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LANDLORD CHARGED FOR PROVIDING SUB-STANDARD HOUSING

Aug 2 - A Newport landlord has been ordered to pay thousands of pounds in fines following failure to comply with legal notices served by the city council’s public protection service. Mr Mohammed Sallem Ullah of High Cross Lane, Newport was found guilty of two offences under the Housing Act 2004 after failing to carry out work at his property in Hoskins Street in Newport.

Improvement notices had been served by the council in June 2007. Subsequent revisits to the property by environmental health staff in September 2007 and January 2008 found that the work required by the notices had not been carried out. The property had deteriorated further and was closed using emergency powers to prevent harm to the occupants. On 23 July, magistrates at Abergavenny court ordered Mr Ullah to pay at total of £2,500 in fines; a £15 Victim Surcharge and £2,000 were awarded towards the council’s costs. Fines would have been higher had it not been for a change of plea during the case.

Mr Ullah had claimed that he had a reasonable excuse for not completing the work at the property and that access had been refused by the occupants. The bench did not accept this excuse and in mitigation Mr Ullah accepted that he should have taken steps to end the tenancies and that he should have sought more time from the council in order for him to do this.A council spokesperson said: “It is unacceptable for landlords to allow their properties to deteriorate in condition affecting often vulnerable tenants and the wider community."

NEWPORT POLICE WARN OVER ROGUE TRADERS

Aug 2 - Police in Newport are trying to stop people being conned by rogue traders. Detectives are looking into reports from the public that groups of men with Irish accents have been knocking on doors touting for work. When people have shown an interest, the men have given homeowners an inflated quote and returned soon after to begin carrying out work of a poor standard. Elderly and vulnerable people are particularly at risk of being pressured into accepting quotes.

Last week a 76 year old Newport woman was pressured into handing over £350 to men with Irish accents.The men did not finish work on the pensioner's driveway, yet they drove her to a cash point to withdraw money to pay them. Three men have already been arrested and are being questioned after a neighbour saw what was going on and called police. But detectives are still looking for another two men. Gwent Police want to make people aware that when workmen give a quote for more than £35 they are required by law to give the customer a seven-day cooling off period. The customer then has time to consider whether they want the work doing and they are entitled to reject the quote without giving a reason.

POLICE CHASE RETAIL PARK THIEF ON TO RAILWAY

Aug 2 - Police have revealed that on Thursday rail services between Newport and Cardiff were delayed as they chased a thief from Maesglas Retail Park on to the tracks. Police Inspector Sian Flynn said the operation to catch the suspected thief started at 5.20pm. Network Rail was informed at 6.25pm when the man ran onto the line and trains were stopped while investigations were carried out.

Insp Flynn said the suspect was arrested on suspicion of theft. A Network Rail spokeswoman said the line was closed for 15 minutes and reopened at 6.40pm. She added: “It did cause a little bit of a delay because the trains had to stop.”

THREE TO BE JAILED FOR CANNABIS MURDER

Aug 1 - Three men were today convicted of the manslaughter of an illegal immigrant who was dumped fatally injured at the Royal Gwent Hospital. Tran Nguyen, 44, was repeatedly beaten after being accused of stealing plants from the cannabis factory he tended in Newport, a jury at Cardiff Crown Court heard during a four-month trial.He died in November 2006, two months after arriving in the UK in the back of a lorry.

Thanh Van Le, 31, and Cong Van Le, 48, both of Canterbury Road, Feltham, and Quynh Van Huynh, 51, of Caldwell Street, Lambeth, south London, were found guilty of manslaughter by a majority of 10 to two after being cleared of murder. The men, who had denied murdering the father-of-two, will be sentenced at a later date.

MORE STORES JOIN FRIARS WALK LINE UP

July 30 - In a further boost for the Friars Walk shopping mall developer Modus has revealed further additions to the stores joining the scheme. Already confirmed as signed up to the scheme are two anchor tenants at each end of the mall Debenhams (105,000 square foot store) and Marks and Spencer (80,000 sq. ft.). In addition there will be new larger stores for River Island, Boots, JJB Sports, New Look and Republic. Also confirmed are Starbucks, Nandos, Pizza Express and Passion for Perfume. The following stores/retailers have agreed terms with Modus or are in negotiation - Next, Top Shop, Dorothy Perkins, Burtons, Las Iguanas, Holland and Barrett, La Senza and Greggs (the bakers). A further five units are under negotiation. Vue are the cinema operator for the scheme although they have not formally exchanged contracts with Modus. In addition, Delph Property Group announced in May that they would be purchasing 205 apartments in the scheme's residential tower. Given this positive news, all they need to do is start building it!

BUS ADVERTISING BOOST FOR NEWPORT TRANSPORT

July 29 - CBS Outdoor has won a five-year contract to sell advertising on Newport Transport.

This is the second consecutive deal between the outdoor firm and the City's main bus operator - which has an 86-strong fleet of buses - and is worth £1.3m. Effective from 1 January next year, CBS will be responsible for all interior and exterior ad opportunities, and will have the opportunity to target several thousand journeys every year. This is a welcome boost for the transport company who recently pulled out of the running of a number of non-profit making bus routes in the City area.

HOPEFUL SIGNS ON FRIARS WALK

July 28 - Although official confirmation from Modus has not been forthcoming there are now hopeful signs that work on Friars Walk will commence shortly. Shoe retailer AG Meek will move to its new Lower Dock Street premises at the end of this week in order to vacate their current shop adjacent to Newport bus station. In addition, Nuthouse, the hair stylist currently adjoining the Potters Arms on the opposite side of the entrance to the bus station will be moving to new premises in Newport Arcade. The redevelopment of the bus station site and top end of Upper Dock Street will allow for work to start on Friars Walk. The giant banner advertising the development has also now re-appeared in John Frost Square. In other retail developments in the city centre there is still no news on the two retailers joining the Kingsway Centre, Clarks are moving to bigger premises further along Commercial Street and KFC has closed (at the bottom of Stow Hill) and the shop is undergoing a major refit. In the leisure sector, Yeats has morphed in to a new bar, Seven, the former Lloyds pub is undergoing a major refurb and the Westgate Hotel is advertised to lease.

TRAGIC DEATH OF HOLIDAYMAKER

July 26 - Teignmouth lifeboat crew have told how they battled in vain to save the life of a Newport holidaymaker plucked from rough seas. Eight crew members worked in shifts to try and resuscitate 42-year-old Nigel Hunt after he was found unconscious in the water near Teignmouth pier on Thursday afternoon. The father-of-three worked as an NHS manager based in Chepstow.

RNLI lifeboat spokesman Tony Watson said that the entire lifeboat team were 'heroes' in all their efforts. But he said today they were feeling the loss of the man they worked so hard to save. Mr Watson said: “Although it is our job, we are all volunteers and we do not experience death everyday like emergency services like the ambulance or police." Mr Hunt had run in to difficulty after swimming in rough seas. There were no trained lifeguards available when the incident occurred but red flags were flown by Teignmouth Council advising people not to swim.

CITY MAN CHARGED OVER BOAT THEFT

July 25 - A man from Newport has been charged with the theft of three boats from a South Hams car park. David Eagle, 47, from Newport, has been charged over the theft of two kayaks and an Orkney boat from Hope Cove car park, near Kingsbridge, on Friday.

A member of the public called the police at around 1.15am reporting a Transit van had left Hope Cove car park at Kingsbridge towing a boat. Check points were set up and a vehicle stopped at the Mounts near Kingsbridge some 20 minutes later. Two kayaks were found inside the van. The driver was arrested, interviewed and later charged. Eagle is due to appear before South Devon Magistrates Court on August 5.

JURY RETIRES IN MURDER CASE

July 24 - A Cardiff Crown Court jury has retired to consider its verdict on six men accused of beating a Vietnamese immigrant to death and dumping him at a hospital in Newport. It is claimed that Tran Nguyen, 42, was suspected of taking part in a raid by rivals on a secret cannabis factory. Cardiff Crown Court was told he was subjected to severe beatings in London before being taken back to Newport. The six all deny murdering the father-of-two. The jury has now gone home and will return to court on Friday. The court heard that it was not until a month after dying that police discovered his identity, when his brother-in-law went to the Royal Gwent Hospital looking for him.

FAMILY HALT CAMPAIGN

July 24 - The family of a man killed when his drunk friend crashed a car are giving up a five-year attempt to prove that the barrier the vehicle hit was faulty. Glyn Gurney, 20, was killed in 2003 in Newport and his father and stepmother say they are unhappy with a verdict of unlawful killing at the inquest. They have gone into debt commissioning independent reports into the barrier. The accident happened on the A4042 in the Brynglas area.

REF RED CARDED FOR BENEFIT FRAUD

July 23 - A local league football referee filmed taking charge of matches has admitted falsely claiming more than £17,000 disability living allowance.  Steve Paskin, of Newport, claimed £17,375 between May 2003 and June 2007 and will be sentenced in August.

He was seen officiating at matches while claiming he could not walk more than 100 yards without "extreme tiredness and discomfort". He is the third referee in Wales to be caught out recently by investigators. Prosecutor Ian Williams told Caerphilly magistrates that Paskin, from the Bassaleg area, claimed he needed day care for his disability. "But he managed to pass fitness tests for his local football association," he said."Investigators managed to secretly film Paskin officiating at several football matches.

PASSPORT OFFICE STRIKE

July 23 - Workers at Newport have joined colleagues at Britain's regional passport offices in a strike over pay and cutbacks. The three-day stoppage is intended to disrupt travel plans and may delay the processing of up to 60,000 passports. As well as the regional offices, the Public and Commercial Services Union said the strike by almost 3,000 staff will affect 68 interview offices. The protest is over a dispute with a 2.5% pay deal, which has not been awarded to all staff. However, support for the strike has not disrupted the service completely. The Identity and Passport Service stated "IPS regional offices and the Interview Office Network will maintain a service to the public and keep any inconvenience to a minimum. All IPS regional office counters will remain open and we are able to issue passports for those in emergency situations or with urgent needs. Any customer who has booked for premium services or an interview will have the appointment honoured. Customers needing further advice are requested to call the Passport Advice Line on 0870 521 0410."

BRAZEN NUDE ON DISPLAY AGAIN

July 23 - A once-banned painting of a nude woman currently on view in Newport is showing how times have changed. The 1924 work by Gerald Kelly, titled D.D. after the model's initials, was bought by a public gallery in 1947 and drew some 20,000 visitors before local council chiefs, who called the work "brazen" and said it was scandalizing their town, had it taken down and locked away. Now on view in an exhibition in Newport titled "The Art of the Nude," today's audiences apparently find the work less upsetting for its nudity than for the fact that its subject, a confident-looking young woman, is smoking, according to the Times (London). A local resident Elizabeth Ayres told the newspaper: “She’s a bit of a Fag Ash Lil, but I can’t imagine why the painting would be banned.” See the picture here

BUS SERVICES RETAINED BY COUNCIL

July 22 - Newport City Council has taken steps to ensure threatened bus services continue. Bus operators in Newport recently announced that they would be reviewing some routes serving the city due to rising running costs.

Following the Welsh Assembly Government’s decision not to compensate bus operators in Wales for the rise in fuel duty and the continuing rise in fuel costs, many providers have found it increasingly difficult to make some routes commercially viable. The following services were due to be withdrawn in August and September, but the council has secured temporary contracts to ensure an uninterrupted service:

Service 3B Malpas - Newport (previously run by Drakes will now be run by Stagecoach)

5 Foxgloves to Newport (previously run by Newport Transport will now be run by Drakes Travel)

32/33 Rhiwderin - Newport (previously run by Newport Transport will be run by Stagecoach)

61 Magor/Redwick - Newport (previously run by Newport Transport will be run by Drakes Travel)

POLICE APPEAL OVER CHEPSTOW ROAD ROBBERY

July 22 - Police in Newport are appealing for information after a robbery, which occurred at approximately 10.30pm on Monday night at a bus stop on Chepstow Road, just off the Coldra roundabout in Newport. A 18 year old woman was approached by a man who demanded money and threatened her with what has been described as a short barrelled handgun before running off in the direction of Coldra Woods. He left with a small amount of cash. The woman was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital for a check up. She did not receive any serious injures but is suffering from shock.

The man is described as black, approximately 25 to 40 years old, of a medium to heavy build with a bald head and furrowed brow. He was wearing a large gold chain and had a gold or silver stud or cap on one of his front teeth. He was wearing a black bomber jacket with orange lining, dark trousers and black gloves. If any member of the public saw a man of this description or saw anyone acting suspiciously in the area last night they should contact Gwent Police on 01633 838 111 or anonymously on Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.

ANOTHER CANNABIS FACTORY UNCOVERED

July 21 - A tip-off from members of the public led police to discover a large-scale cannabis factory at a Newport house today. The terraced house in Bedford Road, Maindee, was filled with 175 mature cannabis plants that were almost ready for harvesting and 150 saplings. Officers discovered the cannabis factory at 8.30am on Monday after responding quickly to calls reporting a pungent smell coming from the house.

A warrant was executed and one man of South-East Asian origin, in his early 20s, was arrested at the scene and has been detained while officers conduct further investigations. The house's electricity supply had been bypassed to power thousands of pounds worth of hydroponics, lighting and venting equipment. Police estimate the street value of the cannabis seized is around £130,000.

Sergeant Jason Love, of Maindee Neighbourhood Policing Team, said:"The fact that this cannabis factory was found through information passed to us by the public shows the value of neighbourhood policing. Our team in Maindee has been working hard to establish strong communication channels and put people first within the communities we serve. This discovery sends out a message that drug production will not be tolerated and if members of the public give us information, as they have done in this case, we will act upon it quickly."

Gwent Police urge people to contact them if they suspect any drug activity is happening in their area. Anyone with information should call Gwent Police on 01633 838 111, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

MP QUESTIONS PM OVER FLOOD DEFENCES

July 21 -Jessica Morden, MP for Newport East, yesterday asked the Prime Minister to ensure that adequately funded flood defences remained a priority for constituencies like Newport East. Speaking at Prime Minister's Question Time she welcomed the deal last week between the Government and Association of British Insurers that ensured that flood insurance would be widely available, at affordable rates, in the long term. But she called on the PM to reassure constituents that adequate funding for flood defences (which would be delivered via the Assembly and Environment Agency in Wales) remained the priority. She said "I've been working with the excellent Caldicot Wentlooge Flooding Alliance who have been campaigning hard to ensure there is effective flooding protection along the coast line between Newport and Chepstow. I support their campaign for improved flood defences because it is important that we protect our communities along the coast line."

The Prime Minister paid tribute to the work Miss Morden had done in raising this issue and said "We will be spending £800 million on the flood defence strategy by 2011-raising the amount from £400 million a few years ago to £600 million now, and then to £800 million over the next period of time. However, my hon. Friend is absolutely right-she has campaigned on this-that we must make the investment in flood protection for the future."

RETAIL PARK GOES FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH

July 20 - As the city centre struggles to get its flagship shopping development underway there are no such problems at Newport Retail Park on the eastern side of the city. Greetings card retailer Birthdays, confectioners Thorntons and coffee house Starbucks will all be opening new outlets in the park in the coming months. They will be joining a host of new retailers to the Park including Peacocks, Next, Asda Living and Outfit. The retail park was purchased by Stadium Developments in 2005 and has undergone a significant redevelopment over the last year losing retailers such as Kwiksave and Staples. The latter has announced plans to occupy a new site on the Newport East retail park alongside Big W and Comet.

DEVELOPER STILL COMMITTED TO SCHEME

July 20 - Edward Ware Homes have confirmed their commitment to a futuristic property development on Newport's riverfront. The 1.5 acre site in Old Town Dock was to include a 22 storey tower and 260 apartments. Work was due to start this month. The company told the Western Mail “It is no secret that it is tough out there. However, we are committed to the Edge project, which we have spent a lot of time on and which is a very attractive development. The project is still moving forward and we will push the button on construction when we have a critical mass of sales." It  confirmed that it had a number of undisclosed reservations on all three blocks. The article stated that the company was negotiating with a property investor looking to acquire a significant number of properties which, if signed off, would trigger the start of construction.

TWO NEW RETAILERS TO JOIN KINGSWAY MALL

July 19 - In a much needed boost to the refurbished Kingsway Shopping Centre two new and as yet unnamed retailers will be taking up space in the £25 million development. The mall was recently hit by the loss of Peacocks, the clothes retailer. One of the retailers will occupy two units at the John Frost Square end of the mall opposite the old Peacocks store. The other retailer is taking three units with a large downstairs area (the store potentially could cover 18,000 square feet). The refurbishment of the centre will be complete by September of this year. The adjoining 1300 space 'gold standard' car park will be open by January 2009.

FUNDING SET ASIDE FOR NEW RAIL STATION

July 19 - According to minutes released from Newport Unlimited Board Meetings the regeneration company has set aside funding for a 'Newport West' railway station. The exact location of the station is not stated.

NEWPORT UNLIMITED PLAN SETS OUT MORE LIMITED AMBITIONS

July 18 - The impact of the credit crunch is evident in the scaled back ambitions of regeneration company Newport Unlimited. Their 2008 Business Plan agreed by the City Council this week envisages a number of projects will be significantly affected by the market downturn. The report states the flagship project, Friars Walk (on the table since 2005) will not now start until September or October as development company Modus secures the necessary finance. The completion date for the scheme is December 2010. Their other scheme, City Spires,  has disappeared off the radar and has a tentative start date of January 2009. The Kingsway Shopping Mall is nearing completion and the adjoining 1300 space car park is set for completion by the end of this year. Unfortunately, during the development the mall has lost a number of retailers but has acquired an anchor Wilkinsons store. The public sector based projects including the new City Centre University campus, George Street office quarter and redesigned railway station both seem to have more certain funding and are likely to start on time. But some of the more ambitious housing projects will undoubtedly face delays. The full report is here.

