NEWS ARCHIVE 2014

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MALTINGS SITE UP FOR SALE

Dec 28 - The 1.67 acre former Maltings site is up for sale for development with Hutchings and Thomas. The property blurb states "The property is located within a part of Newport that has been the subject of considerable development and consideration of further proposed future development Significant development has taken place on the northern side of the A48 being mainly residential on an extremely large site, Marstons are developing a new pub restaurant on the opposite side of the southern distributor road to the subject premise. The old town dock site has recently ben sold for a mixed commercial development. " The price is available on application.

In other developments Cooke and Arkwright has revealed that they have sold 164 Commercial Street (currently let to River Island) to north west commercial property company Legat Owen.

NEW SHOW HOMES AT GLAN LLYN

Dec 28 - After securing planning approval early in the year for St Modwen Homes for their first phase of 47 houses at Glan Llyn in Newport, the new show homes designed by architects Roberts Limbrick are available to view.

Work is also taking place on the site to progress the new business park adjacent to the Tata Steelworks at Llanwern.

CHRISTMAS DAY BRIDGE WORKS PLANNED

Dec 23 - Network Rail is carrying out work on a bridge in Newport on Christmas Day as part of the future electrification of the line between London and South Wales. An ageing and disused intersection bridge off Cardiff Road will be demolished. It is part of a £200 million investment programme that is being carried out while there are no trains using the line. From today, one lane is closed on part of Cardiff Road as Network Rail carry out preparatory work before demolishing the disused bridge. It is due to be re-opened on 26 December.

MAINDEE STORE SOLD AT AUCTION

Dec 22 - In a boost for the declining Maindee high street the former Peacocks store has been sold at auction. The property at 148-150 Chepstow Road had a guide price of £140,000 with a ground floor retail area of some 3,348 sq ft with storage and ancillary space above.

MPs MOTION CRITICISES DISTRIBUTION OF ASYLUM SEEKERS

Dec 21 - A motion proposed by Newport MP Paul Flynn has criticised the preponderance of asylum seekers in Newport and Cardiff by contrast with other areas of the UK. The Early Day Motion on December 14 states "That this House believes that asylum seekers should be homed widely in the country to assist community assimilation and to share fairly the strains and burdens on services that newcomers create; is astonished that Cardiff has 976 section 95 migrants, double the total in all of South East England outside of London and that Newport has 391, while the constituency of the Home Secretary has one and those of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister have none; and calls on hon. Members to encourage their areas to accept their responsibilities and welcome at least the average total of migrants homed elsewhere."

CATHEDRAL BUYS PUB

Dec 20 - Newport Cathedral has purchased the former Church House / Six Bells pub opposite on Stow Hill. It plans to turn the pub into  a hospitality centre for use by visitors and the local community.

LIMITED BUS SERVICES OVER HOLIDAY PERIOD

Dec 20 - Newport Bus will be running limited services over the holiday period. There will be no services after 8pm on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve and no service at all on Boxing Day or New Year's Day, despite major fixtures at Rodney Parade.

BRYANT SELECTED TO REPLACE FLYNN

Dec 20 - Newport West has selected Newportonian Jayne Bryant to replace the retiring Paul Flynn as Labour candidate in next year's General Election.

DRAMATIC TRANSFORMATION PLANNED FOR OLYMPIA HOUSE

Dec 17 - Enabling works are about to start at Olympia House, the former Passport Office building in Newport city centre. Richard Hayward Properties, in a joint venture with The Tonstate Group, is due to start the work which will include clearing out internal areas and removing asbestos, ahead of submitting a planning application before the end of the year (2014).   The JV partners are currently finalising plans to transform the prominent, 9-storey building into residential units for private rental, on the upper floors, with retail uses, on the ground, first and second floors.

Built in the 1960s, the 90,000 sqft Upper Dock Street building currently consists of 13 retail units and six floors of office accommodation above.   The new plans will see it converted into up to 60 apartments with shops & restaurants on the first three floors. RHP is currently in discussion with existing ground floor occupiers.

Principal of RHP, Richard Hayward said: Olympia House is one of the largest buildings in Newport.  Its redevelopment as an apartment block will support the regeneration of the city, bringing residents back into the centre, creating improved vibrancy and a greater sense of community.   This is one of a number of projects that we are working on in Newport which are supporting its regeneration, creating jobs and acting as a catalyst for further investment by others.

MUSEUM FRIENDS SAY MEETING WITH COUNCIL 'POSITIVE'

Dec 17 - A positive and constructive meeting took place on Friday between Councillor Bob Bright, leader of Newport City Council, and The Friends of Newport Museum and Art Gallery (FoNMAG) represented by its president Professor Ray Howell and chairman Richard Frame. The meeting was held to discuss the implications of budget savings proposals currently being consulted on by the council. With £10 million of savings having to be found across all of the councils services next year, the council is considering providing the citys art gallery and museum services at different locations.

During the meeting the council made it clear that any decision on the future of the museums location would be underpinned by the full protection of the collection. Secondly, the consultation process would be used to inform the decision making process on a suitable permanent home for the collection. And finally, consultation would continue on how to provide the widest and most appropriate access to the various themes and strands of the vast collection. The council welcomed the input from FoNMAG at the meeting and were able to confirm that any future location would meet essential storage criteria including a secure location with the correct environment. A commitment was also made to continue with the task of fully cataloguing the museums collection and ensuring it is protected in transit during any future move.

FoNMAG have started a petition to stop the closing of the current museum and art gallery building and the meeting gave both parties the chance to share their points of view, consider solutions and agree a way forward on how best to explore how these services can be delivered in the future. Councillor Bright, said: It was refreshing to see that both the council and the friends are working to common goals. Newport Museum has some world class exhibits in its collection and it is vital that these are preserved and made accessible to the public both now and in the future.

Newport has an extremely rich cultural heritage including its more recent Chartist history, as well as its connections with Roman times and the medieval ship. We confirmed at the meeting that the accumulated collections and donated pieces of work have never been at risk by this proposal. What we are looking at now is where they are safely stored and how they are publicly displayed and accessed in the context of severe financial pressures.

Professor Ray Howell, said: We recognise the difficult financial position the council is in, but it is only right that the FoNMAG act as a critical friend to the council. We were initially disappointed to see the museum included in the scope of the councils budget proposals and were concerned that we had missed the opportunity to challenge this decision.

PREMIER INN WORK UNDER WAY

Dec 15 - Richard Hayward Properties (RHP) has gone on site to start preparatory works ahead of the redevelopment of the old Yates Wine Lodge in Newport city centre to create a 60-bedroom Premier Inn hotel. The scheme has been on hold for almost 2 years, principally due to the fact that the approved funding line from the Welsh Assemblys Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales (RIFW) was suspended.

RHP is now waiting for final confirmation that Newport City Council is to make a £450,000 grant from the Vibrant & Viable Cities Fund. In the meantime, RHP is in the process of finalising the few outstanding planning conditions and has mobilised its construction team, getting it on site to clear internal areas and erect scaffolding so that work can start on the façades. The main contract is due to commence early in 2015. RHP has already invested more than £1.4m in the project, acquiring the site and clearing asbestos from the high profile Grade II listed building. The building sits directly opposite the citys railway station, close to the recently redeveloped market and just a short distance from the new Admiral building. As a result, its revitalisation is essential in terms of Newports image to the outside world as a progressive and improving city. It will also act as a catalyst for further regeneration in the area. Premier Inn, the Whitbread-owned hotel chain that has more than 660 hotels across the UK and Ireland, entered into an agreement to lease with Richard Hayward Properties, as developer, in 2012.

It is anticipated that about 100 people will be employed during the redevelopment of the building, which will also create up to 50 permanent jobs in the hotel when finished. It is hoped that the project will be completed by late 2015 or early 2016. Roger Dean of Richard Hayward Properties said:I have been working to unlock this important opportunity for a long time and am looking forward to progressing with the project. Its a significant development for Newport that will provide local jobs and support the regeneration in the city centre.

PYE CORNER TO CARDIFF SERVICE OPEN

Dec 14 - Joint funded by the UK and Welsh Governments, the new Pye Corner station in the Bassaleg area of Newport will be served by the existing hourly route between Ebbw Vale and the Welsh capital, with the potential for additional services to be introduced in the future. The station features a single platform and a car park for commuters. The project also includes the creation of a new road lay out on the Western Valley road and High Cross lane, with a mini roundabout to be built to ease traffic. Local councillor Chris Evans said he would celebrate properly when services called at Newport.

SAINSBURY'S THEFT APPEAL

Dec 14 - Police are appealing for information following the theft of a food mixer, worth £400 from Sainsbury's in Newport. The theft is believed to have occurred at about 3.30pm at the Store in Albany Street, Newport on Saturday December 13th, 2014. Police would like to speak to these two men in connection with the theft

TEENAGER JAILED FOR RAPE

Dec 14 - A teenager who admitting raping and assaulting a woman outside a nightclub where he was celebrating turning 18 has been jailed for five years. Luke Walker, of Cwmbran, and the woman started kissing in the nightclub before he suggested they both go outside. The woman agreed to go outside thinking it would only lead to more kissing, Newport Crown Court heard.Walker then raped and assaulted her in an alleyway in Newport before returning to his friends. Andrew Taylor, defending, said his client had "read all the wrong signals" from the woman before raping her. Judge Philip Richards told Walker: "This poor innocent girl has suffered considerably as a result of what you did to her."

MUSEUM, LIBRARY AND ART GALLERY SET TO CLOSE

Dec 13 - Newport City Council's Museum and Art Gallery and its central reference library will no longer occupy a permanent site in the city centre as a result of budget proposals being considered. Instead the Museum and Art Gallery first opened in 1888 will be replaced by a series of 'pop-up displays' and possibly incorporated into a city centre 'cultural hub'. Despite Councillor Bob Bright and his colleagues have reacted defensively to being cast as philistines determined to destroy the heritage of Newport. In a bizarre reference at a Council meeting on December 8 the Council leader is quoted by the Argus as saying "“We now need to think about providing the future citizens with high-quality jobs, with good disposable incomes, so they can travel to the National Gallery and they can go to the ballet.”

The proposal would save the Council £200,000 plus. The Council states " The council is not proposing to close the museum and art gallery service but to deliver and display it in new locations with full public access. The council is considering moving it to an alternative site somewhere in the city, although this is likely to be smaller in size than its current location. There would still be public access to the museum’s collections and art works and the council is working to identify potential locations."

The Friends of Newport Museum and Art Gallery have expressed their concern at the Council's proposal "The Friends of Newport Museum and Art Gallery are alarmed to discover that Newport City Council is considering the closure of the Museum and Gallery in 2015. This institution, established more than 125 years ago, has survived two World Wars and a number of previous recessions, and it plays a vital role in the cultural life of the City. It possesses collections of national and international importance and of incalculable local value, and has told the story of their City to many thousands of Newport people, as well as attracting visitors from further afield. The Council is currently working hard and taking financial risks to facilitate the Friars Walk redevelopment so it seems short-sighted to close a building which attracts large numbers of people to the City Centre: when the previous major redevelopment took place in the 1960s, the old Museum and Central Library building was demolished but new accommodation was provided in the heart of the new area. We understand that the Council is operating in a period of severe financial difficulty, but in the light of its duty and responsibility as custodian of the collections for future generations of Newportonians, we hope and trust that every possible avenue will be explored in the attempt to maintain a viable museum and gallery service in the City. To that end we are seeking an urgent meeting with Councilor Bob Bright, Leader of Newport City Council, to discuss the situation further. What we are seeking is a phased and sensible approach to the management of Newport's heritage."

A Council report evaluating the option states "The preferred proposal is to move out of the museum and art gallery building and retain access to the collections and art collection by providing a range of temporary exhibitions and events at alternative venues. The proposal will also see a removal of the collections from the existing building to a more cost effective storage centre or alternative venue, and the development of a programme of “pop up” displays and exhibitions staged in alternative venues. Future development will consider options for an alternative museum building location within the city....The building closure option will require staffing resources to document and pack the contents of the museum and transfer these to storage and/or temporary display locations. The option requires an alternative storage premises to be secured if savings are to be maximised. The residual building costs of maintaining occupation in the central building should the museum be closed are not included within the libraries business case." A timescale of gradual closure of the building just as Friar's Walk is opening is provided with the Council's report.

CONCERN OVER PILL INCIDENT

Dec 13 - Local officers want to make residents aware of an incident, which happened on Tuesday, in which a young woman knocked on a resident's door in Alma Street, Newport and attempted to gain entry saying she was collecting money. The young woman is described as aged 16, white, slim, about five feet tall with dark hair and wearing a cream duffel coat with a purple strip on the sleeve, jeans and black boots. She was not carrying anything to collect money for any purpose but asked for money and asked to come into the house to use the phone. If anyone has experienced a similar incident they are asked to call 101 quoting log number 214 9/12/14. Residents are reminded never to let anyone into their home unless for a legitimate reason and never to hand money over without checking its for a legitimate cause.

FRIARS WALK TOPPING OUT RECOGNISES PROGRESS TO DATE

Dec 11 - A topping out ceremony to mark the progress of construction work for Friars Walk, Newport’s multi million pound retail and leisure scheme, took place on Wednesday 10th December. Paul Sargent, chief executive and co founder of Queensberry Real Estate, led the topping out ceremony on site and was accompanied by Newport City Council leader Councillor Bob Bright, the city’s Mayor, Councillor Matthew Evans and Paul Lomas, group construction director of contractors Bowmer and Kirkland.

Paul Sargent, said: “Today’s topping out ceremony marks a significant day for QRE and the city of Newport. We took over the site from the council in March and you can see firsthand the significant progress we have made on the development. We are constructing all buildings across the site simultaneously with the roofing works already happening on our anchor store Debenhams. Friars Walk will be open in November next year, just think people will be coming here to do their Christmas shopping. We have an impressive list of confirmed tenants and are sure that the Friars Walk development will be the first class retail and leisure scheme Newport deserves.”

Councillor Bob Bright, leader of Newport City Council, added: “In January we all watched the dramatic demolition of Capitol car park to make way for Friars Walk and today, less than a year later, we have reached this important milestone." Bright who was recently named Local Politician of the Year added “Like many visitors to the city centre, I have found it fascinating to see the buildings going up as the new scheme takes shape. I share the growing excitement that, by this time next year, there will be a new leisure and retail offering in Newport to complement our traditional city centre including some excellent independent traders. We know this is something that many residents and visitors have wanted for a very long time. The topping out ceremony today signals that their wait will soon be over.”

Friars Walk will have an estimated catchment of 411,000, double the existing levels, and spend per capita expected to be the highest in Wales upon completion of Friars Walk. The scheme is currently 60 per cent let and Friars Walk is set to be one of the most significant retail openings in the UK in 2015. Queensberry will be desperate to ensure that lettings levels are increased to nearer 80 per cent before it opens and that businesses onboard include more well known high street names that have recently left the city centre.

SCHOOLS RECOGNISED FOR WORK WITH FAMILIES

Dec 13 - Fourteen Newport schools have achieved a prestigious award recognising the work they do with families of their pupils. Investors in Families is a national scheme which aims to value and support the important role that families play in the life of the child. Newport High School, Crindau Primary, Duffryn Infants, Eveswell Primary, Maindee Primary, Malpas Court Primary, Millbrook Primary, Milton Infants, Monnow Primary, Pillgwenlly Primary, St David’s RC Primary, St Mary’s RC Primary, Ysgol Gymraeg Ifor Hael and Fairoak Nursery have all received the accreditation.

Other schools are currently working towards achieving it, including Bassaleg Comprehensive, Ringland Primary and Ysgol Gymraeg Casnewydd. Newport City Council has worked closely with the schools to help them evaluate and show the evidence of their work in order to gain the award. Cathy Barnett, of Eveswell Primary School, explained:” The scheme has allowed us to look in detail at our support for families and how we liaise with them. We constantly take the views and needs of individual families on board. Anything that supports parents and families to get involved in school will be of great benefit to our pupils.”

POLICE SEEK MAN IN CONNECTION WITH BURGLARY

Dec 10 - Police are appealing for information as we would like to speak with 33 year old Levi Gulwell in connection with a burglary that occurred on Lliswerry Road, Newport on Wednesday 11th November 2014.

Gulwell is described as 6' 2" tall and of large build. He has a tattoo on the left hand side of his neck. He is known to frequent the Ringland, Moorland Park, Broadmead Park, Maindee and Chepstow Road areas of Newport.

Anyone with any information which could assist is asked to ring 101 quoting log 173 - 26/11/14.

PROMINENT NEWPORT TORY DEFECTS TO UKIP

Dec 7 - Former Newport councillor Bill Routley has defected from the Conservatives to the UK Independence Party. The leader of the Conservatives on Newport council, David Fouwaether, said he's disappointed but understands why his colleague Bill Routley has defected to UKIP. On Twitter he commented: "I'm disappointed that we've lost Bill but I understand his reasons. He remains a friend and always will be and I wish him all the best in his new venture." Routley was previously a councillor in the Stow Hill area losing his seat in 2012.

WELSH SECONDARY TO BE ADDED TO DUFFRYN COMP

Dec 7 - Newport City Council is to consider a detailed proposal to develop secondary provision for children to be educated through the medium of Welsh. The preferred way forward by the region is to use the current site of Duffryn High School, where the curriculum is currently delivered within three school blocks and education provision includes a Sports Hall also accessed by the community with considerable pitch acreage within and adjacent to the site. It is proposed that the project will be delivered by:

• Retaining English medium secondary education within the Duffryn High School site for circa 1200 pupils using two out of the three school blocks and will include demountable replacement in order to create additional accommodation

• Developing provision on site in the third school block for a separate Welsh-medium secondary school for circa 900 pupils, who will be able to enjoy their own pitches and shared use of the Sports Hall.

The currently approved 4 year capital programme currently has this scheme included at £17m, funded from £8m NCC allocation, £8.5m WG match funding and £500k from Monmouthshire CC. The match funding is not yet confirmed in writing but as the scheme is approved by WG, these should be forthcoming

WARNING OVER CAR THEFTS

Dec 6 - Police officers are warning residents to be extra vigilant regarding the security of their vehicles during the Christmas period. This warning comes after a recent rise in thefts from vehicles in the Bettws, Allt-yr-yn and Rogerstone areas with 12 crimes reported in the last two weeks. Number plates have been stolen as well as vehicle windows smashed to steal valuables such as CD players. Officers are urging all residents to make sure that they remove any valuables from view. PS Alistair Frame said, ‘Thieves really will steal anything of value – it may be something you don’t regard as particularly valuable, however to a thief, even spare change or an old coat is worth it. You could be left not only with the cost of replacing your valuables, but also the cost and hassle of repairing a smashed car window."

APPEAL OVER TREDEGAR HOUSE INCIDENT

Dec 6 - Police are appealing for information after two youths were seen with air weapons shooting at ducks at the lake in the grounds of Tredegar House on Tuesday December 2nd. The youths were seen at about 12.55pm. They are described as about 16-18 years old, one wearing a red puffer jacket and one wearing a blue puffer jacket and both having short hair. No ducks were injured but members of the public were in the vicinity and could have been injured. The youths were last seen making their way to Tredegar Park to the side of the Office for National Statistics. If anyone has information they are asked to call Police on 101 quoting log number 222 2/12/14.

BUSINESSES BACK NEWPORT BID

Dec 4 - 88 per cent of city centre businesses voting in a ballot to set up a Business Improvement District have backed the proposal. The turnout was 23 per cent. The new approach will mean that part of the business rates levy is spent on improvements to the city centre as part of a co-ordinated strategy on behalf of businesses there.

This business-led initiative, called Newport Now, aims to implement a five year programme of improvements in the city centre. The next step is to form a company which will start work in April next year. Councillor Bright said: “I would like to congratulate all those involved in achieving this positive result. The council backed the yes vote and it is fantastic that businesses are taking action themselves to make the city centre a great place to visit.

“The council has shown a commitment to revitalising the city centre and excellent progress is already being made on the Friars Walk scheme. Work is also due to start on a number of exciting projects, to convert landmark buildings into new homes, as part of the vibrant and viable places programme, creating a more dynamic city centre.

BLEAK BUDGET OUTLOOK FOR COUNCIL

Dec 2 - Newport City Council’s cabinet will be asked next week to consider more than 100 budget savings proposals as it seeks to save another £10 million in the next financial year, and will be consulting with residents for their views on the proposed cuts.

Welsh Government recently confirmed that Newport City Council will receive a cut of 2.6 per cent in its annual grant, reducing it to £210 million. This funding from Welsh Government provides the majority of the council’s budget – around 80 per cent of its revenue. Council tax paid by residents accounts for just 19 per cent of the council’s annual budget, with the remainder coming from other fees, charges and grants.

With less money coming in next year, Newport City Council’s budget must fund nearly 1,000 different services, and the savings proposed are vital to ensure that the council can continue to deliver front line services and support and protect some of the most vulnerable members of the community. Councillor Bob Bright, Leader of Newport City Council, said: “Following yet another challenging year for local government finances, the council has once again had to go back to basics, review everything it does and how much it spends, and to try to find a palatable way to close the on-going £10 million funding gap it faces. We knew we faced a £5 million shortfall early in the year and were well placed to deal with that. The late news of deeper cuts in our revenue support grant from Welsh Government has meant that we have had to push the boundaries even further again." One of the proposals being considered is the closure of the City's Museum and Art Gallery, the latest in a line of savage cuts on the arts in Newport.

PORT SUPPORTS NEWPORT SHIP

Dec 2 - The Port of Newport is helping preserve one of the most important examples of the city’s proud maritime history by becoming the first corporate sponsor of the Friends of Newport Ship.
Associated British Ports, owner and operator of the Port of Newport, is backing the appeal to raise awareness and funds for the care of the best preserved 15th Century ship ever found. The landmark project aims to house the architectural gem in a purpose-built museum for future generations to enjoy. Discovered miraculously preserved in the riverbed near ABPs Port of Newport in 2002, the vessel is the most complete surviving example of a ship from the 15th Century and is of international importance. It was probably one of the larger ships of the period and capable of carrying a cargo perhaps in excess of 200 tons, well below a typical 40,000 tonne vessel calling at the Port today.

Chris Green, Assistant Port Manager ABP Newport, said: “We are proud to be a supporter of the Friends of Newport Ship and help preserve this exciting discovery as an important piece of Newport’s history. We are looking forward to seeing this remarkable ship on display for all to enjoy. “The port is today a thriving business linking the region with markets in the UK and abroad. This discovery demonstrates that Newport has been a vital trading gateway for centuries and it is an important piece of our maritime history.”

Phil Cox, Chairman of The Friends of Newport Ship, said: “We have set ourselves an ambitious target of raising £100,000 for the forthcoming year to take us towards our goal of reconstructing the ship in a purpose-built museum in Newport. We need to tell more people about our ship, people who will support our project, who will involve their organisations and inspire others to help us achieve our target. “ABP’s new connection to The Friends of Newport Ship is the first formal corporate sponsorship that we have achieved, and we hope that it will encourage other organisations to come forward.”

WINTER GARDEN WASTE COLLECTIONS TO END

Nov 30 - With less than 3% of household green waste collected over the winter months, Newport City Council is moving to seasonal collection and encouraging home composting until spring. As the autumn leaf fall is nearly over, and garden waste has reduced to a fraction of the summer collections, the last fortnightly collection of green waste will occur between 8 and 19 December and will restart in March.

The council currently carries out a fortnightly garden waste collection via an orange lid wheeled bin from residents. During the winter months the amount collected reduces substantially. Of the 8,000 tonnes of garden waste collected this way each year, just 225 tonnes are collected over the winter period at a cost of £84,000 to the council. Newport City Council is facing extreme financial pressure with reduced budgets meaning it has to make significant savings. Moving to seasonal collection of garden waste will help to save the council money and help to run the service more efficiently.

The impacts of the decision will be watched closely to see how this scheme might be repeated next year. With green waste collections starting again on 16 March, residents are asked to compost their garden waste at home or take it to the Household Waste Recycling Centre site located at Docks Way during the winter months. Residents can also take their Christmas trees to the recycling centre.

SAINSBURY'S PLAN APPROVED

Nov 28 - Work is well under way on site for the new Sainsbury's Local at the Kingsway Centre and city planners have approved the signage for the store. The unit will have two entrances one on John Frost Square and the other from the shopping mall. The supermarket had been expected to take up residence in a unit in Friar's Walk but the updated video for that development has the words 'Simply' on the store indicating that this may be the site of the much-rumoured M&S Food store and cafe.

POLICE SEEK PRISON ABSCONDER

Nov 28 - Police are appealing for information to locate 38 year old Lee Welsh from Newport, who breached his licence conditions after being released from prison in September 2014. Welsh was sentenced to one year eight months for Conspiracy to supply drugs in February 2014 at Cardiff Crown Court.

Due to the fact that Welsh, who was released on licence, breached his licence conditions he has been recalled to prison. He is described as white approximately 5ft 7" tall, of proportionate build with red hair and blue eyes. It's believed he could be in the Cardiff area. If you have any information relating to his whereabouts, and think you can assist police with locating him please contact Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

ALLT-YR-YN CONVENIENCE TO BECOME CAFE

Nov 28 - Newport Council has received a planning application to convert the former public toilets and shelter at the Ridgeway (Allt yr yn Avenue) in to a cafe with an outdoor seating area.

POLICE CALLED TO TESCO DUE TO BLACK FRIDAY 'DISORDER'

Nov 28 - Police were called to a Tesco Extra store in Newport Retail Park at just after midnight to deal with 'disorder' among Black Friday bargain-hunters. The situation was quickly calmed down.

COUNCIL PLANS TO SUPPORT OLDER PEOPLE FOLLOWING HOSPITAL STAYS

Nov 28 - Newport City Council is embarking on an initiative which will give vital support to older people after leaving hospital to help them regain their confidence and independence. A Welsh Government grant is funding the conversion of a number of rooms at Parklands Residential Home in Malpas for intermediate care, also know as “step down beds”, and work is due to begin in the near future.

To minimise the disruption to the residents, arrangements have been made for them to move temporarily while the work takes place. This is being done with their full consent and they will also be involved in making choices about the new décor for their own rooms when they return to Parklands. As well as liaising with residents and their families, people living near Parklands will be informed about the refurbishment works. Councillor Paul Cockeram, Newport City Council’s cabinet member for social care and well-being, said: “Older people can lose their confidence following an illness or fall which has required a stay in hospital but they want to return to their own homes. “Intermediate care can help bridge the gap between hospital and home by helping them to rebuild that confidence and relearn the skills they need to live independently.

RAIL ELECTRIFICATION WILL ONLY BENEFIT CARDIFF COMMUTER SERVICES

Nov 24 - Rail services from the Valleys in to Cardiff will benefit from last week's announcement regarding rail electrification but Newport commuter lines will not reap the benefits. Services from Shrewsbury via Abergavenny and Cwmbran, from Gloucester via Chepstow and from Bristol via Severn Tunnel will not be electrified as a result of the deal struck by the UK and Welsh Governments. Newport will be part of the electrified GWR main line to London but its status as a commuter hub will not be assisted by the failure to include the lines its serves into the so-called South East Wales Metro proposal. Although Newport is the third most popular rail destination in Wales after Cardiff Central and Cardiff Queen Street its role may be diminished as the Welsh Government focuses all its efforts on Cardiff at the cost of other destinations. Ironically, the rail electrification announcement was made in Newport. Newport can cling to the hope that services to Ebbw Vale will restored as a result of the Valleys electrification project but communities such as Pontypool, Cwmbran and Chepstow may have a long time to wait for quick and more frequent rail services. Rail electrification of the GWR line to Newport will be complete by the end of 2017 with journey times reduced by up to 14 minutes, bringing journey times back to where they were twenty years ago.

TWO CITY SCHOOLS IN WELSH TOP TEN

Nov 24 - The Sunday Times Parent Power survey of secondary education has placed two Newport schools in the top ten performing schools in Wales. The rankings are based on academic achievement at GCSE and A level, Bassaleg is placed second (171st in the UK) and Caerleon ninth. Rougemont is ninth in Wales in the independent sector.

ATTEMPTED MURDER ARREST

Nov 24 - A man who was discovered injured along with a woman at a property in Newport has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. Officers found the pair, who are thought to know each other, after being called at about 17:50 GMT on Thursday. They were taken to hospital. The 54-year-old woman, who was initially described as critically injured, has been released.

LETTING AGENT WARNS OF IMPACT OF CAMPUS CLOSURE

Nov 23 - Local letting agent, Pinnacle Letting, has warned property owners in Caerleon of the devastating impact of the proposed University Campus closure on rental incomes and the local economy. Writing on their website they state "At the start of September University of South Wales [USW] announced that it would be closing it's Caerleon campus. This could result in the loss of 145 jobs and over 1,000 students having to relocate from the Caerleon area of Newport. The closure is going to come into full effect in summer 2015, with students who are currently studying on the Caerleon campus having their courses moved to other campuses, mainly Cardiff and Treforest. The Newport city centre campus is going to take some of the students who are affected by the closure of Caerleon. The rest of the displaced students will be split between Treforest and Cardiff. Current students have felt the effects of this change now, with students who have moved into their house with the expectation of studying on one campus and then being informed that their course was being moved to a different campus.This is going to have an effect on the demographic of the local area and economy as students will no longer be living in the Caerleon and Maindy area. In the 2011 census by the Office on National Statistics, Newport's total population was 145,700. If over 1,000 students are leaving the area then local businesses will feel the effect with so many students being out of the Newport area. For landlords of Newport's student population this signals a change to the type of tenant who will be looking to rent a property in the Newport area. Here at Pinnacle letting Agency we have a range of products and services to make the switch from student to other tenant types as easy as possible. Our advice would be to make sure you are not faced with an empty house from July 2015, contact us now, before a glut of empty properties hit the market. "

A Freedom of Information request has established that Caerleon campus buildings could be brought up to scratch with about £5.5 million investment despite the claim this would cost £20 million by the board of the University of South Wales. The college's board said the Newport city campus would have an immediate £3m cash injection. "Governors said the Newport campus is newer and cheaper to run than the one in Caerleon. They are already looking at an expansion along the waterfront, which could cost up to £10m." No details have been forthcoming of the proposal for the city centre site.

RIVERFRONT EXPECTED TO BECOME PART OF LEISURE TRUST

Nov 23 - A City Council proposes that the landmark Theatre and Arts Centre in the city centre should be handed over the new not-for-profit leisure trust due to start in April.  The report states that including the £16 million Riverfront Theatre would provide "economies of scale maximising financial and tax benefits and reducing fixed management costs of the trust, whilst at the same time reducing the volume of client responsibilities for the Council and avoiding additional one-off implementation costs of a Riverfront only trust." The Council would continue to determine the strategic priorities for the service through one single management agreement. The new trust would then be fully responsible for the day to day management and operation of the Theatre (currently revenue £1 million per annum) as well as the Sport and Leisure service.

MARKET SQUARE STATION DELAYS REVIEWED

Nov 23 - The Market Bus Station, a project that turned into a fiasco of shifted deadlines and delays ultimately completed way beyond schedule, is the subject of a mostly confidential City Council report this week. There are an ongoing contractual issues still to be resolved but the report states that there a number of failings that need to be addressed in future projects.

The report states - "Phase 1 (preparation of the site) experienced delay and overspend in the later part of the works due to unforeseen ground conditions across the site. Arup, designers of the terminus building also failed to accommodate the presence of a water main which resulted in re-design of the foundations. Phase 2 (the fit out of the station) delay and overspend was experienced due in part to Arup not providing necessary works information to facilitate the contractors to construct the building in an efficient manner. Additionally, both NCC and Encon failed to comply and issue the formal documentation that is required in fulfilling the management of the contract that lead to claims for delay and disruption by the principal contractor."

BATTLE FOR LABOUR'S NEWPORT WEST NOMINATION UNDER WAY

Nov 23 - The battle for all-women shortlist Labour Assembly Member selection for Newport West is under way. Caerleon Labour Party have backed Councillor Gail Giles and Jayne Bryant in the search for a successor to Rosemary Butler AM – who retires from the National Assembly in 2016. Each branch is entitled to send two names forward to the final selection process which takes place on December 13th. Newport West CLP agreed to choose from an all women shortlist. Gail Giles has been a Newport City Councillor since 2004. She represents Caerleon and is a member of the city council’s cabinet. Jayne Bryant was one of four Welsh Labour candidates in this year’s European elections. As the second candidate on the Welsh list she narrowly missed winning a seat following Labour's poor performance on the night.

SEREN POISED FOR GWALIA LINK-UP

Nov 23 - Seren Group, including a range of Newport-based housing organisations, has announced it is undertaking initial discussions to explore collaborative working with Grwp Gwalia, a Swansea-based group of Registered Social Landlords who provide a similar range of services to those of Seren. A joint Steering Group will look at the benefits of working more closely together, what forms this could take and the potential benefits for our customers. Both organisations will explore this new collaboration from positions of financial, operational and reputational strength with a strong commitment to the delivery of great customer services.  

COUNCIL SEEKS FREE CITY CENTRE AND BUS WI-FI PROVISION

Nov 23 - Newport City Council is seeking to procure a contractor to widen public wi-fi provision in the city. The Secretary of State for the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) has launched a Super Connected Cities Programme to improve Broadband provisions and to provide contiguous wireless coverage in Cities within the UK. Newport has been nominated as a Super Connected City in the Wave Two roll out. The Super Connected Cities Programme aims to stimulate local economies, improve employment and to provide easy internet access to all aspects of society.

Newport Council is seeking Tender Submissions from suitably experienced organisations for the provision and supply of Wireless services. Subject to the successful completion of the procurement process, the Council intend to award a contract for the provision of wi-fi services on Public Transport to the successful supplier.

The Council has 2 other project in progression for free wi-fi services:

-           Street wi-fi service - free public wi-fi to high footfall areas in Newport City Centre

-           Public Buildings wi-fi service free public wi-fi across Council owned buildings throughout the City

The provision of a free wi-fi service across public transport, commencing with public bus services, will complement these wireless offerings in the City. It is an aspiration of the Council that free public wi-fi is accessible to all. This element of Newports Super Connected Cities Programme brings Newport even closer to achieving this aspiration.

FLYNN'S NATO COMMENT

Nov 23 - In Caerleon's Labour Part newsletter Newport West MP Paul Flynn made the following comment to constituents "The dreaded summit left few in Caerleon with post NATO depression. None of the threatened violence and traffic disruption happened. One pub landlord told me he had enjoyed his best week's takings ever. 'How those police can drink' he laughed. "

CONCERN ABOUT BEECHWOOD POLLING STATION MOVE

Nov 22 - The location of the Christchurch Road polling station is under threat by Labour Councillors. They have requested the station is relocated a further 400 metres away at Beechwood House. The relocation will increase the distance most residents to get to their polling station.

Local Lib Dem representative Paul Halliday said: "We have many concerns not at least if any elections take place in winter. This will mean many residents will be forced to walk through the park in the dark in order to cast their vote."

SPTS EXPANSION PLAN

Nov 22 - SPTS Technologies is hoping its latest project to develop smaller, faster and cheaper hand-held devices will lead to the establishment of a new division in Newport, according to Insider Media Wales. Company president Kevin Crofton has told Insider it could add between £30m and £40m to group revenue and create 100 jobs within three years. The company hopes to break into the market for what the industry calls advanced packaging applications.

The group employs about 260 staff at its Newport headquarters on Ringland Way, which includes a sizeable R&D facility with 97 highly skilled workers, and posted a turnover of $155.7m (£91.4m) in 2013.

SECRETARY OF STATE LAUDS FRIARS WALK DEVELOPMENT

Nov 22 - Queensberry Real Estate and Newport City Council hosted a visit from Dominic Jermey, chief executive of UK Trade and Investment and the Secretary of State for Wales Stephen Crabb MP at the Friars Walk construction site. Mr Jermey and Mr Crabb were attending the international investment conference in the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport. They visited the city centre today to hear about the regeneration plans for the city including the new shopping centre, Friars Walk.

Queensberry Real Estate and Newport City Council updated the visitors on the progress of Friars Walk and the wider city regeneration projects. Mr Crabb said: It was great to visit the impressive Friars Walk site in Newport today, which is looking in great shape. When it opens next year, I am sure it will help boost the local economy and help create more jobs and opportunities for people living in the local area. Mr Jermey added: Its fantastic to see this new retail and leisure development at Friars Walk gathering pace, right at the heart of Newport city centre. This is part of Newports transformation into a digital, modern city, up with the best places in the UK to live.Regeneration projects like this are precisely why we chose to hold our UK Investment Summit here in Wales this month, in the midst of these exciting business opportunities for investors from around the globe.

JOBS BOOST AHEAD OF SUMMIT

Nov 20 - Newport and other areas of Wales received a jobs boost ahead of the UK Investment Summit set to start at the Celtic Manor today. 50 jobs were created and a further 40 safeguarded following an announcement by First Minister Carwyn Jones. 30 jobs are to be created as SPTS Technologies for research and development posts at the hi-tech firm which specialises in innovative micro-electronic devices but is also expanding into biomedical applications. 20 will be created at Essentra with another 40 jobs safeguarded at the packaging company with a new manufacturing facility.

COUNCIL CONFIRM SUPPORT FOR BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT

Nov 20 - Newport City Council will vote yes in the ballot to decide whether the city centre becomes a Business Improvement District (BID). Newport Now is a business-led initiative which aims to implement a five year programme of improvements in the city centre.

As the owner of some properties in the BID boundary area, Newport City Council can vote in the ballot. Following consultation with all members Councillor Gail Giles, cabinet member for human resources and assets, has agreed the council should vote in support of the BID. Councillor Giles said: “It is important that businesses work together to ensure a more dynamic and improved city centre and that is why I believe a positive result in the ballot will be crucial to its future.

“We recognise that the people working towards establishing a Business Improvement District have dedication and passion and they will drive forward a programme of improvements that will benefit all those who work in, live in and shop in the city centre. “As a city centre property owner, the council shares and wants to support that ambition and vision.”

BLUE INC TO OPEN CITY CENTRE STORE

Nov 19 - Fashion retailer Blue Inc is opening a new store in Newport in the former Mothercare store on Commercial Street.

CUT TO WINTER GARDEN WASTE COLLECTION PROPOSED

Nov 19 - Garden waste collections could stop in Newport over the winter if Newport City Council cabinet member for infrastructure Councillor Ken Critchley approves the proposal. The proposal is to stop garden waste collections from mid-December until mid-March.

Newport City Council currently collects garden waste via a wheeled bin from residents fortnightly. During the winter months the amount collected reduces substantially. Of the 8,000 tonnes collected this way just 225 tonnes are collected over the winter period at a cost of £84,000 to the council. The council is facing extreme financial pressure with reduced budgets meaning it has to make savings. Moving to seasonal collection of garden waste would help to save the council money and help to run the service more efficiently. Residents will still be able to compost their waste at home or take it to the Household Waste Recycling Centre site located at Docks Way during the winter months. If the cabinet member decides to proceed with the proposal, it will be monitored over the winter months.

MORDEN CHALLENGES GOVERNMENT OVER LEGAL AID CUTBACKS

Nov 18 - Jessica Morden MP has challenge the government following confirmation that cuts to legal aid are hitting the family courts in Newport. Since the Government’s cutbacks to legal aid in April 2013, many constituents have been in touch who now find themselves without access to legal aid in custody cases. Parents are increasingly having to represent themselves and cases are therefore taking much longer to resolve as she pointed out in her question. The number of parents in cases involving children without legal representation has jumped up 48% nationally since the changes. With the legal community increasingly highlighting the negative impact of the cuts, she says "it is important we continue to press Government Ministers to ensure that all in our community can get access to justice."

MAN CHARGED WITH ROBBERY

Nov 17 - A 33 year old man from Newport has been charged with robbery following an incident that occurred on Caerau Road, Newport at approximately 5pm on Thursday November 13th. He appeared at Newport Magistrates Court this morning.

ATTEMPT TO DISRUPT MUSLIM MARCH

Nov 16 - Far right activists attempted to intervene in a march through Newport today. Police prevented any disruption. The march is organised by the Islamic Society of Wales and commemorates the anniversary of Prophet Mohammad’s grandson, Imam Hussain. The march was delayed by a week due to Remembrance Sunday.

POLICE WARNING OVER PETTY THEFTS

Nov 16 - Newport Police Officers are warning residents to make sure that they don’t leave their valuables on display whilst out and about in the City Centre. Reports have been received of items being stolen such as handbags, mobile phones, purses wallets and even bikes from outside shops and workplaces.
Inspector Mark Pope explained, ‘Our message is simple…If you love your valuables, don’t leave them. You may think it won’t happen to you and it’s ok to leave your bike insecure while you pop inside a shop or your bag or phone on the table while you go to the bar or toilet in a pub but it’s not. Thieves only need a few seconds to steal, make sure you don’t give them the chance. Always take valuables with you and secure bikes outside shops with a lock. Otherwise it could prove to be an expensive night out or shopping trip!”

FRIARS WALKS WILL COMPLETE REGENERATION JIGSAW - REPORT

Nov 14 - A report by Javelin Group states that Friars Walk will complete the jigsaw of regeneration in Newport alongside the Wales Convention Centre, improvements to public transport, new housing development and the considerable investment being made to restore city centre properties as part of the Vibrant and Viable Places Scheme. The report states that the city's principal catchment area will double in size as Friars Walk moves the city from the 198th retail destination up to the 90th. It will overcome destinations such as Swansea and Cwmbran and be on a par with Windsor, Harrow and Richmond upon Thames. In fact, the report notes that the number of very affluent households in the new Newport retail catchment is nearly double that of Cwmbran.

Read the report here

DRIVER CUT FROM CAR IN CAERLEON ROAD CRASH

Nov 14 - A driver had to be cut free from his car by fire fighters after he crashed into a garden wall in Newport. Emergency services were called to Caerleon Road just after 13:00 GMT on Thursday and fire crews freed the driver from a silver Lexus. He was left in the care of paramedics and a doctor. No other cars were involved in the crash.

WORK 'SET TO START' ON CITY CENTRE PREMIER INN

Nov 12 - A City Council report to be considered tomorrow states work on the long awaited city centre Premier Inn hotel will begin before the end of 2014. The 60 bed hotel with bar and restaurant will occupy 54-55 High Street previously occupied by the Yates' Wine Lodge and now Delilah's bar and night club. The development proposal has stalled for several years but now it seems funding is available to begin on site. The Premier Inn will bring a much needed boost to city centre hotel trade alongside another hotel planned as part of the Cambrian Centre / Admiral development.

In addition the Regeneration and Regulatory Services Half-Year Service Plan Review notes that the Council has bid for £2 million in funding to update the Westgate Hotel and the former Marks and Spencer building on Commercial Street as part of a major regeneration initiative in that area. A decision on the funding proposal will be made by the Heritage Lottery Fund in January

COUNCIL TO SUPPORT NEWPORT NOW BID

Nov 12 - Businesses in Newport city centre are being balloted about the establishment of a Business Improvement District (BID). Newport Now is a business-led initiative which aims to implement a five year programme of improvements in the city centre.

As the owner of properties in the BID boundary area, Newport City Council can take part in the ballot which closes on 3 December. Councillor Gail Giles, cabinet member for human resources and assets, is considering a proposal that the council should support the BID by voting yes.

SOMERTON HEROIN STASH FIND

Nov 12 - Police say a considerable amount of Heroin and cash was recovered following the execution of a warrant on Cromwell Road, Newport on 28 October. Officers from the Operation Prudent team arrested a 40 year old man and a 17 year old boy both of whom were charged with conspiring to supply heroin. They will appear in court later this month. Anyone who has information about those who deal drugs  is asked to ring 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111

ADVANCE COST OF M4 RELIEF ROAD EXPOSED BY BBC

Nov 11 - BBC Wales has learned the Welsh government owns more than £12m worth of property along the so-called black route. Edwina Hart denied it influenced her decision in favour of that option. Public Accounts Committee chair Darren Millar has asked whether taxpayers have had value for money from land purchase. The BBC found that as well as owning £12m worth of property, land and farms along the black route, the Welsh government had spent more than £20m in professional fees to consultants since 1998.

TWO MORE ADDED TO FRIARS WALK

Nov 11  - Two more signings have been announced for Friars Walk. Popular Latin American restaurant chain Las Iguanas joins the restaurant line up and H&M returns to the City Centre having departed for Newport Retail Park in 2013.

400 JOBS SET FOR WELSH WATER ACQUISITION

Nov 11 - According to the South Wales Argus Welsh Water has bought 28 West, an office building at Newport’s Celtic Springs Business Park, and is set to move 400 workers in at the start of the year.

CORPA ROAD ARRESTS

Nov 10 - Operation Resolute officers arrested two people after executing a drug warrant at an address on Corporation Road in Newport on Friday. A 50 year old man from the Newport area was arrested on suspicion of possession of cannabis and theft and handling and has been bailed pending further enquiries. A 24 year old woman from the Newport area was arrested on suspicion of possession of class C and was cautioned. Officers recovered two bikes – one of which has been returned to its owner.

KING'S HOTEL PLANNING APPLICATION APPROVED

Nov 10 - Newport City Council planners have approved a planning application from Jahan Abedi (Shirehall Limited) for the former King's Hotel. This envisages the conversion of the hotel in to 30 apartments (13 x 2 Bed, 14 x 1 Bed & 3 Studio apartments), 3 B1 Office Units and 2 A3 Commercial Units.

CALL FOR MARITIME MUSEUM

Nov 9 - Campaigners trying to create a museum for Newport's medieval ship aim to raise £100,000 "seed funding" to get the project going. They say the attraction would be financially viable if it drew only 55,000 visitors a year. The 15th Century vessel was discovered during the construction of the Riverfront theatre 12 years ago.

The Welsh government has stated it will store it for three years while conservation work continues. The 500-year-old ship is undergoing preservation at a warehouse in Maesglas and it is hoped the Friends of the Newport Ship, a charity which supports the conservation project, will eventually take over its management. The group is currently trying to find trustees with the experience to take the project forward and raise the money needed for a new museum.

POSITIVE MESSAGE FROM NEWPORT SUMMIT

Nov 7 - Newport's second City Summit provided a very positive message about the status of developments and regeneration. Simon Gibson of the Re-Newport Task Force confirmed that progress had been made in setting up an innovation company and a software university. Ceri Doyle of Newport City Homes talked about building on the story of Newport and the lesson to be learned from the re-birth of other cities. Bob Bright, leader of the Council, stated that the last eight months had proved exciting with one new development after another. Ian Edwards, Chief Executive of the Celtic Manor, said the new Wales Convention Centre will be a catalyst to further investment in the City.

LE BISTROT PIERRE JOINS FRIARS WALK LINE-UP

Nov 7 - Le Bistrot Pierre, part of a chain of 12 French restaurants across the UK, has confirmed on Twitter it will be opening as part of the Friars Walk development in November 2015.

For more details on what it offers read here

CELTIC MANOR TO HOST INTERACTION COUNCIL CONFERENCE

Nov 7 - In what is described as a 'massive opportunity for Newport' by Celtic Manor Chief Executive Ian Edwards the Resort is set to host the Interaction Council Annual Conference from June 2-5. The Council includes former US President Bill Clinton.

The Interaction Council of Former Heads of State and Government is an independent international organization designed to bring together former world leaders to mobilize their energy, experience and international contacts in an effort to develop recommendations and foster co-operation and positive action around the world. Founded in 1983, this body meets on annually and is composed of more than 30 former world leaders. The organization and its members jointly develop recommendations on, and practical solutions for, the political, economic and social problems confronting humanity. These efforts are focused on three main priority areas: peace and security, world economic revitalization and universal ethical standards.

The UK Investment Summit will be held at the Resort on 20 and 21 November.

GYM FIRM SIGNS UP FOR STATION QUARTER

Nov 6 - The Gym Group will provide a 24 hour gym and fitness facility at Newport's Station Quarter adjacent to Admiral House. The facility is set to open in May.

ADMIRAL READY TO ADD 500 STAFF

Nov 6 - According to Insider Media Wales, Admiral, the insurance group, is ready to recruit more than 500 additional employees for its office in Newport, which was officially opened this week. Admiral chief executive Henry Engelhardt said the office on Queensway had space for about 1,200 employees. Between 650 and 670 work there now. He told Insider: “You can see us almost doubling that number. We are looking for people with good attitude, reasonably intelligent and eager to learn.” He added that expansion would provide other staff with chances to progress: “If we’re going to add up to 600 people, that means 50 or 60 managers. Where are they going to come from? They are probably working here.” The 83,000 sq ft office provides space for staff who handle claims. And it houses the group’ s BDE Law team which moved there from Cardiff in August 2014. The Newport office was opened on Wednesday 5 November by Wales rugby players Jamie Roberts, George North, Dan Biggar and Dan Lydiate. The office features communal areas, bike storage, lots of natural light, and a “get ready room” for staff preparing for a night out.

GAS PIPELINE UPGRADE IN BASSALEG

Nov 6 - Wales & West Utilities is set to start work on the first phase of a two stage investment programme to replace gas pipes between Bassaleg and Machen.

The first stage of work will be completed by the end of December, and covers the replacement of five kilometres of gas pipes in the main trunk road between Rhiwderin and Machen. Traffic will be managed, where needed, by two-way traffic lights, to make sure that the work can be carried out safely, with the least amount of disruption. Wales & West Utilities project manager for the scheme Francis Kirk said: “This is essential work to replace old metal gas pipes with new plastic pipes that have a lifespan of over 80 years. The old pipes must be replaced as they are becoming unreliable and we have to carry out more and more unplanned repairs. “This work will mean an end to the problem with leaks on this stretch of pipeline and, when both stages are completed, all the gas pipes in Machen and Bassaleg will be new maintenance-free plastic pipes, representing a significant investment for the company. To make sure that we complete this work on time, we will have two teams working on the scheme at the same time, one starting in Machen and the other in Rhiwderin, and they will be working seven days a week.”

NEXT GENERATION DATA EXPANDS

Nov 6 - Next Generation Data's (NGD) Newport site has been named as the pan-European hub for multinational data security company Turrem Data. The Surrey-based group secured space at NGD's data centre as a channel partner and will use NGD's facilities for hosting, storing and remotely monitoring data. The agreement follows Turrem's appointment as the exclusive pan-European distributor for US-based AccessData Group.

Simon Taylor, NGD's chairman and co-founder, said: "Turrem Data's decision to entrust NGD for securely hosting and storing valuable customer data is yet another example of how leading IT service providers and their customers are recognising that having the tightest possible physical security is inextricably linked to the overall quality of their data and cyber security solutions."

EXTRA MONEY FOR CITY SCHEMES

Nov 4 - Improving security at a school, looking at the next stage for regeneration of the city centre and providing new play facilities are among proposed schemes to be considered by Newport City Council’s cabinet next week. An extra £838,000 has become available from a variety of sources including planning contributions and external grants which can be spent on specific projects. These are one-off sums and are separate to the council’s overall budget spending pressures.

On Monday 10 November, the cabinet will be asked to approve a number of additions to the capital programme as follows:

• £50,000 to evaluate the options for further regeneration and investment in the city following the successful progress of Friars Walk and the vibrant and viable places programme which will transform key buildings into new homes

• £319,000 to improve and upgrade play facilities in the Graig area (funded by developments in Viaduct Way and Harlech Drive)

• £7,000 for a new reception door system at Maesglas Primary School

• £450,000 for the super connected cities’ broadband voucher scheme which is assisting small and medium sized businesses to install superfast broadband

• £12,000 to manage an area in St Julian’s Park which is a known reptile habitat to increase biodiversity

BODY FOUND IN MALPAS

Nov 2 - Gwent Police were called to a location in the Malpas area of Newport at approximately 09:30 today (Sunday 02 November). On arrival officers discovered the body of a man in a hut. The identity of the man has yet to be confirmed, and at this time there is no evidence of foul play. Until the cause of death has been established the death is being treated as unexplained. A post mortem examination will now take place.

