop the area for affordable housing.

    The fire was caused by accidental ignition in the chimney stack of a bio-mass burner in a nearby joinery workshop.

    RECYCLING SERVICE EXPANSION

    June 13 - Newport residents will soon be able to recycle even more of their rubbish thanks to a new initiative by Newport City Council and Wastesavers. Households will receive a roll of large clear plastic bags to help contain their plastic bottles and plastic food packaging for recycling.

    They have been introduced to reduce the amount of litter and stop plastic items blowing into the street on collection day. Five thousand households took part in a trial and the response was overwhelmingly positive with 98 per cent of residents saying they would recommend the bags to others. They can be used in addition to the green boxes and will be collected on the same day each week. It is also hoped they will encourage residents to recycle more. Once collected, the plastic bags will be returned to a UK manufacturer and recycled into new plastic bags.

    HMS SEVERN RETURNING HOME

    June 12 - Newport will welcome back the city’s affiliated ship HMS Severn and her crew later this month. The vessel will arrive on Friday 22 June and during the five-day visit the crew will take part in a number of events including the Mayor’s Civic Parade on the Sunday.

    They will also take on a council team in a football match at Newport International Sports Village. The council players will be looking for a reversal of fortunes as they were beaten 1-0 by the Royal Navy when they previously met. HMS Severn received the Freedom of Newport in 2006 and makes regular visits to the city. It is one of a trio of offshore patrol vessels routinely operating hundreds of miles off the UK coast, primarily delivering maritime security – encompassing fishery protection – and marine management tasks as well as a wide range of operations to ensure the security, integrity, and safety of UK waters.

    MARKET BUS STATION WORK TO COMMENCE 'IN THIS FINANCIAL YEAR'

    June 12 - Newport City Council claims that work to build a new bus station in the Market area will start 'in this financial year'. Work will commence on a nine-bay bus station with high quality facilities including seating areas, real time passenger information and CCTV. It will replace the current bus stops near Newport Market and will be linked with a new 15-stand bus station within the Friars Walk development.

    CONCERN OVER THREE HOUR WAIT FOR AMBULANCE

    June 8 - The Welsh Ambulance Service says it regrets the amount of time it took to reach a patient who was left lying on the ground with a broken kneecap for more than three hours. Frank Miles, 69, from Magor, fell over while leaving a the Waterloo Hotel. The Hotel is approximately a mile from the Royal Gwent Hospital. His family says there were serious failings in the way the emergency call was handled.

    PLANNERS AVOID DECISION ON CAERLEON STORE

    June 8 - Newport City Council planning committee has opted to visit the site of a proposed Sainsbury's Local convenience store in Caerleon. The application was recommended for approval but Councillors will visit the Angel Hotel to assess the plan in more detail.

    CELTIC MANOR PLANS MAJOR EXPANSION BUT MAY DROP OPEN

    June 8 - Plans have been announced for a £160m expansion of the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, the venue of the 2010 Ryder Cup golf tournament. The 409-bedroom resort, owned by billionaire Sir Terry Matthews, will add 40 apartments and 50 luxury lodges over the next 10 years. There are also plans to open Skywire Wales - Europe's longest zipwire at a mile long and with speeds of up to 70mph - in August, alongside new leisure attractions such as laser combat, paintballing and archery. Last year, the resort invested £500,000 in developing new family activities, including a treetop high ropes course and an adventure golf course. Paul Williams, Celtic Manor's public relations manager at Celtic Manor said: "The luxury lodges will be aimed primarily at the family leisure market, but when there is availability and the hotel is full with conference business, they will give the resort additional room capacity on site."

    The Resort is thought to be considering the future of its deal as venue for the Wales Open. It has struggled to attract star names to the tournament. It's unfavourable position in the golf calendar has been blamed. The date slot given by the European Tour for the Wales Open - which offers £1.8m prize money - is usually in close proximity to the likes of the PGA Championship at Wentworth, or one of the big USPGA tour events in America. The Celtic Manor began hosting the Wales Open in 2000 - after agreeing a 15-year deal with the European Tour - to show the resort's golfing credentials prior to staging the Ryder Cup.

    RETAIL PARK DEVELOPMENT TO CREATE NEW UNITS

    June 4 - The redevelopment of Newport Retail Park into a high quality retail development is gathering pace with significant changes to the layout of the shopping centre as it expands and takes on new tenants. Undoubtedly the quality of the new development will place renewed pressure on adjacent shopping centres such as Cwmbran offering an alternative to a food-based retail experience. Unfortunately, the city centre reeling from the latest set of closures faces a difficult time until the commencement of a Debenhams led development, hopefully in early 2013.

    At Newport Retail Park a high street effect is to be created with the splitting of one of the larger units currently occupied by JJB Sports. Three additional units will be established with new power facilities and service yard access. One of the units will include provision for a cafe / restaurant. The new unit for high street giant Marks and Spencer is well under way and clothes retailers H&M and River Island will be joining the site later in the year. Restaurant chain Pizza Express will be opening a new outlet shortly too. A new restaurant and cafe, rumoured to be Nandos, is set for a new site near the cinema in the area adjacent to Pizza Hut and McDonalds. In the Tesco supermarket development new units will be let shortly including a BetFred betting store.

    PIZZA EXPRESS TO OPEN SPYTTY STORE

    June 4 - Leading restaurant chain Pizza Express is to open in Newport Retail Park. Specialising in a wide range of authentic Italian pizzas Pizza Express will take up the unit currently occupied by Carphone Warehouse (Unit 19).  Plans include provision for an outside seating area. An application for licensing hours and live music has already been lodged with the City Council. The nearest Pizza Express outlets are currently in Cardiff city centre and bay and Monmouth high street.

    Pizza Express is a restaurant group with over 400 restaurants across the United Kingdom and 40 overseas in China, Europe, Hong Kong, Japan and the Middle East. It was founded in 1965 by Peter Boizot. Pizza Express specialises in pizza. Signature dishes also include its dough balls and cheesecake. In each Pizza Express every pizza is handmade, prepared in each restaurant’s open kitchen. Pizza Express introduced the lighter pizza ‘Leggera’, the first pizza range on the high street that contains around 500 calories. Pizza Express has supported the jazz community from its early days when it opened its first jazz club in 1969 in Dean Street, London. Since then an array of artists have played from Ella Fitzgerald and Amy Winehouse, to supporting early performances by Norah Jones and Jamie Cullum.                                                                                         

    PASSPORT APPLICANTS TURNED AWAY

    June 4 - Passport applicants to Newport passport office requiring a prompt turnaround of their application are being turned way if they do not have an appointment. According to Wales Online on Friday a mother of three from Chepstow had to fly to Glasgow at a cost of £127 to get new passports for her three children aged seven, 10 and 13.

    “It’s our own fault that we hadn’t renewed them – we didn’t realise they were about to expire,” said the mother, who did not wish to be identified. “But I thought I’d be able to queue up, pay a premium and get them renewed on the day.“ However, when I rang the passport office in Newport, I was told it wouldn’t be possible for me to get an appointment before June 7. When I said we were flying to Naples for a half-term holiday, I was offered an appointment on Friday in Glasgow, which I accepted. It was that or miss the holiday.”

    A union official stated "the Newport passport office now has around 145 staff members. As a result of the cuts announced in October 2010, 130 passport application processing staff were lost.”

    JUBILEE BEACON TO BE LIT

    June 4 - A Jubilee beacon will be lit on the Ridgeway tonight as part of a UK-wide tribute to mark the Queen's 60 years on the throne.

    DEVASTATION OF CITY CENTRE GOES ON

    June 1 - In the latest blow to Newport city centre clothes retailer H&M have closed their Commercial Street store pending a move to Newport Retail Park late this year. H&M join Wallis, Next, Accessorize, Burton, Dorothy Perkins and Top Shop in closing their Commercial Street stores in the space of nine months. M&S are scheduled to move to a new store at Spytty in January 2013. A new retail development on John Frost Square anchored by Debenhams is set to start on site during 2013 with completion by 2015.

    In brighter news the ground-share agreement for Rodney Parade will increase city centre footfall as will the completion of the Admiral insurance building opposite the old railway station. Planning approval has been granted for a Premier Inn Hotel in the former Yates's lodge building.

    ROBBERY IN MAINDEE - POLICE APPEAL

    May 31 - Gwent Police is appealing for information on a robbery which occurred in Newport between 3am and 4am on Saturday 26th May. A 21-year-old man was walking from Newport town centre to Corporation Road. He crossed the Millennium footbridge and when on the Maindee side of the river he was grabbed from behind and pushed to the floor by two men. One held the victim down while another searched his clothing.

    A silver and white Xperia Arc S. mobile phone and a £20 note were stolen during the incident. One of the two offenders is described as black, approximately 6ft, skinny, wearing a red t-shirt and baseball cap. Officers would also like to speak to a man who stopped to help the victim find his glasses and keys after the incident, or any other witnesses. The victim suffered grazing to his forehead and forearms.

    £2 MILLION PAYOUT IN BIRTH ERROR COMPENSATION CASE

    May 25 - The family of a nine-year-old girl has won a multi-million pound compensation package for devastating injuries suffered at birth.

    Harriet Riley who lives in Llanwern village cannot speak or walk after developing cerebral palsy when she was starved of oxygen at the Royal Gwent Hospital, Newport. The High Court ordered Aneurin Bevan Health Board, which made a public apology, to pay a £2 million lump sum. Harriet will also receive £325,000-a-year for lifelong care.

    Both Harriet's parents, Christopher and Louise Riley, were at the court to hear Mr Justice Walker approve the life-long settlement.
    Continue reading the main story. They stated "This will put us firmly in control of her care”. The judge paid his own tribute to Harriet for "coping in her own fashion with all that has befallen her".

    THOUSANDS GREET OLYMPIC TORCH

    May 25 - Thousands of people thronged the streets of Newport as the Olympic Torch spent 90 minutes in the City yesterday afternoon. The cavalcade arrived from Pontypool at about 3.30 and wended its way with assorted torch-bearers from the Castle along the Riverfront, Docks Way and on to Commercial Street, Stow Hill, then down Friars Road and on to Cardiff Road. In a rare display of Britishness and patriotism hundreds gathered near the theatre waving Union Jacks as the torchbearer ran alongside the riverfront below the Wave.

    The London 2012 Olympic Games commences on July 27.

    Newport torchbearers

    The torch in Newport (pictures)

    NIKITTA POLICE TEAM WIN AWARD

    May 23 - The police team who helped bring the killer of a heavily pregnant teenager and her unborn child to justice have been recognised for their efforts. Gwent Police launched Operation Cube in the wake of the brutal murder of Nikitta Grender in Lliswerry, Newport, on February 6 last year.

    The 19-year-old was due to give birth to baby Kelsey-May within a fortnight when cocaine addict Carl Whant raped and stabbed her before setting her body on fire.

    The failed soldier and father-of-three later pleaded not guilty at his month long trial.

    During proceedings at Newport Crown Court he also made the ludicrous claim he had been invited to have consensual sex with the teen by her boyfriend - who was also his cousin. Whant was handed a minimum 35-year jail term after being convicted of murder, rape, arson and child destruction.

    At the force's annual awards ceremony, officers from Operation Cube - led by Chief Superintendent Geoff Ronyane - won the Team Investigation of the Year award. A spokeswoman for Gwent Police said: "The way in which the investigation team worked with the family, local neighbourhood teams, the local authority and the community meant they were able to process a large amount of information very quickly and this resulted in the perpetrator being arrested.

    APPEAL OVER MISSING TEEN

    May 21 - Police in Newport are appealing for information regarding the whereabouts of 16 year old Chantelle Vickery.

    Chantelle was last seen in the Bettws area at about 2pm on Wednesday May 16th. She was wearing a Bettws School uniform of black trousers, and a black and yellow polo shirt. She was carrying a black ruck sack. She is white, five feet four inches tall, of large build and wears her dark hair in a ponytail.

    There is a possibility she could be in the Cardiff area and she also frequents the Pill area and Central Library areas of Newport.

    If anyone has any information about her whereabouts they are asked to call Gwent Police on 101

    TORIES ACCUSE LABOUR OF ABUSES OF POWER

    May 19 - Conservative leader Matthew Evans has accused Labour of abusing their power and ignoring the difficult economic times. He has used the local media including the South Wales Argus to embarrass the new administration as it plans to curb meetings and questions but extend cabinet posts. The new administration plans to introduce two new Cabinet posts increasing expenditure on Councillor expenses by up to a further £30,000 when Council employees have not received a pay rise for three years. According to the Argus he has "criticised plans to reduce the number of full council meetings from one a month to just six per year, and says a proposed reduction in the number of scrutiny committees from six to four would make it harder for the opposition to monitor the ruling party."

    In addition, Councillor Evans lambasted the new administration for inviting unsuccessful candidates to the mayor-making dinner at Rodney Parade. This occasion sets the Council back £7,500. The new leader of the Council, Bob Bright, took five days to issue a comment to the local press regarding his party's thumping victory on May 5.

    COMMENT - Not a good start. The plan to increase Cabinet posts is a poor one and smacks of satisfying political interests in the Labour Party. There is no evidence that more Cabinet members increases the effectiveness of the city council's services or assists in the delivery of key projects such as city centre regeneration. This work will delivered by officers and the regeneration company. Any additional expense would be better spent on employing someone to carry out a key activity rather than giving the impression that the political administration requires additional funding at a time of austerity.

    CHANDLERY CLOSES IN NEW BLOW TO CITY ECONOMY

    May 17 - The Chandlery restaurant has closed its doors in a further blow to the city centre's ailing economy. An notice to customers states "It is with great regret that we must inform you that The Chandlery Restaurant has now closed. We have attempted to stay open for as long as possible; however the economic climate has beaten us so we have been forced to cease trading. We would like to thank you for all your custom over the past few years and we wish you well for the future. The business is on the market with Nuttall Parker - if you have an interest in purchasing the business then please contact Tim Parker on 01633 212333. "

    The restaurant was housed in a converted 19th Century ships chandlery in Lower Dock Street. The restaurant is featured in all the major guides and won The Best Seafood Restaurant of the year 2004 for Wales. Under the previous management of Simon and Jane Newcombe it was awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand.

    PAIR GET LIFE FOR 'SAVAGE' MURDER

    May 16 - Two men who beat a Lithuanian man and set him on fire have been jailed for life for his "savage" murder. Ramunas Raulinautis, 34, had 60% burns and died three days after his clothes were stuffed with paper and set alight in Newport in March 2011, Cardiff Crown Court heard. The judge said Pawel Lysonik, 22, must serve at least 36 years and Kamil Semrau, 29, must do 30 years. Two others were jailed for grievous bodily harm (GBH) with intent and attempted GBH with intent. Lukas Kalkowski, 30, of Pontypridd, and Stanislaw Gliszczynski, 31, of no fixed address, will both serve 17 years each. As Gliszczynski was taken down from the dock prison officers had to restrain him.

    The four were found guilty on Tuesday for the attack near the Gateway Hotel and were sentenced on Wednesday. The court was told that no motive had ever been found for the killing because both had denied the murder. David Watts, senior crown prosecutor, said the killing was "shockingly violent" and a "cold-blooded attack". "This has been a very lengthy and complex trial which has posed a number of challenges to the prosecuting authorities," he added. A fifth defendant, Andrezej Gliszczynski, was found not guilty of assisting offenders.

    APPEAL OVER THEFT ON CAERLEON BUS

    Police are appealing for information regarding a theft believed to have occurred on the 28B bus on Caerleon Road (travelling from the bus station to Caerleon) on Wednesday April 11th, 2012. At approximately 4.45pm the female victim was sat behind a woman police want to speak to in connection with the theft (see picture).

    The victim got off the bus at the top of Caerleon Road close to Junction 25 leaving her bag on her seat. The woman, who was sitting with a small child in front of her, then leant over the back of her seat and took some money out of the bag. She then left the bus, with the child, leaving the bag on the seat where it was originally left.The victim returned to get her bag a little while later, further along the bus route, and while the bag was on the seat, the money (approximately £45) had gone.
    The victim remembers a white man, aged about 20, was sat opposite her while she was on the bus. If anyone has any information they are asked to call Gwent Police on 101 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

    PETER PHILLIPS LOCATED AND ARRESTED

    May 10 - Fifty-six year old Peter Phillips from Newport, who failed to answer bail following his arrest in November 2011 on suspicion of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, has been located. Phillips was arrested in Scunthorpe last night and has now been charged with making and possessing indecent images of children and inciting a girl aged 13 to 15 to engage in sexual activity.

    He has been remanded to appear in Caerphilly magistrates court this morning, Thursday 10th May. Gwent Police would like to thank the public and media for their assistance in locating Phillips.

    COALITION DECIMATED IN NEWPORT

    May 5 - Newport City Council has turned red in decisive fashion following the outcome of Thursday's elections. Labour increased its number of seats from 20 to 37 grabbing a swathe of Conservative and Liberal wards across the City, its progress was only checked in Bettws where two independents were elected. Of the outgoing eight person Con-Lib Dem City Cabinet five lost their seats on a dramatic night.

    As the results rolled in on Friday morning Labour picked off Lib Dems in Victoria ward (including Cabinet member Mike Hamilton), secured all three in Ringland, Alway and four in Lliswerry before taking the early prize in Stow Hill of Tory maverick Peter Davies and fellow Cabinet Member Bill Routley. Tories were ousted from Caerleon and then Labour took all three in previously Liberal Beechwood, voters rejected Newport County Chairman David Hando. The steam roller continued throughout the night including all seats in previously blue Rogerstone. Ex-Council leader Matthew Evans was part of the Tory trio returned in leafy Allt-yr-yn. In Bettws the issue of a possible travellers site provided the single issue to focus voters' minds and led to the return of 80 year old Noel Trigg and Kevin Whitehead. In the Lib Dem stronghold of St. Julian's it was soon clear that the seismic shift to Labour could wipe out all Liberals on the Council.

    After three recounts including a return yesterday GLC's Rhys Hutchings and Emma Garland were elected for Labour and former Deputy Leader Ed Townsend was elected by one vote for the Lib Dems. Townsend had been down by three votes on the previous recounts. Hutchings was inspired to enter politics by fundraising work carried out by Cllr Bill Langsford as Mayor in 2010.

    The St. Julian's and Rogerstone votes are an interesting indicator of how votes in the city moved. St. Julian's first,

    2008 (all votes across the three seats in the ward)

    Liberal Democrats - 3162 votes (49.8 per cent)

    Conservatives - 1676 (26.4)

    Labour - 1401 (22.1)

    Plaid Cymru - 111 (1.7)

    Outcome - three Lib Dem councillors elected

    2012

    Labour - 2958 up 1282 (45.6 per cent)

    Liberal Democrats - 2696 down 496 (41.7)

    Conservatives - 808 down 868 (12.5 per cent)

    Swing - from Lib Dem to Labour 15.8 per cent

    Outcome - Labour 2, Lib Dems 1

    Rogerstone

    2008

    Conservatives - 4747 votes (47.7 per cent)

    Labour - 3935 (39.5)

    Lib Dems - 954 (9.6)

    Plaid Cymru - 325  (3.3)

     

    Outcome - Conservatives 3

    2012

    Labour - 4605 votes up 670 (53.6 per cent)

    Conservatives - 3501 down 1246 (40.8)

    Lib Dems (1 less candidate) - 248 down 706 (2.9)

    Plaid Cymru - 231 down 104 (2.7)

    Swing - Con to Lab 10.5 per cent

    Outcome - Labour 3


    FINAL COUNT OF WARDS

    LABOUR - 37 (up 17)

    CONSERVATIVES - 10 (down 8)

    INDEPENDENTS - 2

    LIBERAL DEMOCRATS - 1 (down 8)

    ALL THE RESULTS ARE HERE

    NOYES TO STAND DOWN

    May 4 - The vice-chancellor of the University of Wales Newport is to stand down for personal reasons. Dr Peter Noyes had recently claimed there was a "conspiracy" to force the university to merge with two others.

    The chair of governors praised his "outstanding leadership" during which a new city centre campus was created. Dr Noyes said: "I am very sorry to be leaving an institution and a role I have loved but my family must come first at a time like this." He will step down in July after 16 years at the university, the last six of which he has spent as vice-chancellor.

    CITY ENTERS BROADBAND RACE

    May 4 - Newport has been named among 27 UK places which can join a race to share £50m to bring 'ultra-fast' broadband connections to the cities. The announcement was made on Friday by the UK culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt. The money will be used to give those areas access to broadband speeds of up to 100Mbps, fast enough to download a music cd in just six seconds. The 10 winning cities will be named in the autumn. The money is the second part of the allocation of £150m from central government under the so-called 'super-connected cities' initiative.

     

    POLICE APPEAL OVER STOLEN BIKE

    May 3 - Gwent Police is appealing for information following a BMX bike being stolen from a shed at an address on Moore Crescent, Ringland. The theft occurred some time between 10pm on Friday 27th April and 2am on Saturday 28th April.

    This bike is a black "Live-Strong" BMX, United Supreme model with yellow writing on the wheels and a silver chain. Anyone with information please contact 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

    HIGH WINDS DAMAGE UNIVERSITY ROOF

    Apr 29 - Following damage to the roof caused by high winds during the weekend, Newport University City Centre Campus will be closed until at least midday on Monday 30th April. The University roof was affected by the gusting north easterly winds that have battered the area over the last twelve hours.

    They state "This is purely a precautionary measure while the situation is assessed and will be reviewed at 11AM. Please monitor the website, intranet and twitter for updates regarding Monday afternoon."

    POLICE WARN RESIDENTS OVER BURGLARIES

    Apr 27 - "Remember to lock your doors and close your windows!" That is the message from police in Newport who want to put a stop to a recent spate of insecurity burglaries in the city. In the past month, there have been 37 burglaries in the Maindee area of Newport and in 22 of these, homes were entered through insecure doors or windows.

    Neighbourhood Policing Sergeant for Victoria and St Julian's wards, Jon Skillett said: "Whilst we have a team of officers investigating these burglaries, the local Community Support Officers have been visiting residents and providing advice on how to keep homes secure. They have also been encouraging residents to join OWL, the new on-line Neighbourhood Watch, with over 100 new members signing up in Maindee in the past week alone." During the past year, Maindee has seen the greatest reduction in dwelling burglaries in Wales, with 436 fewer burglaries, however Sergeant Skillett is urging residents not to become complacent.

    CAERLEON PUB COULD BECOME SAINSBURY'S LOCAL

    Apr 26 - City planning officers have recommended that councillors approve the conversion of the Angel public house into a Sainsbury's convenience store. The proposal by Hillvale Properties has attracted opposition from some residents and election candidates.

    TOWN HALL RICH LIST REVEALED

    Apr 26 - Salaries paid to senior local authority officers have been published by the Taxpayers Alliance. In Newport Managing Director Tracey Lee received a salary of £117,000 plus other benefits amounting to £24,000. Four other officers receive benefits in excess of £100k.

    Average earnings in Newport are currently around £450 per week, or £23400 per annum.

    UPGRADE PLAN FOR EMPTY SHOPS IN CLARENCE PLACE

    Apr 25 - Two empty shops in Clarence Place are to be upgraded as an art gallery, art and crafts workshop and IT suite on behalf of Fairlake Properties and Solas. The former Dilshad restaurant and neighbouring shop will be converted as part of the upgrade work.

    DEMOLITION WORK ON CAMBRIAN CENTRE SET FOR JUNE

    Apr 25 - Demolition work on the Cambrian Centre is set to start on 18 June. As part of the preparation for the redevelopment of the area including new Admiral building concrete components will be removed from the existing car park. Access to retail facilities will be unaffected.

    CITY RECYCLING EXTENDED TO FLATS

    Apr 25 - Newport city council and its recycling contractor Wastesavers are rolling out food waste and cardboard recycling facilities to flats in the city. Wastesavers announced this week (April 24) that it had begun delivering food waste and cardboard bins to blocks of flats. The roll out is expected to be complete by the end of June 2012. At present flats in the city have four 360 litre communal bins – a separate one for cans, glass, paper and plastics. Now they will also receive a 360 litre bin for cardboard alongside a 240 litre bid for food waste. Residents will also receive their own kitchen food waste caddies and a year’s supply of compostable liners.

    AFGHAN WAR CLAIMS LIFE OF ANOTHER YOUNG SOLDIER

    Apr 23 - A soldier from Newport who died of his wounds in a UK hospital after an explosion in southern Afghanistan last week has been named by the Ministry of Defence. Sapper Connor Ray, 21, serving with 33 Engineer Regiment, was wounded whilst hunting for explosives. He was flown back to the UK where he died of his wounds at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham on Wednesday.

    The number of soldiers killed in operations in Afghanistan since 2001 now stands at 409.

    Sapper Ray, from Newport, south Wales, was searching a compound previously used by insurgents in the Nad Ali district of central Helmand when he was seriously injured by a bomb, on the eve of his 21st birthday. He joined the Corps of Royal Engineers in June 2009 and took up his role as an advanced searcher in 33 Engineer Regiment bomb disposal unit, based at Wimbish in Essex, in 2010. The Mod said during his time in Afghanistan, Sapper Ray and his team successfully undertook a number of high risk searches which "undoubtedly saved numerous British and Afghan lives".

    The family of Sapper Ray have made the following statement: "We are intensely shocked, distressed and saddened after losing our hero Connor Ray, who died as a result of injuries sustained in Afghanistan. We are all tremendously proud of Connor. Connor was part of Britain's engineer search unit - 33 Engineer Regiment (EOD); he was critically hurt last Wednesday, the eve of his 21st birthday.  "He loved his time in the Army and made great friends. Connor was a hero to all of his family and friends; brother Vinnie, 21, sisters Hollie, 17, and Bonnie, 16, Aunty Eileen, stepfather Steve, grandparents Leo and Linda, Keith and Sue, girlfriend Hollie, and all of his good friends and family will miss him terribly. In heaven with his mum now, we will always remember his love of life, his sense of humour and cherish the short time he had to touch our lives. We would like to thank everybody for their kind words, love and support at this tragic time."

    Major Ben Hawkins, Officer Commanding Operations Squadron, Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Search Task Force, said: "Deliberately going into an area suspected to contain improvised explosive devices is perhaps one of the most challenging jobs in the world; to do so takes a certain type of character. It demands a stoic resolve and resolute dedication. Sapper Ray had these virtues in abundance. I have known Sapper Ray for nearly a year; he was always happy, never more so than when busy. Always smiling and exceptionally personable, Sapper Ray had the kind of 'can do' attitude that every commander would want in his soldiers. His quick wit and easygoing nature endeared him to all who had the privilege of working with him. He was an ideal and immediate choice to integrate into a Search Team from another squadron; such was our faith in his abilities and character. In short he was a fine soldier, ideal Sapper, and an excellent searcher. Sapper Ray's loss will be keenly felt by my squadron and in particular by those many who were privileged to have been his friends."

     

    ELECTION FOCUS ON NEWPORT

    Apr 17 - Labour used election rallies to focus on Newport as one of its key targets in the upcoming local elections. The Shadow Welsh Secretary used a speech at the University of Wales Newport to urge voters to treat the elections as an opportunity to punish the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats on issues such as a hike on taxes on charity donations and petrol prices. Carwyn  Jones, First Minister, at the same rally, said that Labour had purposely not published a national manifesto “No national manifesto, because our campaign won’t be national, it’s local,” he said. “No blanket promises about the choices that will be made in power because we know that the right answer for a community in Ringland isn’t necessarily the right answer for a family in Wrexham".

    Meanwhile, Kirsty Williams, Lib Dem leader, joined Newport Deputy Leader Ed Townsend as he battles to retain his seat in St. Julian's.

    DEVELOPER WARNS CITY POLITICIANS

    Apr 17 - Developer Queensberry has warned city politicians not to talk down the City's new retail scheme in election literature. The developer used the letters page of the South Wales Argus to make the plea. They received full support from the paper's editor Kevin Ward. He stated "We would urge candidates from all parties to engage their brains and think long and hard before turning Newport’s most significant development in a generation into a political plaything. We do not believe any party taking control of the council on May 4 will operate a policy different from the current administration’s when it comes to Friars Walk."

    BUS FARES TO GO UP BECAUSE OF WELSH GOVERNMENT

    Apr 14 - Bus fares in Newport are set to increase following a cut in subsidy from the Welsh Government. The Welsh Government has cut the fuel subsidy for local transport at the same time as providing a huge public subsidy for an air service between Anglesey and Cardiff and for train services from the south to the north.