COMPULSORY PURCHASE PLAN FOR LAWNS CLUB

The City Council has decided to enter into a legally binding back to agreement with an appropriate developer in respect of 11, Kensington Grove. This will allow the Council to make a Compulsory Purchase Order in respect of the building formerly known as the Lawns Club. On confirmation of the CPO by Welsh Assembly Government the Council will immediately transfer ownership of 11, Kensington Grove to the developer who will undertake the proper repair and preservation of the building to the satisfaction of the Council within an agreed period of time.

ALPHASTEEL SALE CONFIRMED

July 18 - The sale of Newport-based steel company Alphasteel to a Russian industrialist has been confirmed. The company was placed into administration last December and has been acquired by a company named Libala owned by Vadim Varshavsky for £57 million. Alphasteel, which opened in 1974, predominantly manufactured reinforcement rods used in the construction sector. Prior to going into administration it employed 420 people. It is hoped that up to 200 workers may be employed once the plant moves into production again.

NEW WELSH SCHOOL TO OPEN IN SEPTEMBER

July 18 - A new Welsh-medium primary school will open in Bettws in September 2008. Newport City Council approved the opening of the school following a positive consultation period, during which no objections were received. Ysgol Gymraeg Ifor Hael will be the city’s second Welsh-medium primary school, and will be created at a temporary location at the former site of St David Lewis RC Primary School in Bettws.

The school has been named after Ifor Hael (Ifor the Generous). Ifor ap Llywelyn of Bassaleg was the son of Llewelyn ap Ifor and Angharad Morgan of Tredegar, and lived at the court Gwern y Cleppa in Tredegar in the 14th Century. He sponsored the poet Dafydd ap Gwilym, who named him Ifor Hael in his poetry, which talked of nobility and a fair lordship at Bassaleg.

The school will open with nursery, reception and year 1 classes in September.

COUNCIL WORKERS STRIKE HAS LIMITED IMPACT

July 16 - The two day local government strike by members of Unison had minimal impact on its first day. Newport City Council estimated 70 per cent of its workers attended work today.

In a statement they reported "Despite industrial action, Newport City Council can report good attendance across council services. Some council departments are operating a reduced service, however many key services including refuse collection, the civic amenity site and area housing offices have remained operational with no disruption to services. The City Contact Centre is open as usual. Since the action was confirmed, officers have been working to minimise any disruption caused and ensure that essential services and those which affect the city’s most vulnerable people are not adversely affected."

Many council services including leisure centres, the civic amenity site, housing offices, parks and refuse collections operated as per normal. Twenty six schools were closed as were some libraries, Tredegar House and the Museum and Art Gallery.

The action has been arranged by trade unions in response to the proposed 2.45 per cent national pay increase for local government workers and is due to continue tomorrow (Thursday 17 July).

CRACKDOWN ON UNDERAGE DRINKING

July 16 - A coordinated operation to tackle underage drinkers in every area of Newport was deployed again last weekend. Under the banner of the Newport Community Safety Partnership, police officers, special constables, PCSOs and Newport City Council wardens worked together on Operation Axe on Friday night (July 11th). All five policing sections of Newport - Newport Central, Alway, Bettws, Maindee and Pill - were patrolled to prevent youngsters from moving elsewhere to obtain or drink alcohol in public places. Alcohol including cans and bottles of beer and cider, as well litre bottles of spirits such as vodka and whisky, were seized from teenagers on the streets of Newport. Police officers used special alcohol testing strips to identify alcohol that had been poured into soft drink bottles as a disguise.

More than 50 children were stopped by police, the majority of who will have letters sent home to make their parents aware of their involvement in underage drinking. As well as cracking down on underage drinking, officers also dealt with youngsters who were carrying drugs. In Alway one teenage boy was issued with a caution for possession of cannabis, while another boy was arrested and cautioned for being found in possession of a quantity of cocaine valued at £90. And in Bettws two formal cautions were issued to youths for possession of cannabis.
 

TESCO EXPRESS SET FOR SOMERTON PARK AREA

July 15 - Tesco has announced plans to build two new retail units on the site of the Black Horse public house in Somerton as part of its intention to expand its convenience store brand, Tesco Express. Tesco already has Express stores on Malpas Road and Chepstow Road as well as an Extra store on Cardiff Road with a standard supermarket in Spytty destined to become an Extra store. The new application has been lodged with City planners.

PASSPORT OFFICE 'CLOSURE' STORY EXPOSED

July 14 - The scare story alleging the impending closure of Newport Passport Office was again exposed today. Paul Flynn MP offered Monmouth MP David Davies the opportunity to respond to a question raised in the Commons today. Davies declined citing personal reasons. Flynn commented "I have repeatedly asked for any shred of evidence, a document, a reference number, a person who would support his claim. Nothing. The only conclusion is that this is a totally unsubstantiated rumour. If he had turned up and I had mentioned him, the Speaker would have allowed him to make his case." Home Office Minister Meg Hillier MP stated that there are no plans to close the Newport Passport Office.

CONSULTATION ON CRINDAU GATEWAY VISION

July 14 -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. Developers also need to consider a replacement bridge at Lyne Road to improve access to the area and allow the development of Crindau Pill for navigable use.Residential developments are proposed for land in the area and businesses will be encouraged to provide local employment opportunities. The vision also includes proposals for an expansion of community facilities in the area, as well as improved car parking and regenerating the land which forms the southern gateway to Crindau, currently occupied by Mcdonalds and the Rising Sun public house. Sainsbury’s has already secured outline planning approval to relocate from its current home to the cleared former gasworks site and included in their plans is a new access road for the area off Heidenheim Drive. Another planning application has been submitted by Crindau Gateway Ltd whose proposals include residential, commercial, leisure and hotel developments. This application is currently being examined by planning officers.

EADS EXPANDS, CREATING 100 NEW JOBS

Jul 12 - Netherlands-based EADS Defence & Security Systems has increased its UK headquarters in Newport to create more than 100 new jobs.EADS revealed the investment shows its commitment to the area, with it planning 20 per cent year-on-year growth at the site.The new wing of the headquarters was opened by the Duke of York on Thursday. He highlighted the skills, training and knowledge to be found in the region and the UK in general, saying they needed to be fully utilised during the economic down-turn.

POLICE PURSUE BICYCLE THIEVES

Jul 10 - In a remarkable chase police officers arrested two youths suspected of a street robbery by chasing them on police push bikes.PC Akbar Ali and PCSO Kris Jones, of Caerleon Neighbourhood Policing Team, used their bikes to chase the youths through narrow lanes and alleys in the village. The officers spotted the two suspects minutes after a 17-year-old schoolboy approached PC Ali in the street and told him he was pushed to the floor and had his wallet containing £10 cash taken minutes earlier. The incident happened at around 10.30am on Thursday (July 10) in Backhall Street, Caerleon.
 

When the two 15 and 16-year-old youths who fitted the description given by the victim pedalled away from PC Ali and PCSO Jones, the officers sped after them on police bikes. One boy was caught and arrested outside The Hanbury public house after a two-minute chase, while the other was arrested in Backhall Street after being pursued around the village for five minutes. Both teenagers are now being questioned by police in relation to the street robbery. PC Ali said: "The police bikes played a vital role in the two arrests due to the speed at which they took off. I was patrolling the area on my bike when the young victim approached me. I then radioed PCSO Jones and he got his bike to help me search the area. If we were on foot or in a car it is highly unlikely we would have caught them due to the nature of the one-way system, lanes and alleys in Caerleon."

ASSEMBLY SUPPORT IN RHIWDERIN ALLOTMENT FIGHT

 

Jul 10 - Newport West AM Rosemary Butler has gained the support of Environment Minister Jane Davidson, after telling her that allotment holders in Rhiwderin, may have to give up their plots.Newbridge Estates, who own the land, want them to leave by 2009. But Jane Davidson has promised Miss Butler that Assembly officials will advise  tenants on how to put pressure on their local council, and that the Assembly could place a Compulsory Purchase Order  on the allotments,if nothing happens.

ROMAN ARTEFACT FOUND AT CAERLEON SITE

Jul 10 -
Archaeologists excavating one of the most important Roman sites in Britain have made an "extremely rare" find The team digging at part of the Roman fortress in Caerleon near Newport found what they believe is a legionary's ceremonial lance. Dr Peter Guest said he thought the iron staff, broken into three pieces, was the first of its type found in the UK.

 

FLYNN SLATES ALARMIST PASSPORT OFFICE STORY

Jul 9 - Newport West MP Paul Flynn has slammed alarmist headlines concerning the alleged potential closure of Newport Passport Office. He has challenged David Davies, Monmouth MP, to provide the source information to substantiate the story he has been propagating through the pages of the South Wales Argus. He states on his blog today "The truth is that a con-figuration of the Passport Service is being considered. That has been known for a long time. Governments are constantly seeking improved ways to deliver services. Closure of the  Newport Passport Office is not being considered. There were similar rumours six months ago that Jessica Morden and I scotched. I spoke to the minister responsible, Meg Hillier, this afternoon. She confirmed that the situation has not changed. Closing the Newport Passport Office is still not on the agenda. The re-configuration is likely to recommend relatively minor changes  She agreed that David Davies was being alarmist." He advised Davies not to cause needless anxieties to Newportonians."David Davies should either produce the document he claims states that closure is  threatened  or apologise." he said. The Passport Office is one of seven UK offices and currently employs 360 staff.
 

The Argus reported the matter as follows earlier today "Newport's Passport Office is under threat of closure, it is being claimed. The shocking possibility is contained in a top-secret document, according to furious MP David Davies." It went on to quote Davies "Its loss would not only be a huge blow for the city I was brought up in but also for the wider area and the rest of the country."

POLICE CALL FOR HOME OWNERS TO LOCK DOORS AND WINDOWS

Jul 8 - Burglary numbers in Newport are down on 2007 and have reduced by a massive 23% since 2005. But statistics show that one in three burglaries in the city occur as a result of doors or windows being left open. In June 2007 there were 79 burglaries, with 30 through insecurities to homes, while in July last year 36 out of 80 house burglaries were through insecurities. Last month there were 68 burglaries in the city, 22 of which were through insecurities. In the last week, only eight burglaries were committed - although two of those were through doors or windows being left open.

Crime prevention officer Nick Haynes, of Newport Central station, said he does not want to see the same amount of burglaries committed this summer. He said: "Although Newport has seen an overall reduction in burglaries over the past 12 months, we want people to take a common sense approach and make sure their properties are secure. All we want people to do is keep doors and windows locked. The majority of burglars walk around trying door handles and looking for open windows.

REDROW SHOWCASES NEW APARTMENTS

Jul 8 - Despite the credit crunch Redrow and other developers are continuing to showcase new properties in their riverside developments. Two chic new show apartments on the edge of the River Usk in Newport are opening this weekend (July 12/13) giving buyers a glimpse of the glamorous lifestyle that awaits them at Alexandra Gate. Redrow's flagship development has a wide range of homes available, including apartments with fabulous views overlooking the river. The opening of the one and two-bedroom show apartments will be the first time home buyers have been given the opportunity to view fully-furnished and professionally decorated apartments at the development near the Southern Distributor bridge.

CRACK COCAINE ARREST IN RINGLAND

July 4 - Alway police arrested a man for carrying £900 of crack cocaine in Ringland yesterday. Ringland ward officer PC Mervyn Priest was on patrol when he arrested the 32 year old man and located a drugs package near Hendre Farm Drive. The man was interviewed and bailed pending further enquiries. Sergeant Dave Morgan said:
"This latest arrest shows drug dealers in Alway that we mean business and there is no place for them to hide." A drive to tackle drug dealers in Alway - named Operation Carousel - is ongoing and officers are appealing for members of the community to come forward with any information they have on drug dealing. Since the operation began 15 search warrants have been executed, 13 people arrested, and more than £363,000 of drugs seized in the Alway section alone.
 

TWO MEN ESCAPE INJURY FROM LIGHT AIRCRAFT CRASH

July 4 - Two men escaped injury when their light aircraft crashed in a field today.The aircraft crashed at 11.40am in the Whitson area of Newport, Gwent Police said. The aircraft (a KIS cruiser) tried to make an emergency landing after taking off from Upfield Farm, Whiston at 1140 BST en route for Filton near Bristol.One resident said the incident happened close to homes and the village hall. The police said the single-engine plane is thought to have caught fire after landing in the field by a roadside in Whitson.The two men from the aircraft, both from Usk in Monmouthshire, were treated by paramedics at the scene for minor injuries. They did not require hospital treatment.
 

BUILDERS MERCHANT WINS APPEAL

July 4 - Robert Price Builders Merchant has won a planning victory over Lliswerry councillors today. A Welsh Assembly appointed inspector has granted the company's appeal against a decision not allow planning permission for a new site just off Corporation Road near the SDR bridge. The company will relocate from its current premises near Rodney Parade.
 

POLICE SEEK NEWPORT CENTRE MAN
 

July 1 - On April 30, 2008 police received a report that a man had been taking pictures of two teenage girls on his mobile phone from under a cubicle, whilst they dressed at Newport Leisure Centre. The two girls, aged 13 and 14 years, were in a cubicle in the changing rooms when they became aware of a man looking under the door and a noise like a camera recording could be heard. They contacted staff who alerted the police.

The attached image was obtained from the leisure centre's CCTV system with their permission. Investigating officers would like to talk to the man in the CCTV image in connection with the incident. Anyone with information is asked to contact Gwent Police on 01633 838111 or anonymously on Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.

APPEAL OVER PILL STREET ROBBERY

July 1 - Police in Newport are appealing for information to a street robbery, which occurred in Church Street in Pill between 01.00am and 02.00am on Sunday June 29, 2008. A 26 year old man was pushed up against a wall and threatened with a knife before the offenders made off with cash in a black BMW (possibly 5 series), with blackened windows and alloy wheels.

The first man (front seat passenger) is described as black, approximately 5'8" tall of a medium build with short, dark hair. He is described as having a 'flat' nose and a thin moustache. He wore a diamond stud earring in his left ear and is aged in his mid twenties. He was wearing a baggy black t-shirt and baggy light coloured denim jeans and he spoke with a Newport accent.

WORK STARTS ON UNIVERSITY CAMPUS

Jun 30 - Work has started on Newport's flagship University campus site following a ceremony led by film director Ken Russell today.The new campus for the University of Wales Newport will be home to two academic schools - business and parts of the art, media and design school as part of a £50 million development. The development will help it cope with a 12% rise in student numbers.
 

HMS SEVERN RETURNS TO CITY
 

Jun 30 - HMS Severn returns to its adopted city tomorrow. Although based in Portsmouth, the 1,700-ton ship has been affiliated to Newport for five years. All Royal Navy ships and submarines are linked to places in the UK where their crews take part in social, community and sporting events. The 30-strong crew will exercise their privilege as freemen of Newport to march through the city tomorrow. The crew will also host a reception for city leaders and take part in a football match against Newport All Stars. HMS Severn's main role is fishery protection and maritime security. The ship, which last received the freedom of Newport in 2006, recently won an award for its work in fishery protection around the UK.

CONFUSION OVER CITY STORE
 

Jun 29 - The future of the Peacocks store in the Kingsway Centre in Newport is still unclear following its recent closure. Publicity notices state that the store has 'relocated to Newport Retail Park'.  It now seems possible that the store will not return to the city centre at all in the immediate future. Elsewhere, Clarks retailers are relocating from their current premises on the corner of Commercial Street and Llanarth Street to the premises formerly occupied by a bank near to Austin Friars. Newport Retail Park goes from strength to strength with a New Look store recently opening its doors. Johnsey Estates, owners of the former Megabowl are taking the City Council to appeal over the plans to change use of part of the building from leisure to non-food retail.

HOUSE PRICES STATIC

Jun 29 - House prices in Newport are static according to the latest Land Registry survey. The Land Registry monitor actual house price sales on a monthly basis. In Newport prices are up by 0.8 per cent in May 2008 when compared with May 2007, they fell back by over 2 per cent in the month following a surprise surge in April. The average price of a house sold in Newport is £141,412 (the average for Wales £139,419).
 

BRIGHT FUTURE FOR NEWPORT IN 'CREATIVE' BUSINESS SECTOR

Jun 26 - Newport’s future is looking bright thanks to its unique strengths in one of the fastest growing sectors in the world economy - the creative industries - according to Professor Anne Carlisle, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wales, Newport.“The creative industries, whether in film and media, fashion, design and advertising or the performing arts, now employ over a million people in the UK and add more to our economy than the entire financial services sector,” Professor Carlisle told an audience of senior managers and specialists from the creative industries invited to a special event to discuss the University’s role in helping the sector to grow in Wales. Professor Carlisle also revealed how two important new developments would be launched in the near future: an Institute for Advanced Broadcasting, which will provide a centre of expertise in how new technology is revolutionising traditional media, and an Entrepreneurship Foundation which will provide support and expertise to entrepreneurs. “A central feature of our new City Centre Campus will be the Hothouse, which will be both a seedbed and sandpit for new commercial ideas and ventures to be conceived, nurtured and developed in these industries.

CITY IN BID TO BE CULTURAL CAPITAL OF WALES
 

Jun 26 - Plans to turn Newport into the cultural capital of Wales are being considered.The idea is for Newport to become a place that people visit rather than pass by on the M4.The banks of the River Usk would become a Parisian-style "Left Bank", turning a once-derelict area into a vibrant quarter of cafes, studios and exhibitions.

Developments like the new £35m city centre university campus and a proposed museum of contemporary art will be key.While this vision of Newport may not be one residents currently recognise, many people in the city are determined to make it happen. A conference organised by the University of Wales, Newport and the Institute of Welsh Affairs has been looking at how Newport can reinvent itself through culture.It also ties in with regeneration work already taking place and the eyes of the world falling on Newport in 2010 when it hosts the Ryder Cup.