POLICE SEEK TO IDENTIFY WOMAN

Oct 31 - Police in Newport are attempting to identify this woman as they are concerned for her welfare. The woman entered the Tesco Store, Harlech Retail Park, Newport yesterday (Thursday October 30th) at about 8.15am. Staff reported she seemed in a lot of pain and she went into the toilet. Staff went in to the toilet as they were concerned for her but the woman had already left the store by about 8.24am.

Police are concerned for her welfare and want to make sure she is safe and well. All other attempts to trace her have failed. She is described as about 40 years of age, white, stocky build, blonde shoulder length hair, wearing a three quarter length black coat and black leggings.

If anyone knows her or her whereabouts they are asked to call Police on 101 quoting log number 81 30/10/14

DIVERSIONS ON SDR

Oct 31 - Motorists are advised that diversions will be in place on the Southern Distributor Road in Newport overnight from Monday 10 November until Saturday 22 November (weather dependent) while work takes place on the signal detection loops. There will be closures on various stretches of the SDR as the work progresses.

Diversion signs will be in place and drivers are advised to take notice of them, and abide by them, to ensure the safety of workers and other road users. The work will be funded by Morgan Vinci Ltd – who are responsible for the road’s maintenance and this is part of its on-going work programme and contract with Newport City Council. The work is taking place during the evenings and nights to reduce disruption to the public. Wherever possible closures will be restricted to a single carriageway but in certain cases a full closure will be necessary.

PUPILS NAME STREETS IN NEW DEVELOPMENT

Oct 31 - Pupils at Bassaleg School have been helping to name the streets in the new Jubilee Park housing development in Rogerstone. Year seven and eight pupils were asked to consider the geography and history of the site, carry out research and think of their own experiences of the area when thinking of names for the new streets. They were also asked to talk to their parents and grandparents for any memories they had of the site.

A panel comprising of pupils, Mr Batten (deputy head Bassaleg School), Mr Picken (chairman of the Rogerstone historical society) and Stephen Bowen (deputy chairman of Rogerstone Community Council) then discussed the suggestions and 10 names were chosen for phase one of the development.

The street names chosen and the reason behind the suggestions are as follows:

  • Ebbw Close/Clos Ebwy - the Ebbw River runs close to the site.
  • Alcan Grove/ Rhodfa Alcan - to reflect the previous use of the site.
  • Welsh Oak Way/Ffordd y Dderwen - the Welsh Oak Pub was a meeting place of the Chartists
  • Novelis Road/Heol Novelis - to reflect the last use of the site
  • Hurricane Way Heol Hurricane - metal for the WWII aircraft was produced here
  • Spitfire Road /Heol Spitfire - metal for the WWII aircraft was produced here
  • Copper Grove/Clos Copr - copper rolling mills on site during 18th century
  • Aluminium Close/Clos Alwminiwm - aluminium was produced on site
  • Carnegie Close/Clos Carnegie - to link to the Carnegie Library in Rogerstone that was built with money donated by Scottish‐American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie
  • Obama Grove/Rhodfa Obama - to commemorate the visit to the area by President Obama
  • Nearly 1,000 homes are being built at the former Alcan site in Rogerstone over a 12-year period. Developers Taylor Wimpey and Bellway Homes are currently working on phase one.

    WOMAN CHARGED WITH ATTEMPTED MURDER

    Oct 29 - A woman who was arrested after a 7 year old boy and 16 month old baby girl suffered knife wounds following an incident in Salisbury Close in Newport on 7th May 2014 has been charged with attempted murder at Cardiff Crown Court. Sadie Jenkins, 27, was remanded in custody until December 11.

    OLD TOWN DOCK REGENERATION PLAN UP FOR CONSIDERATION

    Oct 29 - Next Wednesday the City Council Planning Committee will consider another major regeneration proposal for the East Usk Road area of the Old Town Dock. Seren Group and Sennybridge initially are seeking planning permission for an initial phase of development. The 'hybrid’ application seeks to effectively gain full planning permission for some elements of a proposal and outline planning permission for the remaining elements. In this instance, the applicant is proposing to construct 24 houses, 65 apartments and 288 sqm of A3 (food and drink) including the construction of new roads, footways, access, public and private space and landscaping, which is subject to the full application element. These parts of the application would therefore have detailed planning permission, should the whole application be approved. The outline element is seeking approval for up to 199 residential units, office space (B1), community or café use (A3), retail (A1) and car parking, together with the construction of new roads, footways, access, public and private open space and landscaping.

    In addition, a screening opinion is being sought by the Cardiff company the Urbanists for the massive former Whiteheads steelwork site adjacent to the Royal Gwent Hospital and Belle Vue Park.

    PURE GYM SET FOR MID-DECEMBER OPENING

    Oct 29 - Pure Gym has confirmed it will open its new Newport Kingsway gym in mid-December. Thanks to a reader for forwarding this information to us.

    RESIDENTS EXPRESS CONCERN OVER CITY BUS CHANGE

    Oct 28 - Newport East MP Jessica Morden has become involved in a residents campaign to maintain their bus service. The two hourly 62 service originating in Caerwent via Magor and Redwick will cease and will be replaced by a diverted 73 service from Chepstow to Newport.

    She says "Over the last few weeks many Ringland residents contacted me about the imminent cancellation of the 62 bus service.  The petition, as well as comments I received, highlighted how strongly people object to the stopping of this vital service. I forwarded a petition, as well as other concerns raised, to the Managing Director at Newport Transport Limited (the company in charge of Newport Bus), Mr Scott Pearson. I asked that he provide a response to the concerns raised. Mr Pearson has advised me that the responsibility for commissioning the service lies with the Integrated Transport Unit (ITU) at Newport City Council; therefore the petition has been forwarded to them.  He did however confirm the following: “When the service 62 stops in this area, the service 73 will be redirected to serve Beatty Road thus giving the residents of this area a bus service equivalent to what they have now.”"

    The changes are due to a scaling back of bus support grants by the Welsh Government for concessionary travel. 31,061 people in Newport have concessionary bus passes and they undertook in excess of 3 million passenger journeys in 2013-14.

    GO AHEAD FOR 250 HOUSES ON OLD PANASONIC SITE

    Oct 27 - Councillors have given the go-ahead for a mixed development of 250 houses in the west of Newport on the site of the former Panasonic electronics factory.

    MAYOR'S CHARITY BALL RAISES £20K

    Oct 27 - Continuing a thoroughly successful year as Mayor of Newport Councillor Matthew Evans raised £20,000 in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust and Newport Sea Cadets at his Newport's Finest Charity Gala held at the Celtic Manor Resort.

    MYSTERY SURROUNDS NIDA'S DISAPPEARANCE

    Oct 25 - Questions still surround the death of a Newport teenager who went missing after leaving her home barefoot in the middle of the winter, an inquest has heard. Nida Naseer was 18 when vanished from her parent's house in Pill on December 28. Her body was found near Newport Wetlands three months later. The Newport inquest heard it was "possible" the student may have fallen from a bridge into the River Usk. Coroner David Bowen recorded an open verdict.

    David Bowen said: "Police investigations failed to find any evidence as to when, how or in what manner Miss Naseer's body entered the river. How this happened is pure speculation. And this inquest is not concerned with speculation, it is concerned with the facts.

    "Miss Naseer's father described his daughter's disappearance as a mystery. From the evidence that I have heard I am satisfied never has such a description been more appropriate."

    The hearing was told that with no confirmed sightings of her since she disappeared and a post-mortem examination revealing no sign of injuries, questions still surrounded her death.Her family had sought asylum after coming to the UK from Pakistan five years ago but their application had been turned down. The inquest heard she suffered "hurt and stress" because the family's asylum-seeker status prevented her from attending university and had led to family arguments.

    Gwent Police Det Con Stephen Davies told the inquest: "Her disappearance was a complete mystery. Nida had never been missing before and her actions were totally out of character."

    SLAVERY FARMER JAILED FOR FOUR YEARS

    Oct 25 - A horse farmer who forced a "terrified" vulnerable man to work unpaid for 13 years in "modern day slavery" has been jailed for four-and-a-half years. David Daniel Doran, 42, pleaded guilty midway through his trial to making Darrell Simester, from Worcestershire, perform forced or compulsory labour at his farm in Peterstone. Judge Neil Bidder QC at Cardiff Crown Court told Doran the way he had treated him was "repellent and wrong" and "not much better than a slave".

    MONMOUTHSHIRE REJECTS MERGER WITH NEWPORT

    Oct 25 - Councillors in Monmouthshire have said "no" to merging with Newport council. Members decided a business case for the merger had not been made. Rejecting Welsh government proposals for the move, the local authority said it would explore other options instead. However, the merger may be forced upon the Councils as the Welsh Government seeks to reduce the number of Welsh local authorities by 2020.

    19 ARRESTS AFTER ALBANY STREET AFFRAY

    Oct 23 - Nineteen people have been arrested following a disturbance in Newport. Gwent Police were called to Albany Street in Crindau today, about 7.15am. Two men were taken to hospital with minor injuries and 19 are in police custody. A Police spokeswoman said: “We were called to an area of Albany Street, Newport at about 7.15am this morning after a report of a disturbance. “It’s believed private land owners were attempting to remove people from the area. “Police attended the area and 19 people have been arrested on suspicion of various offences including affray. All remain in custody at this time. Two men were taken to hospital; one with a hand injury and another with a facial injury, neither are life threatening."

    Police said all but two of those who have been arrested are men and that all but one have been arrested for affray. Seven men - one aged 27 from Milton Keynes; another aged 37 from Newport; one aged 25 from Bury; two aged 19 and 26 of no fixed abode; two 15-year-olds from Newport - were arrested on suspicion of affray.

    A woman aged 28 from Milton Keynes was arrested for a no bail warrant. A 55-year-old man from Merthyr; a 45-year-old man and a 39-year-old man from Merthyr; a 42-year-old man and a 25-year-old man from Ebbw Vale and a 22-year-old man from Pontypool have also been arrested on suspicion of affray as were a 24-year-old man, a 49-year-old man, a 21-year-old man, a 37-year-old man and a 51-year-old woman all from Bristol. Police said a number of offensive weapons were seized including bladed and blunt objects.

    MUCH NEEDED FUNDING BOOST FOR MAINDEE

    Oct 22 - Three recent funding awards to Maindee organisations have recently been announced. A partnership of Maindee organisations, led by Maindee Festival Association, has just been awarded a major grant of £365,000 by the Arts Council of Wales for a local arts-led regeneration programme. Over the next three years, the "Finding Maindee" scheme will see a major transformation of one outdoor and one indoor space in Maindee together with a range of smaller arts projects for community and local business benefit.

    This grant comes hot on the heels of a £20000 award to Maindee Action Group for "Maindee Gateway", a volunteer run project to renovate the St Mary's corner site on the junction of Wharf Road and Corporation Road. Newport City Council and Maindee Cynefin has also recently been awarded £32000 by Welsh Government to develop the retail sector in Maindee District Centre.

    NEWPORT TO BE RAIL ELECTRIFICATION NERVE CENTRE

    Oct 21 - Rail electrification has moved a step forward with a dedicated nerve centre for the project opening in Newport city centre. One hundred staff from Network Rail and ABC Electrification are moving into Norwich House, Gold Tops - the former office of Newport Unlimited. The firms are behind the multi-million pound project to electrify the mainline. Staff are expected to complete the move by the end of this week.The project will pave the way for new electrified trains which will help to deliver improved journeys between south Wales and London.

    Brian Fisher, programme director of ABC Electrification, said: "Norwich House, with its location overlooking the railway line and with good access to the M4, is perfect for our needs. "The offices will be the nerve centre of our work helping Network Rail electrify the south Wales main line. Refurbishment work on the building is progressing to plan and we will be taking possession of the property and moving staff in immediately."

    JSA NUMBERS IN NEWPORT STILL HIGH

    Oct 20 - Despite the improvement in the economy over 4 per cent of working age households in Newport (4.2 per cent in fact) are still dependant on Jobseekers Allowance according to the September figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions. In Torfaen it is 3.8 per cent and Monmouthshire 1.6 per cent. 

    PURE GYM SET FOR KINGSWAY DEVELOPMENT

    Oct 18 - One of the UK's leading gym companies is set to open a facility at unit 35 in the Kingsway Centre. Pure Gym has appointed PEContracts as its main site contractor for the development. The gym entrance will be adjacent to the main entrance of the Centre opposite Friars Walk next to the proposed new Sainsbury's Local store. The Centre is now owned by Queensberry Real Estate and already includes the City's main post office, Wilko, Boswell's Cafe, Peacocks and a host of value stores

    CELTIC MANOR TO HOST SECOND NEWPORT SUMMIT

    Oct 16 - Newport City Council and the Celtic Manor Resort have announced that the second Newport City Summit will be held at the five star hotel in Newport. The summit, which is sponsored by The Celtic Manor Resort will be presented by Newport City Council and the ReNewport Task Force on Friday 7 November.

    Held in the famous Augusta Suite in the Lodge Clubhouse, the Newport City Summit will be addressed by a selection of the city’s most influential and important business and civic members, offering a unique opportunity to discuss and build upon the success of the NATO conference. The summit gives attendees the opportunity to propose their questions to the expert panel and discuss their opinions. Points to be discussed at the summit include:

    - Update on City Centre regeneration

    - Progress on ReNewport recommendations

    - Newport Economic Network: progress and next steps

    - Report on the NATO Summit effect

    - Preview of Investment Conference post-NATO (Nov 20-21)

    - Newport: building the story

    - Newport and the South East Wales City Region

    RACIST TARGET CITY CENTRE CAFE

    Oct 16 - Two teenagers have been arrested after complaints of racial harassment by the owners of the Punjabi Kitchen on Commercial Street in Newport. They told the Argus "We are very happy to live in Newport because it’s quiet and the people are friendly,” she said. “But we are very scared. Our daughters haven’t gone to school because they threatened them as well.”

    WILKO SUPPORT WOMEN'S REFUGE

    Oct 16 - Community Support Officers from Newport City Centre Neighbourhood Team will be helping with a donation of goods from Wilkinson’s Newport to Newport Women’s Aid. The idea started when Community support Officer Hayley Sutcliffe approached Newport Store Manager Duncan South to see if they had any spare goods to donate to the local charity.

    The Neighbourhood Team have previously worked with Wilkinson’s to help with the donation of benches for St Paul’s Church earlier in the year. Wilkinson’s operate a ‘Helping Hands’ fund which aims to help local communities by donating goods and equipment all year around so they were happy to help. Tomorrow, Duncan South will be meeting CSO Sutcliffe to donate suitcases, light bulbs, garden tools and furniture to Women’s Aid – all essential things which will be used to help victims of domestic abuse to set a new home.

    QUEENSBERRY BUYS KINGSWAY CENTRE IN MAJOR DEAL

    Oct 14 - Queensberry Real Estate has completed on the purchase of the 250,000-sq ft Kingsway shopping centre in Newport, South Wales from the UBS Triton Fund for an undisclosed sum with new joint venture partner Bywater Properties. The deal enhances Queensberry's already significant presence in Newport City centre where its 390,000-sq ft Friars Walk will open in Autumn 2015.

    Kingsway is located immediately adjacent to Friars Walk, and is anchored by Wilkinsons, B&M and Peacocks. QRE chief executive Paul Sargent said: "This is the first of a number of similar acquisitions we hope to be involved with over the next 12 months - a strategic purchase that will both compliment and leverage off the growing success of Newport City centre's retail story. "Newport is the obvious place for us to start as investors due to our in-depth knowledge of the city and its catchment, and we see great opportunity in the synergies with Friars Walk moving forward. Together with Bywater we can deliver a holistic approach to Newport's retail offer and add further momentum to the wider regeneration of the city.”

    Theo Michell, director of Bywater Properties, said: “The Friars Walk development has brought top retailers back into Newport City Centre, and Kingsway is already seeing the knock-on benefits from this renewed occupational demand. The retail offer of the City is set to go from strength to strength. We, together with QRE, are delighted to be part of Newport’s retail-led regeneration.”

    Strutt & Parker acted for the vendor while QRE / Bywater were represented by Stuart Cunliffe.

    As we reported Sainsbury's will be opening a new convenience store in the front of the Centre opposite Friar's Walk.

    ARREST AFTER BASSALEG INCIDENT

    Oct 14 - Police in Newport have arrested a 27 year old man after an incident on Bassaleg Road, by the bus stop at Golden Mile View at about 9.40pm on Monday evening.

    A member of the public reported seeing a man, the driver of a parked silver Peugeot 206, who appeared to grab a woman roughly and put her into the back seat of the car. He then shut the back door of the Peugeot and approached a car on the other side of the road and banged the window of the car. He then got into the Peugeot and drove off in the direction of the City Centre.

    The man was described as 25 - 30 years old, six feet two inches tall, large build, with hair that's shaved at the sides and curly on top. The woman is described as white with dark hair and medium build. It is not known where the woman was before being seen entering the back of the car or whether it seemed that the man and woman are known to each other. It's believed the drivers of at least two other vehicles on the road at the time stopped and could have witnessed the incident.

    CURB AGREED ON SUPER-STRENGTH ALCOHOL

    Oct 14 - Police are joining forces with local licensees in a bid to stop the sale of single cans of super strength alcohol in Newport City Centre. Officers are concerned that the easy availability of cheap, super strength alcohol, usually lager, beer or cider which is stronger than 7% alcohol by volume, can pose serious health risks to drinkers, and fuels anti-social behaviour and crime in Newport City Centre and the surrounding areas.

    Issues reported include street drinkers urinating, shouting and swearing, vomiting and even causing a danger to themselves and others by walking in front of traffic. All off licenses in Newport City Centre and Pill have agreed to stop selling single units of super strength alcohol and every store is displaying posters to advise customers that they do not sell single units of super strength alcohol. PC Rachael Honey-Morris, Licensing Officer for Newport said, “This type of alcohol is often sold cheaply, sometimes even £1 per can and is therefore attractive to street drinkers and addicts. We want to make it much more difficult to obtain this particular type of drink in order to deal with some of the problems excessive alcohol can cause. Working with off licenses is key to helping us achieve our aim of reducing the health risks, anti-social behaviour and crime associated with excessive drinking."

    GLIMMER OF HOPE FOR MAINDEE

    Oct 14 - A community-led group has won funding for a series of projects including pop-up shops, street events and the development of a business improvement district. Maindee is to receive £38,200 from the Welsh Government’s town centre partnership fund and the investment will also be used for a “health check” survey as well as marketing support for local businesses. Newport City Council made the successful bid on behalf of Cynefin Newport which has brought together a broad range of organisations under the Maindee Unlimited umbrella. It is already embarking on a regeneration programme in Maindee and one of its priorities is the revitalisation of the district centre. An action plan has been developed to reduce shop vacancy rates, increase footfall and improve the environment.

    BURST WATER MAIN IN CITY CENTRE REPAIRED

    Oct 14 - A Welsh water spokesperson said; “We can confirm that a burst water main impacted on water supplies to properties and businesses in Commercial Street and Skinner Street in Newport this morning. We were made aware in the early hours and immediately sent a team to site to deal with the situation.

    “Our team repaired the burst and water supplies were returned to normal by early afternoon. If anyone still has any issues with their water, we would ask they call our operational helpline on 0800 052 0130.

    “While the repair has been completed, the road now needs to be reinstated and our team will be working through the night to complete this. To ensure this work is carried out safely and quickly, road closures will be in place on High Street, Skinner Street, Stow Hill, Corn Street, Upper Dock Street and Commercial Street (from the Charles Street junction to Skinner Street). We anticipate that these repairs will be complete by the morning. In the meantime, diversions will be clearly signposted.

    “We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused and thank our customers for their patience whilst these repairs are carried out.”

    VOLUNTEER LIFEBOAT STATION FOR CITY

    Oct 14 - The Severn Area rescue Association (SARA) has established a Rescue Equipment Hub within the Newport city area. The specially modified twenty-foot shipping container houses a selection of specialist equipment for Lifeboat, Swift Water or Flood emergencies and incidents on the Rivers Usk, Ebbw and Afon Llwyd.

    The D-Class lifeboat “SARA-14”, a customised rescue Landrover and other specialist equipment such as ropes, technical hardware, stretchers, casualty recovery devices, protective clothing, scene lighting etc. is housed in the Dark Blue container which was kindly donated by General Dynamics UK Ltd who have an electronics division based at Oakdale Business Park, Blackwood. During the Winter and Spring the container underwent considerable modifications and customisation, mostly carried out by volunteers from SARA’s Chepstow station with help from a community team from Siemens Water Technologies, Portskewett . It is now installed within the secure grounds of Celtic Recycling Ltd., a specialist electrical plant recycling and recovery facility. The site is manned 24 hours a day providing security and rapid access for rescue crew responding to emergencies within the Newport area.

    NEWPORT DRUGS SWOOP NETS TEN

    As part of Operation Resolute 8 warrants have been executed in Newport on Thursday. The action was undertaken by Police officers from various teams including the Roads Policing Unit, Dog Section, Support Group as well local neighbourhood officers.

    So far 10 people have been arrested on suspicion of a number of offences including possession with intent to supply class A drugs and money laundering. Items recovered include significant amounts of cash and class A and B controlled drugs. 

    Today's warrants were again intelligence led and are targeting those who are believed to be involved in criminality. To provide transparency and to help highlight the work being done to tackle criminality in Gwent officers were joined by journalists from the BBC and South Wales Argus.  The police state "Operation Resolute is a new Gwent Police operation to drive down crime and anti-social behaviour by specifically targeting the small number of offenders in our communities who commit the most crime."

    COUNCIL FACES FUNDING CUT

    Oct 10 - Newport City Council faces a 2.6 per cent funding cut from the Welsh Government following the announcement made this week. This means the Council's budget will reduce from £214.9m to £209.4m in 2015-16. Education and social care expenditure must be protected.

    The Council says its 2.6% budget cut means it will need to save an extra £5m on top of the £4.9m it was planning to save next year in addition to the £50m of cuts in the "past few years". The Council is consulting residents on the challenge it faces (see story below - September 30).

    AGENT APPONTED FOR CONVENTION CENTRE

    Oct 10 - Newport based property consultancy Lewis and Lewis has been appointed to manage the planned Wales International Convention Centre project at the Celtic Manor Resort. Lewis Lewis, director of corporate and client services for the UK & Middle East, said: "We are enormously proud of the work that we have completed for Celtic Manor over the past three decades.

    "We will now be looking to build on that record with the construction of this convention centre which will be of massive importance not just to Celtic Manor but to the city of Newport and the South Wales region as a whole." Lewis added that initial ground works will begin next summer, subject to full planning permission being granted.

    Ian Edwards has taken over as Chief Executive of the Celtic Manor from Dylan Matthews. Edwards has been operational manager at the Resort since 2008. Matthews will now take responsibility for the expanding Wesley Clover portfolio of companies supported by his father including the Alacrity graduate foundation.

    JESSOPS TOP OPEN STORE AT SAINSBURY'S

    Oct 10 - Jessops has signed a deal to open concessions in Sainsbury's superstores, with a Newport branch among the initial trio, according to Insider Media. Entrepreneur Peter Jones, who bought the photography chain's brand out of administration, called it a "very exciting landmark deal" for the retailer

    The first three Jessops Photography Stores have been confirmed for Newport, Waterlooville in Hampshire and then Maidenhead. They are the first of many planned 'store in stores'. Jessops chairman Peter Jones – of Dragons' Den fame – said: "This is a very exciting landmark deal for Jessops.It is a natural next step for our multi-channel strategy which is all about giving consumers the choice on how to buy. Our partnership with Sainsbury's gives us the opportunity to extend our collect-at-store coverage, as well as bringing some unique new services to Sainsbury's shoppers"

    DRUG FIEND GETS TEN YEARS

    Oct 9 - Today at Newport Crown Court, 32 year old Christopher Holloway has been sentenced to 10 years after pleading guilty to offences of: Importation of controlled drugs; Possession with intent to supply controlled drugs; Supply of controlled drugs and Money Laundering.

    He was found to be selling controlled drugs under the guise of "research chemicals" knowing that they are likely to be ingested by those who participate in the extremely dangerous practice of using so called "legal highs".

    Detective Chief Inspector Roger Fortey said: "Officers from the Gwent Police Organised Crime Unit, the Hi-Tech Crime Unit and the Financial Investigation Unit worked together to uncover the vast network of contacts, orders and suppliers in order to place evidence before the courts. The positive outcome of this investigation led to the seizure of over 8 kilos of controlled drugs with a street value of over £3.5 million."

    "There is no doubt that these drugs would have been sold and used as "legal highs". We want to use this opportunity to re-iterate the danger of taking these substances, their contents are unknown and their effects can be fatal. They are sold under the caveat of "not for human consumption" but it is known they are taken by a wide variety of individuals, including young people who have no understanding of the effects and dangers posed through consumption. Taking "legal highs / research chemicals" is literally like playing Russian roulette with your health.

    "We continue to work with partner agencies including schools and youth groups to raise awareness of the dangers of these substances. We would also urge communities to be aware of the possibilities of the dangerous and potentially illegal supply of substances and to report any concerns to us on 101"

    COMMUNITY CENTRES FACE CLOSURE

    Oct 9 - Newport City Council states a group of councillors who have reviewed community centre provision in the city will present their options for the future to a cross-party committee next week. The four councillors, supported by officers, conducted an in-depth examination of the centres and their activities over the last 11 months. It followed concerns that some of the centres were not operating to full capacity to benefit their communities while others were in need of repair.

    It is also recommended that two centres, Mary Dunn in Lliswerry and Good Companions in Eveswell, should be closed. Mary Dunn, in Lliswerry, which is currently closed on health and safety grounds, would require significant investment. It was also found that the centre was not well-used previously and all regular users have been successfully transferred to other nearby facilities.

    It is suggested that users of the Good Companions could transfer to Eveswell Community Centre which shares the same site. The Good Companions building could then be demolished and Eveswell Community Centre could be regenerated and improved. Other specific proposals have also been put forward for some of the other centres including the regeneration of provision in Ringland and Shaftesbury. It was also felt that four centres – Alway, Bettws, Caerleon and Cefn Wood – should continue to be directly managed by the council with nine others to remain managed by voluntary committees.

    MAN JAILED FOR LIFE FOR BATH MURDER

    Oct 6 - A Newport man has been jailed for life after he stabbed and strangled his girlfriend as she lay in the bath. Jessica Watkins, 21, suffered 27 stab wounds in the frenzied attack at their Malpas home by 28-year-old Kristopher Mitchell on May 5. Mitchell was jailed for a minimum of 16 years and eight months after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing at Cardiff Crown Court. Miss Watkins's family said they are still grieving and are disappointed with the length of the sentence.

    According to Wales Online, Mr Michael Roberts, prosecuting, described the killing at Mitchell’s home in Bryn Bevan, Newport, as “a brutal murder of a defenceless young woman”. He said Mitchell had made threats to harm Miss Watkins two weeks prior to her murder. Mr Roberts said: “The defendant wanted to hurt Jessica. He didn’t say why or how. He was drunk and on MCAT when he said this.”

    Senior investigating officer in the case, Det Chf Insp Roger Fortey said Miss Watkins was "brutally attacked". Miss Watkins was strangled and stabbed repeatedly after locking herself in the bathroom of Mitchell's Bryn Bevan home following an argument between the pair. The detective said the row started after a night in the pub about whether to spend their money on more alcohol or buy a takeaway. Mitchell managed to get into the bathroom and attacked his partner of just a couple of months.

    NEW POLICE APPEAL OVER CAERLEON COLLISION

    Oct 2 - Police are re-appealing for information following the road traffic collision that occurred on Ponthir Road, Caerleon at approximately 9.05pm on Saturday 23rd August. A Gold Vauxhall Corsa collided with three pedestrians on Ponthir Road, opposite the Roman Lodge Hotel. A 79 year old man, a 71 year old woman and a 63 year old man sustained serious injuries. All three received treatment at the Royal Gwent Hospital.  The two men have since been released, and the 71 year old woman has been transferred to a hospital outside of the force area where she remains in a stable condition.
    Police are keen to the female who was travelling in the Corsa at the time of the collision.  She left the scene prior to officers arriving.  She is described as being white, in her late teens/ early twenties, of slim build, with dark shoulder length hair.  She was wearing a dark coloured jacket with a light coloured top underneath, light coloured skinny jeans and white footwear. A 20 year old man from Caerleon was arrested on suspicion of causing serious injuries through dangerous driving, failing to stop at a road traffic collision and failing to report a road traffic collision and a 41 year old man from Newport has been arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice and assisting an offender.  They have both been released on police bail pending further enquiries. Anyone with information which they think could assist police is asked to call 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 quoting log 595 23/8/14.

    BUDGET INCLUDES COMMITMENT TO EBBW LINE

    Oct 2 - The Welsh Government's new budget includes a commitment to upgrade the line near Gaer Junction in Newport. The upgrade would allow the resumption of rail services between the western valley and Newport as well as forming a package of measures to introduce new stations on the route. There is, however, no commitment to resuming services. The Labour AM for Blaenau Gwent Alun Davies was brazen in his opposition to a service to Newport stating he saw little value in it.

    LOCAL LEASING AGENT APPOINTED FOR FRIARS WALK

    Oct 2 - Queensberry Real Estate has appointed Cooke and Arkwright as the new retail letting agent for Friars Walk, the 390,000-sqft shopping and leisure development in Newport city centre due to open Autumn 2015. Cooke and Arkwright is the third letting agent working on the scheme and joins national agents Lunson Mitchenall and Strutt & Parker. Based in Cardiff, Cooke and Arkwright is the largest independent practice in Wales.

    Stuart Harris, commercial director and co founder of Queensberry Real Estate said: “Cooke and Arkwright has an excellent reputation, they know Newport really well and have a strong presence in the area. Being based in South Wales, they have local knowledge and this will be a big advantage to us, they are in daily contact with a number of key retailers that we are aiming to attract into the Friars Walk scheme and can be at our marketing suite presenting Friars Walk in a matter of minutes.”

    Construction of Friars Walk is well underway with the infrastructure for Debenhams almost complete and the steel work for Cineworld commencing last month. The scheme is currently 60 per cent let and due to open autumn 2015. The Lower Dock Street area of the development has five units intended for local traders.

    COUNCIL ISSUES BUDGET CHALLENGE

    Sep 30 - Newport City Council wants to hear from those who live and work in the city as it prepares to make further tough decisions for next year’s spending on services.

    A series of drop-in sessions are being held over the coming weeks where you can give your views on the financial challenges facing the council. It is expecting to have to find savings of almost £13 million in 2015/16 on top of around £50 million that has already been made over recent years. These are increasingly difficult decisions and the council knows it simply cannot afford to carry on doing all the things it currently does in the same way.

    The Council states "Newport City Council provides more than 1,000 services which impact on everyone’s lives, services that are essential, that protect people, and enhance our city. Education, caring for older and vulnerable members of our communities, road repairs, helping people back into work, food hygiene inspections, dealing with emergency situations such as flooding are just a fraction of the work done by the council. Which is why we want the people who use the services to let us know which matter most to you, how you think we can do things differently to save money and how the community could get more involved in helping to make savings."

    Visit one of the drop-in events below, fill in the questionnaire and be part of the conversation to help us ensure we continue to improve people’s lives by providing the best affordable services. A public consultation on the full budget proposals for the next financial year will start in December 2014 and end in January 2015 ahead of the final decisions being made in February.

    Drop-in events

    NISV pool café area: 1 October, 10am-1pm

    Newport Central Library: 3 October, 11am-2pm

    Newport Food Festival: 4 October, 10am-3pm

    Newport Centre: 7 October, 9am-11am

    Information Station: 16 October, 10am-2pm

    Active Living Centre: 13 October, 4pm-7pm

    Riverfront Theatre: 22 October, 11am-3pm

    PLAN SET TO EMERGE FOR FORMER SAINSBURY SITE

    Sep 30 - Dr Stephen Fear in a Business Argus article eulogising Newport's re-emergence as an economic force has stated "Mixed use developments like the one reportedly to be proposed on the former Sainsbury's Superstore site near the river and railway station will enhance the city centre even further and provide yet more jobs and homes." No further details as yet are available. GVA Grimley were reported to be marketing the site previously and work is urgently needed as it is something of an eyesore and a crime hotspot. The Local Development Plan allocation for the site has been recommended for amendment from a housing to a mixed use regeneration site. Sainsbury's left the site in 2010 for a much larger store in Crindau.

    POLICE CALL FOR HELP FOLLOWING BASSALEG FARM THEFT

    Sep 30 - Officers are appealing for information following a burglary at a farm in Bassaleg, Newport. We were called to the farm at approximately 07:30 on 29 September and are investigating the theft of a number of items including a Briggs station 3 phase generator 12 KVA, Royal blue Yamaha quad bike, Heavy duty petrol breaker (Brandon tool hire), 12" petrol disc cutter (Brandon tool hire), Lazer level (Walters/Phoenix etched on it), Dewalt radio in yellow and a Karcher pressure washer.

    Anyone who has any information about this incident or may have been offered some of these items for sale is asked to ring 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously quoting Log 58 of 29/09/14.

    SHIP SAFEGUARDED FOR THREE YEARS

    Sep 25 - The Newport Ship has been safeguarded for three years after funding was provided by the Welsh Government, according to Wales Online. Newport City Council says that, following the offer of £20,000 a year for the next three years from the Welsh Government, City cabinet members are now considering a proposal to store the find in a commercial property.

    However, the long term aim of campaigners to present the ship in a museum remains in the distance and isn’t covered by the proposal – a report on which states the Friends of Newport Ship supporters group would take the lead to form a charitable trust that would take responsibility. The lease on the building, if negotiated as planned, would last for five years with a break clause after three.

    DEPUTY MAYOR UNDER PRESSURE AFTER DEBATE COMMENTS

    Sep 25 - David Attwell has been asked to apologise after comments he made in the full Council meeting which debated proposals to merge Newport with Monmouthshire. According to the Argus the Conservative councillor for Langstone has been asked to withdraw his statements after other elected members found his remark inappropriate.

    Cllr Atwell said in the meeting: “I will just state this for councillors. Small is extremely beautiful. It’s just like a woman – better to handle and provides an excellent service, just like our officers, staff and elected members of this city council. I suggest that we oppose [the merger] and stick to our guns and remain as we are and continue to fine tune our services.”

    LEGAL CHALLENGE TO RELIEF ROAD

    Sep 25 - Plans for an M4 relief road south of Newport are facing a legal challenge from an environmental charity. The so-called "black route" between junctions 23 and 29 goes through the Caldicot Levels.

    Friends of the Earth has asked a judge to consider if what it calls the "substantial damage to wildlife" involved is legal and if an alternative route was considered sufficiently. Welsh ministers said they had not yet been notified of the judicial review. Transport Minister Edwina Hart had said previously she was expecting such a legal challenge.

    The £1bn scheme, announced in July, is the largest capital investment programme ever embarked upon by the Welsh government. The favoured route was one of three options put forward for consultation last September.

    COUNCIL REJECTS MERGER WITH MONMOUTHSHIRE

    Sep 24 - Newport City Council has rejected plans for a voluntary merger with neighbouring Monmouthshire. Councillors voted against a recommendation by the Williams Commission, which wants the number of councils reduced from 22 to 10 or 12. A number of rambling speeches from Councillors were made in favour of Newport retaining its own identity. One lone voice in Councillor Chris Evans in Rogerstone warned other Members that the status quo is not an option and that change is coming and needs to be embraced. Councillor Ed Townsend stated that the proposals were fundamentally flawed.

    A council spokesperson said members felt "very strongly" that the city needed to retain its own identity. But they did not rule out collaboration with other councils where work would benefit residents. All parties which make up the council voted against the voluntary merger plan and the authority must now send its formal response to the Welsh government.

    An alternative proposal to create four combined authorities has been put forward by the Welsh Local Government Association (WGLA). That model would see them take responsibility for transport, health and social care and tourism services on a regional basis, while retaining the current 22 councils.

    Chris Evans tweeted this morning 'Sexism, patronising comments about Rogerstone..Just another night at Newport City Council last night, and they say they don't need reform?"

    GEORGE STREET JUNCTION IMPROVEMENTS

    Sep 24 - Major improvement works to the George Street junction with Lower Dock Street and Granville Street are due to begin next week. A new junction layout will be created which will include realignment of kerbs and upgrading of the existing signals.

    Earlier this year, transport minister Edwina Hart announced funding of £400,000 towards the scheme as part of the Local Transport Scheme. During the works, which are expected to take around four months to complete, temporary traffic signals and diversions will be put in place as required. Although most of the work will be in the roads, there will be some temporary closures of pavements. Pedestrians will be diverted but access to properties will be maintained and every effort will be made to minimise disruption to people living and working in the area.

    CAERLEON ROAD WORKS PLAN

    Sep 24 - Diversions will be in place for residents on Sunday to allow the reconstruction of Mill Street roundabout in Caerleon. Mill Street, Usk Road, Ponthir Road and Goldcroft will be closed from 7.30am while the work takes place.

    Newport City Council apologies for the inconvenience that will be caused as a result of these essential roadworks which are expected to be completed on Sunday.

    MAN FORCED TO WORK WITHOUT PAY

    Sep 23 - A vulnerable man was made to live in a shed while working unpaid for 13 years. Homeless Darrell Simester said he was picked up on a dual carriageway by the Doran family and taken to Cariad Farm, near Newport. The 44-year-old told Cardiff Crown Court he carried on working the day after he fractured his hip.

    Daniel Doran, 67, and David Daniel Doran, 42, deny requiring him to perform forced or compulsory labour. The charges against the father and son cover a period between 2010 and 2013. However, the court has heard how Mr Simester had been missing for 13 years, living on the Dorans' farm.

    CAERLEON CAMPUS TO BE SOLD OFF FOR HOUSING?

    CITY TO LOSE FILM AND PHOTOGRAPHY TO CARDIFF

    Sep 22 - In a calculated blow to the prestige of Newport's former university institutions and their reputation as a home for the creative arts University of South Wales (USW) have confirmed that major changes will take effect following their announcement closing Caerleon Campus.

    USW has confirmed there is no restrictive covenant on the Caerleon site despite its long history as an education institution and the magnificence of its main building. A USW spokesman also told the Argus that all students and their representatives are being consulted as to when their courses will move and as yet no one is sure when their course will move. Newport’s photography course will move to Cardiff along with other creative courses such as the film school. Newport’s city centre campus, which it is hoped will see a £10 million investment, will become a centre for business and professional studies offering new courses including hospitality and cyber security, as well as accounting, finance and early years education.

    Newsrant - USW asset stripping and future use of the Caerleon site

    DWP PLAN NEW MEDICAL ASSESSMENT CENTRE FOR CITY

    Sep 21 - The Department for Work and Pension have lodged plans to place a medical assessment centre at 72 Commercial Street in the city centre.

    LORD TREDEGAR'S ESTATES OFFICES RE-OPEN

    Sep 21 - A historic building in Newport, which was once the estates office of Lord Tredegar, has been relaunched as office accommodation. The listed building at Pentonville, Gold Tops, dates back to 1905 and was formerly used as a court house. It was bought by private investors from the South of England after lying empty as a historic building. Mayor of Newport Matthew Evans, who officially opened the offices earlier this week (16 September), said: "A fantastic job has been done to bring this historic listed building back to life."

    He said the new owners had "created a fabulous new business centre in an environment that is steeped in history." The premises has now been renamed The Estates Office, with 75 per cent of the space let by Hutchings and Thomas.

    DESIGN CONTRACTOR APPOINTED FOR CONVENTION CENTRE

    Sep 19 - A contractor has been appointed to begin designs on the new Wales International Convention Centre according to Insider Media Wales. Design practice Scott Brownrigg will start work on the centre, which will be located close to the Celtic Manor Resort's existing hotels and facilities at Coldra Woods.

    The Welsh Government provided a loan to begin the design work after supporting Celtic Manor 2014 Ltd in 2013 to complete the initial stages of the project. Celtic Manor Resort chairman Sir Terry Matthews said: "We've made no secret of our desire to expand our successful business at the Celtic Manor and build on our status as the number one conference hotel in the UK. It makes me proud to be working with the Welsh government to deliver the international convention centre that Wales so badly needs. "

    POLICE SEEK MAN FOLLOWING PILL ASSAULT

    Sep 19 - Police are appealing for information following an assault in Pill on Sunday 3rd August. It happened at about 6.30pm behind Dolphin Court on Commercial Road.

    Five people were arrested following the incident which resulted in a 28 year old man from Newport being treated for a head injury at the Royal Gwent Hospital. He has since been released. The five arrested have since been charged with assault. They are a 25 year old man from Cardiff, four other men aged 21, 25, 29 and 27 from Newport. The 27 year old from Newport has also been charged with a public order offence. Officers would like to speak to 24 year old Josef Greenfield from Newport about the incident. It’s believed he may be in the Dinas Powys area where he has contacts.

    COUNCIL SEEKS LEISURE TRUST VOLUNTEERS

    Sep 19 - Newport City Council is starting the search for an inaugural board of trustees who will run a new leisure services body in Newport. From next April Newport City Council’s sport and leisure facilities will be delivered by a Not for Profit Distributing Organisation (NPDO).

    The establishment of an NPDO is a long-term solution to help the council more cost-effectively deliver sport and leisure services due to on-going budget pressures. The NPDO will be responsible for the day-to-day management and operation of the leisure services. The council currently operates first class sport and leisure facilities in the city that have a positive impact in the community improving the health and wellbeing of individuals. This new body will maintain these high standards and will be tasked with delivering these services to all Newport residents on behalf of the council.The council is looking to recruit 11 trustees to be appointed to the board of the NPDO. When the new organisation is established it will be responsible for the management and operation of the Wales National Velodrome, regional swimming pool, tennis centre, Newport Stadium, Newport Centre, Active Living Centre and Caerleon Golf Course.

    RETURN PASSPORT OFFICE JOBS - FLYNN

    Sep 16 - Newport West MP Paul Flynn has called for the return of jobs to Newport Passport Office following a damning report in to this summer's fiasco of delays and backlogs. Flynn sits on the Home Affairs Committee which said people who paid extra for a fast-track service should be refunded. "They had an emaciated service... the first time a bit of extra demand came along it virtually collapsed," he said. Newport's Passport Office processed applications until 150 jobs were cut. It is now a customer support centre.

    COUNCIL OPPOSES LOCAL GOVERNMENT RE-ORGANISATION PLAN

    Sep 16 - Newport City Council's proposed response to the Williams Commission plan to reduce the number of Welsh local authorities from 22 to 12 appears to oppose the idea. The Council's response includes an alternative Welsh Local Government plan ". Instead of creating a smaller number of larger authorities, the WLGA proposal is to create four “Combined Authorities” which would retain the current model of 22 authorities but move a number of functions to a regional basis. These include regional transport planning and delivery, regional tourism promotion and regional commissioning of health and social care. The Council will debate the issue at a full meeting next Tuesday.

    SILENCE FROM BUTLER AND FLYNN ON UNI DECISION

    Sep 14 - No official statements on the University's decision to close Caerleon Campus have been made by the two political representatives in the constituency - Paul Flynn MP and Rosemary Butler AM. Butler's website is not active at the moment and Flynn has posted a wide ranging piece about democratic failings without mentioning the Welsh Government.

    PLANNING UPDATE

    Sep 14 - The King's Hotel development is now full steam ahead following confirmation of the sale of the hotel to Jahan Abedi. He has submitted proposals to the City Council to convert the King's Hotel into living accommodation with a small number of offices and retail units. The planning application is for a mixed use development consisting of 30 residential apartments (13 x 2 Bed, 14 x 1 Bed & 3 Studio apartments.) 3 office units and 2 commercial units.

    Nando's will be opening their Newport Retail Park store on October 8. Bizarrely, a farm shop is planned to occupy the former home of Newport Bowls Club at Rodney Parade. A screening opinion is being sought from the City Council for a gasification plant (Unrelated to Nando's or the Fam Shop!) in Newport Docks. Gasification is a process that converts organic or fossil fuel based carbonaceous materials into carbon monoxide, hydrogen and carbon dioxide.

    CAERLEON CLOSURE PLAN CONFIRMED - NOYES SLAMS DECISION

    Sep 12 - Up to 145 jobs are at risk after the University of South Wales (USW) confirmed it is to close its century-old campus at Caerleon. The institution, formed by the mergers of Glamorgan and Newport universities last year, is to focus on Newport. They are already looking at an expansion along the waterfront, which could cost up to £10m.

    The two-year phased closure of Caerleon would put security, administration and catering jobs at risk, it said. The Welsh government said without the merger it is was "entirely possible" the city would not have a university. USW says it is talks with unions to avoid redundancies. It added that no new students will be recruited to courses at Caerleon. The college's board said the Newport city campus would have an immediate £3m cash injection. Governors said the Newport campus is newer and cheaper to run than the one in Caerleon.

    "Despite its history and the affection in which it is held by many it does not make financial or strategic sense and is not in the best interests of our students in delivering an exceptional student experience, to continue to invest in the Caerleon campus," said a spokesman.

    "Growing the university in the city centre is also a key part of wider plans for Newport’s regeneration. Therefore, there will be an immediate investment in the City campus in the region of £3m to remodel and expand the overall space, improving student facilities. At the same time, discussions with Newport city council and other stakeholders will also get underway on a proposed second phase of longer-term major expansion along the waterfront - an £8-10m programme that will be driven by planned growth in the number of students choosing to study in Newport."

    Dr Peter Noyes was the Vice-Chancellor of University of Wales, Newport. On Twitter he said "Shame on those Newport governors at USW who agreed to the closure of the Caerleon Campus - what a betrayal." The CBI stated "We welcome USW's focus on voice of business & employers in today's announcements & investment in Newport City centre". The Education Minister who brought in the merged institutions Leighton Andrews said in 2012 that they would not lead to closures.

    ORDER OF THE BOOT FOR GRIFFITHS

    Sep 12 - John Griffiths Newport East AM has been sacked from the Welsh Cabinet by the First Minister Carwyn Jones in his overnight reshuffle. 

    His culture and sport brief to be handled by Ken Skates as a deputy minister. Writing on Twitter, Mr Griffiths said: "It's been a privilege to have been able to serve the people of Wales in various roles in Labour governments over the years."

    CAERLEON CAMPUS ON THE BRINK

    Sep 11 - Speculation is mounting that the Caerleon Campus of the University of South Wales is set to be phased out. Despite assurances previously given by Ministers that following the merger no site would close it is clear that USW is asset stripping the site so that they can subsidise other areas. Management are set to meet with staff their as numbers of students dwindle at the site.

    Paul Halliday, the Lib Dem's parliamentary candidate for Newport East, who has mounted a campaign to keep the Caerleon site open, said: “The university is one of the city’s largest employers, yet none of the city’s leaders is raising any objection to this closure. Council leaders, MPs and AMs are all standing by and watching while jobs are squeezed out of Newport and local students are forced to travel to Pontypridd to complete their courses."

    The question is will Newport be offered a sop, a business school or minor expansion of the City Campus or will this Cardiff based University close that as well?

    JACK'S PILL SITE TO BE DEVELOPED

    Sep 11 - The Jack's Pill site opposite the headquarters of Newport City Homes is set to be developed in to 18 homes and 49 apartments according to plans submitted to the Council.

    COUNCIL THANKS PUBLIC FOR SUPPORTING SUMMIT

    Sep 11 - Newport City Council has thanked everyone involved in the success of the NATO summit including local residents "Newport City Council would like to thank the people of Newport for their part in making the Nato Wales Summit, held here in our city, an outstanding success.It was a unique event for Newport and will live long in the memory of the city. It has undoubtedly raised the profile of Newport to an entirely different level and we have again proved our ability to host world-class events. Our residents showed patience and positivity which was reflected in the comments of those who came to our city. From world leaders, the police officers from forces across the UK, members of the armed forces to peaceful protesters, the warm welcome of the people of Newport was noted and praised. We were honoured to have been invited to a number of business and civic events by the hosts and organisers in No 10. Having the opportunity to welcome world leaders to the Celtic Manor and attending HRH Prince Charles’ event was a privilege. Both the Leader of the Council and the Mayor played important roles in both promoting and representing the city at these events. Again, we would like to thank No 10 for involving Newport people in the celebrations. The local school children who visited the Celtic Manor and had the opportunity to meet Prince Charles, David Cameron and Barack Obama will cherish those memories for a lifetime. Likewise, the pupils of Mount Pleasant Primary will have a story to tell for years to come. The start of term may never be as exciting again. We hope that our residents enjoyed the host city celebrations, the Battle of Britain Spitfire and Hurricane fly past and of course the colourful and impressive Red Arrows. If the scale of the crowds that gathered is anything to go by, we were definitely impressed."

    FRIARS WALK - '75 PER CENT LET'

    Sept 7 - There is news of significant progress with Newport's Friars Walk shopping centre this weekend. According to an article in Property Week the developers Queensberry state Friars Walk is 75 per cent let with still twelve months to go until it opens. All eleven restaurant units in the Usk Plaza area are now signed up. Both Debenhams and Cineworld have confirmed they have signed 25 year leases at the site. Queensberry state Debenhams were close to signing up at Newport Retail Park before they committed to the city centre. The proposed Top Shop store is three times the size of their former Commercial Street store. The smaller stores committed to the scheme will be announced at the British Shopping Centre Conference at the end of the coming week. There are also rumours that the development may include a new Marks and Spencer food store as the high street giant seeks to increase the number of its successful food outlets in this area.

    Alex Kalebic, an associate at Cooke & Arkwright in Cardiff. adds that there are more ready to take up space at Friars Walk: We have four or five clients, national multiples and Welsh-based, who are looking to acquire space."

    DECLARATION ENDS NEWPORT'S HISTORIC SUMMIT

    Sep 5 - NATO's political leaders have given the go-ahead at the Celtic Manor in Newport for a fundamental re-casting of rapid reaction forces to bolster deterrence and reassure worried member states. The alliance's new Readiness Action Plan contains a variety of measures to overhaul the reaction forces. The aim is to make sure that they can be well-equipped, highly trained and rapidly mobile. The goal is to make good on NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen's assertion at the Newport summit that "Nato protects all its allies at all times". The UK will contribute 1,000 troops to a new multi-national rapid reaction force, Prime Minister David Cameron has told the summit. He said the NATO "multinational spearhead force" could be deployed anywhere in two to five days. The PM said leaders were "united in condemnation" of the "barbaric" acts of militant group Islamic State (IS). He also confirmed a second new Royal Navy aircraft carrier - the Prince of Wales - would be brought into service. Speaking on the second day of the NATO summit in Newport, Mr Cameron said the carrier would be used rather than sold off or mothballed.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA THANKS CITY AND WALES

    Sept 5 - President Obama, who closed the summit, added: "I want to thank the people of Newport and Cardiff and the people of Wales for welcoming me and my delegation so warmly. It's a great honour to be the first sitting US president to visit Wales." The President left Newport at about 5.30pm on Friday, paying a surprise visit to Stonehenge by Marine One before departing from RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire for Washington DC.

     

    FLY PAST WATCHED BY THOUSANDS

    Sept 5 - Thousands of Newportonians watched the NATO fly past this morning from vantage points including the SDR Bridge, Beechwood Park and the Ridgeway as NATO demonstrated its firepower in a brief but impressive display.

    The flypast came up from Cardiff Bay to the Celtic Manor Resort crossing Lliswerry and Spytty at about 9.10.