    The Labour-run Welsh Government pays £160 subsidy per passenger on north-south flights. Some bus services face the axe or fare increases but average a subsidy of £2 per passenger. The total subsidy for the air service is £1.2 million, there is also a fee of £400k for use of RAF Valley. According to Wales Online the air service carried just 10,000 passenger journeys last year – compared with 114 million on Welsh buses.

    Also protected from cuts is the £1.7m annual subsidy for just one additional Holyhead-Cardiff train which includes a restaurant car and a travelling chef, who cooks complimentary breakfast or dinner for first-class passengers, presumably so they head back and forth to Cardiff Bay as part of their discussions about cutting transport subsidies in our major cities!

    Newport fares will be restricted with a new City zone. Fares in the city zone will increase for a single ticket from £1.40 to £1.60 and a day ticket from £2.75 to £3. The outer zone or zone includes Cardiff, Chepstow and Cwmbran with a single ticket rising to £2 and a day ticket to £3.50. Weekly tickets  rise from £12 to £14 (zone 1) and £16 (zone 1 and 2).

    Welsh Government feature
     

    TONY SINGH CASE ORDERED FOR RE-TRIAL

    Apr 12 - A retrial has been ordered for two men who deny murdering a 24-year-old father-of-one in Newport. Tony Singh, who died from head injuries, was found in his flat in Bryngwyn Road on 15 November, 2010.

    The jury trying Shahid Rafiq and Karl Drummond, both 37, and of Caerphilly, were discharged at Cardiff Crown Court after failing to reach a verdict. George Glover, 40, who was also accused of killing Mr Singh, was cleared of the charge by a jury on Friday. All three were also cleared of conspiracy to rob him. No date has yet been set for the new trial. Mr Rafiq and Mr Drummond have been remanded into custody.

    TORIES LAUNCH CAMPAIGN IN NEWPORT

    Apr 12 - Rodney Parade in Newport was the venue for the launch of the Conservative local government campaign in Wales. The Tories including Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan urged people to vote Tory next month for lower council tax.

    But the council tax freeze they called for would be depend on funding from the Welsh government. Tory-run councils would prioritise cleaning up litter and dog mess, and repair roads, said the party, which is defending about 160 seats on 3 May. The Conservative share of the vote was second to Labour at the last election in 2008.

    Read our preview of Newport City Council's upcoming elections

    FINANCIAL COMPANY FOSTERS LINKS WITH UNIVERSITY

    Apr 11 - Financial consultancy company Kymin is to work as a corporate patron for Newport University in a move to maximise network opportunities for the company and offer potential student internships.

    Robin Hall, operations director for the Newport-based company told FT Adviser: “We see the link as being mutually beneficial for ourselves and the university.

    “The financial services industry is an important, sustainable and developing industry in south Wales and one which has been identified by the Welsh government as a target growth area for Wales and south Wales in particular.”

    Mr Hall, a graduate of Newport, said the IFA firm was going to work closely with the university, visiting the campus to offer advice and instruction.

    FOUR NEWPORT MEN SENTENCED FOR PART IN HEROIN CONSPIRACY

    Apr 6 - Four men from Newport and two from Reading men have been jailed for their roles in a drugs operation between Reading and Newport. They all faced sentencing for conspiracy to supply heroin after a six week trial at Reading Crown Court.

    Dominic Isaacs, 21, of Aberthaw Drive, Newport, was judged to be the most important player in the Welsh contingent and received a nine year prison sentence. Nicholas Somers, 23, of Mitchell Terrace,received five years and six months imprisonment. Tobias Mills, 22, of Jamaica Circle, Newport was given a two years and six months jail sentence. Bradleigh Scawthorn, 21, of Fairoak Avenue, Newport, was sentenced to five years and six months jail for this offence and a further three years and four months to run consecutively for a further offence of possessing heroin with intent to supply, for which he had previously pleaded guilty to at Cardiff Crown Court.

    Judge Richard Parkes said Tajudeen Anjorin, 36, of Helston Gardens, Whitley, Reading, was the "lead figure" among the six defendants and sentenced him to 11 years in prison. Damien Cadogan, 28, of Oak Green, Whitley Wood, was sentenced to five years jail for conspiracy and for further five years to run consecutively for possession of a firearm.

    Anjorin put £16,500 on a pre-pay credit card and transferred significant cash to an offshore account and back to the UK. According to the evidence he had not worked since 2001. His defence was that been dealing in bargain cars. In his testimony he claimed he had gone to Newport to look for bargain cars at a garage he could not remember the name of which was next to a Tesco Express in Ringland, According to the press report of the trial in getreading.co.uk he was seen here on CCTV. The pair were seen less than half an hour later in the car park of the nearby Toby Carvery with Isaacs and Scawthorn, and then in the restaurant. According to reports when asked why they had stayed in the car for 15 minutes, Anjorin said he may have been 'smoking a spliff but claimed he could not remember what they had talked about during the visit'.

    Heroin
    - Heroin is an extract of opium. Opium is the dried 'milk' of the opium poppy Papaver somniferum, and it contains the two strong narcotic painkillers, or opiate analgesics, morphine and codeine. Heroin or diamorphine, to give it its scientific name - doesn't occur naturally in opium but can be made from morphine. The vast majority of heroin is illegally manufactured and is diluted or 'cut' for sale on the street. This is usually done by mixing it with glucose, but caffeine, flour, chalk, quinine and even talcum powder are used. Most people get a 'rush' or 'buzz' within minutes of taking heroin. The effects vary depending on how the heroin is taken, but users generally feel initially euphoric and then become warm, content and relaxed. Heroin is highly addictive and tolerance to the drug builds up rapidly. This means more and more of the drug is needed to create the same high. Heroin is also relatively short-acting, so a dose or 'fix' needs to be taken several times a day to avoid the distressing withdrawal symptoms of painful muscle cramps, eye and nose watering, shivers and sweats. A typical habit may cost £40 to £150 a day.  Users run the risk of an overdose (because the strength of the powder, and amount of heroin it actually contains, is unknown) or poisoning (because the powder has been cut with a dangerous or contaminated substance). Overdoses are frequently fatal. Heroin is a class A drug, so it’s illegal to have for yourself, give away or sell. Possession is illegal and can get you up to seven years in jail and/or an unlimited fine. Supplying someone else, even your friends, can get you up to life imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.

    Gwent Police arrested 20 Newport residents last week and seized £12,000 in class A drugs during a series of raids in the City including on a flat in Godfrey Road.

    H&M QUITS CITY CENTRE

    Apr 6 - Fashion retailer H&M has announced its intention to quit the city centre. Its store will close by June 1 and it plans to open a new store in Newport Retail Park in the spring of 2013.

    CITY UNI DROPS TUITION FEE LEVEL

    Apr 6 - Five Welsh universities (including Newport) intend to drop tuition fees to £7,500 or below for the 2013-14 academic year, it has emerged. It follows a decision by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (Hefcw) to change the way it allocates student places. The funding council decides how many full-time first year undergraduate student places are awarded to each university in Wales for the the 2013-14 academic year. Its new scheme rewards the institutions that choose to lower their fees to £7,500 or below from 2013-14 onwards. They will also receive extra places if they meet important Welsh government targets like research, and overseas recruitment. University of Wales Newport expressed disappointment at having to make the decision.

    CITY COUNCIL AWARDS IT SUPPORT CONTRACT FOR SCHOOLS

    Apr 4 - Computerworld Wales has tied up a seven-figure contract with Newport City Council to deliver and support up to 3,000 PCs to the Welsh city's schools. The three-year deal, agreed through the Value Wales framework, covers 2,500 to 3,000 Lenovo laptops and desktops. As an authorised Lenovo warranty provider, Computerworld will also provide support and maintenance over the life of the contract.

    OFFICE SPACE BOOST IN NEWPORT

    Apr 4 - Wales Online is reporting a significant boost in demand for office space in Newport. The City Council's acquisition of Station Buildings on Queensway coincided with a significant lease for the Local Health Board on Cleppa Park. Welsh Water acquired Hexagon House. Gwent Police, Capita, Go Compare and the Passport Service are all reported as having requirements.

    AM WELCOMES LIBRARIES INVESTMENT

    Apr 3 - Rosemary Butler AM has applauded the Welsh Government on funding for Newport West under the Community Learning Libraries Capital Grant Programme. Over £170,000 has been made available under the Programme including: £112, 300 for the modernisation of Bettws Library, £41,419 for lifelong learning and well-being in the South East Wales Libraries Partnership (University of Wales Newport) and £21,000 to develop local museum services at Newport Museum and Art Gallery.

    Rosemary Butler AM for Newport West said: "I am delighted that the Welsh Government is investing over £170,000 in Newport's library, museum and archive services. This grant will help to improve services, encourage greater participation through learning, conserve important collections, and develop online information and resources that promote both Newport and Wales' culture and heritage."

    GAME OVER ON COMMERCIAL STREET

    Mar 31 - The retailer Game has closed its Commercial Street store, next to M&S, as part of the cost cutting by administrators. The company has a sister store Game Station at the other end of the street, opposite Primark. In the last three months, Monsoon, Next, Dorothy Perkins. Burton, Wallis and Top Shop have closed their stores. Monsoon moved further up the street. Next, Top Shop and Burton closed altogether. Wallis and Dorothy Perkins are concessions in the city centre British Homes Stores unit.

    Food retailer Iceland will shortly be occupying a new store fronting Commercial Street opposite Boots in a much needed boost for Newport's main shopping street. The city centre's future prospects are pinned on the Friars Walk development. Councillor Routley, chair of Newport Transport, called this week for consideration of bringing buses back down Commercial Street in order to increase footfall.

    APPEAL OVER CASTLETON ROAD TRAFFIC ACCIDENT

    Mar 28 - Gwent Police is appealing for witnesses following a road traffic collision that occurred on the A48 near Castleton, Newport, on Friday 30th March 2012 at approximately 8.20am.

    The collision which occurred near the ESSO petrol station on the A48 involved a white Triumph motorcycle and a white Renault tipper van. The rider of the motorcycle, a 24-year-old man from the Newport area, was taken to the University of Wales Hospital, Cardiff, with leg injuries. The driver and passenger of the van, both from the Cardiff area, were uninjured. Officers are investigating. Anyone who may have witnessed the collision is asked to contact Gwent Police Investigation Unit on 01633 642404.

    COUNTY DEAL TO PLAY AT RODNEY PARADE FALLS THROUGH

    Mar 30 - A deal to play the last five Newport County home games at Rodney Parade, the home of Newport rugby, has fallen through. The original plan was triggered by a floodlight problem at Newport Stadium. Although the deal between County and Rodney Parade was in place the City Council confirmed that the floodlighting issue had been resolved. Following their notification of this the Football Conference decided there was no need for the County to move.

    CLOSURE DATE FOR CITY COUNCIL ELECTIONS LOOMS

    Mar 29 - Anyone planning to stand as a candidate for Newport City Council in the forthcoming local government elections must hand in their nomination papers before noon on Wednesday 4 April.

    The nominations process for the elections on Thursday 3 May began this week. Nomination papers must be delivered in person to room 304a (off entrance 3) of the Civic Centre, Newport. The Council states "No responsibility can be taken for papers delivered in any other way."

    AXE FALLS ON CITY POLICE SERVICES

    Mar 28 - Gwent Police is to axe 19 front desk jobs as part of its cost cutting measures, it has been confirmed. The force made the announcement as it looks to shave £34 million off its budget by 2015, due to funding cuts. Among its latest plan is to save £500,000 by making more than a dozen police stations "operational bases" only - resulting in job losses for over-the-counter staff.

    As a result of the changes, members of the public will only be able to pop into five of 22 stations - with Newport Central being the sole base which will be open around the clock seven days a week. The announcement has been met with dismay from communities across the force area as well as union officials. But senior officers justified the move citing a drop in the number of people visiting police stations and saying it would protect the jobs of bobbies on the beat.

    Assistant Chief Constable Simon Prince insisted the changes would not affect Gwent Police's "strong 24/7 presence". He said: "While officers will still be visible in the community, society has changed the way it communicates, with increased use of digital channels, and we are finding innovative ways of meeting these needs. It's important to bear in mind it's officers, not buildings, who cut crime and we are determined that Gwent residents will continue to receive good policing services."

    From July 1, front counter services will no longer be available at 17 stations including Alway, Pill, Maindee and Bettws.

    CITY CENTRE PLAN APPROVED

    Mar 26 - Plans for the revamp of Newport City Centre were approved by councillors today. Queensberry Real Estate has applied to demolish existing buildings in the John Frost Square area and create shops, a six-screen cinema, restaurants, a new bus station and car parking.

    It will provide more than 31,000 sqm of retail floor space in the heart of the city centre as well as a new John Frost Square public realm.
    It is also proposed to commission new public art while the Bell Carrier sculpture will be relocated to the square. Councillor Matthew Evans, leader of Newport City Council, said: “This is another massive step forward towards making the city centre a more vibrant and prosperous place.

    “I believe this will bring a boost not only for shoppers but also for other traders in the city. The scheme is on schedule for a start on site next year and, like other Newport residents and businesses, I’m looking forward to it taking shape.”

    Councillor Ed Townsend, cabinet member for regeneration, said: “This scheme is making substantial progress and is one of only four shopping centres in the UK currently going forward. While we in Newport know only too well that there can be no guarantees, I think we have every reason to be positive as all the pieces are now slotting into place to make Friars Walk a reality at last.”

    Chairman of urban regeneration company Newport Unlimited, Bill Mayne, said the announcement was welcome news to the city. He said: “It’s hugely important for the future of this city that this development goes ahead. Newport needs a city centre it can be proud of and this goes a long way to achieving this. This will bring much activity to Newport - such as jobs, visitors and further investment - and I am excited to see Friars Walk become a reality.”

    CITY CENTRE DEVELOPMENT RECEIVES BOOST

    Mar 24 - It was one of Newport's worst kept secrets but Debenhams has announced its firm commitment to the new Friars Walk development. The commitment came via a South Wales Argus article. The City Council Planning Committee will consider the planning application from developers Queensberry on March 26. The development is a scaled down version of the aborted Modus project which foundered during the first part of the recession in 2009. There are still considerable risks as the Newport scheme is one of only four going ahead in the UK at present. However, the signing of Debenhams as the main anchor store will undoubtedly attract other retailers to the scheme. Work is scheduled to start in spring 2013.

    Following public consultation a mock version of the Chartist Mural will be sited in the entrance way to Newport Museum.

    The scheme includes 

    o A full offer department store
    o 5 major store units and a range of unit shops
    o A multiplex cinema
    o A restaurant quarter of 8 family restaurants
    o A convenience food store
    o A 400 space car park
    o A new bus station

    Read the full planning application here

    £900K GRANT TOWARDS BUS STATION UPGRADE

    Mar 23 - The Welsh Government has granted £900,000 towards the proposed redevelopment of Newport Bus Station forming part of the city centre redevelopment. The grant will be a significant assistance with the scheme expected to cost over £4 million including the provision of a new bus station near the existing site with 15 bays and a secondary station at the rear of Newport Market. The new station will have electronic displays and new customer facilities. Work is expected to start on the station in 2013.

    POLICE HUNT ARMED ROBBER

    Mar 23 - Gwent Police is appealing for information to identify a man in connection with an armed robbery in Newport on Thursday 22nd March. A man entered The Fallows newsagents, Fallowfield Drive, Lliswerry, at around 9.10pm. He approached the counter and demanded money while threatening the shopkeeper with a handgun and a knife. The man assaulted the shopkeeper before leaving the store and made off down an alleyway towards Mulcaster Avenue.

    The shopkeeper received minor injuries. The offender is described as white, of medium height and build. He was wearing a black, white and grey camouflage hooded top with the hood up and black hat. Anyone with information about the incident that may assist officers with their inquiries is asked to contact Gwent Police on 101.

    MAN JAILED OVER RAIL CABLE THEFT

    A Newport man was jailed for three years and nine months for theft of rail cable. Christopher John Mansfield, 33, of Newport, admitted stealing £20,000 worth of cable over a two-month period. British Transport Police say his irresponsible actions caused massive delays to rail services and disruption to the rail infrastructure. The cost of cable theft to the railway industry is put at almost £20m a year.

    At Cardiff Crown Court Mansfield had admitted offences in Maesglas and Duffryn between 8 December 2010 and 6 January 2011.Mansfield was sentenced to a total of 45 months in prison - 27 months for three offences committed in December 2010 and January 2011, and a further 18 months for an additional offence which formed part of a separate investigation.

    "Crime which involves the theft or attempted theft of railway cable attracts strong penalties and I hope the sentence handed to Mansfield will act as a deterrent to others," said Det Con Chris Bolton. He said it was a common but wrong assumption that cable theft was a victimless crime. The impact on the running of the railway was huge, and many thousands of passengers were inconvenienced by it each year, he added.

    MORDEN CRITICISES BUDGET IMPACT ON CITY

    Mar 20 - Newport East MP Jess Morden has criticised the budget for not doing more to assist working families and struggling businesses in Newport. She said "This is a cruel budget which gives tax cuts to millionaires whilst leaving those in most need of help worse off. This Government is giving with one hand and taking away with another. Constituents I’ve spoken to aren’t fooled by the increase in personal allowances when VAT is up, tax credits are being frozen and the cost of living is soaring. For Newport, this budget raises the spectre of Regional Pay for 23,000 people employed in the public sector in Newport, who are already coping with pay freezes, job cuts of which 80% are still to come, and changes to pensions. And if the Government want to grow the private sector then our industry, like the steel industry in Newport East, need Government action now to help with higher energy prices, as they are struggling to compete with other parts of Europe and falling demand."

    NEW ACCESS ROAD FORGES AHEAD

    Mar 20 - The £13 million Eastern Distributor access road is making significant progress with the first stage of work complete. Work began on February 13 to begin bringing the dual carriageway running through Llanwern Steelworks back in to public use.

    Once finished the new route, which will provide a major boost to the local economy and significantly improve the transport infrastructure surrounding Newport, will connect the Newport Southern Distributor road with junction 23A of the M4.

    The works, which are the second phase in developments to the former steelworks access road following an initial £1.75m investment to the new route, will involve:

    * improving and resurfacing of the three-mile long dual carriageway road including the provision of a 2.5 metre wide combined footway/cycleway
    * provision of a combined cycle/footbridge over Monk’s Ditch
    * improvements to drainage

    There will also be improvements to the existing single carriageway highway between Tata’s eastern entrance up to the M4 which will involve:

    * resurfacing of two miles of the existing road
    * improvements to drainage to take into account the Caldicot Level Site of Special Scientific Interest
    * installation of traffic signals with the B4245 road to and from Magor
    * provision of mammal crossings and protective fencing

    The Minister with responsibility for Transport, Carl Sargeant, said, “Bringing the former access road of the old Llanwern steelworks up to a public highway standard carriageway will help ease congestion on the M4 around Newport." It’s anticipated that the new route will be completed in Spring 2013.

    WELSH WATER CHOOSE NEWPORT FOR NEW LAB

    Mar 17 - Welsh Water is bringing water quality checks back in-house with new laboratories in Newport and north Wales. The utility, which previously contracted out the analysis of around 300,000 drinking water samples a year, is investing £8.6 million in the two facilities.

    The Newport laboratory is due to be up and running at the end of 2012 and employ 40 people. A smaller laboratory of 10 staff, at Bretton in north Wales, has recently become operational. A spokesperson said: "We are continually reviewing our internal structures to improve cost and operational efficiency, and the insourcing of laboratory services and sampling will help us achieve this." The company has appointed Howard Handley, formerly of the Forensic Science Service, to head up the laboratory. Handley said: "I am delighted to be joining Dŵr Cymru and the water quality team at this exciting time as the new North Wales laboratory is now commissioned and we are progressing with development of the facility in Newport. There is a great team already on board and new opportunities for scientists. We have a great responsibility and a huge challenge ahead of us."

    The Newport facility will be based at a former call centre building near Tredegar Park. Newport West assembly member Rosemary Butler says: “It is encouraging to see organisations such as Welsh Water committed to investing in Newport, which will have long-term benefits for both the environment and local economy.”

    COUNCIL HANDS OVER TREDEGAR HOUSE TO NATIONAL TRUST

    Mar 16 - Councillor Matthew Evans, leader of Newport City Council, has handed over stewardship of Tredegar House and grounds to the National Trust. The Trust - Wales’s largest conservation charity – officially takes over responsibility for the property with a 50-year lease.

    The handover marks the start of an exciting programme of events to be announced at the house and 90-acre park. For the first time in its history, open free-flow access will be allowed to the much-loved house, which is one of the best examples of a 17th century Charles II mansion in Britain. The building, parts of which date back to the early 1500s, will open its doors to the public with an innovative new interpretation of the history of the house on 4 April. A unique Housewarming event at which the National Trust hopes to meet its new neighbours takes place on Sunday 24 June this year.

    Justin Albert, director of the National Trust in Wales, said: “The National Trust aims to build on the fantastic work already undertaken by Newport City Council. We want Tredegar House to be a place that all Newport’s people feel a great pride in and show off as part of the exciting changes taking place in the city.”

    CHARTIST MURAL WILL BE PULLED DOWN

    May 14 - The 35m (115ft) Chartist mural depicting Newport's historic role in democratic reform is to be pulled down to make way for a £100m plus city centre shopping development. The artwork, detailing the 1839 Chartist uprising, is a mosaic of 200,000 pieces of tile and glass designed by Kenneth Budd in a tunnelled and grimy entrance to John Frost Square.

    Completed in 1978, it first faced the axe in 2008 but a scheme planned at that time was scrapped. Charles Ferris, now a Conservative councillor, led opposition to the plan then but his party is now in power and opting for the same approach.

    A public consultation on four options for its replacement has now closed. Councillors are considering the responses but the local authority is adamant the mural as it stands will have to be demolished as part of the city centre's redevelopment proposals.

    SHOPLIFTER BANNED FROM ALL CITY CENTRE STORES

    Mar 12 - A 32 year old woman from Newport has been barred from all retail outlets in Newport City Centre until 2015, after being given a Criminal Anti-Social Behaviour Order (CRASBO).

    Abigail Sicolo, of Ringland, Newport, had the order placed upon her by Cwmbran Magistrates' Court on 1st March 2012, after recently being caught shoplifting from a clothing store - the 30th time she has been found doing this since 1st January 2011. Despite local shopkeepers continually barring her from their stores, 10 related prison sentences and assistance from Probation Services to help her change her lifestyle, Sicolo continued to offend. 

     The Court ruled that due to her anti-social behaviour when arrested, namely the use of obscene language in public, a CRASBO would be granted.  If this order is breached in any way, then a custodial sentence of up to 5 years can be imposed by the Court. 

    SKATE PARK WORK SET TO BEGIN

    Mar 12 - Work is due to start shortly on the construction of a new skate park in Tredegar Park. Newport City Council has involved a skatepark user group of more than 20 young people in decisions about the new facility. Skateboarders, BMX enthusiasts and scooter riders were able to have a say in the choosing of the design, content and even the company responsible for the contract.

    Councillor Mike Hamilton, cabinet member for leisure and culture, said: “I understand that the young people involved in the meetings and presentations believe the city will now have a much improved skate park.This is excellent news and I look forward to the opening of the new facility this summer which, like the previous park, can be used by young people from all over the city.” The new skatepark is a replacement for the current park in Newport International Sports Village. It is being relocated because the present site forms part of the FAW’s new National Football Centre.

    WORK BEGINS TO TRANSFORM FORMER LIBRARY

    Mar 11 - Work has begun to transform a 19th century building in Pill into a modern enterprise hub. Newport company White Bros and Speed won the contract which is part of the Pillgwenlly Regeneration Project designed to revitalise a key section of this deprived area.

    It is also due to begin work shortly on a scheme to improve and restore the facades of properties in Commercial Road. As part of both contracts, totalling more than £1 million, the company will offer work placement opportunities for young people involved in a Constructions Skills course which is running in Pill.The former library in Temple Street will become a resource centre for the local community with a number of social enterprises. On the ground floor there will be a crèche and another enterprise run by a training provider who has yet to be appointed. A mezzanine floor will be created upstairs which will house a catering training facility. Disability access will also be brought right up-to-date and will include lifts. The work is due to be completed by the autumn.

    MISSING MAN FOUND DEAD

    Mar 11 - Mr Geoffrey Hayward, aged 65, who was reported missing last Tuesday, has been found dead in a shallow ditch near his home in Duffryn, Newport. Mr Haywood, who was partially sighted, was reported missing by a carer. A Gwent police spokeswoman said " We wish to express our condolences to the family and friends of Mr Hayward. There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death. The coroner has been informed".

    MORDEN CONTINUES TAX CREDIT OFFENSIVE

    Mar 8 - Newport East MP Jessica Morden has maintained her offensive regarding proposed changes to tax credits. She warned yesterday that women who work part-time who cannot find extra hours will lose thousands of pounds in tax credits, "730 families in Newport will be hit by the changes to the tax credits which mean they are either working [longer] hours or facing losing up to £3,800 a year. The Government has demonstrated so far no real understanding of the very real difficulties faced by families in this position in finding extra work." She asked Treasury minister Chloe Smith to tell her "exactly where these mythical hours are going to come from". Ms Smith stated: "I shall be very precise about this. I can tell her that vacancies were up 11,000 in the last three months to January 2012. There was a total of 1.07 million people moving into employment in the last quarter."

    FACELIFT FOR CITY MARKET AND HIGH STREET APPROVED

    Mar 8 - A £750,000 facelift for Newport's Victorian indoor market have been given the go-ahead by the council. The city's planners backed the proposals to boost the High Street with a "vibrant and inviting" new market frontage and the creation of a food quarter. A report found footfall in the original part of the Grade II listed building has declined over the recent years. The proposals will now be considered by the Welsh government. The redevelopment, part of a wider £2.6m plan by the council and regeneration firm Newport Unlimited to attract more people into the city centre, was first revealed in June last year.

    MP SLAMS GOVERNMENT OVER TAX CREDIT CHANGES

    Mar 5 - Newport East MP Jess Morden has pressed the Secretary of State for Wales to do something to help protect hardworking Newport families from the changes the Coalition government is making to working tax credits.

    The UK government is changing the rules on working tax credits for couples with children. Instead of working 16 hours a week between both parents, from April, they will have to increase their working hours to at least 24 hours a week or they will lose their whole entitlement to working tax credits. This will mean that 735 Newport households, containing in total 1595 children, stand to lose up to £3800 a year.

     Ms Morden said “I believe the UK government doesn’t have any comprehension of how hard it is out there for hardworking families. Rises in energy, food and fuel prices are putting more and more financial pressure on families. Yet, this government are pursuing a policy that will directly hit the people who are doing the right thing: working hard to provide for their families.   Do they know how hard it is to get extra hours at the moment, particularly in the retail sector? Thanks to the Coalition government, hardworking families have the added stress of asking or searching for extra hours. If they don’t find it, they face losing up to £3800 a year. They have no idea the extra stress they are putting on families; they are completely out of touch.”

    The issue of how these changes will affect Newport families was raised at Welsh questions last week, when Jessica asked the Secretary of State for Wales, Cheryl Gillan, what she planned to do to fight and protect the Newport families who stand to be affected. Gillan's response "the Government’s top priority is an economic recovery that provides jobs for everybody, including women. In difficult times, the Government have been helping families with the cost of living. For example, we have been freezing council tax, while the Welsh Labour Government have refused to implement a similar policy in Wales, and extending free health care and child care. We have increased that entitlement in England. I challenge Labour, in power in Wales, to match that record."

    APPEAL OVER MISSING DUFFRYN MAN

    Mar 5 - Gwent Police is appealing for information to locate Jeffrey Heywood who was reported as missing to police today, Monday 5th March.  Jeffrey is 65 years old from the Duffryn area. He is described as white, 5 feet 2 inches tall, of slim build and has grey hair. He is last known to be wearing a khaki green jacket, dark jeans and black shoes. Police are particularly concerned about the welfare of Jeffrey due to the fact that he is partially sighted. If anyone sees Jeffrey or has knowledge of his whereabouts they are asking to contact Gwent Police on 101.

    PANASONIC TO SHELVE 160 JOBS

    Mar 4 - More than 160 jobs are to be lost at Panasonic in Duffryn after the company announced it will switch the production of telephone exchanges to Vietnam.The company has blamed weak demand and a more competitive market. About 90 jobs will remain at Newport as it becomes a customer support centre for Europe.Panasonic has been in Newport since 1987, and it is launching a formal 90-day consultation process with the Unite trade union.The restructuring is due to be completed by the end of September. Local MP Paul Flynn expressed his disappointment "I have visited the plant in the recent past and it is disappointing that the firm failed to give advanced notice of the job losses to local MPs. There have been good relationships over a long period between the company and the city. They told me of their gratitude to the workforce in a crisis some years ago. The staff cooperated with some unpalatable cuts for the benefit of the company. They should loyalty to Panasonic. It is a shame that they do not recognise that loyalty is a two-way process. I am seeking talks with them."