POLICE APPEAL OVER CAERLEON ASSAULT

Jun 26 - Detectives investigating an alleged assault in Caerleon in the early hours of Saturday June 21, 2008 are appealing for witnesses to come forward.
This follows a disturbance between a group of people on Cold Bath Road near to the junction with High Street where a 32 year old man received serious leg injuries. He was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital for treatment. A 17 year old male teenager was arrested on suspicion of assault and has been bailed pending further enquiries.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Gwent Police on 01633 838 111 or anonymously 0800 555 111.

ADMIRAL EXPANSION TO CREATE 450 JOBS

Jun 25 - Admiral Insurance is creating 400 jobs over the next three years at a new office in Newport. They are moving into a new base at Langstone Business Park, just off the M4 near the Coldra, later this year.The company is already a large employer in Wales with 1,500 people in Cardiff and 1,100 in Swansea.

The Newport site, which will initially host a claims department with around 90 staff, will include management posts, injury case workers and call handlers. Huw Llewellyn, Admiral's group facilities manager, said: "The opening of new offices was inevitable as part of our ongoing expansion.And our commitment to south Wales's major cities meant that Newport was an obvious choice. We're very proud to be based in Wales and it's fantastic that we don't have to look outside for offices in such excellent surroundings."

POLICE IN LLISWERRY DRUGS SWOOP

Jun 24 - Alway Neighbourhood Policing Team arrested two men for drugs crimes after raids on two houses. On Monday morning officers entered a home in Lliswerry Park Drive, Lliswerry, and found 25 small cannabis plants along with two mature plants. A 29 year-old man was arrested and has been charged with the production of cannabis.

In the afternoon the neighbourhood team seized quantities of amphetamine, cannabis bush and cannabis resin from a property in Birch Grove, Llanmartin. Money was also seized under the Proceeds Of Crime Act and a 43 year-old man was arrested. He was later bailed pending forensic analysis of the drugs. Alway neighbourhood sergeant Dave Morgan said: "We continue to receive intelligence from the community, with whom we are forging strong links. People constantly advise us that they would like us to tackle drug abuse as it is of great concern to them. On Monday a large amount of controlled drugs were removed from the Alway section as result of work by the Neighbourhood Policing Team. We will continue to listen to the community and proactively target drug dealers in the area."

NEW CABINET AND MAYOR CONFIRMED

Jun 24 - The new Conservative - Liberal coalition was confirmed in office today under the leadership of Matthew Evans. Bettws councillor Noel Trigg will be Mayor of Newport.The City Council cabinet is as follows - 
 

Matthew Evans (Leader), Ed Townsend (Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Regeneration), Councillor David Atwell (Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport), Councillor David Hando (Cabinet Member for Young People’s Services), Councillor Mike Hamilton (Cabinet Member for Leisure and Lifelong Learning), Councillor Richard White (Cabinet Member for Housing and Community Services), Councillor David Fouweather (Cabinet Member for Environment and Community Safety) and Councillor Peter Davies (Cabinet Member for Resources)

PEACOCKS CLOSES FOR MAJOR RE-FIT
 

Jun 21 - The slow progress of Newport city centre regeneration programme has been underlined by the news that the Peacocks store in the Kingsway Centre has closed pending a major refit and extension. The loss of the store even for a period of time is another blow to the City's retail offer. Posters at the store give no indication that it will re-open or reasons for its closure. Staff at the Kingsway Centre confirmed that the store will have a major extension as part of the development of the centre and adjoining new car park. The new buildings are scheduled for completion by Christmas 2008. Ironically, a new out of town Peacocks store will shortly open on Newport Retail Park, there is also a store in Maindee. There is still no indication of a start to the Friars Walk scheme and there's no point looking on Newport Unlimited's website as this has not been updated since January 2008!  So while there is plenty of evidence of regeneration throughout the city centre (just drive along Usk Way) the city centre shopping schemes remain a disappointment.

Monmouthshire Building Society are expanding their premises in John Frost Square - a former retail unit at 13 John Frost Square is being converted into a new customer banking facility.
 

HSBC JOBS BOOST FOR CITY

Jun 19 -Britain's biggest bank, HSBC, is creating 250 call centre jobs in Newport. The £14m deal will see the company more than double the workforce at its centre as it gears up to handle customer service calls.The bank says it chose Newport because of the quality of staff and backing from the assembly government. HSBC's chief executive for Wales, Alan Jarman, added: "Our customers are increasingly choosing to bank online and over the phone, and our resources need to reflect this.HSBC chose to invest in Newport because of our skilled local workforce and our confidence that we can continue to recruit high quality people over the next two years and beyond.

POLICE APPEAL OVER ROBBERY

Detectives in Newport are appealing for information regarding a robbery, which occurred on Sunday June 15 at approximately 2.00pm near the green bridge over the River Ebbw between Duffryn and Maesglas. A group of four boys between the ages of eight and 11 years were skimming stones into the river on the Duffryn side when three boys of a similar age pulled up on their bikes. One of the boys verbally threatened an 11 year old boy and took his gold-plated curbed bracelet.

The first boy is described as white, skinny, approximately four feet tall with short brown hair. He was wearing black tracksuit bottoms and a dark top with ECKO on the front. He was riding a small BMX bike. It is believed he is about 11 years old. The second boy is described as mixed race. He was of a chubby build. He was wearing blue tracksuit bottoms, white trainers and was riding a black BMX bike. It is believed he is about 14 years old. The third boy - who made the threat and stole the bracelet - is described as white, approximately five feet six inches tall of a medium build with brown cropped hair.

CITY COUNCIL TO BE RUN BY TORIES AND LIB DEMS

Jun 16 - Newport City Council will be run by a coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats following a deal between the two parties. The pact ends a prolonged period of Labour control of the city stretching back to 1979. The pact means that the ruling coalition will have 26 seats a two seat majority over their opponents (Labour 22, Plaid Cymru 1, Independent 1). The Liberal Democrats state the city electorate rejected Labour at the recent elections and claim the two ruling parties have put together a programme to put 'citizens first'. The precise details of the programme are unclear although the BBC state they jointly favour "a focus on derelict buildings, area squads to tackle fly-tipping, litter and graffiti, extending free secondary school transport and supporting plans to collect waste food across the city."
 

Newport City Council currently has the second lowest Council Tax in Wales (fourth lowest in the UK), Estyn, the education inspectorate rates its schools as the best in Wales. The City was declared to be the greenest in the UK in a nationwide survey. The City will attract visitors from around when it is the venue for the Ryder Cup in 2010. Through its regeneration company, Newport Unlimited, nearly £2 billion in investment has been attracted to Newport, although plans for the centre-piece Friars Walk development have been stalled as a result of the 'credit crunch'. The new coalition states that encouraging city centre development is a key priority. The new leader of the City Council will be the Conservative member for Allt-yr-yn, Matthew Evans. The Council will be formally ratified on June 24.
 

POLICE APPEAL AFTER PARK ATTACK

Jun 16 - Gwent Police is appealing for information after a man was attacked in a Newport Park for his watch and cash at approximately 11.30pm on Thursday June 12. The man was walking through the park that runs between Sorrel Drive and Harlequin Drive when he was attacked from behind and knocked unconscious for a short while. When he came round noticed his watch and cash were gone. He returned home and alerted the police. The victim has been unable to provide any description of the offender(s). However, he was aware of three young people on bikes cycling close behind him. Anyone who may have witnessed the attack or who has any information is asked to contact Gwent Police on 01633 838 111 or anonymously on Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.

PAYOUT FOR ALPHASTEEL WORKERS

Jun 13 - Hundreds of steelworkers thrown on the scrap heap when a Newport business went bust will share in nearly £2m of redundancy money. A Cardiff employment tribunal has agreed workers at Alphasteel were unfairly dismissed and inadequately consulted about plans to close the firm at Christmas. The firm sent about 400 staff home last year when the plant entered receivership. It has since been sold and production is expected to restart shortly. Workers will get up to £2,500 each in addition to other amounts they received after the business went bust. The cash will be claimed from Alphasteel and, if it cannot pay, will come from a central fund.Michael Leahy, general secretary of Community, the union that bought the case to the employment tribunal, praised the victory. A new owner, Libala, has purchased the plant and there are hopes that it will return to production shortly.
 

CORONER CRITICISES HOSPITAL 'S 'LACK OF CLARITY' FOLLOWING OP DEATH
 
 

Jun 11 - Coroner David Bowen has expressed concerns about procedures employed by the Royal Gwent Hospital. A mother died shortly after her second child was born following undetected complications from an emergency Caesarean, he found. Charmaine Charlton died at the Newport hospital in July 2006. John Charlton said his wife, 36, from Newport, had wanted a planned Caesarean because of a previous difficult labour.

Recording a narrative verdict, David Bowen said there was not enough emphasis on accurate record keeping. The hospital has admitted shortcomings.Mr Bowen said there had had been discrepancies in the times of observations and confusion about the amount of blood lost and the amount given as well as a "lack of clarity" in post-operative management.

BUS TERMINUS PLAN FOR STATION CAR PARK

Jun 11 - Plans have been received by Newport City Council for a bus terminus building on the site of the main railway station's car park. The car park is to be turned into a multi storey facility as part of the £22million redevelopment of the station. The application states "DEVELOPMENT OF A BUS TERMINUS INCLUDING A TERMINUS BUILDING, CANOPY AND EXTERNAL WORKS". The applicant is Network Rail.
 

ARREST FOLLOWING 'SERIOUS ASSAULT'

Jun 9 - Police in Newport are appealing for information regarding an assault that occurred at approximately 11pm last night (Sunday June 8). A 22 year old Newport man was assaulted on the junction of Upper Dock Street and Griffin Street in Newport City Centre. Police have arrested a 33 year old Newport man on suspicion of Grevious Bodily Harm. The victim is currently being treated for a head injury at the Heath Hospital, Cardiff and is described as critical but stable. Police are appealing for information regarding the incident. If anyone has information they are asked to call Gwent Police on 01633 838 111 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

LIB DEMS CALL FOR THREE PARTY COALITION
 

June 9 -Newport Liberal Democrats have put forward a power sharing plan that would split control of the council between the three main parties. Councillor Ed Townsend, spokesman for the enlarged Liberal Democrat group after victories in the deferred elections took them up to 9 seats, said: "There has been no clear winner in this year's council elections."The one thing that is clear is that Newport has rejected overall control by the Labour Party.It is important that political labels and differences are put aside so that Newport has stable and effective government.A Newport 'cabinet of all the talents' would bring together the best of all the parties." Townsend has written to the Labour and Conservative leaders inviting them to enter negotiations over an all-party cabinet." He said: "There clearly has to be change and the programme we have put forward for Newport is a good starting point for negotiations.

CALL TO DISCUSS CITY'S NEW 'CULTURAL QUARTER'
 

Jun 8 - Creating a flourishing cultural quarter for Newport as part of the city’s regeneration programme will be discussed at a conference being organised by the University of Wales, Newport and the Institute of Welsh Affairs (IWA) on Thursday 26th June.The aim of the conference, to be held at the Riverfront Theatre and Arts Centre, is to promote cultural activity and attractions in Newport and generate support for new initiatives that can build on the University’s new £35m City Centre Campus which will house the design, film and digital media areas of Newport School of Art, Media and Design and Newport Business School. Chris O’Malley, Pro Vice Chancellor at Newport’s University, said, “The conference is designed to appeal to everyone interested in the city’s development, from policy makers and leaders of the public, private and community sectors to those actively involved in the arts. Working together, we can make Newport a place that people will want to visit."
 

ARREST AFTER HOSPITAL KNIFE THREAT

Jun 7 - A man has been arrested after staff at the Royal Gwent hospital's accident and emergency department were threatened by a man believed to be wielding a knife. The incident happened at the Newport hospital's accident and emergency department at 2015 BST on Friday. An ambulance service spokesman said a man, believed to have a knife, was chased and held by two paramedics until the police arrived. The paramedics had been dropping off a patient, said the spokesman. Gwent police said a man was arrested at the scene.

 

LIB DEMS AND LABOUR THE WINNERS IN DELAYED POLLS

June 6 - As expected Labour and the Liberal Democrats were victorious in the delayed City Council elections held yesterday. Labour won all three seats in its traditional stronghold of Bettws and the Liberal Democrats retained three seats in St. Julian's. Noel Trigg polled the highest vote in Bettws winning 1128 votes, Val Delahaye 890 and Glyn Jarvis 790, nearest challenger was Lib Dem Susan Baker with 586. In St. Julian's Ed Townsend polled 1182, Carmel Townsend 1029 and Gill Ford 982, nearest challenger was Tory Chris Blight with 581. The Liberal Democrat vote in St. Julian's was significantly down on the previous election in 2004 with Ed Townsend losing 536  votes, the Labour vote was also down and the Conservative vote up. In Bettws the Labour vote held up well and the Liberal Democrats increased their vote.  The results leave the City Council parties as follows - Labour 22, Conservatives 17, Liberal Democrats 9, Plaid Cymru 1, Independent 1.
 

RUSSIAN BUYOUT OF ALPHASTEEL

June 5 - The new Russian owners of a Newport steel company which laid off 390 staff when it went into administration could reinstate some jobs. Alphasteel, which closed suddenly in December, has been bought for more than £50m by steel firm Libala. It is understood production will start again with some jobs brought back. Workers at the plant, which has been in Newport since 1974, were sent home without their wages when Alphasteel closed before Christmas. Chris Morris of administrators Begbies Traynor said: "We are pleased to have reached an agreement with Libala, which should yield significant returns for creditors."It is our understanding that Libala intends to recommence production at the plant in due course and that some of the jobs will be restored."

SEX ASSAULT CASE - MAN CHARGED

June 5 - The 30 year old male arrested in connection with a serious sexual assault that occurred in the Shaftesbury area of Newport has been charged and appearing before Newport Magistrates yesterday.

HUGE INVESTMENT PLAN FOR WHITEHEADS SITE

June 5 - According to Property Week magazine the Welsh Assembly Government are putting together major plans for the area around the former Whiteheads steelworks and the Monmouthshire Banks sidings in Maesglas. 
 

The article states the Welsh Assembly is drawing up plans for a mixed-use scheme on the 100 acre former steelworks plant and sidings site to kick start the regeneration of the area. They are looking for advisors to help it compulsorily purchase some of the land. The site has been earmarked for redevelopment for several years, and the original intention was that the owners of the sites would bring them forward in conjunction with national regeneration bodies. However, it is thought that the Welsh Assembly wants to speed up the development, which would have a huge economic impact on an area in need of regeneration.A spokesperson for the Welsh Assembly said: ‘We're seeking to assemble some 100 acres of land at the Whiteheads-Monbanks sidings site at Maesglas, Newport, for a comprehensive, mixed use development. We have recently advertised for agents to handle the aquisition of the site - which we hope will be by agreement.’

 

MP WINS CAMPAIGN AWARD
 

June 5 -Jessica Morden, MP for Newport East, along with Brian Kemp from Newport City Council, picked up an award from ‘The Campaign for Dark Skies' for their work in highlighting the issue of light pollution in Newport East. The ceremony, which took place at the National Museum for Wales, was a thank you from the campaign for cutting down light pollution which not only affects amateur astronomers, but also contributes to global warming.

The MP stated said "Brian and I are pleased to receive this award as reducing excessive light not only helps the visibility for amateur astronomers but also the environment. By reducing unnecessary light usage and saving energy, the city once again proves its green credentials."

MAN GUILTY OF RAIL THEFT

 

June 3 - A 53 year old Newport man has pleaded guilty to stealing 171 tonnes of railway track on the main line between south Wales and London.The track had already been removed and put next to the line for a renovation project when Anthony Porretta arrived in the early hours of the morning. He used a crane to load five lorries with 40ft (12m) lengths of track and sold it to scrap metal merchants Sims Metal in Newport. British Transport Police said Porretta could have caused a "serious rail crash".Sentencing was adjourned for reports until the week beginning 30 June. Porretta was bailed at Bristol Crown Court on condition of surrendering his passport.

ASSAULT CASE - MAN ARRESTED

June 3 - A 30 year old local man has been arrested in connection with the serious sexual assault that occurred in the Shaftesbury area of Newport. The 44 year old man arrested in connection with the incident has been released without charge. Police are appealing for information about the incident that occurred in the subway/ alleyway near the Old Rising Sun Public House and was reported at approximately 4.20am on Thursday May 29. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Gwent Police on 01633 838 111.
 

£22 MILLION PLAN FOR CITY RAILWAY STATION

June 2 - Welsh Assembly Transport Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones has announced a £22 million plan to transform Newport railway station. The development will include a new station building to the west of the existing building, footbridge near to the Old Post Office, revamped taxi area and new multi storey car parking facility. Ieuan Wyn Jones said of the rebuilding programme for Newport that the station was the "passenger gateway" to both the city and south Wales."The impression it gives to both visitors and those who use it everyday is important - it must represent a modern, vibrant city," he said. He added it would "add to the regeneration and revival of the city as it gets ready to host one of the world's premier sporting events, the Ryder Cup."

The station forms part of the regenerated Station District including the Modus City Spires development opposite and bus/rail interchange. The City Spires project was recently stalled but more detail regarding retail, office and leisure space in the proposed building has recently been added to the website here.
 

APPEAL FOR MISSING BASSALEG MAN

June 2 - Gwent Police are appealing for information regarding the whereabouts of 48 year old Nicholas Tysoe who went missing from his Bassaleg address on Friday (May 30). Nicholas was last seen at approximately 2.30pm on Friday afternoon. He was wearing a red t-shirt, blue jeans and a thick blue jumberjack type jacket. He is five feet ten inches tall and has a big build. He has thick white medium length hair and wears glasses for reading and driving. He has a mole on his left cheek. It's believed he was driving a orange ⁄ yellow Peugeot 207, registration number CE08 HWT.

June 4 update - above found safe and well.
 

HOUSE PRICES UP IN NEWPORT

May 31 - Despite the credit crunch house prices in Newport continue to rise according to the latest figures published by the Land Registry. City prices were up 5.8 per cent on the year to April and showed a monthly increase of 2.7 per cent between March and April. Land Registry figures are based on actual sales. Newport recorded the highest monthly increase in the United Kingdom.
 