    The aircraft taking part on the flypast were: Mig 29s, Typhoons, Mirage, F16s, F15Cs, an F18, and a Voyager. Five waves of planes were taking part, from countries including France, Poland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, the UK, US, and Canada.

    Left - the Red Arrows over Newport

     

    HUMBERSIDE POLICE INTERVENE TO STOP MAN JUMPING FROM BRIDGE

    Sep 5 - Police officers from Humberside Police, who are part of the NATO Summit mutual aid operation, came to the aid of a man about to jump from Town Bridge in Newport this afternoon. The officers were quickly joined by other police officers who put crowd control measures into place on the bridge and requested assistance from the fire and ambulance services. Before further assistance was deployed, the police officers on the scene were able to safely bring the man down from the edge of the bridge. The man has been taken to hospital to receive appropriate care.

    Supt Marc Budden Gwent Police said: "We are very grateful to all supporting forces who have helped keep Newport and South Wales safe during NATO and to the Humberside officers who acted so quickly in this instance to save the man in trouble".

    BANK PROTEST

    Sep 5 - According to police four protesters have chained themselves inside Barclays Bank on Commercial Street in Newport this afternoon. Police said the four protesters entered the branch in Commercial Street, Newport, at 3.20pm. The four protestors were served with a trespass notice and one was arrested after they attached themselves to barriers inside the bank.

    NEWPORT'S MOST EXTRAORDINARY DAY

    Sept 4 - The NATO military alliance, at its summit at the Celtic Manor in Newport, has said it "stands with Ukraine" in the face of Russia's "destabilising" influence. Nato also called on Russia "to pull back its troops" from Ukraine and end the "illegal" annexation of Crimea. In addition, the UK has said it does not rule out the possibility of air strikes against the Islamic State terrorist organisation in Iraq.

    They are just some of the critical world events being reviewed in Newport at the two day Summit but this has not stopped the US President from stepping out to meet children (top left) at the Mount Pleasant School  in Rogerstone where he along with Prime Minister David Cameron participated in a NATO lesson.

    After the day's deliberations the Prince of Wales has hosted a reception at the Nato summit in Newport (left). President Barack Obama attended the event at the Celtic Manor, which was to promote Wales and thank the community for its hospitality.

    Prime Minister David Cameron, Wales' First Minister Carwyn Jones and Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb were at the reception on Thursday evening. They were joined by other Nato dignitaries, school children and cadets. The event was an opportunity to thank people from across Wales who have been involved in delivering the largest gathering of world leaders the UK has seen. Guests were entertained by the orchestra of Welsh National Opera, students from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and the Prince of Wales' official harpist, Hannah Stone.

    Around 250 people have taken part in demonstration in Newport against the Nato summit being held in the city. About 100 spent the night at a peace camp in the city's Tredegar Park ahead of the planned protest.

    The numbers are low compared to earlier predictions of many thousands descending on the city. They marched from the city's cenotaph to the hotel entrance just before the Coldra roundabout.

    Tonight the Welsh Government is hosting the 1500 or so of the world's media at Tredegar House in Newport while Cardiff Castle plays host to the 60 world leaders and other events in Cardiff cater for foreign and defence ministers. The Celtic Manor is hosting a dinner for NATO partners.

    Newport's roads were reported to be quiet and the day has passed without incident despite the heavy police presence, procession of helicopters and the unrelenting media focus.

    NATO SUMMIT - DAY 1 in PICTURES

    FRIARS WALK JOBS

    Sept 4 - The developers of Newport's Friars Walk site have advertised for 15-20 labourers to work on six month contracts to assist with the completion of the ongoing scheme, to apply contact Blue Water recruitment 01443 758009.

    SCHEDULE FOR HISTORIC SUMMIT REVEALED

    Sept 3 - The schedule for the Nato Summit has been released by the UK Government. The summit at the Celtic Manor in Newport will open on Thursday with NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen putting the major international conference into context with a so-called ‘doorstep’ statement scheduled for 9.35am.

    Prime Minister David Cameron and US President Barack Obama are set to visit Mount Pleasant School in Rogerstone in the mid morning. At 11.45am Mr Rasmussen and David Cameron will welcome heads of state and government who will take part in a family photograph at 12.30pm.

    The summit will formally open with a meeting about Afghanistan at 1pm. Nato’s attending heads of state and government will meet with 27 partner countries including contributors to the ISAF mission in Afghanistan. Representatives from Australia and Ireland along with delegations from Jordan, Sweden and El Salvador will be among the partner countries to attend. They will be joined by other countries from the region – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan – as well as Japan. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will also attend.

    Defence and foreign ministers from Nato member states will meet counterparts from four countries which want to join the alliance – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Montenegro and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – at 2.15pm on Thursday, with defence ministers meeting opposite numbers from 24 partner countries in a separate session at 4.30pm. At 4.45pm on Thursday the Nato-Ukraine Commission will be held with Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko among the list of those invited.

    A dinner for heads of state and government at Cardiff Castle will be held at 8.30pm on Thursday night while separate working dinners for foreign and defence ministers will be held in Cardiff at 8.10pm and 7.30pm respectively. A separate dinner with partner countries will be held in the Celtic Manor in Newport starting at 8pm.

    On Friday the leaders will hold two sessions of the North Atlantic Council, principal political decision-making body in Nato, at 9.30am and 1pm. Also at 9.30am foreign ministers will hold consultations with the European Union, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe. Among the attendees will be British European foreign affairs commissioner Catherine Ashton.

    At 11am NATO defence ministers will meet counterparts from Australia, Finland, Georgia, Jordan and Sweden. Several events may also take place on the margins of the official programme involving delegations in a bilateral or multilateral format. The summit is set to conclude later that day with member states expected to issue a declaration at the conclusion of the conference.

    MOUNT PLEASANT TO WELCOME US PRESIDENT

    Sep 3 - A slip of the communication release by the White House announced that Mount Pleasant school at Rogerstone in the north of Newport will welcome the US President Barack Obama and Uk Prime Minister David Cameron tomorrow morning.

    The school has been selected ahead of larger institutions such as Llanwern High for the momentous visit but the school's website gives little away other than confirming that most entrances to it will be closed for access purposes tomorrow!

    PROTEST MARCH - ROAD CLOSURE PLAN

    Sept 3 - Protestors are due to hold a march through Newport tomorrow (Thursday 4 September). The route of the planned march is along Chepstow road and will extend from Clarence place to the Coldra. As a result, a number of rolling road closures will be put in place.

    It is not known exactly when these will start as they are dependent on the numbers taking part but potentially could begin from around mid-morning. The march is due to gather by the Cenotaph in Clarence Place from about 12pm. It is not known exactly when these will start as they are dependent on the numbers taking part but potentially could begin from around mid-morning. The march is due to begin from the Cenotaph at 12pm.

    It is not known how quickly the group will progress along the route so it is impossible to give specific times of closures at the various locations. The rolling closures will be made as the march progresses and will be removed as soon as it has progressed past that area. However, considerable disruption is expected and we would urge people to avoid these areas if at all possible.

    SUMMIT - 'MASSIVE OPPORTUNITY'

    The Nato summit in Newport is a "massive opportunity" for Wales' economy, the director of the Celtic Manor resort has said. Simon Gibson, whose resort will stage the summit on Thursday, said there could be "lucrative benefits if Wales showcases itself correctly".

    Writing in a report by Barclays Bank, he said "every hotel between Swansea and Swindon" will be fully-booked. It comes as armed police are on duty in south Wales as security is stepped up. Newport traders will feature prominently in an attempt to give those attending a taste of Wales.

    The report, which used data and opinions from Welsh businesses, says more than 24,000 room nights have been reserved in 80 hotels in Newport, Cardiff and Bristol - roughly half the number that were booked in Chicago during the last summit.

     

    COUNCIL SET FOR RECOGNITION FOR ANTI-VIOLENCE CAMPAIGN

    Sep 2 - Newport City Council is set become one of the first local authorities to achieve official recognition for its work to combat violence against women and girls. Earlier this year, the council unanimously pledged its support for the White Ribbon Campaign and is taking the next step. A working group, including senior members and officers, was set up to actively work towards achieving the campaign’s aims. It includes Councillor Gail Giles who successfully introduced a motion against female genital mutilation (FGM) which was backed by all the members in July and the council’s equalities champion Councillor Omar Ali.

    OBAMA SET TO VISIT SCHOOL BEFORE SUMMIT

    Aug 31 - The BBC is reporting that United States President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron will be visiting a local school on Thursday morning prior to the start of the NATO summit. The Argus is reporting "With the itinerary stating he will stay overnight in Newport, and the fact he has several meetings to attend in the city on Thursday, it would appear there is a strong chance that school will be in Newport."

    PRISON RECALL FOR BELL

    Aug 31 - Gwent Police is appealing for information to locate 40 year old Lee Anthony Bell from Newport, who has breached his licence conditions after being released from prison on 17th April 2014. Bell was sentenced to 42 months for burglary after being convicted on 18th July 2012.

    Due to the fact that Bell, who was released on licence, breached his licence conditions he has been recalled to prison. He is described as being white, of medium build, with short brown hair. Bell is known to have links in the West Midlands, Gloucestershire and Nottinghamshire areas. If you have any information relating to the whereabouts of Lee, and think you can assist police with locating him please contact Gwent Police on 101, quoting log 380 17/06/14 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    NATO SUMMIT - FLY PAST DUE ON FRIDAY MORNING

    Aug 31 - In a symbolic show of strength a display of 22 military aircraft from nine countries will fly over Newport and Cardiff during the NATO summit. The RAF's Red Arrows will be joined by fighters from the USA, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Poland, Portugal and the Netherlands. The flypast takes place over the summit at the Celtic Manor Resort on Friday 5 September at 09:00 BST.

    People are advised to get the best view of the planes from Cardiff Bay at 08:30 BST. In Newport, the display is expected at about 08:45 BST to the south of the city centre, over Spytty Park, Beechwood Park and Lliswerry. A Wales Office spokesman said: "The display will represent some of the many Nato nations which have been involved in policing the air space across Europe as part of the Alliance's efforts to support and reassure its Eastern member states." The display will be led by an RAF Typhoon flanked by two Polish Mig-29s and finished by the Red Arrows which will follow after a Voyager, the RAF's largest aircraft.

    LESS THAN A THOUSAND JOIN CITY ANTI-NATO PROTEST

    Aug 30 - Less than a thousand demonstrators joined the Anti-NATO protest in Newport city centre this afternoon. Police and council officials warned the march may cause disruptions as rolling road blocks could hit travel. The march is intended as a prelude to the main event with a peace camp set up at  Tredegar Park with more campaigners expected to arrive in the run up to the summit at Newport's Celtic Manor Resort from Thursday. Among those to speak at the rally was 85 year old CND stalwart Bruce Kent.

    Newport Council reported "Around 400 protestors (No Nato) held a peaceful protest march through Newport earlier today (Saturday 30 August). The march was successfully managed by local police, Newport City Council and partner agencies and passed without incident. The march was held in a peaceful manner and both the police and council would like to thank protestors for their positive attitude throughout the march. The nature of the protest meant there was minimal disruption to the road network with roads closed from 1.50pm and all roads in the city were cleaned by the council’s streetscene team and reopened by 3.15pm. Bus services have also returned to normal. "

    Thousands of police have arrived in Newport with numbers particularly prominent in the area from Royal Oak to the Coldra and Langstone.

    Newport teenager Ieuan Berry has been selected as official Twitter photographer at the NATO summit.

    HOW THE WORLD SEES US - PART 1

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/chic-and-awe-nato-invades-luxury-newport-hotel-complex-9700643.html

    http://news.sky.com/story/1327099/police-on-alert-amid-nato-summit-protest

    CELTIC MANOR CONTINUES WINNING STREAK

    Aug 28 - Newport will host a major international investment conference aimed at creating jobs and economic growth, UK Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced. The event, at the Celtic Manor in November, will focus on new technologies and follow the Nato Summit at the venue on September 4 and 5. Mr Cable made the announcement with Welsh Economy Minister Edwina Hart at Sony in Pencoed, near Bridgend.

    HOTEL OPENS AS CARE HOME

    Aug 28 - Newport's former Lodge Hotel has been transformed into a new 28-bed care home after a £600,000 refurbishment.

    Dr Shirwan Al-Mufti and his wife, Nasik, the couple behind Arcadia Care Homes, acquired the property a year ago and have spent the past 12 months renovating it. The company has run Portcanna House care home in Cardiff for two decades. Nasik Al-Mufti said: "We have been a family business for 20 years and were happy with just our Cardiff home. However, our son, Ali, encouraged us to expand the business and we are pleased to have done so. The location of our Newport home is beautiful with fantastic views towards the sea."

    NATO SUMMIT - PROTESTORS CALL TO ARMS

    Aug 28 - Opponents of the NATO summit in Newport have issued a call to arms to protestors to join them in their week of action against the event. Stop the War Coalition states "Wales could see its biggest protests in a generation as 60 world leaders meet at the Celtic Manor in Newport for the NATO summit on 4th -5th September to plan their war on the world. Previous summits in Chicago and Strasbourg saw thousands protest war, austerity and global inequality. From August 30th people will flock to South Wales for international actions including a weekend march and Counter Summit, week-long peace camp, and protests on the summit's opening day. NATO is the military alliance binding Europe to US foreign policy, a foreign policy post-Iraq increasingly unpopular around the world. It is also the military alliance currently occupying Afghanistan. War is the enemy of the poor. The world's 85 richest people have as much as poorest 3.5 billion. The annual sum needed to end world hunger is $30 billion while the US Military's budget is $530 billion per year. "

    Two protests are planned. One in the city centre on August 30. The other on the afternoon of September 4 along Chepstow Road to the entrance of the Celtic Manor.

    NATO SUMMIT - POLICE REITERATE ADVICE

    Aug 28 - Police advise from 10pm on Sunday 31st August until 7am on Saturday 6th September, there will be a number of road closures around the Celtic Manor Resort as part of the NATO Summit security arrangements. Catsash Road will be closed from the junction on Belmont Hill on the B4236, to the junction with Roman Road.

    Bulmore Road will be closed approximately a quarter of a mile after the junction with Isca Road, in the old village of Caerleon to the junction with Abernant Road. These are the only two road closures planned for the event at this time. All footpaths that cross the Celtic Manor Resort will be closed for the event. These paths include Usk Valley Walk and pathways coming from Chepstow Road, Langstone, Bulmore Road, Catsash Road, Abernant Road and Roman Road. All the footpaths will have notices placed at the start of each closed section informing you about the closure. If you use any of these areas as part of your daily routine, please be aware that you will be required to make alternative arrangements during this time.

    It is estimated the security operation will cost £50 million with 9500 police officers drafted in from other parts of the UK.

    PYE CORNER STATION PROGRESSING WELL BUT NO SIGN OF TRAINS TO NEWPORT!

    Aug 28 - More Newport commuters will head for Cardiff as its confirmed work is progressing well on the new railway station for Pye Corner and is due to be completed on schedule later this year. As part of the development the contractors, in conjunction with Network Rail, is undertaking the completion of the new platform and carrying out electrical works to Western Valley Road.

    Due to the close proximity of the live rail track and the nature of the construction, the work to the platform cannot be done while trains are operating. It has been agreed that this work will be done overnight beginning this week. Letters have been sent to the residents informing them that it is expected to take about four weeks and apologising for any inconvenience. Funding for the new station in the Rogerstone ward was announced last year and construction began in March. It will feature a single platform, CCTV, ticket purchasing facilities, a car park for 70 cars and customer information screens. This not good news for Newport despite the prominence given to it on the Council's website as there is still no news on the return of Ebbw Vale services to Newport.

    TODAY PROGRAMME SLATED FOR PREDICTABLE MISTAKE

    Aug 26 - BBC Radio Four's Today Programme has been slated by local politicians and others for situating the NATO summit in Cardiff. The same error was made by the BBC during the Ryder Cup at the Celtic Manor. The Mayor Of Newport Matthew Evans tweeted "There appears to be some confusion @BBCRadio4 over where the @NATOWales Summit is being held. The host city is Newport and that's the venue." The editor of the Argus Kevin Ward said "for future reference its in Newport rather than Cardiff as you keep broadcasting." Aug 27 update - The BBC programme apologised for its error.

    APPEAL OVER LLISWERRY ASSAULT

    Aug 26 - Police are appealing for information following an assault on Lliswerry Road in Newport. It happened outside the Ferns Labour Club just after midnight on the morning of Wednesday 20th August. It’s believed two men were involved in the incident where a 23 year old man from the Newport area suffered a stab wound to his right thigh. The man was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital and has since been released. A 22 year old man from the Newport area was arrested on suspicion of assault and has been bailed pending further enquiries. Anyone with any information, or who was in the area at the time, is asked to call Gwent Police on 101 quoting log number 4 20/08/14 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    COLLISION INJURES THREE IN CAERLEON

     

    Aug 26 - Police are appealing for information after a collision on Ponthir Road, Caerleon at about 9.05 pm on Saturday evening (August 23rd). A Gold Vauxhall Corsa collided with three pedestrians on Ponthir Road, opposite the Roman Lodge Hotel. A 79 year old man, a 71 year old woman and a 63 year old man sustained serious injuries and are receiving treatment at the Royal Gwent Hospital.

    The male driver of the Corsa and the female passenger left the scene before police arrived. The man is described as white, about 20 years old wearing dark bottoms and a white t-shirt. He is described as having short hair. The female passenger is described as having shoulder length hair and wearing trousers and a jacket. Police are appealing for any witnesses to the collision to come forward and in particular anyone who may have seen the Corsa being driven before the incident. It's believed the car was driven in the direction of Ponthir from Caerleon. If anyone has information, they are asked to call Gwent Police on 101 quoting log 595 23/8/14

    RURAL COMMUNITIES INVITED TO BID FOR FUNDING

    Aug 25 - People living in rural areas of Monmouthshire and Newport will have the opportunity over the autumn to shape ideas and projects for funding under the Wales Rural Development Programme from 2014 to 2020. 

    The two local authority areas have joined forces and they wish to hear from residents, businesses and community organisations about key issues and proposals across the region. Themes that the Wales Rural Development Programme covers include business development, exploiting digital technology, developing renewable energy schemes for communities, using natural and cultural assets for sustainable, economic growth in areas like tourism and delivering local services within rural communities.

    Councillor John Richards, Newport City Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and development, added: “Five areas in the city have recently been officially designated by the Welsh Government as eligible under the new rural development programme – Caerleon, Graig, Langstone, Llanwern and Marshfield – and they will benefit from the extra funding available from the programme.”

    “I would encourage people living and working in those areas to have their say about what is important to their communities so they can fully benefit from the potential the programme offers.”

    The Vale of Usk Local Action Group, which is engaging with the community over ideas for funding, is providing a number of opportunities for local people, businesses and community organisations to get involved in shaping priorities so that funds can be allocated over the programme’s timespan. 

    These include a presence at Monmouthshire and Usk shows on 28th August and 13th September as well as community drop in sessions in the Vale of Usk area.  Recognising that some people will be unable to attend the agricultural shows or drop in sessions, the group has commissioned a short survey that can be completed on-line at www.surveymonkey.com/s/ruralvaleofusk2020.  All who complete the survey will be entered into a prize draw for tickets at the Abergavenny and Newport Food Festivals.

    Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for innovation, enterprise and leisure said: “These events provide a great opportunity for our rural communities to shape an important fund over the next five years.  Monmouthshire is made up of communities who know the benefits of living in a beautiful rural county but are equally aware of the challenges." 

    FRIARS WALK - WORKS STARTS ON CINEMA BUILDING

    Aug 24 - Work has now started on erecting the steel frames at the Usk Plaza end of the Friars Walk city centre development. Visitors to Newport on the weekend were able to see the new frames adjacent to the Kingsway Centre car park, this building will eventually house an eight screen Cineworld cinema.

    Restaurants Chiquito and Frankie and Bennys have already lodged applications with the City Council for alcohol and entertainment licences in anticipation of their scheduled opening in the autumn of 2015.

    At Newport Retail Park the Nando's restaurant is nearing completion with an opening date in the first week of September.

    NATO FESTIVAL DRAWS LARGE CROWDS

    Aug 24 - Large crowds turned out on Saturday to visit the NATO festival on the Riverfront in Newport. Food stalls representing the twenty eight member countries manned by local volunteers proved people as did the presence armoured vehicles and tanks.

    The crowds were entertained by the Household Cavalry on Commercial Street, the Red Devils descending on Rodney Parade and a fly past by a Hurricane Bomber and Spitfire

    Left - one of the Red Devils descends on Rodney Parade prior to Saturday's match

    CITY AHEAD OF THE GCSE PACK

    Aug 21 - Newport City Council has revealed that the number of pupils in Newport achieving WJEC GCSE A*- A grades was 21.7 per cent, 2.3 percentage points higher than the Wales average for all exam boards. Figures for the WJEC examinations show that 65.3 percent of entries achieved grades A* to C. Overall, 97.6 per cent of WJEC entries in the city were graded between A* and G.

    In both English and Maths, Newport students have performed better than the national average. Councillor Debbie Wilcox, Newport City Council’s cabinet member for education and young people, said: “I would like to congratulate all pupils on their achievements and wish them the best of luck for the next stage of their lives, whether that is continuing in further education and training or entering the world of work. I would also like to thank those who have helped Newport’s young people achieve their potential including teachers and parents.”

    NATO SUMMIT - ROLLING ROAD CLOSURES ON SEPTEMBER 4 AND PRINCE CHARLES

    Aug 21 - Drivers on Chepstow Road have been warned of 'rolling road closures' on September 4 due to the protest march against NATO. The prince of Wales will be holding a reception at the start of the Summit meeting. The Guardian reported that 9,500 police officers will be on duty. eight per cent of the total police workforce.

    BMW THEFT

    Aug 20 - Police are appealing for information to identify two men who they would like to speak to in connection with the theft of a grey 320 D 4 door saloon BMW - registration number YJ63 HWX - from Motorpoint on Queensway Meadow Industrial Estate in Newport. The theft occurred on the evening of Monday 18th August. Anyone with information is asked to call 101 quoting log 413 18/08/14.

    MARCHES ANNOUNCED

    Aug 18 - Gwent Police and Newport City Council have been informed of the routes of two proposed marches by anti-Nato campaigners.

    Both organisations have a legal obligation to facilitate peaceful protests and are, therefore, working together to ensure that the marches can take place safely, while coping with the inevitable disruption to the city on those two days

    The police and council are acting on the latest information which has been provided by the protestors. Rolling road closures will be put in place to try and minimise the inconvenience to road users as much as possible.

    Saturday 30 August

    Protestors intend to march from the Faulkner Road car park (council-owned car park by the Crown Court buildings) from 2pm. The car park will be closed all day.

    The proposed route will go past the railway station and to the Old Green interchange before crossing Old Town Bridge and via the Cenotaph in Clarence Place, along Corporation Road, across George Street Bridge and then Commercial Road before ending in Westgate Square (indicated this could be from 4pm onwards).

    Thursday 4 September

    March is due to begin at 12pm at the Cenotaph and then along Chepstow Road towards the Celtic Manor Resort. It is not known at this stage where it will end and if there will be disruption to traffic should protestors return to the city centre using the same route.

    It should be noted that the times and routes for both marches could change. Please heed advisory and diversion signs and get the latest information by visiting www.gov.uk/nato-wales-local

    PEACE CAMP SET FOR TREDEGAR PARK

    Aug 15 - Representatives of the No to Nato group have told the Council they now intend to camp in Tredegar Park. They have given assurances that it will be a peaceful encampment and tents will be sited away from the parks amenities, such as the pitches, and they will not interfere with the parks normal activities.  Therefore, sporting club fixtures can still be accommodated during this period. Newport City Council is continuing to work with partner agencies to monitor the situation and minimise the impact of such a camp.

    NATO SUMMIT: BIN COLLECTIONS DELAYED

    Aug 15 - There will be no refuse or recycling collections (including the orange lidded bin) on Thursday 4 September 2014. It is inevitable that there will be delays in Newport on Thursday 4 September due to the Nato Summit and as a result the council has decided to move the collections (mostly in the east of Newport near to the Celtic Manor) scheduled for that day to the revised collection date of Saturday 6 September. Residents who normally have their waste collected on the Thursday are asked to not put their bins, boxes or bags out for collection until 7am on the Saturday. Individual residents who are affected by this will receive a notification nearer to the date. Refuse and recycling collections will take place as scheduled on Friday 5 September

    A LEVEL SUCCESS FOR CITY STUDENTS

    Aug 14 - Schools in the city maintained and improved their high performance in A level examinations this year with results above the Wales 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 23.8 per cent, remaining above the Wales average of 23.3 per cent. The percentage of those gaining an A* is 6.4 per cent, an improvement on last years 6 per cent, but slightly below the Wales average of 6.7 per cent. The proportion of students achieving a pass grade at WJEC A Level (Grades A* - E) is 98 per cent, in line with the UK average of 98 per cent and above the Wales average of 97.5 per cent. There was a fall in Newport WJEC exam entries of 11.3 per cent from last year, and there has been a 0.6 per cent drop in entries for all exam boards across Wales.

    CITY CENTRE REGEN PROJECT UNDER WAY

    Aug 14 - A multi-million programme to convert landmark city centre buildings into new homes is under way. Newport City Council and the Seren Group have joined forces to ensure the transformation of a vacant property on Cardiff Road into affordable apartments. It is the first project to begin with help from the Welsh Government’s vibrant and viable places regeneration funding won by the council earlier this year.

    Newport City Council was awarded £14.988 million towards the £60 million city centre project and this is part of the overall £250m investment now taking place in the city centre. Occupying an extremely prominent position on Cardiff Road, adjacent to the Royal Gwent Hospital, the building has been empty for many years and had become something of an eyesore as well as a focus for anti-social behaviour. The £1.5m conversion will provide 15 affordable homes; 11 x 1 bedroom and 4 x 2 bedroom apartments.  All the properties will be available for rent or for people to purchase a share of the ownership of their home. People with local connections can apply via the council’s home option website www.homeoptionsnewport.uk Development of training and employment opportunities formed an important part of the building contract and Craig Wilford, aged 19, who is one of the apprentices, was also there to celebrate the launch.

    FOOD FIRM FINED FOR WORKER'S INJURIES

    Aug 14 - A food company has been fined after an agency worker lost the tips of two fingers in unguarded machinery at a Newport bakery. The woman (28), who lives in Cwmbran and does not wish to be named, was working at Solway Foods Ltd’s Avana Bakeries site in Rogerstone, Newport (now owned by another company), when the incident happened on 19 September 2013 

    The worker was cleaning cake mixture from a pipe by hand when her fingers got caught in part of the pump mechanism, severing the tips of her index and middle fingers of her right hand. The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted Solway Foods Ltd at Newport Magistrates today (15 August). 

    The court heard that a co-worker was cleaning out the pump and connected inlet and outlet pipes using a hose. The pump was still running to enable the residual mixture from the last product to be pumped out. The injured worker had been cleaning up the water using a squeegee but when she noticed some cake mixture inside the inlet pipe, she put her hand in to remove it when her fingers touched the moving machinery. Although the company had put bars over the inlet and outlet parts on most of the other pumps in the factory, they had failed to do this on the pump involved in the incident. 

    The worker still suffers pain as a result of the incident and experiences difficulty carrying out daily tasks which involve gripping, such as brushing her hair or writing. Solway Foods Ltd of TrinityBusinessPark, Wakefield, was fined £2,400 and ordered to pay £4,373 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations. 

    POLICE APPEAL OVER MAINDEE PUB ASSAULT

    Aug 13 - Police would like to speak to 44 year old Richard Leonard Jones from the Newport area in relation to an assault that occurred on Tuesday 13th May. It happened at the Albert Public House and outside the Oddfellows public house in Maindee at about 5.30pm. A 44 year old woman from the Newport was assaulted and suffered facial injuries. Officers are continuing with enquiries and wish to speak to Richard Jones who could hold vital information to assist the investigation. If you can help us please call 101 quoting log number 29 14/05/14 or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

    FLOOD WARNINGS FOR THE USK TONIGHT

    Aug 12 - Flood warnings have been issued by Natural Resources Wales for the Usk Estuary at Crindau, Malpas road area, Caerleon, Uskmouth and Old Town Dock. Flooding is expected for the next three high tides and could affect properties in these areas. All properties at potential risk will have received an automated telephone call from Natural Resources Wales highlighting this problem.

    The high tide at Newport is expected to reach 7.8 metres at 9:25pm today (Tuesday). The previous high tide at Newport reached a level of 7.3 metres at 9am this morning. Natural Resources Wales advises residents to call Floodline on 0345 988 1188 using quickdial 198001 for up-to-date flooding information.

    COUNCIL CONFRONTED WITH PEACE CAMP

    Aug 11 - Newport City Council has held a meeting with Pillgwenlly community leaders to discuss a proposal from the protestors to hold a peace camp on the area’s playing fields. Along with ward councillors, they were able to discuss their concerns about the proposed camp.

    Protestors have made clear that they intend to use the council-owned playing fields next to Pillgwenlly Millennium Centre as a peace camp. The campaigners have not put forward any alternative sites so partner agencies are attempting to work with the protestors to minimise the potential impact as much as possible. Given the position, the agencies are working together to look at providing resources to prevent potential damage to this community site. Their primary concern is local residents, their interests and wellbeing.

    The multi-agency group has met with the protesters to discuss what may be provided at the camp, what restrictions will be in place, and in turn, what will be expected of those using the facility. Subject to appropriate agreements with the camp organisers, Newport City Council will source toilet, water, waste and cleansing supplies and services.

    Discussions are still on-going with the protestors. Dates for the camp are yet to be finalised but it is understood that it will operate from 27 August to the weekend following the summit. Discussions regarding funding for services provided for the camp are on-going with all organisations involved.

    NATO SUMMIT: A FESTIVAL, NO FLY ZONE, ROAD CLOSURES AND DINING VENUES

    Aug 9 - A Riverfront festival is planned for Newport on August 23 to celebrate the coming of the NATO summit. This will include a fly past by a Spitfire and Hurricane, a 28 nation food festival and a performance from the Red Devils. The Band of the Household Cavalry will be in attendance and provide the entertainment before Newport County's match with Burton.

    A no-fly zone has been put in place for parts of south Wales and Bristol during the three-days of the Nato summit. It will prevent light aircraft flying over the area below 10,000 ft (3,048 m) between the 3-5 September. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) imposed the restriction following a request from police.

    The ban will not affect emergency services, or commercial flights travelling to and from Cardiff and Bristol airports. Nato summit road and footpath closures

    Road closures around the Celtic Manor will be in effect from 22:00 BST on 31 August until 07:00 BST on 6 September.

  • Catsash Road will be closed from the junction on Belmont Hill on the B4236 to the junction with Roman Road
  • Bulmore Road will be closed from the Bell pub in Caerleon to the junction with Abernant Road
  • All footpaths that cross the Celtic Manor Resort will be closed for the event, including Usk Valley Walk and pathways coming from Chepstow Road, Langstone, Bulmore Road, Catsash Road, Abernant Road and Roman Road
  • All the footpaths will have notices placed at the start of each closed section informing walkers about the closure.

    World leaders will dine at landmark venues in Cardiff and Newport, with Welsh food on the menu during the Nato summit. Cardiff Castle and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama will also be among those hosting events for heads of state and government leaders. Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb described the summit as an opportunity to showcase Wales on a global stage.

    Newport's Celtic Manor is the main venue for a meeting of 60 world leaders on Thursday 4 September. Tredegar House in Newport will host a reception for hundreds of international journalists expected to cover the summit. First Minister Carwyn Jones said: "I am delighted that some of the most striking buildings in both Newport and Cardiff will be used to showcase the best of Welsh hospitality during the Nato summit."

    KING'S HOTEL PLAN EMERGES

    Aug 8 - Jahan Abedi has submitted proposals to the City Council to convert the King's Hotel into living accommodation with a small number of offices and retail units. The planning application is for a mixed use development consisting of 30 residential apartments (13 x 2 Bed, 14 x 1 Bed & 3 Studio apartments.) 3 office units and 2 commercial units

    The building and its associated site has been associated with hotel use and a music venue for over 200 Years. The site was originally occupied by a public house or Inn known as the ‘The Kings Head in the 1750s and became known as the Kings Arms when the property was re-built between 1811-1815. The property was transferred to the ownership of Lord Tredegar in 1872. The demise of this building came in the late 19th century due to a fire and the current building known as the Kings Hotel was constructed in 1900.

    FEARS ABOUT FUTURE OF NEWPORT SHIP

    Aug 8 - Supporters of Newport's medieval ship have raised concerns about its future if a new home for it is not found soon. The 500 year-old vessel, found on the banks of the River Usk in 2002, is currently undergoing preservation at a warehouse in Maesglas. But the lease runs out this year and its future funding has previously been threatened by council budget cuts. Newport council said it was trying to find a new premises for the ship.

    NEW MARKET SQUARE BUS TIMES DISPLAY

    Aug 7 - A large screen displaying bus travel information has been installed in Market Square bus station. Located at the lower end of the bus station the screen shows arrival and departure information including the bus operator, its destination and stand number. Real time travel information for Newport Bus is also displayed on the new screen.

    ALUK TO EXPAND CREATING 24 JOBS

    Aug 2 - Newport based Aluk (GB) Ltd is set to expand its Celtic Springs plant creating 24 jobs. City planners are being asked to consider an application for an extension to the site. Aluk specialises in aluminium based curtain walling, doors and windows.

    £90k GRANT FOR CATHEDRAL

    Aug 2 - The Council is planning to award a new £90,000 grant from its landfill tax fund towards repairs to the roof  of St Woolos Cathedral. Two other organisations are set to benefit Newport Cricket Club (£119,460) and Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal (£30,000). Councillor David Fouweather commenting on the bids stated "I believe that all three applications are worthy of receiving money from the landfill tax. However I am a little disappointed that other organisations do not come forward. Perhaps this fund needs to be advertised more widely. If I recollect correctly both the Cathedral and the Brecon canal have benefited from this fund on a number of occasions so it is good to see another organisation taking advantage of the landfill tax allowance."

    CAERLEON ROAD-WORKS COMPLETE

    Aug 2 - Disruptive roadworks have been completed a week ahead of schedule and all roads in the area are now fully open.

    NEW LOOK CONFIRMS FRIARS WALK SIGN UP

    July 31 - New Look has become the latest fashion retailer to sign up to the new Friars Walk development in Newport. The 10,000 sq ft store will open when the shopping centre launches in autumn 2015.

    Construction work on Friars Walk began earlier this year and New Look will join retailers and leisure operators such as Debenhams, Next, Topshop and Cineworld, as well restaurant chains Nandos, Frankie & Benny’s and Prezzo. Developed by Queensberry Real Estate, the shopping centre will include 35 retail units, 10 restaurants, 360 parking spaces and a major new bus station and interchange.

    Stuart Harris, commercial director and co-founder at Queensberry, said: “New Look are one of the leading fast fashion retailers and are a great addition to our line up at Friars Walk. We have deals agreed with several other high profile retailers which we will announce over the course of the next few months.” On completion the scheme will create an estimated 1,200 jobs.

    ABSCONDER ARRESTED

    July 31 - Craig Collins, aged 34 from Newport, who breached his licence conditions after being released from prison on 27th June 2014 and who police wanted to speak to in connection with burglaries in the Newport, Caerleon and Magor areas has been located and arrested.? He is currently in police custody.

    NEW SAINSBURY'S STORE SET FOR KINGSWAY

    July 30 - Newport's retail offer will receive another boost shortly with the opening of a Sainsbury's convenience store in the Kingsway Centre. The new store will be in Unit 34 of the Centre opposite the entrance to the new Friars Walk shopping mall. It will provide a much needed addition to the retail line up of the Kingsway shopping centre currently including Peacocks, Home Bargains and an anchor Wilko store.

    The city's main post office moves to new premises, unit 19 at the Wilko end of the Centre, from August 11 onwards.

    CITY WARNS OF BLEAK FUTURE FOR WELSH LOCAL GOVERNMENT

    July 30 - Newport City Council will have to find savings of almost £13 million for 2015/16 because of a worsening financial forecast. Savings of £4.9 million had already been identified for 2015/16 and the council was in a good position to be able to deliver those thanks to its medium term financial planning.

    However, new information from the Welsh Government has indicated that the grant they will give the council will reduce by up to 4.5 per cent in cash terms instead of the 1.5 per cent originally anticipated. This means the council will have to redraw its medium term financial plan to deliver a further £8 million of savings on top of the £4.9 million - a total of £12.9 million to be found for the next financial year. Welsh Government has also warned that this bleak situation may continue into future years.

    RECYCLING PLANT TO CLOSE WITH LOSS OF 99 JOBS

    July 29 - The Sims Group is consulting over plans to close its Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment unit at South Dock, which would see 99 posts go. A 45-day consultation period began on 10 July. The GMB union is consulting and said no final decision had been made, but changes in the market place meant the business was "commercially unattractive". In June, Australia-based Sims Metal Management published outline details of a restructuring of its business in the UK and Canada. It said the review "determined certain loss-making assets to be outside of the strategic long-term interests of the company". A statement continued: "Legislation and market dynamics in the UK and Canada have resulted in these businesses being commercially unattractive to the company going forward". The Sims Group is the world's largest publicly-listed recycler of both metals and electronic materials. A nearby fridge recycling unit operated by Sims, which employs 35 staff, will be unaffected by the closure proposals.

    COUNCIL TO CALL IN USW OVER CAERLEON CAMPUS

    July 29 - The City Council today voted to call in the University of South Wales to discuss the potential closure of the Caerleon Campus at its Scrutiny Committee. The motion from Councillor Ed Townsend was amended to include the referral to the Council's scrutiny body in order that a full and frank discussion can take place. There is a possibility that the Caerleon site will close within the next five years but also strong suggestions that the University will expand its city centre provision.   

    NATO SUMMIT PREPARATIONS 'VERY WELL ADVANCED'

    July 29 - Preparations are very well advanced with a high level of readiness according to Peter Boxer from the Cabinet Office in London charged with implementing the NATO summit in Newport. 63 delegations are expected with hundreds of support officers, 8000 police officers and 1500 journalists. Most will arrive on Thursday morning and leave later in the afternoon on Friday. Peak time road disruption is expected on Thursday evening or Friday morning. NATO has booked every hotel from Bristol to Cardiff. Mr Boxer said he had visited the Newport Indoor Market to buy NATO sausages from Turner's. He promised that there would be some very good local stories emerging about local businesses prior to the Summit.

    Two demonstrations are expected on August 30 and September 4 in the Newport area. They are expected to lead to some road closures. Police Chief Inspector Mark Warrinder warned this is a much larger event than the Ryder Cup Wales but said there were no plans to close the M4. The only planned closures are Catsash Road and Bulmore Road.

    NEWPORT REMEMBERS THE GREAT WAR

    July 29 - Newport will be joining a national act of remembrance and marking the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War in 2014 with a series of events this summer. On 4 August, 100 years since the start of WW1, a flag raising ceremony and blessing will take place at 11am outside the main entrance of the Civic Centre. Members of the public are welcome to join dignitaries and military personnel for the solemn ceremony.

     During the event poppy petals will be scattered and a commemorative poppy will also be painted on the nearby grass bank. Newport City Council premises will also be joining the national Lights Out event on 4 August inspired by a quote by British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Gray on the eve of war being declared: The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime. Everyone in the UK is being invited to turn off their lights from 10pm to 11pm leaving a single light or candle for a shared moment of reflection. Newport Museum is commemorating the centenary with a war-themed exhibition which will run until 6 June 2015.

    PRESSURE ON RUGBY CLUB AS GOUGH FOUND GUILTY OF ASSAULT

    July 29 - Newport rugby star Ian Gough has been found guilty of assaulting his ex-girlfriend, former Miss Wales Sophia Cahill, days after her engagement to pop star Dane Bowers. Gough shoved Ms Cahill into the passenger door of his campervan outside her home in London, aggravating injuries she had from a car accident. Ms Cahill told Croydon Magistrates' Court she was "shocked and upset" and fled back into her house crying. Gough, who resides in Swansea, denied assault. Given the sensitivity of the issue pressure will now be mounting on Newport Gwent Dragons, Gough's employer, to take action following the Court's decision. Sentencing will take place next week.

    RECYCLING SITE INTRODUCES VISITOR RESTRICTIONS

    July 28 - Newport City Council is acting to stop a rise in usage of its Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) by non-Newport residents. In order to meet the authoritys recycling and landfill targets there are restrictions on what can be accepted on the site and this is being enforced. The council also needs to ensure the site is only used by genuine Newport residents for the disposal of domestic waste. The council is turning away approximately 40 vehicles a day that are either from outside the area or are businesses, tradesmen and landlords illegally depositing waste. This causes queues and a financial cost for Newport residents.

    NEWPORT BUS OFFERS OFF PEAK TRAVEL FOR A POUND

    July 28 - From Friday 1st August 2014 Newport Bus will be offering discounted off peak single fares. Single fares purchased after 7pm Monday - Saturday and all day Sunday will be priced at £1 and will be available on ALL services across our network. This means you can travel on any service, including thoses to Cardiff and Chepstow between these times for just £1 single.

    ST. JOSEPH'S HOSPITAL SOLD FOR £10 MILLION

    July 28 - St Joseph's Hospital, the purpose-built private hospital in Malpas, has been acquired in a £10m deal backed by HSBC. The hospital has been bought by a consortium which includes 43 of its existing consultants as well as new investors. Alongside the investing consultants, the majority shareholders acquiring the business are Brian Staples, Paul Jenkins and Rohit Kulkarni. Staples, who is the chairman of the European Scanning Centre, an advanced medical imaging company based on Harley Street in London, will take the role of executive chairman of a newly formed parent company. HSBC's Cardiff and South East Wales commercial team provided a £6.2m package to support the acquisition and costs relating to the upgrading of the hospital.

    NEWPORT SET TO LOSE ANOTHER HOTEL

    July 26 - Newport is set to lose another hotel for good. The city centre 'boasts' a Travelodge and some rather downmarket establishments on Chepstow Road. There is no sign of the proposed Premier Inn in the High Street, a redeveloped Westgate Hotel or any of the other mooted developments. The City Council has announced a proposal to dispose of a small piece of land at the rear of the former King’s Hotel is under consideration.

    A potential private developer is interested in buying the council-owned site in Upper Dock Street as it forms parts of plans to convert the empty King’s Hotel into flats, offices and retail units. Such a scheme would bring a landmark building back into beneficial use, assist the continuing regeneration of the city centre and give another boost to the £250 million already being invested in Newport by public, private and third sectors. A recommendation has been made to declare the land surplus to the council’s requirements and dispose of it, subject to terms agreed by the head of law and standards, The sale would be conditional on planning permission being secured for the scheme. The funds raised will be put into the council’s capital programme for 21st century school projects. Councillor Gail Giles, cabinet member for human resources and assets, will make a decision about the disposal following a consultation with all members.

    COUNCIL MOTION CHALLENGES USW OVER CAERLEON CAMPUS

    July 26 - The possible asset-stripping of Caerleon Campus by University of South Wales is challenged in a City Council motion proposed by Liberal Democrat member Ed Townsend and seconded by Bettws Labour member Kevin whitehead. The motion to be considered at the Council meeting on 29 July states "This Council believes that the Caerleon campus of the University of South Wales is important to Newport for the contribution it makes to the city’s economy and for the opportunities it offers people who would otherwise find it difficult to access higher education. In reviewing its property portfolio, the university has an opportunity to strengthen the education opportunities it offers in Newport and to meet the promises made by the education minister at the time of the merger, that no campuses would be closed. This council calls on the University managers and governors to ensure that courses offered in Newport are not syphoned away to other parts of South Wales, taking with them both jobs and educational opportunities from people in the Newport area.”

    APPEAL FOLLOWING CROMWELL ROAD INCIDENT AND ARRESTS

    July 25 - Police are appealing for information following an incident of disorder on Cromwell Road, Newport which occured at approximately 10pm on 21st July. Residents reported concerns about the behaviour of two men in the street, one was in possession of a chainsaw and one was in possession of a hammer. One of the men drove off in a burgundy coloured van and the other drove off in a white van. No-one was injured. Two men, one aged 32 from Newport and one aged 19 from Cwmcarn, have been arrested on suspicion of affray and being in possession of an offensive weapon in a public place. Anyone with information relating to the incident is asked to call 101 quoting log 552 21/07/14.

    UNIPART FAILURE LEADS TO JOB LOSSES BUT BRACES TAKE ON STAFF

    July 25 - Seven staff have been made redundant in Newport at vehicle parts distributor Unipart Automotive following the failure of the business. According to Insider Media Wales Newport's Brace's Bakery has taken on five new recruits from newly rescued counterpart Avana, which was threatened with closure earlier this year.

    COUNCIL MEETS SCHOOL TRANSPORT PROTESTORS

    July 25 - In a slightly bizarre response the City Council has used up a lot of website space to present in English and Welsh a news item on its meeting with school transport protestors.

    Councillor Debbie Wilcox, Newport City Council’s cabinet member for education today met a group of students and a supporter who visited the Civic Centre to protest about an increase in post-16 school transport costs.

    After the meeting Councillor Wilcox commented: “I would like to thank the group of students and their supporters who took the time today to personally bring their concerns to my attention at the Civic Centre. As a former teacher, and now cabinet member for education, the welfare of Newport’s pupils is at the heart of my work every day. It is a credit to the four young people, who feel so passionately about the potential impact these fee rises will have that they were willing to make their concerns heard......As cabinet member I expect to be challenged on council policies, and a thorough, bilingual and constructive set of questions was posed by the pupils."

    Pupils who travel to school using Newport Transport services purchase an annual season ticket for which the student pays Newport Transport £347 after the council’s subsidy. Pupils who travel to school using other providers will now also purchase an annual season ticket for £347 after the councils’ subsidy. This was previously charged at £45 per year. Therefore, the change particularly affects those out of catchment or who choose to send children to the Welsh medium school in Pontypool.

    PROPOSAL TO BOOST CITY CENTRE LIVING

    July 25 - A proposed initiative aimed at encouraging more residential use of rapidly declining city centre properties could go out to public consultation in the near future. Newport City Council is already taking long-awaited steps to boost the regeneration, vibrancy and attractiveness of the city centre as part of a £250 million investment by public, private and third sectors.

    The Council states "It has long been recognised that a mix of uses will help secure the future of the city centre and this includes encouraging more residential development. One way this is being done is through the vibrant and viable places programme, funded by the Welsh Government, with schemes to convert landmark buildings into apartments."

    At the moment, developers seeking to create more than five new dwellings are asked to make a contribution towards such things as schools and play facilities. This is known as a section 106 (S106) agreement. It is being proposed to introduce a time-limited S106 moratorium which will mean that the council will not request contributions for city centre residential schemes. However, this will have some important caveats:

    MALPAS ROAD ASSAULT - MAN ARRESTED

    July 24 - Following a police appeal for information relating to an incident which took place on Malpas Road in the early hours of Sunday July 20th, a 22 year old man from Rhymney has been arrested on suspicion of assault. The victim - an 18 year old man from Newport- was with a group of friends and walking towards McDonalds in Shaftesbury when he was approached by a man who assaulted him by smashing a bottle into his face.

    The victim sustained several lacerations to his face for which he needed hospital treatment. He has since been released. The man arrested has been released on police bail pending further enquiries.

    CAERLEON ROAD WORKS SET TO START

    Jul 24 - Drivers going through Caerleon are being warned they could face delays from Thursday 24 July due to essential road works. Resurfacing between Caerleon Bridge and Lodge Road is due to begin on Thursday and is expected to take two weeks.

    Work will not take place this weekend following the completion of the first phase, between the bridge and Mill Street, and will resume in High Street next week. As full closure of High Street will be required, the one-way system will be suspended in Mill Street to allow two-way signalled controlled traffic. It is requested that the public do not park in Mill Street while the work takes place. Newport City Council would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused by this essential work. It is being carried out during the school and university holidays to minimise the disruption but motorists should expect delays to their journeys.

    Motorists are advised that diversions will be in place on the Southern Distributor Road in Newport overnight with immediate effect until early August while essential resurfacing work takes place. A full closure will be in place from 6.30pm today (23 July) until 6.30am tomorrow (24 July) eastbound between the Church Street and Balfe Road roundabouts. There will be further closures on various stretches of the SDR as the work progresses. Diversion signs are in place and drivers are advised to take notice of them, and abide by them, to ensure the safety of workers and other road users.

    EXTENDED HOURS FOR REUSE SHOP

    July 22 - Newport City Council cabinet member for infrastructure, Councillor Ken Critchley, has welcomed the news that Newport’s Second Chance Reuse Shop will be extending its opening hours. Cllr Critchley commented, “The Second Chance Reuse shop has been open for less than a month but the council has been overwhelmed by the visits to the shop as well as the positive feedback from residents. During its first day of opening 50 items were sold which saw a staggering half a ton of goods diverted from landfill, giving unloved items a second chance. As a result the council has decided to extend the opening hours of the facility, helping divert more items from landfill, and providing more excellent bargains for the customers.”

    The shop is based at the household waste recycling centre in Docks Way and will now be open 10am to 5.30pm every Wednesday. The shop sells a range of products from golf clubs to furniture as well as bedding plants, shrubs and logs for wood burners.

    DOCK OWNERS WARN PROPOSED M4 ROUTE WILL PUT BUSINESS AT RISK

    July 20 - A £1bn new M4 motorway through Newport's dockside could put jobs and future investment at the site at risk, say Associated British Ports. The proposed route will cut right across the dock. Associated British Port's Matthew Kennerley said his company would lose land and one dock of up to 60 per cent of vessels would be unable to use it. He told the BBC "it is not a great idea to put the new route through the centre of Wales' most important general cargo port....as it stands the  impact would be very serious indeed." ABP suggest a route slightly further north with amended height restrictions to allow more vessels underneath the bridge.

    TORY AM BACKS RELIEF ROAD

    July 20 - Newport Conservative and South East Wales AM William Graham has backed the new M4 motorway. He states on his website "I have campaigned for over 25 years for an M4 Relief Road. I appreciate the environmental concerns, but believe these will be addressed by advances in road design, together with improved engine and fuel technology. The M4 is vulnerable and in need of urgent action. Almost every week there is absolute chaos between junction 24 and junction 28; arising from traffic accidents, signal failure or incidents of the road network system around Newport. These incidents expose how vulnerable this stretch of motorway is and the need for urgent action to progress an M4 Relief Road. The Prime Minister is entirely right in his description of the M4 around the Brynglas Tunnels as a “foot on the windpipe of economic growth”. It is vital that this enhancement to the M4 around Newport is realised as soon as possible."

    POLICE APPEAL OVER MALPAS ROAD ASSAULT

    July 20 - Police in Newport are appealing for information following an assault which occurred on Malpas Road in the early hours of this morning (Sunday July 20th). The incident occurred sometime between 4am and 4.15am close to the old Sainsbury's building. The victim - an 18 year old man from Newport- was with a group of friends and walking towards McDonalds in Shaftesbury when he was approached by a man who assaulted him by smashing a bottle into his face.

    The victim sustained several lacerations to his face for which he needed hospital treatment. He has since been released. The offender ran off towards the city centre. He is described as white, in his 20s, slim build with mousey/ fair short hair. The man was wearing a white t-shirt or polo shirt possibly with red writing or a design on the front and blue jeans. Police are appealing for any information or witnesses to the incident to call them on 101 quoting log 130 20/7/14

    SURPRISING RISE IN CITY CENTRE FOOTFALL

    July 19 - Footfall figures collated by Springboard for Newport City Council show a rise in the number of people visiting the city centre. Against a background of steady decline since 2009, June 2014 figures show the highest activity levels since before the recession took hold. The June recording reached a figure of 815,559, compared with 698,210 for the same period in 2013, an increase of almost 17 per cent. The average weekly number was 163,112, a jump of 24,470 compared with the previous year.