    MOTORCYCLIST HURT IN CRASH

    Mar 4 - A motorcyclist is in a critical condition after a road crash in Newport last night. The incident happened on the A468 Caerphilly Road in Bassaleg at 22:30 GMT on Saturday. The rider, a local man, is being treated at the Royal Gwent Hospital for serious injuries. Gwent Police have appealed for witnesses. The road reopened after it was closed for emergency services to deal with the crash.

    TATA WORKERS OFFERED TIME OFF AT REDUCED PAY

    Mar 2 - Around 1500 steelworkers in Llanwern are being invited to apply to take extra time off at half pay during March. Tata Steel said the offer to workers at Port Talbot and Llanwern was entirely voluntary and it does not have a set number in mind. It says the move is in response to tough market conditions.There will also be some disruption to production due to major engineering works in Port Talbot as part of a £250m investment.

    COUNCIL AGREES 2.9 PER CENT COUNCIL TAX INCREASE

    Mar 1 - At Tuesday’s council meeting the City's budget for the next financial year was approved. The council’s budget will be £237.26m, having successfully put forward savings of £12m and making additional investments of £8.4m to front-line service delivery.

    The Council also agreed the recommendation that Newport City Council’s council tax rise by.9 per cent. The increase will see Newport City Council’s Band D tax rise to £825.98 a year, an increase of less than 45 pence per week. Council Taxpayers will need to add precepts to this total, a levy for Gwent Police and Newport’s community councils, to calculate the total value payable.

    COUNCILLORS CALL FOR PRAYERS BEFORE MEETINGS

    Mar 1 - A call for formal prayers at council meetings has united councillors across the political divide in Newport. The city's Conservative group leader has asked Local Government Minister Carl Sargeant to allow prayers to be put on the agenda of council meetings.

    It was the latest response to a High Court ruling banning them from the formal agenda in Wales and England. Mr Sargeant has made it clear that he believes councillors should be able to gather for prayers before a meeting. Newport councillors met for prayers ahead of the official start of the city's full council meeting on Tuesday. Newport Conservative group leader Peter Davies said the informal gathering was complimented by mayor Margaret Cornelious for its unanimous attendance.

    NIKITTA MEMORIAL SUGGESTED

    Mar 1 - A memorial has been suggested for pregnant teenager Nikitta Grender, who was murdered in her home.

    Some residents in Lliswerry, Newport, say they would like a memorial to the 19-year-old killed murdered by her boyfriend's cousin a year ago. Carl Whant, 27, of Bettws, Newport, was jailed for 35 years after being convicted of rape, murder, arson and child destruction.

    One local councillor said the area was trying to come to terms with events. Councillor Roger Jeavons, who represents Lliswerry, told BBC Wales the community was struggling to come to terms with Miss Grender's murder."We are a good community, there are lots of good things in the community and these sorts of things just knock us back."Mr Jeavons said a memorial may help some local people.

    TREE FELLING AT TREDEGAR PARK

    Feb 28 - In order to improve the flood defences between the Ebbw River and the M4, a number of trees are being felled along the river bank at Tredegar Park. Moving the flood bund back from the river will create a two stage river channel which in times of extreme flooding will improve protection downstream.

    The removal of the trees was included in the original planning application submitted by the land owner Newbridge Construction and does not include any trees with preservation orders in place. The work is being carried out with the agreement of the council and the Environment Agency.

    WHANT GETS 35 YEARS FOR NIKITTA MURDER

    Feb 23 - A former nightclub bouncer has been jailed for a minimum of 35 years for murdering a pregnant teenager two weeks before she was due to give birth.

    Carl Whant, 27, of Bettws, Newport, raped and stabbed 19-year-old Nikitta Grender at her home, also killing her unborn daughter, last February. He set fire to her Moorland Park flat before returning to a party where he had been with her boyfriend, Ryan Mayes.

    Outside Newport Crown Court after the verdict, the victim's uncle, Michael Brunnock, said in a statement: "The last 12 months have been harder for us than you could ever imagine. Nikitta was so young and beautiful and together with Ryan, they were to become a very proud set of parents to Kelsey-May."

    CONSTRUCTION STARTS ON EASTERN DISTRIBUTOR ROAD

    Feb 13 - The old access road through a steelworks is being turned into the £13m Eastern Distributor dual carriageway linking southern Newport with the M4. Work starts this week on the three mile route that was once a private access to the Llanwern plant.The Welsh government said it would help ease congestion on the motorway at Newport and at the Brynglas tunnels.It is being built as an alternative to the proposed M4 relief road which was scrapped in 2009 because of cost. Ministers said they could not afford the £1bn. The work to turn the road into a dual carriageway will take a year and will connect Newport's southern distributor road with junction 23A of the M4. As well as improving links around the city it will also provide an alternative route should a major incident shut the motorway at Newport.

    PILL MURDER - TRIAL IN JULY

    Feb 13 - A man has appeared in court charged with the murder of a 60-year-old man from Poland who was visiting friends and relatives in south Wales. Gavin Mills, 25, from Newport, denies killing Jerzy Dubiniec, 60, in the Pill area of the city last August. Mr Dubiniec, a baker, was found dead in Broad Street after allegedly being attacked and then hit by a car. Mr Mills was remanded in custody. Newport Crown Court heard he will face trial in July.

    CARDIFF MET COOL ON UNI MERGER

    Feb 12 - The chair of governors at Cardiff Metropolitan University has warned that legal action could be taken if the college is forced to merge. Barbara Wilding says she has seen no evidence that plans to merge with the University of Glamorgan and University of Wales, Newport, are necessary. The proposals followed a Higher Education Funding Council review. Education Minister Leighton Andrews says it will create the most powerful higher education bodies in the UK.

    MAN HELD AFTER J24 CRASH

    Feb 12 - A man has been arrested following a two-car collision which closed part of the M4. He was held on suspicion of driving with excess alcohol after a Ford was in collision with a Toyota near the junction 24 exit road near Newport. A woman driving the Toyota was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport as a precaution. The collision, at 11:17 GMT on Saturday, caused delays for westbound motorists before the road reopened.

    RINGLAND MAN BANNED FROM ALL CITY LICENSED PREMISES

    Feb 10 - A 19 year old man from Newport has been barred from all licensed premises in Newport for two years, after being given a Drinking Banning Order (DBO). Ryan Hiscocks, of Ringland, Newport, had the order placed upon him by Newport Magistrates' Court on 2nd November 2011, after he assaulted a member of the public whilst under the influence of alcohol. The Court ruled that Mr Hiscocks is prohibited from entering licensed premises across the whole of Newport, until 2nd November 2013, which is the maximum term of 2 years.  If the order is breached in any way, then a fine of up to £2,500 can be imposed by the Court. Inspector Bob Thompson, who is responsible for policing Newport City Centre, said:  "I'm pleased to say that violent crime in Newport City Centre has fallen dramatically over the past year.  As well as making Newport a safer place by cutting crime and anti-social behaviour, we want to make sure people feel safer too.  "This Drinking Banning Order sends a clear message that we will not tolerate alcohol related disorder and if you are behaving in an unacceptable way and undermining people's feelings of safety, we will take action."

    PLANS FOR CAERLEON STATION ON AGENDA

    Feb 8 - Proposals to build a train station at Caerleon and make improvements to stations between Newport and Abergavenny have been put forward. The station would be 500m from Newport university's Caerleon campus and a short walk from the town's Roman sites. Improvements at Abergavenny, Cwmbran and Pontypool include more parking, seating, better access and security. The South East Wales Transport Alliance (Sewta) wants feedback from the public by 12 March. The cost of the station and the improvements would be £14.1m, although the report authors Capita Symonds said those figures were based on 2010 prices and could change depending on the detail of design. Alison Walker, transport planner at Capita Symonds who worked on the report, said a train station had first been proposed for Caerleon about seven years ago, but was not taken any further at the time.

    WELSH LABOUR GOVERNMENT ISSUES LATEST 'ASTONISHING' SNUB TO CITY

    Jan 31 - The Welsh Government has issued yet another snub to Newport. Despite powerful lobbying from politicians and economic commentators the Welsh Government has overlooked Newport's claim for an enterprise zone to revitalise Wales' gateway city. The city, already suffering adversely from the recession according to a recent study (see below), now faces a squeeze caused by business incentives in Cardiff, Ebbw Vale and in particular Bristol. Instead hapless Welsh Government minister Edwina Hart awarded enterprise zones to Gwynedd and Pembrokeshire and extended the enterprise zone in Vale of Glamorgan to include Cardiff Airport! The latter is already receiving huge public subsidies for a small plane going back and forth to Anglesey but is failing to attract new airlines to replace many lost routes over the last twelve months. Newport City Council issue a statement expressing disappointment at the decision. Swansea AM Peter Black described Hart's decision as an 'astonishing snub' to Newport and Swansea. 'Its a slap in the face for Newport, the city is under huge pressure due to enterprise zones in surrounding areas such as Hereford and Bristol, but the Minister seems to think the Council have done a good enough job."

    COUNCIL LEADER EXPRESSES DISAPPOINTMENT

    Jan 31 - Matthew Evans, Newport City Council leader, expressed disappointment at the Government's decision. "The Minister and her officials must work hard to ensure Newport is not unfairly disadvantaged as it is squeezed on one side by Cardiff and Ebbw Vale and on the other by Bristol and Hereford."

    CAMBRIAN CENTRE SET FOR FACELIFT

    Jan 30 - Scarborough Group has announced new plans for Newport's Cambrian Centre following their recent deal with Admiral Insurance to create a landmark office building near the city's railway station. The plans are described as follows - -

    PROPOSED REDEVELOPMENT OF CAMBRIAN CENTRE TO INCLUDE WITHIN PHASE 1 THE PARTIAL DEMOLITION AND REMODELLING OF EXISTING CAR PARK, A NEW PLAZA, ERECTION OF PROPOSED NEW OFFICE BUILDING, AND CONSTRUCTION OF AND REMODELLING OF NEW COMMERCIAL FLOOR SPACE; AND WITHIN PHASE TWO POSSIBLE ERECTION OF HOTEL, WITH ADDITIONAL COMMERCIAL AND OFFICE FLOOR SPACE AT QUEENSWAY/CAMBRIAN ROAD/RAILWAY STREET, NEWPORT.

    NIKITTA TRIAL - WHANT WAS 'FIT AND SOBER'

    Jan 26 - The grandmother of a man charged with murdering a pregnant teenager saw him looking fit, well and sober just before the victim was found, a court was told. Sandra Doreen Mole said Carl Whant came looking for cigarettes on the morning of 5 February 2011. Nikitta Grender, 19, died two weeks before she was due to give birth to a girl she had already called Kelsey-May.

    At Newport Crown Court, Mr Whant denies murder, rape, arson and child destruction. The trial continues. The court heard that Ms Mole was asleep at her home in St John's Court, Oakfield Road, in Newport, when Whant arrived between 07:45 and 08:15 GMT.

    NEWPORT 'HIT MOST BY RECESSION'

    Jan 25 - Newport (and Swansea) are falling behind other UK cities, according to a report on economic performance. Research group Centre for Cities said areas with less dynamic private sectors would struggle to handle public sector cuts and a weak national economy.

    The report warns against implementing a "one-size-fits-all" economic policy. Dr Jonathan Deacon of the Newport Business School told the BBC the city was hampered by its historical reliance on public sector employment. He called for enterprise zones to be based on regions rather than cities.

    Dr Deacon told BBC Radio Wales that the city was suffering from a historical reliance on public sector employment, as the home of major UK government agencies such as the passport, statistics and patent offices. He said Newport was also being squeezed by the advantages of neighbouring cities such as Cardiff and Bristol, which were also set to benefit from the creation of enterprise zones.

    "We are in Newport really sandwiched by that problem of our neighbouring cities having perhaps a more advantageous proposition than we have," he said. "We shouldn't really look at identifying cities as enterprise zones but more regions, because that makes more sense in a country the size of Wales, and a country the size of the UK."

    POLICE APPEAL OVER DISORDER IN CLUB

    Jan 20 - Officers are appealing for information following an incident of disorder involving five men, one described as white and four described as black, in Newport that happened in the early hours of Sunday 20th November 2011.

    At approximately 2am there was a dispute between them inside Revolution Nightclub, Griffin Street. One man, described as white, was thrown out of the nightclub however later on, outside, a fight broke out between the same people. A pole and a glass were used as weapons.

    Officers are trying to identify all of those involved. The four men, described as black, all had London accents. They hadn't been seen in the nightclub before and it's believed they could have been from the London area.

    Enquiries undertaken at local hospitals to see if anyone was admitted with injuries in relation to this incident that night have established they weren't therefore officers are unable to confirm what injuries each of the five parties may have suffered.

    Anyone who recognises any of the five men from the CCTV material is asked to contact Gwent Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

    ADMIRAL BOOST FOR CITY

    Jan 14 - Scarborough Group International, the property business founded by Sheffield United owner Kevin McCabe, has agreed a deal for Admiral to take 77,000 sq ft at an office building in Newport. The insurer is to take a 20-year lease on a new 77,000 sq ft office building in Newport city centre. The insurer said the location will accommodate up to 1,200 members of staff.

    It is expected that the building will be ready for occupation by the end of 2013. The development will form part of Scarborough Development Group's redeveloped Cambrian Centre in Queensway, opposite Newport train station. "The new location in Queensway should be much better for our current employees and any future new recruits in Newport," said Huw Llewellyn, head of property for Admiral Group."As well as great transport links they will have access to all the amenities and facilities of Newport city centre."

    POLICE APPEAL OVER TWO ATTACKS

    Jan 7 - Police say a man is being treated in hospital after he was attacked in his own home by three men. An investigation has been launched after the incident at 00:50 GMT today in the Allt-yr-yn area of Newport but no arrests have yet been made. Police say they believe the victim was attacked with weapons including a baseball bat.

    Police are appealing for information following a robbery that occurred this morning, Friday 30th December on Capel Crescent, Newport. At approximately 9.40am a man approached an 81 year old female asking for directions.  He grabbed her handbag and ran off in the direction of Alma Street. The lady, who fell over as a result of the incident, was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital with leg and head injuries. She has since been released. The offender is described as a white male, aged between 20 and 30 years old and approximately 5 feet 6 to 5 feet 8 inches tall. He was wearing a black bomber jacket, a light coloured hooded jumper with the hood up, and blue denim jeans.

    Anyone with information is asked to call Gwent Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

    FOOTBALL CENTRE PLANS BACKED

    Jan 7 - Multi-million pound plans for a national football training centre in Newport have been recommended for approval by the city council. The Football Association of Wales wants to build a new headquarters with sports science and education facilities.

    The centre would also be used to develop players from under-14 to under-21 level, and would provide a training facility for the senior Wales team. It is earmarked for the Newport International Sports Village at Spytty. The site already houses a velodrome, cricket and indoor tennis centre and is also home to Newport County FC, who play their home matches at the athletics stadium. The proposals would see the senior squad moving from their current base at the Vale of Glamorgan in Hensol to new grass and artificial pitches.

    INFORMATION CENTRE OPENS

    Jan 4 - Newport City Council's new information centre, the Information Station, opened to customers for the first time yesterday. This move is part of the transformation of the way in which Newport City Council and its partners deliver services to the public. The City Council states "The Information Station is an easily accessible welcoming facility that will give local people the opportunity to cover a range of services and issues all in one place." As of this week Council Tax, Benefits, Planning and Housing enquiries will be dealt with there followed by a range of services including social services and blue badges from next week. Customers will no longer be expected to traipse up to the Civic Centre to get their face to face enquiries answered, the reception desks there will close and the services and staff will be relocated to the City's former railway station building, home of the Information Station. The Information Station will be open Monday – Friday 8.30am – 5.30pm. For more information call the contact centre on 01633 656656.

    KINGS HOTEL CLOSES

    Jan 4 - The ravaging of Newport city centre continues. The 200-year-old Kings Hotel closed yesterday blaming a "severe" downturn in trade, with the loss of 20 permanent jobs. General manager Maria Thomas told the BBC a handful of staff remained and were trying to rearrange wedding bookings. Ms Thomas, who has worked at the hotel for 20 years, said the recession had led to a downturn in trade at the hotel on High Street. "I think all the shops closing in Newport city centre haven't helped either," she said.

    The Kings was a noted music venue including performances from Van Morrison and Jerry Lee Lewis (see video link here)

    CITY TO HOST NEW ENTERPRISE FOUNDATION

    Jan 3 - Newport will be the HQ for the next generation of entrepreneurs as Udex House (to be renamed Alacrity House) in the heart of the city centre becomes the home of a new Alacrity Foundation Graduate Entrepreneurship programme.

    The scheme has been created by Sir Terry Matthews ‘ Wesley Clover organisation in partnership with the Welsh Government, the Waterloo Foundation and a private philanthropist and will give young graduates the opportunity to develop their entrepreneurial skills. The project will provide real life experience for the graduates as they deal with product development requirements. Alacrity’s strategic partners include Vodafone, Fujitsu, BT and Mitel. During the 12 month programme, graduates will receive intensive training and mentoring from industry experts and find out what it takes to start a successful new venture.

    Simon Gibson for Alacrity said: “We are delighted to be working with our partners to implement a tried and tested methodology to create a new generation of high technology companies. In Alacrity, successful participants do not exit the programme with simply a job, they create a company in which they have ownership and executive responsibilities. After thoughtful consideration, we picked Newport as a location due to its excellent road and rail links to the rest of the UK and London which are critical to our operations.”

    FIRE CAUSES CELTIC MANOR EVACUATION

    Jan 2 2012 - More than 800 guests were evacuated from the Celtic Manor resort hotel in Newport after a fire during the early hours of New Year's Day. Firefighters were called to the 2010 Ryder Cup venue at 04:23 GMT on Monday.

    A spokesman for the hotel said the cause of the fire was being investigated and apologised to guests who spent about 40 minutes outside. The South Wales Fire and Rescue Service said a small fire on the ninth floor was confined to a laundry room. It said nobody was injured, adding that the fire was accidental and not suspicious in any way. A spokesman for the Celtic Manor resort said: "A small fire was located and extinguished within minutes. "The cause of the fire is unknown at present time but a full investigation will take place to identify the cause.

    NO PROMISES OVER NEW DUFFRYN SCHOOL - LABOUR

    Dec 31 - Newport Labour Party's leader Bob Bright has refused to give a commitment to fund the building of a new comprehensive school in Duffryn. The Party had previously pledged to build it as part of a schools modernisation programme. At a recent Council meeting Councillor Bright said that a future Labour administration could not promise a new school but would seek to pay for the schools programme by way of the sale of land assets and look at the Duffryn situation at that time. 

    The Leader of the Council, Matthew Evans, noted that Bright had made no positive commitment to Duffryn he said despite the financial situation the current administration had delivered the Newport High School and the Hartridge projects.

    Councillor Wilcox (Labour, Gaer) expressed her dismay that the plans for the third planned secondary school for Newport was not proceeding. She invited the Leader of the Council to visit Duffryn High School to look at the conditions that pupils and staff are working in at Duffryn High School. The Leader of the Council said that the problem had been that the previous administration had put no money aside for the schools building programme which was based on asset sales that did not transpire. He was not, therefore in a position to make any promises, particularly as the Council would now need to contribute more to any scheme than in the past.

    EVANS SLATES NEGATIVE ATTITUDE OF OPPOSITION COUNCILLORS

    Dec 31 - Council leader Matthew Evans has slated opposition councillors for their negative criticism of City Council initiatives to improve the City Centre. At a recent Council meeting Labour Councillors Whiticutt and Richards queried the value of the Council's free car parking initiative in a clear inference that charges will return if Labour are back in power after the local elections in May.

    Councillor Richards referred to the investment of about £1m on free parking and other initiatives and said that that there was a need for accurate data to judge whether the investment had been a success. Councillor Evans said he was disappointed with the negative attitude of the Opposition Group who had put up car parking charges, introduced bus lanes and encouraged shopping out of town when they were in power.

    MP CRITICISES TOLLS INCREASE

    Dec 31 - Jessica Morden, Newport East MP, has criticised new Severn Bridge toll fees effective from 1st January. She said “The last thing families and businesses in Newport and Monmouthshire need is another rise in the bridge tolls. I know local hauliers are under tremendous financial strain, as are commuters who are being hammered from every angle. Fuel is expensive, the bridge toll looks set to go up and train fares, if people are looking to avoid the other two increases, are also going up by RPI plus another 3%. The tolls should be frozen to ease the burden on local families and businesses.”

    INVESTIGATION FOLLOWING HOUSE FIRE DEATH

    Dec 29 - A man has died in a house fire in Newport, say Police. Fire crews and police were called to a three-storey terraced property in Tewkesbury Walk (denoted by A on the map) close to the city centre at about 11:40 GMT on Wednesday.

    The blaze was out on their arrival but the man's body was found in a back bedroom. Fire investigators and scenes of crimes officers are looking into the cause of the blaze, but the death is not being treated as suspicious. A post mortem examination and formal identification is due to take place on Thursday.

    Bartolotti waving the flag of the expansionist Syrian Social Nationalist Party

    Bartolotti pictured with Mahmoud al Zahar. He stated Israel has "legitimised the murder of their own children by killing the children of Palestine."

    BARTOLOTTI BECOMES GREEN LEADER

    Dec 28 - Pippa Bartolotti has been elected as Wales Green Party's new leader. Living in Malpas, she is well known as a hard-working campaigner against the Newport Incinerator. She said: "I am proud and indeed humbled to be leading Wales Green Party at a time when our message of solving economic and environmental challenges together is desperately needed. Our membership has nearly doubled in the last 2 years, and our voice is getting stronger." In the 2010 General Election she secured 450 votes in Newport West a fall of 0.4 per cent in the Green vote.

    On the radical Wales website her personal biog states..."Born in 1953, I am a daughter of Cornwall. My youth held the privilege of the sea, the sun and the rolling hills of childhood freedom. A budding pianist, a misfit at school, I blossomed at art college and was propelled to the heady heights of fashion design where perhaps my greatest achievement was to discover, one morning, that my designs graced the windows of every shop window in Oxford Street....Disillusioned with the slow pace and chronic wastage in civil service, I took early retirement to explore the world I did not know. I have lived in Cuba, backpacked round India, and driven a convoy of humanitarian aid across Europe to Gaza . In Syria, though I bear no arms, they call me Mujahadeen.....My life as a human rights campaigner has always run in parallel to my professional work and love of motherhood. From early days as a Samaritan, to schools speaker for Amnesty International I have never stopped campaigning for the rights of the voiceless. In July 2011, whilst attempting to enter Bethlehem and visit Palestinians living on the West Bank, I was arrested by Israeli security and imprisoned in Givon jail, Ramla."

    She courted controversy in the summer of 2011 as part of the 'flytilla' an organised campaign of western Palestinian sympathisers aimed at visiting families in the Gaza area. This followed a decision by the Greek authorities to block the sailing of an aid flotilla trying to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. She was arrested by Israeli authorities as she headed for Bethlehem and deported back home.

    She recently became embroiled in another controversy when she inferred that the British Ambassador to Israel was not loyal to the UK (see story immediately below) "I questioned the wisdom of having a Jewish Zionist ambassador in Israel and stated that their loyalty was a matter for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to investigate....The Vice -Consul was called Levi. From the university of life I have learned that Jews often have a conflict of interest in matters relating to Palestine. "That does not make them bad people (we all experience some form of bias)." The Green Party issued an apology stating ""Pippa Bartolotti has apologised for any offence which her comments may have inadvertently caused. Needless to say, the Green Party does not condone antisemitism in any form, and we regret if any other impression were given on this occasion."

    FLYNN APOLOGISES TO JEWISH CHRONICLE

    Dec 27 - Paul Flynn MP has apologised to the Jewish Chronicle for remarks potentially questioning the loyalty of the British Ambassador to Israel. The Newport West MP stated "I greatly regret the interpretation that has been placed on them and I fully understand why offence was given. Some of the interpretations of these words were exaggerated suggesting malign intent that was never present or intended."

    Mr Flynn had told the Commons Public Administration Select Committee of his concerns that Matthew Gould, who took up the post last year, "has proclaimed himself to be a Zionist". Challenged by the Jewish Chronicle to explain his remarks, Mr Flynn claimed that previous ambassadors to Israel had not been Jewish "to avoid the accusation that they have gone native". Mr Flynn said his statement had been motivated by a desire to alert people to the danger of being drawn into a war in Iran.

    CITY COUNCIL APPROVES £180K TO RESTORE ODEON CINEMA

    Dec 26 - Newport City Council has approved a massive £180,000 grant towards the £360,000 works planned to restore the Odeon Cinema building in Clarence Place. The former cinema is a Grade II listed Art Deco building located on the corner of Clarence Place and East Usk Road – a key gateway into the city centre. It is a rare surviving example in Wales of a cinema whose exterior preserves the distinctive architectural vocabulary of the 1930s Odeon style. The Odeon’s current run-down state is preventing the opportunity of maximizing the potential beneficial use of the building. The external restoration works will enable the tenant to proceed with the internal refurbishment of turning the Odeon cinema into a Cinematic museum with community use.

    The applicant (Richard Hayward Properties) seeks to retain and reintroduce historic features and details of the street façade in order to maintain and enhance the character of the original building. The proposed works will have a positive effect on the building and its use, as well as the surrounding areas. Together with the aesthetic benefits of the repairs, the works will protect the building from the elements and extend the buildings life for the future. The intention is to restore its original appearance of 1938 and preserve its historic details and features.

    The report states "The applicant has agreed a long term lease with Kinetechnik Ltd who will be using the main part of the building as an exhibition hall/working museum for cinematic equipment and memorabilia. The wider community uses for the building will also include the main auditorium area being used for live community performances and a projection room to show educational and commercial films. The existing cafe/restaurant will be enhanced as part of this wider work and as well as supporting all activities in the building will trade for normal commercial opening hours and take passing trade. Provision of facilities for education and training in cinema and media also forms part of the wider scheme to make use of this key building."

    Councillor Charles Ferris stated "I wholly support the initiative, it is a poor reflection on our city to see the progressive decline of this beautiful building. Ours is the only "corner" Odeon that has not been split into multiple auditoriums in the country. In Sutton Coalfield there is a beautiful Odeon which is the centrepiece of its revitalised high street. Refurbishment of this building will compliment the refurbished Technical College and lift the air of dereliction that hangs over Clarence Place."

    STUDY SHOWS COMMUTERS MAKE UP A MAJOR PART OF CITY WORKFORCE

    Dec 22 - A recent Welsh Government study shows of Newport’s daily workforce of 68,000, 28,600 commute in from outside of the City, meaning that, at 42%, more of its workforce was made up of commuters than any other Welsh local authority area. Of Wales’ 1.3 million workforce, 81,300 go to work in England every day, with 1.29 million working in Wales. The data also revealed Welsh commuters spend on average 22 minutes travelling into work, with the longest in Rhondda Cynon Taf at 26 minutes and the shortest in Gwynedd, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire at 18 minutes.

    SHOPPING CENTRE APPLICATION IN

    Dec 19 - The new Friars Walk development proposed by Queensberry is a much scaled down project compared to the failed Modus proposal but still promises to revitalise the City Centre. According to the application submitted to the Council it will include:

    The retail assessment report states "The proposed marketing will seek to attract names of the calibre of Super Dry, Oasis, Fat Face, Apple, Forever 21, and Hotel Chocolat. In additional to the national comparison brands, there would also be a need for a quality in town supermarket"

    HOLIDAY BUS SERVICES, FREE BUSES ON CHRISTMAS EVE

    Dec 15 - Newport Bus will be operating the following festive timetable for Christmas and New Year 2011:

    Christmas Eve - Normal services ceasing at 8pm
    Christmas Day - No service
    Boxing Day - No service
    December 27 to December 20 - Saturday service
    New Year's Eve - Normal service ceasing at 8pm
    New Year's Day - No service
    January 2 - Sunday service

    Newport Bus is making all of its buses free to travel on during Christmas Eve!