BUTLER REACTS TO RAIL BUS LINK CLOSURE

May 31 - Newport West Labour AM Rosemary Butler has reacted to the news of the scrapping of the bus linking Rogerstone and Newport city centre. She said: "I've always maintained that the Newport-Rogerstone rail link should have been there from the start, and this latest development only strengthens my view," she said "I will continue to press for the scheduled opening to be speeded up. "I think that people travelling between Newport and the valleys currently prefer to travel by car because of the inconvenience of the bus link, and that's why it hasn't been popular." An assembly government spokeswoman said it had agreed to help fund the bus link between Rogerstone and Newport as an interim measure until a rail link into the city opens in 2010-11.

SHAFTSBURY ATTACK - MAN RELEASED ON BAIL

May 30 - The 44 year old man who was arrested in connection with a serious sexual assault in the Shaftsbury area of Newport has been released on police bail pending further enquiries. At approximately 4.20am yesterday morning (Thursday 29th May) police received a report of a serious sexual assault on an 18 year old local woman which occurred in the subway/alleyway near the Old Rising Sun Public House. Enquiries are ongoing into the circumstances of the incident and police are appealing for anyone with information to contact them on 01633 838111 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

LOCAL NHS SLATE CAERLEON DENTIST

May 30 - In a letter received by thisisnotgwent.co.uk Newport NHS Local Health Board has expressed 'extreme disappointment' at the withdrawal of NHS dental services at a Caerleon dentist. The Village Dental Practice will no longer offer NHS services after 1st October 2008. The Local Health Board states that it currently holds a contract with Keith Morgan, owner of the practice until March 2009. They state that they are endeavouring to put in place a replacement service. The practice is one of a number where NHS services have been withdrawn in the city area but investment in primary dental care is being prioritised by the NHS in Wales.

RAIL BUS WITHDRAWN / SEASON TICKETS UP

May 30 - The rail link bus run by Newport Bus and funded by the Welsh Assembly Government will be withdrawn from June 1 following a lack of interest in the service from commuters using the Ebbw Vale - Cardiff rail service. The service involved a 50 minute journey from Rogerstone to the City Centre via Celtic Springs and Tredegar Park but despite a large investment failed to attract more than an average of seventeen passengers a day. Meanwhile, Newport Bus have announced yet another hike in bus fares, the third in five months. The operator is discontinuing return fares and increasing season tickets by as much as 10 per cent. The day rider ticket remains at £2.50.
 

STATION FOR LLANWERN INCLUDED IN RAIL VISION

May 29 - A new station for Llanwern is included by Network Rail in its list of aspirations for the next ten years. The rail utilisation strategy sets out its vision and list of priorities including  the new station to cater for the proposed residential development in the east of Newport in the next five to seven years. The strategy notes Newport's pivotal position in the Welsh railway network, second only  to Cardiff. 2.5  million journeys were made out of Newport in 2007/8. Other rail priorities for the city include  the massive  resignalling scheme currently under way, the reconstruction of the city's station in time for the Ryder Cup and the resumption of passenger services to Ebbw Vale. The report suggests further feasibility should be carried out in to the Ebbw Vale - Newport line option before Network Rail is willing to commit to this.
 

ASSEMBLY BOOST FOR CHILDRENS CENTRE

May 25 - The Welsh Assembly Government has announced a significant but unquantified investment in the new Childrens Healthcare facility in High Cross, Newport. The investment will provide for specialist child healthcare under one roof at the South Gwent Childrens Centre supplementing the new Childrens Hospital for Wales in Cardiff.

DELPHI BUYOUT ESTIMATED AT £25 MILLION

May 25 - The buyout of Friars Walk residential properties by Delphi Property Group is estimated at £25 million as Modus seeks to finance the start of the Friars Walk development.

WEAPONS AND SWORDS SEIZED IN RAIDS

May 25 - Thirty eight people have been arrested following a three-week clampdown on drugs in the Gwent Police force area. Cannabis, cocaine, heroin and speed were seized during 61 raids many in the City area,arms, a samurai sword and a cross bow. A cannabis factory containing more than 200 plants - with a street value of around £100,000 - was also uncovered. Det Chief Insp Tony Maher said the operation sent a strong message to those who supply drugs. "As a result of this initiative we've stopped more than £100,000 worth of drugs from getting on to the streets," he said "Although we have made some significant findings in terms of drugs recovered, what is also of big importance is the amount of intelligence we recover from such initiatives.

LIB DEM - TORY COALITION FOR CITY? 

May 25 - The uncertain political situation in Newport is still not resolved as parties bargain to determine the outcome of the city through a critical period. However, we understand that the most likely outcome, irrespective of the outcome of the upcoming elections in Bettws and St.Julians is a coalition between the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties. Cllr. Les Knight has been elected as interim chair of the Council until the position is decided. 
 

STATISTICS OFFICE MOVE OCCURS 'WITHOUT A SINGLE GLITCH'

May 20 - The U.K.'s statistics agency has shifted its headquarters from London to Newport and replaced most of its staff without ``a single glitch'' in the production of the nation's economic data, chief statistician Karen Dunnell has said. 

The move ``has gone extremely well,'' she said yesterday in an interview with Bloomberg. With just 15 percent of London employees agreeing to relocate, ``we're managing to recruit the people that we need. In all our labour market and prices work, we haven't had a single glitch in production timetables or quality.''

The Office for National Statistics will completely vacate its former headquarters in London's Pimlico district by June 8, after shifting 400 posts to Newport including staff working on inflation. The Bank of England said last year that the move, a cost-cutting measure ordered when Gordon Brown was Chancellor, posed a ``serious risk'' to the nation's data. ``Of course they're concerned about it, because they're very, very dependent on us,'' Dunnell said, speaking at the statistics office's new, smaller London premises in Islington. ``But really the proof is in the pudding. They get their monthly retail price index and monthly labour releases as they always have done. That's not a problem.''

POLICE APPEAL OVER PILL STREET ROBBERY

May 20 -
Sometime between 11.30am and 11.45am this morning, Tuesday May 20, 2008 a 15 year old boy was walking across Courtybella Terrace into Baldwin Street, Pill when he was grabbed by a boy who threatened him for his mobile phone. The victim was forced to the floor and his mobile phone and silver neck chain were stolen. He was not physically hurt but shaken. The suspect said he had a knife but at no time did the victim see one. He got on the back of a black BMX bike ridden by a second boy and they made off towards Courtybella Terrace. The first boy is described as white, approximately 14 to 15 years old, about 5'1" tall and of a skinny build. He had short black hair which was gelled forward. He was wearing a black tracksuit top and bottoms. The second boy riding the bike is described as white, approximately 13 to 15 years old with short black hair. He was wearing a black jacket and black tracksuit bottoms. Anyone with information is asked to call Gwent Police on 01633 838 111 or anonymously on Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.

FRIARS WALK TO BE DELAYED 'THREE TO SIX MONTHS'

May 20 - Friars Walk, Newport's landmark scheme will be delayed by three to six months according to Modus, the company responsible for the development.
one of the main debt providers withdrew its financing. Ciref and Modus said the 440,000 sq ft scheme would now be delayed for three to six months ‘to enable a replacement bank to be secured by the banking syndicate’. Lead banker, the Royal Bank of Scotland, remains committed to the scheme, which is now expected to start during the third quarter of this year. Modus, which is led by Brendan Flood, has more than 35 schemes in the pipeline. Flood said Modus would fund the schemes itself initially, although it might seek third-party investment later.

CITY MURDER ENQUIRY UPDATE

May 18 -
The 25 year old man, arrested in connection with the death of Alisandra Kacsmarsca has been released without charge. The 27 year old woman arrested in connection with the death has been released on police bail. The deceased was discovered when police and ambulance were called to an address in Dewstow Street, Newport at approximately 3am on Tuesday May 13. If anyone has any information, they are asked to call Gwent Police on 01633 838 111 or crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

DEVELOPER GIVES BOOST TO FRIARS WALK

May 17 - Although frustratingly there is no sign of a start to the Friars Walk development the project received a timely boost today. Delph Property Group has confirmed that they will be purchasing two large sectors of the residential part of the development. The purchase includes 62 luxury apartments and 141 flats in the residential tower. The commencement of the project has been stalled due to the withdrawal of bank funding as a result of the worldwide 'credit crunch'.
Building.co.uk reports "
The group appears unfazed by the credit crunch and is instead gearing up for an expected upturn in tenant demand at a time when repossessions are rising and housing affordability remains difficult. David Green, Delph’s director of operations, hailed Friars Walk as ‘a landmark scheme for Newport’ and ‘a model for other waterfront communities to re-engage with features of their environment’.Green said Newport fitted the Delph template for a robust local economy and strong employment growth to support tenant demand at the lower end of the rented market."

POOL SELLS FOR £76K

May 17 - The Art Deco Maindee swimming pool building has sold at auction to a local man for £76,000. Property agents Newland, Rennie and Wilkins acting for the City Council had hoped to achieve a price of £100,000. The building has been closed since the opening of the international swimming pool in Spytty three years. The City Council has undertaken a feasibility study indicating a significant outlay for the future upkeep of the facility. The Council was unable to find a suitable use for the building.
The half-acre site, includes the former swimming baths and a three-bedroom house.

COUNCIL HOLDS FIRST MEETING

May 15 - Newport City Council has held its first meeting since the recent elections. The Council's Annual General Meeting included a valedictory address from outgoing mayor Councillor Allan Morris. He was replaced as chair of the Council on an interim basis by Councillor Les Knight. A new mayor will be appointed on June 24.

MURDER ENQUIRY - WOMAN ARRESTED

May 14 -
A 27 year old woman has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a 27 year old Polish woman was discovered deceased at an address in Dewstow Street yesterday. The 25 year old man, arrested on suspicion of murder, remains in police custody. Update - May 15 The deceased can now be named as Alisandra Kaczmarsca.

POLICE OPEN MURDER ENQUIRY FOLLOWING DISCOVERY OF BODY

May 13 -
At approximately 2.55am this morning Newport Police and the ambulance service were called to an address in Dewstow Street, Newport where a 27 year old woman was found to be deceased. A 25 year old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in police custody.

NEWPORT CENTRE POOL MAINTENANCE WORKS

May 13 -
The swimming pool at Newport Centre will be closed on Saturday 17 May to Friday 23 May inclusive, for essential maintenance work to the pool plant. All other facilities at Newport Centre remain open to the public.Alternative swimming can be enjoyed at Newport International Sports Village, Bettws Leisure Centre and Lliswerry Leisure Centre.

POLICE AND COUNCIL IN GAER DISORDER CRACKDOWN

May 12 -
One of Wales’s largest operations to target underage drinkers and antisocial behaviour is underway in Newport. Up to 40 teenagers and a number of traders from Newport are facing legal action following a joint council and police operation tackling alcohol-related disorder focussing on the Gaer.The operation involving trading standards, the community safety wardens, and Gwent police is believed to be one of the largest operations of its kind in Wales.

In recent months problems with youths and alcohol-related antisocial behaviour in the area have intensified. The situation has escalated to the point that youths as young as 12 years old have been caught drinking alcohol while one 13-year-old girl almost died, needing her stomach pumped twice due to alcohol which was traced to shops on the Gaer estate. More than 40 youths have been identified as being involved in cases of drinking, swearing, fighting and other acts of disorder in Newport.
Responding to demand from the community, a major intelligence gathering operation has taken place in the past few weeks focussing on the area around Gaer shops, Hillview flats, the community centre, and Dickens Drive.

The footage recorded 65 offences of youths drinking, 60 offences of urinating, 51 cases of under age purchasing of alcohol, plus numerous breaches of ASBOs and Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABCs). There were also two drug offences. Wardens and police confiscated large amounts of alcohol from youths and during the period of the operation there was a marked decline in the levels of offending.Trading standards officers are now targeting those traders believed to be selling alcohol to underage youths, either directly or from adults buying drink for them.

WOMAN GETS THE POINT

May 12 -
An acupuncture patient returned home from treatment with a two-inch needle stuck in her back, she said.Back pain sufferer Wendy Dempsey had her first acupuncture session at the Royal Gwent Hospital.The 54-year-old claims she suffered excruciating pain as she drove the five miles to her Llanmartin home and only realised what was wrong when her nephew, Ieuan Edwards, started screaming.

STOW HILL COUNCILLOR SLATES LIB DEMS

May 12 - In a sign of Newport's prevailing political mood Conservative councillor for Stow Hill Peter Davies may have upset any hopes of a coalition between the Liberal Democrats and his own party after a letter published in the South Wales Argus. He was responding to criticism by David Hando, Council Lib Dem leader , of the paper's failure to report his parties "successes" in the recent city council elections. Davies stated that the Lib Dems had reduced their votes in more than half the wards contested "With that record, my Party would be hanging its head in shame and wanting to move on without further discussion as quickly as possible". 

GLOW IN THE DARK ARMBANDS FOR CITY SECURITY STAFF

May 12 - People going out in Newport will be able to spot door staff instantly after they were issued with glow-in-the-dark armbands.All door staff will have to display their identity card on the armbands, and will not be allowed to work if they do not have one. The scheme was proposed by Gwent Police following concerns that the public could not always identify staff easily. Security firms have welcomed the chance to improve the image of door staff. The yellow armbands display Security Industry Authority identity cards, and police believe pubbers and clubbers will feel safer knowing they can approach staff who are professionally registered.

 

RISKY PREGNANCIES NOT TO BE REFERRED TO ROYAL GWENT
 

May 11 - Women with high-risk pregnancies are being told they cannot be admitted to the Royal Gwent Hospital because its special care baby unit is full. Expectant mothers have been told by the hospital in Newport they must go to other local hospitals. The Royal Gwent says it does not expect an improvement for days. Health officials blamed the problem on an increase in multiple and premature births, and very premature babies needing to stay longer in the unit. The unit closed late on Friday, and the situation does not affect women with low-risk pregnancies, who can continue to have their babies at the Royal Gwent.

NEWPORT IS TOP OF THE CLASS FOR EDUCATION

May 8 -
Newport has achieved the highest-ever rating for a Local Education Authority (LEA) in Wales.Following a recent inspection, Her Majesty's Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales, Estyn, praised Newport LEA as officially the best in Wales and described pupil performance as “outstanding”. This means that Newport school pupils are benefiting from the best education standards in the country. A team of nine Estyn inspectors visited Newport in January and awarded the highest possible grades for strategic management and support for school improvement. They stated that the LEA support for “numeracy and literacy is outstanding and has a significant impact on raising standards, particularly in primary schools.” The Estyn report follows official National Curriculum assessment figures from the National Assembly last year, which showed that Newport outperforms the majority of other Welsh local authorities in the core subjects of English, mathematics and science. In fact, using the Core Subject Indicator, Newport is the top authority in Wales at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 and is sixth at Key Stage 3.

SWALEC HQ TO RELOCATE FROM CARDIFF TO NEWPORT

May 8 - Southern and Scottish Electricity, owner of Swalec, is set to relocate from Cardiff Gate to Celtic Springs in a £20 million move. The company has lodged a planning application with Newport  City Council  for 140,000 square foot headquarters. According to reports they will also expand their workforce from 800 to 1,600. The news of the relocation from Cardiff is a massive boost to Newport.

POLICE APPEAL OVER MAINDEE ASSAULT

May 8 - Detectives in Maindee are appealing for information regarding an assault, which occurred sometime between 01.00am and 02.00am on Sunday May 4, 2008 near the cenotaph on East Usk Road, Newport. A man was walking home with a friend from the city centre via the Old Green subway. He was originally on the left hand side pavement walking in the direction of Maindee. He parted company with his friend at the junction of East Usk Road where he crossed over to walk on the right hand side pavement. As he continued to walk, two men approached him and he was pushed to the floor, punched and stamped on. The following morning the victim attended the Royal Gwent Hospital after experiencing difficulties breathing. He sustained injuries to his face and body and has been treated for these. He is due to be discharged from hospital today. In Newport Crown Court yesterday a youth described as the personification of yob Britain has been sent to a youth offenders institution for three years. Joel Herd, 18, from Essex Court, Caerleon was charged following an assault in Caerleon as a couple made their way home from a restaurant. The attack was unprovoked. Judge Roderick  Denyer stated: "You are, I am afraid, the personification of yob Britain. You were drunk, you had smoked cannabis and you were out of control."

ANOTHER CANNABIS FIND

May 8 - Police in Newport have found a cannabis factory in a large six-bedroom house in Coedkernew today. The detached house on Blacksmiths Way, adjacent to the A48, was full of mature cannabis plants that were almost ready for harvesting. The cannabis factory was discovered after detectives gained intelligence suggesting cannabis cultivation at the property. Officers forced entry to the house at 10.30am and found more than 200 plants growing in five rooms spread across three floors. Some of the 'skunk' cannabis plants were nearing full maturity, while others kept in a nursery room were very young. The house's electricity supply had been bypassed to power thousands of pounds worth of hydroponics, lighting and venting equipment. Police estimate the street value of the cannabis seized is around £100,000.


UNIVERSITY MAKES LETTING AGREEMENT FOR CITY CENTRE FLATS

May 6 -
An agreement has been signed between the University of Wales, Newport and the Opal Group, who specialise in building, owning and managing student accommodation, which will see the University allocate 150 of its students to the flats being built on the banks of the River Usk in Newport City Centre.The University’s Accommodation Manager, Helen Powell, said, “We are delighted that the Nomination Agreement has been signed between the University and Opal.The flats in the new building are very attractively designed to meet the needs of today’s students, with en-suite bedrooms and spacious communal areas – and all within 200 metres of the new City Centre Campus.The University will take an allocation of about half the flats in the building for its students, and with this agreement signed, it means we can now start arranging accommodation for our students in the city centre, for September.This will provide much needed extra accommodation for the thousands of students who are choosing Newport as a place to study, as there has been increasing demand for our existing accommodation on the Caerleon Campus for some years now. It signals a confidence in the University and Newport as a desirable destination for students.” The site for the new City Centre Campus has been prepared and construction will begin at the start of July.

