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BIRD PORT INVESTMENT PLAN

Nov 11 - Plans to redevelop a port on the River Usk which opened in 1900 have been revealed in a move that could double its capacity and boost industry in the wider region.
The plans for Bird Port In Newport, the only under cover port on the West coast of Britain, were unveiled by GFG Alliance's Sanjeev Gupta.
GFG’s infrastructure and energy division, SIMEC, plans to double the capacity of Bird Port, which it bought in recent months along with Cargo Services Ltd, the company which runs freight handling operations at the site.
The port has modern undercover storage facilities totalling over 160,000 sq ft and is equipped with a unique double set of gantry cranes spanning the dock, enabling it to handle high-value steel products with minimal risk. The port is also adjacent to Mr Gupta’s Liberty Steel rolling mill where he plans to create hundreds of new jobs by installing an electric arc furnace for recycling scrap metal as part of the group’s GREENSTEEL sustainability strategy.

ELEVEN ARRESTS AFTER SURPRISE POLICE RAIDS

Nov 9 - Eleven people have been arrested during raids to tackle organised drug crime. More than 160 police officers raided 10 sites in the Alway and Lliswerry areas of Newport from about 05:00 GMT followed by a further four.
They seized Class A drugs, several high performance cars, cash, jewellery and electrical equipment. Eight men and three women have been arrested on suspicion of offences "relating to drug trafficking", Supt Ian Roberts said "This activity, doesn't just take place in isolation, it is just one aspect of a much larger fight to tackle serious and organised crime in Gwent. "We have our eyes on these people and we won't stop this fight to dismantle these groups of criminals," he said.

CARAVANS SEIZED

Nov 8 - A total of six caravans have been taken by Gwent Police and six people have been arrested on suspicion of burglary. A spokeswoman from Gwent Police said: "Officers are investigating a burglary that took place between the evening November 4 and 5 in the Queensway Meadows Industrial Estate, Newport. As part of this we have seized six caravans. Six people have been arrested on suspicion of burglary and are currently in custody being questioned."

MAIN POST OFFICE RE-LOCATION

Nov 6 - Plans are well advanced to relocate the Post Office's current branch at 19 Sovereign Arcade in Newport’s Kingsway Centre, into the vacant retail store at 174-176 Upper Dock Street near the Friars Walk bus station. The company said the new site would be run as part of a dedicated area alongside a convenience store. Stuart Taylor, who is external relations manager for the Post Office, previously said: "There will be extra hours and it will be open on a Sunday."

HOTEL PLAN FOR TJs

Nov 4 - In the latest in a series of hotels planned for Newport EasyHotel has announced plans to convert the TJs building into a hotel. The former nightclub has been empty for nearly a decade. EasyHotel is part of the same group as Easyjet airlines. 

Currently in the consultation stages, the scheme aims to transform the long-derelict listed building on the city's Clarence Place into a four-storey 58-room stopover. According to the application proposal the work would involve the 'part demolition, restoration, redevelopment and extension of the listed buildings to facilitate change of use', whilst introducing commercial units on the ground floor. Other hotel plans in the pipeline include the a new development at Coldra Court, the Mercure in the city centre, the new Apart-Hotel in Clarence House and the proposed Crown Hotel in former tax building also in Clarence Place.

M4 RELIEF ROAD DECISION IN DECEMBER

Nov 4 -  Welsh Assembly Members (AMs) will get a binding vote in early December on the controversial M4 relief road project near Newport, the government confirmed recently. Confirmation came from leader of the house Julie James, standing in for the First Minister Carwyn Jones during FM Questions in the Senedd. She revealed that officials have received a copy of the public inquiry inspector’s report, which they are preparing advice on for transport secretary Ken Skates.

MP CALLS FOR CHARTIST RECOGNITION

Nov 4 - In Business Questions last week in the House of Commons Newport East Jessica Morden MP called for Parliament to commemorate the struggle and sacrifices of the Newport Chartists. In a question to the Leader of the House, the MP said “This weekend in Newport we will, as always, be commemorating the Chartist uprising of 4th November 1839. We have had excellent events and exhibitions to commemorate women’s suffrage this year. What more can we do in this house to debate and commemorate the role of the Chartist movement who came before them, and the ordinary people whose struggles and sacrifices – as in Newport – have shaped our democracy and this place?”
The popularity of the exhibit on women’s suffrage and the Representation of the People’s Act in Parliament this summer showed that there is a real appetite for further acknowledgment of the central role played by ordinary men and women in the story of British democracy, including Newport’s Chartists and others who followed in their footsteps.
 