    Everyone of the bus operator's services will be free to use as often as customers want including buses in Newport and to and from Cardiff, Chepstow, Cwmbran and Monmouth. And if that wasn't enough it will also be launching a new City Circular service on December 13, which will be free to use until February 2012. Scott Pearson, Managing Director of Newport Transport, which runs Newport Bus, said: “During 2011 more and more people have been using Newport Bus to get them to their chosen destinations in comfort and on time. We wanted to say thank you to these people and give something back to the City at the same time."

    LES KNIGHT PASSES AWAY

    Dec 14 - Long standing Newport Conservative Councillor Les Knight has passed away. The Allt-yr-yn member served on the Council for 42 years, first elected in 1964, losing his seat between 1994 and 1999.

    COUNCIL CLAIMS FOOTFALL INCREASE

    Dec 14 - Footfall and car park figures for the second half of the year show a steady increase in the number of visitors to the city centre compared with last year. While the footfall numbers in the first six months showed a drop in visitors compared to the same period in 2010, the latest statistics show a gradual increase. In August, the average footfall was 179,340 – 12,022 more than the same month in 2010; in September it was 176,772 (164,476 in 2010) and rose to 181,358 in October (155,691 in 2010). Meanwhile, the number of vehicles using council-owned car parks has also risen considerably following the introduction of the two hour free parking offer. In October, 72,029 vehicles were recorded compared with 56,064 for the same month the previous year and in November the car parks were used by 71.108 vehicles compared to 49,471 in 2010. Councillor Matthew Evans, leader of Newport City Council, said: “These figures are encouraging and are evidence that the council’s initiatives in the city centre, such as free parking, appear to be paying off. “The reintroduction of buses into High Street is also helping to revitalise that part of the city. Future plans include the exciting Friars Walk shopping and leisure scheme and the planning application is due to decided in the spring. “Next year, the historic Indoor Market is having a major facelift as part of our vision of a market quarter which will include the surrounding shopping area."

    Unfortunately, in the same period major retailers Burton and Next have closed their stores in the City with doubts over the future of Top Shop and H&M. Marks and Spencer are set to move in 2012 or 2013.

    NEW BUS SERVICES

    Dec 5 - The new City Circular service (services 4 and 5) will be launched on Monday. Service 4 will go via Stow Hill and Queensway and Service 5 via Belle Vue Lane and Cardiff Road.

    A new express bus service linking Monmouth to Newport will be launched on December 5 by Newport Bus. The X25 service, which will stop at Raglan and Usk, is the first express bus service of its kind in the area and will give commuters living in the three towns a viable opportunity to switch to public transport to get to and from work. As well as stopping at Newport Bus Station the service will also call at Newport Train Station. It is estimated that currently motorists using their cars to commute between Monmouth and Newport spend up to £2,500 a year on fuel. Switching to the X25 service could save them as much as £1,100 a year.

    Fares for the service start from just £3, with weekly and monthly passes also giving bus users unlimited travel on all of Newport Transport’s other services – including buses to Cardiff and Cwmbran. All X25 buses will feature air conditioning, complimentary newspapers, CCTV, low-level flooring and dedicated drivers. Concessionary pass holders will be able to use the bus service for free with a valid pass. The introduction of the service has been supported by a public consultation led by local MP David Davies who described its launch as good news for people living in the area. He said: “The new X25 service is wonderful news for Monmouth, Raglan and Usk and the feedback I have received from commuters, shoppers and local residents suggests it will be well supported. “I am extremely grateful to Newport Transport for launching the route and I hope people who travel regularly to Newport will give it a try.'

    Newport Bus also now run service 73 from the City to Chepstow and service 62 and 63 to Llanwern, Redwick, Magor and Caldicot.

    NEW RAIL BUS LINK BUT STILL NO EBBW RAIL SERVICE!

    Nov 6 - The Welsh Government shows no sign of getting off a very uncomfortable fence to make a decision about the Newport-Ebbw Vale rail line. They are happy to massively subsidise a pointless air service to Anglesey but not to invest in passenger transport in the Newport area.

    Therefore a subsidised 'express' bus linking the Ebbw Vale to Cardiff rail line with Newport is being re-introduced three years after a previous service ended. It will connect with trains at Rogerstone and run every hour. The Welsh government, which will initially fund the bus for a year, said it was the first step in improving transport links between the two localities. A previous bus service over a much longer route was scrapped in 2008 because of a lack of passengers. Local Government Minister Carl Sargeant said the new bus service would be piloted for a year.

    70 JOBS GO AT LLANWERN

    Nov 5 - Tata Steel is cutting 70 jobs at its Llanwern site in Newport. The company said it decided "with great regret" to close the Tata Steel Construction Products (TCSP) business amid the economic downturn.

    The union Community said it was another case of a good business closing because of the desperate state of the economy. The molten steel production section at Llanwern closed with the loss of 1,300 jobs in July 2001. Tata employs about 7,500 staff in Wales, with about 1,400 at Llanwern.

    FREAK STORM CAUSES FLOODING AND CALLS OFF BIG MATCH

    Nov 4 - Torrential rain has forced the cancellation of a big rugby derby and caused homes to flood in Newport. Ground staff at Rodney Parade swept flood water off the pitch but the match between the Newport Gwent Dragons and the Cardiff Blues could not be saved. The ground was caught in downpours that left fire crews in the city dealing with callout in Maindee from 16:30 GMT onwards.

    South Wales Fire and Rescue Service said it took 18 flooding calls in the Maindee area of Newport in just one hour. Wharf Road was closed causing long tailbacks in to the city centre. Fire-fighters later went to Mill Parade, Pill, where they began pumping out water from the basements of six properties. The heavy rain also led St Cadoc's Hospital in Caerleon to call in firefighters to pump water from a ward, although no patients had to be moved.

    BETTWS MEETING OPPOSES TRAVELLERS SITE

    Oct 30 - It's reported that there were angry scenes at a meeting on Thursday where local council officials met with residents from Bettws to present options for a traveller site in Newport. The City Council has identified five potential sites (three in Nash, one in Marshfield and Yew Tree Lane in Bettws - see map left). Residents voiced opposition to the idea of a site in Bettws.

    The City Council is seeking to resolve the problems caused by the illegal occupation of sites throughout Newport including Tredegar House. It believes a suitable location can be found but there is every indication that there will be strong opposition to their proposals in the areas identified.

    http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/say-no-to-a-gypsy-camp-site-at-bettws.html

    CITY 'MOST AFFORDABLE FOR RENT'

    Oct 25 - Newport has been named the UK's most affordable rental location while Poole is the least. The figures, compiled by flat sharing website easyroommate.co.uk, compare average rents with take-home pay data. According to research, the typical room rent is £365 per calendar month, comprising 21.9 per cent of the average UK net monthly income of £1,665. Rents in Newport stand at just £280, £85 cheaper than the national average, costing just over 18 per cent of monthly take-home pay. But flat-sharers in Poole, Dorset, face forking out £398 every month, representing 26.8 per cent of their salaries. The survey, which used Office for National Statistics data and 15,000 room adverts listed on the easyroommate website, found that flat share rents are rising at nearly 5% per year. This compared with annual pay growth of 2.8%, meaning flat sharers face spending 22.9% of their take home wage on rents next year.

    MAN TRAPPED BY ENTRANCE GATE DIES

    Oct 25 - A 42-year-old man from Merthyr Tydfil has died after an incident in Newport in which he is thought to have been trapped by a gate. He died in Agincourt Street during a delivery to a firm which involved "the movement of heavy gates", police said.

    Wholesalers Blakemore said it was helping in the investigation. The Health and Safety Executive is investigating. Emergency crews were called at 05:00 BST. The trade entrance to the wholesalers is through a metal gate which on Wednesday was lying on the floor.

    LOTTERY AD CALLS FOR WINNER TO COME FORWARD

    Oct 25 - Lottery operator Camelot has advertised on the recruitment pages of a south Wales newspaper in a bid to trace a £612,000 jackpot winner. The ticket was bought in the Newport area in August but the prize was never claimed. The advertisement in the South Wales Argus reads: "Lottery Jackpot Winner Wanted. No previous experience necessary. One-Off Salary: £612,749." A National Lottery spokesman urged people to check their tickets again. The advertisement continued: "The successful candidate must be committed to enjoying life-changing win.

    LOCAL HERO TO TURN ON CITY LIGHTS

    Oct 24 - Local hero and world record holder, Richard Parks will join Newport’s Mayor, Councillor Margaret Cornelious, to officially switch on Newport’s Christmas lights on Sunday 20 November on High Street. To tie in with Sunday shopping, there will be street entertainment throughout Commercial Street and along High Street with performers on the main stage from 2pm. The city’s streets will have a Victorian themed series of performers and displays including a Victorian escapologist, sideshows, stilt walkers and even a magical storytelling tent for young children.

    HOUSING GROUP TAKES OVER DAY CENTRE SITE

    Oct 22 - Work to clear the site of the former Ladyhill Centre in Alway, Newport, has started and is expected to be completed before Christmas. Newport City Council has disposed of its ownership of the land to the Seren Group, an organisation that provides housing and support to people in Newport and across South Wales. Preparation work began this week prior to demolition which is expected to take place from early November.

    The Seren Group is working closely with the city council to agree proposals for redeveloping the site. After the building has been pulled down the land will be securely fenced. Neil Barber, assistant director within the Seren Group, said: “We clearly recognise the importance of this site within Alway. “We want to build upon the good work that the council and the community have undertaken in recent years and we look forward to fully consulting on the proposals in due course.”

    TENDERS INVITED FOR NEW CITY MUSEUM

    Oct 15 - Newport City Council has put out a tender to find a location to display and interpret the medieval ship discovered on the banks of the River Usk in 2002 as part of a brand new museum for the city. According to the council, the existing Museum and Art Gallery is housed in a building that “can at best be described as challenging and does not provide enough space to adequately display its collections”.

    As a result, it is seeking a developer that will explore options for a new museum that will house this 15th century trading vessel, the most important archaeological find in Wales of recent times, as well as the existing museum’s extensive collection. In its tender document, the council said the new museum should promote and display the ship as a key exhibit; however, the focus should not be on maritime activity alone. Instead the find should be used to interpret the River Usk’s seminal importance to the development of Newport, but also to tell this story within a wider social context, drawing in the important archaeological and social history elements that await to be fully exploited.

    A council spokeswoman said: "It could provide an excellent opportunity to tell the story of medieval Newport and its history as an international maritime town long before its development as an industrial port. Finding a suitable location is a complex matter and any recommendations will be thoroughly scrutinised by officers and members before proceeding further following this initial exploratory stage.” Since the discovery of the ship, steady progress has been made to record all 1,700 timbers. The ship was excavated by a team of archaeologists and lifted from the ground timber by timber. Conservation of the waterlogged timber is now under way and is expected be completed in 2014. Ideally the new building should be available to receive the timbers after the completion date. The deadline for submission of bids is 19 October 2011.

    COUNCIL SPENDS £6 MILLION PLUS ON REDUNDANCIES

    Oct 13 - BBC figures have revealed that Newport City Council has spent over £6.5 million on redundancy payments for staff in the last three years.

    NO PLAN FOR BY-ELECTION

    Oct 12 - Despite the vacancy caused by the death of Labour Councillor Ken Powell it is unlikely that a by-election will be called in the Alway ward. New Council elections will take place in May next year.

    PRAISE FOR CITY LIBRARIES

    Oct 11 - Newport’s library service is among the strongest performing in Wales for the ninth year running. For the first time since the Welsh Government introduced the Welsh Public Library Standards in 2002, the city has achieved all 14 of the expected standards.

    “I am immensely proud of our libraries and the committed staff who work so hard and I’m pleased that this report formally recognises that they are delivering a first class service,” said Councillor Mike Hamilton, cabinet member for leisure and culture. “We are still facing difficult financial challenges but so far we have maintained our library service for Newport, indeed we have enhanced it. Newport now has libraries in 13 locations including two added during the present administration. I would encourage residents who may not have visited a library for a while to have a look at what is on offer. As well as a wide selection of books, they offer a wide range of resources as such as free computer access and information services.”

    SUPERMARKET/PLANNING UPDATE

    Oct 10 - Newport's two newest supermarkets are set to open in the near future. Morrisons will open their Lliswerry store on Monday October 17. Tesco will open their new Extra store in Newport Retail Park on Monday October 24.

    Plans have been submitted for the works relating to  the Magistrates Court building to be erected near George Street Bridge. The three-storey building will include four courts, a roof-space, internal courtyard and provision for cells. Council planners will also consider more details of the proposed Premier Hotel set for the former Westgate Hotel building on High Street.

    LABOUR TARGETS NEWPORT

    Oct 8 - Shadow Welsh Secretary Peter Hain has called on Labour to focus on the fight against the Liberal Democrats in Wales and in particular in Council elections in seven areas including Newport in 2012.  Hain has told a conference of party activists in Cardiff “Next year we have seven councils that we will be targeting to take control – Cardiff, Carmarthenshire, Conwy, Flintshire, Newport, Swansea and Wrexham. In those councils we lost 177 seats over the same period: in Cardiff we lost 42 councillors, down from 55 to just 13. In Wrexham we’ve lost 22 seats and in Newport 27." Current composition of Newport City Council - 21 Labour, 18 Conservative, 9 Liberal Democrats and 2 Independents.

    RYDER CUP PLAQUE UNVEILED

    Oct 8 - A unique sandstone plaque was unveiled in Newport yesterday to commemorate the staging of golf’s top team competition at The Celtic Manor Resort in 2010. The Ryder Cup director, Richard Hills, was joined by Councillor Matthew Evans, leader of Newport City Council and Andrew Morris, head of streetscene at Newport City Council, as they officially unveiled the plaque, which has been built into the pavement outside the Newport Civic Centre. The 2010 Ryder Cup was held at The Celtic Manor Resort in October last year when the European Team emerged victorious by a score of 14½ -13½ in one of the most dramatic final days in the history of the prestigious event.

    CARNEGIE LIBRARY TO SHUT FOR UPGRADE

    Oct 8 - The Carnegie Library on Corporation Road will close for a temporary period to allow for an upgrade between 7 November to 5 December. The Council states "The interior decoration of Carnegie Library, both the main public and small staff areas is in severe need of repair due to internal cracking and redecoration throughout. Carnegie contains an area previously occupied by the housebound library service and the service will take this opportunity to re-configure the building to increase the library space and provide an area which can be used for provision of community learning courses and as a meeting room."

    A Carnegie library is a library built with money donated by Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. 2,509 Carnegie libraries were built between 1883 and 1929, including some belonging to public and university library systems. 1,689 were built in the United States, 660 in Britain and Ireland, 125 in Canada, and others in Australia, New Zealand, Serbia, the Caribbean, and Fiji.

    JOB TO GO AT THE ARGUS

    Oct 6 - The owners of the Newport-based newspaper the South Wales Argus have confirmed that jobs are at risk due to a proposed restructuring. The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has claimed that five editorial posts are to go and offices in Chepstow and Pontypool are to close.

    Parent company Newsquest is one of the largest regional publishers in the UK. Kevin Ward, of Newsquest East Wales and Gloucestershire, says the company is in consultation with affected staff. The NUJ claimed the losses included one sub-editor, a reporter, a photographer and an editorial assistant. The union said a vacant sub-editing post would also remain unfilled. Mr Ward confirmed that the company had proposed restructuring in editorial and advertising departments.

    "Unfortunately these proposals have placed a number of jobs at risk," said Mr Ward. Michelle Stanistreet, the NUJ's general secretary, claimed the company was trying to boost profits for shareholders. "The announcement of job cuts and office closures in Wales is a direct attack on our members and quality journalism," she said. Newsquest, which has 5,000 employees in the UK, is in turn owned by American media group Gannett, which publishes 85 daily newspapers and owns 23 TV stations in the US.

    EARLY LEARNING STORE JOINS UP WITH MOTHERCARE

    Oct 6 - Every standalone Early Learning Centre will disappear after its parent company confirmed that only stores within Mothercare outlets will remain. The announcement from Mothercare – ELC’s parent company – confirmed the closure of its Cardiff city centre store last night, with stores in Swansea, Newport and Cwmbran already closed. Eight staff have been affected by the Newport closure on October 1, while it is believed that 13 staff face uncertain futures at the Cardiff store. Staff numbers affected by other closures are not yet known. Two dual Mothercare and ELC stores will remain in Cardiff, and one in Newport. A spokeswoman for Mothercare said that the closures were “in line with its current portfolio plans” for its stores.

    CITY CENTRE SCHEME MOVES FORWARD

    Oct 5 - Newport City Council and Queensberry have completed and exchanged the development agreement for the proposed retail, food and leisure scheme for the John Frost Square area. With this key legal stage successfully delivered, the council’s development partner can now drive the project forward and it is expected that a detailed planning application will be submitted later this year.

    “The council and Queensberry have completed the development agreement more quickly than expected which means the scheme is now ahead of schedule and that is excellent news for Newport,” said Councillor Matthew Evans, leader of Newport City Council. “It usually takes many years to get a new retail scheme in place but all involved with this project have acted with urgency as we know how vital it is for the city, its businesses and its residents. We are another step closer to seeing our vision for the city centre becoming a reality. I would like to thank all those who have worked so hard to get us to this important stage so promptly.”

    Paul Sargent, Queensberry’s managing director, said: “We were extremely impressed at the council’s ‘can do’ approach to this scheme which has allowed us to negotiate a complex suite of documents in record timing. Having a solid, workable development agreement as a backdrop to this important project can only help to speed up the overall development programme bringing greater benefits to all involved. With the development agreement behind us, the next steps are securing a suitable anchor and progressing leasing contracts, submitting a planning consent by year end and looking towards negotiations with funders in the new year.Everything still points to a start on site in 2013.”

    CITY UNI RESPONDS TO WELSH GOVERNMENT RETHINK CALL

    Oct 2 - The University of Wales, Newport has today responded to the consultation on the Future Structure of Higher Education in Wales, currently being undertaken by the Welsh Government.

    Following an extensive consultation process with staff, students and stakeholders, the University has proposed the creation of a genuinely new university in South East Wales, but only if it further strengthens Newport’s mission to widen access, promote social justice and drive economic regeneration.

    The University has made clear that it would not countenance any structure which would weaken this, or damage the role that Higher Education plays within the region. Newport contributes over £100m per year into the regional economy and is one of Wales’ most successful universities at opening up education to people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Over half of Newport’s 9500 students come from within the Gwent region. The University’s strong links with Further Education Colleges, local authorities and the extra emphasis placed upon delivering services for local businesses have made it an integral part in efforts being made to improve opportunities for the communities of Gwent.

    The new institution would allow the sharing of expertise and resources across all its constituent parts through the use of enhanced technology and online learning. A larger institution would also open up new opportunities to collaborate with businesses, increase international collaboration and focus on providing essential skills for the Welsh economy. Dr Peter Noyes, Vice Chancellor of the University of Wales, Newport said: “We have a once in a lifetime opportunity with the reconfiguration of Higher Education in Wales, and that is why it is so important that we get it right."

    WELSH GOVERNMENT SLUMBERS OVER EBBW VALE DECISION

    Oct 1 - A new report from the Department for Transport has indicated that passenger numbers on the Ebbw Vale to Cardiff line are over-subscribed by 450 per cent compared to original estimates. The report underlines the benefits being missed out on by Newport, the original destination for the service.

    The Welsh Government, which funded the Ebbw Vale rail project, said it was generally accepted that actual passenger demand significantly exceeded the forecasts.“The current issue being considered is the commitment to feasibility work on Ebbw Vale-Newport services,” said a spokesman.

    CITY DEVELOPMENTS

    Oct 1 - Work has started on the major refurbishment of the iconic Lysaghts Institute in Lliswerry adjacent to the new Morrison Store. The institute will become a community facility. The development is part of a project funded by Linc Cymru and Morrisons.

    The City Council has set aside £4.2 million for a new bus station as part of the proposed city centre development. Councillor Bill Langsford queried developer Queensberry's withdrawal from a scheme in Wolverhampton at a recent Council meeting but was advised this a land dispute and nothing to do with the developer.

    Costa Coffee's plan to redevelop the former Barclays Bank building on Commercial Street has been referred to CADW by the City Council. High street fashion retailer Pilot has opened a new store in the former Monsoon premises. Early Learning Store is to close this week joining Next and Burton on the list of store closures in the city centre.

    A number of retailers are in discussions with the Kingsway Shopping Centre about opening new units in their development but other than the opening of an Art Depot there is no news to report.

    Construction is underway at Glan Llyn, site of the new eastern suburb. Supermarket retailer Lidl is to open a new store in Maesglas at the 28East Retail Park.

    GUNMAN'S SON FOUND DEAD

    Sep 28 - A teenager has been found dead in woods almost six weeks after his father shot his mother in a hair salon.The body of Jack Williams, 16, was discovered in Newport after he was reported missing on Monday.

    His father, Darren Williams, had also been found dead in woodland as police searched for him after he shot his estranged wife in August.Jack's mother Rachel, 39, who recently left hospital, was said to be devastated by her son's death. A family spokesman said Jack found it hard to come to terms with the events. Jack, a former pupil at Newport High School, had been staying with his father's sister while his mother was in hospital. She came out of hospital at the weekend and Jack was reported missing on Monday evening. Police later discovered Jack's body.

    CALL FOR DIGITAL ENTERPRISE ZONE

    Sep 28 - Monmouthshire Council Cabinet Member Bob Greenland has told Wales Online there should be a digital enterprise zone covering Newport, Monmouthshire and Torfaen.

    “Monmouthshire and neighbouring authorities in Torfaen and Newport can offer a lot to such businesses through their strong broadband infrastructure and proximity to the digital and creative expertise provided by the University of Wales, Newport. Moreover these areas offer excellent and very convenient transport links to other parts of the UK and here in Monmouthshire we can boast a genuine spirit of enterprise among local people which is being nurtured by our groundbreaking Enterprise Partnership, forged between the council and Wales’ largest business support agency, Venture Wales.”

    NEW CHAIRMAN FOR NEWPORT UNLIMITED

    Sep 26 - South East Wales’ business entrepreneurs have a vital role to play as ambassadors for the future of Newport, according to leading businessman Bill Mayne, the new chairman of Newport Unlimited. Mr Mayne, who has just been appointed to lead the board of the urban regeneration company, said: “We believe that successful local businesses can play a much bigger role in the development of the City.

    “We have some great entrepreneurs in the Region whose support and advice could be invaluable. It’s critical we make it easy to do business here. This is a great place, and we have a talented team here at Newport Unlimited with a “can-do” attitude and we want to get that message out across the UK and internationally. Our business community are our best ambassadors.” As chief executive of MSS Group, a leading provider of support services and environmental consultancy, he brings a wide breadth of private sector experience to Newport Unlimited. He takes over from Grant Watson, chief executive of Alder King, who was Chairman of Newport Unlimited since 2004, and a guiding force in the delivery of major projects in the city. The city centre is top of the list of priorities, according to Mr Mayne. He said: “There has been some outstanding regeneration in the city but it is so important that we focus on the centre to improve the look and feel of Newport.”

    CITY PREPARES FOR CARRIER BAG CHARGE

    Sep 25 - Newport City Council is helping shoppers to prepare for the introduction of carrier bag charges which take effect in Wales from 1 October. On 29 September from 10am, the council will be giving away reusable cotton bags upstairs in the Newport Indoor Market to the first 200 customers. Shoppers can then take these reusable bags with them when they go shopping and avoid paying a charge for a singe use carrier bag.

    Waste Awareness Wales is supporting the introduction of the charge and its recycling officer Andrew Osborne said: "More than eight out of ten carrier bags are disposed of in landfill; many more end up as rubbish. We simply cannot continue wasting our valuable resources in this way.

    CARDIFF WOMAN ARRESTED AFTER SUSPICIOUS FIRE

    Sep 25 - Gwent Police is appealing for information and witnesses following a fire at Lighthouse Park, Wentlooge, Newport on Saturday 24th September. A static residential caravan and a shed were found alight at approximately 7.25pm. The fire is thought to have started some time between 6.50pm and 9pm. Officers are treating it as deliberately set.

    A 37 year old woman from the Cardiff area has been arrested on suspicion of arson and has been released on police bail pending further enquiries. A black Volkswagen Golf car was reportedly seen in the area of Lighthouse Park between 6.45pm and 7.30pm and officers ask that anybody who saw the vehicle or anyone with information about the incident contacts them on 101 or calls Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    BATH FURY AT 'PANTS' DECISION

    Sep 25 - A football chairwoman said a referee making two teenagers change their underwear by the pitch during an FA Youth Cup match was "inappropriate". The two Bath City youth players were asked to change by the referee because the colour of their underwear did not match the rest of their kit. While they were changing, opponents Newport County scored and Bath's manager Billy Clark was sent off. Chair Manda Rigby said the boys should not have to change in front of a crowd. Fifa rules state undershorts must match the colour of the rest of the kit.Bath eventually lost the game 6-0, accruing six red cards, including for the manager and a substitute.

    WELSH GOVERNMENT SLATED BY COUNCIL LEADER

    Sep 20 - As Newport's Labour leaders and MP's remained silent it was left to the City's Conservative leader to slate the Welsh Government following its rejection of Newport's claim to an enterprise zone. Matthew Evans said he was bitterly disappointed and angry at the Government's decision to reward Ebbw Vale and Cardiff at the City's expense. He urged Edwina Hart to consider the City for a sixth enterprise zone based around digital services. He said: "The city will now be 'squeezed' by Bristol and Hereford on one side and Cardiff and Ebbw Vale on the other making it even more difficult for Newport, which is just as seriously affected by the global recession, in facing the on-going economic challenges."

    Enterprise zones in Wales

    NEWPORT IGNORED BY WELSH GOVERNMENT

    Sep 19 - Newport has once again been ignored by the Labour administration in Wales as it announced today the creation of five enterprise zones. Bizarrely, Cardiff has gained a zone despite the fact the Welsh capital has benefitted significantly from huge public sector support. An area alongside Bristol Temple Meads railway station has been named by the UK Government as a local enterprise zone. The new zone, covering 70 hectares, will offer reduced business rates and simplified planning rules.

    Welsh ministers had been urged to act after 21 enterprise zones were announced across England. The five new zones will be at Anglesey, Ebbw Vale, Deeside, St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan, and Cardiff. Companies investing in the sites will receive rate relief and may benefit from tax breaks to expand. The Welsh Government said its plans were in the early stages and no final decision had been made on whether to relax planning rules. There had been hopes Jaguar Land Rover would site its new engine plant, which it expected to create 750 jobs. But the company, which also considered India, said a £355m factory in Wolverhampton would be closer to its other plants.

    YATES LODGE TO BECOME PREMIER INN HOTEL

    Sep 18 - The former Tredegar Arms Hotel is set to be revived as a Premier Inn Hotel in a proposed redevelopment by Richard Hayward properties of the site on 55-56 High Street. This development seeks to refurbish and convert the previous Yates’s building to provide new hotel accommodation on the upper floors while retaining existing A3 use on the ground floor. The new hotel will also offer street level Restaurant and Business Lounge. The existing building is a Grade II listed building which was developed as the former Tredegar Arms Hotel and Lloyd’s Bank in 1926. This application is submitted in conjunction with a Listed Building Application to facilitate restoration of this historically important building.

    MEN QUESTIONED OVER ANOTHER POSSIBLE MURDER

    Sep 18 - Police investigating the death of a 22-year-old man in Newport have questioned four men on suspicion of murder. The man was found on Bedford Road in the city centre on Friday and his death is being treated suspicious. Officers arrested four men, aged 19, 29, 36 and 41, but they have since been released on police bail.Gwent Police said officers are continuing to make inquiries to establish the circumstances surrounding the death.

    TJ's COULD BECOME 'EATERY'

    Sep 18 - Newport's iconic TJ's rock venue sold for £242k at auction on Friday. Cardiff man Ozzeer Hassan, 23, bought the Clarence Place property He said he was buying it along with his father Mehmood and told the Argus he plans to turn the property into an eatery with a residential space upstairs.

    PICKLES TO VISIT INFORMATION STATION

    Sep 18 - The Rt Hon Eric Pickles, secretary of state for communities and local government, made an official visit to Newport’s new Information Station on Thursday. Newport City Council on behalf of One Newport (Newport’s Local Service Board) is driving forward an innovative project to bring together a range of council services alongside partner organisations such as health, the police, Citizens Advice, housing, Job Centre Plus, Community Development and the university under one roof.