NEIGHBOURHOOD POLICING INITIATIVE

May 6 -
Shoppers in Maindee met police officers from their local station this weekend during a day-long roadside surgery. Neighbourhood Policing Teams who patrol the Maindee area joined together on Caerleon Road to meet the public to discuss issues that affect them. Leaflets and other materials containing police advice were available from a mobile police trailer that was set up at the roadside.Dale Morris, a PCSO with St Julian's Neighbourhood Policing Team, believes the event provided an opportunity for people who do not normally attend police surgeries or meetings to meet their local officers.

LABOUR POISED TO LOSE CONTROL OF CITY

May 2 - Labour's twenty seven year grip on Newport politics is hanging by a thread after yesterday's City Council elections. Six seats are still outstanding in st. Julians and Bettws due to the  deaths of candidates. But from the seats declared elsewhere Labour has lost a number of councillors. The Liberal Democrats have gained a seat in Ringland for the first time but it was the Conservatives who gained most taking both seats in Stow Hill, taking two of the three Caerleon seats and snatching a seat from Labour in Malpas. In Langstone former Tory now independent Simon Lane was re-elected along with his Tory rival David Attwell. Controversial candidate Andrew Cooksey sneaked in as a winner in Rogerstone in a closely fought Labour-Tory battle. Labour leader Bob Bright got back in by the skin of his teeth and will be joined by returning hard-hitters Ken Critchley and Allan Morris. The full results can be found here.
The results currently stand as follows -
Labour 19 (-8)
Conservatives 17 (+5)
Liberal Democrats 6 (+3)
Plaid Cymru 1 (no change)
Independent 1 (no change)
In theory Labour can still retain control of the Council if it wins all six remaining seats to be contested. This seems unlikely as they held only three of them last time around. It seems more likely that they will retain the three seats in Bettws but the Liberal Democrats would regard themselves as favourites in St. Julians. If this does happen a combined Lib Dem - Conservative coalition would have a majority. Due to mainly national factors the political landscape has changed dramatically leaving the immediate future of control of the City Council uncertain.


MAN DIED AFTER VEHICLE ARREST

 

Apr 30 - A 23-year-old man died in police custody after he was arrested on suspicion of damaging a vehicle, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said today. Lee Donovan, from Newport was found collapsed in his cell at Pontypool police station in the early hours of Saturday.An IPCC spokesman said the ambulance service was called and attempts made to resuscitate him until the paramedics arrived and took over CPR. A forensic medical examiner pronounced Mr Donovan dead at the station.The spokesman said Mr Donovan was arrested in High Street, Newport, at around 10pm the previous day.The custody suite at Newport police station was closed for refurbishment, so he was taken to Pontypool at around 10.45pm, he said. A post mortem examination was carried out on Saturday, but results from further forensic tests are awaited before the cause of death can be confirmed.

CITY HOUSE PRICE GROWTH SLOWS TO 2 PER CENT

Apr 29 - Annual house price growth in Newport has slowed to 2 per cent, according to Land Registry figures. House price figures for sales completed in March 2008 averaged £143,392 compared to £140,608 a year ago. Prices fell by 0.7 per cent when compared to February 2008. The price of a detached property averages £261,891.

NEWPORT PROPERTY PRICES March 2001- March 2008
March 2001 £62,232
March 2002 £69,447 (11.4 per cent increase)
March 2003 £87,518 (26.0 per cent)
March 2004 £107,120 (22.4 per cent)
March 2005 £124,880 (16.6 per cent)
March 2006 £130,983 (4.9 per cent)
March 2007 £140,608 (7.3 per cent)
March 2008 £143,392 (2.0 per cent)


TORY WAR OF WORDS CONTINUES IN LANGSTONE

Apr 29 - The acrimony concerning the Conservative and Independent campaigns in Langstone has come to the fore in the City Council elections. Sitting councillors David Attwell and Simon Lane have exchanged metaphorical blows in a very personal campaign. Lane was given the order of the boot from Newport's Conservative Group. He has responded with strongly worded criticism of his fellow Langstone councillor (see story April 7). Attwell has now replied with details of his voting record, comparing it favourably to Lane's and a defence of his record as a councillor. City elections take place on May 1.

MAN DIES AT NEWPORT FACTORY

Apr 28 -
A 50 year old man from the Wolverhampton area was pronounced dead at the scene of an accident at Sims Metal UK Ltd, Alexandra Dock, Newport, today. Next of kin have been informed. Police and the Health and Safety Executive are investigating the circumstances.

CITY MAN DIES IN POLICE CUSTODY

 

Apr 28 - A 23 year old Newport man has died in police custody at Pontypool. The cause of death has yet to be confirmed. The man's next-of-kin has yet to be informed, and the matter has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

NEWPORT SPEEDWAY PROMOTER IS DEAD

Apr 27 - The man who singlehandedly brought speedway back to Newport, Tim Stone, has died after a heart attack. The shocking news led to the cancellation of today's fixture between Newport Wasps and Rye House Rockets at Queensway Meadows. Stone dedicated the best part of the last ten years to the revival of speedway following on from its previous incarnation at Somerton Park (1964-1977). He took out a long lease with the Welsh Development Agency on the site of the stadium near Llanwern Steelworks. While the new Wasps have enjoyed more downs than ups they have still enjoyed some successes and their mere existence is a tribute to his commitment and perserverence. Increasingly, the running of the club at every level had become Stone's responsibility. But as he readily acknowledged Newport are a pretty unique club with their own stadium. His passion for speedway included numerous winter training schools, an annual New Year Classic and a determination to develop and assist young speedway riders.

COUNTY FANS RESPOND TO CYNICAL POLICE CAMPAIGN

Apr 25 - Newport County fans have reacted strongly to a newspaper story targetting alleged 'hooligan' behaviour at their game at Ninian Park in February. South Wales Police are making the allegation stating that their officers were subject to stone throwing and troublemaking behaviour. By contrast, most County fans at the game witnessed appalling and cynical police behaviour particularly at the end of the game when mounted police  and police with dogs  charged  at Newport supporters including children. To the Newport fans attending the game the police behaved in an over zealous and uncontrolled way. Our reporter at the game stated "
Outside the ground police opened up their batons on the Newport fans as the escort was about to start. Several fans were wounded and felt it was unnecessary resulting in a charge at the police by about 50 or so  Newport lads, more baton wielding commenced". Unfortunately, news outlets like the Argus and Echo have chosen to ignore the mal-treatment of County fans and the inappropriate policing  of the event  in what is supposed to be our capital city. It's much easier to trot out police propaganda and characterise  fans as hooligans. 

NOW BETTWS CITY POLL CANCELLED

Apr 25 -
Following the death of Labour Councillor Lloyd Delahaye this week, the election in Bettws will be postponed. Councillor Delahaye was the council’s cabinet member for public affairs and was standing as a candidate in the Bettws ward.The City Council will now be writing to all electors in Bettws informing them that the election on May 1 is cancelled and a new election will be called in due course.

AMPHETAMINES FOUND IN FREEZER

Apr 25 -
Newport Police have found £800 of amphetamine drugs in the freezer of an Alway home. Alway Neighbourhood Policing Team found the drugs after executing a drugs warrant at an address in Mount Bax yesterday. A 28-year-old woman was arrested for possession of controlled drugs with an intention to supply. She has since been bailed while she continues to help officers with their enquiries.

NEWPORT SHIP OPEN DAY

Apr 24 -
The next Newport Ship Open Day will be on Saturday 26 April, from 11am-4pm. In addition to being able to talk to the international team working on the Newport Ship visitors will be able to interact with re-enactors and find out all of the latest information about this exciting project. The ship has now been cleaned and recorded and organisers are now moving on to the next phase of the project.

The Newport Ship is located at Unit 22, Maesglas Industrial Estate behind Parcel Force and opposite the Big W.

CITY DEVELOPMENTS UPDATE

Apr 24 - City planners have the go ahead for the demolition of the King public house on Somerton Road to make way for a residential development. The building is derelict and a target for vandals. The former pub was originally known as the King of Prussia and was a popular venue prior to big games at the old football ground at Somerton Park.
Pizza Express has advertised in tonight's Argus for a premises licence for its new restaurant in Friar's Walk where work is yet to start!
Asda Living will open its door to the general public on April 28 at the Newport Retail Park. The first show home for City Vizion, the riverside development near Rodney Parade will be available to view from May 2.

ANOTHER CANNABIS FACTORY UNCOVERED

Apr 22 -
A tip-off from members of the public led police to uncover a large-scale cannabis factory at a Newport house today. The house in Cardiff Road, Maesglas, was full of mature cannabis plants that were almost ready for harvesting. Officers discovered the cannabis factory at 1.30am on Tuesday after responding quickly to calls reporting suspicious behaviour around the property. Two ground floor rooms and two upstairs bedrooms were filled with more than 400 cannabis plants. The house's electricity supply had been bypassed to power thousands of pounds worth of hydroponics, lighting and venting equipment. Police estimate the street value of the cannabis seized is around £70,000.

TASTE OF EDEN AT FRIARS WALK

April 22 -  Modus, owners of Friar's Walk, are advertising the new restaurant quarter at the proposed city centre mall. Eden is situated near the Vue cinema in the development and already includes Nandos, Pizza Express and Las Iguanas. The start of the new development has been delayed due to the withdrawal of part of the finance by a leading bank.

MANY CITY SCHOOLS TO BE HIT BY STRIKE

April 21 - Many of Newport's 64 schools are affected in some way by Thursday's industrial action called by the National Union of Teachers. Some schools have been forced to school due to insufficient available non-NUT staff. For example, Milton, Monnow, St Julians Junior, Langstone and St. Mary's RC are closed all day while Duffryn High is only open to sixth formers. Some schools like Lliswerry High and St. Joseph's RC are open as normal. For the latest information refer to this link.

ST. JULIAN'S POLL DELAYED FOLLOWING COUNCILLOR'S DEATH

 

Apr 21 - Pat Bull, sitting councillor for St. Julian's and one of three Liberal Democrat candidates for the ward in the city council elections (on May 1) has died. As a result, the poll in the ward has been postponed until a date to be decided by the city council's election returning officer.

NEWPORT DUBBED "SUB-PRIME CAPITAL OF THE UK"

April 19 - According to a survey in today's Financial Times Newport is the sub-prime capital of the United Kingdom. The survey concludes that
more than one in 10 of the mortgages issued here have gone to homebuyers with a chequered credit history.  The article quotes anecdotal evidence to confirm the findings of the study -
 

“It doesn’t surprise me that so many people in Newport are subprime,” said Tina Kingsbury, a mortgage adviser at Monmouthshire Independent Financial Advisers in central Newport. “Fifty per cent of my customers fall into that category. I’ve never dealt with people who have been bankrupt or anything like that. I get perfectly normal people coming in with adverse credit. Often they were out of work for a period of time, and then problems just built up from there.”

CITIES JOIN IN REGENERATION BID

April 18 - Newport and Cardiff City Councils are to join together in a bid for regeneration funding from the European Community in June 2008. Newport are proposing to use the funds to regenerate the Pill area, Cardiff's interest is the Butetown district.

FIGHT GOES ON FOR TAX OFFICE

Apr 18 - John Griffiths is continuing to fight against the decision to relocate the Tax Office out of Newport. HMRC services’ February announcement which recommended the Tax Office in Newport to relocate to Llanishen in Cardiff in February was described as a ‘shameful decision’ by the AM for Newport East. However, a similar announcement to relocate the Valuation Office to Llanishen was overturned last month.
John Griffiths said: “It is imperative that Newport retains both these services which should be available locally to users in the area. I’d like to see the treasury looking creatively about how we could co-locate services now that both are located in the Crown Building. Newport is currently witnessing great economic, cultural and social advances. It is important to retain these jobs to ensure Newport continues to be a thriving city of opportunity for all.”

MAN DIES AFTER BEING STRUCK BY TRAIN

Apr 18 - A man has been killed after being struck by a train between Cardiff and Newport. He was hit near Green Land Bridge at Marshfield by the 1920 BST Arriva Trains Wales service from Maesteg to Cheltenham Spa. British Transport Police were called to the scene at about 1930 on Wednesday. At this stage officers are not treating the incident as suspicious and are preparing a report for the coroner.

POLICE WARNING FOLLOWING DEATH OF BOY AGED 10

Apr 16 - Gwent Police is investigating a road traffic collision which took place at approximately 5.55pm yesterday, Tuesday April 15, 2008. The collision took place on the Southern Distributor Road, Newport near Mill Parade. 10 year old Jordan Lee Widdall-Hughes from the Pill area received fatal injuries and a lorry driver was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving shortly after. The driver has been released without charge and is now being treated as a witness.

It is understood that Jordan fell from the back of the lorry and officers are warning other children of the dangers of playing on and around moving vehicles - a trend which local residents say is currently increasing in the Pill area of the city. Chief Inspector John Pavett said: This is a terrible tragedy and unfortunately Jordan's actions have had fatal consequences. The SDR is a major trunk road, which is busy at all times during the day. We want to send out a clear message to other children and their families that it is not a playground nor a place for practical jokes, which can - as we have seen - go tragically wrong. Our condolences go out to Jordan's family."


'CREDIT CRUNCH' DELAYS FRIARS WALK START

Apr 15 -
Modus has been forced to delay the development of its £230m Friars Walk development in Newport, South Wales, due to the credit crisis and following a funding arrangement which was pulled by one of its banks. It is now searching for an alternative lender. The funding is required to begin the development, Council leader Councillor Bob Bright stated funding is being provided a major High Street bank with negotiations ongoing with another two. It also seems likely that the financial crisis will delay the start to the City Spires development opposite the railway station. Cllr Bright said Modus was focussing its effort on the Friars Walk scheme.

PROPER RECOGNITION FOR CITY'S MAN OF VISION

Apr 12 - The late James Lusty, the visionary behind proposals for a city centre university campus was given proper recognition by Newport at a service yesterday held at St. Woolos Cathedral.
James Lusty, who died of cancer aged 56, was one of the few university heads in Britain to have risen to that position from a non-privileged background. Variously described Energetic, determined and compassionate, James was a natural leader, who became principal of the then University of Wales College, Newport, in 2002 and oversaw its transition to university status in 2004, becoming its first vice-chancellor. James Lusty was the youngest of three sons, born in Singapore of a former mill-worker who ended his career as a major in the Royal Artillery. Educated in state schools in Hampshire, James graduated from London University's Queen Elizabeth College in 1973 with a first in chemistry, staying on to attain his PhD in 1976.
In addition to a musical tribute by the City of Newport Male Choir, there were tributes from the City Council, the University and from former colleagues at other educational institiutions. The Service was presided over by the Dean of Monmouth. Paul Flynn, Newport West MP commented on his web blog "The sadness expressed by his friends today was tempered by the expectation of seeing his work continue in the inspired regeneration of his adopted city."

 

 

Lusty's legacy - The new campus will be home to two academic Schools with international reputations - the Newport Business School and the digital media, film and design elements of Newport School of Art, Media and Design. These will be physically transparent and open to the city, rather than being enclosed behind high walls – which reflects the University’s intentions of being a city university with no barriers. The two Schools will work together at the new campus by bringing together the creative industries with the entrepreneurship expertise of the Business School.


POLICE WARN OVER THEFTS FROM REVELLERS

Apr 11 -
Police in Newport are urging drinkers to keep an eye on their belongings in city centre pubs and clubs. Thieves are stealing valuables that revellers leave behind when they go to the bar to order drinks or to dance. Officers recently arrested two women who were believed to be touring premises in the city centre looking for items to steal.But most thefts that occur late at night in pubs and clubs are committed by opportunists who spot valuables lying around.

Inspector Chris Watts, of Newport Central station, believes people can follow simple advice to avoid having their belongings stolen. "Don't make it easy for thieves,"he said. "If you go to the bar for a drink, or go up to the dance floor, make sure you take your belongings with you.


NEWPORT WETLANDS TO BE NATIONAL RESERVE

Apr 10 - Newport Wetlands will next week be declared Wales’ first urban national nature reserve. The reserve attracts nationally important numbers of birds – including avocet, dunlin, black-tailed godwit and shoveler – while the reed beds attract breeding water rail and Cetti’s warbler, and are the only known breeding site for bearded tits in Wales.

NEWPORT ROBBERY ARREST

Apr 10 -
Officers in Newport have arrested a 21 year old man from the Maindee area of Newport in connection with an incident which occurred in Pill on Wednesday April 2, 2008. He has been police bailed pending further enquiries. The victim, a 58 year old local man, was turning into Pardoe Thomas Close from the Commercial Road direction, at approximately 11.20am, when he was approached by two white males. One of the males assaulted him, punching him to the face, the second male stole money from the inside pocket of his jacket. Both men then made off but it's not known in which direction.The victim was taken to the Royal Gwent hospital as a precaution.

LG SITE TO BE DATA CENTRE

Apr 10 -
A £200m deal has been secured to bring a state-of-the-art data centre to Newport, providing computer services to businesses and creating 100 jobs.

 

New Generation Data Ltd has chosen the former LG semiconductor site to house the centre, which will be one of the largest and advanced in Europe.The First Minister Rhodri Morgan described the investment as "critical" for economic growth.The semi-conductor plant has been empty since it was completed in 1998. Its sister plant, LG Electronics, closed in 2006 with the company blaming falling prices and rising costs of producing computer monitors.The data centre will house the electronic hardware and communication links needed to run websites and e-commerce businesses in a highly-secure environment. New Generation Data says it is also in negotiations with several blue-chip companies to lease areas within the new site to run their own equipment and businesses independently. Chief executive Nick Razey said he hoped the plant would be operational by the end of the year. "The site is perfectly situated for the requirements of a data centre," he said.