    Councillor Bob Bright, leader of Newport City Council, said: “While we need to be cautiously optimistic about the figures, I do believe it is another sign of increasing confidence in our traditional shopping centre. As well as the Friars Walk retail and leisure scheme which is due to open in 2015, we have organisations such as Admiral and the Seren Group moving their employees to the city centre and exciting plans for more residential use of landmark buildings. Together these will contribute to a more attractive city centre."

    The footfall figures, approaching 10 million for the city centre, need to be compared with claimed (unverified) footfall for Cwmbran shopping of 15 million and other major centres such as Cribbs Causeway of over 18 million. Both of the latter offer free parking but Cwmbran has been slipping down the list of popular 'shopping malls' in recent years. Newport's under construction Friars Walk development will offer retail but also a significant leisure element.

    LATEST MOCK UP OF FRIARS WALK

    July 19 - Plans submitted by Leslie Jones to the City Council for the 300+ space car park adjacent to the Debenhams store at the new Friars Walk mall show the colour scheme and scale of the development.

    Right bottom - Department Store / Bus Station / Right top - Queensway frontage  - Below - Cinema / Usk Plaza

    WEBB SELECTED BY NEWPORT WEST CONSERVATIVES

    July 18 - Nick Webb has been elected as parliamentary candidate for Newport West Conservatives as the party battles to displace Labour in the seat. They last held the seat between 1983 and 1987. He said "Thank you to Newport West Conservatives for selecting me as their General Election candidate. An exciting challenge ahead of us."

    SDR TO BE RESURFACED OVER NEXT THREE WEEKS

    July 19 - Resurfacing work is planned to take place on the A48 Southern Distributor Road (SDR) in Newport starting on Sunday 20 July. The work will be funded by Morgan Vinci Ltd – who are responsible for the road’s maintenance and this is part of its on-going work programme and contract with Newport City Council. Resurfacing will take place during the evening and night to reduce disruption to the public. As a result it will be necessary to close parts of the SDR between 6.30pm to 6.30am to allow the work to take place safely.

    There will be a diversion route in place on occasions as some sections of the road may need to be closed. These will be clearly sign posted. Wherever possible closures will be restricted to a single carriageway but in certain cases a full closure of the SDR will be necessary, for example, to allow the resurfacing of the main roundabouts to take place. The roundabouts affected will be Balfe Road, Nash Road and Docks Way. The full road closures will also allow opportunity to remark the roundabouts to improve road safety by simplifying the lining arrangements and to make it clearer for drivers. It is envisaged that the works will take approximately three weeks to complete and are due to be finished by early August.

    Greenwood, St Julians before and after

    WORK WELL UNDER WAY TO RENEW CITY TOWER BLOCKS

    Work is nearing completion on the £10 million Welsh Housing Quality Standard investment works by Newport City Homes in their three tower blocks in St. Juilian's, the Gaer and Ringland..

    The objective of the work to improve the physical appearance of the blocks is also to improve weather proofing, thermal performance and to define the individual characters of the blocks.

    All the blocks were built between 1971 and 1973. A Council report offers an interesting perspective on one of them blocks "The Milton Court Tower block located to the east of Newport on Hendre Farm Road in Ringland was built in the early 1970’s . The 12 storey building is typical of its era being monolithic in form and appearance with regimented openings affording a uniform aesthetic. The ‘slab like’ appearance is modulated with subtle indents with balconies and a recessed upper floor , but the dominant character of the tower Block is one of undisturbed and bold uniformity. "

    Each block contains 82 flats, but some are currently unoccupied. Flats will get double glazed windows, new electric heating systems will be installed and electric panel radiators will improve the energy efficiency of all homes. Tenants will also get new kitchens and bathrooms. The layout of flats will also change to give the best use of space and will see bathrooms, bedrooms and lounges accessed from the hallways. They can choose from four designs picking out everything from the floor finish to the wall tiles.

    The work is being completed to bring homes up to Welsh housing quality standards. Externally the three tower blocks will be transformed with new roofs and cladding which is designed to improve the buildings’ insulation. As well as the flats, communal areas will get a fresh lick of paint and security will be improved with new door entry systems.

    POLICE APPEAL - CRAIG COLLINS

    July 17 - Police in Newport are appealing for information to locate Craig Collins Police would like to speak to him in connection with a number of burglaries which have occurred over the last two weeks in the Newport, Caerleon and Magor areas.

    Craig Collins has also breached his licence conditions after being released from HMP Parc Prison, Bridgend on June 27th, 2014. Before his release, 34 year old Craig Collins from Newport was serving a three year sentence for burglary after being convicted in December 2012. Craig Collins is described as being a white, medium build and approximately 5'10'' . He has a tattoo on the right side of his neck. Police would also like to warn anyone who may be harbouring Craig Collins that they are also committing an offence and will be liable for prosecution. Anyone with any information relating to his whereabouts is asked to contact Gwent Police on 101 quoting log 242 9/7/14 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    BLACK DAY FOR NEWPORT?

    July 16 - A £1bn relief road for the M4 around Newport has been confirmed by Welsh Transport Minister Edwina Hart. It is the largest capital investment programme ever announced by the Welsh government. Hart has picked the so called 'black route' as the preferred option.

    Supporters say it will improve transport in south Wales, ease congestion and boost jobs. But opponents have criticised the plan because of its environmental impact on the Caldicot Levels and one group has dubbed it a "billion pound mistake."

    The new road will run between Junctions 23 and 29 and include a new bridge and could be completed by the spring of 2022. There will be no junction from the new motorway in to Newport. The existing M4 will become a trunk road. Three routes were under consideration, but Mrs Hart told AMs on Wednesday that "none of the alternative solutions proposed could reasonably deliver the objectives" of easing congestion.

    She said it was important that Wales has "an effective economic infrastructure which improves our competitiveness and access to jobs and services." Transport group Sustrans Cymru said the move was a "wrong turn" when there was a need for more public transport. The announcement brought mixed reaction from the business sector, with CBI Wales welcoming the decision while FSB Wales, which represents small businesses, calling it a "billion-pound mistake".

    Comments online were very mixed. It was suggested that the money might be better spent and that this was the latest Newport bypass project to follow several that have gone before.

    Another said "So, first of all the Welsh government abolishes its wildlife protection agency and then a year later it decides to build a motorway across the Gwent Levels. this lot are worse than the Tories ....."

    The economic case for the new road is somewhat flawed too. It seems to be driven by the road lobby juggernaut and the desire to expand Cardiff rather than to assist growth across South Wales.

    As for so called congestion the number of vehicles on Welsh roads inched up by less than 1% in 2013, according to new figures. This is the first increase after five successive years of decreases in traffic.Traffic is still 3.4% lower than at its peak in 2007. The Welsh Government had predicted that traffic would already be above 2007 levels in their M4 consultation document . Traffic in Newport increased by less than 0.3%.

    CAERLEON CAMPUS ON THE BRINK

    July 15 - Concerns have been raised about the future of the University of South Wales’ Caerleon campus. There are fears that the campus could close have come after the suspension of English and History courses, following a marked drop in student applications. USW’s governors are also in deliberations about the university’s entire estate. This could potentially entail them finding outside investors or buyers for some buildings in the estate’s portfolio. A USW spokesperson told BBC Wales that this was because the university “inherited a mixed estate of both modern campuses and older, obsolete buildings needing substantial investment to make them fit for purpose”.
     
    "USW's board of governors is considering the future of the university's estate by looking critically at closely located campuses, exploring further as to how the university can concentrate its investment strategically on growth areas," they added. Formed by the merger of Newport and Glamorgan universities last year, USW is the biggest university in Wales, with around 3,500 staff and nearly 33,600 students.
     
    Labour assembly member Dame Rosemary Butler,  whose Newport West constituency includes the Caerleon campus, expressed concern about the revelations: “It is a big employer of local people. As well as students and lecturers, we've got the caterers, cleaners and the whole range of jobs that are there which could be lost.” 

    NEW NEWPORT - MONMOUTHSHIRE BUS SERVICES GET UNDER WAY

    July 15 - On Monday 21st July 2014 Newport Bus will be launching their 74 service between Newport and Chepstow and the 21 service is being extended to Underwood following service withdrawals from another operator. There are also changes to the 73 Newport - Chepstow, C1/C2/C3/C4/C5 Chepstow Town Services and W3/W4/W5 Monmouth Town services on the same day. As part of these changes the 74 service will now operate from Queensway (Q8) and the 21 service will operate from Kingsway (K12). The 73 will be a mainly hourly service between 0605 and 1750, the 74 a mainly half hourly service starting at 0624 with less frequent evening services and a last departure at 2230 to Chepstow (also calling at Underwood). The 21 will offer a half hourly service from Underwood to Newport via Newport Retail Park between 0625 and 1755.

    DOCKS ART WORK UNVEILED

    July 14 - Newport’s Mayor today officially unveiled an art work celebrating the centenary of South Lock in the city’s historic docks.

    Depicting a dock worker of the past and a dock worker of the present, it was created by local artist Stephanie Roberts and commissioned by Associated British Ports and Pillgwenlly Regeneration Project. The work is installed on the wall of the Seafarers Mission just outside the dock gates where it can be seen by the public, including those using the Wales Coast Path.

    After the unveiling, two animation films, produced in conjunction with Pillgwenlly Primary School and Tom Maloney, of Media Projecgts and Training, were shown. Local young people also performed street poetry they had written. Pillgwenlly Regeneration Project is a £6.7 million scheme delivering improvements to the area to boost business and benefit the local community. It is led by Newport City Council and backed by a funding package from Welsh Government with support from the European Regional Development Fund and the Targeted Match Fund.

    BUTLER TO STAND DOWN AS AM

    July 13 - Newport West AM Dame Rosemary Butler will stand down at the 2016 elections. The Welsh Assembly Presiding Officer told her constituency party on Friday evening that she will not seek re-election. She was made a Dame in this year's New Year's Honours and has served as a Newport AM since 1999.

    She was unanimously elected Presiding Officer in 2011 after serving as Deputy Presiding Officer. Dame Rosemary said after 40 years in public life, including 24 as a councillor in Newport, the time was right for her to stand down. She said: "It's surprisingly emotional actually. Even though I knew I wasn't going to be standing in my heart, to make the decision and tell my constituency party, I did feel quite emotional about it.

    Originally from Much Wenlock in Shropshire she moved to Newport via the Rhymney Valley attending St Julian's Comprehensive. She married her husband Derek in 1966 and has two daughters. She became Labour councillor for Caerleon in 1973 and was Mayor of Newport in 1989. She became an AM in 1999.

    ACORN TURNOVER UP

    July 13 - Turnover has topped £100m for the first time at the company behind Acorn recruitment agency according to Insider Media Wales. The Newport-based company said that revenues were boosted by an increase in both temporary and permanent recruitment. According to its latest set of accounts, Acorn (Synergie) UK reported a turnover of £102.9m for the 2013 calendar year, up by 16 per cent on a year earlier. The group also posted pre-tax profits of £1.6m, compared to a pre-tax losses of £61,087.

    PARRY GETS LIFE FOR MURDER

    July 13 - Christopher Parry, who murdered his wife by shooting her in the back after she left him, has been jailed for a minimum of 26 years. Parry, 50, shot mother-of-two Caroline Parry, 49, at close range near her home in Newport last August before turning the gun on himself. Parry, from Cwmbran, described as a "controlling and dominant" individual, was found guilty of murder at Newport Crown Court on Wednesday. He had denied murder saying he only meant to shoot himself.

    PLANNING UPDATE

    July 12 - The former Elm Tree is restaurant at St Brides is set to become a residential dwelling under plans submitted to the City Council. Offices at 14 Cambrian Road in the City Centre above Tesco Express will be converted in to six apartments in other plans. On the retail front developments are well advanced on Newport Retail Park with Caffe Nero and Nando's set to open in the autumn. The new Greggs unit near Ruppera Street is also set to open then. There is no news on potential developments to avert Maindee's retail blight but more announcements are expected shortly on Friar's Walk and Station Quarter.

     

    CONVENTION CENTRE DESIGN REVEALED

    The design of the new Wales Convention Centre at the Celtic Manor in Newport has been revealed.

    The Celtic Manor Resort has unveiled the proposed concept for the new Wales International Convention Centre at the Meetings Show UK in London. The new conference centre last week secured outline planning permission from Newport City Council and Celtic Manor was able to show the next stage of planning to event industry leaders attending the show. A short video presentation showed how the new centre may look when it is constructed on the resort site, with a scheduled opening date of summer 2018.
    Designed to attract major events from across the world, the auditorium, exhibition hall and associated facilities will have capacity for over 3,000 delegates, making it the largest facility of its kind in Wales and the south west of England. With a total capacity of more than 20,000 sqm, the main auditorium will hold 1,300 delegates with the flexibility to divide into smaller spaces. A separate main exhibition hall will stretch to 4,000 sqm and be able to accommodate up to 2,000 guests for a gala dinner.

    A further 15 meeting rooms will cater for all sizes and types of meetings and events, and complement the existing convention centre facilities at Celtic Manor, which has won Best UK Hotel at the Meetings and Incentive Travel Awards for the past four years running.

    The new conference centre will also provide fully intergrated audio visual facilities, green rooms and production offices, and a multi-storey car park with 1,500 spaces.

    MP CALLS FOR FOCUS ON OVER CROWDED CROSS BORDER RAIL SERVICES

    July 10 - Jessica Morden MP speaking in the House of Commons has called for more rolling stock to be allocated to cross border rail services to meet increasing demand for rail services. Speaking in a debate she initiated on cross border services she called for First Great Western to consider the the regular over crowding on peak hour trains to Bristol and Bath and to introduce new services as part of its franchise commitment "In my area that would include a half-hourly or better train service from south Wales to Bristol Temple Meads and Bath; an additional hourly service from Ebbw Vale via Newport and Severn Tunnel Junction to Bristol Parkway, which would provide new journey-to-work opportunities to take advantage of the development and employment sites planned for the area around Bristol Parkway; a minimum of five coaches on the peak services from south Wales to Bristol; a commitment to ensure that train capacity is sufficient for future demand; and greater emphasis in the franchise on working in partnership on interchanges, and on rail companies working together on timetables."

    JOBS HOPE AS AVANA BAKERIES IS SOLD

    July 9 - Avana Bakeries in Newport has been sold according to its owners. The company has sold its food processing site in Rogerstone to Food Utopia, which it said would aim to keep the current operation going. In February the company said 650 jobs were at risk after it lost a multi-million pound cake contract with Marks and Spencer. There are currently 552 people still employed at the site. A spokesperson said: "It is proposed to operate the business under a new management buyout company, Food Utopia Ltd, which will aim to secure continuing operations. We will now commence the TUPE transfer process of colleagues."

    POLICE APPEAL OVER KNIFE ROBBERY

    July 9 - Police are appealing for information following an armed robbery reported to have taken place in Newport at approximately 11.45am this morning, Wednesday 9th July. The victim, a 23 year old woman, was walking along a path at the rear of Cormorant Way, Duffryn with her three children, two in a double buggy.  She stopped to tend to her children and whilst doing this she was approached from behind by a man.

    The man showed her a kitchen knife and rummaged through her belongings on the buggy.  He took some cash from her bag, walked off towards a bike, which had been laying on the path nearby, and cycled away.  No one was harmed. The offender is described as being white with a tanned complexion, 5 feet 7 - 5 feet 9 inches tall and of stocky build.  He was wearing a black zipped up hoody with the hood up, a black balaclava, black tracksuit bottoms, black trainers and black gloves with red lines on the palms running wrist to finger.  He is believed to be 25-30 years old and spoke with a local accent.  The bike he was riding had a silver and yellow frame, with red suspension springs at the front and a black spring at the back. Anyone with information is asked to call 101

    PARRY FOUND GUILTY

    July 9 - Christopher Parry has been found guilty of murdering his wife by shooting her twice in the back after she left him. Mother-of-two Caroline Parry, 49, was shot at close range by her "controlling and dominant" husband on Sea Breeze Avenue in Newport last August. She had left  Parry, 50, after 27 years of unhappiness, he shot her and turned the gun on himself. He will be sentenced on Friday.

    Senior Investigating Officer Detective Superintendent Bill Davies said:  “The Court has determined Christopher Parry was responsible for the murder of his estranged wife. This is a tragic case that resulted in the death of Caroline - the loss of a mother, daughter, sister and friend to many. Our condolences remain with those who have suffered her loss.  When a relationship breaks down and partners separate, it can often raise the potential for violence.  This is widely recognised as a time of risk by services who deal with domestic abuse.  I would implore anyone who has any concerns about such a situation to take that step and contact one of the readily available services that will help. I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of the investigating team, and in particular DC Ian Thomas, for their professionalism and commitment that ensured the highest quality of evidence was available for the Court.” 

    PIZZA COSTS £180k FOR CITY TEEN

    July 9 - A Newport man was shocked after realising he'd been charged almost £180,000 for a pizza from his local Domino's. Nathaniel Bolwell ordered a large  pizza from the branch on Chepstow Road in Newport and thought he had only paid £17.99 for the meal. But when the 19 year old went to do his next shop, his card was declined. He checked his balance to find he was £179,020.80 overdrawn and he'd been charged £179,932.32 for his pizza. Domino's and Lloyds Bank investigated the matter and the money was repaid two days later. Nathaniel was told that staff at the pizza place were given a bank card authorisation code of 3232 and it was accidentally added to the price of the pizza.

    ANTI NATO PROTEST SET FOR AUGUST 30

    July 9 - Protestors warn Wales could see its biggest protests in a generation as 60 world leaders meet at the Celtic Manor in Newport for the NATO summit on 4-5 September to plan their war on the world.
    The main demonstration against NATO is on Saturday 30 August in Newport. Previous summits in Chicago and Strasbourg saw thousands protest war, austerity and global inequality. From 30 August they argue people will flock to South Wales for international actions including a weekend march and Counter Summit, week-long peace camp, and protests on the summit's opening day.NATO expansion has created a dangerous crisis in Ukraine which threatens a regional war.

    They say "NATO's nuclear armed alliance binds Europe to US foreign policy, a foreign policy post-Iraq increasingly unpopular around the world. It is also the military alliance currently occupying Afghanistan. War is the enemy of the poor. At this year's summit the US will be pressuring Western powers to increase their already huge military budgets at a time when poverty and inequality are soaring. The world's 85 richest people have as much as poorest 3.5 billion. Money into war is money out of our communities. In the UK, 500,000 people had to resort to food banks last year. None of the cuts would be necessary if the sums Britain spends on its military and armaments were invested in social need instead of the war machine."

    CITY SCHOOLS TO CLOSE FOR SUMMIT

    July 9 - Most Newport schools are to close for an inset day during the NATO summit, according to the city council. The summit takes place the Celtic Manor on the outskirts of Newport on 4th and 5th September. A total of 38 schools will hold an inset day on both days of the summit, six will be partially closed and only three have so far confirmed they will open as usual. There are 10 schools that have not yet confirmed arrangements.

    STRIKE ACTION TO HAVE LIMITED IMPACT ON COUNCIL SERVICES

    July 7 - Newport City Council says it is working to minimise any disruption caused to residents by the proposed one day national public sector strike, due to take place on Thursday 10 July. The action has been organised by trade unions in response to a one per cent pay rise offer.

    Since the action was confirmed, the council has been working to ensure that essential services and those which affect the citys most vulnerable people are not adversely affected. The council and its recognised trade unions have agreed exemptions for some employees to ensure the continuation of such services.

    It is anticipated that the following services will not be affected and will be open/ operating as normal:

              • Leisure centres (NISV, Newport Centre, Active Living Centre)
    • Caerleon Golf course
    • Gwent crematorium
    • Parks
    • The Riverfront
    • Car parks

    All Newport high schools apart from Bassaleg will be open in some capacity but a number of junior schools will be closed. However, members of the public should be aware that there will inevitably be some disruption to services.

    Normal opening times will apply at the Information Station (8.30am to 5pm) and the citys contact centre (8am to 6pm) but with a much reduced capacity, so visitors/callers may experience a longer waiting time than usual. The Council say “Please note that the details are subject to change. Updated details will be posted on the website when appropriate or call 01633 656656 for clarification.”

    Services likely to be affected by strike action are as follows:

       •     Collections of refuse, garden waste, cardboard and trade waste will not take place on Thursday. Instead, residents are asked to put out these bins/ bags by 7am on Saturday 12 July. (It should be noted that collections of doorstep recycling boxes and food waste by Wastesavers will not be affected by industrial action.)
    • The Household Waste Recycling Centre and landfill site will be closed
    • The following libraries will be closed: Central, Bettws, Malpas, Ringland, Tredegar House, Rivermead, St Julian
    s

              • Newport Register Office will be closed to the general public, only opening for pre-booked ceremonies
    • The Transporter Bridge will be operating but there will be no access to the high level
    • No burials will be taking place but cemeteries will be open
    • Brynglas centre and Parklands day service will operate a reduced service. Ringwood Centre will not be operational. Clients of the centre have been directly informed.
    • Public or personal land charges services will not be available.

    CONVENTION CENTRE GETS THE NOD

    July 5 - The Celtic Manor Resorts application for a convention centre was granted planning permission by Newport City Councils planning committee.

    The Celtic Manor Resort was seeking permission for to build the Wales International Convention Centre and parking on land within the resort. The new facility will be able to accommodate up to 3,000 delegates a day in a purpose built facility which would be located next to the hotel. Parking would be provided in multi storey buildings again on the site and Celtic Manor Resort will carry out highway improvement works.

    This is yet another vote of confidence for the city, as Newport continues to position itself as a leading host of world class sporting events and international conferences. The closest comparable facilities are located in Birmingham, London and Bournemouth. A convention centre of this size will serve south Wales, southern England and beyond. The building will be designed to achieve a BREEAM very good standard with water and energy efficient measures installed. It is likely to be rectangular in shape and a maximum of 120m in length and 80m in width.

    The facility will create employment opportunities and benefits for the city both during its construction and when operating. It is also anticipated that other hotels and guest houses will benefit from the centres construction as the Celtic Manor hotel will not be able to host all delegates. It will take two years to build the facility and it is envisaged it will open in 2017. A more detailed planning application showing the size of the building and its configuration will now be submitted to the council.

    BARCLAYS GRANT HELPS NURSERY REFURB

    July 4 - Confounding the poor image of bankers and the involvement in the 2008 recession a nursery in Newport has undergone a major refurbishment with the help of a five-figure investment supported by Barclays. Rainbows Private Nursery, on Somerton Lane, invested £25,000 to create an all-weather external play area, improve parking facilities and install an external CCTV system. The business currently employs ten members of staff and expects its turnover to pass £250,000 this year. Kay Taylor, owner of Rainbows, said: "So often in Wales we are victims of the Welsh weather which prevents us taking the children outside. "Now we have an all-weather covered area with ball pits, ride-on-cars, climbing frames and additional space for the children to play outside whatever the weather." Moira Wearing, Barclays business manager, said: "Kay is a great example of an entrepreneur using their experience and skills to develop a successful business.”

    PAY BACK HOTEL EXPENSES CALL

    July 3 - Newport Conservative leader David Fouweather has called on AM Mohammed Ashgar in  the South Wales Argus to pay back hotel expenses claimed for overnight stays in Cardiff.

    SPTS TAKEN OVER BY ISRAELI COMPANY

    July 3 - SPTS Technologies Group, the Newport-headquartered semiconductor equipment maker, has changed hands in a deal worth £215m ($370m). Israeli company Orbotech, which is listed on Nasdaq, has bought the business from private equity firm Bridgepoint.

    ABP INVESTS IN DOCKS STORAGE

    July 2 - The Port of Newport is investing £2.5m to refurbish its Atlantic Shed warehouse, which will be used to provide additional space for its steel and bulks business according to Insider Media Wales. Associated British Ports (ABP) announced that the scheme would deliver 77,500 sq ft of covered storage, primarily for the steel business but also for project and bulk-break cargoes.

    It means ABP has committed to spending more than £10m on the docks at Newport over the last 18 months. Chris Green, assistant port manager for South Wales, said: "The volume of steel handled across our quayside is increasing, as are other aspects of the business such as general cargo, forest products and animal feed. We are committed to ensuring our facilities keep pace with that growth and give our customers room to grow their operations. "As we celebrate the centenary of one of the biggest developments in the port's history, the completion of the South Dock and Entrance Lock, we continue to invest in the port's future prosperity.”

    FOUR GET PRISON FOR ATTEMPTED MURDER

    July 1 - Four Newport men have each been jailed for 12 years for attempted shotgun "revenge" killings near the Cross Hands public house on Somerton Road. Lewis Bridge, Brogan Hooper, Gary Rabjohns and Ryan Battersby ran a car off the road and shot at the three people inside. The attack in September 2013 was over an alleged dispute with two of the victims about drugs and money. The four were found guilty by majority verdicts after a five-week trial at Newport Crown Court.

    All four were convicted this month of two counts of conspiracy to murder. At the sentencing on Monday, the court was told each of the men had previous convictions. The prosecution said there was no distinction between the roles each of them played. The trial jury heard the four men used a 4x4 to ram a red Ford KA off the road and then shot at a woman and two men inside. A witness told how the defendants' car was "pushing and ramming" the victims' car on to the wrong side of the road. The victims suffered minor gun shot wounds and the woman injured her spine.

    TREDEGAR PARK WATER FEATURE TO BE REMOVED

    July 1 - The water play feature located in Newport’s Tredegar Park is currently closed and will soon be removed. During the winter a series of structural and mechanical inspections were undertaken and the results concluded that the water play feature requires significant capital investment to replace the infrastructure to enable it to reopen. It would cost more than £200,000 for the council to repair or replace the facility and as a result of the council’s financial position it is not viable to repair it and so it will be removed. The council is extremely disappointed that it has to take this action but with a reduced budget and further savings to be found it is left with no other option.

    COUNCIL SETS UP COMPANY TO MANAGE ITS PROPERTY

    July 1 - A joint venture which will manage Newport City Council’s property portfolio, maintenance and on-site cleaning was launched today (Tuesday 1 July). It was agreed earlier this year that the council would undertake a collaboration through the public sector for the future management of its property services. Newport Norse is a joint venture with Norfolk Property Service (NPS), part of the long-established Norse Group which is wholly owned by Norfolk Council. About 200 staff will transfer to the new organisation on the same terms and conditions, and Local Government pensions, as they had with the council following consultations with staff and trade unions. Lyndon Watkins has been appointed as managing director of Newport Norse and will take up his post on 24 July.

    Councillor Gail Giles, Newport City Council’s cabinet member for human resources and assets, said: “For a number of reasons, including the increasingly difficult financial situation facing the council, it became necessary to review the provision of these services and various options were carefully examined. This is not a decision that has been taken lightly because we wanted to ensure the new organisation offered a range of benefits including greater stability for employees, flexibility in responding to local priorities, streamlined management and a more commercial culture. We believe the joint venture meets these requirements.”

    The council owns approximately 400 buildings, including schools, leisure centres and administrative buildings, and more than 1,000 parcels of land. The agreement does not transfer ownership of the properties or land to the joint venture.

    DISPERSAL ORDERS TO TACKLE CITY CENTRE LOUTS

    July 1 - One Newport Partnership which includes Gwent Police, Newport City Council and their partner agencies is set to introduce a new dispersal order in the City Centre to reduce levels of anti-social behaviour. One Newport decided to take action after receiving repeated complaints from members of the public and local shop and business owners about anti-social behaviour including begging, graffiti, street drinking and general rowdy behaviour. The main areas affected are High Street, John Frost Square, Gilligan’s Island and around Newport Leisure Centre with over 670 calls of anti-social behaviour being received since the start of 2014.

    After gathering information and evidence, Newport City Centre Neighbourhood Policing Team and Newport City Council authorised the implementation of a dispersal order. The order will run from 9am on Tuesday 1st July 2014 until midnight on 1st January 2015. Dispersal orders give Police Officers and Community Support Officer the power to direct any groups of two or more people to leave a specified area, if their behaviour is likely to cause members of the public to feel alarmed, harassed or distressed.

    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. Newport City Centre Community Support Officer Perrie Eedy explained: “We have carried out a huge amount of work over the last few years to tackle anti-social behaviour in this area and that work will continue. This Dispersal Order will give us the added power to deal with those offenders who refuse to take our advice and act responsibly and respectfully. This dispersal order will not affect anyone in Newport who is out having a good time and behaving. We are aiming to target the small number of people who act in an anti-social manner. We are working closely with Newport City Council to look at longer term solutions to this issue.”
    Newport Inspector Mark Pope added, ‘The Newport City centre team in particular CSO’s Perrie Di Ronato and Jack Purcell have worked tirelessly in gathering sufficient evidence working in conjunction with our partners in the local authority in order to obtain the dispersal order.

    ‘The order will be of great benefit in making Newport City centre a safer place to visit, we are working hard to improve the reputation of Newport City centre at this exciting time where regeneration and redevelopment is moving at a pace. The dispersal order will enable us to send out a clear message that unacceptable behaviour will not be tolerated in Newport City centre.’

    MORDEN CALLS  FOR AN END TO GOVERNMENT 'HYPOCRISY' OVER CIVIL SERVICE JOBS

    June 30 - Jessica Morden MP has criticised Government hypocrisy over civil service jobs in Newport. Last week the Government announced plans to privatise the provision of human resources and support services for the Ministry of Justice. The Paymaster General Francis Maude stated in the Commons last week "Earlier this week, the MOJ announced its plans to take forward the agreed plans on shared services, which were first put forward under the Labour Government in 2004 but did not begin to be implemented until 2012. There are major efficiency savings to be made. I am sure that SSCL—Shared Services Connected Ltd—the shared service company the MOJ proposes to use, will look carefully at all the facilities and will want to concentrate activity at the most effective and efficient ones, and I see absolutely no reason why Newport’s should not be among those."

    Jessica Morden responded with the following question "I want the Minister to understand just how fearful and uncertain staff at the MOJ shared services centre in Newport feel after this week’s announcement of privatisation. How can he justify the hypocrisy of the Prime Minister talking about the UK becoming an onshoring nation when under this contract jobs could be offshored? What guarantees are the Government offering that these jobs could stay in Newport?" She withdrew the use of the word hypocrisy as it is considered unparliamentary. Maude responded as follows "She is making assumptions about what will happen to those jobs which I have no reason to believe are justified. If the quality of the work and the efficiency at Newport is as good as she believes, I am sure that the management of SSCL will want to look carefully at retaining jobs there."

    MPs CALL ON GOVERNMENT TO RESTORE LOST JOBS

    June 29 - The two Newport MPs have united to call on the Government to restore the 150 jobs lost with the closure of the processing centre at Newport Passport Office. The letter to the Home Secretary from Paul Flynn and Jessica Morden states "In 2010 the decision was made to take processing out of Newport West and in 2011 this was implemented.  Quite apart from the loss of experience from the department, 150 jobs were taken out of the economy of Newport. The last few weeks has demonstrated there is a need for urgent action to be taken and we note that Home Office staff will be temporarily processing work in Nexus House.   We are writing to you to ask that you consider permanently reinstating those jobs to Newport as son soon as possible.  The reinstatement of the jobs would be a boost for Newport, the current staff who are suffering stress caused by the workload and to the customers who are facing unacceptable delays. Thank you for your help in this matter.  We look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible." 

    Morden used her article in the Argus to repeat the case "I do not understand why the current delays have come as a surprise to the Home Office – the signs have been there for years, but they continued with their cuts and paid little regard to the affect it has had on customer service and staff – who do a great job in Newport and are under immense stress. That is why I have called for the Coalition Government, as they try and solve the problem, to restore those 150 jobs we lost back into Newport and to properly compensate those customers who are out of pocket through no fault of their own."

    NATO LOGO DOWNPLAYS HOST CITY

    The logo for the Nato summit being held at Newport's Celtic Manor Resort in September features the city's iconic Transporter Bridge but does not mention the host city, badging the event as the 'Wales Summit'.

    The bridge, which is one of only six working bridges of its kind in the world, was chosen to represent the host city. A castle, dragon and a Celtic knot to are also used to reflect Wales' diverse heritage. The logo was officially unveiled in Brussels on Wednesday.

    It will be used around the summit venues in September and in communications to thousands of delegates, including President Barack Obama, and media who will attend.

    COMMENT - The logo confirms fears that the controversial, landmark event will not be used to promote Newport and, as with the Ryder Cup, residents will have to endure the temporary inconvenience of the event but will see no economic benefits from its staging. Newport's identity is constantly being downplayed, there is little doubt that if this was in Cardiff (or Swansea) that the name of the city would feature. Disappointingly there is no one speaking up for Newport's interests politically in fear of rocking the party boat or raising a much needed independent voice.

    MAN SHOT WIFE BECAUSE SHE LEFT HIM

    Jun 26 - A Croesyceiliog man shot his wife dead in Newport because he could not accept she had left him, Newport Crown court has heard. Caroline Parry was shot in the back at close range near her home at Seabreeze Drive in Newport last August. Christopher Parry, 49, was described in Court as a "controlling and dominant" individual who could not accept his wife was separating from him after years of unhappiness. He denies murder but has admitted manslaughter.

    Prosecutor Michael Mather-Lees QC said Mr Parry waited for his wife to leave her new partner's home on the morning of the shooting, before removing a semi-automatic shotgun from the boot of his car. Mr Parry, a driver for the Celtic Manor Resort, then turned the gun on himself, he said, which left him with "substantial head injuries".

    CONVENTION CENTRE LIMITED TO 3000 DELEGATES

    Jun 25 - Transport requirements have limited the proposed Wales International Convention Centre in Newport to a maximum of 3000 delegates. The City Council's Highways department had expressed concern about the impact of the development on the Coldra roundabout. The clarification by the Celtic Manor of the maximum size of conference means there is no barrier to the development proceeding following the NATO summit in September. The previous limit suggested was 4000 delegates. Precisely how this will be monitored is unclear. Other transport impacts include a new signalised junction for vehicles crossing the motorway bridge in to the resort from the B4237 (Chepstow Road).

    ADMIRAL STAFF SAY THEY WILL USE OTHER FORMS OF TRANSPORT  

    June 24 - Admiral's travel plan for staff moving from their old premises in Langstone to the city centre has revealed an expected shift in use of rail and of walking and cycling to work. Of the 322 staff responding to the survey 289 drove to work at Langstone, the number proposing to drive to the new site dropped to 198 with significant increSes in those walking or using the train. Individual responses suggest a positive desire to use alternative modes of transport but also queries whether the city centre is safe or car friendly.

    ILLEGAL TATTOOIST PROSECUTED

    June 24 - A Newport man was successfully prosecuted by the city council for working as an unregistered tattooist in the city. Environmental health officers carried out an investigation and discovered that Brandon Watkins was not registered to carry our tattooing and was working in unregistered premises in Kirby Lane. It was also found that the room being used did not meet the basic requirements of local authority bylaws, equipment was being reused without being properly sterilised and clinical waste was disposed of incorrectly. Tattoo equipment was seized because it posed a public health risk. Watkins, of no fixed address, failed to attend Newport Magistrates Court and he was found guilty in his absence of two offences under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 of carrying out the business of tattooing when not registered and in premises also not registered with the council.He was fined £500 on each offence and ordered to pay costs of £1,434.30 plus a victim surcharge of £50.

    PIGGY GOES BACK TO MARKET

    June 23 - One of Newports more popular pieces of public artwork has been returned to the city centre following the completion of major improvement works. This Little Piggy was placed in Upper Dock Street, at the rear of Newport Market, in 1994 but was temporarily moved last year while work in the area took place. Commissioned by then borough council in 1994, the bronze sculpture by artist Sebastien Boyesen is a life-size replica of a Gloucester Old Spot with baskets of fruit and vegetables. It celebrates more than 700 years of markets in Newport.

    PANDORA GETS READY FOR FRIARS WALK

    June 23 - A Pandora jewellery shop has opened in Newport following a £350,000 investment in the store on Commercial Street. The shop is the third Pandora venture in South Wales for franchisee Stephen Hughes. Eight new members of staff, including a manager and an assistant manager have been recruited to run the Newport outlet. Hughes said: "We have great confidence in the brand and we are getting into Newport at this time because we think the future of the city will be prosperous and we see great potential for growth."

    SHIRE HALL SUCCESS COULD LEAD TO FURTHER CITY INVESTMENT

    June 23 - The success of Shire Hall in Newport city centre has freed up funds for reinvestment into other projects, the developer behind the scheme has revealed to Insider Media Wales. Jahen Abedi converted the 112-year-old Edwardian building into 18 luxury flats with the help of a £1.1m property development loan from the Welsh Government's investment arm Finance Wales. The Shire Hall project created 16 construction jobs.

    To date, 14 of the 18 flats have been sold. Abedi, who owns a large portfolio of properties across Newport and Cardiff, said: "Thanks to the project's success the remaining sale proceeds from the apartments can now be reinvested into other development work currently in the pipeline which will provide more opportunities for local suppliers. I look forward to working with Finance Wales again on potential future projects." Abedi recently purchased the Kings Hotel at the top of High Street.

    MOTORISTS WARNED TO LOCK AWAY VALUABLES

    June 23 - Maindee police officers are urging motorists to lock their cars and move all valuables from view following a spate of thefts from vehicles in the area.  Over the last 3 weeks, 14 cars have been targeted – peak areas are St Julian’s and Caerleon.

    Maindee Neighbourhood Policing Team Sergeant, Sarah Davies said: “We have unfortunately seen a rise in the number of cars that are being targeted over the last two weeks.  I would like to urge every single motorist to never leave any of their belongings in their cars, even if you are just leaving it unattended for a short time – don’t risk it. Please don’t make it easy for thieves, check and double check your car before you leave it. Crimes like this can be prevented – we’ve seen sat-navs, wallets, purses and money stolen, it only takes a thief seconds and they will even smash a car window for loose change!”

    If you have any information about vehicle crime in the area, please contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Alternatively, you can phone Gwent Police on 101.

    NEWPORT FIRM PART OF EC SOLAR RESEARCH PLUS

    June 23 - A Newport-headquartered solar cell manufacturer has been selected to join a major research consortium focused on exploiting graphene, the promising new material. The European Commission announced that G24 Power is one of 66 new partners invited to participate in the Graphene Flagship, which it describes as one of the largest ever European research initiatives. The influx means there are now 140 organisations from 23 countries taking part.

    ROGERSTONE STABBING - CWMBRAN MAN CHARGED

    June 23 - Following the incident that occurred at approximately 8.50am on Friday 20th June, at a Garage on Tregwilym Road, Rogerstone which resulted in a man receiving stab wounds, a 37 year old man from Cwmbran has been charged with Grievous Bodily Harm with intent and appeared at Newport Magistrates Court this morning, Monday 23rd June. The three other men arrested have been released from police custody no further action, but have been referred to the UK Borders Agency for alleged immigration offences.

    The victim of the stabbing, a 39 year old man from Newport, remains in hospital in a stable condition.

    GIVING HOUSEHOLD RUBBISH A SECOND CHANCE 

    June 21 - Newport City Council claims it is turning one persons junk into another persons treasure at its new venture. The Second Chance Reuse Shop rescues items that could still fill a useful purpose, cleans them up and sells them. Based at the Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) in Docks Way, the shop will be open every Wednesday between 10am and 3pm with a range of products from golf clubs to furniture, It will also be selling bedding plants, shrubs and logs for wood burners.

    ALERT BUT DEVICE IS NOT A BOMB

    Jun 17 - A suspected bomb caused an alert at Maesglas Retail Park on Monday. But following further assessment the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) have now established that the device found this afternoon on a construction site at Maesglas Retail Park is not a bomb and does not pose any risk to the public. The cordon, which had been put up as a precaution, has been taken down and roads  reopened.

    Chief Inspector Rod Grindlay said,"We would like to thank the community for their patience and support whilst enquiries were carried out. Our priority at all times was ensuring everyone’s safety whilst trying to minimise any disruption.”

    SHIRE HALL RE-BORN

    Jun 16 - A landmark Newport building constructed at the very start of the 20th century has been restored to its former glory and transformed for 21st century living. Shire Hall, in Fields Road, was built in 1902 and for many years provided offices for the then Monmouthshire County Council.

    Over recent months, it has been sympathetically restored into luxury studio, one and two bedroom apartments. With phase one now complete, some of the new owners have already moved in and work is underway on the second stage of the development. Many of the original features of the Edwardian building remain, including the entrance hall, marble columns, grand stair cases and Terrazzo floor tiling.

    Councillor John Richards, Newport City Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and development, said: “It is fantastic to see this grand old building fulfilling a useful purpose once again following this sympathetic and impressive restoration. “I would like to salute developer Jahan Abedi for his commitment to Newport and his foresight in seeing the potential of this building. I hope the new residents will be very happy in their new homes.”

    Shire Hall feature

    GIVE US BACK LOST PASSPORT OFFICE JOBS

    Jun 14 - There are calls to reverse staff cuts at Newport's passport office, and for the centre's postal application processing services to be reinstalled, after a growing backlog of applications.

    The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) raised the issue amid concerns some Welsh holidaymakers face having their holidays ruined due to delays which mean they may not receive their documents in time. The UK government has announced new measures to address the serious backlog.

    Owen Smith MP, Labour’s Shadow Welsh Secretary, commenting on the passport processing turmoil said: “The truth is the Tories made rash cuts to the Newport passport processing services in 2010 and Welsh holidaymakers are now paying the price. Welsh Labour MPs told the government in 2010 that cutting passport office jobs would result in exactly the backlog problems that travellers are now experiencing.  Back then the Minister responsible, Damian Green, made the shockingly complacent response that the passport office had ‘excess staff capacity in its application processing’.  This arrogance will infuriate the Welsh families who are now worried about whether they will receive their passport in time for a summer getaway. "

     

    SPORTS DIRECT PURSUING SPYTTY OPTION

     

    Jun 14 - Despite a recent planning refusal and the offer of space at Friars Walk retail and leisure giant are pursuing the option of developing Newport's Megabowl site. New plans have been submitted to the City Council based on a mixed use two unit scheme with a retail store and leisure facility. Work has started on site to create the units.

     

    RIVERFRONT AND LIBRARY SERVICES UNDER REVIEW

     

    Jun 13 - New scoping reports have been produced by the City Council seeking to review options for the provision of library services in Newport and the running of the Riverfront. Library services are required to find a £278k saving in 2015-16, this is expected to come from further closures, or to use a euphemism in the scoping report the development of a 'new business delivery model.' The latter applies to the Riverfront where it is likely the running of the Theatre and Arts Centre will be contracted out.

     

    ASHGAR CLAIMS FOR OVERNIGHT STAYS IN CARDIFF

     

    Jun 13 - Research by the South Wales Argus has unearthed expenses claims by Mohammad Ashgar. The Conservative AM for South East Wales has claimed nearly £1,300 in overnight hotel stays in Cardiff despite being based in Newport. The hotel stays were between May 2012 and November 2013. The allowance paid to AMs is £64 per night. A peak time day return on the train is £5.40 and a day ticket on the bus is £3.60. Ashgar states it is 'within the rules.'

    NEWPORT COUNCIL TO RUN CCTV IN BLAENAU GWENT

    Jun 13 - Newport City Council will now be monitoring CCTV and handling out-of-hour calls for one of its neighbouring Gwent authorities. Blaenau Gwent Borough Council asked for expressions of interest in running their service earlier this year and Newport council made a successful bid.

    Cameras in Blaenau Gwent town centres will be monitored from the CCTV suite in Newport and operators will also take emergency out-of-hours calls made to Blaenau Gwent council. Two members of staff have transferred from Blaenau Gwent council to boost the city’s CCTV team.

    Councillor Bob Poole, Newport City Council’s cabinet member for licensing and regulatory services, said: “I am pleased that we are able to work in partnership with our colleagues in Blaenau Gwent to help keep Ebbw Vale’s residents, businesses and visitors safe and I’m proud of the quality of our staff and service that helped to secure this contract.” Councillor Steve Thomas, deputy leader and executive business manager at Blaenau Gwent Council, said: “We look forward to working in partnership with Newport City Council. I am confident that we have the right partner to continue to deliver a cost effective CCTV service for the benefit of our local community for many years to come.”

    BUTLER BACKS CITY CENTRE REGENERATION SCHEME

    Jun 12 - Rosemary Butler has backed the City Council's plans to spend £15m in Vibrant and Viable Places funding. The projects that will receive funding include:
    • The Landlord Loan Scheme - assisting landlords with future licensing and registration
    • Commercial Street - redevelopment of premises for housing and commercial use
    • Newport Market - refurbishment of windows and external facade
    • 62-66 Cardiff Road- redevelopment in to affordable housing and rented accommodation by Seren Living
    • Employment and training facility - within the Central Communities First Cluster, an empty property in Pill will be developed to become a new flexible learning and employment centre.
    • Townscape Heritage Scheme- improvements to the exterior of buildings particularly in Lower Dock Street
    • Citizens Advice Bureau- improvements to a reception area and meeting rooms at the Corn Exchange

    She  said: “The regeneration of Newport City Centre is taking shape, and further investment to refurbish both commercial and residential buildings will make a real impact to the city. I look forward to following each of these projects and seeing the finished result. ”

    As part of the scheme Newport City Council will work with small and medium businesses to develop Wales’s first Construction Cooperative to help local companies to tender for large contracts. Work has started to develop the cooperative arrangements, including monitoring and evaluation.

    SOFTWARE UNIVERSITY AND INNOVATION COMPANY FOR NEWPORT

    Jun 10 - Exciting proposals for the rebirth of Newport's economy have received financial support from Welsh Government. The city will see the development of its own software university as the Welsh Government backs ideas from the Re-Newport Task Force. Announced by Welsh Government Minister Edwaina Hart at the Digital 2014 Conference at the Celtic Manor, Newport will now see the immediate development of ideas that will promote it as a business and IT friendly city aiming to attract new investment.

    She said that negotiations were at an advanced stage to buy 'prestigious offices near Newport city centre', which would be used to provide flexible accommodation for start-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises and growth companies. This acquisition is intended to overcome a perceived lack of capacity to attract inward investments and encourage the development of specialist clusters of businesses.

    The Welsh Government will fund the establishment of an Innovation Company in the City Centre. This will be focussed on the development of intellectual property rather than property and real estate. The aim is for the company to become self funded within 5 years. The

    company will be a digital innovation hub acting as a repository for attracting research funds, inward investors and give support to the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises.

    The Welsh Government will support the provision a significant and suitable space for business development to attract inward investors and allow development of clusters. This space should provide flexible terms / rents / arrangements.

    A Software University will be developed developing a two year qualification geared to business requirements. The ReNewport report stated "There is a critical gap in the UK between the demand for software developers and the number of skilled people available. We will support the establishment of a ‘software university’ to address this. This will be specifically tailored to create the software developers of tomorrow and is likely to be based on undergraduate and foundation feeder courses. We envisage a curriculum developed in collaboration with industry with the potential to have industrial sponsors who provide input. We are engaged with 3 universities and have established keen interest in setting up this model, with a curriculum fed by and developed with the private sector."

    A new digital youth club for young people aged 8-25 will be set up. The Newport Makers Club will create a hub for young makers to 'share knowledge, ideas and equipment.' Digital Tuesday Club would be hosted at Celtic Manor Resort on the first Tuesday of every month to provide networking opportunities for the digital sector. Digital youth clubs would also be held in Newport city centre on the first Saturday of every month to teach under-18s about software, technology and programming. The development will "support the development of the digital economy and will build on the strengths of the sector in Newport." Inward investment marketing will focus on Newport as a desirable location for digital businesses.

    SEREN EXPANDS IN CITY CENTRE

    Jun 10 - Seren Group has today announced plans to expand its Newport head office at Exchange House, High Street, into the adjacent Corn Exchange building, previously occupied by Newport City Council. Local housing and support provider Seren has enjoyed a prominent position in the heart of the city for over 10 years and saw the availability of the vacant Corn Exchange, as an ideal opportunity to bring staff located at offices in Devon Place, and Exchange House, under one roof.

    It will also enable the Group’s recently launched dedicated older persons’s company, Derwen, currently based at Clarence House, to become more integrated into Group operations. Amanda Davies, group chief executive said: “Exchange House is located in a prominent and highly accessible position in the city centre and purchasing the Corn Exchange was a natural step for Seren. The operational benefits of having our head office function in one location will lead to greater operational efficiency, and the additional space will enable the group to continue to expand its housing and support services. As well as bringing an empty building back into use, this is great news for our staff, customers and for the wider city centre regeneration, through our partnership with Newport City Council’.

    The creation of the new head office at the gateway to the city centre is an integral part of the exciting transformation already happening across the city, and a clear statement of Seren’s commitment to Newport. It is also perfectly positioned for Seren’s staff, both in terms of transport links and for social activities.

    The leader of Newport City Council, Councillor Bob Bright, along with the council’s cabinet member for regeneration and development, Councillor John Richards, were shown around the building by Amanda Davies, and group commercial director Darrell Bolton. Cllr Bright said: “Seren plays a pivotal role in the life of the city, providing vital services to our residents, and I’m pleased that they believe the move will bring benefits to the organisation. It will also breathe new life into a former council building and bring more workers into the centre following on from Admiral, which now has more 450 employees in the nearby Cambrian redevelopment.”

    AIRVM MOVE TO NEWPORT DATA CENTRE

    Jun 9 - Another ICT company, AirVM, is to utilise the services of Newport's Next Generation Data Centre. Sir Terry Matthews, Chairman of AirVM  speaking at Digital Wales 2014 said: “NGD has a world class data centre in South Wales which provides a secure and flexible environment to support the growth of the AirVM business. The partnership represents an ambitious cloud project which will contribute significantly to the transformation of the region into a dynamic technology hub.”

    Newport’s Certus Technology Group are already thriving in the data centre by using it as a low cost base for offering their own data storage and cloud computing services to customers, many of which are based throughout the UK and internationally. “Digital Wales 2014 is an ideal opportunity for us as we are actively looking to attract more Wales-based businesses into our facility, helping them address and profit from nationwide and global market opportunities by accessing our affordable, secure and leading edge data centre services,” said NGD’s CEO, Nick Razey.         

    At 750,000 sq ft NGD Europe –  located near J28 of the M4 - is one of the largest datacentres on the planet. Since its opening four and half years ago it has become a home from home for the cloud and data hosting services offered by various multinational IT organisations including BT, GGI, IBM, Wipro, and UNIT4.  

    CITY COULD BE UK ICT HUB

    Jun 9 - The Newport city area can become a hub for information and communications technology (ICT) companies in the UK, a senior adviser to the Welsh Government has told Insider Media Wales. Tom Kelly, chairman of the ICT sector panel, said flagship technology events such as Digital 2014 at Celtic Manor Resort would help to create jobs, as long as businesses and educational institutions worked together to close the skills gap.

    Kelly was managing director of IT consultancy and managed services provider Logicalis UK between 2004 and 2013. He is now chairman of the Welsh Government ICT sector panel, established in March 2011 to advise ministers and officials on the opportunities and needs of the ICT industry with a particular focus on job creation.

    He said "If we take the Newport area, there's a cluster of ICT companies that are looking at cyber security for example. There's nothing like Digital 2014 being done anywhere else in the UK. We've got to build Newport so people in the ICT sector in Oxford, Reading, Manchester or wherever say 'we've got to come to Wales because they do things differently there'. These conferences will help us to achieve that."

    PLANS FOR 'WELSH FIRST' SIGNS CRITICISED BY NEWPORT

    Jun 9 - Plans for the Welsh language to be given greater prominence on road signs and many other public signs have been criticised by some councils including Newport City Council. The Welsh government's proposal for signs to be designed so the Welsh is read first has been endorsed by the Welsh language commissioner but Newport say it will be confusing and wasteful.