    The centre will be situated in the former railway station building in the heart of the city and called the Information Station. Leader of Newport City Council, Councillor Matthew Evans, said: “The new facility at Newport’s old railway station will see a marked improvement in service delivery and the project aims to place the citizen at the centre. We aim to reduce the ‘run-around’ often experienced by the public when trying to access public services face to face. “Newport is pioneering this collaborative approach to face to face contact with the public across a broad range of public services. We were delighted that the Rt Hon Eric Pickles was able to visit the facility and see first hand what Newport will be launching very soon.” The new centre will create an easily accessible, welcoming facility that will give local people the opportunity to cover a range of queries and issues all in one place. Organisations will share resources and appropriate information to deliver services in a way that is more convenient for customers.

    WELSH MINISTER BACKS CITY GUM FIGHT

    Sep 19 - Environment Minister, John Griffiths was in Newport today (Monday) to launch a campaign that will help the city rid itself of chewing gum litter. The local authority currently spends £30,000 a year on removing this type of litter but is hoping that the campaign will make local people think twice about how they dispose of their gum, helping to drive down clean up costs in the process.

    Speaking at the launch of the campaign, the Minister said: "We want everyone in Wales to enjoy cities, towns and villages that are clean and tidy. "Unfortunately chewing gum litter is having a negative effect on the quality of local environments right across Wales and it is the most difficult type of litter to clear up, with recent estimates suggesting that it costs up to £2.50 to remove each piece of gum. "This is not just a financial issue though. Chewing gum litter is contaminating our streets and is impacting on the perceptions that people have of our beautiful country and our own enjoyment of it.

    HOUSING ASSOCIATIONS COMBINE TO BUY AFFORDABLE HOMES

    Sep 17 - Four housing associations in Wales have joined forces to deliver affordable homes for rent through a pilot project with support from the Welsh Government and Principality Building Society. Coastal Group, Hendre Group, Seren Group and Cymdeithas Tai Clwyd will work together to buy affordable homes for people to rent under one banner, the Welsh Housing Partnership. These housing associations based in Cardiff, Newport, Swansea and Denbigh in north Wales have a combined turnover of £100 million and manage nearly 18,000 homes. The aim of the £16 million project is to increase the supply of quality affordable homes to families who can't afford to buy their own homes.

    Charlotte Awcock, a 20-year old insurance underwriter for a company in Cardiff, is the Welsh Housing Partnership's first tenant. Born and bred in Newport, Charlotte is delighted that she has been successful in obtaining a quality rented affordable home in Orchard Gardens, Newport. The timing of the tenancy is especially momentous as she is expecting her first child in a few months time.

    Charlotte said: "I'm absolutely delighted with the new house and I consider myself very lucky to be the first tenant of this scheme. A few weeks ago, I was living in a top floor flat, and was not looking forward to climbing up the stairs with a newborn baby in a pram. "After three years on the affordable housing register I am thrilled to be settling down in this lovely estate, and setting up home for me and, my soon to be, first born child."

    POLICE APPEAL OVER MISSING WOMAN

    Sep 11 - Gwent police is appealing for information to help locate missing Newport woman Patricia Anne Fullwood. 62 year old Patricia was reported missing by her family on Wednesday 7th September and police have concerns for her welfare as she is considered vulnerable. Patricia is described as being 4 feet 11' tall and of slight build. She has short cropped copper/red colour hair which is shaved at the back. She has thick gold framed glasses. There was a possible sighting of Patricia getting into a small silver car at around 6pm on Tuesday 6th September. Anyone who sees Patricia or who has information about her whereabouts is asked to contact police on 101.

    TJ's UNDER THE HAMMER

    Sep 9 - A legendary rock venue in Newport is being put up for auction. TJ's in Clarence Place, reputedly where Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain proposed to singer Courtney Love, closed last year after the death of long-term owner John Sicolo.

    The building will go up for sale at the Paul Fosh auction at Cardiff's Park Inn Hotel on 15 September at 17:00 BST with a guide price of £175,000. Mr Fosh said the property offered "tremendous potential". "There's little doubt TJ's was an iconic and well-known rock venue, attracting some major bands especially in the 90s," he said. "It would be great, romantic even, for someone to buy the building and for it to continue its use as a rock venue, but that sadly seems unlikely to be the case."

    UNI RANKS BADLY IN SURVEY

    Sep 8 - Newport University came bottom of the Welsh contingent in a Sunday Times survey of universities. It came out 115th in the UK. The Sunday Times University Guide, in its 14th year, is described as  by the newspaper “the definitive rankings” for universities. It rates universities on a range of criteria including student satisfaction, teaching and research quality, degree results, student to staff ratio, graduate unemployment levels and university dropout rates.

    HEATHROW LINK SUGGESTED BY GOVERNMENT

    Sep 7 - UK Transport Secretary Philip Hammond is said to be drawing up plans for a £500m rail scheme linking Cardiff and Newport with Heathrow Airport. A proposed new spur from the Great Western main line would end the need for passengers to travel in to London before heading out to the airport. The scheme, to include the west of England, would also connect with the proposed HS2 high-speed rail link. The Department for Transport estimated it could cut 30 minutes off journeys.

    WORK STARTS ON EASTERN SUBURB

    Sep 3 - It is reported that work has started on a £1 billion project to build 4,000 new homes on the site of the former Llanwern steelworks in Newport. Developers said that it will see houses built over the next 20 years, creating 6,000 jobs, as well as a business park, a GPs surgery, schools, leisure and retail facilities.

    Developer St Modwen has been involved in preparation for the last five years, clearing the site. The first phase of work will see 307 new homes built. The new community to the east of Newport will be called Glan Llyn and the 600 acre site, which was acquired by St Modwen in 2004, includes plans for schools, a rail link, a police station, new access roads, as well as health and leisure facilities. A business park, covering 1.5 million square feet will be built adjacent to the homes. When completed the value of homes and office buildings on the site will top GBP 1 billion.The old heavy steel making plant at Llanwern closed with the loss of 1,300 jobs in July 2001, although there is still a finishing mill there. Up to 400,000 tonnes of concrete cleared from Llanwern will be re used in the redevelopment of the site. A new Eastern Distributor Road will run through the area linking junction 23A of the M4 and the Lliswerry area of Newport. The website for Glan Llyn is here http://www.glanllyn-newport.co.uk/

    CHILDREN'S HEALTH CENTRE OPENS

    Sep 2 - The Serennu Children's Centre in High Cross was officially opened by the First Minister today. The centre, ten years in the making, was made a reality by generous local funding, the Sparkle Appeal and the Welsh Assembly Government. The centre is purpose built providing care, treatment and activities for children and young people with disabilities and developmental difficulties from Newport, South Monmouthshire and South Torfaen.

    TRAINS HALTED BY BODY ON LINE

    Aug 30 - Rail passengers have been facing delays between Cardiff Central and Newport after a man's body was found on the line. First Great Western (FGW), Arriva Trains Wales and CrossCountry services were all affected. The body was spotted by a train driver at Marshfield at 06:45 BST. His death is being treated as "unexplained". Trains were suspended but back running by 09:30 BST, with delays of up to 45 minutes.

    Replacement buses were brought in between Cardiff and Newport. A FGW spokesperson said: "Services between Cardiff and Newport have been suspended due to an incident on the line at Marshfield. "Police are in attendance but we expect there to be ongoing cancellations and delays for the remainder of the morning.

    A man from Cardiff n his 50s is believed to have been hit by a train is due to be formally identified. The Cardiff man's body was spotted by the side of the tracks at Marshfield Road at around 6.50am by a passing train driver. An examination of his body show he suffered injuries consistent with being hit by a train, but it is unclear which train struck him and at what time, British Transport Police said.

    CITY'S EDUCATION RESULTS CONTINUE TO IMPRESS

    Aug 28 - Results of pupils’ achievements in 2011 at key stages of their education show improvements for all age ranges in Newport compared with last year. Figures released by the Welsh Government show that key stage one (age seven) results. for achieving all three core subjects of maths, science and English – or Welsh in Welsh-medium schools – were the best in Wales. The percentage of pupils who achieved the expected level (two or above) was 88.7 compared with 87.5 in 2010. Key stage two (age 11) also showed an improvement on the previous year with 84.3 per cent of pupils achieving level four or above in the core subjects compared with 83.2 per cent the previous year. Improvement was also seen in key stage three (age 14) with the percentage rising from 68.1 per cent to 70.7 per cent.

    TWO RESCUED FROM BUILDING

    Aug 26 - Two people have been rescued from a fire at a disused hospital building in Newport. Officers were called to reports of a blaze in Cardiff Road, Newport at 0446 BST on Friday. The administrative building used to be part of the Royal Gwent Hospital.

    The rescued people are being treated by ambulance staff at the scene.Crews from Newport, Maindee, Duffryn and Cwmbran are in attendance and damping down.A spokesman for South Wales Fire and Rescue Service said the building measured 65ft by 98ft (20m by 30m).Crews, including eight wearing breathing apparatus, brought the fire under control at 06.16 BST.

    COUNCIL GETS GOOD PERFORMANCE PAYOUT

    Aug 26 - Newport City Council has received confirmation from the minister for local government and communities, Carl Sargeant, that it will shortly receive a payment of £1,493,000 as a result of the council’s strong performance against targets set out in the “Outcome Agreements” agreed with the Welsh Government.

    The payment is released depending on how successful a council has been during 2010/11 in delivering a wide range of projects, with partners, across various communities and the city as a whole. Newport’s strong performance means that it is eligible for the full 100 per cent of the available grant. Work is already well underway to ensure that this strong performance is continued and developed even further.

    Leader of Newport City Council, Councillor Matthew Evans, said: “I am delighted to see the efforts of the council and its partners recognised by the Welsh Government in this way.

    IPCC INVESTIGATION IN TO CITY SHOOTING

    Aug 25 - An investigation is being launched into contact between Gwent Police, a gunman and his family, after he shot his wife and two others in a Newport hair salon. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) will examine any previous interaction between police and Darren Williams. He shot and injured his estranged wife and two others at Carol-Ann's salon, Malpas Road, last Friday. His body was later found at Brynglas woods.

    UNCLAIMED LOTTERY PRIZE IN CITY

    Aug 25 - A Lotto jackpot prize of more than £612,000 which was won two weeks ago has yet to be claimed, according to the National Lottery. The search is now on to find the owner of the ticket, which was bought in the Newport area. They matched all six numbers - 2, 4, 7, 27, 43, 44 - and 45 as the bonus ball in the draw on 10 August. The winner has until 17:30 BST on 6 February, 2012 to make their claim. The National Lottery confirmed the unclaimed ticket was one of three jackpot winners in the Wednesday draw two weeks ago.

    POLICE APPEAL FOR EVIDENCE IN MURDER INVESTIGATION

    Aug 25 - Officers are appealing for information to trace the drivers of two cars who could be vital witnesses in an on-going murder enquiry.  60 year old Jerzy Dubiniec was found dead on Broad Street Pill in the early hours of Saturday 20th August. 

    Between 3.30am and 4am on 20th August it's believed four cars passed the scene where the body of Mr Dubiniec was found. Officers have spoken to the drivers of two of the cars but need to trace the other two who could be crucial witnesses to the enquiry. They are urged to come forward to help police with the on going investigation.  Four people (two men, aged 22 and 44 and two women aged 18 and 46) arrested on suspicion of causing death by careless and inconsiderate driving and failure to report a road traffic collision as well as a 19 year old man and a 23 year old woman arrested on suspicion of murder have all been released with no further action.  A 21 year old woman and a 22 year old man arrested on suspicion of death by driving without due care and attention and failing to stop at the scene of an accident remain on police bail pending further enquiries.  Anyone with any information is asked to call Gwent Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

    SEARCH FOR MISSING CITY WOMAN

    Officers are appealing for information to locate a missing Newport woman. 24 year old Alice Doran was last seen at her Newport home at approximately 3pm on Saturday 13th August.

    She is described as 5'4" tall, of a large build, pale, with short mousy brown coloured hair and brown eyes. When she was last seen she was wearing a grey Mackenzie t-shirt, blue jeans and white Nike trainers.

    It's believed she could be in the West Bromwich area. Anyone with any information regarding her whereabouts is asked to contact Gwent Police on 101.

    SEVEN ARRESTED IN PILL AS BODY FOUND IN ROAD

    Aug 21 - Police in Newport have arrested seven people - three on suspicion of murder - after the body of a 60-year-old man was found in the city early on Saturday. Officers believe the man, found in Broad Street, Pill, was subjected to a serious assault and may have been hit by a vehicle while lying in the road. Two men, aged 19 and 25, and a 23-year-old woman, all from the Newport area, are in custody on suspicion of murder. Two men and two women are also being held on suspicion of driving offences.

    They have been arrested on suspicion of causing death by careless and inconsiderate driving and failure to report a road traffic collision. They are also from the Newport area; the men are aged 22 and 44, and the women are 18 and 46. Police said the victim was pronounced dead by paramedics who were called to the scene at about 04:00 BST. Officers said the investigation was "developing and ongoing". The area has been cordoned off and house-to-house and forensic inquiries are being carried out. Gwent Police are appealing for anyone who was in the Broad Street and the surrounding area between 02:00 and 04:00 BST, either on foot or in a vehicle, to contact them urgently.

    GUNMAN FOUND DEAD AFTER MALPAS ROAD SHOOTING

    Aug 20 - Police said the man who injured three women in a shooting at a hairdresser's in Malpas Road, Newport was targeting his estranged wife. Darren Williams, from Cwmbran, used a double-barrelled shot gun in the attack at Carol-Ann's hair stylist in Malpas Road, Newport on Friday afternoon. His estranged wife was shot in the knee while two salon clients suffered minor injuries from rebounds from the shots.

    Mr Williams' body was found in woods about six hours later. Police are now looking at CCTV to piece together events before the shooting which happened at about 14:20 BST on Friday. Two elderly customers were seen running from the salon with towels on their heads and screaming for help. A wide scale hunt for the gunman and his grey Mini Cooper was launched. Mr Williams' body was eventually found at Brynglas woods - behind Brynglas primary school in the city - at 20:15 BST after a member of the public spotted the car about an hour earlier by a canalside about a mile away.

    A Gwent police spokesman said: “ We are supporting the families of all concerned in this incident and our priority is to ensure they are kept informed as we continue to investigate exactly what happened. We are extremely grateful for the support we have received from people living and working in the Malpas Road area of the city, whose lives and businesses were considerably disrupted during the day.”

    CITY SKATE PARK TO BE RE-LOCATED

    Aug 18 - Young people are to be asked for their views on a new location for the city’s skate park. It will also give people an opportunity to make suggestions about the design of the new facility.

    The move is being proposed because the present site is due to form part of the exciting plans by the Football Association of Wales (FAW) to create a national centre of excellence at the Newport International Sports Village. A number of alternative sites are under consideration but no decision will be made until consultations have been carried out with skate park users, young people and residents. Councillor Mike Hamilton, cabinet member for leisure and culture, said: “Like many people in Newport, I was thrilled when the FAW chose the city to be the home for the new national centre of excellence for the country’s talented players. The need to find a new location for the skate park is also an ideal opportunity to have an improved facility."

    MALL PLAN FOR RETAIL PARK

    Aug 17 - Newport's former Megabowl complex is being lined up for conversion in a £20m scheme. The project would see the former bowling alley complex at Newport Retail Park, empty since it was vacated by Megabowl in 2005, transformed into a retail offer renamed the Mega Centre – providing a total of 55,000 sq ft of retail space.

    The project is being driven by developers Johnsey Estates, which previously leased the site to Megabowl. It already has consent for a supermarket operator on site, but is now targeting non-food retailers. Work would start on renovating the site after the signing up of retail occupiers – which would require a change of use application on the current planning consent.

    Mega Centre, next door to Cineworld, would be served by 700 free car parking spaces. Terry Johnsey, of Johnsey Estates, told Wales Online: “We’ve developed plans to redevelop the empty Megabowl centre as the Mega Centre and bring it back into beneficial use for the people of Newport at what is now recognised as Newport’s premier retail location.

    POLICE WARN OVER RETAIL DISTRACTION BURGLARIES

    Aug 15 - Police in Newport are appealing for information regarding a group of men and women stealing from newsagents in the city. Three newsagents - one on Cromwell Road, another on Corporation Road and another on Somerton Road - were targeted on Saturday (August 13th) between 10am and 1.30pm. The owners were distracted by the group which consists of approximately 10-12 men, women and children and items including jewellery, cigarettes and cash were stolen from inside the shop and private premises attached to the shop. The females are described as wearing long skirts and have worn scarves over the hair and neck. Shopkeepers are urged to be vigilant of this group and to make sure they keep their private premises locked and secure. If anyone has information they are asked to call Gwent Police on 101 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

    NEWPORT MEN ARRESTED ON PUBLIC ORDER OFFENCES FOLLOWING RIOTS

    Aug 14 - A man has been arrested in Newport on suspicion of encouraging or assisting a burglary following rioting in England. The man was later bailed pending further inquiries after his arrest by Gwent Police on Friday night. A total of 15 arrests have been made in Wales for allegedly encouraging public order offences, mostly through social media sites.

    Four people have appeared in court, and two of them were remanded in custody by Cardiff magistrates of Friday. Police urged people to "use social media responsibly" and to be careful not to spread rumours. They said they are continuing to monitor social media and networking sites. But officers added that communities in Wales had not experienced unrest like the violence and looting seen in cities across the UK over the last week. Gwent Police said it has made eight arrests so far, following riots in London and other English cities. A 20-year-old man from Newport and an 18-year-old man from the Gwent area who were arrested on suspicion of encouraging a public order offence have been released on police bail pending further enquiries. A 26-year-old man from Ebbw Vale and a 20-year-old man from Newport, arrested in the Bristol area, were both arrested on charges of allegedly intending to cause public disorder. They have been released on bail. A 25-year-old man from the Chepstow area and a 31-year-old man from the Newport area were also arrested on similar charges. They have also been given bail.

    CITY MISSES OUT ON LOCAL TV

    Aug 13 - Newport will miss out on a possible local television station in plans to be announced by the Government. The third largest city in Wales will have to make do with a Cardiff station. Just to rub it in the Secretary of State for Culture, the Olympics, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt, will be outlining his vision for local TV at a summit in Newport on 26th of August! 

    This is the breakdown of stations proposed

  • Bangor - 22,000 households
  • Cardiff, coverage to include Bridgend and Newport - 500,000 households
  • Carmarthen - 51,000 homes
  • Haverfordwest - 25,000 homes
  • Mold - to include Denbigh, Ruthin - 89,000 households
  • Swansea - also to include Llanelli -116,000 households
  • TRADERS AND CITY LEADERS SLAM RAIL LINK DELAY

    Aug 11 - Newport's political leaders, organisations and businesses have slammed the latest delay to the Ebbw Vale-Newport rail link. As Newport's city centre sinks into the abyss Carl Sargeant has prevaricated, relying on another feasibility study. The inability of the Welsh Government to get off the fence on this issue has outraged Newport opinion. Newport traders in the South Wales Argus have backed the newspaper's ongoing campaign,  City Council leader Matthew Evans told the paper: “If this new report means that at last we will see a light at the end of the tunnel then I welcome it, but I sincerely hope this is not just another delaying tactic.” His colleague David Fouweather said: “Transport has been devolved to Cardiff. It’s time they pulled their finger out and got on with it.”

    TJ HUGHES TO SHUT

    Aug 11 - TJ Hughes, based on Newport's East Retail Park, will close its doors next Wednesday with the loss of 50 jobs. Liverpool based TJ Hughes called in the administrators in June - putting 4,000 jobs at risk - after a difficult period of trading. GA Europe bought the chain's £10m debt and is overseeing clearance sales at the stores across the country.

    COMMON HOUSING REGISTER AGREED

    Aug 11 - Applicants for social housing now make only one application under a reform agreed between the City Council and registered social landlords in Newport. The new procedure will commence from October onwards.

    TRANSPORT TEAM BATTLES BUS CRIME

    Aug 7 - The ‘Newport Transport Team’ - a team of four PCSO’s, who police Newport’s bus routes, have been cracking down on anti-social behaviour as part of a month long operation.

    ‘Operation Fareplay’ was designed to deal with anti-social behaviour at Newport Bus Station, particularly the illegal riding of push bikes through the station and smoking in enclosed public places.

    PCSO Owen Reynolds, who was part of the operation said: “For many Newport residents, travelling by bus is a part of every day life, so it’s important that the journey is as safe and pleasant as possible.

    During the operation, the team achieved the following results:

    •    Forty-six people stopped and searched
    •    Eight people issued with fixed penalties for smoking
    •    Four people issued with £30 fixed penalties for riding push bikes through the bus station
    •    Twelve people stopped for riding push bikes through the bus station
    •    Twenty-one £30 fixed penalties issued for parking offences on bus routes

    POLICE APPEAL OVER BASSALEG BURGLARY

    Aug 7 - Police in Newport are appealing for information regarding a burglary in Churchmead area of Bassaleg during which a mobile phone was stolen. Two men entered the  property at approximately 9.30am on Wednesday August 3rd and demanded money. They left with a mobile phone. The victim - a 28 year old male - was uninjured but shaken.

    The first male is described as black, aged in his mid twenties, five feet nine inches tall, wearing a black and white bandana, blue vest and a tattoo on his upper left arm. The second male is described as white, in his early twenties, five feet eight inches tall, wearing a grey hooded top and sunglasses.
    The two men made off toward the Park View area. If anyone has any information regarding the incident they are asked to call Gwent Police on 101 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

    COUNCIL APPROVES BOOST FOR MARKET ARCADE

    Aug 3 - A £104k grant has been approved to restore the High Street entrance of Newport's historic Market Arcade. 12-13 High Street is a Grade II listed building located within the City Centre Conservation Area. It forms the principal part of one of the entrance blocks to Market Arcade. Whilst the property has considerable historic character, it is currently in a poor state of repair.

    Planning permission and Listed Building Consent have been obtained by the owner and the following works are proposed - restoration works to the upper floor building elevations including the replacement of some windows (and repairs to others) - repair and partial replacement of the existing shop front. The Council's Civic Enhancement Scheme proposes a grant a £104,889.64 towards the restoration of 12-13 High Street. This would represent 80% of the total eligible costs of £131,112.06 and would ensure the viability of the scheme. Councillor Bill Langsford commented "It is pleasing to see that something is being done to this historical building at the top of High Street. This Arcade has been allowed to deteriorate over a long period by its owners and I would like to congratulate the applicant in attempting to enhance the looks of this building which has some lovely architecture".

    Market Arcade designed, like the Newport Arcade in the early 1900's by Haberishon and Fawckner lies between High Street and the Indoor Market.

    TUNNEL OPENS AFTER FIRE

    July 31 - The Brynglas tunnel on the M4 motorway near Newport has fully reopened following a lorry fire on Tuesday. But Transport Minister Carl Sargeant said there would be a 30mph speed limit as there was only partial lighting. He said there had been work around the clock over the last 72 hours to clear debris and examine the tunnel on the westbound carriageway of the M4. The lorry was removed on Wednesday and overnight high-pressure cleaning was completed to allow works to begin. The Welsh Government said engineers spent Thursday carrying out a full structural, technical and safety inspection while a major clean-up operation continued. The eastbound tunnel had been reopened on Tuesday afternoon with a contraflow system.

    LABOUR CONTINUES CAMPAIGN AGAINST INCINERATOR

    July 30 - Newport's Labour Group has ramped its opposition to a proposed incinerator plant for south east Wales. Leader Bob Bright stated "My view – and this is the view of the Labour group – is vehemently opposed to any of the waste incineration options on the current Prosiect Gwyrdd shortlist, and particularly to the one at Bowleaze Common [in Newport]."

    Mr Bright went on to say that conventional incinerators of the same type proposed for Newport, Cardiff and Merthyr Tydfil would be illegal under current US health protection laws, and new plants of this type will probably be outlawed in Europe within the next decade....We cannot hold the health of Newport and the rest of our region as hostage to earlier and unconvincing statements that the link between incineration and fatal diseases is ‘not proven’.
     

    CITY PARKS WIN AWARDS

    July 29 - Belle Vue Park and the grounds of Tredegar House are two of the best in the country – and that’s official. Both will today receive the Green Flag Award, a sign to visitors that the park is well-maintained and well-managed, with excellent facilities. A high-quality green space in Newport.

    Councillor Mike Hamilton, cabinet member for leisure and culture, said: “Newport City Council and our dedicated park staff continue to make our parks the best they can be and these accolades prove what a good job is being done. Both parks are valuable assets for the city and I would urge people who may not have visited them for a while to re-discover these fantastic green spaces. I would like to thank the staff whose work has contributed to the city scooping these top awards yet again.” It is the fourth successive year that Belle Vue has received a Green Flag and the second year for Tredegar House.

    POLICE LOOKING FOR CITY MAN

    July 26 - Gwent Police would like to speak with 28 year old Paul Morrissey in connection with an affray which occurred on Griffin Street Newport on 31/10/10, and also a robbery which happened outside the Esso Garage, Chepstow Road, Newport on 15th January 2011.

    He’s known to have contacts in Newport and the South Wales area. If you see him, or know where he is please contact Gwent Police by dialling 101 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously by dialling 0800 555 111.

    EDL FOUNDER GUILTY OVER SOCCER BRAWL

    July 26 - The founder of the English Defence League has been convicted of leading a brawl involving 100 football fans. Stephen Lennon, 28, led Luton Town supporters and chanted "EDL till I die", as they clashed with Newport County fans in Luton, a court heard. Lennon, from Luton, was found guilty of using threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour on 24 August last year. He was given a 12-month community rehabilitation order and a three-year ban from football by Luton magistrates.

    Luton Magistrates' Court was told he had been at the front of the group of Luton fans and gesticulated "come on then" at his opponents. Timothy North, prosecuting, said two groups of opposing fans appeared close to Luton Town's Kenilworth Road ground five minutes before the evening kick-off. "Officers noticed the presence of Mr Lennon in the group, at the head of the Luton Town supporters," he said. "The impression was he was egging them on. At one stage he was alleged to have shouted the words 'EDL'." Mr North said "there would have been a substantial degree of fighting" if police had not intervened.

    MORE INDECISION OVER EBBW VALE RAIL LINK

    July 25 - The South Wales Argus is reporting that Welsh Local Government Minister Carl Sargeant has asked for an updated report on the costings and projections for the proposed Ebbw Vale - Newport rail line. The article states "A feasibility study into the infrastructure needed to launch the service is still being revised and the minister is unlikely to announce his priorities for Welsh transport projects until the autumn."

    CITY TO HONOUR RICHARD PARKS

    July 20 - Newport is making preparations to honour local hero Richard Parks after he conquered the highest peaks on seven continents and trekked to both the North and South Pole. Mr Parks, who was brought up in the city where his parents still live, notched up a world first by successfully completing the 737 Challenge in a record-breaking six months, 11 days, seven hours and 53 minutes.

    The intrepid adventurer is being invited to a Mayoral Reception being held to recognise his remarkable achievement. Council leader Councillor Matthew Evans will be among those greeting the former rugby player. “We want to roll out the red carpet for Richard in the city where he grew up,” said Councillor Evans. “He deserves all the accolades he has received and this is just our gesture of showing how proud we are of this truly amazing feat.” The reception is expected to take place next month.

    SCHOOL TO BE RENAMED

    July 20 - Hartridge High School is to be renamed Llanwern High School when its new building is complete in October 2012. Construction of the £29 million building is being carried out by the Leadbitter Group, they also completed Newport High School in Bettws.

    UNIVERSITY MERGER CALL

    July 16 - Welsh Government Ministers have been handed proposals for cutting the number of universities in Wales through mergers. A blueprint from the body that funds higher education says mergers should create a "metropolitan" university in south east Wales. Education Minister Leighton Andrews, who last year said universities must "adapt or die", is backing the proposals. It would cut the number of universities in Wales from 11 to six. A report from the Higher Education Funding Council Wales (Hefcw) calls for a merger between the University of Glamorgan, the University of Wales Institute Cardiff (Uwic), and University of Wales, Newport. It would create a "metropolitan" university, comparable to those in similarly-sized cities and regions around the UK.

    INCINERATOR PLANT FOR NASH?

    July 15 - Bowleaze Common near Nash could be the site of a recycling incinerator plant under plans from a consortium of five local councils. The site on the Caldicot Levels just south of Llanwern Steelworks is being suggested for an Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) by Veolia ES Aurora Ltd. It is one of three options being considered by the consortium which includes Newport City Council. Newport's opposition Labour Group has indicated that it is against the development in Nash. Along with MP Jess Morden they have warned that the Council faces a £3 million penalty clause if it fails to back a decision by the consortium to build the plant in Newport.

    The combined municipal waste of the five authorities makes up 40% of the total municipal waste of Wales. Prosiect Gwyrdd states it is committed to looking for the best environmental, cost effective and practical solution for waste after recycling and composting has been maximised in each area.