PERSON IN HOSPITAL AFTER HOUSE FIRE

Apr 10 - One person has been taken to hospital after a house fire in Liswerry, Newport. South Wales Fire Service crews were called to the semi-detached house in Moorland Park just before midnight on Wednesday. The property was severely damaged in the fire and the emergency services said the attic of the neighbouring house was also damaged. The condition of the injured person is not thought to be serious.

BASIL BALTI IS CHARGED
 

Apr 9 - The owner of a Newport tandoori restaurant has appeared in court on charges of causing alarm and distress after swearing at his customers, a tirade which earned him the nickname "Basil Balti". Sheikh Mohammed Tahir Ullah, 55, lost his temper with two diners when they disputed their bill, and began waving his arms in the air and shouting at the top of his voice. The incident occurred at the Koh-i-noor restaurant in Maindee.
 

Newport Crown Court heard that in the outburst, he locked the couple in his restaurant and declared: "You make me sick. You b******s – you're all the same. You are f****** rubbish." The incident at the Koh-i-Noor was described in court when Ullah admitted using threatening words with intent to cause alarm or distress.

An argument started after a customer, Kay McCarthy, fell in the lavatory and cut her head. Fellow diners Mike Follett, 41, and his wife Deborah, 40, were upset at the way the restaurant staff handled the incident and felt more could have been done to help Miss McCarthy. The Court was told that Mr Follett, a businessman, asked Ullah to call an ambulance and record the incident in an accident log book.
 

Prosecutor Ieuan Bennett said: "Ullah was rather dismissive and wanted the injured woman ushered out of his restaurant."The couple called an ambulance and decided to leave. Because Mrs Follett hadn't eaten her main course they decided to pay £30 for the food they had been given. The full bill was £47. llah became frustrated, lost his temper and became abusive to Mrs Follett shouting: 'You are f***ing rubbish'.He was waving his arms around and being abusive." Ullah locked the doors of his restaurant and refused to let them out. Ullah, who left Bangladesh in 1968, admitted using threatening words with intent to cause alarm or distress at his restaurant in December 2006. Andrew Jones, defending, said: "The remarks were out of character and Ullah regretted losing his temper." He told the court Ullah has received a good citizenship award from the Mayor of Newport and has established a mosque in the City at a disused Christian church.Ullah, of Cedar Road, Newport, was given an absolute discharge but was ordered to pay £95 prosecution costs.

According to the Daily Telegraph one customer said later: "This man has a reputation for being as fiery as some of his curries. He has been nicknamed Basil Balti after John Cleese - but not everyone sees the funny side. It can be upsetting when you get shouted at when you are out enjoying a meal with friends and family. Let's just hope this will calm him down now."

LIB DEM CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED

Apr 9 - Welsh Liberal Democrats have launched their local election campaign in Newport.The manifesto - Safer, Greener, Better Value - the Lib-Dems' local government spokeswoman Jenny Randerson AM called for an end to "the old ways" of "out-of-touch" Labour councils in Wales. She said none of Labour's old urban strongholds could be considered "safe" any longer, and that the Liberal Democrats were leading the charge for change.Ms Randerson said, "Newport is Labour's last city stronghold, and it isn't safe any more."

DECEASED MAN NAMED

Apr 9 - The 46 year old man who died at the Royal Gwent Hospital on Monday April 7 after receiving injuries during an assault in Albany Street, Newport on Saturday April 5 has been named as John Sully from the Caerleon area of Newport. The three men and two women arrested on suspicion of murder have been police bailed pending further enquiries. Detectives investigating are appealing for witnesses to the incident.
 

 

POLICE LAUNCH PILL MURDER ENQUIRY

Apr 8 -
Gwent Police is appealing for witnesses to an assault that occurred between 00.30 and 01.30 on Saturday April 5, 2008 in Albany Street, Newport. As a result of the incident a 46 year old Newport man sustained serious head injuries and on Monday April 7, 2008 he died at the Royal Gwent Hospital, Newport. Gwent Police have commenced a murder investigation. To date, five people have been arrested and are being detained in connection with the enquiry. Anyone who witnessed the incident or has any information regarding it is asked to contact Gwent Police on 01633 838 111.

PLANNING UPDATE

Apr 8 -  One of Newport's iconic independent traders George Street Furnishers is proposing a new store on Mill Parade near the Southern Distributor  Bridge according to the latest  planning applications to  the City Council. New Look is taking up Unit  2 at  Newport Retail  Park as this shopping destination goes from strength to strength.  Tesco  will  be  replacing their  Spytty store with  an significantly bigger Extra store.

ARMED ROBBERY ATTEMPT IN PILL

Apr 8 -
Police in Pill are appealing for information to an attempted armed robbery at Gwent Racing, Alexandra Road in Pill. The incident occurred at approximately 6.30pm on Monday April 7, 2008. Three men entered the shop and walked behind the counter. They are described as black, approximately five feet ten inches tall, of a slim build and between 17 and 25 years old. They were all wearing dark clothing with their hoods pulled up over their faces. The Bookmaker was not physically threatened by the men but felt threatened enough to push his panic button. One of them appeared to be carrying a large iron bar and a large kitchen knife was found on the shop floor after they left. They walked off in the direction of Commercial Road. Anyone with information is asked to contact Gwent Police on 01633 838 111


IN-FIGHTING MARS START OF CITY TORY CAMPAIGN

Apr 7 - Langstone City Councillor Simon Lane has criticised fellow councillor David Atwell in a strongly worded newsletter to local residents recently received by thisisnotgwent.co.uk. Lane was expelled from Newport City Council's Conservative Group in November. At the time Group leader Matthew Evans stated "
Despite repeated warnings and every opportunity to remedy the situation, he has clearly breached group rules and only has himself to blame." However, Lane, who now sits as an independent Conservative, has criticised his Conservative colleague Atwell for failing to work with him in the interests of all residents. He claims Atwell has used his position to exclude Lane's contribution to a local residents newspaper claiming that it omits information that "might be considered less than favourable" to the Conservative councillor. He accuses Atwell of censorship and states that he will be calling on every household in the ward in the coming weeks. Lane attaches his contribution to the Communities First newsletter, he claims that editor Alan Perry excluded the article because it criticised Mr Atwell. Perry claims that Mr Lane was away on business when it went to press.
The article contains emphatic criticism of Atwell claiming that he has failed to contact Lane on any Ward issue in all the time they have been councillors and stating that this is odd given they both belong to the same political party. He states Atwell resigned as Chair of Newport East Conservative Association when it became apparent that he and his wife would not be selected as candidates for Langstone. He claims Atwell campaigned against his own party when his wife stood in the neighbouring Llanwern ward. In addition, Lane states Atwell "chose to miss" a crucial Council meeting concerning the controversial residential development at Taylor's Garage.
Lane voted with the Council's ruling Labour Group to approve a Council Tax increase of 3.5 per cent for the coming year.

POLICE PURSUE INDECENT EXPOSURE CASE

Apr 7 -
Police in Newport are appealing for information after a man indecently exposed himself to a woman who was parked outside the newsagent in Maesglas on Cardiff Road. The incident occurred at approximately 9.45am on Sunday March 30. The woman had previously gone into the shop after passing the man standing outside it. She had noticed his belt was undone and when she returned to her car he indecently exposed himself through the front passenger window.

The man is described as white, approximately 17-19 years old, about six feet tall with a muscular build and shaved hair. He was wearing a v-neck fitted white t-shirt, light blue jeans with a thick dark coloured belt. He left with two other men in the direction of Maesglas Avenue. One of the other men is described as mixed race, approximately five feet six inches tall of a small build. He was wearing dark clothing. There is no description of the third man. Anyone with information is asked to contact Gwent Police on 01633 838 111 or anonymously on Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.


RECYCLING BOOST FOR NEWPORT

Apr 7 - Recycling efforts in Newport are to be boosted by an extra £2.14 million over the next year, thanks to a redistribution of taxpayers money by the Assembly Government. Local AM John Griffiths has welcomed the announcement from the Welsh Assembly Government of the additional cash to increase recycling and composting and cut landfill in Newport.The funding is part of a £50 million Wales-wide package to local authorities under the Assembly Government’s ‘Sustainable waste management grant’. This is an increase of £15 million over the previous year. John Griffiths, AM for Newport East, said: “This is a major investment in the way our waste in Newport is managed, which will lead to more recycling and composting and less waste going to landfill. 

CANDIDATES ANNOUNCED FOR CRUCIAL CITY ELECTION

 

Apr 6 - The three main parties are fielding a large number of candidates for this May's City Elections. Following the close of nominations on Friday, it emerged that the Liberal Democrats are fielding 47 candidates for the 50 seats - the same as the ruling Labour Group but more than the Conservatives, who are hoping to increase their representation significantly by running 45 candidates.

RAIL LINK BUS COSTS £123 PER PASSENGER

Apr 5 - The unnecessary delay to the rail link between Ebbw Vale and Newport was underlined by Welsh Assembly figures revealing the replacemnt bus service is little used. The bus takes a circuitous route between Rogerstone and the city centre. Passengers for Newport tend to travel on the train to Cardiff and get another train east to Newport rather than use the bus. The bus journey takes 50 minutes to complete the 4 mile route operating via the Celtic Springs Business Park. An average of six passengers a day are using the service.
The Welsh Assembly Government is providing £224,500 a year in subsidy, via Newport Council, for the service. According to the Western Mail, allowing for Sundays and bank holidays, when the bus does not operate, that equates to a subsidy of £122.68 per passenger. It is understood the service has been revised to a more direct journey time of 20 minutes. Work on the necessary signalling to allow a direct Ebbw Vale to Newport service will not start until next year.

CITY VIZION DEVELOPMENT DELAYED BY BREEDING FISH

Apr 5 - The George Wimpey City Vizion development has been temporarily suspended to allow the rare Twaite Shad fish to complete its breeding season. A similar reason halted the University development on the opposite bank of the river in the city centre. Work will resume in June or July.

POLICE APPEAL OVER MISSING FAMILY
 

Apr 4 - An urgent appeal has been issued about a family of four which went missing six weeks ago. Police in Newport are appealing for information about the family, who are of Korean origin, and who were living in Cambridge Road in the city. Kum Yer Choi, 34, the mother of the family, was heavily pregnant before she was reported missing and has diabetes. Her husband Guek Foo Han, 36 and their daughter Ar Reum Han, five, and son Yung Kwang Han, four, are also missing. "It's believed the family of four left the address approximately one month before they were reported missing on March 19," a police spokesman said "Concern is growing for the family because Kum Yer Choi was heavily pregnant when the family went missing and it's believed she would now have given birth. She is also diabetic."Gwent Police are appealing for the family to get in touch to let them know they are safe and well. Anyone with any information is asked to contact Gwent Police on 01633 838111.
 

CITY LEISURE CHARGES REVISED
 

Apr 4 - Newport City Council leisure service charges have been revised following consultation with dissatisfied pensioner groups and bowls clubs. A new charging structure for 2008/9 proposed a separate rate for residents aged 60 plus offering a 20 per cent discont on the full adult price. However, this was criticised by bowlers in particular who had enjoyed a significant concession previously. The City Council have now linked the 60 plus concession with all other concessions leading to a discounted rate of 40 per cent for pensioners using leisure services on production of their free swimming card. Conservative Councillor Matthew Evans stated "The Conservative Group welcome this "U Turn " which should encourage and increase participation in physical activity for the over 60's. Clearly the 67% price increase for Bowlers was totally unacceptable
and we would wish to ensure this amended policy is not just a one off, and will continue in years to come." Stow Hill Labour Councillor Miqdad al-Nuiami had encouraged officers to review the policy following representations from pensioners. He said "I am ..fully in support of the preferred option and wish to congratulate the officers and Cabinet member for listening to the concerns expressed" they had acted "to promote sport amongst the 60+ age group at an affordable cost." All city bowls have expressed their support for the new charging structure.

 

CHANGES TO CITY CAR PARK CHANGES

Apr 3 - Newport City Council has proposed new car park charges for parking facilities adjacent to Newport Centre and Kingsway Shopping. Emlyn Street Car Park will become a maximum two hour short stay car park with a flat rate charge of £2. The temporary 350 space Granville Street Car Park will have tiered charges with a maximum fee of £3 for a stay beyond two hours. The Capitol Car Park above Newport bus station will close in May 2008 as part of the Friar's Walk development. Parking near the Riverside is severely restricted following the commencement of the University development. The new 1000+ space car park adjoining Kingsway Shopping will be complete in the latter part of the year. The changes are subject to consultation and may not be introduced until June.

DESIGN SCHOOL SETS FASHION TREND


Apr 3 - Eye-catching designs for a range of women's wear have won first place in the annual Design Wales Awards for a student from the University of Wales, Newport. Anthony Thomas's collection for high street fashion chain Peacocks scooped him a thousand pounds and a year's work placement in the company's design department. This is the third year that a fashion student from Newport School of Art Media and Design has won the Ffres Awards which are organised by Design Wales for all second and third year students of fashion, textile and graphic design in Wales.

RETAIL SIGNINGS CONFIRMED

Apr 2 - Modus has confirmed the signings of River Island, Boots, Pizza Express and Nandos to its Friars Walk development. These operators will join Debenhams, Marks and Spencers and New Look to guarantee a fantastic line up for the scheme. Friars Walk will provide Newport with the retail and leisure facilities that the city deserves and complement the major city wide regeneration programme. The £200m development will provide £450,000 sq ft of new retail space, a multiplex cinema, a new restaurant quarter, a city hotel, 250 new style apartments and a new bus station. In addition to the well known retailers the development will also boast a vibrant mix of independent and local retailers especially in the new Upper Dock Street area.

Nigel Poad, leasing director for Modus, said: “Getting the likes of River Island to commit to Friars Walk reaffirms that it will become a prime fashion location in the city of Newport. Similarly getting a vote of confidence from a retailer like Boots is a real boost. These deals demonstrate that despite the doom and gloom in the media, retailers are still willing to commit to quality schemes. Securing Pizza Express and Nandos as the first operators to commit to the restaurant quarter also sets the tone we are seeking to achieve. There currently is no family dining offer in the city and we are determined to address this.” Construction is due to start on site on spring and the anticipated completion date is 2010.


APPEAL OVER PILL STREET ROBBERY

Apr 2 - Officers in Newport are appealing for information following a robbery that occurred in Pill today, Wednesday 2nd April 2008. The victim, a 58 year old local man, was turning into Pardoe Thomas Close from the Commercial Road direction, at approximately 11.20am, when he was approached by two white males. One of the males assaulted him, punching him to the face, the second male stole money from the inside pocket of his jacket. Both men then made off but it's not known in which direction.The victim was taken to the Royal Gwent hospital as a precaution.Anyone with any information about the robbery is asked to call Gwent Police on 01633 838 111 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

COCAINE FIND IN CAERLEON

Apr 2 - Police have found cocaine with a street value of £150,000 in a house in Caerleon. The cocaine weighed two kilos in total and was in the process of being cut for distribution when Newport police officers made their discovery. Officers decided to search the detached house on Monday night after receiving information. A 22-year-old man was arrested for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. Detective Inspector Steve Webber, said: "We conducted a search of the house in Caerleon immediately after we received intelligence. A large quantity of cocaine was found in a number of locations within the property. This is a significant find - one of the largest ever seizures in Gwent - and the cocaine was about to be distributed to communities within South Wales.


FIRST MINISTER BACKTRACKS ON NEWPORT LINK

Apr 1 - First Minister Rhodri Morgan has backtracked on the Welsh Assembly's commitment to an Ebbw Vale - Newport rail link. Travelling on the Cardiff based version of the service he stated that a link between Ebbw Vale and Newport had been the original plan, but had not proved viable due to a problem where lines would have to cross. However, a link with Cardiff was developed. “After the news the line could not go to Newport, the fact that the alternative was that it could go to Cardiff was a bonus,” said Mr Morgan. In a comment to the Gwent Gazette he confirmed that Newport Railway Station also needs to be brought up to standard for the Ryder Cup golf tournament. Mr Morgan failed to give a firm commitment to a Newport link stating that he hoped the National Assembly and Network Rail could look “seriously” at the possibility of extending the Ebbw line into Newport.

WORK TO START ON POWER STATION

Mar 31 - Carron Energy has signed contracts with Siemens AG and Siemens for the design, engineering, construction, commissioning, testing and completion, operation and management of the 850MW Severn Power Combined Cycle gas turbine plant at Uskmouth.  This follows the award of planning permission for the project by DBERR (The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) in August 2007, and the announcement on 4 March 2008 that Welsh Power Group Limited has mandated three banks, Calyon, ING and The Royal Bank of Scotland, to lead arrange and underwrite up to £550m debt financing in support of the development.
Commenting on today’s news, Alex Lambie, Chief Executive of Welsh Power, owners of Severn Power said: “We are delighted to have concluded these critical negotiations.  We are looking forward to commencing construction, and are confident that Siemens’ expertise will bring Severn Power on line on schedule in 2010.
“There have been concerns raised that the UK will be unable to build new plant, to meet the generation shortfall resulting from older plant retiring, due to the global demand for turbines.  The Severn Power project will play an important role in delivering efficient and competitive energy for GB customers in the coming years. Severn Power will create more than 650 skilled jobs, provide vital electricity generation for South Wales, and contribute to the Welsh Assembly’s aim of energy self-sufficiency for Wales.”

POLICE CAMPAIGN REDUCES CITY BURGLARIES

Mar 31 - A police operation launched to catch prolific burglars in Newport has been hailed a "complete success". Due to unusually high amounts of burglaries being committed in the city, a dedicated team including three detectives, a researcher and an analyst was set up under Operation Chase. Since the operation began six weeks ago, 181 house burglaries have been solved and six males aged between 14 and 30 from the Newport area have been arrested. Three have been charged with conspiracy to commit burglary and the others charged with specific burglaries. Five have been remanded in custody until they appear in court.