    Newport council said it felt that Welsh should not have prominence in signage in its response to the Welsh government's consultation on the proposed Welsh language standards.A spokesperson said data from the 2011 census showed that only 6.3 % of its population could write, read and speak Welsh while more than 100 international languages are spoken in Newport.

    "Therefore, Newport City Council feels it would be disproportionate for Welsh to appear first on signage as it would not meet the needs of the vast majority of its residents," the spokesperson added. The plans must now go back to the Welsh government and assembly before they are imposed.

    FOUR GUILTY OF ATTEMPTED REVENGE KILLING

    Jun 7 - Four men have been found of conspiracy to murder following a shooting in the Cross Hands area of Newport last year. Lewis Bridge, Brogan Hooper, Gary Rabjohns and Ryan Battersby ran a car off the road near the Cross Hands public house on Chepstow Road in September 2013 and shot at the passengers inside. All four were found guilty after a trial. They will be sentenced at a later date. Catrin Evans, head of CPS Wales's complex casework unit, said: "These four defendants took part in a reckless criminal act and it is pure chance that their lawlessness did not lead to a more serious outcome for the victims or indeed for other members of the public."

    DRUGS GANGS JAILED

    Jun 7 - Members of a drugs gang mostly comprising Albanians have been jailed for between two and 10 years after police seized 7,500 cannabis plants worth an estimated £3.5million. Seven men and one woman were sentenced at Cardiff Crown Court following a two-and-half-year police Operation Santa Fe. Police said the gang had brought large quantities of cannabis to the streets of south Wales. Six had pleaded guilty and two were found guilty of conspiracy to produce controlled drugs. In a joint operation last year 130 police officers from three forces were involved in raids in locations including Cardiff, Newport, Bristol and Bath where they carried out simultaneous arrests. 

    A separate exercise Operation Pristina saw a gang of eight jailed for setting up cannabis factories in rented properties across Wales which could have netted £10m a year, while Operation Santa Fe caught 10 criminals behind a complex drug trafficking operation which aimed at shipping large amounts of heroin and cocaine into South Wales.Jason Anthony Weir, 48, of Keats Close, Gaer, was sentenced to six years after admitting conspiracy to supply cocaine and heroin.

    LANDMARK BUILDING REVIVED

    Jun 7 - A project to turn a vacant public house into high quality apartments has successfully reached the end of its first phase. Newport City Council officers are working with the owners of the former King William pub to help him realise his ambition. This project is a forerunner to the schemes due to be carried out as part of the £60 million vibrant and viable programme which will see key buildings in the city centre converted for residential use following the councils successful £15 million bid to Welsh Government part of a £250 million total investment in the city centre.

    Following completion of external refurbishment work on the former pub by Newport company White Bros and Speed, the 19th century building on the corner of Commercial Street and Kingsway is an impressive sight. Officers from the housing, regeneration and architects departments will continue to help the owner secure the necessary funds and expertise for the next stage involving internal works to create new flats.

    Councillor John Richards, cabinet member for regeneration and development, said: It is fantastic to see this disused building restored to its former glory especially as it occupies such a prominent position in the city centre. I would like to congratulate everyone involved in this project, including our officers and White Bros and Speed, who have achieved such a magnificent result. We can now look forward to the next phase which will turn this former pub into a place where people want to live."

    COUNCIL SET TO TIGHTEN UP ON RESIDENTIAL DISABLED PARKING BAYS

    Jun 6 - The City Council is to tighten up on the provision of disabled parking bays outside residents' homes. There is no statutory obligation on any Council to provide Disabled Parking Bays, but, where they are provided, they are for the use of anyone who is able to display a valid blue Disabled badge.

    They state "It is the policy of Newport City Council to continue to fund a limited number of applications, processed through transparent, but more equitable and more stringent criteria than previously, for as long as funds remain available. There will be closer scrutiny of applications including requesting reference numbers and dates regarding the blue badges, (which was not undertaken previously), and a mechanism will be provided for disappointed applicants to have their case re-visited."

    There new criteria is as follows

    POLICE LAUNCH FURTHER APPEAL OVER SEX ASSAULT CASE

    Jun 6 - Detectives carrying out the investigation into a serious sexual assault on a 13 year old girl that took place on Saturday March 1st believe that two women, who were in Newport town centre before the incident, may have information which could help with the investigation. Police are re-appealing for information to trace two women who were in the vicinity of Newport Bus Station that evening between 7pm and 7.15pm who may well have been approached by the alleged offender themselves. One woman, who was wearing dark clothing and carrying bags, is seen walking into the Bus Station from the direction of the Old Green Roundabout/High Street, and appears to wait at one of the bus stops.

    Just after 7.10pm another woman, wearing a white top and headphones or earmuffs, appears to get off a bus and walks down Upper Dock Street towards Skinner Street and turns into Commercial Street. Police believe the 13 year old victim and the alleged offender caught the bus at the bus station and got off by the Harvester, Malpas Road, Newport and walked to a lane off Hollybush Close where the incident occurred at approximately 7.30pm. Police also want to hear from anyone else who was in the Newport bus station area at about 7.15pm or was on the 19e (town centre to Malpas) bus that left the bus station at approximately 7.20pm to contact them. A 26 year old man from the Newport area has been charged with rape of a female child under 16 and is currently awaiting trial.

    PLANNING PROPOSAL FOR USK WAY

    Jun 6 - Developers Sennybridge have lodged an ambitious mixed use planning application with Newport City Council to develop the vacant Usk Way site adjacent to East Dock Road at Alexandra Wharf.

    The application is for the following

    HYBRID APPLICATION CONSISTING 1) FULL PLANNING FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE SITE TO PROVIDE 24 HOUSES, 65 APARTMENTS AND 288SQM OF A3 USE, INCLUDING THE CONSTRUCTION OF NEW ROADS, FOOTWAYS AND ACCESS, PUBLIC AND PRIVATE OPEN SPACE, LANDSCAPING AND RELATED WORKS; AND 2) OUTLINE APPLICATION FOR UP TO 288 RESIDENTIAL UNITS, OFFICE SPACE (B1), COMMUNITY OR CAFE USE (A3), RETAIL (A1) AND CAR PARKING, TOGETHER WITH ASSOCIATED FACILITIES INCLUDING THE CONSTRUCTION OF NEW ROADS, FOOTWAYS AND ACCESS, PUBLIC AND PRIVATE OPEN SPACE, LANDSCAPING AND RELATED WORKS. DETAILS OF SCALE, LAYOUT, DESIGN AND LANDSCAPING ARE RESERVED.

    NEWPORT BUS STEPS IN TO SAVE AXED ROUTES

    Jun 5 - Newport Bus will take over axed services from Stagecoach in a new venture with Monmouthshire Council. The 74 service from Chepstow to Newport via Magor will be retained but will no longer call at Underwood. reducing journey times by ten minutes. The  existing number 21 service will provide a new service from Underwood to Newport via Spytty and Ringland. Fares for passengers will be significantly reduced to Newport zone 1 and 2 levels.

    RAIL TICKET OFFICE WORK EXTENDED

    Jun 5 - The main ticket office in Newport train station will be closed for another four weeks as improvement works are extended. Passengers using Newport railway station will use a temporary ticket office in the main entrance hall, while the original office is closed for maintenance work.

    COUNCIL FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR BUSINESS BROADBAND EXPANSION

    Jun 4 - Newport City Council will be attending a top technology event in the city to offer advice and support to businesses. Digital 2014, which brings together experts and organisations at the cutting-edge of technology and innovation, is being held at the Celtic Manor Resort this month. On June 10, the councils business services and superfast broadband teams, as guests of Spectrum Internet, will be on hand to sign businesses up to the citys free superfast broadband voucher scheme and offer advice on financial support available to businesses. The Council states "Superfast and ultrafast broadband will completely change the way we live and work in Newport, allowing businesses to operate more efficiently, communicate better with customers and transfer data more quickly."

    ADMIRAL MOVES INTO NEW CITY OFFICE

    Jun 2 - In a massive boost for Newport more than 450 Admiral Group staff begin work in new offices in the city centre today.

    The staff, who have been located in Langstone Business Park since October 2008, will now be based in the specially built 6 storey, 80,800 sq ft office block on Queensway, directly opposite Newport railway station, a redevelopment of the Cambrian Centre. Eighty staff have also been re-located from their Cardiff office.

    Admiral Group chief executive officer Henry Engelhardt and chief operating officer David Stevens will be greeting staff as they arrive for their first working day in the office. CEO, Henry Engelhardt said, “It’s very exciting to move into our new offices in Newport city centre. The building itself looks fantastic and the location couldn’t be better. I’m sure our staff will be taking advantage of the local amenities and will be very happy working here.”

    Admiral Group Head of Property and Facilities Management, Huw Llewellyn said, “After three years of planning, re-planning and hard work from our internal teams, Newport Council, Scarborough and SDC, we’re delighted to have moved into our new offices in Newport.

    “Thank you to SDC, the main contractor, all the sub-contractors and Scarborough Developments for meeting our strict timescales and getting the building ready for handover.  Thank you also to Newport Council for its support which has been integral to the project, and of course, our internal teams who have worked tirelessly to ensure the building is ready for our staff to move in on a very tight schedule. I’m confident our staff are going to enjoy working in what is a fantastic building in a great location, especially with local traders and retailers putting on a terrific welcome already.”

    The new office’s proximity to Newport train and bus stations means getting to work will be easier for many staff, and more than 50 businesses in Newport city centre have contacted Admiral to offer discounts and special offers to its employees.

    Yvette Watkins, an Operations Manager in Admiral’s Claims Service department in Newport, said, “I’m really happy to have moved to our lovely new building in the centre of town. I drive from Neath every day and because of the traffic it sometimes takes me more than an hour and a quarter each way, so the office being right across the road from the train station is a godsend to me.

    “It’s also great to have shops, restaurants and bars on our doorstep for lunchtime and after work. I’m sure our staff are going to love it here!”

    Councillor Bob Bright, leader of Newport City Council, said: “I would like to welcome Admiral and their employees to their new offices, a key part of the redeveloped Cambrian Centre. It is one of a number of major developments and regeneration projects which will see around £250 million invested in the city centre.”

    Councillor John Richards, cabinet member for regeneration and development, added: “We have watched Admiral’s impressive new offices taking shape and it is great now to see the staff moving in. I’m sure they will be made welcome by other businesses and will make a positive contribution to the city centre.”

    CITY FIRM WINS CHINESE CONTRACT

    Jun 1 - Wafer-processing technology manufacturer SPTS Technologies has been awarded a contract by a Chinese packaging business, according to Insider Media Wales. The Newport-based company announced that a Chinese wafer-level packaging supplier has chosen the Omega fxP Etch System for through-silicon-via processing of 300mm wafers for Complementary Metal Oxide-Semiconductor (CMOS) Image Sensor applications.

    The customer already has experience of working with SPTS, having previously used its 200mm silicon etch tools. Dave Thomas,  marketing director at SPTS, said: "The global CMOS image sensor market continues to experience solid growth, driven by consumer demand for products such as mobile devices and autos. However, for customers to gain market leadership and remain competitive in a cost-sensitive industry, they must embrace new technologies, processes and wafer formats."

    Earlier in the week SPTS Technologies was in the news for giving £600,000 worth of shares to Swansea University. The supplier of advanced wafer processing solutions for the global semiconductor industry, has gifted equity in BlueGlass – a listed Australian firm established to commercialise innovative semiconductor technology, due to its strategic partnership with the University.

    APARTMENT PLAN FOR CAMBRIAN ROAD

    Jun 1 - New plans submitted by Guinevere Holdings (owned by Richard Hayward) to the City Council are the first indication of new development in the city centre to replace office space with residential living. The offices above the Tesco Express building on 14 Cambrian Road will turned in to six apartments with  modernised curtain walling planned for the front of the building.

    14 STOREY RESIDENTIAL BUILDING GETS THE NOD

    Jun 1 - A new 14 storey residential building comprising 77 flats has won planning approval from Newport City Council. The Webber and Hill development on Coverack Road adjacent to George Street Bridge was previously turned down due to the provision of insufficient parking spaces.

    KING'S HOTEL 'UNDER OFFER'

    May 29 - In a further sign of the slow but steady improvement in the city centre property market led by the Admiral and Friars Walk developments we can reveal that the Kings Hotel on the Old Green is currently under offer. Jones Langlasalle, the agents selling the property have badged it as under offer on their website. The property is a historic 61-bed hotel and well-known music venue in Newport city centre. It is described as an "Impressive and imposing building extending to approximately 5,100 sq m (54,893 sq ft) with an adjoining wing comprising 4 additional retail units also available – ground floor approximately 431 sq m (4,639 sq ft)". It is described as a 'landmark building in highly visible position."

    The King’s Hotel closed at the end of 2011, with Punch Taverns as the freeholder of the site. Its contents were put up for auction in February 2012. The 61-bedroom hotel went on the market in May 2012 for £1.5m.

    COUNCIL SET TO RE-LAUNCH ITS APPROACH TO EBBW RAIL LINK

    May 29 - The failure of the Welsh Government to deliver a dedicated rail link between Newport and Ebbw Vale and to bypass the City in favour of Cardiff will once again be addressed by the City Council as it prepares to re-launch its campaign. The loss of hundreds of thousands of shoppers and night time visitors has had a devastating impact on City trade. Newport City Council's Street Scene, Regeneration and Safety Scrutiny Commitee has called for a scoping document to review the information available in order to put forward a business case for the link. This is an admission that the argument has been lost within the Welsh Labour Party and that the City Council needs to refresh the approach to this issue. An hourly service between Ebbw Vale and Newport, with the latter offering significant interchange opportunities, is proposed.

    The report states "Newport Unlimited and the Council (and SEWTA) have commissioned the production of a business case from Capita Symonds supporting the provision of a direct rail link between Ebbw Vale and Newport. This will be completed in the near future and it was decided that this should be submitted to this Committee for consideration in June 2014. The Business case was commissioned on the basis that a business case, prepared by Ove Arup for Welsh Government on the link, was flawed as it excluded a direct link to Newport from Ebbw Vale"

    Newport's diminished influence with the Welsh Government's Metro proposal is noted.  The city's role is described as 'unclear'.

    NATO SUMMIT WILL BE FOCUS FOR ANTI-ESTABLISHMENT GROUPS

    May 29 - Despite police reassurances the NATO summit in Newport will be the focus of anti-establishment forces over the next four months aiming to disrupt the gathering of world leaders and to publicise issues being ignored by ruling elites throughout the western world. The Thai Thara restaurant on Commercial Street has become the headquarters of the Newport Rising. This is quite ironic as the City Council's new slogan is 'Newport Rises'. Plenty of opportunity for confusion there.

    Organised by Anarchist Action Network, Stop NATO Cymru and South Wales Anarchists, the Newport Rising festival runs all week at 95-96 Commercial Street, Newport NP20 1LU. Sharing ideas and skills, celebrating resistance & organising to win. All welcome. Workshops and skill shares all week, free cafe all day and free meal every evening. They state "The NATO Summit comes to Newport at the beginning of September. Come along this week and prepare for the Stop NATO week of action 30 August - 5 September and take part in some of the many talks, sessions and workshops. Something for everyone! All welcome (except cops and mainstream journalists, who will be asked to stay outside). The venue is an alcohol & drug free space. If you can only manage one day and want to get clued up on NATO and what's planned for August & September, come along on Sunday: Sunday 1 June. 4pm: Talk - Resisting the NATO Summit. 6.30pm: Meeting to build resistance against the NATO Summit."

    One protester told the BBC: "There will be a trade union-led demonstration through Newport which presumably will be pretty massive, with people attending from all over Wales and from all over the country." Another said there would be a "big public demonstration organised by lots of different groups working together". He added: "I think a lot of people are going to be against it and hopefully people will show that. I think people will probably come even from other countries, not just from England but from France, Germany. The really committed peace activists will probably come too."

    The man in charge of policing the Nato summit has said the security operation will be a bigger challenge than the London 2012 Olympics. Assistant Chief Constable Chris Armitt said the number of delegates, including President Obama, and protection they need was "unprecedented" in Britain. His team has studied previous summits to prepare for the possible challenge of protestors. There are 100 days to go until the summit at Celtic Manor in Newport. ACC Armitt told BBC Wales: "We are signatories to international treaties that require us to provide armed protection for certain dignitaries from visiting countries. "It's fair to say that from the nature of this event and the diplomats that are attending, then we are probably breaking new ground for the UK in terms of the number of people who fall into that category."

    COUNCIL LOAN HELPS FOOD COMPANY EXPAND

    May 28 - Goldcliff-based Elm Tree Foods has taken on a bakery in Newport to create a new outlet for its award–winning pies and to support its expansion plans.

    A business loan from Newport City Council has helped Elm Tree Foods take on Griffiths Bakery in Church Road and make the investments it needs to take on new contracts. Established at Elm Tree Farm in Goldcliff in 2010, Elm Tree Foods is a family business of artisan pie bakers, producing handmade premium pies and pasties. The products have proved popular at farmers’ markets and music festivals across the UK and are sold wholesale to delis, hotels, pubs and cafés.

    The company and its products have won 16 awards in 4 years including gold medals and class champion awards at the prestigious British Pie Awards held at Melton Mowbray. This year, its Elm Tree pasty was declared national champion in the pasty class, beating all other entries from across the country. Collette Crewe, director of Elm Tree Foods, said: “We’ve been really pleased with the success of our products and we’re proud that our Elm Tree pasty has been declared national champion finishing ahead of all the entries from Cornwall, the home of the pasty. We believe the business has great potential for growth and we aim to be the premium pie brand for Wales. Unfortunately we had to turn down some new contracts last year due to a lack of capacity at our base in Goldcliff but I saw a solution when Griffiths was put up for sale. The loan from Newport City Council has helped us to proceed with confidence.”

    NEW HOMES FOR PANASONIC SITE

    May 28 - A major new housing project has been announced for Newport with the acquisition by Persimmon Homes East Wales of the former Panasonic factory on Pencarn Way.

    A comprehensive redevelopment of the 18.5 acre site will now take place with the construction of over 225 new houses, which represents an investment by Persimmon of over £40 million. Andrew Crompton, Land Director for Persimmon commented;
    “Our plans include the construction of homes to suit a range of buyers from those looking to get onto the property ladder for the first time to families seeking more space. Persimmon is now on site in over 30 locations across South Wales and this acquisition further consolidates our position as the leading house builder in Wales.”

    The closure of the 220,000 sq ft Panasonic factory was announced in late 2012 and a multi-disciplinary team of marketing agents JLL, planning consultants Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners and solicitors Morgan Cole acted on behalf of Panasonic to co-ordinate an outline planning application for residential development and the subsequent sale, at an undisclosed price, to Persimmon.

    Chris Sutton of agents JLL commented; “Due to the specialised nature of this electronics factory, with an internal eaves height of just 13 ft in part, the team recommended to Panasonic that we consider redevelopment options as demand for the original accommodation was limited. We worked closely with Newport City Council who engaged in a positive manner to process the outline planning application for residential within a short period of nine months; having safeguarded the Council’s position in terms of planning gain.”

    Carol Jones, Finance Director of Panasonic System Networks Co UK welcomed the further investment into Newport; “Panasonic successfully operated from the Duffryn site for over 25 years and the company is pleased to see that the site has now attracted a fresh round of investment for the city of Newport.”

    D-DAY PARADE FOR CITY CENTRE

    May 28 - The Royal Welsh Comrades Association, City of Newport branch will be hosting a parade and service to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings on Sunday 8 June, 2014.

    The parade will leave Cambrian Road, Newport at 12.45pm and march onto High Street to the D-Day memorial. A short service of remembrance including the laying of wreaths will be held in front of the memorial. The Mayor of Newport, Councillor Matthew Evans, will be attending the event.

    June 6, 1944 saw one of the most audacious and heroic wartime operations of the 20th century. Over 130,000 Allied soldiers landed on the beaches of Normandy in the biggest sea-borne invasion in military history. This march in the city centre will give both local people and military veterans the opportunity to commemorate this historic event. The Royal Welsh Comrades Association and Newport City Council have agreed to hold Newport’s march on June 8 in order to give safe and dignified access for all parties to the city’s D-Day memorial.

     

     

    LABOUR JUST HOLD OFF UKIP IN CITY EU VOTE

    May 26 - Labour just held off a surge from United Kingdom Independence Party to finish the lead party in Newport in Thursday's European Elections. The four Welsh seats were shared by Labour, UKIP, the Conservatives and Plaid Cymru. The distribution meant that the number 2 on the Labour list, Jayne Bryant, from Newport failed to secure her place. The surge in UKIP support across the country was reflected in Newport as was the disastrous showing of the Liberal Democrats who finished sixth in the City.

    UKIP stated on their Newport Facebook site "It was neck and neck with the Labour Party for who took the most votes in Newport, in the end we lost out by just 272. Over 10,000 votes cast for UKIP in Newport is a remarkable achievement, and one we can turn into at least one MP in 2015."

    The vote tally was as follows - Labour 10,648 (34.7 per cent); UKIP 10,376 (33.7); Conservatives 5,804 (18.9); Plaid Cymru 1,661 (5.4); Greens 1,221 (4.0); Lib Dems 1061 (3.4); BNP 352; Britain First 288; Socialist Labour 176; NO2EU 135; Socialist Party 58. Turnout - 29 per cent

    RESTAURANTS ON MARKET

    May 25 - Three Newport restaurants are now on the market as trading continues to prove difficult in the City. Richard Wallace, 69, plans to sell Junction 28 to avoid the physical exertion involved in running the venue. He has put the freehold of the 200-cover restaurant, which he co-owns with chef Jon West on the market. He will continue to trade. Tony Rossini has put Rossinis Brasserie in Clarence Place up for lease, the business has ceased to trade. Nearby Chez Giovanni (owned by Brian and Christine Lloyd) continues to trade although the business has been put for sale at a value of £600,000..

     SDR LORRY CRASH

    May 24 - Two people have been taken to hospital after their lorry overturned on the SDR at Newport on Friday. The driver and passenger sustained minor head injuries and have been taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital.

    NEW MAYOR APPOINTED

    May 21 - Councillor Matthew Evans yesterday became Newport’s 382nd Mayor at an official ceremony in the Civic Centre. His wife, Tina Hatton-Evans, was installed as Mayoress while Councillor David Atwell, and his wife Carole, became the new Deputy Mayor and Mayoress.

    Father-of-two Councillor Evans, who takes over from last year’s Mayor Councillor Cliff Suller, represents the Allt-yr-yn ward. He has been a school governor at Glasllwch and Clytha Primary Schools for 15 years, is a member, and past captain, of Stow Park Tennis Club and a passionate supporter of Newport Rugby. “My wife and I are truly honoured to be undertaking the role of Mayor and Mayoress of Newport and are looking forward to representing the city to the very best of our abilities.

    MAN REFUSES TO 'GRASS' AT REVENGE KILLING TRIAL

    May 20 - A man who denies the attempted revenge killing of three people in Newport has refused to be a "grass" at his trial. Gary Rabjohns declined to name individuals at Newport Crown Court "for his own safety", the jury heard. Lewis Bridge, Brogan Hooper, Ryan Battersby and Mr Rabjohns each deny three charges of conspiracy to murder. The men are accused of using a 4x4 to ram their victims' car and shooting at them inside on 3 September 2013 in revenge for a drugs robbery.

    The alleged incident happened near the Cross Hands public house on Chepstow Road. "When you're in prison and you're called a grass it's uncomfortable," Mr Rabjohns said yesterday "I don't want to incriminate anyone. I've had a few problems so I'd rather keep myself to myself."

    The prosecution argue that the Jeep followed the Ford Ka before deliberately ramming it once or twice, and firing a shotgun twice (it was loaded with pellets) at the occupants of the Ka, and as a result the Ka crashed. The prosecution say the occupants of the Jeep are the defendants. There had been an incident in the late evening of September 1 when Brogan Hooper had been robbed by Mr Phillips and Mr Wall. It seems as a result of that incident they claim it was decided there would be a revenge attack

    POLICE TRYING TO TRACE CITY MAN

    May 20 - Officers are trying to trace 30 year old Paul Samuel Morrisey from the Newport area. They would like to speak to him in connection with an assault that happened on 8th May in Newport.

    Paul Morrisey is described as white, about 5'8" tall, of a medium build with short blonde hair and blue eyes.

    Anyone with any information that could help police is asked to call 101 quoting log 44 08/04/14 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    FRIARS WALK ADDS TWO

    May 19 - New Look and Gourmet Burger Kitchen have joined the line up of stores forming the Friars Walk development.

    COUNCIL STATES STREET-LIGHTING IS JUST FOR 'HIGHWAY SAFETY'

    May 17 - A recent increase in crime in the Llanwern area has led local councillor Martyn Kellaway to query the Council's policy of reducing street-lighting at night. He stated in a question to the Council "When the extended street lighting reductions were introduced by your administration there was a commitment to review if concerns were raised following increase in crime and or accidents. The Llanwern ward in particular Underwood has seen an increase in crime such as garden shed and house burglary ,could I ask that you carry out further assessment?" The Council responded by saying "There is no legal duty for the Council to provide any street lighting and, where street lighting is provided, this is for highway safety reasons and not specifically for the purposes of crime reduction or private security."

    CHANGES INTRODUCED TO  POST-16 TRANSPORT COSTS

    May 17 - Newport City Council has written to parents to notify them of a significant increase in transport charges for those over 16 and in full time education. Critics such as Langstone Councillor David Attwell state that parents have been notified that the charge will increase nearly eight times the current value and have not been given the customary one term's notice of the change. But the Council state that the change was approved in June 2013 and corrects a historic anomaly only affecting those not using Newport Transport services. Pst-16 users of city bus services have had to pay more until now than those in suburban areas such as Langstone .The change means pupils who do not travel on Newport Transport services to school will see their contribution increase from £45 to £347 from September.

    The Council state "Post-16 students who qualify for home to school transport assistance are eligible to receive a discretionary travel grant of £150 per academic year towards the actual cost of their travel to and from school. A large proportion of post-16 students utilise Newport Transport in order to achieve this, and a scheme is in place which allows students to purchase an annual season ticket, the full cost of which is offset by the value of the travel grant. Given that Newport Transport currently charges £497 for an annual season ticket, the student is therefore able to purchase this for £347."

    The Council has sought to correct this historic anomaly "Other students are however unable to access their catchment or nearest available school via Newport Transport services, and therefore travel is provided on a contracted service, Students who access travel to school in this way are still only eligible for the £150 travel grant contribution, and therefore must pay a “top-up” fee to the calculated cost of a seat. These costs have not been revised for some years however (possibly since before Local Government Reorganisation in 1996), and as result the “top-up” fee is currently only £45 per academic year. There is an obvious disparity therefore between the transport costs paid by post-16 students, dependent solely on where they live and where they attend school. In extreme circumstances this could result in two students in the same street being required to pay vastly different transport costs."

    COUNCIL TO LOOK AGAIN AT VILLAGE DEVELOPMENTS

    May 17 - As part of its review of the Local Development Plan for the city Newport Council has been asked to review its approach to residential developments and the use of agricultural land in two villages on the Levels, Redwick and Bishton. Respondents have argued limited development should be allowed so that young people who grow up in the village have an opportunity to live there and that a small increase in general housing will maintain the vitality of the local communities.

    The Council are required to "... revisit and review whether amendments to boundaries for Bishton and Redwick are required, in order to achieve rational and coherent boundaries which do not exclude dwellings that are contiguous with the defined settlement area and should logically be included within it. Council to provide further evidence with regard to sites identified which contain land of agricultural value. In particular, identify the proportions of the sites which are of value. "

    MALPAS SCHOOL GETS GLOWING REPORT

    May 17 - Malpas Church in Wales Junior School has received glowing reports from both Estyn and the Church in Wales following official inspections. Both reports reflect the outstanding work and results achieved at the school with the highest standards being attained across the curriculum.

    Estyn found that the school’s current performance was good and prospects for improvement were “excellent”. Inspectors from the Church in Wales said the school’s Christian character permeated its daily life and contributed to the success that has been built up over many years through a strong team spirit, committed staff, pupils, governors and very supportive parents. Headteacher Katharine Thomas said: “We are delighted with the reports which make very agreeable reading. To receive such a resounding endorsement is tremendous.”

    MAYOR MAKING MEETING WILL BE STREAMED LIVE

    May 17 - Newport’s 382nd Mayor will be officially installed next week and the ceremony will mark another landmark in this long and honourable tradition. For the first time the proceedings, and Newport City Council’s annual general meeting, will be broadcast live via the internet.

    Councillor Cliff Suller will hand over the chains of office to Councillor Matthew Evans who will be supported during the year by his wife and Mayoress, Tina Hatton-Evans.

    MISSING WOMAN FOUND SAFE AND WELL

    May 16 - Missing woman Karla Price has been found safe and well.

    CELTIC MANOR STINGS FIRST MINISTER INTO RESPONSE ON SUMMIT

    May 15 - Following stinging criticism the First Minister has defended the response of the Welsh Government to the opportunities it has created to promote Wales and Newport. First Minister Carwyn Jones says Welsh and UK ministers are constantly discussing events they want to hold around the Nato summit in Newport. The Celtic Manor expressed worries not enough was being done to ensure Wales benefits.

    Mr Jones and the Welsh Secretary also announced a business summit is to be held after the summit. Carwyn Jones said political differences between the two governments were being put aside during preparations for the summit, to be held on 4 and 5 September. The two men were speaking during a visit to HMS Dragon, which is currently moored in Cardiff Bay and is to receive the freedom of Cardiff this weekend. On Tuesday, the Celtic Manor Resort chief operating officer Ian Edwards told MPs that politicians had to prepare more to use the summit to sell Wales to the world.

    NEW BUSINESSES START BOOST FOR NEWPORT

    May 15 - Company formations reached an all-time high in Newport last year, according to data in a new report from Duport.co.uk. The report reveals there were 874 new companies registered last year - more than any other year on record and a 10% rise on the previous year. The report also shows that company formation numbers in Newport have been rising every year since the financial crash of 2008, suggesting business confidence is improving in the wake of the recession.

    2014 has seen further good news for Newport, with regeneration specialist, St. Modwen starting work on the second phase of housing at its £1bn Glan Llyn development. It has also recently been announced that £500m has been earmarked by the Welsh Government for major infrastructure projects - with proposals to relieve congestion of the M4 around Newport likely to go ahead. Managing Director of Duport.co.uk Peter Valaitis commented: "The rising number of company formations in Newport bodes well for the future of the local economy. So many business start-ups suggest that entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in the area."

    CITY OPTS FOR LEISURE TRUST

    May 15 - Newport City Council is to set up a Leisure Trust to deliver leisure and sports services in the City.

    The Learning, Caring and Leisure Scrutiny Committee established a Policy Review Group to consider the available options and establish core values and objectives against which different models could be assessed. In March, Cabinet asked for officers to examine
    options in more depth and explore the further economies within the existing framework to secure an efficient and effective Sport and Leisure service, and to report back to Cabinet. The report described an alternative service delivery model which brings benefits which cannot be achieved through a local authority provided service.
    BASSALEG MAN CHARGED FOR POSSESSION

    May 15 - Back in October, Gwent Police carried out a search warrant in Bassaleg, Newport, where they found six balls of heroin totalling 20.6 grams, weighing scales and other drug paraphernalia.

    Mohammed Ali was recently charged and appeared at Cardiff Crown Court, where he pleaded guilty to possessing a controlled drug with intent to supply Class A Heroin. He was sentenced to 20 months in prison and £500 fine in costs.

     

    WOMAN MISSING FROM NEWPORT ADDRESS

    May 13 - Police are appealing for information regarding the whereabouts of missing 26 year old Karla Price from Abertillery. Karla was last seen on Friday May 2nd on Cardiff Road Newport.

    Karla is described as five feet two inches tall, slim build although she is seven months pregnant, dark dyed black shoulder length hair and she could be wearing a pink shower proof hoody. Police are concerned for her welfare because she is pregnant and because of the length of time she has been missing. If anyone knows of her whereabouts they are asked to call 101 and quote log number 148 2/5/14

    LABOUR DIVIDES OVER VOTE

    May 13 - The ruling Labour group was divided by a vote for its Deputy Leader last night. Challenger Trevor Watkins was narrowly beaten by incumbent Ray Truman, who managed 59 per cent of the vote. The leader of the Labour Group Bob Bright was re-elected, unopposed.

    APPEAL OVER PARK ROBBERY

    May 13 - Police are investigating a robbery that took place near to the entrance to the park on New Street/ Temple Street, Pill Newport. The victim - a 23 year old female - was approached at about 9.30pm on Sunday evening (May 11th) by a man who demanded her gold necklace and bracelet. The man is described as approximately 30 years of age, six feet tall, white, medium build with dark hair and stubble. He spoke with a foreign accent. He was wearing a beige coat with a hood (hood was down), dark coloured jeans and scruffy trainers. He was also wearing black gloves. He was riding a push bike which was red/maroon in colour. The man ran into the park after the incident If anyone has information about the incident they are asked to call Gwent Police on 101 and quote log number 422 11/5/14

    COUNCIL PRESENTS REGENERATION GRANT SPEND

    May 13 - The City Council has made an initial presentation of its plan to spend £15 million in Vibrant and Viable Places regeneration funding provided by Welsh Government.

    Initial projects include

    The fund will be used to create a 'construction co-operative' providing the opportunity to train and develop skills for local unskilled trainees and to formulate bids for building contracts. The schemes will upgrade 232 properties, provide 166 new homes and 1800 jobs over a five year period.

    TRIBUTES PAID TO INSPIRATIONAL HEAD TEACHER

    May 12 - Sue Jenkins, head teacher of St Joseph’s RC High School, died today after a long and brave battle against cancer. Miss Jenkins, 57, was an exemplary and highly respected school leader who worked tirelessly to get the best from everyone. She began her career at the school as deputy head teacher in January 1992 and became head teacher in April 1997.

    During that time, St Joseph’s has twice received the highest possible rankings from inspection body Estyn and these were supported by separate inspections by the Archdiocese of Cardiff which described the school as having a “vibrant Catholic ethos which permeates every area of school life”.

    Miss Jenkins was awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours List in recognition of her extraordinary services to education. She was presented with her award in June 2013 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth at a ceremony in Buckingham Palace. Paul Bennett, chair of governors, said: “Miss Jenkins was an inspirational head teacher whose selfless inner drive was always to do the very best for her students and the community she served. We are all very grateful and deeply indebted to her and will miss her greatly.”

    Councillor Bob Poole, Newport City Council’s cabinet member for education and young people, said: “Miss Jenkins was a remarkable person and head teacher whose contribution to St Joseph’s and education was truly outstanding. She will be sadly missed by all those who were fortunate enough to know her and, on behalf of the council, I would like to express sympathy to her family, friends, colleagues and pupils.”

    James Harris, Newport City Council’s chief education officer, said: “It is extremely sad. She was uniquely strong and able and lifted the school to the excellence it has achieved. Personally, Sue was kind and supportive in every way.”

    USKMOUTH B CLOSURE CONFIRMED

    May 11 - The UK's oldest coal-fired power station near Newport (known as Uskmouth B)is to close, putting 83 jobs at risk. Renewable Electricity and gas supplier SSE said it "extremely disappointed" to lose the site in Uskmouth. The adjoining gas-fired Uskmouth A is unaffected.

    Built around 50 years ago and known as Uskmouth B, SSE said it was the UK's oldest and least efficient coal-fired power station. The company said options for redeployment within SSE are currently being explored with affected employees. SSE said the announcement followed "intense efforts" to sell Uskmouth Power Company to a suitable purchaser.

    FOUWEATHER TAKES OVER AS TORY LEADER

    May 9 - Allt yr yn Councillor David Fouweather has been elected new leader of Newport City Council's Conservative group. Outgoing leader Matthew Evans is the new Mayor. There are ten Conservative Councillors on the City Council. He is a staunch critic of what he sees as the anti-democratic tendencies of the ruling Labour Group. He said recently "“You must want an opportunity to test your executives - to ask the questions that matter to get the answers that count to your residents.”

    GREGGS, NEW HOMES AND HOTEL DELAY - PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT UPDATE

    May 9 - Newport City Council will shortly consider plans to build 92 houses on the vacant site of the former Queens Hill School in Newport. Developer Residual Lands Ltd will construct ten affordable homes.

    Construction of two retail units is underway near to Canal Terrace adjacent to Newport City Homes and the Asda Supermarket. One of the units will be occupied by Greggs. This is disappointing as Greggs recently closed their high street store in Maindee and there is a retail site available in the nearby Newhaus development.

    At Newport Retail Park construction of new Nando's and Caffe Nero is continuing and workers are on site sorting the interior of the new Harvester, scheduled to open in June. The new outdoor pursuit Trespass store is set to open there soon too. Work is under way at the adjoining former Megabowl site even though city planners rejected an application for a DW leisure unit and a B&M Bargains store. The former Chandlery Restaurant on Lower Dock Street has been taken off the market by agents Nuttall Parker with no indication as yet whether it has been sold or let.

    The future of the proposed development at the former Durham Road School is unclear as applicant Greenhill Construction has gone out of business. The development proposed 249 properties on the site. It is understood the Welsh Government has assisted the purchase of the former Charter Housing building at Devon Place (at the rear of Newport Railway Station) and in place to use it as a business development centre.

    The proposed Premier Inn scheme set for 54-55 High Street (site of the former Tredegar Arms Hotel / Yates) has stalled as Council conservation officers deal with the developer's requirements and there is a sugggestion that regeneration funding will be required. A 60 bed hotel was recently proposed as part of the nearby Admiral development. The consultation regarding the Newport Local Development Plan makes for interesting reading. The former Sainsbury's site has appointed a consultant to deal with the development of the site - GVA Grimley (Bristol). It is stated in the consultation report " The Council is now is in discussions with GVA Bristol branch with regard the permission."

    MAN CHARGED WITH MURDER

    May 8 - The man arrested following the death of a 21 year old woman in Bryn Bevan, Malpas has now been charged with murder. He will appear at Newport Magistrates Court this morning. The woman has been identified locally as 21 year old Jessica Watkins from Caerleon.

    Update - Kristofer Mitchell, 28, of Bryn Bevan, Newport, was remanded in custody.

    MOTHER HELD AFTER KNIFE ATTACK ON HER CHILDREN

    May 7 - A woman has been arrested on suspicion of attempting to murder two children in Newport. Gwent Police were called to Salisbury Close, Shaftesbury, at about 08:00 BST on Wednesday, where a knife was found.

    A seven-year-old boy and a 16-month-old baby girl were found with knife wounds and are being treated at the Royal Gwent Hospital. Neighbours have told the that the woman is the mother of the injured children. A 27-year-old woman arrested on suspicion of attempted murder is also being treated for injuries. Police said all three are in a stable condition in hospital.

    Local Policing Commander Superintendent Mark Warrender commented  "At around 8am this morning we received a call from the ambulance service to attend a house on Salisbury Close, Newport where a 7 year old boy and a 16 month old baby girl, were found with knife wounds. They were taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital and both are now stable. "A 27 year old woman, from the Newport area, was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. She also suffered knife wounds and was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital where she is stable. "A knife has been recovered from the scene. This is a tragic but isolated incident and I would like to reassure communities of Newport that we are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident at this time. I have put additional officers in the area to support local communities and our thoughts and wishes are with the family of the children at this most distressing time. "

    Update - the two children have now been released from hospital.

    CRINDAU - ANOTHER RETAIL PARK?

    May 7 - Proposals for Crindau placed before Newport's Planning Committee suggests the grandiose plans for regeneration including revival of the canal link to the Usk will amount to...another retail park. The proposed retail park will be situated on the land occupied by RJ Masons Haulage at the rear of the Sainsbury's Supermarket. 

    The proposals are to provide approximately 3,300 square metres floor space. The indicative layout plan included with the submission shows this floor space provided across 8 units as follows (unusually most of the units are already let):

  • A 1, 533 square metre Aldi supermarket
  • A small Iceland store
  • 1 no. 325 sq m 2 units (unidentified)
  • 3 no. 111 sq m units (1 of which is identified as a Greggs, 2 of which are unidentified)
  • A 260 sq m KFC
  • A 167 sq m Costa Coffee
  • The existing building will be demolished as part of the redevelopment proposals. Access into the site is likely to be achieved via the roundabout to the west of the site along Albany road which was developed as part of the wider Sainsbury’s redevelopment. The proposed development would lie adjacent to, but not within, the River Usk Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It is understood that Natural Resources Wales are proposing to construct a flood defence bund between the development site and the River Usk. The adjacent area was subject to flooding during high tides during a stormy January 2014.

    CRINDAU GATEWAY

    The Council's website still talks evocatively about Crindau Gateway. In a web article penned in 2008 it stated "Plans to transform one of Newport’s prime gateway locations into a thriving waterfront based business and residential area are now out for consultation.Crindau is one of Newport’s prime locations for regeneration and restoration, occupying a prominent position as people enter the city from the M4 and Heidenheim Drive. A draft development brief including planning and design guidelines for potential developers has been created and the council is now seeking the views of residents and interested parties. The central vision for the area is the development of a marina that could link the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal and the River Usk and become a catalyst for the wider regeneration proposals. The new canal and river basin based around Crindau Pill would become the focal point for a wider redevelopment of the area. The marina would be a unique opportunity to connect canal, river and coast with the potential to become a major tourist attraction. Key infrastructure projects would first need to be overcome including the creation of a navigation channel from the canal at Barrack Hill, either new or as an expansion of the existing Crindau Pill course."

    PRAISE FOR CITY PASTORS

    May 6 - Councillor Gail Giles, Newport City Council’s cabinet member for statutory functions, has praised the work of the voluntary Street Pastors in the city. Councillor Giles attended a commissioning service for new pastors at St Mary’s Church, Baneswell.

    Now in their fifth year, the Newport Street Pastors work with the police and Newport City Council at night in the city centre. The highly trained volunteers offer assistance to night-time visitors especially those who may have had too much to drink. This can include issuing thermal blankets, arranging transport for those who may have become separated from their friends and even supplying flip-flops to women who have taken off their shoes. Councillor Giles said: “We are very grateful to the Street Pastors who give up their own time to provide such an invaluable service. “Their calming presence can make a huge difference to the night-time economy and also allows the police and our community safety wardens to concentrate on other priorities. I was very pleased to be invited to attend the service and share the celebration for the new pastors. I would like to thank everyone involved in Street Pastors for the role they play in helping to make the city centre a safer place.”

    MAN ARRESTED FOLLOWING DEATH OF WOMAN

    May 6 - A 27-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder in Newport. Police said they were called to a property in Bryn Bevan in Malpas at around 11:15 BST on Monday where they found the body of a 21-year-old woman. The 27-year-old Newport man is in custody and officers said they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident. The coroner has been informed and a post-mortem examination is due to take place to determine the cause of death.

    Det Ch Insp Roger Fortey said: "This is a tragic incident and I want to reassure residents that everything that can be done is being done to establish the circumstances of this death. We are not looking for any other person in connection with this incident."

    NEW STATION QUARTER BEING MARKETED

    Above - from the railway station Below - a new look for Cambrian Road

    May 4 - A new Station Quarter maximising the revenue opportunities created by the new Admiral building and proximity to Newport railway station is being marketed by Metcalfe and Co and Calan Retail.

    The development is a high quality leisure and mixed use destination in the heart of Newport. Focussed on a new public plaza and anchored by Admiral's new 80,000 sq ft office building, the new 60,000 sq ft scheme will provide a range of units suitable for a variety of uses and become a central focal point for the city.

    Potential uses include bars, restaurants, coffee shops, gym and other compatible operations. Unit sizes range from (1,350 - 11,300 sq ft).

    Existing retailers such as Wetherspoons and Breeze will remain, A new 60 bed hotel is proposed for the corner of Cambrian Road opposite the City Council Information Station.

    The key aspects are

    • Landmark mixed use development
    • Prime city centre site
    • 60,000 sq ft of restaurant, bar and retail opportunities
    • 80,000 sq ft flagship offices (1,200 employees)
    • 392 spaces in NCP multi-storey car park nearby
    • 60 bed hotel
    • Family friendly, traffic free environment

    The marketing blurb states "The contemporary environment will provide a natural vibrant link between the central railway station and the city centre and create a central focal point for the city, which will be easily accessible to shoppers, commuters and workers. The first phase of the scheme is nearing completion and availability is anticipated Autumn 2014. "

    LANDMARK PROSECUTION AGAINST REPTILE DEALER

    May 3 - Newport City Council has successfully prosecuted a man accused of unlawfully selling geckos at two pet markets. The Animal Protection Agency (APA) presented the council with evidence of reptile businesses selling wild animals at an event that took place at the Pill Millennium Centre in April last year.

    Staff in the council’s trading standards department took immediate steps to investigate and a test purchase of a gecko was undertaken at another event in Chepstow Racecourse last September where around 20 to 30 animals were presented for sale. Anthony Samuel Astle, of Torbay Geckos based in Brixham, was found guilty at Cwmbran Magistrates Court of unlawfully carrying business as a trader in pet animals at a market. He was also convicted under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. He was ordered to pay a total of £3,420 in fines and costs.

    APPEAL AFTER SPAR (CLYTHA PARK) ROBBERY

    May 3 - Police are appealing for information to help identify the man pictured following an armed robbery which occurred at approximately 3pm today at the Spar store on Clytha Park Road in Newport.

    Officers were called after a man, armed with a hammer, entered the store and threatened staff. No one was injured and the man left having taken an amount of money from the tills. 

    The man is described as being white in his late forties, approximately 6 foot 3 inches tall and of medium build. He had scruffy dark but greying hair. He was clean shaven and spoke with a  Newport accent.

    The man was wearing a scruffy black hip length jacket, black baggy tracksuit bottoms and white trainers.

    Anyone who recognises the man or has any information about the incident is asked to ring 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 quoting log 287-03/05/14.

    BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT MOVING FORWARD

    May 3 - Businesses in Newport are actively working towards the establishment of a Business Improvement District (BID) to enhance the city centre trading environment and create a better experience for visitors. A steering group, which represents a range of business interests from across the city centre, has been established and meets monthly. The group has already overseen a feasibility study, the recommendations of which will inform the creation of a BID business plan.

    Alan Edwards, chair of the BID steering group said: “Work is progressing well with plans for developing a BID in the city centre. We have appointed consultants to help us through the process and are currently organising a series of pilot projects to demonstrate the benefits.

    “We’ve also opened a BID HQ on Commercial Street and are actively talking to fellow businesses to seek their views about the proposed BID and the services it could deliver.” Those wishing to find out more about the proposed BID can drop into the project space on Commercial Street, 147/148, which has recently been opened and will act as the BID’s HQ. Regular community based arts activities will be a focus of the space and information about the Vibrant and Viable Places regeneration programme will also be available.

    SOMERTON SHOOTING TRIAL UNDER WAY

    Four men have gone on trial accused of the attempted revenge killing of three people whose car was rammed off the road near the Cross Hands public house in Somerton. Lewis Bridge, Brogan Hooper, Gary Rabjohns and Ryan Battersby each deny three charges of conspiracy to murder.

    Newport Crown Court heard the men used a 4x4 vehicle to ram their victims' car and then shot at the three people inside on 3 September last year. It is alleged the incident on Somerton Road was revenge for a drugs robbery. The three people are from the Cardiff area.

    Roger Griffiths, prosecuting, said: "The deliberate ramming and discharge of two rounds demonstrates a clear intention to kill the occupants in the car."

    FOOTBRIDGE AND BUS STATION FUNDING CONFIRMED

    May 2 - Newport City Council has welcomed transport minister Edwina Hart’s announcement of £4 million in the first phase of funding for the Capital City Region Metro.

    Transport minister Edwina Hart made the announcement in the first phase of funding for the Capital City Region Metro.Newport’s share will be used towards a new bus station as part of the Friars Walk development, a new footbridge from Devon Place to the city centre and to design improvements to the interchange between railway and bus services.

    Councillor Ken Critchley, cabinet member for infrastructure, said: “This is a most welcome injection of funding which will be used to enhance the experience of rail and bus passengers. A new bus station near Friars Walk will link with the recently completed terminus in Market Square while the much-wanted footbridge will greatly improve the journeys of many people who walk to the city centre to use public transport. The Metro proposals represent a 21st century, joined-up approach to public transport and part of Newport’s funding will also be used for the design stage of improving the interchange between the railway station and bus stops in Queensway.”

    Comment - The Newport railway station subway was opened in 1977 as part of the Queen's Silver Jubilee celebrations. Running from Queensway under the station to Devon Place it has long been regarded as dangerous. Wayne Jackson was jailed indefinitely for committing two sex attacks in the subway within an hour on November 20. The sooner it is closed the better.

    MINISTER VISITS MALPAS FLYING START CENTRE

    May 1 - Welsh Government minister Jeff Cuthbert visited the Flying Start Centre in Malpas Court, Newport, on the day when stronger laws on children’s rights come into force in Wales. Councillor Bob Bright, leader of Newport City Council, said: “I was delighted to welcome the communities and tackling poverty minister to Newport on such an important day for children in Wales. Flying Start is an excellent programme that is helping children in Newport get the best start in life and the new laws mean they will be at the heart of decision making in Wales in future.”

    New legal duties on all the Ministers of the Welsh Government to consider the rights of children when exercising any of their functions, including making spending decisions, creating policies or changing the law, come into force today.

    CARDIFF RESIDENT PROSECUTED FOR LLANWERN FLY-TIPPING

    May 1 - Newport City Council has successfully prosecuted a man for fly-tipping in the city. Damion Dale of 38 Burnham Avenue, Llanrummney, Cardiff appeared at Cwmbran Magistrates on 28 April 2014. In September 2013, the council received information about fly-tipped household and construction waste in Llanwern Village.Investigations led to a Cardiff resident who was interviewed in accordance with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. Under caution the resident provided the details of Mr Dale as the contracted person who carried out the clearance work. Mr Dale was asked to attend council offices on several occasions but failed to attend. The matter was then referred to the court. Mr Dale was prosecuted under section 33 of the 1990 Environmental Protection Act. He pleaded guilty, was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay costs of £792.56 and a £100 victim surcharge.

    Councillor Ken Critchley, cabinet member for infrastructure, said: “We take the issue of fly-tipping very seriously. I hope this prosecution sends a clear message to people – make sure you dispose of waste legally and responsibly and always use a registered waste carrier. If you are unsure about what to do with your waste please call the council or visit our website for advice.”

    5 JOBS FOR NEWPORT, 125 JOBS FOR CARDIFF

    May 1 - A US cyber security company is to open a European HQ in Cardiff and a UK data centre in Newport, creating almost 130 jobs.

    The expansion of Alert Logic, based in Houston in Texas, is being backed by £1.15m Welsh government business finance. Most of the jobs will be in Cardiff with five at a data centre in Newport. Fifty researchers and analysts will be recruited this year with more in 2015.

    BRIGHT OPPOSED TO DIRECTLY ELECTED MAYOR

    Apr 27 - Understandably Newport Labour leader Bob Bright has come out against the idea of a directly elected mayor for Newport putting his faith in the system of cabinet government and party appointees currently in place. Bristol's independent directly elected mayor George Ferguson recently said Newport risked being squeezed by Bristol and Cardiff unless it raised its profile.

    The written question to Bright was published on the Council's website as follows -

    Member Question : Councillor Fouweather

    Subject : Directly Elected Mayors

    Would you as leader of the council share your thoughts on whether Newport should have a directly elected Mayor?

    Do you support having a directly elected Mayor for Newport?

    Do you believe that a directly elected Mayor would be good for the city?