    FLYNN CALL FOR WESTMINSTER TO HONOUR CHARTISTS

    July 14 - In the House of Commons Newport West MP Paul Flynn has called for Westminster to honour the Chartists of Newport and other progressive groups instead of royals and generals. He asked Leader of the House Sir George Young "Certain elements in our constitution are well represented in the Palace of Westminster with statues, portraits and stained-glass windows, but there is almost a total absence of memorials to progressive groups, such as the Chartists and the Tolpuddle martyrs, that did so much to shape all that is best in our modern democracy. Can we debate early-day motion 2067, which suggests that we represent, for a start, the sacrifice of the Newport Chartists of 1839, 20 of whom died in what they called “a noble cause”?"

    Young replied "It is right that we have statues in the Palace of Westminster that remind us of our traditions and the roots of our democracy. I think that whether and where new statues are erected are matters for the House of Commons Commission. If the hon. Gentleman would like me to raise the issue on the Commission’s agenda, I would be happy so to do."

    TUITION FEES GO-AHEAD

    July 13 - Universities and colleges in Wales are to charge average annual tuition fees of £8,800 after the funding council rubber stamped their plans to improve access. Last month, Hefcw rejected the draft access plans submitted by institutions as part of their bid to charge higher fees, ruling that the proposals were insufficient. But today it announced that it was happy with the revised strategies to improve access, as well as other areas such as IT and employability, submitted by 10 Welsh universities and three colleges. The universities of Cardiff, Bangor, Aberystwyth, Swansea, Glamorgan and University of Wales Institute Cardiff will all charge £9,000 a year for undergraduates in 2012. The University of Wales Newport will charge a range of fees from £8,250 to £9,000.

    CITY POST OFFICES GET EXTRA FUNDING

    July 11 - Rosemary Butler has congratulated staff at Cardiff Road, Alexandra Dock and Thornbury Park Post Offices for their successful application to the Post Office Diversification Fund. The three Post Offices to receive the funding have been awarded part of approved grants of £849,658 to help sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses diversify and improve their facility. The fund aims to  helps local post offices expand their businesses and provide new services for the community. She said “I am delighted that these Post Offices are to benefit from this fund. Post Offices are at the heart of the community and are often a lifeline for vulnerable people. This money will help us to keep Post Offices open by ensuring that sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses have sustainable and viable businesses, and I am pleased that so many Post Offices in Wales have been able to take advantage of the fund.”

     

    GOLDEN CASKET COMES HOME

    July 8 - A gift presented to a remarkable and controversial Newport-born politician has found a home in the city thanks to the generous support of the Art Fund and the V&A Purchase Grant Fund. The George V Gold Freedom Casket was given to James Henry Thomas in 1924 by friends when he was made a freeman of Newport. It was purchased for £26,000 and was successfully acquired by Newport City Council.

    The casket, with enamel panels showing St Paul’s National School, Commercial Street, Newport Harbour, St Paul’s Church and the GWR Chepstow Castle steam locomotive, will now be on display in Newport Museum. Councillor Mike Hamilton, cabinet member for leisure and culture, said: “It is most fitting that this piece of history will now be on display in Newport, the birthplace of the man who received it. “His life was not without its controversy but he served his country and was known for his humour, courage and humanity. “We are very grateful to the V&A Purchase Grant Fund and the Art Fund for making this acquisition possible and I look forward to many people visiting Newport Museum in John Frost Square to visit this and other treasured items we are so fortunate to possess.” Stephen Deuchar, director of the Art Fund, said: “We’re really pleased to have helped make this auction acquisition possible. By putting it on display, visitors will be able to learn more about a fascinating character in Newport’s history. "

    Find out more about J.H.Thomas here

    COUNCIL REPORTS UNDER-SPEND ON CAPITAL PROJECTS

    July 7 - Newport City Council’s cabinet will receive a report on the capital programme outturn 2010/11 which will show an underspend of around £2.4m. The report also requests approval for an increase of £10.1m to the programme with a number of new schemes asked to be added to the programme.

    The under-spend in 2010/11 results mainly from a reduced spend on the Newport High School project (£1.9m). This under spend can be attributed to the reduced cost of the project. At the time of tendering inflation was running relatively high and was forecast to remain so, however, the sudden decline in the economy meant that prices reduced. The council also benefited from reductions in costs as it adopted the NEC form of building contract which meant any gains in reduced costs were shared equally between the council and contractor. The report suggests that the total under spend in the last financial year is utilised to offset the ongoing programme and in particular the level of borrowing attributable to the replacement Hartridge School currently under construction thus reducing the overall cost of the programme. Earlier in the year, council approved a four year capital programme to cover the financial years 2010/11 to 2013/14 totalling £120.3m. A number of new schemes have been requested to be added to the programme increasing the overall size of the programme to £130.4m including capacity to deal with the proposals for Tredegar House involving the National Trust.

    MAN ARRESTED IN BELGIUM IN JEDDO STREET MURDER CASE

    July 6 - Police, working closely with the Belgian Federal Police, have arrested a 40 year old man from the Newport area on suspicion of the murder of Richard Carslake. Mr Carslake was found dead in a flat on Jeddo Street, Pill on 06 April 2011. The man was arrested in the Antwerp area of Belgium. Following extradition the man has been charged with murder. He appeared before Caerphilly Magistrates Court on Thursday. Mr Carslake died from pressure to the face and neck. A 19 year old man was arrested and charged following his death.

    APPEAL FOR INFORMATION AFTER COLLISION

    July 4 - Police are appealing for witnesses following a road traffic collision that occurred yesterday, Sunday 3rd July, between two pedal cycles on the A48 at Castleton near to the old Wyevale Garden Centre site. At approximately 3pm the two pedal cyclists were travelling together along the A48 in the direction of Cardiff when they collided. The collision caused one of the cyclists, a 54 year old man from Wenvoe, to fall off his bike. He was conveyed to the University of Wales Hospital with serious head injuries. He currently remains there in a serious but stable condition. The other cyclist, a 53 year old man from St. Mellons, was uninjured. Officers are particularly interested in speaking to a motorist driving a red car who stopped at the scene of the collision to help, and also a cyclist who was riding in the opposite direction on the A48, towards Newport, at the same time.

    SCHOOL TO RE-OPEN TOMORROW

    July 3 - Arrangements are being made to enable St Andrew’s Junior School to re-open to pupils tomorrow (Monday) following the serious fire believed to have been caused by a dishwasher earlier this week. Heat and smoke damage as a result of the blaze, which started in a staff room, has affected the entire ground floor.

    From Monday, all pupils and staff will be accommodated in the first floor following a thorough cleaning to make it ready for occupation.Health and safety measures will be in place to protect pupils, staff and visitors. Councillor David Atwell, cabinet member for education and young people, said: “This is clearly an upsetting time for everyone at St Andrew’s but I would like to pay tribute to the head teacher, governors and council employees who are doing everything they can to ensure the school can re-open as quickly as possible. “It was also extremely heartening to hear how parents have offered their help. This is community spirit at its best and will help the school recover from this devastating event.”

    POLICE TARGET METAL THEFT

    July 2 - Scrap metal thieves in Newport should be warned….  A new team of police officers has been launched, dedicated to combating this growing crime. The team, consisting of one sergeant and five officers, is called the ‘Newport Ignite Tasking Team’.  Developed and directed by Inspector Simon Morgan, they work closely with partners such as Newport City Council, BT and the British Transport Police.  Their aim is to reduce the number of metal thefts in Newport and to bring those responsible to justice.

    Sergeant Scott Askew, who is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the team, explains:  “To some, metal theft may seem like a minor crime but the knock on effects are huge and potentially deadly.  Power supplies have been cut off in Newport and the damage being caused to the gas and electricity mains can make them extremely dangerous to the public and thieves alike.” Richie Evans, Field Investigator for BT’s local network business Openreach, adds:  “Cable theft is increasing in Wales and in the last twelve months it has grown to be a particular problem in Newport.  This causes huge inconvenience for our customers, many of whom regard their telephone as a lifeline.  That’s why we are delighted to be part of this excellent police initiative.”

    To catch those responsible for the metal thefts, the team are employing a number of tactics, one of which is called SmartWater.  SmartWater has been painted on high risk targets such as cables and piping and anyone stealing these will be unwittingly covered in the substance.  SmartWater cannot be washed off and would immediately link a thief to the scene of a crime.
     

    TORY AM CALLS FOR NEW CITY RAIL HALT

    July 1 - A new railway station situated at Pye Corner in Newport would be hugely beneficial for the local community, according to South Wales East Tory AM Mohammad Asghar. Mr Asghar has also welcomed the potential of new stations being built at Crumlin and Abertillery. The Shadow Minister for Equalities & Sport has met with local constituents to discuss the scheme. He said: “Pye Corner is an excellent location for a new railway station and forecasts suggest it could generate some 69,000 passengers per year. SEWTA has included a proposal to develop a new station at Pye Corner as part of a Future Phases Programme for the Ebbw Valley Railway. A more detailed feasibility study is presently underway. Implementation of this station is dependent on other factors, however, and progress made to the wider development of the Ebbw Vale railway is crucial, particularly the introduction of additional services to Newport. The Welsh Government must get their act together. I understand the business case for this additional station, and those at Crumlin and Abertillery, assumes that the Welsh Government will have made sufficient progress on the development”.

    CITY RECYCLING HITS NEW HIGH

    July 1 - Residents have helped to boost Newport’s recycling rate to more than 48 per cent. This good news comes at the same time as figures for the Household Waste Recycling Centre in Docks Way show it has recorded its highest ever recycling rate of 61 per cent.

    In 2010/11 the council recycled or composted 44 per cent of household waste produced in the city and this has now risen to 48.3 per cent. Councillor David Fouweather, cabinet member for street services, said: “These latest statistics are extremely encouraging but we still have some way to go to meet the target we have been set of a 52 per cent recycling rate by 2012/13. It is vital that we reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill for a number of reasons. Landfill capacity is rapidly running out and decomposing waste produces methane which is harmful to the environment. Failure to meet that tough 52 per cent figure will also mean the council will be fined up to £368,000. I would like to thank all those residents who are participating in the range of recycling schemes that we operate in partnership with charity Newport Wastesavers. They are all helping to make a big difference to the city and the environment.”

    POLICE ISSUE SAFETY ADVICE TO CITY RESIDENTS

    Jun 30 - Police Officers in Newport are reminding residents to keep an eye on their car keys after a small number of burglaries in the area have resulted in cars being stolen. Opportunist thieves, who have seen car keys on display in homes, have accessed them through letter boxes, cat flaps and open windows.

    Detective Constable Tola Munro, from Newport said:  “Burglaries in Newport have fallen over the past year and if you live in Newport it’s unlikely that your home will get broken into.  This makes it tempting, when it’s warm, to leave a couple of windows open during the day or when you go out. Please remember to shut all windows, when you go out, even if you are just popping to the shops.  If it’s warm at night, leave an upstairs window open on the catch, rather than a downstairs one. And please don’t leave your car keys near the front door, on the table, or in the door!  Put them somewhere safe and out of sight, or do what I do - take them up stairs when I go to bed!”
     

    MAN CHARGED WITH MURDER

    Jun 29 - Thirty year old Stanislaw Gliszczynski, who was arrested on suspicion of the murder of 34 year old Ramunas Raulinautis who died at Morriston Hospital on the morning of Saturday 12th March, has been charged with murder. He has also been charged with attempted murder and arson with intent in connection with an incident on Livingstone Place in Newport on 8th March. A 27 year old man from Newport has also been charged with assisting an offender.

    MAN ARRESTED IN CONNECTION WITH CITY MURDER

    Jun 27 - Officers have arrested a man they wanted to speak to in connection with a murder investigation where a man died following a fire on Chepstow Road in Newport. The victim, 34 year old Ramunas Raulinautis, died at Morriston Hospital on the morning of Saturday 12th March. The fire was in the forecourt area of the Gateway Express Hotel on Wednesday 9th March, Ramunas Raulinautis was set alight and had also been assaulted. Thirty year old year old Stanislaw Gliszczynski was arrested in London on suspicion of murder. He has been brought back to custody in Newport and is currently being questioned.

    CALL FOR CITY ENTERPRISE ZONE

    Jun 26 - Commercial property may have a significant role to play should the Welsh government choose Newport as one of its new enterprise zones. The country's first minister Carwyn Jones recently revealed that Wales will follow in the footsteps of England by setting up the special regions, designed to boost trade and industry. And Dan Smith, director of M4 Property Consultants, a commercial property advisory company, said developments will be needed should Newport make the cut, reported Wales Online. He told the news source that while he is encouraged by some of the commercial property projects carried out in the destination, there is room for more. "Newport has proved it is a good business location. However, we must continue to increase the employment opportunities available and to do this we must offer a viable alternative to nearby cities," Mr Smith stated.

    In the Budget the Chancellor announced plans to establish 21 new enterprise zones across England that will seek to stimulate selected areas of the country through tax breaks, reduced planning restrictions and "superfast" broadband. The enterprise zones will offer a business discount rate worth up to £275,000 over five years for firms that move into the area over the course of this parliament. The government said it will also help develop "radically simplified" planning processes, and pledged to introduce superfast broadband in the area. The chancellor also said he would consider enhancing capital allowances for plant and machinery in the zones and announced that, for at least 25 years, all business rates growth within the zone will be retained by local authorities to support their economy.

    The focus of the first wave of enterprise zones is on cities and areas with untapped potential. The four confirmed enterprise zone sites are:

    In addition, an area alongside Bristol Temple Meads railway station has been named as a local enterprise zone. The new zone, covering 70 hectares, will offer reduced business rates and simplified planning rules.

    THREE RESCUED OFF SANDBANK

    Jun 23 - Three people have been airlifted to safety from a yacht which ran aground on a sandbank. Mumbles coastguards received a mayday call on Friday afternoon from the boat, which was stranded 2.5 miles (4km) from the River Usk mouth at Newport. An RAF rescue helicopter from Chivenor and RNLI lifeboats from Portishead and Penarth attended. The 7m (23ft) yacht, Jeannie, is due to be moved on Saturday after bad weather hampered its removal on Friday.

    GUIDEBOOK SLATES CELTIC MANOR

    Jun 23 - A new guide book entitled 'Wacky Wales' has slated the Celtic Manor's appearance as  “appalling” and “like a prison”. Author Colin Palfrey also characterises Cwmbran is less than glowing terms referring to its “windswept characterlessness”. He writes: “There’s absolutely nothing to keep you there. The wind whistles down the corridors of the shopping areas as if to say: ‘You’ve been here long enough; now go home’.”

    HEROIN GANG JAILED FOR 70 YEARS

    Jun 18 - Gang members who planned to flood south Wales with drugs worth £50m have been jailed for a total of almost 70 years. The 10 men including two men from Newport were behind what police told Cardiff Crown Court was the biggest ever seizure of heroin in Wales.

    An investigation smashed a network stretching from Wales to north west England producing the drug on an industrial scale. Coordinator Det Supt Chris Dodd said: "This highly organised criminal network believed they were above the law." On Friday the gang was jailed for a total of 68 years 10 months by Judge Rhys Rowlands. The court heard how every major town along the M4 was a target for the gang. As more and more heroin began to show up in blood tests carried out at police stations, undercover officers from the Tarian regional task force were deployed. They watched as deals were done in public places, with one favoured spot being outside the Techniquest Science Museum in Cardiff.

    Those sentenced with conspiracy to supply Class A drugs after pleading guilty included:

    COUNCIL UPS FUNDS FOR CITY DEVELOPMENT

    Jun 17 - As it steps up the urgency of the proposed retail development of the city centre Newport Council's Cabinet has assigned £152,000 from the Newport Festival to the project. In addition, the Cabinet agreed the ‘seed funding’ of the city centre redevelopment scheme in order to progress the development in stages.

    Queensberry Real Estate, the spin off from the UK arm of Multi Development, has been selected as the preferred bidder for the Newport Friars Walk shopping centre. The new property firm was selected by Newport Council at a meeting this afternoon, and beat off competition from other shortlisted developers including Stanhope, Bride Hall and Centros. The council has selected a new development partner for the 350,000 sq ft scheme after the original developer, Modus, went into administration in May 2009. The city centre has recently lost key retailers Burtons and Next with M&S expected to follow in March 2012. The newscheme has been downsized from about 475,000 sq ft with two anchor schemes, to a 350,000 sq ft scheme with just the one anchor, which has been mooted as Debenhams. Debenhams indicated they are still committed to Newport. A spok - eswoman for Debenhams, which was earmarked to be the anchor store in the original ill-fated scheme for Friars Walk, confirmed to the South Wales Argus recently that the firm is still committed to coming to Newport.

    CITY FIRM STABILISES PYRAMID

    Jun 16 - A city engineering company is using 21st Century technology, including air bags, to help preserve one of Egypt's most imposing landmarks, dating back to 2,700 BC. The Pyramid of Djoser is Egypt's oldest step-built pyramid. But it was at risk of collapse after an earthquake in 1992.

    Newport specialist engineers Cintec, who have previously provided solutions to structural problems at landmarks such as the White House and Windsor Castle, were set the task of helping it last another 4,700 years. The team has now completed phase one of the work at the site at Saqqara, south west of Cairo. It involved using pressurised air-filled bags, in order to hold up the roof of the 60m high pyramid, while more permanent repairs are carried out.

    FIRE CREWS BATTLE BLAZE

    Jun 16 - Fire crews fought a blaze at a terraced house in Newport early on Thursday. The alarm was raised in Chepstow Road, Maindee, at 0515 BST on Thursday, and fire was put out at 0700 BST. South Wales Fire Service said the house's occupants had been accounted for and there were no injuries. Ther fire also affected the roof space of an adjoining property. Four pumps, plus a hydraulic platform and a water bowser attended.

    BBC COMMENTATOR DIES

    Jun 13 - Former BBC football commentator Idwal Robling has died at the age of 84 following a short illness. Robling's commentating career began on the radio with BBC Wales in the 1960s. But his big break came in 1969 when he won a competition to be part of the BBC commentary team for the 1970 World Cup, beating Ian St John in the final round. Robling, who lived in Malpas,  was a highly respected amateur footballer and was selected in the Great Britain squad for the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki.

    M4 SPEED LIMIT ENDS

    Jun 10 - The 50mph average speed limit on the M4 at Newport has been lifted with work on variable speed limit signs completed. It was in force between the Coldra (junction 24) and Tredegar Park (28). The Welsh Government says motorists will now enjoy safer driving conditions and more reliable journey times. Transport Minister Carl Sargeant said: "This route plays a major role in the connectivity of Wales and is essential to the future prosperity of our economy." "Replacement of the average speed cameras with variable speed limits (VSL) will achieve this by using new technologies to help ensure that our road network runs smoothly."

    WELCOME FOR NEW CYCLING BRIDGE

    Jun 8 - A twenty three tonne steel bridge linking Home Farm with Caerleon Comprehensive School has been offically opened as part of the Newport to Caerleon cycling and walking route. The bridge was constructed by Rowecord of Newport and funded by the Big Lottery Fund, the Welsh Government and Newport Unlimited. The project was supervised by Newport City Council.

    EIGHT VEHICLE CRASH ON M4

    Jun 7 - Seven cars and a lorry were involved in a crash which partly closed the M4 westbound at Newport on Tuesday morning. The crash near junction 28 at Tredegar Park resulted in traffic queues of more than three miles (5km). Two lanes were closed leading to delays for motorists but one was reopened later in the morning. Gwent Police reported minor injuries in the crash, which happed at around 0930 BST.

    NEWPORT UNIVERSITY ANNOUNCES TUITION FEES HIKE

    Jun 4 - The University of Wales, Newport has announced that for many courses they would charge the same levels of tuition fees as Aberystwyth and Cardiff. However, Welsh Government subsidies mean students from Wales will only pay £3,400 but those from England will pay the full amount.

    Newport plans to charge £8,250 for less expensive courses, and vice-chancellor Peter Noyes stressed that the £9,000 fees would bring the university only an extra £100 per student. He said: “Increasing the cost of study for our future students is not something we do with any relish, but is the only option available to us in the situation that we find ourselves in.Charging £9,000 is likely to only lift our core funding per student by around £100 per year in comparison to the current situation.”

    CITY BASED LATVIANS ARRESTED AFTER THEFT

    Jun 3 - Three people from Newport have been arrested on suspicion of stealing clothes from recycling banks in Pembrokeshire. The suspects, from Latvia but living in Newport were arrested in connection with thefts of a tonne of clothing at locations in Haverfordwest. Police said the clothes, valued at more than £650, were destined for a charity. The arrests were made following a tip off by a member of the public about thefts from a supermarket clothing bank on 27 May.

    SOLAR FARMS WIN APPROVAL

    Jun 2 - Two large scale 'solar farms' have been approved by Newport City Council for sites on the edge of the city. Cornwall-based Silicon Vineyard Limited has got permission to install 14,000 solar pv panels on a 13.8 acre site at Hazel Farm, Langstone. The second proposal given the go-ahead involved a scheme for 9,120 solar pv panels on a 10 acre site at Clearwell Farm, Michaelstone-y-Fedw. The schemes will have a combined output of 4.5 megawatts.
     

    NATIONAL TRUST TAKES OVER TREDEGAR HOUSE

    May 30 - Tredegar House is to be leased to the National Trust for 50 years. Newport City Council took the decision to hand over its running on Tuesday. The park and children's play area will still be free to visitors, bookings for weddings and other events will be honoured, and tour charges will stay. The council will keep ownership of the Grade I listed building as lease negotiations continue. It is hoped a higher profile as the National Trust's first stately home in south Wales will boost paying visitor numbers from 25,000 to 100,000 a year. Tredegar House was the ancestral home of the Morgan family, later Lords Tredegar, from the 15th Century until 1951. The building was then used as a private school until the then Newport Corporation bought the property in 1974. Although the local authority has carried out restoration work in subsequent years, a recent survey found that the house and other buildings on site still needed around £4.5m of major work.

    CITY CENTRE DEVELOPER SELECTED

    May 30 - Newport City Council claims it has taken another significant step towards the redevelopment of the city centre. The cabinet has agreed a preferred bidder for the multi-million retail scheme in the heart of the city centre with its mix of retail, food and leisure opportunities.

    Queensberry, a company linked to one of Europe’s leading developers, was chosen from a robust shortlist following a tendering process. It is responsible for managing the assets of Multi Corporation in the UK. Negotiations will now start between the council and Queensberry to finalise a development agreement which is expected to be completed this autumn. “While there are still legal and other processes that have to be followed, I believe this is a major milestone in the road to finally bringing the retail scheme Newport needs and deserves to the city,” said Councillor Matthew Evans, leader of Newport City Council. “The senior management team behind this bid is the same that successfully delivered award-winning shopping schemes in Bath and Belfast and we look forward to a similarly fruitful partnership.

    REMOVALS FIRM EXPANDS IN TO LEEWAY SITE

    May 29 - Removals firm Fox has opened a huge new storage facility in Newport. Cwmbran-based Fox Moving and Storage’s new pemises, on Leeway Industrial Estate, is a 17,000 sq ft warehouse spread over three floors and serviced by a lift. It is divided into space for traditional container storage for the removals side of the business and 120 self storage units ranging in size from 15 sq ft to 200 sq ft.

    Paul Fox, managing director of the family firm, said the company had long been looking to expand into Newport. “Our family has strong business and personal links to Newport and have been looking for a suitable location in the city for some time,” he said. “We are delighted to be able to offer our services to local residents and businesses. We secured the freehold site in August of last year and have invested approximately £1m rebuilding the facilities. The building was stripped back to its steel frame and rebuilt from the ground to the highest modern standards, adding two metres to its height.” Speaking at the launch of the new site mayor of Newport Bill Langsford, praised Fox’s investment.

    MAN CHARGED WITH RAPE AND KIDNAP

    May 28 - A 61-year-old man has appeared in court  charged with rape and kidknap after an incident in Newport last Thursday. Robert Alan McMullin, of Meon Close, Bettws, Newport, was remanded in custody after appearing before Caerphilly magistrates following the alleged attack on a teenager after she got into his car on Chepstow Road at 4am.

    POLICE CRITICISED AFTER 'GROSS FAILINGS' LED TO MAN'S DEATH

    May 26 - An investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) into the death of a "vulnerable" man in a police cell has found "staff failed" to protect him. Andrew David Sheppard, 22, was found dead at Newport Central police station on 30 September 2006.

    An inquest into Mr Sheppard's death also revealed "gross failings" in the system. Gwent Police has since implemented all eight recommendations made by the IPCC. Mr Sheppard was detained by police under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 after "behaving irrationally" on 30 September 2006. His family had been in contact with police and health professionals on several occasions, that day, to seek advice. Mr Sheppard, from Newport, was taken to Newport Central police station and detained overnight in a video cell for assessment.

    At 10.45am on 1 October, officers went to Mr Sheppard's cell so that he could be medically assessed by a police surgeon within the custody unit. The custody officer was concerned about Mr Sheppard's condition and called for assistance. Mr Sheppard was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital and was subsequently pronounced dead.

    FIRST MINISTER CONDEMNS JOB CUTS AT PASSPORT OFFICE

    May 23 - Newport's Passport Office will continue as a customer support centre, but no longer process passport applications, the Home Office has confirmed. It says 150 of 300 posts will remain, "significantly" more than proposed. The office provides passport facilities to all of Wales and much of south and south west England. But First Minister Carwyn Jones said it was extremely disappointing that Wales would be the UK's only area without a "fully-fledged passport office". MPs had warned that closing it would have a significant economic impact.

    Mr Jones said: "The Newport Passport Office is also a significant employer in Newport, and the loss of these valuable jobs will have a huge impact on the city and the local economy. We will now do all we can to support the staff and help them find new jobs or retrain."

    Cllr Matthew Evans, leader of Newport City Council said the original decision was "nonsensical" but there were still mixed feelings by the latest announcement. We sympathise with those who are affected by this morning's decision and are disappointed that IPS did not decide to keep Newport's Passport Office fully open and want assurances that everything possible will be done for those affected," he said. "However, we welcome the news that 150 jobs will be retained in the city."

    PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "The plan to close the Newport office has represented an attack on an area of the UK economy crying out for investment not cuts, and we remain seriously concerned that half of the jobs are still under threat. I would like to pay tribute to our members who have fought these ill-conceived plans from the outset. We are determined to continue that fight."

    A committee of MPs had criticised the passport office plans, warning of a "significant" economic impact.The UK government first announced plans to close the centre last October as part of an efficiency drive. The office itself will relocate to 'other premises in Newport' when the lease on Olympia House ends in 2014.

    NEWPORT WAITS FOR EBBW RAIL DECISION BUT ASSEMBLY SPENDS £620k ON NORTH WALES LINE

    May 23 - While Newport waits for a prevaricating Welsh Assembly Government to commit to the return of a rail service to Ebbw Vale the same organisation is spending £620k of taxpayer's money on 'faster trains' to north Wales.

    The new service, which has a different route to the earlier train, will be run by Arriva Trains Wales. The new service will leave Holyhead at 0751 BST and arrive in Cardiff at 1208. The return journey will leave Cardiff at 1818 BST and arrive back in Holyhead at 2234. Both trains call at Newport on the way.

    PASSPORT OFFICE DECISION ON MONDAY

    May 20 - The fate of Newport's Passport Office will be decided on Monday. Immigration Minister Damian Green will make a statement to the House of Commons at 10am.

    CITY UNI CAMPUS WINS TOP AWARD

    May 20 - The design of the University of Wales, Newport’s new City Campus has been recognised in the prestigious RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) architectural awards. Designed by architects BDP, the City Campus’s striking design was praised as “fluidly knitting together considerably diverse uses” by the judging panel.

    Commenting on the announcement of the award, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Graham Rogers said: “The city can rightly be proud of the building, which the University has always made clear belongs to the people of Newport. As well as being at the heart of the regeneration of Newport and providing economic growth for the region, we can now proudly say that we have one of the best buildings in Wales right here in our city. This award, coming soon after the BBC’s decision to host the recent election debate from the building, means the City Campus is now known well beyond our city.”

    Chris Harding of Architects, BDP added: “It is great news for the University and everyone involved with delivering this amazing building. BDP is very proud of this award and delighted that the City Campus is now recognised for its innovative and creative design.”