OLYMPIA HOUSE COMPLETION SET FOR FEBRUARY

Nov 4 - The Olympia House project in the city centre is set for completion in February according to an article in Business News Wales.  Owner Richard Hayward of Hayward Properties stated "The upper floors of Olympia House are being converted into 62 flats and Hayward says values have increased substantially since construction started on the project. “We started off at about £120/sq ft and we’re now at £180 or even £200/sq ft,” he says. “We’ve sold all the flats on the top floor and that’s the only floor we’ve really tried to sell. We’re now going down to floor seven and I think we will sell those quite easily. And then we’re selling another 11 flats beyond that. So we will have sold 30 or so flats and the rest we will keep and put into our rental stock because we think they’re great investments.”
Olympia House is set for practical completion in February, after which Hayward says he will move on to further city-centre residential projects. The success of the off-plan sales at Olympia House has given him the confidence to do more, he adds. We’re planning to do another 40 flats in the old Argos building once we’ve sold the Olympia House units,” he says. “It’s a great time for Newport. Flats have never really worked in the town and this is the first time that we’ve been able to sell right in the city centre. You’ve got real city living in Newport as a result of the major commercial developments that have happened, such as Friars Walk.”
 

QUEENS' SCHOOL SITE SET FOR APPROVAL

Nov 1 - A 96-unit residential development at the site of a former education centre could be about to receive the go-ahead after planning officers gave it a recommendation ahead of a meeting to discuss the proposal.
The plans for the 8.6-acre site, which includes the former Queens/Newport High School, have been submitted jointly by Newport City Council and Residual Lands Ltd, a company responsible for managing land on behalf of the successors in title to the former Lord Tredegar.
The development includes 14 affordable housing units, equating to 14.4 per cent of the development, indicatively comprising six one-bed apartments, four two-bed apartments and four two-bed houses. The remainder is made up of 83 ‘market housing’ dwellings, indicatively comprising five two-bed houses, 53 three-bed houses, 24 four-bed houses and one larger house.

FLYNN TO STEP DOWN AS MP

Nov 1 - Veteran Labour MP Paul Flynn has announced he intends to stand down due to health reasons.
Mr Flynn, aged 83, has been in Parliament for 31 years. He briefly served as shadow leader of the Commons and shadow Welsh secretary in 2016.
The Newport West MP said: "I'll wait for a convenient time to go. "By-elections are expensive and can be troublesome for the party.
I don't think this Government can last for more than a few months, anyway".

SEIZED GOODS TO BE GIVEN TO CITY HOMELESS

Oct 28 - Thousands of pounds worth of seized goods are to be rebranded and given away to the homeless. Newport City Council’s trading standards team has seized the goods following investigations of reports of clothing with fake sports and luxury goods trademarks, including top brands such as Nike, Addidas, Puma, Calvin Klein and Michael Kors. If the items were sold at the full retail price of genuine equivalent products, their value would by around £200,000.
The national charity His Church works in partnership with the council to ensure the counterfeit goods are rebranded and redistributed.
And this week the charity representative Richard Humphrey, senior coordinator of His Church, met the Leader of the council, Councillor Debbie Wilcox and Cabinet Member for Licensing and Regulation, Councillor Ray Truman to receive the clothing.

TRAVELLERS EVICTED FROM NEWPORT SITE

Oct 26 - The eviction of travellers from Black Ash Park took place yesterday (October 25) after Newport City Council obtained a writ in the High Court. Five High Court Enforcement Officers accompanied by police attended the site.
The illegal encampment has been the subject of legal proceedings which the council had to pursue before eviction could take place
The council had to follow statutory guidelines laid out by the Welsh Government when it comes to dealing with travellers moving onto council owned land.
The council recognises the public’s frustration when incidents like this happen and the expectation that travellers should be removed within hours of setting up an illegal encampment. However the council has to follow the rules, assess the situation and involve other partners so assessments can be carried out before action is decided on.
A Newport City Council spokesperson said: “Gypsy and Travellers are a recognised ethnic group, which means that the council has a number of legal duties towards them under the Equalities Act, the Housing Act and the Children Act.
“The council also has to comply with the Human Rights Act and, in particular, respect their right to family life.
“The lengthy legal process has now resulted in the writ being issued in the High Court and the successful eviction which took place yesterday.
“Council staff were on site following the eviction to start deep cleansing the area.”

FIRST APART-HOTEL TO OPEN IN NOVEMBER

Oct 25 - Newport's first 'apart-hotel' venture is set to be opened in the city centre in November by four brothers who have visions of the city evolving in the same way that Salford Quays in the north of England has.  The apar-hotel is in Clarence House. Their blurb states "Are you looking for serviced apartments stay in Newport? Quays Apartments Offers an amazing alternative to a hotel or B&B in the city of Newport Wales makes an excellent choice for a variety of travelers. Quays Apartments are minutes away from Newport City Centre and train station makes easily accessible to Newport Beach and international convention Centre. Our prices are highly competitive and apartments are fully furnished with broadband, smart TV and fully fitted kitchen. Hence we offer the full comfort of your home away from home along with value-added benefit you would expect from a luxury hotel.
Whether you are on a short trip, business meetings or family holiday, our team will make sure that you stay is booked as per your needs."

FILM COMPANY MOVES TO QUEENSWAY MEADOWS BASE

Oct 25 - A film company is to move into a Newport industrial unit after securing a five year lease. Urban Myth Films, which produced Atlantis for BBC1, has been commissioned for a new eight-part series by French media company Canal Plus.
The 136,702 sq ft site received planning permission to operate as a film studio in September.
Acting on behalf of Urban Myth Films, T G Commercial Ltd secured the acquisition of the leasehold interest of Unit 4 Nash Mead, on the Queensway Meadows industrial estate. Urban Myth Films Ltd is to lease 48,115 sq ft for the production of the new drama series scheduled to be released in 2019.