    Date received : 04/04/14

    Response

    An elected Mayor system remains an option for Local Government but I understand from the Welsh Government that there is no evidence either from local government or the electorate that there is much enthusiasm. In Newport, of course, the Council has decided that our Council will be best administered by the Leader and Cabinet system and I support the Councils position.

    Date issued: 17/04/14

    PARRY TO APPEAR IN COURT

    April 27 - Christopher Parry will go on trial at Cardiff Crown Court charged with murdering his estranged wife after allegedly shooting her in a Newport street. Christopher Parry, 49 from Croesyceiliog, is accused of killing Caroline, 46, in Seabreeze Avenue near Corporation Road on 8 August. Mr Parry, who suffered gunshot wounds to his head in the incident, is being cared for at Llanarth Court Hospital, Abergavenny. He has admitted carrying a firearm or imitation firearm with criminal intent.

    Mother-of-two Ms Parry, who was separating from her husband, died after being shot in broad daylight near her home. Mr Parry, who was critically wounded, was taken to the city's Royal Gwent Hospital with serious head injuries and was treated under police guard. Mrs Parry and her husband were found lying in the road after neighbours reported hearing gunshots. It is understood Mrs Parry had moved to Newport from her home in Croesyceiliog.

    In late November Parry appeared in court wearing a black hooded sweatshirt. He did not speak during the brief preliminary hearing. Ms Parry, 46, died after being shot in Seabreeze Avenue, in Newport, on August 8. An inquest heard she died from a shot in the back following the incident at around 8.35am. He was then moved to St Cadocs under section 48 of the Mental Health Act. Mr and Mrs Parry, who had been married for 27 years and lived together in Croesyceiliog, Cwmbran, before they split up, had two children.

    Ms Parrys funeral was held on September 3 at St Stephens Church in Adeline Street, Newport.

    GLAN LLYN PHASE TWO UNDER WAY

    Apr 27 - Phase two of the £1 billion Glan Llyn eastern suburb in Newport is officially under way with St. Modwen building properties under its own brand. The 47 St. Modwen Homes properties will include two, three and four bedroom homes. These properties will follow on from the success of the first phase of housing at Glan Llyn, being built by St. Modwen’s joint venture partner, Persimmon Homes and Charles Church, where 102 out of the total 307 homes being built have now been sold and occupied. A second scheme for St Modwen Homes (comprising of about 110 dwellings) is currently being designed. This will be due for submission in the summer and will allow development to continue uninterrupted once the first 47 have been completed. Disposal of the area around the proposed primary school extending to 150 new homes is also likely to take place soon. A further 12 acre residential phase will be marketed during the summer as well.

    Development on the site is planned as follows

    NO SIGN OF NEW CITY RAIL FACILITIES

    The review of transport infrastructure as part of Newport’s Local Development Plan mentions a number of new railway stations to be delivered in Newport but all are labelled as ‘post 2015’. Llanwern, Caerleon, Coedkernew and Cleppa Park are all identified as locations for new stations but there are no indications when they will be delivered. The City Council states any rail development is solely a matter for the Welsh Government South Wales Metro Team.

    JO-JO MAMAN BEBE SUCCESS STORY CONTINUES

    The success story of baby and maternity wear specialist Jo-Jo Maman Bebe is continuing apace. Founder and managing director Laura Tenison told Insider Media Wales that 'overseas sales were growing even more rapidly since the year end, and revealed the company was aiming to increase exports to the US and Canada after both countries responded well to the brand's introduction'.

    According to the article its latest set of accounts, JoJo Maman Bébé increased turnover by 17 per cent to £32.5m in the year ending 30 June 2013. Of this, UK turnover climbed by 14 per cent to £31m while overseas sales jumped by 159 per cent to £1.5m.

    MP CALLS FOR URGENT MEETING OVER BUS CUTBACKS

    Apr 24 - Newport East MP has called for an urgent meeting with Stagecoach to discuss cuts to bus services in Newport. She said "I have today called for an urgent meeting with the Managing Director of Stagecoach Wales to discuss the proposed cuts in Monmouthshire to Route 64 Newport to Underwood, Route 74 & x74 Newport to Chepstow, and Route 60 to Usk College. I have already had a number of constituents contact me over the weekend so I have called for the meeting to highlight the problems it will cause people in the area. If you are going to be affected by these cuts please let me know so that I can make them aware of how much people rely on these services."

    Newport Transport state they have had a massive cutback in central funding as a result of changes made by Welsh Government to the concessionary fares scheme, guaranteeing free travel for pensioners.

    IAN GOUGH IN COURT ON ASSAULT CHARGE

    Apr 24 - Former Newport rugby star Ian Gough has appeared in court charged with allegedly assaulting Sophie Cahill, a former Miss Wales. Gough is accused of assaulting Sophia Cahill, a model who is engaged to singer Dane Bowers, at the pop star's home in South Croydon in January. Gough who has 64 Wales caps and is set for a summer return to Newport, appeared at Croydon Magistrates' Court charged with assault. He denies the charge and will stand trial before magistrates on July 29.

    Cahill, who built a successful modelling career has one child with 37 year old Gough. The couple split up in 2011 when the model was pregnant with their son. Gough lived in Kingston at the time of the alleged assault but has since moved to Swansea.

    Ian Gough has appeared in court charged with allegedly assaulting a former Miss Wales.

    Gough is accused of assaulting Sophia Cahill, a model who is engaged to R&B singer Dane Bowers, at the pop star's home in South Croydon, Greater London in January.

    Gough, who has 64 Wales caps and is set for a summer return to Newport Gwent Dragons, appeared at Croydon Magistrates' Court charged with assault. He denies the charge and will stand trial before magistrates on July 29.


    Read more at http://www.espnscrum.com/wales/rugby/story/222751.html#ZGm1OSuOkQFqFd4C.99

    Ian Gough has appeared in court charged with allegedly assaulting a former Miss Wales.

    Gough is accused of assaulting Sophia Cahill, a model who is engaged to R&B singer Dane Bowers, at the pop star's home in South Croydon, Greater London in January.

    Gough, who has 64 Wales caps and is set for a summer return to Newport Gwent Dragons, appeared at Croydon Magistrates' Court charged with assault. He denies the charge and will stand trial before magistrates on July 29.


    Read more at http://www.espnscrum.com/wales/rugby/story/222751.html#ZGm1OSuOkQFqFd4C.99

    Ian Gough has appeared in court charged with allegedly assaulting a former Miss Wales.

    Gough is accused of assaulting Sophia Cahill, a model who is engaged to R&B singer Dane Bowers, at the pop star's home in South Croydon, Greater London in January.

    Gough, who has 64 Wales caps and is set for a summer return to Newport Gwent Dragons, appeared at Croydon Magistrates' Court charged with assault. He denies the charge and will stand trial before magistrates on July 29.


    Read more at http://www.espnscrum.com/wales/rugby/story/222751.html#ZGm1OSuOkQFqFd4C.99

    APPEAL OVER MAINDEE ASSAULT

    Apr 24 - Police are appealing for information after a 54 year old man was assaulted and had his wallet stolen whilst he was on Malvern Road, Maindee at approximately 10.20pm on Saturday April 19th 2014. The suspects are described as two males: one is described as slim, about 26 years old with fair hair and wearing a light coloured jacket. There is no description of the second. If anyone has information they are asked to call 101 quoting log 470 19/4/14

    FREE SPEECH CALL FOR COUNCIL MEETINGS

    Apr 23 - Newport's Conservative opposition are calling for an end to the 'sterile' process of written questions at the full Council Meeting introduced by Labour on their return to power. The Conservatives' David Fouweather is proposing a motion to allow Councillors to ask questions directly to Executive Members of the Council regarding their areas of responsibility. The motion will be debated on Thursday April 29. The motion states

    “This Council considers that questions to the Leader of the Council, Cabinet Members and Chairs should not be restricted to questions written in advance and should return to a process that allows these members to be asked questions without notice".

    Fouweather told the Argus recently "The current system makes the cabinet members unaccountable to council and restricts debate. Full council is just a rubber stamping exercise now when it should be a good open debate.” Labour Council leader Bob Bright said in response: “The written question process was not intended to stifle debate but to prove a more structured focus for the questions and answers."

    April 29 update - the vote was rejected

    RESIDENTS URGED TO REGISTER FOR VOTE

    Apr 20 - Householders in Newport are being urged to ensure they are registered to vote ahead of the forthcoming European elections. In order to vote on Thursday 22 May, an individual’s name needs to be on the electoral register. People have until Tuesday 6 May to register.

    There are a number of reasons why it is important to be included on the electoral register:

    Alternatively, apply for the appropriate forms or check your name is on the register by contacting Newport City Council’s electoral registration service on 01633 656656. The deadline for applying for a postal vote is 5pm on Wednesday 7 May and the deadline for returning proxy application forms (not postal or emergency proxies) is 5pm on Wednesday 14 May.

    POLICE APPEAL AFTER PET SHOP THEFT

    Apr 20 - Police are appealing for information after a pet shop on Wharf Road Newport was broken into some time between 5pm Tuesday April 15th and 9am Wednesday April 16th. Three African Grey Parrots (two males and one female) a rat snake which is about four feet long and non venomous and up to 20 chain type dog leads in leather were stolen. If anyone has information they are asked to call Gwent Police on 101 quoting log 102 16/4/14

    JOBS THREAT AT BUILDING FIRM

    Apr 17 - Workers at Green Hill Construction in Newport are facing redundancy after the company warned it was going into administration. The Union of Construction Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT) said staff at Green Hill Construction were told it was closing on 11 April. Workers were given no notice period and were not consulted. The firm, which employed over 150 people, built houses for housing associations.Green Hill was set up in 2006 to build affordable homes for social landlords and had worked for associations including Seren and Cardiff Community Housing Association. In January 2013 it announced it was creating 20 new jobs after receiving £146,650 from the Welsh government's economic growth fund.

    MAJOR CUTBACKS IN LOCAL BUS SERVICES

    Apr 17 - Bus operator Stagecoach today (April 17) confirmed the impact on its bus services of drastic cuts in investment by the Welsh Government. The company has been forced to cut the size of its bus fleet in Wales by 10% and a number of bus services will be discontinued or reduced in frequency from mid-July.

    Wales’ biggest bus operator said the biggest impact will be felt in Monmouthshire, with services between Newport, Underwood and Chepstow being withdrawn. Changes will also affect Blaenau Gwent, where the 30 from Brynmawr to Cwmbran is also to be withdrawn. Stagecoach has been in discussions with representatives from local authorities in the affected areas to give them as much notice as possible of the planned changes to allow them to consider alternatives.

    The company is also consulting with trade union representatives over the planned closure of its Brynmawr depot from July. The depot currently employs 77 staff and operates around 30 vehicles. Confirmation of the service reductions follows years of cuts in government investment in bus services. Ministers’ decisions to cut bus service support by 25% last year, along with reduced bus investment from local authorities, has left Stagecoach with no option but to reduce services and close the depot. In addition, Welsh Transport Minister Edwina Hart last month announced plans to make a £24million cut to the country’s concessionary travel scheme. Bus operators have warned the move will have a further devastating impact on bus passengers and bus workers. Stagecoach has made clear that it is likely to mount a legal challenge unless ministers change their plans. 

    It is possible the services axed will be picked up by other commercial operators.

    Services cut - 74, X74 - Newport to Chepstow, 64 Newport to Underwood, 60 Newport to Usk (college service)

    Services reduced - 23 Newport to Varteg (hourly), R1 Newport to Risca (half hourly), X15 Newport to Brynmawr (hourly)

    MAN CHARGED AFTER RIDGEWAY INCIDENT

    Apr 16 - A man has been charged with production of cannabis and possession of a weapon, following an incident in Newport. Armed police were called to Ridgeway Drive on Tuesday morning. Gwent Police say the 34 year old has been charged with three counts of being concerned in the production of cannabis, possession of section five prohibited weapon and making a false written statement to police.

    CAR PARKING PROFIT FOR COUNCIL

    Apr 16 - A report from RAC Foundation has revealed that Newport raises less from parking fees and charges than most Welsh councils. The Council raised £660,000 in income from fees and charges, with a surplus after operating costs of £200,000 placing it sixteenth out of the twenty Welsh authorities.

    COLD CALLING ZONES EXTENDED

    Apr 15 - Residents in another area of Newport are now included in a scheme aimed at helping to discourage unwanted cold callers. Signs have been installed in the Woodlands in Malpas to indicate it is now a cold calling control zone. Residents have been given information about their rights and how to check on anyone who does call at their home.

    Councillor Gail Giles, Newport City Council’s cabinet member for licensing and statutory functions, said: “We appreciate that most salespeople are genuine but uninvited visitors can be a nuisance at the very least and, at worst, intimidating or even have criminal intent."

    FRIARS WALK WILL BE DELIVERED ON TIME

    Apr 14 - Queensberry, the company behind Newport's long-awaited Friars Walk shopping development say work will be finished in time for the complex to open next autumn. The shopping and restaurant development has been years in the planning and was stalled in 2009 when an original developer pulled out. But site owners say they area on schedule to open their revised £90m development next year.

    Due to open in Autumn 2015 Friars Walk has been re-modelled to provide 390,000 sq ft of modern retail and leisure accommodation which will include:

    Friars Walk is located in the heart of the city centre with access from Commercial Street via Austin Friars, Friars Street, and LLanarth Street. Shoppers will be able to use Friars Walk’s dedicated shopper car park where they will have the choice of entering the scheme at the Department Store end or directly in to the Restaurant Quarter. Friars Walk also benefits from being adjacent to a new 1000 space car park. The new leisure offer will be opposite the Riverside Theatre and Arts Centre, the new University of Wales Campus, Newport Leisure Centre and the new link bridge to Rodney Parade (home of Newport Gwent Dragons). A cluster of 7 restaurants with outside seating will sit around Usk Plaza offering a wide variety of dining choices open day and evening.

    CELTIC MANOR PRESSES AHEAD WITH CONVENTION CENTRE PLAN

    Apr 12 - The Celtic Manor Resort is pressing ahead with its ambitious plans to build the Wales Convention Centre in Newport. The 4000 seat facility will be the largest of its kind in the west of the UK intended to attract large conferences including international events and potentially act as an entertainment venue too. The press notice (here) invites members of the public to provide any comments to the Council by April 28. Work is scheduled to start after the NATO summit this autumn. In addition to the construction jobs the Centre will create an additional 150 jobs and add a huge additional requirement for hotels expected to lead to a new demand for hotel accommodation in Newport and south east Wales.

    USKMOUTH FUTURE UNCERTAIN

    Apr 9 - Uskmouth power station in Newport has stopped generating electricity although its owner is in advanced discussions with potential buyers. Scottish and Southern Electricity added that the negotiations are being conducted with a view to securing the site's long-term future.

    The energy giant bought Uskmouth Power Company, which owned and operated the 363MW coal-fired power plant, from Welsh Power for £27m in cash in 2009. One of its three generators ceased operations in April 2013 with the loss of 20 jobs. SSE had previously indicated that electricity generation would stop from 31 March 2014 due to ongoing financial challenges at Uskmouth.. It is believed the plant employs 85 people.

    FRIARS WALK GROUND BREAKING CEREMONY

    Apr 9 - A ceremony to mark the official start of construction work for Friars Walk, Newport’s multi-million pound retail and leisure scheme, took place today.

    The city’s Mayor, Councillor Cliff Suller, led the ground breaking on the site accompanied by Newport City Council leader Councillor Bob Bright; Paul Sargent, managing partner of Queensberry Real Estate and Paul Lomas, group construction director of contractors Bowmer and Kirkland. Afterwards, they joined invited guests, including representatives from city centre businesses, the wider development team and regional property professionals at Queensberry’s offices in the nearby Chartist Tower which has spectacular views of the construction site. Queensberry Real Estate was selected as preferred developer in 2011 and in spring 2012 planning permission was granted for the scheme. Councillor Bob Bright, leader of Newport City Council, said: “This is a momentous day in the Friars Walk story and another page in the story of the city centre.

    Posters for the new development include Gourmet Burger Kitchen and New Look as part of the line up (picture kindly donate by a reader).

    BURGLAR GETS FIVE YEARS

    Louise Rawson aged 35 from Newport has received a heavy sentence following a conviction for two burglaries in the Maindee area of the City.

    On 7th May 2013, officers received a report of a burglary in Maindee, Newport. The victim was an 84 year old lady whose personal belongings had been stolen over a period of several months. On 8th July 2013, officers received another report of a burglary in Maindee. The offender, Louise Rawson was identified and arrested.

    Following trial at Cardiff Crown Court, Louise Rawson was found guilty of both burglaries and on 25th March 2014 she was sentenced to 5 years and 6 months in prison.

    DC Jitka Tomkova - Griffiths said: ‘This is an excellent result. Rawson, targeted people personally known to her and abused their trust. Dwelling burglaries are not crimes committed against property, but against people. The sentence reflects the seriousness of the crimes she committed.’

    AVANA TO CLOSE WITH LOSS OF 646 JOBS

    Apr 8 - In a devastating blow to the local economy the 2 Sisters-owned Avana Bakeries site in Rogerstone is to close with the loss of 646 jobs. The decision to close the Rogerstone bakery was announced yesterday and comes after the jobs were placed at risk following the loss of a multi-million-pound Marks & Spencer cake contract.

    In a statement, the company said it was trying to minimise the number of redundancies by seeking volunteers and looking to redeploy staff elsewhere. “It is with much regret that we can confirm that, following a 45-day consultation period, we are closing our Avana Bakeries site in Newport. During the consultation, we have fully explored all the options available to us since losing what was the principal customer contract for the site. Sadly, we have been unable to find a way to keep the site viable. “Our priority now is to minimise the number of compulsory redundancies through seeking volunteers and redeployment elsewhere. We will also be working with the Welsh Government, Job Centre Plus and Staffline to seek opportunities for our colleagues outside the business.

    Rosemary Butler AM for Newport West stated “The news that Avana Bakery has confirmed that it is to close with the loss of 650 jobs is absolutely devastating for all involved. Having spoken to senior management I understand it will be a phased closure with no jobs being lost in the immediate future. However, the losses are due to start towards the summer of 2014.

    This is a sad day for the loyal workforce and for Newport as a whole. The business has been an integral part of the local community for many years and I am disappointed that Avana was unable to secure a new contract to safeguard its future. Avana has confirmed that it will continue to fight to secure new contracts. I have contacted the Minister to ensure all possible advice and support will be available from the Welsh Government for those affected.”

    ARRIVA TRAINS WALES MISSES WALES' THIRD CITY OFF MAP

    Apr 8 - Newport, the third busiest railway station and destination for rail travellers in Wales is missed off a map of popular Welsh attractions produced by you guessed it.....Arriva Trains Wales, the main rail operating company in Wales. The map even manages to include the Manchester United Football Museum.

    SEX CASE TEACHER RECEIVES SUSPENDED SENTENCE

    Apr 7 - A drama teacher from Newport who admitted an abuse of trust with a 16 year old pupil has been found guilty and sentenced to ten months in prison suspended for two years. Kelly Burgess had a fling with a pupil from a Bristol school and had sex with him at a hotel paid for by their school as part of a training weekend. Burgess exchanged more than 12,000 texts with boy in just seven months, including ‘explicit’ naked pictures. Their relationship was uncovered when the pupil visited a  sexual health clinic and let slip who his lover was.

    PUB DEMOLISHED TO MAKE WAY FOR NURSING HOME

    Apr 7 - There are long overdue signs of activity in Somerton as the demolition of the King public house recently will pave the way for a new nursing home on the site. The pub was formerly the headquarters of Newport County in a much earlier era but will become a state of the art residential care home set to be called Somerton House with facilities for up to 60 residents.

    SCHOOL MEALS UP

    Apr 7 - The City Council has passed on an increase in the cost of the provision of school meals from its sub-contractor Chartwells to children and parents. The price of a secondary school meal will increase from £2.26 to £2.27 and for an adult school meal from £3.10 to £3.15. With effect from April 28. The price does not apply to Newport High or Caerleon, they have their own contractual arrangements.

    LIB DEMS - CLEGG OPENS THEIR CONFERENCE IN NEWPORT

    Apr 5 - Nick Clegg has committed his party to devolving new powers to Wales, including policing, youth justice and big energy projects. The Liberal Democrat leader told his party's Welsh spring conference in Newport the plans will be the "blueprint" for its 2015 general election manifesto. The Conference is being held in the City Centre Campus of the University.

    ARGUS EDITOR CONDEMNS RACISTS WHO DEFILED NIDA'S MEMORY

    Apr 4 - The Editor of the South Wales Argus, Kevin Ward, has condemned 'inhuman racists' who hijacked the paper's tribute to the memory of Nida Naseer. Four people posting comments on the story were banned and the thread was closed.

    In an editorial on the website he said "These people cared nothing for Nida. Their only interest was to use the failed asylum seeker status of her family to make outrageous claims that fitted their own twisted view of the world. They made sickening, unfounded claims about her family. They made outrageous allegations about the circumstances of Nida's death. Each of these posters - there were only four of them - were banned from our website. But I could not risk others using our site to spew out their filth, so I took the decision to close all comments on the articles. The awful nature of some of the comments posted made me incredibly angry. But I also felt ashamed that we had to deny the vast majority of decent Argus readers the opportunity to express their sympathies. I felt - and still feel - as if doing so in some way handed a victory to the racists."

    LABOUR COUNCILLOR USES TWITTER TO REASSURE CONSTITUENTS

    Apr 4 - Stow Hill Councillor Miqdad Al-Nuaimi has used Twitter to reassure constituents that he is undeterred by disciplinary action taken against him by the City's Labour Group. He said "Let me reassure my ..constituents and Newport residents I will continue to serve them as best I can. Al-Nuaimi was given a written warning by Labour but is taking the matter further by appealing the decision to the Welsh Labour Party.

    ASIAN RESTAURANTS UNFAIRLY TARGETED

    Apr 3 - Restaurants and shops in Newport and elsewhere in south Wales have been unfairly targeted by the Border Agency. During a meeting at the House of Commons, Asian restaurant owners told Welsh MPs the action of immigration officers was having a damaging impact on their businesses.Newport East MP Jessica Morden claimed shops were also getting caught up in this issue.

    POLICE APPEAL OVER ASSAULT

    Apr 1 - Police are appealing for information after an 18 year old man was assaulted on Cambrian Road Newport between 11pm and midnight on Saturday March 29th. The 18 year old, who is from the Newport area, was assaulted by two men and sustained facial injuries for which he needed hospital treatment. If anyone has information they are asked to call Police on 101 and quote log number 429 30/3/14

    BIG CUTBACK IN LIBRARY OPENING HOURS

    Mar 31 - From today Newport's museum, art gallery and central library located in John Frost Square will have new opening days and times. The Council states "Based on an analysis of customer activity it was found that there was lower usage on Mondays and after 5.30pm during weekdays. The combined facility will therefore now be closed on Mondays, and will close half an hour earlier on the remaining weekdays."

    The new opening hours of the library will be: Tuesday – Friday: 9am – 5.30pm and Saturday: 9am – 4pm. The opening hours of the museum are as follows: Tuesday – Friday: 9.30am - 5pm and Saturday: 9.30am – 4pm

    These changes were put forward as part of the Newport City Council’s extensive proposals for its 2014/15 budget. Following a public consultation, full council formally approved the budget savings of  £86,000 per annum last month.

    CALL FOR HELP AFTER MAINDEE BURGLARY

    Mar 31 - Police are appealing for information following a burglary at a property at Albert Avenue, Maindee on Thursday (March 27th). The burglary occurred at about 2.20pm. Items of jewellery, designer sunglasses, designer bags and two laptop computers were stolen. One of the laptops contained a large collection of video footage and photographs which are of sentimental value to the victims. If anyone has information they are asked to call Gwent Police quoting log 359 27/3/14

    STUDY HIGHLIGHTS FORGOTTEN AREA OF NEWPORT

    Mar 31 - A new study has highlighted the demise of Maindee. The profile produced by Severn Wye Energy Agency is part of an ongoing project to develop ideas to improve the area. It states that the Council has overlooked it, and despite its unique character, Maindee lacks identity. The report states "There is ambiguity and a lack of consensus about the identity of Maindee and sense of “place” currently confused by a lack of defined boundaries and definitions of wards. The political name for the ward, Victoria, doesn’t precisely correspond with the area of Maindee and residents never use this nomenclature. Community members feel area has been neglected by local government and often over looked for development and so is a “blind spot for Newport City Council”. House prices have fallen, crime risen and there is a sense that area has “gone downhill recently” and is dying."

    The project has identified key areas for development

    HARVESTER OPENING PUT BACK TO JUNE / WILDINGS MAKEOVER

    Mar 31 - The new Harvester restaurant now erected but currently sitting empty in Newport Retail Park will now open in June rather than March. Newport's premier independent department store, Wildings, is undergoing a revamp. Owners will be spending £140,000 on its latest makeover. In Maindee a major supermarket has indicated interest in the vacant Co-operative store. The empty pound shop premises on Chepstow Road in the same area is set to become a Turkish convenience store.

    GROUP CALLS FOR COUNCIL TO CONSIDER FORMER SPEEDWAY SITE FOR GYPSIES AND TRAVELLERS

    Mar 31 - The Ringland Matters Group of resident campaigning against the proposed location of a Gypsy and Traveller site on Hartridge Farm Road have called on the Council to consider the former speedway stadium site in Queensway Meadows as an alternative. The Group claim that the current preferred location is too close to residences on Hartridge Farm Road. It argues in a report to the Council's Local Development Plan examination process that the speedway site is more appropriate.

    This site had "positive feedback from Gypsy and Traveller families and other members of the public who favoured it as a residential site’. It was not so considered as its selection was based on it being a transit site. The Council refused to respond to the considerable feedback and consider it as a residential site, a strong contender".

    NIDA'S BODY FOUND NEAR WETLANDS

    Mar 29 - The family of missing Newport teenager Nida Naseer have been told that police have found her body. Nida, 19, went missing two-and-a-half months ago after putting the bins out at her home.

    Gwent Police said they were called to the estuary front at the Newport Wetlands on West Nash Road on Thursday morning where a body had been discovered.

    The initial post mortem has yet to be concluded and at this time her death remains as unexplained.  Superintendent Mark Warrender, Local Policing Commander for Newport said: "This is an extremely tragic case and our sincere condolences remain with the family. Since Nida went missing we have remained hopeful that she would be found safe and well and reunited with her family. Yesterday's discovery was a very sad development for me and the investigative team who have remained committed to finding Nida since the night she was reported missing by her family. We continue to support them at this dreadful time, and on their behalf can I please ask that they now be left alone to grieve."

    WHITEHEADS HOMES PLAN BOOST

    Mar 25 - A new community is set to be built on the 39 acre former Whiteheads Steelworks site. At least 400 new homes (half of which will be rented or shared ownership) will be built at the site on the edge of the city centre. The brown-field site will require significant remedial works but the development to be carried out by Tai Tirion is backed by funding from the Welsh Government. The latter state the development is expected to deliver a £140million economic boost to the area, creating up to 1,500 jobs in the process. The Welsh government has also agreed to loan the Whiteheads Development Company £7m and the Parc Eirin Development Company £1m for another scheme in Tonyrefail to help deliver the projects quickly. Both are subsidiaries of Tai Tirion, a not-for-profit organisation created following an initial alliance between the Welsh government and the Principality Building Society to deliver affordable homes.

    The Whiteheads site was originally ear-marked for a new regional hospital but the Health Board has now opted for a greenfield site in Llanfrechfa. The Royal Gwent will remain as a substantial city hospital. The Whiteheads site has remained derelict since the closure of the Steelworks in 2005.

    MEMORIES OF WHITEHEADS

    http://www.newportpast.com/jd/whiteheads.htm

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/history/sites/themes/society/strike_ghosts_armour.shtml

    HOSPITAL PLAN BLOW TO CITY CONFIRMED

    Mar 21 - As the National Health Service in Wales reels from one disaster to another beleaguered bosses are considering a reorganisation that will centralise provision meaning that accident and emergency and critical care is focussed on five hospitals. The South Wales Programme will mean key services are delivered at Cardiff's University Hospital of Wales, Morriston Hospital in Swansea, a new hospital near Llanfrechfa, Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr and the Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend.  Wales' second fastest growing population will no longer have provision provided within the city. The Aneurin Bevan Health Board is in a difficult financial position but states it hopes to have the new hospital built and operational by 2020. The key services to be delivered from the five hospitals are consultant-led maternity and neonatal care, inpatient children's, and emergency medicine.

    TEACHERS STRIKE TO AFFECT CITY SCHOOLS

    Mar 21 - A number of Newport schools will be closed or partially open on Wednesday 26 March because of industrial action by members of the National Union of Teachers. Here is the latest information as it affects the City's main high schools.

    Bassaleg Comprehensive

    Partially open to pupils

    School is closed to pupils years 7,8,9,10 and 11, and open for pupils in years 12 and 13.
    Caerleon Comprehensive

    Partially open to pupils

    School will be closed for years 7,8,9 and 10. School will be open for years 11,12 and 13.
    Duffryn High

    No information at this time 

     
    Llanwern High

    Partially open to pupils

    School open for pupils in years 12 and 13 only
    Lliswerry High

    Partially open to pupils 

     School open to pupils in Years 10,11,12,13.
    Newport High

    Partially open to pupils

    School will be closed to pupils in years 7, 8 and 9 and open for pupils in years 10, 11, 12 and 13
    St Joseph's RC Comp

    Open to pupils

     
    St Julian's Comp

    Partially Open to Pupils

    School will be closed for pupils in years 7, 8, 9 and 10 and open for students in years 11,12 and 13.

    LUXURY LODGES AS CELTIC MANOR GOES FOR CENTER PARCS STYLE DEVELOPMENT

    Mar 20 - The first ten of sixty luxury lodges to be built at the Celtic Manor were unveiled yesterday as the Resort aims to develop a very high quality version of Center Parcs in Newport. Each lodge took a team of 14 workers just 12 days to build, using logs that were imported from sustainable forests, just below the Arctic Circle in Finland. The lodges, built to a unique specification, were three years in the planning. The y include four double bedrooms, a fitted kitchen, spacious living area, hot tub and sauna.

    EMPLOYMENT - NEWPORT LAGGING BEHIND NEIGHBOURS

    Mar 20 - The fragile nature of the economic recovery in Newport was underlined by jobs data from the Office of National Statistics. Employment rates in Torfaen, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire and Blaenau Gwent have risen in the past twelve months but in Newport it has fallen from 69.2 to 69.1 per cent of the available workforce.

    SAUDI STEEL GROUP PURCHASE ROWECORD SITE

    Mar 18 - A firm has taken over the former Rowecord steel site in Newport, creating 120 new jobs. AIC Steel Group will make the 28,000sq m (300,000sq ft) plant on Usk Way its UK manufacturing hub.

    The Arabian International Company for Steel Structures, the give the company its full name, is planning to invest £10m at the site in Newport and create an initial 120 jobs. The new owner will use the 35,000 square metre site as its UK manufacturing hub and is opening a sales office in London.

    AIC Steel Group has worked on some of the flashiest buildings in the world, including the Kingdom Tower and Al Faisaliah Tower in Riyadh and Medina Airport in Saudi Arabia. City Council leader Bob Bright said: “Economic conditions are still extremely difficult for businesses but it is positive news that this site will be taken over and new quality jobs created by an internationally renowned company.”

    AIC Steel UK chief executive officer Michael Treacy was quoted as saying the firm chose Newport because of its history of heavy industry, skilled workforce and good transport links to London.There is a good supplier infrastructure in south Wales that we can tap into, and the port will be integral to our export activity," he told the BBC."

    Rowecord, which built the roof of the Olympic aquatic centre in London, went into administration in April 2013, making 430 people redundant and owing £24m to creditors. AIC Steel employs 4,500 people and has built several major projects in the Middle East, including Kingdom Tower and Al Faisaliah Towers in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and Madinah Airport, Saudi Arabia.

    NEWPORT RFC REPORT SMALL PROFIT

    Mar 14 - The owners of Rodney Parade and Newport Gwent Dragons have reported a small profit according to their latest accounts. For the year ending 31st May 2013 they reported a profit of just under £27k as opposed to a loss of £570k in 2011-12. The arrival of new tenants Newport County AFC and the income opportunities derived the Bisley Stand boosted turnover. The wage bill for the the business is put at £4 million with a turnover of £6.2 million.

    POLICE STILL COMMITTED TO NIDA CASE

    Mar 14 -  Despite their recent public pronouncement a permanent team of police officers is continuing to investigate a teenager's mystery disappearance despite physical searches being halted. Nida Naseer, 19, went missing two-and-a-half months ago after putting the bins out at her home. A Gwent Police spokesperson said detectives were following many lines of inquiry, and searches would resume if required. Police are also continuing to look through hours of CCTV. A spokesperson said: "There's still a permanent team of officers working on it."

    APPEAL FOR HELP AFTER MOTORBIKE THEFT

    Mar 13 - Police are appealing for information following the theft of this Yamaha motorbike from Argosy Way, Lliswerry between 10pm on Tuesday March 11th and 9am yesterday (Wednesday March 12th).

    It was later found burnt out by Lliswerry Pumping Station. If anyone has any information they are asked to call 101 and quote log number 69 12/3/14

    POLICE SEEK MAN FOLLOWING ATTEMPTED BURGLARY

    Mar 11 - Police are appealing for information following a burglary on Caerleon Road, Newport in the early hours of this morning (Tuesday March 11th, 2014). The incident occurred between 3am and 3.30am when a man attempted to enter a property -a ground floor flat - through an open window. The offender threatened the resident - a 29 year old woman- and then left. The victim was not injured although shaken.  The man is described as approximately 5'7'' - 5'8'' tall and of average build. He was wearing a navy blue hoody with the hood up which had writing across the chest area from left to right. The writing was lighter than the hoody almost white in colour. He was wearing blue jeans and his face was completely covered in what is described as a dark coloured "morph" style mask. He was also wearing gloves. He had a local Newport accent. If anyone has information they are asked to call 101 and quote log number 19 11/3/14. Police would like to remind residents to always lock windows and doors even when in the house

    APPEAL AFTER GEORGE STREET ASSAULT

    Mar 11 - Police are appealing for information following an assault that occurred in Robin's Lane, off George Street, Newport at approximately 10.25pm on Wednesday (March 5th). Police would like to speak to a man, captured on CCTV, in connection with the incident after a 47 year old man received head injuries during the assault. The man is described as white, in his early twenties, 5'10" tall with short dark hair. He was wearing a hi-viz sleeveless jacket which has orange shoulders and a logo on the back. If anyone has information or can identify the man police would like to speak to they are asked to call Gwent Police on 101 and quote log number 513 05/03/14.

    GOVERNMENT MUST STEP IN TO SAVE CIVIL SERVICE JOBS - MP

    Mar 10 - Recent employment blows to Newport - the loss of jobs at Avana Bakeries, Tata Steel and potentially at the Home Office Shared Service Centre in Celtic Springs have highlighted the perilous state of business confidence and employment prospects in the City. Jess Morden, Newport East MP has asked the Government to provide reassurance that it does not plan to move civil service jobs overseas. 

    In a speech recently in the House of Commons she said "The Government are also potentially to offshore Government jobs from the MOJ shared services centre in Newport. I am very reliant on the public sector in my constituency. People in the public sector have had their wages frozen and there has been a sustained attack on their numbers. In fact, in the recent Centre for City report, Newport came bottom for employment growth in the private sector. Was it only in January that the Prime Minister said that we must become the “reshoring nation”? You would not think so, because only weeks later his Ministers are embarking on a path that could lead the MOJ shared services centre into a contract that will allow offshoring. The Newport office employs about 1,000 staff in back-office functions. The Cabinet Office and the MOJ want to privatise those jobs, and so far nothing has been said by Ministers to alleviate fears. In fact, the Justice Secretary told me: “To be a competitive and viable business…needs to be in line with other companies of this kind, which often see non-customer facing transactional roles being sourced offshore. The creation and operation model…reflects government guidelines with off shoring being a feature of many successful public sector contracts.” If the Prime Minister is so keen on private companies reshoring jobs, why is his Government so keen on offshoring Government jobs?"

    FEWER PEOPLE USING NEW STATION

    Mar 10 - The number of people using Newport railway station has reduced by 1.1 per cent according to the latest figures (2012/13). The poor design of the station according to critics has led to missed trains and discontent from passengers. 

    MORDEN SLAMS COST TO BUSINESSES AND COMMUTERS OF BRIDGE TOLLS

    Mar 10 - Jessica Morden MP has used a Welsh Affairs Committee debate to slam the cost to businesses, commuters and leisure users of Severn Bridge tolls. She stated "The Severn bridge tolls are the most expensive in the UK. It now costs £6.40 for a car to cross the bridge, £12.80 for a van, and £19.20 for a coach or lorry. By comparison, it costs just £1.50 for a car to cross the Humber bridge or £2 to use the Dartford crossing. However, the Dartford crossing is free to use between 10 pm and 6 am, and a scheme was recently launched under which local residents can pay just £20 a year to cross the bridge as often as they like. Those are both examples of the Government stepping in after local campaigns and helping long-suffering road users. If they can help businesses and residents in those areas, why can they not take decisive action to help in the case of the Severn bridges? The tolls are a cost-of-living issue for my constituents, especially those who commute daily over the bridge, and the cost is a big burden for many businesses that operate out of south Wales." The current 'concession' for the owners of the Severn Bridge is due to end in 2018 with the bridges coming back in to public ownership.

    SEARCHES FOR NIDA HALTED

    Mar 10 - Police say they have stopped all physical searches for missing Newport teenager Nida Naseer although they will continue to work closely with her family in an attempt to locate her.

    QUEENSBERRY BLOCKS MEGA-BOWL DEVELOPMENT

    Mar 7 - Newport City Council planning committee has once again refused plans to develop the Megabowl site on Newport Retail Park. An intervention from Queensberry, the City Centre developers, appears to have successfully blocked plans by Sports Direct and Johnsey Estates to bring in a new development comprising a combined Sports Direct sports store and leisure facility and a new Home Bargains retail unit. G L Hearn on behalf of Queensberry stated that the Sports Direct unit could have been located in the city centre and the retailer should discuss options with the Kingsway Centre where there are a number of large vacant units.

    Hearn stated "We would expect to see confirmation that they have been in contact with the owner to ascertain Kingsway’s ability to accommodate one or other of the stores proposed for the Megabowl. In this regard there is substantial vacant space in the centre, which the applicant’s themselves put at 1427 sq m. Without discussing with the Kingsway’s owner, the applicant cannot know if there is potential for additional space to be made available or reconfigured within the centre. Moreover, given the revitalising impact that Friars Walk will have, we consider that the applicant should be required to show significant flexibility in their requirements, given the city centre, including Kingsway, will be a highly attractive and sustainable retail location from which to trade."

    A further letter on 11/2/14 from Queensberry confirmed they could accommodate Sports Direct.

    The Planning Committee refusal states "The proposals w ill cause significant harm to interests of acknow ledged importance, namely the vitality and viability of the sequentially preferable city centre, by reason of a significant increase in open A1 retail floor-space in a less sequentially preferable retail location."

    FRIARY FOUND AT DEVELOPMENT SITE

    Mar 7 - As expected the remains of a friary have been at the site of the Friar's Walk city centre development site. The Austin Friars monastery was founded in 1377.  Hugh , Earl of Stafford gave the Prior and Brethren of ‘Hermits of St Augustine 31 burgages or parcels of land within the Parish of Newport on which to build an oratory or house for the promotion of Divine Worship and Contemplation.' In 1538 it was surrendered to the King as part of the part of the dissolution of the monasteries. As late as the early nineteenth century the remains of the House of Friars were still standing, near the River (in the space occupied by Newport Bus Station) and consisted of several detached buildings. An engraving of the friary was published in 1859. The friary is also depicted in Joshua Gosselin's 1784 watercolour although this was erroneously described as the house of the Blackfriars by Belle Vue Park. It is believed that vestiges of the friary buildings particularly the precinct walls will have been found and will now be recorded by archaeologists as the development continues.

    Hugh, earl of Stafford - Magnate and soldier, he joined the Black Prince on his campaigns and acted as a royal commissioner for Edward III and Richard II.

    The earls of Stafford were lord of Newport until 1521. Hugh gave the town its first charter in 1385 (his coat of arms is on the left, the Newport coat of arms is on the right). Hugh died on pilgrimage to the Holy Land and was buried at Stone Priory in Staffordshire.

    COMMEMORATIVE MEDAL RETURNS TO CITY

    Mar 7 - A commemorative gold medal presented to an early 20th century Newport Mayor has been gifted back by his family. Charles Perry Simmonds, who lived in Chepstow Road, was a magistrate and member of the Newport Corporation from 1902 until 1919. He served as mayor in 1912/1913.

    Medals are traditionally presented to Newport’s mayors at the end of their term of office to mark their year of service. His grandson Alan Gough, who lives in Nottinghamshire, recently wrote to the present Mayor – Councillor Cliff Suller – to offer the medal back to the city. Councillor Suller said: “Mr Gough’s kind gesture is much appreciated and the medal will take its rightful place on display alongside other mayoral mementos from across the years.

    “I would like to thank Mr Gough and assure him his grandfather’s medal will be treasured by the city council and serve as a constant reminder of his dedicated service to Newport.” The gold medal, made by Hoskin, the Gold and Silversmith, of Bridge Street, was still in its original box with the inscription: “Presented by the Corporation of the County Borough of Newport to Charles Perry Simmonds, Esq, to mark his mayoralty of this town, 1912-13.” It is being displayed, together with information about Mr Simmonds in the Mayor’s Parlour at the Civic Centre.

    DIGITAL CONFERENCE RETURNS TO CELTIC MANOR

    Mar 7 - A major technology event is set to return to the Celtic Manor in June with the aim of helping Welsh businesses and young people to use computers for economic growth, according to Insider Media Wales. Digital 2014, which held its first two-day event at the venue in 2013, is expecting 1,100 delegates from businesses and the education sector in Wales.

    Tom Kelly, chair of the Welsh government's ICT (information and communications technology) sector panel, said: "Economies all over the world have woken up to the enabling power of ICT and it’s crucial that Wales remains ahead of the curve. "Digital 2014 will help ensure a digital culture is positioned at the centre of Welsh education and industry to secure our economic future and position Wales at the very forefront of the digital revolution." Edwina Hart, Welsh Government minister for the economy, said: "The ICT industry in Wales is a key sector that could generate a further £1.5bn to the economy over the next five years.

    POLICE SEEK HELP OVER SEXUAL ASSAULT

    Mar 5 - Detectives carrying out the investigation into a serious sexual assault on a 13 year old girl that took place on Saturday evening (March 1st) believe that two women, who were in Newport town centre before the incident, may have information which could help with the investigation. Police want to trace the two women who were in the vicinity of Newport Bus Station that evening between 7pm and 7.15pm who may well have been approached by the alleged offender themselves

    One woman, who was wearing dark clothing and carrying bags, is seen walking into the Bus Station from the direction of the Old Green Roundabout/High Street, and appears to wait at one of the bus stops. Just after 7.10pm another woman, wearing a white top and headphones or earmuffs, appears to get off a bus and walks down Upper Dock Street towards Skinner Street and turns into Commercial Street.

    Police believe the 13 year old victim and the alleged offender caught the bus at the bus station and got off by the Harvester, Malpas Road, Newport and walked to a lane off Hollybush Close where the incident occurred at approximately 7.30pm. Police also want to hear from anyone else who was in the Newport bus station area at about 7.15pm or was on the 19e (town centre to Malpas) bus that left the bus station at approximately 7.20pm to contact them. A 26 year old man from the Newport area has been arrested in connection with the incident and is currently in custody. The victim and her family are receiving specialist support from officers. Anyone with information is asked to call 101 quoting log number 491 1/3/14

    ORB WORKS JOBS THREAT

    Mar 4 - More than 120 jobs are set to be axed under plans to restructure a Newport steel plant, say bosses. A total of 83 direct jobs and 40 contractor posts are at risk at Orb Electrical Steelworks, owned by Cogent Power, a subsidiary of Tata Steel. The company is blaming reduced demand for products and says it is aiming for a "leaner and more flexible workforce". Union representatives described it as a "disappointing day" for workers. Cogent Power managing director Stuart Wilkie said: "This is going to be a difficult time for all concerned but the changes we are making are essential for the long-term future of the operations at Orb. The works employees more than 400 staff.

    WOODLANDS HOUSE DEVELOPMENT APPROVED

    Mar 4 - A long awaited development of a listed building in Malpas has been approved by city planners. Woodlands House in Malpas will see significant works undertaken including partial demolition of a listed building, refurbishment works to convert existing building to 6 apartments, erection of 7  dwellings in ground and highway improvements/landscaping/ancillary works.

    KNIFE OWNER APPEAL

    Mar 4 - Police are appealing for the owner of a fishing knife to come forward after it was recovered from a property in the Pill area of Newport.

    Three men aged 27, 25 and 42 and a woman aged 39 were arrested on suspicion of burglary following the search of the property yesterday. They are remain in police custody.

    If anyone recognises the fishing knife, has lost or had one stolen recently they are asked to call 101 and quote log number 470 4/3/14

    POLICE OFFICERS ARRESTED

    Mar 1 - Three police officers including one from Newport have been arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice. The constables were suspended from duty following an investigation by the Gwent Police professional standards unit. The men, who were held on 6 February, have been released on police bail. Two are from Caerphilly. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) will supervise the investigation.

    TESCO GIVE UP ON SOMERTON PUB SITE

    Mar 1 - Acting on behalf of Tesco Stores Ltd, Alder King in Cardiff has sold the freehold of the former Black Horse Inn site in Somerton to a local private developer for £160,000. They say "The 0.35 acre site on Somerton Road attracted strong interest from local developers and housing associations and jointly sold at auction with Paul Fosh Auctions for well in excess of the £120,000 guide price."

    The purchaser plans to redevelop the site for residential use.  The two-storey derelict public house will be demolished. Nicole Kruger of Alder King’s agency team said: “This site sits within a predominantly residential area of Newport and therefore generated considerable interest from developers who saw its residential potential.”

    SHROVE TUESDAY BOOST FOR CITY FOOD PRODUCER

    Mar 1 - According to a report in Insider Media Wales a city food producer has had a record boost leading up to Shrove Tuesday. Maple syrup manufacturer Clarks UK has reported record demand for its products in the run-up to Pancake Day. The company, which is based at Queensway Meadows Industrial Estate revealed 750,000 bottles have rolled off the production line in under five weeks. In total, more than 36,000 maple syrup bottles were filled, labelled and packed at the Newport plant every day. The business has been boosted by a strong rise in orders from Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons, with many stores choosing to give the brand front-of-store and separate displays in recent weeks.

    PLANNING UPDATE

    Feb 28 - The new Pizza Express restaurant is set to open to customers at Newport Retail Park on March 6. In the city centre there is an updated application for the proposed Premier Inn at 54-55 High Street in the former Tredegar Arms Hotel. Planners are also supporting a request to change the use of the former Burton premises on Commercial Street to a food and drink outlet. A fourteen storey tower block is proposed by developers Hill and Webber for Coverack Street near George Street Bridge with 77 flats including some with rooftop gardens.

    PLAN TO PROMOTE RESIDENTIAL USE IN CITY CENTRE

    Feb 26 - The City Council is intending to promote the use of empty office and retail space in the city centre by providing a moratorium on section 106 agreements. Such agreements normally provide for payments by developers towards leisure and education facilities. The report states "One key way of achieving this outcome of a vibrant and viable City Centre that the Council can help influence is the conversion of the upper floors of City Centre commercial properties into residential use. This would increase City Centre footfall, providing an immediate local customer base for businesses. It would also provide increased natural surveillance during evenings and at night, helping to reduce crime and fear of crime, and would provide accommodation within an extremely sustainable location, making efficient use of existing buildings. Bringing the City Centre buildings back into use would secure their longevity which in itself would help preserve the character and appearance of the Town Centre Conservation Area."

    This S106 moratorium relates only to proposals for the residential conversion of the upper floors of existing City Centre properties. It does not relate to new-build proposals.

    THREE MORE JOIN FRIARS WALK

    Feb 25 - Three more major high street stores have joined the Friars Walk line up as developer Queensberry has now confirmed it has moved on site. The confirmation came in an article published in the South Wales Argus this morning. Queensberry is unable to identify the stores at the moment but states that 50 per cent of the development is already let. Debenhams, Top Shop, Next, Cineworld and Nando's are among those previously announced. 

    Meanwhile the developer has been flexing its muscles in relation to a planned new development at Newport Retail Park. Sports Direct had planned to develop the former Megabowl site to include a store, gym and leisure facility but the developer states the intended development could be incorporated within Friars Walk.

    SOMERTON DRUG PUSHER GETS FIVE YEARS

    Feb 25 - A Newport drug pusher has been sentenced to five years imprisonment after a police raid. On Thursday 5th September 2013, police were called to the Glebelands, Newport following a report of people dealing drugs from a vehicle. Officers arrived and the vehicle was searched revealing a large quantity of heroin and crack cocaine and cash. The occupants of the vehicle were arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply controlled drugs. Mureed Hussain from Somerton was charged with the offence and the total street value of the drugs amounted to £13,780. On the 16th January 2014, Mureed Hussain appeared at Cardiff Crown Court and was sentenced to 5 years in prison.

    COUNCIL BUDGET - 4.5 PER CENT TAX RISE, BACKING FOR LIVING WAGE BUT MORE CUTS

    Feb 24 - Newport City Council is set to approve a Council Tax rise of 4.5 per cent this evening for 2014/15 but its new budget will see more cuts to budgets with a huge cut to the funding provided for the Newport Ship and the ending of the School Library Service. In a surprise move given its funding position it has set aside £1 million to increase the pay of staff at the lower end of the salary scales bringing them up to the 'living wage' level of £7.65 per hour. The Council is working within a grant regime from the Welsh Government that has restricted central allocations across Wales, although Newport had a better settlement than anyone else. The Council Tax increase alone will add £39 to the average Band D bill before additions for the Police. The new main measure of inflation the Consumer Prices Index rose by 1.9 per cent in January.  

    NEWPORT TEACHER ON ABUSE OF TRUST CHARGE

    Feb 24 - A drama teacher from Newport has been charged with abuse of a position of trust.  Kelly Burgess has been suspended from her job at St Katherine's School in Bristol. The 26-year-old faces four charges of adult abuse of a position of trust - sexual activity with a boy between 13 and 17 years. The alleged incidents cover a period between January and late August last year. An Avon and Somerset Police spokesman stated: “Kelly Ann-Marie Burgess, aged 26, of Grosmont Way, Newport, has been charged with four sexual offences against a teenager. The incidents happened between January 1, 2013, and August 28, 2013. She is due to appear at North Somerset Magistrates’ Court at Worle on March 17. She has been charged with four counts of adult abuse of position of trust - sexual activity with a boy between 13 and 17 years.”

    POST OFFICE TO RELOCATE TO KINGSWAY

    Feb 18 - Newport's main post office is set to relocate to new premises at Unit 19 in the Kingsway Centre. The current Bridge Street office would close on April 2. It is a much needed boost for the Kingsway, unit 19 is adjacent to Wilkinson's and Poundland.

    MARKET REVAMP UP FOR AWARD!

    Feb 18 - A Newport City Council project which transformed the High Street entrance and façade of Newport Market has been shortlisted for a prestigious award. It is one of the impressive new and regenerated building projects which will go head-to-head in the RICS Wales Awards, sponsored by Redrow. Councillor Bob Bright, leader of Newport City Council, said: “This is great news and another boost for our historic market which has been revitalised since the completion of the revamp in the autumn."