    ASHGAR CALLS FOR RAIL LINK ACTION

    May 18 - South Wales East AM Mohammad Asghar has questioned the Welsh Government on its plans to deliver the long-delayed rail link between Ebbw Vale and Newport. In a written question to Wales’ Local Government and Communities Minister, who now carries responsibility for transport, Mr Asghar has asked what steps are being taken “in relation to the opening of a direct rail link between Ebbw Vale and Newport”.

    Mr Asghar said: “I have long championed the massive benefits that a direct rail link between Ebbw Vale and Newport would bring. The constant delays from the previous administration were hugely disappointing and caused much frustration to many of my constituents. So many businesses and traders in Newport regard the opening of the rail link as pivotal to their future survival. I hope the new Minister with responsibility for transport will end these incessant delays and offer a solution”.

    COSTA COFFEE SET FOR CITY CENTRE

    May 16 - In a welcome boost for the city centre Costa Coffee is set to occupy the former Barclays Bank building at 22-23 Commercial Street, opposite H&M. 

    SMALLER WASTE BINS ON WAY

    May 16 - Newport City Council is looking at whether it can to boost its recycling levels by giving homes smaller wheelie bins. More than 70 households in Newport took part in a three-month trial using bins a quarter or a third smaller than usual.

    A strategy report sees the idea as a key plan for 2011-12, with a reduction in the size of waste bins helping to promote recycling. The Council said no firm proposals have been put forward. Councils across Wales are under pressure to improve and maintain their recycling rates. The Welsh Government has a goal for all councils to recycle 70% of all waste by 2025.

    COPPER THEFT HITS CITY BROADBAND

    May 13 - Gwent Police and BT is appealing for help after copper thefts caused thousands of pounds worth of damage and cut services in parts of south Wales last week. Residents and businesses in Monmouthshire and Newport were affected when 80m of cable was stolen in Tredegar Park.

    Two days later attempted thefts in Newport hit services again. The price of copper has risen 41% leading to a rise in thefts. A Gwent Police spokeswoman confirmed that 80m of cable was stolen early on Wednesday, 4 May, from the junction box in Morgan Way, Tredegar Park.

    BUTLER, THE NEW PRESIDING OFFICER

    May 10 - Rosemary Butler is new Presiding Officer of the Welsh Assembly. Mrs Butler has been the Labour AM for Newport West since 1999, before which she was a councillor in Newport for 26 years. Under first secretary Alun Michael she was appointed as the minister for pre-16 education, but was later sent to the backbenches under Rhodri Morgan to make way for a coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

    She has served as the assembly's representative on the EU's committee of the regions, as chair of the culture committee and as deputy presiding officer.She is married to the artist and designer Derek Butler and has two children and four grandchildren. She lives in Caerleon. Mrs Butler is a founder member of Newport Women's Aid and president of the Friends of Newport Transporter Bridge.

    NEWPORT REJECTS LIB DEMS AND AV

    May 7 - Newport decisively rejected the Liberal Democrats in Thursday's Welsh Assembly elections and also gave a thumbs-down to Lib-Dem backed changes to our voting system. The talisman of the Liberal Democrats in Newport, Ed Townsend, suffered a huge personal re-buff as voters relegated him to a distant third in Newport East. The Lib Dem candidate in Newport West, Liz Newton, finished a humiliating fourth. Despite years of tenuous claims that the Lib Dems can win in Newport (particularly in Newport East) they now face political meltdown in the area and the potential loss of most of their councillors in next year's City Council elections. Labour have recovered significant ground. The Conservatives vote held up well and they can point to a strong performance in Newport West, where they secured a third of the vote.

    NEWPORT EAST

    NEWPORT WEST

    AV REFERENDUM

    Newport East - No 13122 Yes 6277

    Newport West - No 15643 Yes 7297

    MAJOR RAIL ENGINEERING WORKS IN NEWPORT AREA

    May 3 - Rail travel in Newport will be disrupted as Network Rail update signalling as part of a £400 million upgrade project in the Newport area. Despite this there is still no sign of any announcement concerning the routing of the Ebbw Vale line in to Newport despite a promise from the Assembly Government to make a decision in March 2011.

    Mark Langman, route director for Network Rail said: “The signalling equipment in the Newport area is around 30 years old and is limiting growth on the railway in the area. This is an essential improvement that will also contribute to our ongoing effort to build a world-class railway in Wales. For the new signalling equipment to be tested and switched over, there will be some temporary changes to services travelling into and out of Newport. We will be taking extra steps to minimise the disruptions by operating two lines out of four for most of the rail services to run.”

    The majority of rail services will continue to operate with a revised time-table as trains run two out of four lines through Newport area, except for 15 May (Sunday) when there will be no rail services. These services running into and out of Newport from Cardiff, Bristol and Hereford will be replaced by replacement coaches. Coaches will also replace rail services in the morning on 8 May and late evening on 14 May, and between Newport and Hereford all day on the 14 May.

    APPEAL FOR MISSING CITY MAN

    May 3 - Police in Newport are appealing for information regarding 42 year old John Barrington who has been missing from his Newport home since Sunday May 1st. He was last seen on the morning of April 30th. Its believed he went to meet a friend in Weston Super Mare.

    John is described as six feet tall, slim build with short brown hair. When he was last seen he was wearing blue jeans, royal blue jacket with white stripes, a blue top and trainers. John has two tattoos - Batman on his upper right arm and  Mickey Mouse on his upper left arm

    If anyone knows of John's whereabouts they are asked to call Gwent Police on 01633 838111.

    PARTY LEADERS HEAD FOR NEWPORT

    May 1 - The Welsh political party leaders are heading to Newport as they approach the final run-in of the campaign before the WElsh Assembly election vote on May 5. The four main party leaders in Wales are to go head-to-head in a debate on BBC Wales on Monday evening. Nick Bourne, Carwyn Jones, Ieuan Wyn Jones and Kirsty Williams will appear on the Leaders' Debate programme, which is being recorded at the Riverfront in Newport. The debate will be shown on BBC One Wales at 22.20 BST.

    SCHOOL START / END TIMES SET TO CHANGE

    Apr 29 - Newport City Council’s proposal to change school day start and end times in six of its secondary schools has been approved by the Chief Education Officer following a consultation period. The changes from September 2011 are as follows.

    ANOTHER WIND TURBINE SET FOR DOCKS AREA

    Apr 28 - Another wind turbine is set for the Usk Estuary area. Joining the two on the East side of the river near the Solutia plant, Associated British Ports intend to build a wind turbine on the West bank to the north west of Alexandra Dock.

    IMMIGRATION APPEALS SERVICE ATTACKED FOR WASTING PUBLIC MONEY

    Apr 28 - The Immigration Appeals Service has been slammed for forking out £2500 a month in taxi fares for appellants when an hourly bus service is available running near to the centre in Langstone. Matthew Sinclair, from The Taxpayers' Alliance, said: 'Across the public sector, costs need to be properly kept under control and the taxpayer's money spent on front line services and not on more convenient journeys for asylum seekers to tribunals. If there are more are more affordable options other than taxis, they should be used wherever possible as one more way of minimising the burden on hard-pressed families.' A Newport Transport service running to the Admiral Insurance building costs £1.30 single. A taxi fare from Newport to Langstone will set you back at least £9.

    A spokesman for the Tribunals Service told The Sun: 'The service is provided for appellants as part of the conditions imposed by the local authority when planning permission was granted for the centre.'

    CITY CENTRE MELTDOWN CONTINUES

    Apr 23 - Newport city centre is reeling from further damaging blows with the news that menswear retailer Burton is to shut up shop in June. In addition, the Wallis store on Commercial Street is set to relocate in to British Homes Stores. The news follows the closure of Next, the relocation of Monsoon to the former Accessorize store and the impending closure and relocation of High Street icon Marks and Spencer. The desperate trading position of the city centre comes despite a blaze of initiatives including free parking and an advertising campaign urging shoppers to 'rediscover Newport' alongside the opening of a massive University site housing 3000+ students.

    The proposed redevelopment of the Cambrian Centre has hit a major hitch. Scarborough Developments admit they cannot find a supermarket willing to anchor the scheme and it is likely it will take on a much smaller scale than originally planned.

    FIRE RESCUE IN CENTRE

    Apr 22 - South Wales Fire and Rescue Service say a house fire in Newport, near the city centre in Mellon Street, broke out just after 2230 BST on Thursday. One person was rescued and the blaze was brought under control by three crews and a hydraulic platform.

    TORIES WITHDRAW LEAFLET

    Apr 21 - It may be a dull campaign but there's no end to the detritus and misinformation dropping through your letterbox. Newport's Tories were forced to withdraw a leaflet according to Wales Online after claiming, without foundation, that Labour were planning to shut down the city’s Royal Gwent Hospital – one of the largest in Wales, employing 7,000 people and serving much of the old Gwent area.

    EQUIPMENT FAULT CAUSES TRAIN DELAYS

    Apr 18 - Normal services have resumed after hundreds of rail passengers suffered delays due to a signalling problem between Cardiff and Newport.

    Replacement buses were laid on after trains were held up on Sunday. Train companies said earlier in the day that there was a "very limited" service, but First Great Western and Arriva Trains Wales said on Monday morning that services had resumed. First Great Western said the problems were due to faulty equipment.

    Disruption affected services between Wales and England by Arriva, Cross Country and First Great Western on Sunday. A BBC Wales journalist who was among those delayed at the station said a tannoy announcement had blamed the delay on cable theft between Cardiff and Newport. However, First Great Western said later that there was no theft on the line, but that the problems were due to faulty equipment. The company said train services should be operating normally by Monday morning.

    POLICE APPEAL OVER YET ANOTHER SHAFTSBURY INCIDENT

    Apr 17 - Gwent Police is appealing for information following a robbery and an attempted robbery in the Newport area. Both incidents occurred at around 11.45pm on Friday 1st April 2011 in the troubled Shaftsbury area near the former Sainsbury store

    In the first incident a 60 year old man was walking along Shaftsbury Walk when he was approached by 3 individuals. One of them threatened the man with what was reported to possibly be an imitation handgun and demanded his wallet. When the victim refused to give it, the group made off in the direction of Albany Road. The main offender is described as being Asian, between 22 and 27 years old, approximately 5 feet 8 to 5 feet 10 inches tall and of slim build. He had short dark hair and a local accent. He was wearing a flat cap with a peak, a light-weight zipped jacket, light coloured t-shirt and baggy jeans.

    The second incident occurred on Shaftsbury Street. A man was approached by a group of about 8 individuals (male and female aged between 15 and 20 years old). He was punched by one of the individuals causing him to fall to the floor and drop his mobile phone. He was then hit to the face with what was reported to be a handgun causing a cut lip. His mobile phone was stolen and the group made off towards the city centre. The victim was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital for stitches to his lip. Two people stopped to help the victim, and police are particularly keen to trace and speak to these individuals to assist with their enquiries. At this time police are considering a link between the two incidents. If you have any information relating to either of these incidents please contact Gwent Police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on
    0800 555 111.

    CITY TO HOST NATIONAL FOOTBALL ACADEMY

    Apr 8 - Newport will be the home of Wales National Football Academy. The £5 million scheme will, subject to planning permission, see four new pitches, laid on land behind the Velodrome near Newport County's football ground. It will act as headquarters for the Welsh Football Trust, the game’s development body, with analysis suites, sports science laboratories and coach education facilities is also proposed for the site. Newport beat off more than 70 other potential sites in Wales but according to the Argus 'the International Sport Village topped was chosen because of its impressive facilities, its potential to support further development and its ease of access.'

    FAW chief executive Jonathan Ford announced plans for the development of a state-of-the-art, purpose built, football training facility at the Newport International Sports Village (NISV) in partnership with the Welsh Football Trust and Newport City Council.

    At the launch of the proposed project in the National Velodrome in Newport, Mr Ford set out the main objectives of the project.

    POLICE LAUNCH PILL MURDER INQUIRY

    Apr 8 - Police say they are treating the death of a 48-year-old man, whose body was found in a flat in Newport, as murder. Richard Glyn Carslake, 48, was found dead in the flat on Jeddo Street, Pill, at 0915 BST on Wednesday. A post mortem examination indicated he died as a result of pressure to the neck and face, said police.

    A 20-year-old man from Pontypool, has been arrested on suspicion of murder and is in police custody. Det Ch Insp Ian Roberts, who is leading the investigation, said: "Our thoughts remain with Richard's family, and police family liaison officers are supporting them at this extremely difficult time. We are continuing to follow a number of lines of inquiry in and around Pill and Newport city centre, and are still very interested in speaking to anyone who may have seen Richard on or since March 29th."

    BUS RE-ROUTING TO CONTINUE

    Apr 7 - The City Council and Newport Bus have agreed to continue to re-route buses via the Queensway through the summer period. A City Council report states "The experiment has been seen to affect passenger behaviour early in the day and market traders have noted an increase in footfall. Since the end of the experiment Newport Bus have continued to route services around Queensway until 16:30 in the afternoon and intend to continue doing so throughout the summer." 29.5 per cent of retail traders are reporting an increase in trade since December but 35.5 per cent are reporting a decrease possibly attributable to the decline in the retail offer there.

    MORE MONEY COMMITTED TO CITY CENTRE PROMOTION

    Apr 7 - Newport’s beleaguered city centre is due to receive significant investment from urban regeneration company, Newport Unlimited, to the tune of £2.6m. This will be used for improving the environment and vibrancy within the city centre. There will also be a focus by Newport Unlimited on promoting the city externally and highlighting what the city and its surroundings have to offer and why Newport is a logical choice for business, leisure, education and living.

    Newport Unlimited has produced its eighth annual business plan which will see over the next year a concentration of activities that will compliment the focus of Newport City Council around the redevelopment of the retail core. On top of the £2.6m, Newport City Council has set aside £1.2m for the city centre for a range of initiatives aimed at attracting more people into the city centre and includes around £850,000 for the free parking offer in the council’s car parks. Gareth Beer, chief executive of Newport Unlimited, said: “Newport Unlimited recognises that the regeneration of Newport’s city centre is a top priority and is therefore making significant investment to aid the regeneration of the area."

    NEW CAERLEON - CITY LINK

    Apr 4 - A new bridge over a mainline railway was put into place over the weekend as part of a project to provide a walking and cycling link between Caerleon and the city centre in Newport. Work began in January on the latest stage of the pedestrian and cycle route which connects Home Farm to Caerleon Comprehensive School. It is due to be completed in May.

    As well as extending the current path, which runs from Pillmawr Road to Home Farm and was opened in April 2010, it will also create a safe route to school for the pupils of Caerleon Comprehensive. The 23-tonne steel bridge, which is almost 29m long, was designed by Capita Symonds, built by Newport company Rowecord Engineering and was installed during an overnight operation by Alun Griffiths Contractors this weekend. A 200 tonne mobile crane is being used and the railway line will be closed to trains between midnight and 6am.

    Gwent Police accompanied the structure to the site near St Cadoc’s Hospital and Network Rail also gave assistance to ensure this vital piece of the route is installed. The Caerleon to Newport campus to campus scheme is part of charity Sustrans’ Connect2 project which is developing everyday walking and cycling links in communities across the UK. It was awarded £50 million by the Big Lottery Fund following a public vote in 2007 and some of this money is making its way to Newport.

    WORK STARTS ON STEELWORKS ROAD HERALDING NEW DEVELOPMENT

    Apr 4 - Work has commenced on the first stage of the upgrade of the steelworks road between Magor and Newport. The road will be a key link for the eastern suburb development to junction 23 of the M4. The Welsh Assembly Government purchased the road from Corus in 2010 for £7.7 million as an alternative to the shelved M4 relief road scheme.

    Read more about the development here and the proposed business park here

    The first formal planning application to Newport City Council was submitted in late February and is for 311 homes near Spytty Road, which is the main road into the 600 acre site. St Modwen has brought in housebuilder Persimmon as partner on this first phase of development.

    Over the next 20 years, St. Modwen aims to transform Glan Llyn into a new business and residential community, providing 4,000 new homes and 6,000 new jobs. Plans include schools, library, police station, supermarket and doctor’s surgery supported by almost 100 acres of leisure space amenities such as parks and lakes.

    Nick Alexander, St Modwen’s residential land manager, said that construction of the housing could start as early as this summer. The group has also submitted a second, related, application for £5m of infrastructure works, which will improve access to the brownfield site. Alexander added: “The public park will be the first to be developed in Newport for several years and will be linked to the first phase of homes via pedestrian bridges crossing a watercourse. It will provide a cricket field, games area, play facilities and will offer acres of green space, open woodland, a parkway and two lakes. The park will fit in with our vision to establish Glan Llyn as a sustainable community where people can live and work as well as relax.” St Modwen’s planning submissions in Newport follow the application to Wolverhampton City Council in January to regenerate the Goodyear Works and develop 314 new homes at the 88 acre site, also as part of the joint venture with Persimmon.

    BUILDING FIRM DONATES LOG CIRCLES TO CITY SCHOOLS

    Mar 28 - In preparation for construction of the new Hartridge High School in Newport, the Leadbitter Group has donated log circles to several primary schools in the area for use during forest school sessions.

    The logs, which had been cut from trees that needed removal from the Hartridge High School site, were installed by the Newport City Council grounds maintenance department. Natalie Waller, the council’s biodiversity in schools officer said: “When I approached Leadbitter with the idea of donating the logs, they were very enthusiastic. It’s great that the company is working with the local community to provide this important resource for our school children.”

    Recently, Leadbitter was invited to join year three pupils from Eveswell Primary School to unveil the new log circle, which will provide the children with a new outdoor classroom. During the event, pupils were taught the rules of the log circle when used during a forest schoolsession, and also took part in a bug hunt.

    MATTHEWS OPENS CITY CAMPUS

    Mar 17 - The £40m campus at the University of Wales, Newport has been opened by business tycoon Sir Terry Matthews. The building on the banks of the River Usk houses 2,700 students from Newport Business School and much of the school of art's media and design department. It was completed at the end of last year, and been occupied since January.

    The university said the invitation to Sir Terry to formally open the building was a signal of its focus on providing economic growth and regeneration to Newport and Gwent. In a full day of events, including a community open afternoon, Sir Terry, who owns the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport and is one of Wales' most successful businessmen, was speaking about the role higher education can play in driving the economy. He was also receiving an honorary fellowship of the university.

    According to the Argus a major scheme aimed at turning university graduates into entrepreneurs is to be launched in Newport next week.Sir Terry Matthews and his business partner Simon Gibson will open a base for their entrepreneurship foundation Alacrity in the centre of the city.

    MAN CHARGED AFTER FIRE DEATH

    Mar 15 - A 27-year-old man has been charged with murder after the death of Ramunas Raulinautis found with severe burns on a hotel forecourt in Newport. The man, from Newport appeared at Caerphilly magistrates on Tuesday. A man, believed to be in his 30s, was found in front of the Gateway Express hotel on Chepstow Road late last Wednesday.Gwent Police believe the man was assaulted before he was discovered. He died on Saturday. He died at a burns unit at Morriston Hospital in Swansea.

    The partner of the 34-year-old man who died after suffering severe burns has paid tribute to a "loving, kind person". Ramunas, known as Ramaz, Raulinautis was found in front of the Gateway Express hotel on Chepstow Road, Newport, late on 9 March. His partner has encouraged people with information about his death to contact police.

    His partner Mandy said in a statement released through police: "Ramaz was a loving, kind person. I loved him very much. I am devastated to hear of his tragic death. "I encourage people to come forward to the police if they have any information."Anyone in the Chepstow Road area of Newport between 1900 and 2215 GMT on 9 March is asked to call Gwent Police on 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

    BACKING FOR 2011 FESTIVAL

    Mar 15 - The City Council has backed a £270,000 investment in the Newport Festival. The 2010 Festival coinciding with the Ryder Cup was deemed to be a great success and the event will again focus on creating spectacle and entertainment in the City Centre culminating in a Christmas event.

    POLICE CLEARED AFTER MAN FOUND DEAD

    Mar 14 - A police response to an alert raised from a member of the public has been described by the Independent Police Complaints Commission “proportionate in the circumstances”. The inquiry found that police who turned up more than two hours late to a priority call triggered by concerns for a homeless man were cleared today of any wrongdoing. Graham Howard, 53, was found dead on a bench in Cardiff Road, Newport, three hours and 45 minutes after a police alert from a shop owner. The non-emergency call was graded as a “priority” by Gwent Police, meaning that it had a 60-minute maximum response time.

    FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION BLAMED FOR TICKETING FIASCO

    Mar 14 - The Football Association for Wales has been slammed by Newport County after the club was told to refund the purchase of 500 tickets for the upcoming Wales-England international in Cardiff (March 26).

    Newport County chairman Chris Blight said that the club had been told to refund around 500 fans for the match after an administrative error meant the FAW sold around 1,500 more tickets than they could hold in the stadium. Mr Blight said the scheme – which saw clubs acting as “agents” to sell tickets to fans and received a 25% cut – had turned into an “extremely disappointing exercise”. The FAW had extended the deadline for applications from January 31 to February 18, but an office bungle meant an area of the ground was included in main allocations that shouldn’t have been and meant many clubs and members who applied after the extension lost their tickets. According to reports the Football Association Of Wales even cashed County’s cheque, leaving already upset fans without an immediate refund. Now the money has been refunded to the club, but County faces having to cough up administration charges and will not receive any of the extra money which made the ticket scheme attractive in the first place.

    VOTERS IGNORE WELSH POWERS VOTE

    Mar 5 - Only 27.9 per cent of registered voters in Newport turned out to vote in the referendum on additional powers for the Welsh Assembly held on Thursday. In some areas of the city the vote was nearer 20 per cent as Newport voters expressed their disinterest in the proposition. The vote went marginally in favour of a 'yes', although less than 1 in 5 of all voters in Newport backed it, significantly undermining the mandate for change. The vote was as follows

    15,983 voted YES - (54.8 per cent) , 13,204 voted NO (45.2 per cent).

    In Wales, other than Monmouthshire, where voters narrowly favoured a 'no', there was more emphatic support despite an appalling turnout of 35.2 per cent. The Assembly will be able to make laws on all matters in the 20 subject areas it has powers for, without needing the UK Parliament's agreement.

    'CITY WOMAN' IN CUPCAKE RAGE INCIDENT

    Mar 3 - Police are hunting a strawberry blonde woman, aged 35-45, allegedly from Newport, after she was accused of trashing the shop in the centre of Cardiff after being told: “Sorry we’ve sold them all.” The woman lashed out at Sugarswirlz in Dominions Arcade, when she was told the £2.20 “sweet-tooth fairy cakes” had all gone. It is claimed she attacked the proprietor of the shop and threw cakes around the shop in a fit of fury. Her two young sons also witnessed the incident.

    STUDENTS AND FREE PARKING BOOST CITY TRADE

    Feb 27 - Newport’s city centre traders have seen an increase in trade since the new year introduction of free parking and the opening of the new city campus, according to the City Council.

    The city campus which houses the Newport Business School and much of the School of Art, Media and Design opened on 10 January, bringing with it over 2,700 students studying part and full time courses. Since the campus has opened trade in the city centre has increased and businesses have seen a positive response to discount promotions they have run specifically targeting students. Many shops also offer discounts on the production of student cards.

    Michael Hine, Kingsway Centre manager, said: “Many of our retailers have welcomed the boost in trade and are keen to provide students with some great promotions and priority offers. Claire’s Accessories and Wilkinsons in particular have enjoyed welcoming the additional custom. We look forward to being a hub for student shoppers and to a long and mutually rewarding partnership.” Smaller businesses have also benefited from an increase in custom. Jason Russell, manager of The Fun Factory situated on Commercial Street, added: “It’s been great for us to see so many new customers since the new year. The range of products we sell are very popular with students and we will also be looking to start offering students deals.”

    There is now two hours of free parking in council multi-story car parks in the city while shoppers pay only 10p for the first two hours in council surface pay and display car parks. This nominal charge has been introduced to prevent significant delays in implementing the discount and to eliminate the extra cost of new ticket machines. The Kingsway Centre also offers complimentary two-hour free parking.

    CITY UNIVERSITY MAY LOOK FOR ENGLISH PARTNER

    Feb 26 - Newport University has revealed it will partnering with an English institution as pressure to cut costs by collaborating intensifies, according to a report from Wales Online. Welsh universities must halve in number by 2013. The University states it has appointed a steering group, including the former director general of higher education in the UK Government, to consider its future structure. The terms of reference include the possibility of merging with institutions inside and outside of Wales, partnerships with non- education based organisations and continued independence. Members will review the option of joining a new “super university” with Swansea Metropolitan, Trinity Saint David's, Carmarthen and the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff.

    TRANSPORTER BRIDGE TO AIM FOR HERITAGE STATUS

    Feb 26 - Plans for a joint bid to recognise three UK transporter bridges as World Heritage Sites have taken a step forward. If agreed the bridges in Newport, Middlesbrough and Warrington would be protected from demolition by the United Nations heritage body Unesco. World Heritage Sites are chosen for their outstanding universal value to culture, history or science. The Friends of Newport Transporter Bridge are hosting a meeting of the British branch of the World Association of Transporter Bridges at the Celtic Manor in Newport. It called the conference to discuss how to take forward a joint bid for Unesco World Heritage Status. The transporter bridge inBilbao is already listed.

    RECYCLING RATE UP

    Feb 25 - Newport City Council has claimed that residents are now recycling 45 per cent of waste. An annual increase of 7.67 per cent was achieved over last year, however this is some way short of the 70 per cent recycling rate which needs to be reached by 2025.

    Stephen Davison, head of public protection and environment services said: “The vast majority of residents have shown a growing commitment to recycling and composting and I would like to congratulate everyone on the efforts that have been put in so far. The importance of people participating in the schemes can not be understated, it is essential to our success”.

    3.9 PER CENT COUNCIL TAX RISE FOR CITY

    Feb 19 - Newport is set to have one of the largest Council Tax rises in the locality following an agreement on the Council's budget by the City Council Cabinet. A rise of 3.9 per cent is proposed for a full Council meeting on February 22. The police precept element of Council Tax will increase by 3.7 per cent.

    Members were told that the tax base is for 2011-12 is 53,278 properties, which on current Council Tax rates will generate additional Council Tax income of about £396,000 compared to the current financial year’s tax base.

    The Cabinet stated that it "recognised that Newport has one of the lowest Council Tax levels in Wales and the UK . Whilst changes in Council Tax levels are usually noted in percentage terms, the cash increase this delivers in Newport will be smaller against other local authorities as our starting point is low in the first place."

    The Cabinet agreed to the following cuts in services -

    SHAKE UP FOR NEWPORT UNLIMITED

    Feb 19 - Urban regeneration company Newport Unlimited has appointed six new board members. They are David Russ, managing director of South Wales Chamber of Commerce; Steven Luke, director of Ove Arup & Partners; Dr Peter Noyes, Vice-Chancellor of University of Wales in Newport; Newport- born Simon Cookson, director at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Bristol; Peter Cahill, chief executive of Newport City Homes, and Paul Edwards, partner of Davis Langdon, an international building consultancy with a turnover of £200m.

    FUNDING BOOST FOR PILL

    Feb 18 - More than £6 million will be invested into one of Newport’s most deprived areas after a massive regeneration project was given a funding boost by the Welsh Assembly Government. The Pillgwenlly Regeneration Project, a four-year programme led by Newport City Council, has been backed with a £4.7m funding package, including support from the European Regional Development Fund and the Targeted Match Fund.

    The investment will help drive forward business and community facilities, and deliver environmental improvements to the area. Work will shortly begin on the first phase of the programme which includes refurbishments to the former library in Temple Street to transform it into a resource centre for the community, including social enterprises and training providers.

    WHANT CHARGED WITH NIKITTA MURDER

    Feb 13 - A man has been charged with the murder of pregnant teenager Nikitta Grender. Carl Whant, 26, will also face a charge of child destruction and will appear before magistrates in Caerphilly on Monday morning.

    Heavily pregnant Miss Grender was stabbed twice in her flat in Broadmead Park, Liswerry, Newport on February 5, before her flat was set on fire. Whant is the second cousin of the victim's boyfriend Ryan Mayes, 18, who is the father of her baby, already named Kelsey-May. Stacey Turner, the CPS's district crown prosecutor for Gwent, said: "The Crown Prosecution Service has been working closely alongside Gwent Police as the investigation into Nikitta Grender's murder progressed. We can now confirm that, having carefully examined a file of evidence provided by Gwent Police, we have concluded that there is sufficient evidence to charge Carl Whant with the murder of Nikitta Grender and that it is in the public interest to do so. Accordingly, we have advised Gwent Police to charge him. Offences relating to unborn children fall outside the scope of murder legislation. Therefore in respect of Nikitta Grender's unborn child, we have also advised Gwent Police to charge Carl Whant with the offence of child destruction under the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929. The defendant will appear at Caerphilly Magistrates' Court on Monday 14 February at 10am."