Crime figures show that the recent arrests have significantly reduced the numbers of burglaries happening in the city. Since the beginning of the year, the amount of burglaries each week has ranged between 25 and 36 - but two weeks ago the number fell to 24 and last week the figure dropped further to 18. Officers now expect burglary figures to fall further now burglars they caught are behind bars.Detective Inspector Steve Webber, who led the operation, said:
"The team that was set up worked very hard to find additional witnesses to burglaries and to enhance forensic evidence to bring charges against suspected culprits. I'm confident that those responsible for the majority of burglaries in Newport over the last six months have been stopped. It was great to see the house burglary figures fall to 24 two weeks ago and then drop again to 18 last week. We now aim to keep this downward trend going by continuing to do the things that have made Operation Chase a complete success."


NEWPORT MP IN M4 MISHAP

Mar 30 - Three cars including one driven by Newport West MP Paul Flynn caused the closure of the M4 briefly yesterday. All three vehicles hit a piece of concrete on the M4 between junctions 10 and 11. The MP commented "Conditions were wretched with rain and spray. I was in the middle lane overtaking a lorry. I saw an object on the road in front on me but I could not avoid hitting it. There was a bang and the car veered out of control to the right. From the noise and uncertain steering, it was clear there was something seriously amiss. I hauled the car over to the left towards the hard shoulder. The front off side tyre was ripped and flat and the wheel was a write off." Police closed the motorway in order to remove the object.

FIRST MINISTER ADMITS NEWPORT IS ELECTION 'BATTLEGROUND'

Mar 28 - Welsh Assembly First Minister Rhodri Morgan has admitted that Newport is a local election 'battleground' that the Labour Party must win. In launching its campaign for the elections he admitted that most significant election contests in Wales involved a Labour - Liberal Democrat head to head. Meanwhile, the Riverfront Theatre hosts the Plaid Cymru Spring Conference tomorrow.
Currently there 50 councillors on Newport City Council - 30 Labour, 12 Conservative, 6 Liberal Democrats, 1 Plaid Cymru and 1 Independent. The elections take place on May 1.


MP AND AM OPEN NEW TRUST BUILDING

Mar 28 - John Griffiths and Jessica Morden have opened a new office for the Raven House Trust charity which provides food, clothing and furniture for people in need across Newport. The AM and MP for Newport East were delighted to open the new premises on 276-278 Cromwell Road which provides assistance to individuals and families who are on low income or benefits in the city. John Griffiths AM said: “It was a great honour to open the new office. Raven House Trust provides an immensely important service, improving the quality of life of thousands of people every year. The number they have helped has grown from 2500 in 2003 to well over 7000 last year. I hope this new premises can allow the charity to cope with the huge increase in demand and help even more in need throughout Newport in the future.” Anyone who wants to make a donation to the trust can call 01633 762 999.

FINAL STAGE OF PLANNING PASSED FOR FRIAR'S WALK

Mar 27 - Last minute revisions to the Friar's Walk shopping centre were agreed yesterday by City Council planners. The proposals include minor changes to the scheme including an increase in the number of residential apartments from 243 to 281 and a slightly smaller number of car parking spaces. There is also provision for a new restaurant unit and wider existing units for food/drink outlets following the success of attracting Nando's, Pizza Express and Las Iguanas to the scheme. Work is now expected to start within the next four weeks.

VALUATION OFFICE TO STAY IN NEWPORT

Mar 21 - The Valuation Office Agency has announced today that they have reversed the decision to relocate their office in Newport to Cardiff. The decision came after a consultation process where the staff, along with Jessica Morden MP, conveyed their concerns over the proposed move. Jessica said "I am delighted with the announcement that the Valuation Office Agency has decided not to relocate the office in Newport to Cardiff. It is great news for the staff and I am pleased for them and wish to thank them and everyone for their efforts in convincing the Valuation Office Agency to maintain a presence in Newport - including those who signed the recent petition."
Although this is great news for Newport, the Valuation Office has stated that they will be moving from Clarence House to the Tax Office (Her Majestys Revenues and Customs) near Clarence Place. The MP expressed her hope that there would be a rethink about the proposed move by tax office staff "Given the HMRC are going to be relocated to Cardiff, I do think there is a strong argument now for HMRC to stay. I have long argued that both the HMRC office and Valuation office, in keeping with both agencies need to cut costs, should co-locate in Newport. I will be asking Jane Kennedy MP, Financial Secretary for the Treasury, why the Treasury can't take a holistic view and co-locate offices. This makes perfect sense to me and the staff to both to save costs and to continue to offer first class service to the people of Newport."


ASSEMBLY TO ASSIST WITH STATION DEVELOPMENT

Mar 20 - Ieuan Wyn Jones, Transport Minister in the Welsh Assembly Government, has announced plans to invst £2.9 million in the redevelopment of Newport Station in the coming year. This is part of a £25 million plan for Newport Station including
 
£5.5 million has already been spent on the new platform 4 at the station.

MAN ARRESTED FOLLOWING INDECENT EXPOSURE ALLEGATION

Mar 20 - A 54 year old man has been arrested in connection with an incident of indecent exposure, which occurred in Rogerstone on Friday February 22, 2008. The victim, a thirteen year old local girl was walking through the lane that runs from Tregwilym Industrial Estate to Viaduct Way when she passed a man who was jogging. The girl continued to walk up the lane and came across the same man standing in front of her with his shorts down indecently exposing himself. He then ran off. The man has been released on bail pending further enquiries.

CITY BUS FARES TO RISE FOR SECOND TIME IN MONTHS

Mar 19 - Bus fares in Newport are to rise for the second time in four months. From March 23 a single fare rises by 10 pence to £1.20. It  was increased by 10 pence in early January. Other fares also increase at the same time. Newport Bus, the city's public transport operator blames the increase on the lack of a subsidy from the Welsh Assembly to compensate for the rising cost of fuel.

CITY SETS OUT STALL ON PLASTIC BAGS

Mar 19 -13 billion plastic bags are used in the UK every year, and Newport is the first Welsh city to make a stand.In a small marquee this week the Vity Council conveyed a big message – plastic bags are used for minutes, but last 1,000 years. By handing out bags for life, the city’s Pride in Newport teams highlighted the environmental alternatives available to shoppers. A similar event held in Newport Market during the run up to Christmas was also widely supported by traders and customers alike.Working towards reducing the amount of plastic bags being used in the city is an ambitious project that will further extend the city’s green credentials.Identified as the UK’s greenest city by an independent WWF report in 2007, the council has a long established reputation for being a forerunner in reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfill.Councillor Ray Truman, cabinet member for community safety and sustainability said: “Pride in Newport has one key message – people can change things. They can make their environment and their community better. All we are doing is highlighting a small change of habit, but one that could have a global impact”.

CHRISTCHURCH ROAD POST OFFICE SAVED

Mar 18 - Following a determined campaign by local residents and politicians Christchurch Road Post Office has been saved from closure. Malpas Road Post Office will close following the announcement, the response to the plan to close West Park is still being considered.The decision on Christchurch Road came following a strong campaign by the sub postmasters and local residents, backed by Newport East MP Jessica Morden, AM John Griffiths and Alway Councillors.Jessica Morden  MP said: "I'm absolutely delighted the Post Office has listened to the strong case put by local residents and politicians and has reprieved Christchurch Road. Access to other branches is limited and its closure would have left the area without this service and would have put the shop at risk. The decision is simply common sense. I can only congratulate Helen and Sean Kennedy who run a popular and profitable Post Office and hope that their business continues to flourish in the future."

POLICE APPEAL OVER INCIDENT AT RETAIL PARK

Mar 18 - Police are appealing for information following an incident that occurred at a store on Maesglas Retail Park in Newport where an unknown man allegedly attempted to grab an eight year old boy by his arm. The boy ducked away and immediately alerted his mother. The man is described as white, approximately 5'10" and of a medium build. He was clean shaven with short brown hair and was wearing a green coloured jacket. He was also wearing white headphones.Anyone with information is asked to call Gwent Police on 01633 838 111 or anonymously via Crimestoppers 0800 555 11
 

WORK STARTS ON MASSIVE RECYCLING PLANT

Mar 17 - Construction has begun on a huge new waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) plant which developers say will be one of the biggest of its kind in the world. Located in the Newport docks area the massive recycling site will take up 12 acres of land and will process up to 100,000 tonnes of WEEE annually. The site is being built by metal recycling firm Sims Group which the website says is investing £11 million into the project. Priorities of the plant, which is set to open within the next nine months, will be the dismantlement of cathode ray tubes (CRT) and TV monitors.

CONTRACTS SIGNED FOR NEW PRIMARY

Mar 17 -The contracts for the new Glan Usk primary school have been signed between developers Vinci Investments Ltd and Newport City Council.The new school, which will be built at Glebelands, will replace Durham Road Infants and Junior Schools and Rockfield Nursery. Vinci Investments Ltd is building the school for the council under the government’s private finance initiative (PFI) and plans have already been approved. The cabinet member for young people’s services, councillor Bob Poole, said: “This is fantastic news. The Assembly has given the green-light to the business case and I am delighted that work can start on site in April. “An incredible amount of hard work has gone into getting the project this far and the signing up the contracts means we have cleared the project’s last hurdle.
“We can now look forward to this state-of-the art facility opening to pupils in January 2010.”

START OF FRIAR'S WALK MALL IMMINENT

Mar 17 - The final stages of planning for the new Friar's Walk shopping centre are under way. On March 26 City planners will consider slight revisions to the shopping centre and associated buildings. The residential tower will now be at least twenty storeys high. Provision within the mall has been made for an additional A3 unit to cater for the high demand in the development for food and drink establishments.  

NEWPORT MEN FOUND GUILTY OF JEWELLERY THEFT

Mar 14 - A gang who travelled from Newport to raid a Huddersfield jewellers have been convicted.Now Ryan Crooks, 20, of Newport and Simon Orr, 32, of Manchester, could face jail after the pair were yesterday convicted of theft from Fillans Jewellers at Market Walk. Another member of the gang, Leroy Allen, 23, also of Newport, had admitted that he snatched a £7,250 American International ring from the shop in a raid last June.Bradford Crown Court heard Orr had reconnoitred the shop before Allen entered 22 minutes later dressed in a suit and trainers.

Allen asked to see an eternity ring in the window before Crooks appeared at the door asking to be let in. As the door opened Allen fled. Crooks, pretending to be an innocent witness, left false details.Orr and Crooks denied any part in the theft but a jury found the pair guilty after two hours.Following the pair’s conviction Judge Mr Robert Scott said: “I make no promises about what’s going to happen to you. But I could lock you up or I might not lock you up.”

APPROVAL FOR DATA CENTRE

Mar 14 - Newport planners yesterday approved a proposal to turn the former LG-Hynix plant in the west of the city into a data centre. The plan put forward by the Welsh Assembly Government could create a substantial number of jobs and is intended to meet the growing demand for large back-office data processing centres.


CONCERN OVER TORFAEN PLANS

Mar 13 - Newport City Council has expressed concerns regarding development plans submitted by Torfaen County Borough Council. Newport state that very little green wedge between the two local authority areas is envisaged by the plan and that considerable residential development is planned in the Llantarnam area bordering the City without any consideration for public transport including rail. The Boundaries Commission recently considered and refused plans to move part of Llantarnam in to the City Council area.

NHS ABANDON COMPENSATION APPEAL

Mar 12 - The NHS has abandoned attempts to appeal against a ruling in favour of a woman who said she suffered brain damage as a baby. Marianna Telles, 22, of Newport was treated at the Bristol Royal Infirmary for low blood oxygen levels caused by a congenital heart defect. In February, a High Court judge ruled against the local health authority and said she could claim for damages. Ms Telles' family said problems with communication and mobility stemmed from operations she had as a baby.In a statement the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) said it was committed to dealing with claims arising from the events leading to the Bristol Public Inquiry on their individual merits. "The case of Marianna Telles was defended on expert evidence which indicated that liability was far from clear cut. This was recognised by the trial judge. We now wish to work with the family towards a negotiated settlement to provide for Ms Telles' needs going into the future.

 

 

REPOSSESSIONS UP IN CITY

Mar 12 - Property repossessions in Newport have increased significantly in the last six months. The final figures for 2007 from the Court Service reveal an increase in the number of homes repossessed from 821 to 969, an increase of 18 per cent.

PLANNING UPDATE

Mar 12 - Applications have been submitted to City planners for further developments in Newport. Changes are proposed to the former Halifax Bank on Commercial Street to create new reatil units and offices. Plans have been put forward to convert the Hereford Arms public house in Maindee in to nine flats. Perhaps most interestingly plans have been submitted for a residential development by Fairlake Properties on part of the South Wales Argus site in Bideford Road. The newspaper recently announced plans to move its printing from this site to the West Country.

RADIO MAY HAVE SAVED SOLDIER'S LIFE

Mar 11 - A soldier who died on his first day of parachute training with the SAS may have been saved if he had been given a radio, an inquest has heard. Capt Daniel Wright, 25, from Newport, died in Oxfordshire, when his parachute failed to open. Personnel on the ground were shouting to him to cut away his main chute but by the time he deployed his reserve it was too late, the inquest heard. Capt Wright's mother has called on the army to learn from his death.

URGENT MEETING CALLED TO DISCUSS NEWPORT RAIL LINK

Mar 11 -Blaenau Gwent Labour leader Hedley McCarthy has requested an urgent meeting with First Minister Rhodri Morgan to discuss the potential rail link between Ebbw Vale and Newport.The local Labour party is campaigning for the link and will be travelling to Cardiff to express the views of local people. Council leader Hedley McCarthy praised the work of the Welsh Assembly Government in working with the council to deliver the rail link between Cardiff and Ebbw Vale.Councillor McCarthy said a link to Newport would connect the borough to the two main economic centres of south east Wales and would potentially lead to more investment and employment opportunities throughout Blaenau Gwent.He said that although he was delighted with the link to Cardiff he believes it is vital that a link to Newport be established as soon as possible.

LIB DEMS CRITICISE MAINDEE POOLS REPORT

Mar 11 - Newport Liberal Democrats have expressed concern after it emerged that the decision to sell the Maindee Pools was based on an unfinished feasibility study. The feasibility study which was ordered in Spring 2006 was not completed before the decision to sell the site was taken in January this year. 

Commenting Councillor Jeff Evans said: "It appears this decision has been rushed. The whole point of the feasibility report was to explore potential options for the building and to take account of the constraints of the site. We now know that the report was not finished nor its final conclusions fully considered. Once again, the site has been badly handled by the Council."

BIG CHANGES TO NEWPORT BUS SERVICES
 
Mar 10 - There are significant changes to Newport area bus services from March 30 following the review of services undertaken by the City Council. The City's main bus operator, Newport Bus, retains most services, some services are replaced and new services are being introduced. The details are as follows -

Services 3, 3A, 3C, 3X Newport to Malpas -
These services have been renumbered Services 17, 18 & 19. Newport Bus state that they have revised the network of services to Malpas, investing in more resources to provide higher frequencies and better coverage. The Service 3X Newport to Malpas will be provided by an alternative operator (according to Newport Bus).

Services 5A, 5B, 5C Newport to Whitson/Goldcliff via the Sports Village -
The service will be operated by Drake Travel services rather than Newport Bus. The route is financially supported by Newport City Council.

Services 7 & 7B - Newport to Cwmbran via Caerleon –
Minor evening re-timings.

Service 9 Newport to Spytty –
Renumbered Service 42.

Service 9B Newport to Felnex Industrial Estate –
To be operated by a new contractor rather than Newport Bus.

Service 10A & 10C Newport to St Julians –
Newport Bus Service now re-timed to leave City at twenty past the hour at the request of Newport City Council.

Service 12 Newport to Llanwern Corus -
Newport Bus will no longer be operating this service, Stagecoach has been selected to provide the service. 

Services 16, 16A Newport to Moorland Park –
Renumbered. Service 16 to Service 43 & Service 16A to Service 43A.

Service 17 Newport to Foxgloves –
Renumbered Service 5.

Service 18A & 18C Newport to Bettws –
Renumbered. Service 18A to Service 15 and Service 18C to Service 16.

Service 19 Newport to Ringland/Alway via George Street Bridge –
Renumbered Service 9.

Service 29B Newport to Leeway Industrial Estate –
Journey withdrawn (passengers advised to use Newport Bus Service 42).

Services 31A & 31 C Newport to Castleton/Marshfield –
Minor re-timings plus the three afternoon works journeys withdrawn (new alternative Service 36 for passengers)

Service 40 Newport to Pillgwenlly –
Service extended to Dock Gates and around Usk Way and Old Town Dock. Circular service to be provided with introduction of Service 41 (Service 40 will be anti-clockwise and Service 41 clockwise).

Service 61 Newport to Magor via Redwick -
Following the award of this Newport City Council Contract, Newport Bus will be operating this service from 31st March 2008.

Service 62 Newport to Llanwern -
A new service to be introduced by the City Council and run by Stagecoach although full detail not available.

Service 96 Newport to Moorland Park/Spytty -
Renumbered to Service 44.

Service 98 & 99 Newport to Royal Gwent/St Woolos Hospitals -
The Saturday service has been awarded to Stagecoach. Newport Bus will still be operating the Monday to Friday service.


POLICE APPEAL - SUSPICIOUS INCIDENT
 

Mar 10 - Gwent Police is appealing for information to a suspicious incident that happened on Wednesday 6 March. A 16 year old female was walking along Brynglas Road in the direction of Malpas Road at approximately 5.20pm when a Fiat Punto, dark racing green in colour, pulled up beside her on the road. The lone male driver touched her arm, she pulled away, and he drove off. The male is described as being Asian in appearance, aged 20-25 years old, of a slim build, with blemished skin and bushy eyebrows. His dark brown hair was combed back and he had a gold hoop in his right ear. If anyone has any information that could assist officers with their enquiries they are asked to call Gwent Police on 01633 838 111 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

EVACUATION OVER AS FLOOD THREAT PASSES

Mar 10 - St. Brides residents are now returning to their homes following a successful evacuation yesterday evening. The decision was taken to evacuate approximately 170 residents from the Lighthouse Park Caravan site, St Brides, Wentloog following forecasts for high tides and high winds. The forecasted storms, combined with the Spring high-tide posed a potential risk to some residents living on the coast. Officers visiting the site offered early advice regarding the potential flooding and possible structural damage to property from high winds. Residents were advised to evacuate their properties as a precautionary measure. Some premises near the coast between Goldcliff and Redwick were also offered advice and given the opportunity to evacuate. An evacuation rest centre was set up at Newport Leisure centre. The majority of residents were found accommodation at nearby hotels, with a small number remaining at the rest centre. Councillor Bob Bright, leader of the council, said: “The most sensible course of action was to carry out an early evacuation. This meant that we could effectively re-home residents before the storm took hold. Should we have waited, and the worst-case weather scenarios occurred, it could have been difficult to carry out a safe evacuation.