    The award nomination is somewhat surprising as the work is not yet complete. A bus terminus at the rear of the Market has still not been finished despite an original deadline of October 2013.

    ONE SMALL STEP FOR DEMOCRACY - COUNCIL MEETINGS TO BE WEBCAST 'IN THE SPRING'

    Feb 16 - Newport City Council are set to be webcast bringing some of its key meetings to the internet. A brilliant new protocol for Members issued by the Council reminds them of their responsibilities. It states

    Technically, spring lasts from March 21 to June 20, but this is the 'Newport spring' so who knows when broadcasting will start.

    BOXING CLUB TO PURCHASE HALL

    Feb 16 - Alway Boxing club has agreed terms with the Council to purchase the former St Johns Ambulance Hall at the rear of the Ladyhill Day Centre for £25,000.

    GRANT APPLICATION MADE TO FUND NEW CAERLEON LIBRARY

    Feb 15 - Newport City Council has made a £30,000 grant application to the Welsh Government to fund a new relocated library facility in Caerleon. 

    The existing public library in Caerleon is located within the grounds of the High School. There are disadvantages to both the service and the school of the library being on the school site and options to relocate to another more central location within Caerleon have been explored for some considerable time. There is now a proposal to relocate the library to the ground floor of Caerleon Town Hall. The proposal would provide an easily accessible ground floor location. To refurbish the existing Council Chamber room and replace it with the new library the cost is estimated at £55,000.

    HYDROGEN PLANT FOR SOLUTIA SITE

    Feb 13 - Solutia UK has submitted a request for a planning opinion from the City Council on a proposed Hydrogen plant for its Newport site. The plant will be relocated from Dalry in Scotland and owned by BOC with completion of construction work scheduled later this year. Other planning applications include a rework of the final phase of City Vizion near the Old Art College, an extension to Aldi's store near Nash College and further building at the Alexandra Gate development site near the SDR bridge.

    NEWPORT MAN SENTENCED TO TWO YEARS PLUS FOR POSSESSION

    Feb 13 - On Sunday 15th December 2013, officers on patrol saw what they believed to be a drug deal outside the train station. They then searched Ryan Bedford and he was found in possession of 4 bags of cocaine.  Bedford violently resisted arrest and in doing so, assaulted a police officer. Bedford’s home  was searched and a further 36 bags of cocaine, totalling 15.5 grams, 8.43 grams of cannabis, just under £1000 in cash and drug paraphernalia were found and seized. On 31st January 2014 at Cardiff Crown Court, Ryan Bedford was found guilty and sentenced to 2 years and 8 months in prison.

    PC Small who dealt with the case said ‘The sentence given by the court demonstrates that if people deal Class A drugs on the streets of Newport and assault a police officer, they should expect a prison sentence.’

    NO SURPRISE AS NEWPORT LEADER OPPOSES MERGER

    Feb 12 - Newport Council leader has indicated he would prefer to be a standalone or Cardiff's lapdog rather than leader of a Monmouthshire region. Stating he is cool on plans for a Newport and Monmouthshire merger he said he was not entirely opposed but" when Cardiff’s economic cup runs over I want it to run in this direction. I would argue for autonomy, with closer economic co-operation with Cardiff.”

    POLICE APPEAL OVER SPYTTY INCIDENT

    Feb 12 - Police are appealing for information and would like to speak to a man in connection with the theft of a purse from a shopper's bag at Tesco Extra, Spytty Retail Park, Newport. The theft is believed to have occurred at about 7pm on Thursday February 6th, 2014. If anyone has information they are asked to call Gwent Police on 101 and quote log number 368 6/2/14

    CITY SET FOR BIG COUNCIL TAX INCREASE

    Feb 12 - Working Newportonians are set for an above inflation increase in Council Tax after the City's budget for 2014/15 was agreed. Newport City Council’s cabinet has recommended its revenue budget and council tax for 2014/15. Following a "full public consultation" on over 100 proposals, Cabinet will now submit their recommendations to full Council which meets on Tuesday 25 February. The Cabinet supported an increase in council tax of 4.5 per cent – lower than the figure suggested as part of the consultation. The original figure of five per cent would have resulted in a surplus budget of £403,000. Cabinet agreed to use some of this money to reduce the council tax rise. £75,000 was also allocated so that support for the Christmas lights and events could be continued for a further three years while the city centre regeneration progresses. This was a key issue raised in public feedback.

    MEETING TOOK PLACE ON CITY CENTRE?

    Feb 12 - The City Centre Redevelopment Sub-Group met on February 10. The minutes state "

    1. Exclusion of press and public
    Resolved
    To exclude the press and public during consideration of the following item on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972.

     

    2. City Centre Redevelopment
    The Strategic Director - Place outlined progress to date on the City Centre Re-development proposals

    That's it! Not much point in recording the minutes!

    POLITICAL FRONT IN SUPPORT OF AVANA WORKERS

    Feb 9 - Newport's political parties, MPs and representatives have joined together to voice support for Avana Bakeries following news that many of the existing 650 jobs could be lost there. It is unlikely that Marks and Spencer will change their decision or be open to persuasion.

    A Welsh Government "This is obviously a very worrying time for staff and their families and the Welsh Government is working with 2 Sisters Food Group to explore every option that could safeguard the jobs at Rogerstone. We will also be ensuring that all staff are fully supported through this difficult period. The company has underlined its commitment to its staff and the Welsh Government will continue to work closely with senior management to investigate any new business and employment opportunities here."

    Secretary of State of Wales David Jones said: "The news that there may be a significant number of jobs at risk at Avana Bakeries site in Newport will cause a great deal of concern to the workers, families and communities affected. The Wales Office is in close communication with the Avana Bakeries and are confident that all options to safeguard jobs will be explored during the consultation period. I have spoken to Paul Flynn MP and have also spoken personally to the director of food technology at M&S who has assured me that the decision to cease the contract was a purely commercial decision."

    Marks & Spencer says it will do "all it can" to support Avana Bakeries following its decision to use another cake supplier. A spokesperson said: “As part of our work to further improve the quality of our food supply chain, we are consolidating some of our fresh desserts and cakes business and moving from two suppliers to one. It’s not a decision we’ve taken lightly and understand that it will have a significant impact for Avana Bakeries. We’ll do all we can to support the supplier through the process."

    Oldham-based Park Cake Bakeries says it is pleased its partnership with M&S will continue. A spokesperson for the business said: “Park Cake Bakeries has had a long and fruitful relationship as a supplier of quality cakes and desserts to Marks and Spencer and we are pleased that partnership will continue with the award of M&S’s cakes and desserts business, primarily to our site in Oldham.”

    ST. MODWEN TO BUILD AT GLAN LLYN

    Feb 8 - Property developer St Modwen Homes has submitted plans to build 47 homes at its £1bn Glan Llyn development in Newport. The company hopes to construct a range of two-, three- and four-bedroom houses on the 600-acre former Llanwern steelworks site.

    It is part of the wider Glan Llyn scheme that will ultimately feature 4,000 new homes, create 6,000 jobs at the 100-acre Celtic Business Park, and establish a range of new community facilities including shops, educational institutions and an 80-acre park. Ben Cook, regional residential director for St Modwen Homes, said: "We are very excited at the prospect of bringing St Modwen Homes to South Wales for the first time."If planning permission is granted, construction would start in April 2014 with the first homes due to go on the market in the summer.

    NEWPORT BUS SUPPORTS ORANGE WALLET SCHEME

    Feb 8 - NEWPORT Bus has joined the Orange Wallet Scheme to help those with communication difficulties, including autism, cope with public transport. The scheme, is funded by the Welsh Government as part of the All Wales ASD strategy, and is intended to help people on the autistic spectrum, deaf people and those whose first language is not English. The bright orange wallet is easily recognised and contains space for users to insert written and/or visual cards to provide a simple communication tool.

    BAKERY JOBS UNDER THREAT

    Feb 7 - Over 600 jobs at a bakery in Newport are under threat after the company lost a multi-million pound cake contract from Marks and Spencer to a firm in Oldham. According to reports the M&S deal makes up 85% of what the Avana bakery produces. A spokesman for owners 2 Sisters Food Group called the decision a "huge setback". "It is with much regret that we can confirm following a strategic review with our customer M&S, the majority of employees at our Avana bakery site in Newport are now at risk of redundancy following the loss of our M&S business to a competitor," he said."The work will now be transferred to the other company, therefore placing the majority of our 650-strong workforce at risk of redundancy. There is also a risk that the site could be closed. M&S said Oldham-firm Park Cake Bakeries had won the contract.

    PLAN FOR DIRECT TRAINS TO HEATHROW

    Feb 7 - New direct trains to Heathrow from Newport (and other South Wales and west country mainline stations) could be in place by 2021. Funding to the tune of £500 million has already been announced by the UK government. "Our plans for a new rail link to Heathrow from the west will dramatically improving rail links, reduce congestion on existing rail services and provide a boost to the local economy," said Patrick Hallgate, route managing director at Network Rail.It's important that we take the opportunity to discuss these plans so we can ensure the investment made in a bigger, better railway delivers maximum benefit."

    The new plan would see a normal service that passengers get for the Swansea to London Paddington route up until Reading. It would then turn off at a newly created junction created between Langley and Iver stations and go through a 5km tunnel to reach Heathrow Terminal 5. The major mainline electrification scheme, already agreed, costing more than £1bn is due to be completed by 2017 and will cut journey times to London by up to 30 minutes.

    Plans for a station at Pye Corner have approved by the City Council.

    DRINKING BANNING ORDERS IN CITY CENTRE

    Feb 7 - Police say officers in Newport are continually targeting alcohol related violence to ensure the City is a safer place to visit. Two men, aged 28 and 30, have recently been issued with Drinking Banning Orders by Newport Magistrates Court, after being convicted of assault in Newport City Centre.

    The first man has been banned from all licensed premises in Newport for a total of 12 months and also received a suspended sentence and a fine. The second man has been banned from entering the City Centre for 12 months, whilst under the influence of alcohol or whilst drinking alcohol. He also received a community order and a fine. Breaking a Drinking Banning Order is a criminal offence which can result in a fine of up to £2,500. All licensed premises will now be given photos of the individuals and will be working closely with us to ensure the conditions are not broken.

    APPEAL AFTER ROGERSTONE CRASH

    Feb 7 - Police are appealing for information following two road traffic collisions yesterday on the A467 Southbound. Police were called at 12.15pm after a report of a two vehicle collision on the A467 southbound just after the Rogerstone turning involving a black Fiat Punto and a Hyundai. One female driver inside the Punto sustained injuries and was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital and has since been released. On the way to responding to this incident a Gwent Police vehicle, a BMW X5, was involved in a road traffic collision with a Punto on the southbound carriageway. The female driver of the Punto remains in hospital in a stable condition. The two officers inside the police vehicle were also taken to hospital. One remains in hospital in a stable condition. If anyone has any information about either of the collisions they are asked to call Gwent Police on 101 and quote log number 155 6/2/14

    TAXPAYER FOOTS THE BILL FOR MORE WELSH

    Feb 5 - The City Council has taken 'reasonable' steps to ensure that its website is not in breach of the Welsh Language Act. The current website could result in a fine from the Welsh Language Commissioner of up to £5,000 and prompt the Commission to launch an investigation. The Deputy Leader of the Council Ray Truman states "We have a new content management system for the council’s website which facilitates bilingual content- this places us in a good position to launch a Welsh language web service at the same time as we review and launch the English language version in July 2014. Plans for a bilingual website indicate an initial translation cost of £3,364, and on-going costs of £1,952 a year. This would allow the Council to provide its most popular web pages and services in Welsh and English. It would also demonstrate a reasonable and practicable approach to delivering bilingual services when the Welsh Language Commissioner considers what new Welsh Language Standards should apply to the Council in 2015."

    MORDEN AIRS CONCERN ABOUT PRIVATISED SHARED SERVICE

    Feb 4 - Jessica Morden MP has raised her concerns about plans to privatise the Home Office shared service centre at Celtic Springs. She queried the proposal with the Minister "The announcement in December that the Ministry of Justice’s shared service centre in Newport could be privatised has caused huge fears and uncertainty among the work force, who fear that their jobs will be outsourced and potentially offshored, which could happen under this model. Given the Prime Minister’s commitment to onshoring jobs last week, will the Cabinet Office reassure the workers in Newport that the plans will be shelved? " Francis Maude MP responded for the Government "We will certainly not shelve any options that could bring improved services and cut the cost to the taxpayer. I am aware of the uncertainty. That will be resolved as soon as possible so that people know where the future lies. To give a bit of reassurance, I remind the hon. Lady that the first shared service centre in Swansea, which has been fully outsourced rather than being a joint venture, is taking on more staff. "

    UNI WELCOMES CITY SUMMIT

    Feb 4 - Speaking at the event this morning Vice-Chancellor of the University of South Wales Professor Julie Lydon said, “The University of South Wales is both a substantial presence in Britain and in the global higher education community, and a major force for positive change. We know this to be true when it comes to the lives of our students, and we want this to be true for the city of Newport. We are delighted to welcome the summit to our campus and we reaffirm our commitment to working with the city and its people, as partners and colleagues, for the future of Newport.”

    COACH CRASH CLOSES M4 FOR SEVEN HOURS

    Feb 4 - The M4 motorway has completely reopened near Newport more than seven hours after a serious crash in which 13 people were injured. A lorry, car and coach carrying 57 people collided at about 09:30 GMT eastbound at junction 25 (Caerleon) causing major traffic disruption. Two people were seriously injured but most casualties were described as walking wounded. The Police said all lanes reopened by 17:00 GMT but traffic was still slow.

    The eastbound carriageway had been shut between junction 28 (Tredegar Park) and junction 24 (Coldra) as emergency services dealt with the incident.The coach was carrying more than 50 students, who police said had been visiting Wales on a sports tour from overseas. Several people were treated for minor injuries at the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport and one was admitted with more serious injuries, said a spokesman for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board. Two off-site triage centres were also set up - at St Julian's clinic and the Newport Centre.

    CITY SUMMIT - FUNDING AVAILABLE FOR NEW IDEAS

    Feb 4 - Simon Gibson, Chairman of the ReNewport Task Force, has confirmed that the Welsh Government has agreed to fund the feasibility of ideas that form part of the ReNewport Task Force report. He went on to say "People's perception of Newport will change and we hope it starts here." He was speaking at the Newport City Summit to an audience of 150 at the City Centre University Campus. Presented by Newport City Council and the ReNewport Task Force, and sponsored by the Celtic Manor Resort, the Newport City Summit aimed to build a cohesive alliance of stakeholders to take Newport forward and exploit a number of major milestones in 2014:

    A rejuvenated Newport needs to work collectively to play an influential role within the Welsh Government’s vision for a new South East Wales City Region. The Task Force notes that "Newport has suffered as much as anywhere in the UK from the economic downturn of recent years and substantial cuts to public and private sector investment, but now is the time to build on assets like its excellent transport links, its strong technology base, and sporting facilities like the Newport Velodrome, the Football Association of Wales national training base at Dragon Park, and Celtic Manor’s Ryder Cup golf course."

    Speaking at the event this morning Vice-Chancellor of the University of South Wales Professor Julie Lydon said, “The University of South Wales is both a substantial presence in Britain and in the global higher education community, and a major force for positive change. We know this to be true when it comes to the lives of our students, and we want this to be true for the city of Newport. We are delighted to welcome the summit to our campus and we reaffirm our commitment to working with the city and its people, as partners and colleagues, for the future of Newport.”

    The Leader of Newport City Council, Cllr Bob Bright opened proceedings by talking about Friars Walk and further city centre regeneration before Simon Gibson, the Chairman of reNewport Task Force, explored driving business growth. Ian Edwards, the Chief Executive of Celtic Manor, talked on the benefits which will be brought to Newport by the NATO Summit and the new Wales International Convention Centre, and Simon Powell, Chief Executive of EYSYS, talked about Newport as a cutting-edge, technology city. The city’s sporting pedigree and facilities were highlighted by FAW Trust Chief Executive Neil Ward and Gill Sandford, Dean of the Faculty of Creative Industries at the University of South Wales, discussed Newport’s cultural and creative

    MOTORPOINT BACK IN PROFIT

    Feb 4 - Car supermarket Motorpoint, which operates a ten-acre site in Newport, has returned to profit as its sales accelerated by more than £55m. Insider Media Wales state this comes as the group looks to expand its presence further in the UK with ambitions to open two additional bases in the next 12 to 18 months, creating about 100 jobs as it heads towards a target turnover of £500m. Motorpoint, one of the UK's largest car supermarkets, employs about 400 members of staff across its seven bases in Newport, Derby, Birmingham, Burnley, Glasgow, Peterborough and Chingford.

    SEREN SET TO TAKE OVER NEWPORT HOUSING TRUST

    Feb 3 - Seren, the major housing organisation that includes Charter Housing, is set to take over Newport Housing Trust (NHT). NHT provides accommodation to elderly people in Newport but it is felt would be stronger and more stable if it was to become part of Seren. A report to the City Council states "Both Newport Housing Trust and Seren Group are organisations delivering housing and services to older people. The NHT Board, incorporating Council Nominee’s, voted unanimously to search for a partner to enable it to build on its strengths and deliver more for its tenants. Following a thorough process the Seren Group was selected as the preferred partner. Our shared vision is to create a specialist organisation within the Seren Group, with the focus on offering a range of homes and housing services to older people in South Wales and beyond. Our belief is that by working with communities to provide the support older people need, they can enjoy healthy, happy lives for as long as possible in their own homes"

    Although the Trust would retain its individual identity and company status, it would become a subsidiary company within the Seren Group. Seren would become the Parent Company with a controlling interest over the Trust. Newport City Council, who own a third stake in NHT are being asked to approve the move.

    NEW COUNCILLOR MISSES FIRST TWO OUT OF THREE COUNCIL MEETINGS

    Feb 3 - Attendance records published by Newport City Council reveal new Pillgwenlly councillor Omar Ali has missed two of his first three full Council meetings. Emma Garland has attended one out of eleven Licencing Committee/ Panel meetings since June 2013. Ibrahim Hayat has missed all four Audit Committees and all seven Learning, Caring & Leisure Scrutiny Committees during the same period. Hayat has attended five out of the six full Council meetings. Christine Jenkins has attended one out of seven Community Planning and Development Scrutiny Committees since June.

    VOUCHER SCHEME FOR BROADBAND

    Feb 3 - Newport City Council is receiving £6.5 million from the UK Government as part of the Super-Connected Cities Project. It has set a target to set up over 1700 small and medium sized enterprises on the super fast network. It is aiming to get as many businesses as possible to take advantage of a voucher scheme that will cover all or part of the cost required to access superfast broadband.

    EVANS CRITICISES NEW STATION BUT IT IS LIKELY TO BE APPROVED

    Feb 3 - Plans to deliver another railway station between Cardiff and Ebbw Vale bypassing Newport city centre amply demonstrate the toothless nature of Welsh Labour politics. The proposed Pye Corner station is being pushed through with incredible haste as the Welsh Government pursues its all roads lead to Cardiff agenda. Campaigners in Newport have now waited for a decade for the Welsh Government to consider linking the Ebbw Vale to Newport but despite the presence of two Newport AM's in apparent positions of influence nothing has been done. This is a major contributory factor towards the city centre's decline and Labour in Newport has had no impact on the Welsh Government. Councillor Chris Evans expressed his disappointment at the proposed Pye Corner station "Wrong location: the proposed location is not a good one...local families, many of which will be affected by the Station, have not been properly consulted on what will be a major development. Ward Councillors had no communications/meetings/briefings from Sewta or the Welsh Government."

    Councillor Evans does wish to see a link to Newport City Centre but if it is to be built then why does it have to be rushed by May this year? He can see the benefits but “we should be working with residents and not against them and lets, at the very least, delay approving this application so that the rights of the elderly and disabled, and the safety of our children, can be properly and positively ensured via sensible discussion. His objections are likely to be to no avail as Labour bows to the latest Cardiff diktat.

    DRUG PUSHING GANG SENT DOWN

    Feb 2 - Operation Debut, an 8 month investigation into groups who were supplying Class A Controlled drugs, particularly Cocaine, has led to the conviction of a Newport gang. The officers investigating used a variety of tactics to gather evidence of the criminality. The evidence showed that Justyn Hugh who led the organised crime group along with associates Luke Postains, Nathan Williams, Steven Marchant, and Nicholas Davis conspired with London based criminal Gzim Uka to supply drugs with a street value of over half a million pounds, between the 1st December 2012 and 31st July 2013.

    The Six defendants, who all pleaded guilty, were sentenced as follows: Justyn Hugh, 29, Afon Village, Rogerstone – sentenced to  11 years prison. Nathan Williams 34, Howard Close,  Newport - sentenced to 8 years 4 months prison. Luke Postains, 32, – Ashley Road,  Newport - sentenced to  8 years prison. Gzim Uka 25 Higham Hill Road, London - sentenced to 5 years 4 months prison. Steven Marchant 42 Witham Street, Newport - sentenced to 4 years 8 months years prison.
    Nicholas Davis 33  Pepys Grove, Newport - sentenced to 4 years 8 months prison.

    Detective Chief Inspector Jon Evans who heads up the Organised Crime Unit commented: “This has been a complex investigation into a determined criminal conspiracy which looked to flood the streets of Gwent and South Wales with Class A drugs. Those concerned had no regard for the harm and misery these drugs cause to local communities, they were driven by their own selfish greed."

    NEWPORT BURGLARS IMPRISONED

    Feb 2 - Two Newport burglars have been imprisoned following a police investigation and trial. On 23rd September 2013, William Lau and Kevin Morgan broke into a house in Mathern in the early hours of the morning. Police were called after a member of the public became suspicious of their car in the area. Officers arrived and arrested Lau, who was in the car, before arresting Morgan as he returned to the vehicle.

    He was carrying lock picking tools when he was arrested and officers found several laptops under a nearby car. Lau pleaded guilty to this dwelling burglary, as well as another burglary in the Llandevaud area, after being linked by mobile phone data. Lau pleaded guilty to two counts of burglary dwelling and was sentenced to 3 years in prison (18 months for each offence) at Newport Crown Court on 25th November 2013. Morgan pleaded guilty to burglary dwelling and was sentenced to two years in prison at Newport Crown Court on 25th November 2013.

    APPEAL AFTER CAMBRIAN ROAD ASSAULT

    Feb 2 - Police are appealing for information after an 18 year old woman from Newport was assaulted and injured in the early hours of Sunday January 19th in the vicinity of Delilah's Nightclub, Cambrian Road, Newport.

    The incident happened at about 2.25 am on that Sunday morning.

    Police are releasing a CCTV still of a man they want to speak to in connection with the assault and would appeal to anyone who recognises him to contact police on 101 quoting log number 315 1/2/14

    CITY WINS FUNDING

    Jan 31 -Newport has succeeded in its bid for £15 million to support inner city regeneration as part of the Welsh Government's Vibrant and Viable places scheme.

    Newport’s bid was for a housing-led regeneration programme in the Communities First central area of the city. It is aimed at reinvigorating the city by tackling problems of vacant properties, community disadvantage and housing shortfalls. The schemes will help to create up to 600 new jobs, provide more than 420 homes, upgrade another 160 plus and assist more than 850 people to gain work-based learning and skills opportunities.

    Councillor Bob Bright, Leader of Newport City Council, said: “This is great news for Newport and another positive step in our work to regenerate our city. With key projects underway, the face of Newport really is changing, and this additional money will further support our efforts. The amount awarded to Newport clearly shows that Welsh Government can see the potential in our city and has confidence in our ability to deliver changes and really make a difference. We know that housing is an important part of breathing life back into and supporting a 24/7 city centre. This project will help deliver that and bring vitality back to Newport. We are already working with the owner of the former King William public house to turn it into high quality flats and this money will enable us to bring other key landmark buildings back into use.”

    BODY FOUND IS BEN CAPLAN

    Jan 31 - A body pulled from the River Usk in Newport on Thursday is believed to be that of a missing newspaper worker, Police have said. Ben Caplan, 30, was last seen on 7 December at a pub in Caerleon. Police searched the Usk after reports of someone entering the river that night. Searches for Mr Caplan, from Newport, a worker for the South Wales Argus, were scaled back after Christmas.

    FOOD FESTIVAL FUNDING TO BE CUT

    Jan 28 - In yet another amazing philistine Newport City Council is planning to cut key funding from the Food Festival, its annual October event. The event was a resounding success attracting thousands of visitors to the downtrodden city centre. But the City Council is considering pulling the £32,000 in funding it receives. Rogerstone councillor Chris Evans spoke strongly in favour of the event at tonight's Scrutiny Committee. 

    ALDER KING SURVEY STRIKES NOTE OF OPTIMISM

    Jan 28 - A survey by Alder King of the demand for office, industrial and retail space strikes a note of optimism for Newport city centre. The Market Monitor notes for 2014 that office demand is now focussing on the centre particularly with the development of the Admiral building and sale of Shire Hall for residential development. Admiral in particular it says should stimulate demand. But it says there is a severe lack of high quality office accommodation in the city centre.

    LLOYDS CUTBACK NEWPORT POSTS

    Jan 28 - Lloyds banking has announced some cuts in its banking operations. The cuts come in its retail, risk, operations and commercial banking divisions as part of a continuing overhaul of the business. In Wales, 60 managerial posts, which covers wide areas in commercial banking will be axed, while 22 other jobs in Cardiff, Swansea and Newport are going.

    BUSWAY SUGGESTION FOR NEWPORT-CARDIFF CORRIDOR

    Jan 28 - Managing director of Newport Transport Scott Pearson has called for creative transport solutions to Newport's congestion issues. Addressing the M4 relief road consultation he called for a guided busway linking Swansea with Cardiff and Newport would reduce congestion whenever the M4 motorway is closed, according to a senior bus executive.

    Guided busways are concrete tracks which can be used only by buses fitted with steering sensors and the option would be cheaper than the alternative of a new section of motorway around Newport, estimated at £1bn.

    A busway in Bedfordshire

    LABOUR IN A SPIN OVER INTERNAL DISPUTE

    Jan 25 - The authoritarian approach of the Labour Group of Newport Council to party discipline will again be under scrutiny when Miqdad al-Nuiami, councillor for Stow Hill faces censure for describing a colleague as arrogant. The instance arose when al-Nuiami was questioning Education Cabinet Member Bob Poole about the merger of Gaer Infants and Junior Schools. Al-Nuiami claims Poole did not deal with the issues he raised. He will face Party Whips. shortly. 

    POLICE TO RE-OPEN MAINDEE STATION

    Jan 24 - Gwent Police is to reopen seven police stations which closed in 2012 as part of money-saving measures and extend the opening hours of two more. Stations to open from 09:00-17:00 Monday to Friday include Maindee in Newport. Gwent Police and Crime Commissioner Ian Johnston said the move fell within current budgets and would be reviewed after 12 months and a public consultation. In a statement, Mr Johnston said the proposal followed continued public demand.

    HELP FIND NIDA!

    It's nearly four weeks since Nida Naseer went missing from her Newport home in Linton Street Pill. Nida was last seen at the address at approximately 8pm on Saturday December 28th. Nida is of Asian-Pakistani appearance and has long dark hair, is slim and is five feet three inches tall. She was last known to be wearing blue jeans and a black top.
    Despite numerous appeals, extensive local searches and enquiries including house to house, leaflet drops, cctv enquiries, liaison with partner agencies and the community Nida has not been located. While the geographical searches went beyond the original parameters and are now being reviewed, a team of police officers including neighbourhood officers and detectives continue to work on the investigation

    Here, Nida's father Naseer Tahir, her mother Najma Tahir and sister Shamyla Naseer make an emotional appeal to her to get in touch. Nida's 19th birthday is on Saturday January 25th and her family will be missing her, especially, at this important time.

    If anyone has information about Nida's whereabouts they are asked to call Police on 101.

    WELSH GOVERNMENT IGNORES NEWPORT BID

    Jan 24 - The Welsh Government returned to type by ignoring Newport's request for funding for a Business Improvement District in the city centre. The funding, totalling over £200,000, will be split between 9 areas across Wales, selected by the Welsh Government after an application process which saw 14 areas apply. They were selected through a ranking system, based on pre determined criteria and with an expectation that each area attracts match funding of at least 25% from other sources. The areas which have been successful in their application for funding are Bridgend, Caernarfon and Bangor, Llanelli, Pontypridd, Neath, Aberystwyth, Abergavenny, Pant and Merthyr Industrial Estates and Colwyn Bay. Each has received between £17,000 and £25,000.

    GREEN LIGHT FOR CONVENTION CENTRE PLANS

    Jan 23 - Council planners have given the green light for plans to be prepared for a new Convention Centre at the Celtic Manor. A screening opinion concluded that an environmental impact assessment is not required. Match funding, understood to be around £500,000, will be provided by the Welsh Government to allow Celtic Manor management to bring forward  designs and submit the scheme. The proposed state of the art facility could cost between £40m to £60m with construction expected to start in 2014 after the NATO summit with completion by 2016.

    BRACE'S ANNOUNCE PROFIT RISE AND NEW INVESTMENT

    Jan 23 - Brace's Bakery filed a rise in profits even after investing £2m in one of its three bakeries around Newport and area. Profits rose by almost a third at the company behind Brace's bread. According to Insider Media Wales the company plans new investment. A report with its accounts states "The company has had a successful year of trading with turnover for the year increasing from £35.4m in 2012 to £35.9m and gross profit increasing from £9.9m to £10m. During the year, significant investment (£2m) has been made in the Rogerstone site. Despite this, the company's cash position has improved from £978,000 in the prior year to £2m."

    MAJOR POLICING OPERATION TARGETS MOTORISTS

    Jan 22 - Police roads policing officers were out in force in Newport today to target illegal road users. The intelligence-led operation was stationed just off the Coldra roundabout, and aimed to disrupt, deter and detect any vehicle related offences.

    Results from the day included:
    28 vehicles stopped
    7 vehicles prohibited and people reported for vehicle defects
    1 person reported for driving with an invalid licence
    1 person reported for driving a HGV without the appropriate licence
    2 x £100 fixed penalty notices issued for driving without an MOT
    2 x £300 fixed penalty notices and vehicles prohibited for being overloaded
    1 vehicle seized for no insurance

    Organiser, Sgt Keith Rich said; "We regularly carry out these high visibility operations on the main road networks to raise awareness of traffic offences, some of which motorists may be committing without even realising.

    NIKITTA FLAT TO BE DEMOLISHED

    Jan 21 - Newport City Homes has asked Newport Council for permission to demolish 50 and 51 Broadmead Park in the east of the City. The property (number 51) has been empty for almost three years since Nikitta Grender, 19, was found dead there.

    Carl Whant, 28, killed Ms Grender, who was eight months pregnant, and then set fire to the property. He was later jailed for a minimum of 35 years. City councillor Allan Morris said: "I fully support the decision. It's been a difficult time but the decision respects the wishes of Nikitta's family and hopefully now the area can move on."

    YOBS GIVEN ASBO's

    Jan 21 - 43 year old Brian Armstrong and 38 year old Ashley Jefferson from Newport have both been issued with two year ASBOs by Newport Magistrates Court. Working with Newport City Council, PC Paula Spence, Crime and Disorder Reduction Officer provided evidence to the court showing that both men had been acting in an anti-social way, specifically in the Pill area.

    Their behaviour included; shouting and swearing at others, drinking alcohol on the streets at all times of the day and evening and urinating in public in the doorways of homes and local businesses.

    The court orders that both men are not permitted in the Newport area to shout, swear or use foul language, be abusive or aggressive, follow or pester anyone, use or threaten language, drop litter, urinate in a public place or damage any property belonging to anyone else.

    APPEAL OVER MISSING GIRL, 15

    Officers are appealing for information to locate Adriena Gaborova, aged 15, who has been reported as missing from her Newport address. Adriena was last seen on 11th January.

    She is described as being approximately 5 feet 5-6 inches tall, with brown shoulder length hair and is of medium build. She was last known to be wearing white leggings, a blue top and blue shoes.

    Officers believe Adriena may be in the Bolton area where she has contacts. Anyone who sees Adriena, or has information relating to her whereabouts, is asked to call 101 quoting log? 128 12/01/14.

    REPORT PROPOSES MERGER OF NEWPORT AND MONMOUTHSHIRE COUNCILS

    Jan 20 - The Williams Commission on Public Service Governance and Delivery in Wales has proposed a merger between Newport and Monmouthshire as part of its plan to reduce the number of local authorities from 22 to 12 or less.

    The new authority stretching from Marshfield to Chepstow and north to Llanthony will include the City of Newport and market towns such as Abergavenny, Usk and Monmouth together with the M4 communities of Magor and Caldicot. It will comprise a growing population of 237,000 (63 per cent in the City of Newport). The report proposes a cut in the number of councillors from 93 to 75. But Newport's Council Tax could go up by 6.5 per cent to bring in line with levels in Monmouthshire. The Commission called on local authorities and stakeholders to agree the way forward by Easter.

    Monmouth AM Nick Ramsay expressed concern that Monmouthshire will be wiped off the map and said he would fight 'tooth and nail' to preserve its identity.

    BUTLER CALLS FOR MORE AM's!

    Jan 20 - On the day when the Williams Commission was announcing its conclusion Dame Rosemary Butler was calling for an increase in the number of Assembly Members and the bureaucracy that supports them. Speaking to the Welsh Select Committee of the House of Commons she said the assembly had 60 members but, as government ministers and certain other office holders did not sit on committees, only 42 AMs were available to sit on scrutiny committees.

    FLYNN FIRES OFF LETTER TO HOME SECRETARY ABOUT GANGSTER RELOCATED TO NEWPORT

    Jan 19 - A brilliant South Wales Argus expose revealing a gangster from Croydon in London has been re-located to Newport as he cannot be deported to his country of origin has led to a letter from Paul Flynn MP to the Home Secretary. "I understand that the Home Office is refusing to confirm the present location of Mr Giwa. I write presuming that the South Wales Argus story is accurate. Understandably there is deep outrage and anger that a man described as a 'dangerous criminal' and a ‘serious threat to the public and young people’ has been transferred to a residential address in the heart of urban Newport. " He goes on "There is exasperation that criminal immigrants can evade justice by claiming to have lost their passports, disguised their nationality or by otherwise attempting manipulate the system. Has your department no remedies for these ploys?"

    The Argus article stated yesterday "Joland Giwa, General of Croydon’s largest criminal gang, Don’t Say Nothing, has been sent to live in York Place, Newport after being released from immigration detention....Giwa – whose street name is Dexter- had been in immigration detention for more than four years after completing a 27-month prison term for two convicted robberies....Giwa, who was jailed for a string of robberies, has no identity documents but says he is from Sierra Leone. However, Sierra Leone refuses to recognise him as a national and maintains he is Nigerian, a claim which is refuted by Nigeria."

    LEISURE TRUST OPTION FOR CITY SERVICES

    Jan 19 - Key Council leisure services including Newport Centre, the Regional Swimming Pool, Velodrome and Newport Stadium could be run by a trust in future on behalf of the City Council. A report for the Council's Leisure Committee proposes a new delivery model for the service in order that costs can be minimised. The Council would set up a not for profit arms length company under its ownership in order to provide leisure services in future. Savings per annum are estimated at nearly £400,000.

    BLOW TO CITY AS SNOOKER TOURNEY SET TO LEAVE

    Jan 18 - Next month's Welsh Open Snooker Championship will probably be the last to be held in Newport, according to chairman of World Snooker, Barry Hearn. He told the BBC he wanted to drive the tournament forward and look at new venues, potentially in Cardiff, to give spectators a better experience and it was  time to upgrade the tournament into a major event. The council said it recognised that a larger venue may be needed as the tournament had grown over the years.

    CITY COUNCIL SET FOR MERGER PROPOSAL

    Jan 16 - Next Monday, the Williams Commission on public services is likely to recommend a major reduction in the number of councils from the current 22 to as few as 11 or 12. The report is expected to recommend that Newport merges with a neighbouring authority such as Monmouthshire or Torfaen. The last restructuring in Welsh local government was nearly 20 years ago. Last autumn, First Minister Carwyn Jones said he knew of no-one who argued to keep the existing councils in their current form.

    But a major report has revealed the potential full scale of cuts and job losses in councils across Wales in a massive reorganisation of our local authorities. The study has been commissioned by the Welsh Local Government Association ahead of a major review of services due to be published next week. The WLGA says that could result in 15,000 job losses - and that changes of that scale could cost £200 million pounds.

    CWMBRAN MAN JAILED FOR CITY DRUG OFFENCES

    Jan 16 - Telford Rees from Cwmbran was stopped in his car recently in the Victoria area of Newport, following information received from the public. When he was searched, officers found heroin and an old style wooden truncheon.

    His home was searched and further drug paraphernalia were discovered as well as a number of LSD tabs. Analysis of his mobile phone showed that he was involved in the supply of these drugs in Newport. Despite the evidence, he claimed his role in the supply of drugs was minimal, however, when the case came to court he changed his mind and pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to 28 months in prison sending a message that drug dealing will not be tolerated in Newport.

    POLICE TRY TO TRACE BIKE OWNER

     

    Jan 16 - Police are trying to find the owner of a Yamaha motocross bike which was recovered at a property in the Coedkernew area.

     

    A 22 year old man and a 28 year old woman were arrested on suspicion of theft on Friday 3rd January and have been bailed pending further enquiries. Anyone with any information is asked to call Gwent Police on 101 quoting log number 302 03/01/14 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

     

     

     

    COUNCIL BACKS M4 RELIEF ROAD BUT WANTS MORE JUNCTIONS FOR CITY

    Jan 14 - Newport City Council has backed the proposed M4 relief road in its response to Welsh Government consultation on the measure. It calls for greater integration with public transport including a park and ride station at Llanwern. But it's main concern is the potential for the road to bypass Newport altogether.  It states ""a minimum of three junctions (east, west and central) are required to ensure that Newport is not bypassed to the detriment of its economic growth and regeneration. As noted in the recent findings of the city-region task and finish group, Cardiff is not big enough to deliver the growth and inward investment needed for the whole of South-East Wales on its own, and the wider region needs Newport to provide a strong, supporting role to the capital. With major regeneration projects underway, and key sectors flourishing in the city, approving any plan that works to minimise the benefits of Newport’s economic assets will work against the wider city-region ..." It expresses concern about the impact on the Levels given two of the options available, it asks that the route is kept away from the dockland area as far as is possible and expresses a preference for the so-called Black Route. There are so many qualifications and concerns about this road it is clear the Council is very aware that it may only serve to get travellers more quickly to Cardiff and not assist in the regeneration of Newport. Councillor John Richards, Cabinet Member for Regeneration states "I have concerns relating to the prospect of another major road by-passing the City which may adversely affect our economic and regeneration aspirations. I also have concerns that sustainable public transport is not being considered together with the proposed route for a new motorway"

    POLICE STILL SEARCHING FOR NIDA

    Jan 14 - According to Sky News police hunting for missing teenager Nida Ul-Naseer have been searching streams and reens near her sixth-form college. Four  Police officers with sticks have been looking for the 18-year-old from Pill, Newport, on land near Coleg Gwent's Nash Road campus and Lliswerry High School. Nida disappeared when she went to put out the bins on 28 December. Officers are also expected to search the waterfront near Rodney Parade stadium on Tuesday afternoon. They will also search near near the George Street bridge. They have already searched the Transporter Bridge, Lysaght Institute, and Pill Millennium centre in the city.

    PLANNERS BACK REDEVELOPMENT OF ARGUS SITE

    Jan 14 - City Council planners have backed the redevelopment of the South Wales Argus site in Bideford Road, Maesglas. Developers propose the demolition of existing building and redevelopment of the site to provide 82 dwellings with ancillary car parking, open space, access arrangements and landscaping and reconfiguration of the existing South Wales Argus Car Park

    CONSTRUCTION OF FRIARS WALK TO 'START SHORTLY'

    Jan 13 - Newport City Council has confirmed work will commence shortly on Friars Walk following the demolition of Capitol Car Park on Sunday.

    The explosion was carried out by Cuddy Group, the company responsible for the demolition work on John Frost Square. Newport City Council cabinet member for infrastructure, Councillor Ken Critchley, said: “Friars Walk has officially started with a bang with the explosion of the capitol car park. The removal of the car park represents a significant stage in the demolition programme and construction of the eagerly awaited Friars Walk leisure and retail development will begin shortly. The car park has been standing for more than 30 years in the city but it is important that we now look ahead to the next exciting chapter of the city’s history.”

    The experts drilled 750 holes in strategic positions all over six floors of the car park. A charge was inserted into each hole, over 35kg of detonating cord explosive in all, and delay detonators set off over a one second period. Cuddy managing director, Mike Cuddy, was delighted that everything had gone exactly to plan, he said: "Demolition is a very serious business and safety is always the number one priority. It may only take a second or two for the building to fall but the amount of preparation and co-ordination that goes into an event like today is vast. " The debris from the car park will now be cleared and construction work on Friars Walk will start shortly.

    According to Construction Enquirer Bowmer & Kirkland is believed to have won the contract to build the £90m retail and leisure Friars Walk complex. The Enquirer understands that the Friars Walk job is due to start next month. Bowmer & Kirkland is currently working, amongst other projects, on the construction of the latest Center Parcs village in Woburn Forest, Oxfordshire. The Friars Walk scheme will include 35 retail units, restaurants, 360 parking spaces and a new bus station.

    MORDEN COMMENDS FLOOD PREVENTION WORK

    Jan 12 - Jessica Morden MP has commended the work carried out in Newport to prevent and avert flooding. Speaking in the House of Commons she said that it was a narrow escape and called for assurances funding for this ongoing flood prevention work would be maintained "Although there were major flood alerts, there was a lucky escape for the vast majority of residents of my constituency. I thank all those involved, particularly Natural Resources Wales, which has improved defences in recent years and, crucially, ensured that there have been no flood protection job losses. Given how severely Wales was affected by the floods, the size of our coastline and our exposure, will the Secretary of State consult the Welsh Government closely about the resource to be given to Wales in the future?" Environment Secretary Owen Patterson suggested that she take the matter up directly with the Welsh Government and Welsh Secretary.

    CAPITOL CAR PARK DEMOLITION 'MISSED OPPORTUNITY'

    Jan 12 - The demolition of the Capitol Car Park in Newport went ahead this morning at 8.30 in frosty, cold but calm conditions. Hundreds of onlookers took video and photo footage of the demolition with excellent presentation of the event on the South Wales Argus website. The Argus recorded its second biggest number of web visitors. But editor Kevin Ward noted on Twitter that the event could have been given greater focus and that the City Council had missed an opportunity to bring larger crowds in to the centre and to announce the start of the Friars Walk development. He said their approach was 'puzzling'. Councillor Debbie Wilcox replied saying she felt that people were aware of it as they had turned out in their hundreds. But some families and children arrived to watch the spectacular event only to find it had happened already.

    The controlled explosion was undertaken by contractors, Cuddy. 

    Some great footage here

    GARDEN VILLAGE PLAN FOR FORMER ROF SITE

    A unique Garden Village development of 250 new, affordable homes is being developed by Newport-based Seren Group. The former Royal Ordanance Factory site off Corporation Road will be named Loftus Village in honour of ROF worker Ruby Loftus depicted left by Dame Laura Knight. The picture was hailed as the picture of the year in 1943 illustrating the crucial role of women workers in the war effort.

    The Loftus Village development will comprise arts and crafts style 2 and 3 bed homes with gardens, on beautifully landscaped streets, aiming create a village feel at the heart of the City.

    Read the story of Ruby Loftus here

    LLANWERN SCHOOL ON A HIGH

    Jan 10 - Llanwern High is amongst the most improved schools in Wales following the publication of recent results. The school's website states "This will not come as a surprise to anyone who has visited the school to see it in action. From the outstanding learning environment, the emphasis on high quality teaching and the appearance and attitude of the pupils it is obvious that this is a school on an exciting journey. Visitors regularly comment on the positive attitudes and experiences they witness and frequently observe that ‘school was never like this in their day’ and wish they could return."

    Particularly pleasing has been the 27% increase in the proportion of students achieving at least 5 GCSEs that included English and Mathematics. This is an enormous rise which is unsurpassed by any other school. The school states "The commitment of the pupils, staff and parents have been major contributory factors and goes to show what can be achieved when everyone works together."

    The school acknowledges that its improvement is just begining "However, it is acknowledged that this is the start of the on-going process of seeking to provide the highest quality of education for every single one of our students. Not content with the latest outcomes the school is continuing to develop and examples of this is the introduction of the innovative ‘Step 7’ programme where all pupils in this year group will follow a differentiated programme addressing literacy, numeracy and skills development. This will provide a foundation from which access to the curriculum areas will be more effective and efficient."

    At the other end of the school age range i.e. Years 12 and 13 the school has formed a partnership with Caerleon Comprehensive School where Llanwern and Caerleon students share a common curriculum and attend joint classes in either one of the schools. This allows for an increased range of option choices thus meeting the students’ aspirations and needs.

    CAR PARK TO BE BLOWN UP AS PART OF DEMOLITION WORK

    Jan 9 - The eyesore Capitol Car Park will be blown up by explosives, according to reports, this Sunday morning. The demolition work is being carried out by Cuddy Group. The building is currently being prepared for the work with black sheeting around each level as preliminary work is carried out.

    Road closures are anticipated in the city centre area to coincide with the work.

    TWO PEOPLE CHARGED FOLLOWING ASSAULT

    Jan 9 - Following an assault in the early hours of New Years Day on Stow Hill Newport during which a 54 year old man received injuries, two males have been arrested and charged with assault. The 18 year old and 15 year old will appear before Newport Magistrates on January 28th, 2014

    CITY MP PRAISES VOLUNTEER WORK

    Jan 9 - Newport East MP has praised the work of volunteers and Church groups who are supporting the homeless and poor throughout Newport this winter. She said "Every winter Newport churches work together to provide shelter for those sleeping on our streets. Fourteen churches commit to provide a night shelter and a meal every week between November and March. When I visited St Matthew’s Church in Maindee recently around 12 people were being helped in this way thanks to the enormous commitment of volunteers and the charity Eden Gate."

    In addition she congratulated those providing food to poor households affected by benefit cuts and debt hardship "week in, week out congregations are collecting food for the food banks at the end of their services. And it is Ravenhouse Church, Kings Church and the Trussell Trust (based at the Christchurch Centre) who are facilitating the food banks."

    TRESPASS TO OPEN RETAIL PARK STORE

    Jan 9 - Ski and outdoor clothing specialist Trespass is set to open a new store at Newport Retail Park adjacent to Bank Fashion in the near future. This follows news that Nando's will be opening a new restaurant near to the Pizza Express unit in the summer. Only two units are available to let in the main Retail Park (see the Masterplan below)

    POLICE APPEAL OVER TRAVELODGE CAR PARK ROBBERY

    Jan 8 - Police want to speak to a man in connection with a robbery that occurred in Newport in the early hours of New Years Day.

    Two men, having met in the City Centre, walked along High Street, Bridge Street and Station Street. Once they got to the Travelodge car park, between 4.10am and 4.35am, the 44 year old victim was assaulted and robbed. His black leather wallet was stolen. During the assault the victim sustained facial injuries. The assault stopped when two members of the public walked into the car park.

    The offender is described as white, slim build and was wearing a light coloured tracksuit top and jeans. Police would like the two people who walked into the car park to come forward, or for anyone who has information about the incident or recognises the man police want to speak to, to call 101 quoting log number 269 1/1/13.

    FEARS ABOUT ASYLUM STATUS LED TO NIDA'S DISAPPEARANCE

    Jan 7 - A police press conference has revealed missing Pill teenager Nida Ul-Naseer was upset before her disappearance because her family's asylum-seeker status barred her from attending university. She disappeared 11 days ago. Her family's failed asylum bid may have contributed to an argument and he fears that she could not remain in the UK to carry out her studies. Police state they have begun searching three sites - the Transporter Bridge, Lysaght Institute, and Pill Millennium centre.

    Supt Mark Warrender, of Gwent Police, said investigators had checked her computer, her phone and her bank account and they remained "extremely anxious". He told reporters "substantial" amounts of CCTV footage was being examined, friends and family had been interviewed and officers had distributed leaflets around her home a week after she went missing.

    HAYWARD BOOSTED BY SURGE IN DEVELOPMENT

    Jan 7 - Richard Hayward, based near Newport, has told Insider Media Wales he is planning to develop up to £80m of property over the next three years. He said prospects for development had improved dramatically in the past four months. It is clear the Council's decision to get on with the city centre development had assisted it.

    He said: “Suddenly, the world seems a changing place. It’s like someone has switched the lights on. From struggling, we have so much to do that we can’t cope. Newport’s a bit of a play at the moment. We are trying to buy more sites, although we keep being outbid.” Hayward’s sites in Newport include bars in the city centre, a Travelodge hotel, a Tesco shop and a planned Premier Inn hotel. He said the future Admiral office, cinema and Debenhams shop would “help Newport come alive”.

    ALWAY MAN ARRESTED FOR DRUGS OFFENCE

    Jan 7 - Last weekend Alway Neighbourhood Team carried out a drugs warrant at a house in Elgar Circle, where they seized a substantial amount of class B drugs. A 60 year old man was also arrested on suspicion of Possession with intent to supply class B drugs. He has now been charged and will appear in court. We would like to say a big thank you to all local residents for their assistance.

    IMPRISONED FOR DISTRACTION BURGLARY AND THEFT OF ELDERLY LADY'S DEBIT CARD

    On Thursday 11th April 2013, an elderly lady was completing her shopping at Morrison’s in Rogerstone. As the lady paid for her shopping, Marin-Danut Raducan and Irina Anghel (left) watched as she entered her card details into the chip and pin machine at the check-out.

    Whilst unloading shopping from her car outside her home they approached her asking for directions to Manchester and if she had a map. The lady allowed them into her home where she got a map and helped to show them directions.

    Shortly afterwards when checking her handbag, she discovered her Lloyds TSB bank card had been stolen. It was used to make transactions at Supermarkets in Ystrad Mynach, Blackwood and Caerphilly on the same day.

    CCTV evidence identified Marin-Danut Raducan and Irina Anghel pursuing the elderly lady and later using her card at each location. 

    On 30th October 2013 at Newport Crown Court both were sentenced to 2 years 8 months in prison.

    DC Kathryn Price said: “This investigation has resulted in a team of organised criminals being convicted and brought to justice. Vulnerable, elderly people have been targeted and put under false perceptions by these offenders and it is important to make the message clear that this behaviour will not be tolerated and that the communities of Gwent need to be protected from such criminals.”
     

    COUNCIL PLEASED WITH FLOOD DEFENCE WORK

    Jan 6 - Newport City Council and its local service board partners state they successfully delivered a coordinated plan to safeguard Newport residents in four areas of the city identified to be at a high risk of flooding. An alert issued by Natural Resources Wales identified four high risk areas in Newport around Caerleon, Crindau, Stephenson Street and the Levels. "This involved a 24-hour operation which placed the safety of clearly identified groups of Newport residents at the heart of the actions" the Council stated.

    SISTER APPEALS IN MISSING NIDA CASE

    Jan 4- The sister of an 18-year-old woman, who has been missing from her home since 28 December, has made an appeal for information to help find her.

    Nida Ul-Naseer was last seen taking out rubbish at her home in Linton Street in Newport. At a police news conference, Nida's sister Naila appealed directly to her sister - saying that she was not in trouble.

    Gwent Police say Nida, 18, had an argument at home which could have upset her. But they added there was no suggestion she was picked up in a vehicle. "The most worrying thing is she's missed mum's birthday, which is not like her," Ms Anwar told a news conference.