    M4 CLOSED BY TUNNEL FIRE

    Feb 12 - The M4 was closed briefly has reopened after a car fire in the Brynglas tunnels, Newport, on Friday. A fault with the vehicle is thought to have started the fire in the motorway tunnel westbound at 1107 GMT, said Gwent Police. The eastbound tunnel, which was closed for more than an hour, reopened at 1300 GMT but the westbound tunnel remained closed until 1410 GMT. The driver of what is believed to have been a Jaguar car escaped injury. At one point 25 firefighters were on the scene. Emergency services said six fire engines from Malpas, Maindee, Dyffryn and Cwmbran were called to the scene.

    NEW POWER STATION OPENS

    Feb 12 - A new gas-fired power station built at a cost of £600m at Uskmouth, near Newport, has been officially opened. DONG Energy which operates the new Severn Power Station said it has the capacity to produce electricity for around 1.5m homes. It has been built next to an old coal power station and the company said there would be far fewer emissions.

    Danish-based DONG Energy said the station, built in under three years, was "one of the most efficient natural gas-fired power stations in the UK." Operations and maintenance project manager, Kristian Kure, told BBC Wales: "Natural gas is a very clean fuel - there are no noticeable emissions of any kind.The process itself is very quick starting - we can start from no production to full production in 36 minutes so it gives us great flexibility." He said it was particularly useful in supplementing energy produced by wind turbines.

    ARREST OVER NIKITTA MURDER

    Feb 9 - Detectives investigating the murder of a pregnant teenager on a Newport estate have arrested a 26-year-old man. Gwent Police said the man, from the Newport area, has been arrested on suspicion of murder.

    Nikitta Grender, 19, who was eight months pregnant, was found dead in her burning bedroom in Broadmead Park, Liswerry, early on Saturday. Police have said she was stabbed twice before her first-floor flat was set on fire in a bid to disguise the killing. Officers said the man, who was arrested at 1000 GMT, is not from the Broadmead Park, Moorland Park or Pontfaen areas of the city. Searches are continuing in and around the estate for the weapon used in the attack, believed to be a knife, although the exact type has not yet been established.

    70 JOBS AT RISK

    Feb 9 - Banking group Lloyds has confirmed that around 70 insurance jobs in Newport are at risk following a restructure. The news comes after the company announced 200 job losses across the UK, mainly in its insurance division. The firm has around 900 employees at its office in Tredegar Park, Newport. Staff were told of the news on Tuesday. The banking group said that some of the staff may be redeployed within the business.

    FAMILY'S PLEA OVER DAUGHTER'S MURDER

    Feb 7 - The grieving parents of a heavily pregnant teenager have spoken of their struggle to come to terms with her violent murder. Nikitta Grender, 19, was found dead by fire-fighters called to a blaze at her flat in Newport on Saturday morning.

    Neighbours in the community on the estate in Broadmead Park, Liswerry, where she lived, have spoken of their shock and anger at the killing. Now Miss Grender's parents have spoken out for the first time in a brief statement paying tribute to their daughter and unborn granddaughter who was to be named Kelsey-May. "As a close family we are trying to come to terms with the tragic events which have led to the untimely death of our beautiful daughter Nikitta and granddaughter Kelsey-May," they said in the statement issued by Gwent Police. "We wish to appeal for any persons with information to contact the police in an effort to find out why this has happened. "We ask to be left alone at this time with Nikitta and Kelsey-May's family to come to terms, if possible, with the tragic events which have taken our daughter and grandchild from us." Police confirmed that the mother-to-be was murdered before the blaze was set at her flat, almost certainly in an effort to hide the killing.

    CABLE THEFT CAUSES TRAIN DELAYS

    Feb 7 - Cable thieves delayed and disrupted rail services in south Wales after two separate attacks at the weekend, say transport police. Signalling cable at Newport's Maindee depot was damaged on Saturday while on Sunday 110m of cable was taken at the east Usk junction. Rush-hour commuters on Monday complained of delays of up to 45 minutes.

    Network Rail has offered up to £1,000 for information about the thefts. Mark Langman, route director for Network Rail, said: "Network Rail is offering up to £1,000 for information which leads to an arrest and conviction. "We are doing all we can to stop these thefts but we need the support of the community to be our eyes and ears on the ground. "I am appealing directly to anyone with information regarding the people who committed this mindless act to come forward. " Network Rail said that 22 rail services between south Wales and London had been cancelled, 49 part-cancelled and 216 trains delayed as a result of the damage at the weekend.

    PREGNANT TEEN STABBED TO DEATH IN LLISWERRY

    Feb 6 - Police are now investigating the murder of a heavily pregnant teenager found dead after a flat fire say that she had been stabbed. According to press reports, Gwent Police state a post-mortem examination on 19-year-old Nikitta Grender, who was eight months pregnant with a baby girl, revealed she had been stabbed.

    Officers from Gwent Police and South Wales Fire Service were called to reports of a blaze in a flat in Broadmead Park in Lliswerry, Newport, at 7.50am on Saturday. Firefighters entered the heavily smoke-logged property and found the body of Ms Grender inside the bedroom of the first floor flat. Her pet dog, a pug cross, also died in the fire. Officers said that the weapon, believed to be a knife, has not yet been found. The scene is still cordoned off and is being examined by forensic teams.

    Det Supt Geoff Ronayne called it a "horrific crime where two innocent lives have been lost". He said: "Nikitta was two weeks away from giving birth to a baby girl. This is particularly callous and something we very rarely see. When Nikitta's family should have been looking forward to the birth of her baby they are now absolutely grief stricken."

    He said: "We know Nikitta was out with friends Friday evening and visited Macdonalds in the Spytty area during the evening and we are establishing the exact time she was dropped back to her address. But we would urge anyone who was in the vicinity of Nikittas address in 51 Broadmead Park, was with her or who saw her at any stage from 7pm on Friday February 4 onwards to get in touch. Someone must know who did this and we are urging members of the community to come forward and help us with this inquiry." He added it was one of the "worst offences" he had seen. "We are working on the basis that this crime is locally based," he said.

    Forensic investigations and house to house enquiries are continuing at this time and specially trained officers continue to support the family. Police would like to appeal for anyone who has any information or for anyone who was in the vicinity of Broadmead Park between 11pm on Friday February 4th and 8am Saturday February 5th to get in touch on 01633 838111 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

    OPPORTUNITY TO SEE NEW FRIARS WALK CONCEPT

    Feb 6 - Newport residents will be able to see how their city centre could be transformed by a new shopping scheme. Over three weeks, images of the redevelopment vision for John Frost Square area will be displayed in three locations. They show how the multi-million pound Friars Walk project could look - simple, modern, vibrant and of a high quality. Stands with the images and information about the scheme can be seen from

    A short list of developers was approved earlier in January and they have been invited to submit tenders for the scheme which is expected to revitalise the city centre.It is anticipated that the council will be in a position to take on a development partner in July. The chosen developer will evolve the concept scheme and submit a planning application for which there will be full and extensive consultation.The council has already put in place much of the groundwork including the compulsory purchase of all the properties in the development area. In the meantime a series of initiatives have been introduced including free parking offers in council-owned car parks as well as Kingsway Centre’s car park. Councillor Matthew Evans, leader of Newport City Council, said: “I would urge everyone to take the opportunity to see what a difference this scheme will make to the city centre. We are doing everything we can to encourage people to shop in Newport and I believe residents will see a huge difference when the Friars Walk vision, along with proposed redevelopment of the Cambrian Centre by the Scarborough Development Group, becomes a reality.”

    SELECT COMMITTEE SLAMS PASSPORT OFFICE CLOSURE

    Feb 3 - A committee of MPs has criticised the UK government over its plans to close Newport passport office, warning of a "significant" economic impact. The Welsh Affairs Committee urged the government to re-examine the criteria on which the decision was based. The MPs were not convinced savings to the taxpayer would be achieved.

    Home Office minister Damian Green said savings needed to be made while still providing a "highly secure and excellent" service. Ministers are consulting over whether to close the office, which employs about 300. The committee said the passport office was the second largest employer in Newport. The report states "We find it extraordinary that no economic impact assessment has to date been published for public scrutiny. We strongly recommend that the government publish the economic impact assessment before a final decision is made and that its findings are fully considered. The government should use the extended consultation period to question again the rationale behind the decision, taking full account of an economic impact assessment. The whole process needs to be presented in the context of a properly thought-through strategy for the IPS in Wales."

    Newport City Council has welcomed the committee’s findings especially its conclusion that the rationale for the decision to close the Passport Office is “questionable”. Councillor Matthew Evans, leader of Newport City Council, gave evidence to the Welsh Affairs Committee at its hearing. “I fully support the views expressed by the committee and its call for the government to ensure the concerns raised in the report are taken into account when deciding on the future of the Newport office. We have put forward a strong case for the retention, and even consolidation, of the full service in the city. We must see the results of the Immigration and Passport Service’s economic study urgently."

    The Public and Civil Service Union welcomed the report. A PCS spokesman said: "It is time for the government to rethink this vicious attack on the people of Newport. Closing the Newport office will have a massive impact not only on passport office staff and their families but also on the city centre and wider community. Ripping out the second biggest employer from the city centre has massive consequences in an area that has already suffered substantially. According to a report by economic analysts AECOM carried out for Newport City Council an estimated £11 million a year will be lost from the regional economy as a result of the closure and the loss of jobs in the city centre. In addition, £1 million in direct retail expenditure is expected to be lost in the already fragile city centre. There are also fears that £25 million of future employment investment could be at risk.

    COUNCIL LOSES BATTLE OVER WHITEHEADS SITE

    Jan 30 - Plans for hundreds of homes on an ex-industrial site that the City Council had earmarked for a hospital have been approved by the assembly government. Newport City Council wanted to use the former railway sidings at Maesglas as a new site for the Royal Gwent Hospital. But Network Rail appealed after its bid to build 575 homes did not win backing from the local authority.The council said it would continue to press for the new hospital to be built in the area. Housing Minister Jane Davidson agreed there were no grounds to delay granting a planning permission for the sidings site alone. Newport City Council leader Matthew Evans said: "We believed the site needed to be planned comprehensively with the adjacent Whiteheads site to include a new hospital as well as housing. Despite this decision, we will continue to press for the new hospital to be sited on the Whiteheads site as we strongly believe this is the best option for patients, visitors and staff."

    NEWPORT TO BE HIT HARD BY CUTS

    Jan 29 - The five British cities set to be worst-hit by the looming Con-Dem public spending cuts are Sunderland, Liverpool, Birkenhead, Swansea and Newport. With the country's 11 largest cities home to more than a third of all private sector jobs, their economic performance will be crucial to government hopes for a private sector recovery to offset the impact of the £81bn of public spending cuts.

    But cities such as Liverpool and Sunderland – heavily reliant on public sector employment with lower levels of skills in the workforce – will struggle to cope with the cuts, the Centre for Cities says. At the same time, those that already have vibrant business communities – particularly Milton Keynes, Reading, Aberdeen, Leeds and Bristol – will pull further ahead. According to the Cities Outlook 2011 report, Liverpool has a whopping 19.5 per cent of residents with no qualifications, one of the worst levels in the country. The unemployment count is already running at around 5.9 per cent and an estimated 2.3 per cent of jobs could be lost from the public sector by 2014-15, while the city boasts a bare 214 businesses per 10,000 people. By contrast, Reading's claimant count is running at just 2.2 per cent and it faces only 1.1 per cent job losses in the public sector. While 38 per cent of residents have high-level qualifications, it also has 371 businesses per 10,000 people – both higher than the national average. The impact of welfare spending cuts will also be felt unevenly across the country, according to the report, with Birkenhead set to be worst-affected.

    The report states Swansea and Newport “could each directly lose 2.9% of all jobs in their cities”. The paper forecasts up to 12,500 public sector job losses in total in Cardiff, Swansea and Newport if, as expected, 490,000 posts are cut by 2014-15.

    A Welsh Assembly spokesperson stated “We are under no illusions that the recovery is far from secured and decisions on public spending will have a huge impact on all parts of Wales. For example, the decision to close the Passport Office in Newport is just one example of how hard Wales could be hit under UK Government spending plans. We believe they are cutting too deep and too fast. When it comes to Swansea and Newport we are using all the powers at our disposal to stimulate job creation. We want to see these cities recover and thrive.”  TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: "Vulnerable cities are suffering from low skills and high joblessness that hit consumer spending and business investment, but instead of providing financial support the government is piling on the misery with deep welfare cuts. A meaningful growth strategy from this government is long overdue."

    NEWPORT CITY COUNCIL Deputy Leader Ed Townsend (Lib Dem, St Julians)

    COMMENT - PROMOTE NEWPORT NOT CARDIFF!

    Yes, we have a recession and yes, we have a Welsh economy over-reliant on public sector jobs. We also have a Conservative- Liberal Democrat Government hell-bent on massive and un-necessary cuts in public expenditure. Unfortunately, we have also had a Cardiff-centric Welsh Assembly Government that has spent far too little of its time promoting the interests of major regional centres away from Cardiff such as Newport and Swansea. We even have publicly funded organisations promoting the capital potentially at the expense of the rest of Wales. And we need politicians in Newport who spend 24 hours of their day, every day, promoting the interests of Newport rather than our capital city. (See below, the Cardiff &Co website is here.)

    This is from the LinkedIn (business social networking) website today

    MAN ORDERED TO PAY BACK AIRPORT THEFTS

    Jan 28 - A man convicted of a series of thefts from Bristol Airport has been ordered to pay the money back. At Bristol Crown Court today (Friday 28 January 2011) a confiscation order was made to the sum of £3,713.41 against Simon Wells, 37, from Newport. The money confiscated is to be paid to Bristol International Airport as compensation for their loss. Wells was convicted in September last year of 11 offences of theft from the Pay on Foot Machines at Bristol International Airport between 18 March and 27 May 2009. The total value of the thefts was £10,160.

    ARGUS STAFF 'ASKED TO WEEK'S UNPAID LEAVE'

    Jan 28 - Staff working for Newsquest's operation in Wales, Gloucestershire and the south midlands are understood to have been asked to take a week’s unpaid leave to push back the threat of job cuts. Newsquest publishes the South Wales Argus. Press Gazette reports Gavin Steacy, Newsquest’s regional managing director, briefed around 40 staff in Newport yesterday that costs needed to be controlled because of the difficult financial position of the company. Steacy is understood to have asked staff to take an additional week of unpaid holiday in 2011, which would enable the company to guarantee no redundancies before July. A similar briefing is expected at Newsquest's centre in Gloucester later today. Staff fear that up to 30 members of staff across the division could be made redundant if they do not accept two days unpaid leave this quarter, then one in each of the subsequent quarters through the remainder of the year. Newsquest is understood to have committed to pay three months notice to any staff made redundant before September. In return the almost three-year pay freeze would be lifted and a round of pay reviews would begin in April, with Newsquest offering a two per cent rise.

    BUILDER KILLED HIMSELF OVER DEBTS

    Jan 22 - A builder killed himself with a nailgun because of depression caused by financial difficulties, an inquest has heard. Clifford Crawley, 51, was found unconscious by a friend at a house he was renovating in Newport. He was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital. Mr Crawley had struggled to find work and had experienced money troubles as a result, the Newport inquest heard. Verdict: Mr Crawley killed himself while he was depressed. Coroner David Bowen said a post-mortem examination revealed that Mr Crawley had died of "a nail shot wound to his head".

    The inquest heard the self-employed builder was a hardworking, quiet man, who had a large circle of friends. But his partner of 14 years told the inquest that Mr Crawley had struggled to find work in the four years leading up to his death and that he experienced financial difficulties as a result.In a statement read out at the inquest, friend Darren Goddard described Mr Crawley as "a hard worker, quite quiet, with a large circle of friends."

    STAFF STRIKE OVER EXCESSIVE MONITORING

    Jan 22 - Staff at the DWP call centre in Newport have struck over 'excessive monitoring' by management. Katrine Williams, of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) who works in the Newport centre, said staff were being excessively monitored.

    The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said it was "disappointed" that "some staff" had voted to strike.Workers at the sites in Newport, Glasgow, Bristol, Norwich, Sheffield, Makerfield near Wigan and Manchester are taking action after voting in favour of a walkout. The offices are part of a shake-up of Jobcentre Plus services, and have been converted, or are in the process of being converted, into contact centres. Ms Williams, PCS's national negotiator for Jobcentre Plus, said: "The two targets that matter to management are answering the calls and spending as little time as possible on the phone. If a call takes too long, we get somebody telling us to finish the call. What we're saying is we should be able to use our judgement." She said staff were being monitored "every minute of the day", and unable to fully help clients on occasions because they were encouraged to keep phone calls so brief.

    PASSPORT OFFICE FIGHT GOES ON

    Jan 20 - MPs, AMs, Newport City Council and Newport Unlimited are continuing their efforts to keep the full Passport Office in the city.Since the IPS announced the proposal to close the office last October, the council and the city’s urban regeneration company have put significant work into the case for the retention of the full service in Newport.

    Councillor Matthew Evans, leader of the council, and Grant Watson, chairman of Newport Unlimited (NU) both formally wrote last week to the chief executive of the Identity and Passport Service, Sarah Rapson. As well as presenting the case for the service to remain in Newport, they took the opportunity to re-iterate concerns that closure would have an adverse impact on the city as well as the effect on the economy and social structure in neighbouring authorities. In October, Councillor Evans had a face-to-face meeting with the Secretary of State for Wales, Cheryl Gillan, and Immigration Minister Damian Green over the issue. In November, he gave evidence to the Welsh Affairs select committee which was examining the proposal. A detailed written submission was also given to the committee. In the same month, city councillors gave unanimous cross-party support to a motion that the council should continue to lobby the government to ensure the service was fully retained in Newport. A recent study indicated £37 million would be taken out of the Newport economy by the move.

    WELSH MEDIUM SCHOOL TO OPEN IN MAINDEE

    Jan 20 - A new Welsh Medium Primary School is set to open in Maindee next September. The temporary facility attached to the existing Primary School is required due to the Council's statutory obligation to meet the demands of parents requiring their children to be educated through the Welsh language.

    COUNCILLOR URGE WAG RETHINK OVER PORT TAX

    Jan 20 - Councillors Peter Davies and Ron Jones are urging the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) to rethink their approach to the re-evaluation of business rates for ports. The 2005 rating list required the separate assessment of dock, port and harbour sites for business rate purposes. Unfortunately, a re-assessment of Newport Docks found many premises were lumped together, a vestige of nationalism, and are now faced with rates bills going back to 2005. A motion at the full Council meeting lodged by Davies and Jones calls for backdated bills to be cancelled by WAG, an approach that has been agreed and followed in England.

    UNIVERSITY CAMPUS OPENS

    Jan 15 - Newport's City Centre campus opened this week. Students at the University of Wales, Newport are now moving into the £35m centre campus. The riverside building was completed on budget and ahead of schedule at the end of last year.It will house 2,700 students from Newport Business School and much of the school of art's media and design department. Staff worked over the Christmas break to ensure that the facility was ready in time for the start of term.The investment was funded by the university, Newport City Council and the Welsh Assembly Government and is seen as being an important feature of the city centre's regeneration. Part of it is being funded by the selling off of the old Allt-yr-yn campus.

    Dr Peter Noyes, Vice Chancellor of the University said: “This is one of the proudest days in the history of the University. Our students and staff at the City Campus will from today be working in some of the most state of the art and specialist facilities in the UK. It complements perfectly the stunning Caerleon Campus and movement between the two campuses will be encouraged for all at University. This building is not just for our students and staff however. Today signals our absolute commitment to the people and communities of Newport and the wider region. This building will act as a driver for economic growth across our region. It belongs as much to the people of South Wales as it does to our students."

    DISPERSAL ORDER SUCCESS

    Jan 14 - Calls to Police relating to anti-social behaviour in Rogerstone have reduced by 52% since two dispersal orders were introduced in June 2010. The dispersal orders have now been running for six months and cover the areas of Afon Village and Thornbury Park. During this time police received 110 calls reporting anti-social behaviour in these areas.  In the same period in the previous year (8th June – 7th December 2009) police received 231 calls – that’s 121 calls less since the orders were introduced!

    The Safer Newport Partnership authorised the implementation of the two dispersal orders, after local residents raised anti-social behaviour as a PACT priority for Rogerstone. Dispersal orders give police officers and PCSO’s the power to direct any person, or vehicle, 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 Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003.

    CITY CENTRE SCHEME MOVES ON

    Jan 14 - A multi-million scheme to revitalise Newport city centre has taken an important step forward. Cabinet members have approved a strong shortlist of potential development partners who will now be invited to submit full tenders for the Friars Walk project.

    Newport City Council has already acquired all the properties in the John Frost Square area in readiness for the redevelopment. Some of the unoccupied units have been used for the highly successful Empty Shops arts project while others are available for short term leases. The council’s business services team, which offers advice and support to people wishing to set up enterprises, has specific grants available to attract companies to the city centre.

    Another redevelopment is also in the pipeline after the Scarborough Development Group was given planning permission to create offices, a flagship supermarket, other shops and car parking in the Cambrian Centre. In the meantime, a number of initiatives are either in place or are being looked at to help boost the number of visitors to Newport city centre. Two hours of free parking at the council-owned multi story car parks is now in operation and a ten pence charge for the first two hours in the council’s pay-and-display car parks will come into force at the end of this month.

    CITY CHARITY TO OFFER DRUG USERS INCENTIVE NOT TO GET PREGNANT

    Jan 9 - A Newport charity is to offer drug users a financial incentive to have contraceptive implants rather than fall pregnant. According to a report written for the charity by Dr Bernadette Hard, a GP with a special interest in substance misuse, more than 17,500 Welsh children are thought to be adversely affected by parental alcohol problems while around one third of all childcare social work cases involve parental substance misuse at a cost of around £117m a year. Martin Blakeborough of the Kaleidoscope charity told Wales Online "The issue is whether it’s right for the child and right for the mother. If we can help addicts overcome their addictions by providing the best support then what’s to say they can’t become a good parent in the future. But if they have a child while addicted the chances are that child will end up in care and then the guilt they feel is tremendous and it’s very difficult for them to recover from that. It’s also difficult for the children to get back from that start in life.”

    Monsignor Canon Bob Reardon, a senior member of the Catholic Church in Wales, told Wales Online the Catholic Church opposed the plan because it went against its moral teachings and perhaps bizarrely he believed it also infringed on the human rights of addicts.He said the idea conflicted with Church’s view that all methods of artificial contraception are morally wrong and that the proposed scheme “infringes on the freedoms of the individual”.

    DEPRIVATION STATISTICS REVEAL DIVIDED CITY

    Jan 6 - The marked contrast in levels of affluence between different areas of Newport are revealed in an analysis of deprivation and free school meals published by the Council. Three wards in Pilgwenlly rank in the bottom 65 local authority wards in Wales for deprivation based on 2005 figures but perhaps it is the Council's own figures on recipients of free school meals as at January 2010 that provide the most clear picture.  Out of 101 children attending Somerton Primary School 61 receive free school meals (60.4 per cent). Less than a mile away at Eveswell Junior School only 10.9 per cent (38 out of 349) qualify for free school meals. At the more prosperous end of the scale, of 175 attending Glasllwch Primary only 3 receive free school meals (1.7 per cent). At the City's comprehensive schools free school mealentitlement varies between 3.8 per cent of pupils at Caerleon to 43.3 per cent at Duffryn.

    Schools with 40 per cent or more of children receiving free school meals - Alway (47.9 per cent), Somerton (60.4), Monnow Primary (42.4), Maesglas Primary (45.0), Malpas Court (41.4), Milton Infant (43.8), Milton Junior (46.9), Ringland (41.6), Duffryn High (43.3), Duffryn Junior (53.9).

    Schools with 5 per cent or less receiving free school meals - Glasllwch Primary (1.7 per cent), Caerleon Endowed Infant / Junior (3.1 / 3.4), Caerleon Comp (3.8), Langstone Primary (3.9), Malpas Park (5.0), Marshfield (3.9), Mount Pleasant (2.7).

    Qualifying criteria for free school meals - you  can claim free school meals for your children if you receive any of the following:

    - Income Support -Income Based Job Seekers Allowance

    - Income Related Employment and Support Allowance

    - Child Tax Credit but not Working Tax Credit and the household income is not more that £16,190. Anyone receiving Working Tax Credit, regardless of income, will not qualify 

    - the Guarantee element of State Pension Credit (from 30th April 2005)

    The 1944 Education Act made it an entitlement for pupils to receive a free school meal. This entitlement was scaled back in 1949 when a flat charge of 2.5 pence was introduced. Over the next thirty years this flat fee was gradually increased, until in 1980, legislation was introduced by the Thatcher Government to remove the requirement for Local Education Authorities to provide a meal for every pupil. Since that date, authorities have been obliged only to provide a meal to those pupils who are eligible for a free meal. The previous Labour Government introduced a plan to extend the qualifying criteria to bring a further 500,000 children in to the scheme (1.1 million currently qualify) but this was shelved by the incoming Conservative Government.

    EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT - the contrast between those on Free School Meals and those not

    Figures released by the Department of Education in England reveal the difference between those on Free School Meals and those not. Although only one measure in terms of deprivation it is now a key indicator of a child's chance to succeed in life. According to www.poverty.org.uk

  • 11-year-old pupils eligible for free school meals are around twice as likely not to achieve basic standards in literacy and numeracy as other 11-year-old pupils.
  • There are marked differences by gender between English and Maths.  In English, for a given free school meal status (that is, eligible for free school meals or not), boys do worse than girls by around 10 percentage points.  By contrast, in Maths, for a given free school meal status there is little difference between boys and girls.  In other words, there is gender gap in English, but not in Maths.
  • Differences in achievement between 11-year old pupils by eligibility for free school meals are greatest (by far) amongst White British pupils.
  • NEWPORT'S ACHIEVEMENT

    The percentage of pupils in Newport failing to achieve level 4 at Key Stage in Maths and English is amongst the lowest in Wales. At age 11 only the much more prosperous Vale of Glamorgan narrowly beats Newport but our city is ahead of comparatively affluent Monmouthshire, and significantly ahead of Cardiff and Swansea. 14 per cent in Newport fail to achieve this standard whereas the figure in the worst areas of Wales (Merthyr Tydfil and Blaenau Gwent) is approaching 25 per cent.

    CINTEC WIN CONTRACT TO SAVE PYRAMID

    Jan 5 - A Newport firm has won a lucrative contract to save Egypt's oldest pyramid. The Pyramid of Djoser almost collapsed in 1992 after being hit by an earthquake. According to Daily Mail online, a team from Cintec in Newport has been contracted by the High Council of Egyptian Antiques to rescue the landmark, which is also known as the Step Pyramid. 

    ‘The Step Pyramid project is of particular importance to us,’ said Peter James, managing director of Cintec. ‘The entire structure could be destroyed at any point due to the damage on the ceiling and roof caused by the earthquake.’ Cintec engineers also worked on restoration projects at Buckingham Palace and The White House in the US, and plan to use self-inflating water-filled bags to support collapsed parts of the building while they work.

    The Pyramid of Djoser or step pyramid is an archaeological remain in the Saqqara necropolis, Egypt, northwest of the city of Memphis. It was built for the burial of Pharaoh Djoser by his vizier Imhotep, during the 27th century BC. It is the central feature of a vast mortuary complex in an enormous courtyard surrounded by ceremonial structures and decoration.

    The 1992 Cairo earthquake occurred 12 October 1992, with an epicentre near Dahshur, 35 km south of Cairo. The earthquake had a magnitude of 5.8, but was unusually destructive for its size, causing 545 deaths, injuring 6512 and making 50,000 people homeless. It was the most damaging event to affect Cairo and surrounding area since 1847. 350 buildings were completely destroyed and 9,000 other severely damaged. 216 mosques and 350 schools were badly damaged. The high number of deaths and injuries (545 and 6512 respectively) was partly due to the amount of panic caused by the earthquake in Cairo itself. Damage was reported to have affected 212 out of a total of 560 historic monuments in the area including the Step Pyramid. The earth tremor on Sunday night in Ripon, North Yorkshire measured 3.7 on the Richter scale. By contrast, a 5.3 magnitude quake in southern Iran injured 16 people and destroyed ten villages earlier today.

    COUNCIL SECURES INSULATION FUNDING

    Jan 5 2011 - 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.”.