REPRIEVE FOR BRYNGLAS SCHOOL

Mar 8 - The City Council has revoked the proposed closure of Brynglas School until at least 2010. Cabinet member for Young People's Services Bob Poole stated he was investigating a number of alternative options for the site including a potential location for a Welsh medium primary and the possible relocation of St Mary's Roman Catholic Primary School.

NEW WETLANDS CENTRE OPENS
 

Mar 7 - A striking new environmental education and visitor centre at Newport Wetlands nature reserve has now opened its doors. The brand new centre sits on the edge of the Newport Wetlands reserve nestled among reeds and pools, which will soon become inhabited by the local birdlife.  The £3 million centre houses a shop and café for visitors to relax in, an education room for schools, activities and events, as well as conference facilities for local businesses and community groups.  Seventeen new jobs have also been created at the centre. Kate Humble, broadcaster and naturalist helped to officially open the centre to the public.  She said: 'In the middle of urban south Wales lies this incredible area for wildlife, which visitors can enjoy to the full now that the RSPB's new environmental education and visitor centre has opened its doors. You can be in amongst the most beautiful scenery within minutes of leaving Newport city centre." Mayor of Newport, Councillor Allan Morris said:
‘The new visitor centre is a real asset to Newport and provides a welcoming urban gateway for visitors to explore the natural World.  here is such a wealth of important habitats and wildlife here at the wetlands, and the centre will play a vital role in informing and enthusing new generations, and engendering a lasting sense of pride in their surroundings.’
 

ANOTHER CANNABIS FACTORY FOUND

Mar 7 - Police raided a Caerleon house and uncovered a cannabis factory yesterday (Thursday, March 6). Officers discovered around 200 cannabis plants in a three-bedroom rented property in Roman Way. It is estimated the street value of cannabis grown in the house could total around £100,000 per year.

A drugs warrant was executed at 12.30pm after Gwent Police received information from a member of the public. Officers forced their way into the house and found mature plants and hydroponic growing equipment in the downstairs living room and two upstairs bedrooms. Sergeant Jim Neesam said enquiries continue and no arrests have been made in relation to the discovery.


RECORDS OFFICE TO MOVE TO EBBW VALE

Mar 7 - The records office covering the former county of Gwent (and prior to that Monmouthshire) seems set to move from County Hall, Cwmbran to a purpose built site in Ebbw Vale following recent decisions made by the local authorities involved. Newportonians face a round trip of over forty miles to trace information including genealogical records. Newport City Council will be making their decision at the Cabinet Meeting on March 11.

APPEAL OVER ASSAULT IN MARKET STREET

Mar 7 -
Police are appealing for information to a serious assault that occurred in Newport on Sunday 24th February. It happened at approximately 7.30pm in the Crosskeys Public House in Market Street. The two male victims, white in their early thirties from the Newport area, were assaulted inside the premises by three males. It's believed the victims were speaking to the offenders prior to the assault. One of the victims suffered serious facial and head injuries and the other victim a fractured wrist and facial injuries. The three white male offenders are described as all about 5'8" in height, 2 were of a stocky build and the other has been described as slim. Following the assault they left the pub and went in the direction of the High Street.

ST JULIAN'S JUNIOR SCHOOL GETS TOP MARKS

Mar 6 - St Julian’s Junior School has made great progress since its last inspection, according to Estyn, the Welsh education inspectorate . This is evidenced by the achievement in the seven key questions of six grades ones and one grade two in the recent inspection. The quality of teaching has also improved significantly with 88% of lessons being grade one or grade two, with no unsatisfactory teaching. The inspectors described St Julian’s Junior as, ‘A good school with many outstanding features.’ The report praises the leadership of the school and identifies it as a particular strength.

BREAK IN AT THE COUNTY

Mar 6 - Social club facilities at Newport County's ground have been targetted by crooks following a break in on Tuesday night. County officials and fans spent much of yeserday sorting out the mess created by these idiots. The County website has a statement about the break in " Last night BarAmber was subject to a major break in, a significant number of items were taken including the projector for the big screen; the new telly donated by the County Bounty and many other items. There has been significant damage to the building both internally and externally. Obviously the Committee will do their utmost to resume normal service as quickly as possible but it may not be possible to replace all items in time for forthcoming games."

CAMPUS WORK STOPS TO ALLOW FISH TO BREED

Mar 6 -Preparatory work on the new £35 million City Centre Campus for the University of Wales, Newport is progressing well, with initial site clearance to prepare the site, which sits on the bank of the River Usk in Newport, nearing completion. 

Now, the team of contractors are preparing to leave the site for four months in respect of an embargo on building work because of the breeding season of the endangered fish species Shad. This temporary lull in construction has been built into the schedule of the new campus, which is due to open in 2010. The Shad, which is a relative of the herring, require rivers which are free of pollution and are also in direct contact with unpolluted coastal waters. The River Usk is one of only four sites in the UK where a known breeding population of Shad occurs, where water quality and quantity are favourable for this species.

CITY'S ENVIRONMENT ACCOLADE

Mar 5 - Newport City Council has received the highest honour at a Wales-wide awards ceremony.The Excellence Wales awards, held in Cardiff Bay, saw over 250 guests join TV’s Lucy  and Rhodri Owen, to acknowledge some of the best achievements within the world of local government.  

Newport was the only authority to receive a ‘Highly Commended’ award in the environment category - a much sought after accolade based on the council’s drive to create a cleaner, greener city. The award commended the council on areas such as waste management, biodiversity and pollution control, and covered achievements such as t £3 million visitor centre at Newport Wetlands, as well as improvements in public transport provision. Newport has long been at the forefront of promoting recycling and composting. The city was the first to receive a weekly recycling scheme, and the first to move towards alternate week collections. As nine times winner of the Wales in Bloom award, and having recently been identified by the WWF as the UK’s greenest city, the council has a strong track record when it comes to sustainability.

RYDER CUP HOSPITALITY PACKAGES ANNOUNCED!
 

Mar 4 - Ryder Cup Europe has now finalised plans for corporate hospitality when golf’s greatest team event is held at The Celtic Manor Resort, Newport in September 2010.Co-ordinated by Ryder Cup Hospitality 2010 Ltd (RCH2010), the hospitality arm of Ryder Cup Europe LLP, the plans involve the construction of several multi-storey hospitality structures on specially-created sites overlooking the 16th and 17th holes.

The Kidwelly Suites adjacent to the 16th fairway and green and the Conwy Club which overlooks the 17th green have panoramic views across almost the entire Twenty Ten course.  A four day package from Thursday to Sunday (September 30 - October 3) starts at £38,000 plus VAT for a table of ten guests, with private suites for 30 at £132,000 plus VAT.  Hospitality is also available on the two practice days, Tuesday (September 28) and Wednesday (September 29), at just £3,800 plus VAT for a table of ten in the Conwy Club. Packages will include daily Ryder Cup ground admission tickets, breakfast on arrival, Champagne reception, three-course lunch with wine, complimentary bar throughout the day, afternoon tea and an Official Programme. 

UNIVERSITY TOPS SATISFACTION SURVEY

Mar 4 - University of Wales, Newport has come first in Wales in an independent survey of international student satisfaction. The International Student Barometer (ISB) measures the learning, living, support and arrival experience of international students and compares it to those of other Universities throughout the UK. Newport was 13th out of a total of 84 universities in the survey which was carried out last autumn and involved over 67,000 students, 181 of them from Newport. The ISB found that the library and technology facilities offered by the University came first in Wales along with overall living experience including earning opportunities, visa advice, friendliness and the quality of accommodation.

VELODROME NAMED AS POSSIBLE OLYMPIC VENUE
 

Mar 4 - Newport’s National Velodrome has been named in a prestigious list of potential training venues for the 2012 Olympic Games. The London 2012 Training Camps Guide was launched at the velodrome and features 31 sites in Wales. National Olympic and Paralympic committees from different countries will decide where they will base their teams as the Games approach. This news builds on Newport’s growing reputation as a sporting city with international-standard facilities.

As one of only two such facilities in the UK, the velodrome has helped cultivate the talents of Olympians Nicole Cooke and Julian Winn and World Champion track cyclist, Geraint Thomas, proving itself a worthy inclusion in the guide book.  The arena boasts a 250m cycling track, indoor sports arena, sports science facilities and a 4m-wide closed road circuit to the exterior.
 

HUGE LOAN SOUGHT FOR NEWPORT POWER PROJECT

Mar 4 - Energy firm Welsh Power Group Ltd is raising a loan of up to 550 million pounds ($1.09 billion) to finance the development of the 850 megawatt Severn Power project in Newport, according to the company's banks.  

Calyon, ING and Royal Bank of Scotland have been mandated to arrange an underwritten loan that will finance the construction of a merchant combined cycle gas turbine project in Uskmouth. The project has a three-year construction phase and will be well placed to take advantage of the projected capacity shortfall in the UK power market, according to the banks.

URGENT STUDY IN TO NEW RAIL STATION

Mar 3 - Regeneration company Newport Unlimited has commissioned an urgent study in to the site and design of the proposed Llanwern railway station. The £45,000 study must be carried out now by Network Rail in order to ensure the new station is included on a local line forming part of the upgraded South Wales main line. The upgrade will take place in 2012-13. Progress is now being made on the delivery of a new suburb for eastern Newport including development applications in the Eastern Expansion Area at Llanwern Village [1,100 houses, primary school and community centre] and Corus Llanwern Regeneration Site [a 4,000 phased housing
development, two primary schools, village centre and 100 acres of employment]. Both applications have been approved subject to a Section 106 Agreement which contains commitments to major off-site infrastructure and public transport facilities. The Master Plan also includes the provision of a new local railway station with
associated Park and Ride facilities, to provide the focus of the integrated transport framework.


BUS STAND DEMOLISHED BY STAGECOACH SERVICE

Mar 3 - Stand 8 at Newport Bus Station was demolished by a Stagecoach bus on Friday evening. The bus was supposed to be reversing when it jolted forward and destroyed the glass stand. Passengers were transferred to an alternative service. The incident is currently being investigated.


CAMPAIGN TO SAVE BETTWS SCHOOL BUILDING

Mar 2 - C20, the Twentieth Century Society, is campaigning to save the present 1972 Bettws comprehensive school building. Newport City Council has announced plans to replace it with a new building, work should start later this year. The campaign is not expected to attract much local support. Paul Flynn MP commented on his website  "The children nicknamed the design as ‘Colditz’. Both the Director of Education and, as far as I know, all the teachers at the school found its design impractical, ugly and inimical to the education process." Mar 3 - Following a local campaign the new school will include the word 'Bettws', it will be known as Newport High School, Bettws Lane.

TAX OFFICE CLOSURE CONFIRMED
 

Feb 29 - HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) says it will vacate its buildings in Newport, central Cardiff and Pontypridd in 2009, relocating staff to Llanishen, Cardiff. Its Llanelli office and the Custom House in Swansea will also be closed, with staff moved to operations at HMRC's Ty Nant building in Swansea. Despite a vociferous campaign the decision is a blow to Newport.The Newport East MP Jessica Morden describes the move as "shameful".  "This is terrible news for the whole of Newport but this is not the end of the line. We will continue to fight for the services by appealing this decision." Newport East AM, John Griffiths added: "I am bitterly disappointed that this decision has been made. It is important to retain these jobs to ensure Newport continues to be a thriving city of opportunity for all." One hundred and forty workers are employed at the Newport office near Clarence Place , following their relocation only an enquiry office will remain in the city. 

ARGUS CIRCULATION FALLS AGAIN

Feb 29 - Circulation of the South Wales Argus, the main evening newspaper in Newport, has fallen again. Figures from the Audit Bureau for Circulation for July to December 2007 show a fall of 1.3 per cent in total sales. Average sales in the period were 28,457. 

The Express and Star, in Wolverhampton, continues to be the UK's biggest selling regional paper with daily figures of 138,780, followed in second place by the Liverpool Echo with 106,401. Wales' biggest selling daily is the South Wales Evening Post, in Swansea, with a circulation of 51,329.

WATER PLANT UPGRADE WILL CREATE JOBS
 

Newport water management solutions provider Asset International has announced plans to invest more than £2m into new technology and facilities and create job opportunities as part of its ambitious growth plans for 2008.A sset, which is part of UK-based infrastructure, building and construction products group Hill & Smith, will open a new production line and fabrication bay at its plant on Stephenson Street in June this year, creating 20 new jobs.

ANOTHER CANNABIS FARM UNCOVERED

Feb 27 -
A massive cannabis factory has been uncovered in an outbuilding at a farm in Newport, with Gwent Police seizing 500 plants during a raid. 

Officers estimated the value of the cannabis grown in a rented building at the rear of Sluice Farm, Peterstone, would total £150,000 a year. They arrested three men aged 31, 32 and 38, all from the Cardiff area, on suspicion of cultivating cannabis. The men were later released on police bail pending further investigation.

JOBLESS HELP SCHEME SET FOR LAUNCH

Feb 26 - Tomorrow see the launch of a scheme to assist the jobless in areas of Newport affected by higher than average unemployment. The scheme is a joint venture by the City Council and Jobcentre Plus.
 

The Futures Project is a community project to help people back into work. If you live in Bettws, Pillgwenlly, Tredegar Park or Ringland and are not working for whatever reason, the Futures Project is available to you now. The scheme helps jobless people with access to:Local employers with local jobs / Opportunities to train and up skill / Free action planning and guidance / Help with your basic and key skills / Advice on Childcare and financial help available / One to one support.

RINGLAND RESIDENT VOWS TO FIGHT DEVELOPMENT

Feb 26 - A Ringland resident has vowed to fight plans to develop the area near his home.When plans were put forward to develop the open land opposite Paul Jordan's home in Handel Close he was furious. He said he was watching bit by bit every piece of green disappear from the Ringland area and he was not prepared to stand by and do nothing."It was time someone took them on." He said. Paul took his neighbours' case to the planning committee but missed out when Councillors voted to pass the plans for houses to fill the grassed area between Handel Close and Ringland Way.

Paul, who grew up in Ringland Circle, has vowed to continue to oppose the development, despite planning permission and will try to block any other plans to build in Ringland."This area needs green space as well as houses." he said. "There will be 1,000 houses the other side of Ringland Way and thousands more on the Steelworks site. We don't need to close up the green spaces of the Ringland Estate."

BUTLER WELCOMES BENEFIT TAKE UP SCHEME

Feb 26 - Rosemary Butler has welcomed a scheme to improve take up of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. The Welsh Assembly Government will be making £1 million per year to local authorities to target those not claiming their entitlements. Newport City Council has over 22,000 claimants and will receive an additional £70,000 per annum to encourage take up. She stated "Newport City Council will now find it easier to target the advice and support it offers on benefits. I want to see everyone who is eligible receiving these benefits."
 

DRIVERS WARNED NOT TO USE BUS LANES

Feb 25 - Police in Newport have warned motorists they will issue £30 fixed penalty notices to anyone caught driving or parking illegally in bus lanes. Officers have noticed that drivers are using bus lanes in the city centre as shortcuts during rush hour congestion, particularly in Emlyn Street. Now Newport Central neighbourhood officers plan to observe problem roads and punish impatient drivers who break the bus lane rules. Sergeant Colin Thomas said: "Some people are trying to escape heavy traffic in the city centre by breaking the law. This has been causing problems and is proving a hindrance to buses, therefore we will issue fixed penalty tickets to anyone caught using bus lanes. We will actively put officers in problem areas to catch the offenders."

CRITICISM OVER DURHAM ROAD DELAY

Feb 25 - St Julian's Liberal Democrats have slammed the announcement that there will be a further delay to the replacement for the Durham Road Schools. Newport City Council announced this week that the new School on the Glebelands site will now open in 2010 rather than in 2009. Ward Councillor Ed Townsend said: "The real story to the Council's press release (see story below - Feb 20) is a further delay. It follows the news that the housing developer has pulled out and that the new version of the PFI Scheme has yet to be sent to the Welsh Assembly Government for approval. The replacement for the Schools has taken 15 years to date." According to Construction News the City Council and Vinci Investments are expected to sign final contracts in March with a prompt start to the development. The scheme was also to have a housing development attached to it, but the bidder on that side - Charles Church Developments - has withdrawn from the process.

NEW FOOD WASTE TRIAL STARTS

Feb 25 -Newport City Council has announced that it will be extending its recycling services even further, with the start of a food waste collection trial in March of this year.
Let’s collect it, let’s compost it – that’s the message from the council as 1,300 households are offered the chance to recycle their food waste on a weekly basis.Households involved in the trial have already received a notification leaflet, informing them that the new collections will be coming to their street.This will be supported with the delivery of a detailed user guide, as well as new food caddies and liners in which to place their kitchen scraps. From mid-March, a specialised Wastesavers lorry will follow dedicated food waste collection routes that incorporate streets in Rogerstone, Riverside, Baneswell and Maindee. If the trial proves to be a success, the council hopes to roll-out the scheme to the rest of Newport in manageable stages. With kitchen waste making up 39 per cent of the rubbish left in Newport bins, the trial follows years of development by a council that is committed to reducing the amount of waste being sent to landfill.In 2006 Newport was one of the first city’s to develop a food waste collection scheme.