    CITY NARROWLY AVOIDS SEVERE FLOODING BUT ANOTHER PEAK TIDE TONIGHT

    Jan 3 - Despite  a warning of possible severe flooding on the Usk near Crindau and on Caldicot Levels near Redwick most of Newport escaped this morning. Flood waters did stream on to the Alderney Street area of the City affecting some local businesses but significant flooding was avoided. In Caerleon the tidal surge forced the River Usk to flow right across the flood plain.

    Homes on the Lighthouse Park Estate in Wentlooge Levels and in the area north of Crindau Pill were evacuated on Thursday night because of the risk of flooding. "This is the some of the highest tides since 1997, and on top of that it's very windy so that's causing about a one metre surge on top of the tide," said Joanne Sherwood, from Natural Resources Wales (NRW).

    Some roads including the lower end of Caerleon Road between Caerleon and Newport were closed due to flooding as was briefly the Cardiff - Newport rail line, although this has re-opened. The line between Newport and Manchester is still closed due to the poor weather.

    The tide at 8.19am this morning was assisted by a prevailing south westerly winds forcing the water up the Bristol Channel. There is another high tide this evening. Natural Resources Wales stated on their website "This message will be updated after this afternoon’s tidal forecast. High tide at Newport is expected to reach 8.15 metres at 8:30 PM tonight. High tide at Newport is expected to reach 7.6 metres at 9:00 AM tomorrow morning. The previous high tide at Newport reached a level of 8.0 metres at 8:15 AM this morning."

    Jan 3 pm update - no issues with the later tide despite dozens of flood-watchers on the banks of the Usk.

    POLICE WIDEN SEARCH FOR MISSING GIRL

    Jan 2 - Police say they are increasingly concerned for an 18-year-old woman who is missing from her home in Newport. Nida Ul-Naseer has not been seen since last Saturday and did not contact any friends or family over the New Year.

    Police are taking part in a search operation across the city.  Ms Ul-Naseer was last seen taking out rubbish at her home in Linton Street, Pill, at about 20:00 GMT on 28 December. Police are worried because she has not taken her medication with her and is likely to become anaemic without it. Ch Insp Daniel Taylor, who is leading the search operation, said both police and her family are increasingly concerned for her welfare.

    Specially trained search officers with dogs and horses are involved in the search and local officers will be distributing leaflets and conducting more house-to-house enquiries. When she was last seen Ms Ul-Naseer was wearing jeans and a black top. She is is of Asian-Pakistani appearance and has long dark hair, slim and 5ft 3in (1.6m) tall. Gwent Police has asked anyone with information to contact 101 quoting log number 448 28/12/13.

    NANDO'S HEADING TO NEWPORT RETAIL PARK

    Jan 1 - In a further boost for Newport Retail Park Nando's is set to open a new restaurant adjacent to the new Pizza Express site. According to a brochure produced by property agents McMullen and Wilson they will occupy Unit 21 at the Retail Park. Caffe Nero will go in to a new unit next to Carphone Warehouse. The existing unit is being split in to two.

    SEARCH FOR MISSING MAN SCALED BACK

    Dec 31 - Since Ben Caplan was reported missing on Sunday 8th December Gwent Police has followed up on a number of reported sightings of him but sadly none of these sightings have been confirmed.  Officers working with colleagues from the Air support unit and supported by SARA (Severn Area Rescue Association) have undertaken a number of searches which have concentrated on the River Usk and its banks. 

    Chief Inspector Martyn Smith commented: "Our last confirmed sighting of Ben was around 11:45 on Saturday December 7th. Sadly as there has been no confirmed sightings of Ben since then, and following extensive enquiries, it does seem highly likely that he entered the river Usk on that night. As part of our investigation into his disappearance we have obtained CCTV showing a figure, who we believe to be Ben, heading in the direction of Caerleon Bridge at the time Ben was last seen. Whilst we don't see him entering the water the CCTV does capture the water being disturbed. As a result Gwent Police has now taken the decision to scale back search efforts. Ben's family, who have been kept informed throughout our search operation, have been notified and specialist liaison officers remain in close contact with them."

    BUTLER BECOMES A DAME

    Dec 31 - Rosemary Butler, Newport West AM and Presiding Officer of the National Assembly, has been made a Dame in the New Year's Honours List. She has been recognised for promoting diversity including women's rights.

    The Newport West AM's work has seen the assembly named as one of the top 10 family-friendly places to work in the UK. She said: "I've been in politics for 40 years and been in the assembly for 13 of those. During that time I've seen a shift in how women are regarded but they are still not able to take advantage of the opportunities that there are. If the Suffragettes from 100 years ago were alive now I'd think they'd say 'well done girls, but there is still a long way to go'" Ms Butler, 70, was elected presiding officer in 2011.

    FREED GREENPEACE ACTIVIST HOME AT LAST

    Dec 29 - Five UK Greenpeace activists, held in Russia for 100 days, have been welcomed home by relieved family and friends after their release by the Russian authorities. Anthony Perrett from Newport, Alexandra Harris, Phil Ball, crewman Iain Rogers and videographer Kieron Bryan were granted an amnesty from charges over an Arctic oil drilling protest.

    There were emotional family reunions at London's St Pancras rail station. The five were among 30 people held on hooliganism charges and were released under a new Russian amnesty law. They flew from St Petersburg to Paris, then travelled on to St Pancras on Eurostar. Mr Perrett told reporters it was "good to be back" and he was looking forward to going for a walk in the woods, once back home.

    Mr Perrett told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he had been treated well in Russia despite grim surroundings. "We weren't treated like prisoners of war. It had very much the razor wire and the barbed wire and the reinforcing bar which made up cages. It had the aesthetic of a concentration camp." He added that he would be happy to return to Russia to carry out further protests, although Greenpeace currently had no plans for further action there.

    MARSTON'S PUB SET TO OPEN IN JUNE

    Dec 28 - A new carvery restaurant near Alexandra Gate off the Usk Way will open in June. The 180 cover pub will be called 'Blaina Wharf'.

    HMV STORE SET TO CLOSE

    Dec 28 - The HMV store on Commercial Street will be closing in January in a further blow to the city centre. Demolition work in the city centre is proceeding at a rapid pace as a prelude to the Friars Walk development.

    BUS STATION MISSES DEADLINE BUT OPENS ON DECEMBER 28

    Dec 24 - Newport's Market Square opens on December 28, just outside the deadline promised by City Council leaders. All services operating from the Old Bus Station will now operate from Market Square. The Welsh Government has contributed £900k towards the project which will allow the demolition of the main bus station to proceed as part of the general city centre development works. It was due to open in October but the reasons for the delay in its completion are unclear. In a letter to Mohammad Ashgar AM the Welsh Government has denied there were delays in paying the grant to the City Council.

    The City Council stated "Demolition work is progressing well in the John Frost Square area which will eventually see the removal of shops, the Capitol car park and the former bus station. They are making way for Friars Walk, a leisure and retail scheme in the heart of the city centre. Construction work on the project is due to begin early next year. A new bus station will also be created in Friars Walk which will eventually link to the terminus in Upper Dock Street." Cabinet member Ken Critchley welcomed the news "It is excellent news that the terminus will open on the weekend. I appreciate that the delay to its completion has been trying and I have shared that frustration. However, the new terminus and other regeneration work in this area should help to give the market quarter another positive boost following the completion of the revamped market entrance. The upgrading of the customer facilities is an essential element of the city centre’s regeneration.”

    As a result of the full closure of the former bus station, new temporary taxi ranks for Hackney cabs will also come into operation.

    Temporary taxi ranks are being established in the following roads in addition to existing ranks: Baneswell Road (6pm to 6am only) / Queensway (11pm to 6am only)/North Street (24 hours)/ Corn Street (10am-6am)/ Upper Dock Street

    More details here

    STORM DISRUPTS HOLIDAY

    Dec 23 - Ceaseless Atlantic depressions during the early part of the winter have brought significant rain and disruption caused by high winds. A notable storm caused major problems today and through the evening in southern Britain. Tredegar Park was closed today for safety purposes as high winds and the saturated ground increased the risk of flooding and tree falls. The rail line between Newport and Hereford was closed for much of the day due to flooding and travellers were transferred to replacement buses. It re-opened in the evening.

    GYPSY SITE PLAN STILL FACES CHALLENGE

    Dec 21 - Newport's Local Development Plan was passed last week amidst controversy concerning the designation of gypsy and traveller sites. The Plan will now be considered by the Welsh Government with campaigners, particularly in Ringland, vowing to continue the fight. Included in Newport's LDP are proposals for up to 11,622 new homes and five major road projects, including improvements at junction 28 of the M4.

    Despite it being a Welsh Government requirement Newport currently has no official sites for gypsies and travellers. The Council wants to create a main residential gypsy and traveller site, with up to 43 pitches, on land at Hartridge Farm Road. But objectors say it has poor access, would be too big and is too close to Llanwern High School. The Ringland Matters group who oppose the site state "The location of the site is regarded by the Travellers themselves as unsuitable as they have justifiable concerns being too close to Llanwern High School with regard to conflict.  Their preference is to be more remote.   Further consideration should be given other sites such as the former speedway site...the Council have favoured sites to the east of Newport as the preferred locations.  Travellers have expressed no such preference and are more concerned that selection should be based on the suitability of each individual site. "

    SOMERTON MAN IMPRISONED FOR DRUG OFFENCES

    Dec 20 - Andre Taylor from Somerton has been imprisoned for 32 weeks for supplying cannabis. On Saturday 23rd of March a drugs warrant was carried out at Taylor's home in Somerton Park. A large amount of cannabis was seized, including a drug dealers kit, consisting of weighing scales and snap bags. He stated that the drugs were for his own personal use, however, further investigations showed that his mobile phone had been used to organise a large number of drug deals.

    During his time on bail, Taylor was arrested again on suspicion of drug dealing. He mobile phone contained more than 3000 text messages arranging drug deals. In November, Taylor was sentenced to just under eight months in prison, after pleading guilty. PC James Gardner, who investigated the case said: "This shows that we will continue to target and exhaust all avenues of the investigation if you are drug dealing in our communities."

    FSA WARNS CONSUMERS ABOUT TURKEYS FROM LOCAL PROVIDERS

    Dec 20 - A batch of turkey supplied to butchers has been produced in "unapproved premises" and should not be eaten, says the food watchdog. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said Severnside Provisions in Newport processed the product in conditions not meeting hygiene standards.

    Eight tonnes of the turkey butterflies have been retained so far but it is not thought to pose a risk to health. Outlets in parts of Wales and England had been supplied, said the FSA. An FSA spokesman said: "It is suspected that 12 tonnes of turkey butterflies, processed by Severnside Provisions Ltd at premises in Newport, south Wales, were supplied to independent butchers and catering outlets throughout south and mid Wales, south west and south-central England. "Eight tonnes have so far been retained and prevented from entering the food chain after action by Newport City Council. There is no evidence at present of any specific risk to public health from consuming this product."

    BRIGHT WELCOMES REPORT

    Dec 18 - Councillor Bob Bright, leader of Newport City Council, has expressed his support for the Re:Newport task force report which was published last week. He generally welcomed the suggestions in the report and was pleased that some are similar to projects already being developed by the council and its partners.

    “It is gratifying that many of our ideas, such as introducing more residential use of the city centre, are along the same lines as it demonstrates that we are on the right track and all have the best interests of Newport at heart. However, I think we do have to be mindful that many of the recommendations need serious funding to get off the ground and will need investment from the Welsh Government and others if they are to become a reality. Along with others we are looking forward to further discussions with the Task Force and the Welsh Government as these suggestions are developed further. I believe the future is already looking brighter for the city with clear examples of innovative ideas and robust business plans which are changing the face of Newport. The new Admiral headquarters due to open next year and construction set to begin on Friars Walk early in 2014. We will hear in the New Year if our bid for finance from the Welsh Government’s vibrant and viable places framework has been successful. We are hoping to secure more than £13 million for housing-led regeneration projects for the central area of Newport.”

    CAFFE NERO TO OPEN AT SPYTTY

    Dec 17 - The Spytty offer is set to improve with the opening of a Caffe Nero store in the unit previously occupied by Blockbuster video in Newport Retail  Park.

    TREDEGAR HOUSE WORKSHOP GUTTED BY FIRE

    Dec 15 - An investigation is being held after a fire at a building near National Trust-run historic Tredegar House, Newport. South Wales Fire and Rescue Service was called to the workshops on Saturday at about 21:00 GMT. The fire service said the 17th-Century mansion was not affected by the blaze. The National Trust said the house and grounds would open as normal on Sunday for a Christmas event. It is not yet known what caused the fire.

    RENEWPORT REPORT OFFERS EXCITING IDEAS FOR FUTURE OF NEWPORT

    Dec 14 - The Newport Business Development Task Force has put together an exciting report encapsulating the ideas that could be incorporated in a Newport of the future. The report has been widely welcomed and Council Leader Bob Bright has stated it cannot be ignored. Ideas include creating a national centre for cyber learning, a school for hospitality (hotel management and catering), the creation of more sporting academies, an annual cultural festival, a city restaurant and cafe quarter, more focus on chartism, Roman antiquities, illumination of the Transporter Bridge, a software university and a designer outlet incentive for city businesses.

    Stephen Gibson , Chairman of the Taskforce stated "Looking around the world, cities lay claim to many things. In many cases these claims are over-inflated and lack credibility. Our vision for Newport centres on the mobilisation of people, ideas and passion. At the highest level, the City’s future is not just about the development of property but the development of intellectual property: A place where the centre of attention is on ideas and innovation, not just buildings."

    Read the report here

    POLICE INVESTIGATE SIGHTINGS OF MISSING MAN

    Dec 14 - Police are investigating several unconfirmed sightings of missing Newport man Ben Caplan. Mr Caplan, 30, who works for the South Wales Argus newspaper, was last seen at 23:00 GMT on Saturday at Boleros pub in Caerleon.

    Argus Editor Kevin Ward said there had been several reported sightings of him, including one in Cwmbran, where someone matching his description was seen getting into a green Mondeo car. Mr Caplan (pictured left) is described as 5ft 9in (1.65m) tall and slightly built. He has shoulder length straight brown hair.

    He was last seen wearing a navy T-shirt and jeans and has tattoos on both arms as well as his back and chest.

    PILL FIRE 'DELIBERATE'

    Dec 12 - A fire which took nearly 50 firefighters to tackle at a commercial garage site in Newport is thought to have been started deliberately. South Wales Fire and Rescue Service were called to the fire at Coomassie Street in the Pill area of the city at around 06:00 GMT on Friday.

    The two-storey building was "well alight" with flames seen coming out of the roof. The fire service said it believed the fire had been started deliberately. At the height of the fire, nearby buildings had be sprayed with water to help prevent it from spreading. Crews from Duffryn, Maindee, Malpas, Cwmbran, Aberdare and Caerphilly along with firefighters from Roath, Barry and Cardiff Central stations helped fight the fire. Around three hours later, crews were scaled back.

    CONTROVERSIAL BANDINGS REVEAL SCHOOL 'PERFORMANCE'

    Dec 10 - The Welsh Government's controversial school bandings have reported secondary schools achievements during the academic year 2012-13. 

    The scores were derived by assessing school performance within four broad categories:

    Within each category, a school's score is modified to take into account the percentage of pupils eligible for free school meals. Newport's scores were as follow. 1 is the highest band, 5 the lowest. Llanwern High moved from 5 last year to 3 this year. Caerleon Comp went up from 4 to 2.

    St. Joseph's RC High School 29.5 Band 3
    Newport High School 24 Band 2
    Bassaleg School 19 Band 2
    St Julian's Comprehensive School 36 Band 4
    Duffryn High School 31.5 Band 4
    Caerleon Comprehensive School 21.5 Band 2
    Lliswerry High School 42 Band 5
    Llanwern High School 25 Band 3

    OBESE GIRL TAKEN IN TO CARE

    Dec 10 - The Sunday Times has reported a five-year-old Newport girl was taken into care after her weight reached more than 10 stone.

    The girl weighed 10st 5lbs (66.1kg) - more than three times the weight of a healthy child her age - in August 2012, and she was put into foster care. The information was obtained by The Sunday Times in a Freedom of Information request. Newport City Council said a thorough assessment of the child and family is always considered in cases like these.

    COUNCIL SPINS PLAN FOR MORE CUTS

    Dec 7 - Newport City Council’s Cabinet is set to consider a comprehensive list of budget proposals as it seeks to save £10 million over the next year. At their meeting on Thursday 12 December 2013, Cabinet will review over 100 proposals which will seek to deliver the savings the council needs to make - £25 million over the next four years including £10 million next year. Newport City Council currently spends around £250 million every year, providing nearly 1,000 different services. The Council states it is facing a new financial reality with reduced Welsh Government revenue grant funding and increased demand – "we have a growing population with rapidly increasing numbers of younger and older people, coupled with unemployment and deprivation, all of which place additional pressures on council services." In the 2014-15 settlement recently announced Newport received a better deal than other authorities from Welsh Government - a cut of 1.2 per cent compared to 3.5 per cent across the Principality.

    NEWPORT BUS SLASHES FARES FOR 'SHOP LOCAL' DAY

    Dec 4 - In support of Shop Local Saturday Newport Bus will reduce the cash fares to 50p for a single journey on Saturday December 7th.  Shop Local is a national initiative to encourage people to support their local businesses and traders by buying from them instead of the big chains. In order to help shoppers get into Newport City Centre this Saturday, Newport Bus will reduce fares. Please keep reading for all the terms & conditions and how to get the chance to WIN an annual Passport Plus card, for a whole year of free bus travel! 

    50p Shop Local fares are available on

    - single journeys on all bus services in zone 1 of the Newport Bus Network,
    - the 29 & 29B service from Cwmbran,
    - Saturday December 7th only,
    - journeys paid by cash or Freedom Card. (All smartcard products will be accepted as normal.)

    As an extra bonus everyone who buys a 50p Shop Local bus ticket on December 7th is in with a chance to win a whole year of FREE bus travel on all Newport Bus Services. Post your ticket(s) with your name, address, postcode, e-mail address & phone number to: Newport Transport Ltd, Shop Local Competition, 160 Corporation Road, Newport, NP19 0WF. Two winners will be chosen on Monday 23 December 2013. All entries must be received by Friday December 20th. 

    Car parking - For three Sundays in the run-up to Christmas, shoppers in Newport can park free of charge in the council’s multi-storey Park Square car park. There will be no charge between 9am and 5pm on 8, 15 and 22 December. Parking is free every Sunday in the council-run pay and display car parks in the city centre. During the rest of the week, drivers can park for three hours for just £1 in the pay-and-display car parks in Emlyn Street, Faulkner Road, Hill Street, Riverfront and Stow Hill between 8.30am and 6.30pm. The same £1 for three hours offer also applies to Park Square multi-storey car park which is open between 6.45am and 7pm from Monday to Saturday (entry gates close at 6pm and exit gates close at 7pm). Newport City Council’s free Christmas Saturday park and ride has also returned this year.

    CELTIC MANOR AND COUNCIL IN CONVENTION CENTRE DEAL

    Dec 2 - Newport City Council is set to sell a substantial parcel of land to the Celtic Manor Resort for £250,000 to facilitate the building of the Wales International Convention Centre. The land is adjacent to the A449 at Coldra Woods.

    It comprises the following land leased to the Celtic Manor under two leases from the Council dated 1989 and 1991 respectively, both of which have now expired,
    7.04 acres of former agricultural land and woodland currently used as part of the golf course
    4.37 acres of land leased to the Celtic Manor for use as a car park

    In addition 318 square metres (0.078 acres) of land forming part on which part of the hotel has been constructed and 18.27 acres of woodland at Coldra Wood.

    The proposed convention centre will include a state-of-the-art auditorium and exhibition hall and will be fully integrated with the hotel's existing conference centre. The Welsh Government will provide match funding for the initial design and planning stage for the state-of-the-art convention centre.

    'REMORSELESS' TEENAGE THUGS SENT DOWN FOR SAVAGE ATTACK ON HOMELESS MAN

    Dec 2 -  Two Newport teenagers who carried out a vicious attack on a sleeping homeless man face long custodial sentences following their trial at Cardiff Crown Court. Kane Price, 15, and Ashley Farrow, 18, left Vladimir Kazlausks for dead after the 54-year-old was repeatedly hit over the head. Price will serve seven years and Farrow six at a young offenders' institution. The attack took place on May 8 2012 in an underground service access road.

    The court heard how Mr Kazlausks, originally from Latvia, was brutally attacked by the teenagers on 8 May 2012 in an underground service road in Newport known as "junkies' tunnel" where he had been sleeping rough. He was repeatedly hit over the head by a wooden chair leg. One national newspaper has likened the attack to a brutal scene from the film 'Clockwork Orange'. It  is claimed Farrow bragged about the attack. In Court Price and Farrow blamed one another for the attack. Judge Jay at Cardiff Crown Court, said both defendants had shown a lack of human empathy. The BBC quote him as saying "I have struggled to work out what your motivation for the attack, it is beyond the scope of this court's investigation. "Your only mitigation is your age. There has been no genuine remorse from either of you," It added that a pre-sentence report said there was a "very high risk" of Price causing "serious harm to others" if his poor behaviour was not tackled.

    MAN CHARGED WITH MURDER

    Dec 1 - The 49 year old man arrested in connection with the shooting in Newport (on the 8th August 2013) has been charged with the Murder of Caroline Parry and also an offence under Section 18 of the Firearms Act 1968 (carrying a firearm or imitation firearm with criminal intent)

    DISTRACTION SCAM APPEAL

    Dec 1 - Police are investigating reports from residents in Newport of them being contacted by individuals purporting to be police officers, informed their credit cards have been cloned and told that the cards are now required as evidence. A courier has then been sent to the homes of these people to collect them. Please call 101 if you have information.

    WORK BASED LEARNING LAUNCH

    Dec 1 - An innovative scheme offering paid and unpaid work experience to Newport residents has been officially launched at Malpas Court. The Work Based Learning Academy (WBLA) will support opportunities for young people, graduates, apprentices and the long-term unemployed. Until now, Newport City Council and its One Newport partners have offered a pool of work experience placements on an ad hoc basis but this will now be formalised through key partners.

    Councillor Deborah Davies, cabinet member for skills and work, said: “The council, and our One Newport partners, want to put this important work at the heart of our business. Opening up opportunities to help people find permanent employment is important for the individual but also has an economic benefit for the city. “Recent developments in Newport - including the new Admiral offices in the city centre which are due to open next year, the announcement that an international conference centre is to be created at the Celtic Manor and with construction of Friars Walk beginning early next year – signal a renewed confidence in the city. We want to ensure that local people have the best skills and opportunities so they can be part of Newport’s future growth. Unpaid work placements, which will be for a minimum of one week and a maximum of one month, can be used as a stepping stone to sustainable employment. Paid placements will be for at least six months. Newport City Council is committed to building on the success of our work programme which has already helped hundreds of unemployed residents find a role in the workplace."

    NEWPORT CAR AUCTIONS RE-OPENS

    Nov 28 - Newport Auctions has reopened its car auction house, which was heavily damaged by fire in December 2012, following a £500,000 investment. The independent vehicle auctioneer's new-look premises features a reception area, an open-plan auction hall, free wi-fi, enhanced seating and a vehicle testing area. It also includes HD cameras that will broadcast all auctions over the internet, enabling bids to be placed online.

    COUNCILLORS BACK FRIARS WALK INVESTMENT

    Nov 26 - In a rare display of unity Newport's councillors backed the Labour administration's proposal to obtain a loan of £90 million to ensure the development is complete in time for the deadline set by Debenhams - Christmas 2015. Councillors backed the proposal by 44 votes to 1, Conservative David Williams. The Council also apologised for the lack of sensitivity of its handling of the Chartist Mural removal.

    NEWPORT - VALUE STORE RETAIL DESTINATION

    Nov 25 - Callcredit Information Group has released its latest RetailVision Report of the UK retail landscape. This confirms Newport's current retail status as a value retail store. It is second only to Sunderland for discount stores in the United Kingdom. Out of 205 stores 19.5 per cent are classed as value retail. Cardiff city centre is placed 19th and Bristol city centre 14th out of all UK shopping centres, Cribbs Causeway is 49th.

    POLICE APPEAL OVER GENERATOR THEFT

    Nov 22 - Police are appealing for information following the theft of a generator from Duffryn High School, Newport. The generator, belonging to St Joseph's RFC, is believed to have been stolen between 5pm on Tuesday November 12th and 8am Saturday November 16th. Police are appealing for information regarding the theft or anyone who saw anything suspicious at the relevant times to call 101 and quote log number 126 16/11/13

    'BOLD MOVE' BY COUNCIL TO SECURE CITY DEVELOPMENT

    Nov 21 - All members of Newport City Council will next week be asked to agree a funding package that will launch the long-awaited Friars Walk retail and leisure scheme. At the extraordinary full council meeting on 26 November, the council’s Cabinet is proposing to borrow funds to build the scheme, a decision that can secure this landmark city centre development. With anchor store Debenhams indicating a deadline of opening in December 2015 as far as their commitment is concerned the City Council will be expected to make this significant decision next week. Opposition leader Matthew Evans has described it as a 'bold move'.

    Newport City Council is being asked to obtain a loan of up to £90 million for the scheme from the Public Works Loan Board specifically for this development, to be used solely for the building and delivery of this project. The funds obtained by this type of borrowing cannot be used to offset the pressures that the council is already facing on its annual budget. If approved, the council will use the borrowed funds to create a special-purpose loan facility for Queensberry Real Estate who are the council’s development partner, who will draw down the funds to build Friars Walk. This short-term loan will be repaid back to the council by Queensberry Real Estate at a commercial rate of interest when the development is completed.

    What the council is proposing is a cost-effective short-term financing solution which will enable the scheme to get off the ground quickly and meet its opening target date of late 2015. The previous scheme by Modus did not proceed because of a lack of available finance due to the credit crunch, and this decisive action by the council will finally end nearly a decade’s wait for a vibrant new retail heart to the city. With this funding secured, construction can swiftly follow the preparatory demolition work currently taking place around John Frost Square.

    Councillor Bob Bright, leader of Newport City Council, said: “I hope the full council will support this investment in the city for the city. Friars Walk is just one part of Newport’s city centre regeneration but it is a very important piece of the jigsaw. It is one of few such schemes progressing in the UK at the moment. This financial decision can effectively unlock the potential of a £90 million investment in Newport’s city centre. Major names such as Debenhams, Next and Topshop have already shown their confidence in Newport, and we are now asking all councillors to back our city as well.

    “While other funders are also prepared to support the building of this scheme, and may come on board at a later stage, we believe this is the best option at this crucial stage. There can be no clearer signal to the people of Newport that the city, its residents and their futures are at the centre of the council’s plans.” If the proposal is agreed, construction work will begin early next year. Councillor Bright added: “This is not just a retail scheme, it also incorporates a substantial leisure element with Cineworld and restaurants which will create a family atmosphere and a high quality night-time economy in the city centre.

    “A substantial portion of the rental space, around 50 per cent, has already been committed to in line with the deadlines set for the project and more businesses will follow once Friars Walk begins to take shape. It is also important to note that this is not a typical “stand-alone” mall as it has been designed to form a part of the current commercial centre, encouraging shoppers to flow into the existing streets and retail areas. I am sure that members of the full council will give their support to the proposal as it will mean that Friars Walk – which residents and businesses have been eagerly waiting for – can become a reality sooner rather than later.”

    NEWPORT BEATS CARDIFF TO WELSH CONVENTION CENTRE

    Nov 20 - The Celtic Manor Resort in Newport has confirmed plans for a new Wales International Convention Centre which would attract leading conferences from all over the world. The Welsh Government will provide match funding for the initial design and planning stage for the state-of-the-art convention centre which would include a new auditorium, exhibition hall and associated facilities with capacity for around 4,000 delegates, making it the largest facility of its kind in Wales or the south west of England.

    The match funding scheme was announced yesterday (November 20) by Minister for Economy Edwina Hart and Celtic Manor Resort Chairman Sir Terry Matthews. It will allow Celtic Manor to submit a proposal for outline planning consent next year. The new convention centre would allow Wales to compete for major conference business with destinations like Liverpool, Dublin and Edinburgh, where economic benefit to the city region has been reported at more than £350m since its International Convention Centre opened in 1995. The proposed development would be fully integrated with the existing convention centre at The Celtic Manor which already holds the Caernarfon Suite, for up to 1,500 delegates, and an additional 31 syndicate and meeting rooms. It would also benefit from the high profile of Celtic Manor, the expertise of its personnel and the strong reputation and brand that has been established in the conference and events marketplace. The Wales International Convention Centre would have the capacity to attract much bigger events to Wales like political party conferences, international summits and showpiece conferences for multinational, blue chip companies and large associations.

    Match funding, understood to be around £500,000, will be provided by the Welsh Government to allow Celtic Manor management to bring forward  designs and submit the scheme. The proposed state of the art facility could cost between £40m to £60m with construction expected to start in 2014 after the NATO summit with completion by 2016. Each year the Celtic Manor is forced to turn away around £100m in business as it cannot accommodate demand to stage larger conferences.

    GREENPEACE ACTIVIST HELD IN RUSSIA BAILED

    Nov 20 - A Greenpeace eco-activist arrested in Russia during a protest against drilling in the Arctic has today been granted bail but it is not known if he will return to the UK. Anthony Perrett, from Newport, was one of 30 activists 'the Arctic 30' from 18 different countries  detained by Russian authorities. Two months after he was first arrested, Anthony Perrett has been granted bail by a court in northern Russia, along with fellow Britons Alex Harris and Kieron Bryan as well as two Dutch nationals. The thirty were originally detained on charges of hooliganism after taking part in a protest at an Arctic offshore oil rig operated by the Russian company Gazprom.

    TEACHER STRUCK OFF FOR TWO YEARS

    Nov 20 - A teacher who it is claimed had sex with a 16-year-old pupil who had just left her school has been found guilty of professional misconduct. Claire Horton, 33, from Newport, was found guilty at a General Teaching Council for Wales disciplinary hearing. She admitted what she called "the ultimate sin" of crossing professional lines while working at Fitzalan High School in Cardiff but denied sexual activity with the teenager. She was struck off the teaching register for at least two years. The hearing was told the teacher and pupil made contact through Facebook within weeks of him leaving school. Ms Horton had been a teacher at the school for 10 years and was going through a difficult marriage break up.

    CHARITY FRAUD QUARTET SET FOR TRIAL

    Nov 16 - Four people have been charged with conspiracy to commit fraud over the running of a Newport-based music charity for young people. It is understood those include the co-founders of 'Life Music Foundation'. They will appear at Newport Magistrates Court later this month.

    Two others have also been charged, Nikki O'Connell, 35, and Gareth Williams, 33, from Bridgend. The charges follow a Gwent Police investigation that has lasted for several months. On its website, Life Music Foundation describes itself as a registered charity which aims to "develop the music skills of primarily young disadvantaged people". It says it provides opportunities for young people to record in studios and organises specialist music lessons.

    APPEAL OVER BETTWS ACCIDENT

    Nov 15 - Police are appealing for information after a collision occurred just after the traffic lights on Bettws Lane on Monday evening (November 11th). The collision, between a pedestrian and a silver car, possibly a Ford Focus, happened at about 10.15pm. The 29 year old female pedestrian suffered minor injuries for which she has received treatment. The vehicle didn't stop after the collision and Police are appealing for the driver, or anyone who witnessed the collision to contact them on 101 and quote log number 160 14/11/13

    HOMES BOARDED UP, TENANTS EVICTED AS POLICE DEAL WITH ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR

    Nov 14 - Two homes, one on the Old Barn Estate in St Julians and another in Barthropp Street, Lliswerry are now boarded up for at least three months, after Newport East Neighbourhood Policing Teams obtained anti-social behaviour closure orders from Newport Magistrates Court on Thursday 14th November 2013. Crime and Disorder Reduction Officer, PC Leanne Pole provided evidence at Newport Magistrates for each separate closure order. She explained that the occupants and their associates were allegedly supplying drugs from the properties and causing anti-social behaviour.

    Residents in both areas told police that there would be visitors constantly hanging around in the street, shouting and swearing and there would often be late night parties with loud music. At the Old Barn Estate this would result in rubbish, such as empty beer cans and cigarettes, being discarded in the street, whilst over in Barthropp Street, the parties would sometimes result in alcohol related violence, when the party-goers would fight in the street. As a result of the orders, steel shutters have been installed and the properties will remain boarded up for a minimum of three months. During this time anyone who attempts to enter the properties, can be arrested by police.

    Sergeant Scott Askew of Maindee Neighbourhood Policing Team, whose team oversaw the Old Barn closure said: "Residents in Newport have the absolute right to live in a peaceful environment where they don't fear for their safety. Anyone compromising this should expect action to be taken.

    MORE HOUSING AND MORE TAKE-AWAYS

    Nov 14 - A quick perusal of planning applications lodged with the Council confirms the preponderance of housing developments and take away outlets that will dominate the cityscape. The Shire Hall building at Pentonville is being converted into luxury apartments, the former South Wales Argus building is set to be demolished and replaced with 82 dwellings, the Panasonic building at Duffryn is set to go the same way as is the former Central Kitchen on Rockfield Street. In rundown Maindee the former AF Thomas Electronics store is set to become a Bakery and Pastry store and a former building society is set to become yet another take away outlet.

    NATO SUMMIT SET FOR SEPTEMBER

    Nov 14 - The next Nato summit will be held at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, on 4 and 5 September 2014, Prime Minister David Cameron has confirmed. It will be the UK's first Nato summit since 1990. The Nato meeting is expected to be attended by US President Barack Obama on his first visit to Wales. Rosemary Butler AM stated "This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase Newport and Wales to the rest of the world".

    MAYOR OPENS NEW MARKET ENTRANCE

    Nov 12 - Newport’s Mayor Councillor Cliff Suller has officially opened the new High Street entrance of the historic Newport Market. The ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the completion of a £1million project, funded by Newport Unlimited, to refurbish part of the grade-two listed building. A new central entrance has been created flanked by smart new units topped by brightly coloured canopies. The market is clearly signposted by a striking monolith in High Street amid new terracing and seating for shoppers.

    Council leader Bob Bright said: “This is the centrepiece of a transformed market quarter which includes improvements to the public realm around the market and is part of our major regeneration of the city centre. Work is progressing on Cambrian redevelopment, which will become home to Admiral next year, in the nearby Gateway area and all these projects will make a huge difference to this part of the city centre.”

    A much delayed new bus terminus in Upper Dock Street, which is expected to attract between two and three million passengers a year, is also nearing completion and is due to open before Christmas.

    There has been a market in the heart of Newport for hundreds of years. Originally a provisions market, the stalls now offer a variety of produce, goods and services. The earliest part of the building that can be seen today dates back to 1864. It was built to replace the existing market which was not big enough to cope with the growth of trade at that time. It was owned by the Duke of Beaufort who sold it to the Newport Corporation in 1885. The market was then extended at a cost of £42,000 to include the Upper Dock Street entrance with its tower and a barrel-vaulted roof and this was opened in 1899. The central section of the upper floor was added in the early 1930s. Other work has been carried out in the intervening years, notably in the early part of this century when Catrin Jones was commissioned to design the striking window on the first floor.

    M4 RELIEF ROAD PLAN CRITICISED BY TRANSPORT EXPERT

    Nov 8 - A transport expert has criticised the proposed M4 relief road and suggested that it will not deliver the economic benefits suggested.  Professor Stuart Cole from the University of South Wales told AMs: "We're not likely to see this new M4 by 2020....construction costs are rising by about 10% a year; we could see all of these figures being substantially more if there is a delay in building any of the schemes, so the total cost of building the motorway will undoubtedly increase as we go along." He warned environmental objections would mean at least "three years of argument" before construction of the £1bn road begins.

    He is proposing an alternative scheme to deal with congestion around Newport linked to the revamped A48. He questioned whether Welsh government projections of rising traffic on the existing M4 were correct, saying traffic growth had "plateaued out". His proposal would save £600 million it is claimed. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and a number on environmental groups have already said they oppose the idea of a new motorway.

    RAM-RAID BURGLARS SENT DOWN FOR FOUR YEARS

    Nov 7 - Two Newport burglars have been sentenced to four years in prison following the theft of a vehicle in Thompson Avenue. On Tuesday 17th September 2013, a burglary took place in Thompson Avenue and the keys to a vehicle were stolen while the occupiers were sleeping upstairs. The stolen vehicle was later used in a ram-raid style burglary at Tesco Express in Rogerstone and another burglary at Tesco Express in Malpas. Michael Marsh was arrested and later sentenced at Cardiff Crown Court to 4 years and 5 months in prison. John Littlejohns was arrested and later sentenced at Cardiff Crown Court to 4 years in prison.

    BUS STATION SAFETY RISK

    Nov 7 - People are putting themselves and bus users at serious risk by walking on the bus pad in Newport bus station, according to the police and Council. Some pedestrians are using the station as a short cut as work on the new Friars Walk scheme gets under way. Part of the former bus station is still being used for some Newport Bus services until the new terminal in Upper Dock Street is completed later this year.

    CND TO PROTEST AT NEWPORT SUMMIT

    Nov 6 - The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) has reiterated its opposition to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), as it is announced that Newport will host the military alliance’s 2014 summit. This is the first time that Britain will host NATO leaders since the end of the cold war in 1990. Since then, it states, thousands have died in NATO’s wars in Afghanistan and Libya as the alliance ruthlessly pursues global military influence and aggressive military expansionism.

    CND’s General Secretary Kate Hudson commented “CND does not believe that Newport, or anywhere else in the UK, should host a NATO summit. Rather, we believe that Britain should withdraw from NATO and all foreign military bases on British soil should be closed. We will be highlighting the summit to show the public’s opposition to an alliance which encourages a more militarised and confrontational international system. Its global expansionism increases international tension and jeopardises disarmament initiatives."

    SHEEN AND CITY COUNCIL RECONCILE ON MURAL

    Nov 6 - After a succession of PR disasters Newport City Council has recovered some ground by reconciling its difference with Michael Sheen.  The Council's website states "Newport City Council and Newport-born actor and producer, Michael Sheen, have begun a dialogue about how the Chartists and their values can be promoted in new ways throughout next year’s 175th anniversary of the uprising in the city."

    Council leader Bob Bright met Michael Sheen while he was visiting south Wales this week and found considerable common ground on how they might work together - and with others in the Newport community - to facilitate a year-long celebration of the democratic ideas inspired by the Chartists.

    Among the specific points agreed were:

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_anDpzjfvZpw/TIJ-p6eCxXI/AAAAAAAACto/UJjWd40vKwM/s1600/King+William+IV+Npt.JPG PUB SET TO BECOME FLATS

    Nov 3 - An historic Newport city centre building is being turned into high quality flats thanks to a partnership between the owner and the city council. Built in the 19th century and occupying a prominent position on the corner of Commercial Street and Kingsway, the former King William public house has been empty for several years.

    Work is now under way to convert the building into flats with a high quality specification while preserving some of the original features. Councillor John Richards, cabinet member for regeneration and development, said: “This exciting project ties in nicely with our long-held belief that one of the keys to regeneration of the city centre is to have more people living there.

    “Early next year, we will find out if our £13.3 million bid for the Welsh Government’s Vibrant and Viable Places funding has been successful. We are proposing a housing and heritage-led regeneration programme for the central area of the city. “It is aimed at reinvigorating the city by tackling problems of vacant properties, community disadvantage and housing shortfall. Hopefully, we will be able to emulate what is being done in the King William for other key landmark buildings.

    NATO SUMMIT SET FOR NEWPORT

    Oct 31 - The UK's first summit of Nato members since 1990 will be held at Newport's Celtic Manor next year, David Cameron has announced. The prime minister said it was "Wales' turn for one of these big events," and it was welcomed by First Minister Carwyn Jones.

    The Nato meeting will be attended by US President Barack Obama on his first visit to Wales. Mr Cameron will also announce changes to powers in Wales on Friday. Making the Nato meeting announcement, he told ITV Wales News: "I think this is a great moment for Wales to advertise its modern and economically brilliant face to the world. We're going to have up to 60 world leaders including President Obama and the president of France and Chancellor of Germany coming to Wales for this vitally important Nato conference, so I think it's a very good moment for Wales to put its best foot forward."

    There are currently about 87,000 troops in Afghanistan under Nato command, the bulk due to leave by the end of 2014. David Cameron said the 28-member organisation remained the cornerstone of the UK's national security.

    Celtic Manor Resort Chairman, Sir Terry Matthews said “We are honoured to be welcoming such a momentous and prestigious global event to Wales and look forward to showcasing the Resort on the world stage.”

    LABOUR HOLD PILL

    Oct 31 - Labour has comfortably held its seat in the Pillgwenlly ward, vacated following the death of Ron Jones. Omar Ali won 500 votes. Khalilur Rahman (Plaid Cymru) received 167 votes, Tony Ismail (Conservative) 155 votes and Paul Halliday (Liberal Democrat) 233 votes. The result indicates a much reduced majority for Labour and a significant lower percentage of the vote. Of the other parties the Liberal Democrats improved their showing markedly.

    CABINET MINUTE CRITICISES LOCAL PAPER AND EDITOR STATES HIS RESPONSE

    Oct 30 - The minute Newport City Council's October 21st Cabinet Meeting has included a surprising minute referring to coverage by the South Wales Argus of the Council's mishandling of the Chartist Mural demolition. It states "Cabinet Members highlighted the failure of the South Wales Argus to publish on-line, the Leader’s response to Michael Sheen’s letter and looked forward to more balanced reporting in the future." In a sharply worded response editor Kevin Ward in today's paper to criticise the Council's leadership "The timing and manner of the mural demolition was just plain stupid. It resulted in damaging publicity across the media, locally and nationally. Some Labour councillors have been quick to attack the Argus for our coverage of the demolition and the response to it. It is a classic politicians' response to go on the attack when things are going wrong. When things go wrong in any organisation - particularly one that serves the public - the person at the top should take responsibility and be the person who responds in public. This does not seem to be the case with the current leader of the council.....They need to look at the how the bad publicity - on television, radio and in the national Press - was created. And then they need to direct their fire a little closer to home, however uncomfortable that might be. .."

    Comment - The leadership of the Council mishandled this issue very badly. Justifiably the Argus asked why the demolition was carried out in such a insensitive manner. It put some awkward questions forward that were not answered. The Council's response was slow in coming and more symptomatic of an old style east European state. It highlighted a lack of direction in the way the Council is led and its detachment from the feelings of most Newportonians.

    PILL SET TO VOTE FOR ITS COUNCILLOR

    Oct 30 - Tomorrow Newport's most deprived ward will select its new councillor. 44 per cent of people in Pill are economically inactive (UK average 26 per cent), numbers receiving Jobseekers Allowance as percentage of working age people 13.3 per cent (UK average 3.2 per cent), 33 per cent are reliant on social security benefits (UK average 11.7 per cent). Out of 4100 people of working age 305 have been out of work for over six months. 56 per cent of people there have no formal qualifications (UK average 36 per cent). The turnout at the last Council election in 2012 was a pitiful 25 per cent with the usual two Labour candidates elected.

    It has been a troubled election campaign, Labour originally selected Chris Herriot who its alleged made some ill considered comments. He was dislodged and Omar Ali named as his replacement. Khalilur Rahman (Plaid Cymru),  Tony Ismail (Conservative) and Paul Halliday (Liberal Democrat) were also selected.

    At a hustings meeting reported by the Argus 90 potential electors turned up to voice their opinions about Pill. It was quite unlike any hustings meeting likely to take place in Wales covering broken lives, homelessness, alcoholism, drugs and regeneration. It reported 'one resident asked candidates what they would do to tidy up Commercial Road, saying the buildings are a disgrace. Mr Ali said work was not going to happen overnight and it was something that needed to be chipped away at, but Mr Halliday claimed previous administrations hadn’t spent money earmarked for Pill.'

    Pill is part of Newport's heartland. It housed hundreds of dock workers and their families. It is intrinsic to the City's identity, the centre of immigration and culture. Not just a ward for placemen (or women).

    If you look at the Council's website it states "The Pillgwenlly Regeneration Project is a four-year programme which will deliver major regeneration in the Pillgwenlly area through environmental improvements, a business grants scheme, and the creation of a community resource centre. The centre will house social enterprises and a vocational training facility. The project has been backed by a £6.7m funding package, including support from Newport City Council, the European Regional Development Fund, Targeted Match Fund and Newport Unlimited." Looking at it now and in the knowledge that the same people have been representing this area for many years you may well ask what has been achieved for the poorest people in our City?

    CITY CENTRE BOOST AS FRIARS WALK SIGNS UP FIVE RESTAURANT CHAINS

    Oct 25 - Newport has received some much-needed positive publicity with the news that five restaurant chains have signed up for the proposed Friars Walk development. Frankie & Bennys, Nando's, Chiquito, Prezzo and Cosmo have all signed up. According to developer Queensberry a further three restaurant units (of the six available) are also under offer. Debenhams, Top Shop and Next are all confirmed for the retail centre (comprising 35 units) with other fashion retailers set to confirm shortly. Cineworld will be the anchor cinema operator.

    Queensberry Real Estate was chosen by Newport City Council to rejuvenate the city centre with a modern shopping centre that integrates in to Newport’s existing retail fabric. Friars Walk will bring more than 390,000 sq ft of modern, well-configured retail and leisure space, creating more than 1,100 jobs. it will include 35 retail units, 10 restaurants, 360 parking spaces and a major new bus station and interchange. Demolition of the site is due to begin at the end of this month with construction due to start shortly after.

    Stuart Harris, head of leasing at Queensberry, commented, “These five family restaurants are another great addition to our line up at Friars Walk, they all see the huge potential in a rejuvenated Newport."

    OLD TOWN DOCK REGEN SET FOR AWARD

    Oct 25 - The landscaping project that has transformed part of the Old Town Dock area of Newport into an attractive public space complete with wetland, meadows and lawns, is to be recognised with a national award. Blakedown Landscapes Operations Ltd, the commercial landscaper appointed by Newport Unlimited who invested £600,000 in the project, has been chosen by the British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI) as a winner in the National Landscape Awards 2013.  

    It will receive the award for best Restoration and Regeneration Scheme for the project at a ceremony in London on December 6. Hamish Munro, head of regeneration at Newport Unlimited, said: “We are thrilled that this project is to receive such a prestigious award and praise must go to Blakedown for delivering such an inspirational concept, and to landscape architects Gillespies who designed it.  “They have succeeded in retaining original historical features of the area, such as the old dock wall, while creating an attractive new open space that residents can enjoy, and Newport can be proud of.  

    GOODBYE TO NEWPORT UNLIMITED

    Oct 24 - Newport Unlimited, the regeneration company which was backed by Newport City Council, is to close in March 2014. Regeneration will be led instead by a team at the council, working with a Welsh Government task force.

    According to Bob Bright, leader of Newport Council, Newport Unlimited had fulfilled much of its original vision. He said: “Projects spearheaded by the urban regeneration company have transformed large parts of the city. For instance, it is difficult to remember that Old Town Dock and other areas bordering the river were once derelict and neglected. The end of Newport Unlimited will certainly not mean the end of regeneration for the city as we recognise there is still work to do and, together with the Welsh Government, the council will continue to strive to bring improved living, working and leisure opportunities to Newport.”

    The council’s economic regeneration team will work with the task force for Newport which was set up by economy minister Edwina Hart. It is chaired by Simon Gibson, chief executive of Wesley Clover, who had previously been a member of Newport Unlimited’s board. The city has submitted a bid for £13.3m over three years from the Welsh Government’s Vibrant and Viable Places fund.

    ANOTHER PR CALAMITY FOR COUNCIL AS MARKET BUS STATION WORK DELAYED

    Oct 24 - Having spent the last week publicising the closure of the City's main bus station Newport City Council has been forced to face reality. The new Market Square bus station will not be ready until 'before Christmas'. Work on the demolition of part of the old bus station and the former Capitol Car Park will go ahead 'next week'. The Council's decision to admit the bus station will not be complete follows a torrent of publicity advertising the new stops including the Market Square development. The news was just published on their website.

    The statement says "Opening of a new bus terminus in Upper Dock Street, close to Newport Market, has been unavoidably delayed. Newport City Council apologises for any inconvenience this will cause but a number of unforeseen problems encountered during the construction have affected the programme of works. The council is doing everything it can to work with the contractors to complete the work as soon as possible. It is anticipated that the bus terminus will be completed before Christmas. Until then, some bus services which were due to have operated from the new terminus from Monday 28 October will continue in the existing bus station. Demolition work in the John Frost Square area is due to start next week, in preparation for the Friars Walk scheme. It was originally intended to completely close the present bus station at the same time. However, stands 2-11 will now remain open for the services that will eventually transfer to Market Square. Access will only be available from Corn Street."

    The new bus service details from October 28 are here

    MP CONDEMNS BEDROOM TAX AS RENT ARREARS SPIRAL

    Oct 23 - New figures released today show an explosion in rent arrears across Wales following the introduction of the Tory-led UK Government’s controversial Bedroom Tax. A survey of twenty-two Housing Associations across Wales by Newport East MP Jessica Morden has revealed that many tenants who have previously kept up with rental payments have now fallen into arrears. The Wales-wide survey conducted between July and October uncovered an average of 51% of these tenants falling into arrears since the widely criticised tax came into effect in April this year. Her analysis shows Newport City Homes has accumulated £150,000 in the first six months of the financial year.

     The extent of these arrears means that Housing Associations are already being hit with an additional £750,000 of rent arrears which on current trends is tipped to hit £1 million by the end of the year. She said "“These figures make for horrifying reading, and show that the Bedroom Tax is forcing people into a spiral of debt and arrears not only in my constituency of Newport East but across the country. This is not a local problem or a statistical one-off, it is a nationwide scandal. People across Wales are struggling with the cost of living crisis that the Tories’ failed economic policies have created. The people affected were just managing to keep their heads above water, now the Tory Bedroom Tax is pushing them over the edge. It beggars belief that this pernicious tax is responsible for plunging an average of over half of people with a previously good record of rent payment into arrears. In some areas, the figure is as high as 75%. This terrible tax will see homelessness soar, and weaken the financial ability of housing associations to reinvest in upgrading their houses..."

    SIX YEARS FOR BETTWS MAN

    Oct 23 -  An unprovoked attack by a Bettws man led to his imprisonment. Last year, 45 year old Sean Matthews was in a pub in Bettws, Newport, when he saw his victim with his wife and friends. Sean Matthews had previously been spotted using drugs by the victim's wife, who had stood up to him. That night, Sean Matthews saw the victim stood by the bar with his wife and decided to attack him. He threw a glass bottle towards him, which hit him in the forehead, resulting in a serious injury that required hospital treatment. Police arrested and charged Matthews. He then appeared at Cardiff Crown Court where he was sentenced to six and a half years in prison for grievous bodily harm with intent.

    TRAVELLERS SET UP AT HOSPITAL CAR PARK

    Oct 22 - French travellers blocking health workers from parking at a hospital say they will stay another day despite a request to leave the staff car park. NHS officials have written to the travellers asking them to move the 13 caravans from the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport by 16:00 BST on Tuesday. However the travellers - who are taking up 65 spaces - said they would not leave until Wednesday. The hospital has been seeking legal advice to try and move the vehicles. The travellers arrived late Saturday afternoon and moved on to the 300-space car park. Surgeons, doctors and nurses were turned away on Monday, but a hospital spokesman said patient services had not been disrupted. Oct 23 - they have moved on!

    MISSING GIRLS SAFE

    Oct 21 - 13 year old Jessica Brant and 14 year old Shannon Bladen, both from the Alway area of Newport, who were reported missing to police have now been found safe and well.

    SHEEN WRITES OPEN LETTER TO PEOPLE OF NEWPORT

    Oct 18 - Michael Sheen has used the pages of the South Wales Argus to write an open letter t