SMALL BUSINESS BROADBAND BOOST

Oct 24 - Some 4,000 small businesses in South Wales and South West England could benefit after network builder Nextgenaccesssecured an investment of £22m from the UK Government backed National Digital Infrastructure Fund (NDIF), which among bigger plans will also build a new 80km fibre optic link between Bristol and Newport.
The NDIF is a commercial fund that is supported by the Government’s £400m Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund (DIIF). Both are focused on supporting the construction of alternative “full fibre” (FTTP/H) style broadband ISP and Ethernet networks. NDIF is being managed by the Amber Infrastructure Group (Amber), which is an infrastructure specialist.

HIT AND RUN TEENAGER JAILED FOR 12 YEARS

Oct 20 - A teenager who drove his car at a group of people outside a nightclub in Newport seriously injuring two women has been jailed for 12 years.
McCauley Cox, 19, was sitting in his Ford C-Max outside the Courtyard nightclub in Newport on April 29 when a fight broke out.
Newport Crown Court was shown CCTV footage of the women being run over. Cox had been found guilty of using his car as a weapon to run over two people after a night out in Newport. McCauley Cox, 19, had denied two counts of grievous bodily harm with intent.
Two women who were sitting on a kerb waiting for a taxi suffered serious injuries on Cambrian Road.
Judge Daniel Williams said he faced a "substantial period" in a young offender institution for his "outrageous" behaviour on 29 April.

HOTEL PLAN FOR FORMER TAX OFFICE BUILDING

Oct 19 - A former Newport tax office is set to become a hotel. Under a planning application submitted to Newport City Council, Crown Buildings in Chepstow Road, Newport, would be converted into use as a seven-floor hotel.
The ground floor would include a reception, function room, gym and bar, while a restaurant would be accommodated on the fifth floor.
The nine-storey, 1970s building, between Chepstow Road and Caerleon Road, has laid vacant for several years with attempts to market the site unsuccessful since 2011.

FOCUS ON CHILD EXPLOITATION IN NEW NEWPORT PROJECT

Oct 18 - Eleven to 15-year-olds at risk of getting caught up in gang culture and serious organised crime are to be given one-to-one support in a bid to stop them becoming criminalised. The children’s charity Barnardo’s Cymru is partnering with Newport Live to launch a new project called Divert in Pillgwenlly and Ringland, two of Newport’s most deprived areas.
The six-month pilot scheme is funded by the Home Office through the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.
The results of the £100,000 project will be independently assessed by Swansea University before decisions are made whether it should be extended.

COUNCIL LAUNCH NEW SAFETY ORDER

Oct 18 - Newport City Council launched its updated Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) for the city centre this week.
The launch coincided with the City Centre Action Day today, Thursday, 18 October when the council’s Cabinet Member for Licensing and Regulation Councillor Ray Truman will join council partners including Gwent Police, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, housing associations and third sector organisations to promote the community safety message.
The Action Day, centred around St Paul’s Walk, aimsed to improve the well-being of the city centre, address crime and anti-social behaviour concerns, build community trust and confidence in partner organisations and promote community involvement.
The first city centre PSPO was introduced in November 2015 and earlier this year the council decided it was a good time to review it, taking into account what has worked over the past two years, what restrictions need to be kept or revised and whether new restrictions were needed to tackle other forms of anti-social behaviour in the city centre.
Following consultation with the public the city centre PSPO has tighter controls on begging and anti-social behaviour.

PLAN FOR NEW CORPA ROAD DEVELOPMENT

LATEST SURVEY SHOWS HOUSING PRICE RISE

Oct 14 - Monmouthshire and Newport, the closest local authorities to the Severn bridges , are two of the fastest growing property markets in the UK with rises of 14% and 13.7% respectively, according to the latest survey.

COUNCIL RECEIVES NOTIFICATION OF ITS GRANT SETTLEMENT

Oct 10 - Newport City Council ha received notification of the taxpayer revenue it will receive from Welsh Government. All councils in Wales are facing real terms cuts to their funding from the Welsh Government next year. The Isle of Anglesey, Conwy, Flintshire, Powys, Monmouthshire and Gwynedd are the worst hit.
Six south Wales councils can expect more cash, but the increases are below the inflation rate of 2.7%. Conservative local government spokesman Mark Isherwood called the settlement a "kick in the teeth for north, mid and west Wales".
Welsh Government funding forms the bulk of cash used by councils to fund services, including leisure centres, schools, waste and care provision.
Alun Davies, Local Government Secretary, announced that overall council funding will be cut in cash terms by 0.3% to £4.21bn, equivalent to £13m.
Cardiff will see the greatest cash increase, at 0.4%, while Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taff will see a 0.3% increase. Newport and Neath Port Talbot will see a 0.2% increase,
 

MORDEN CHALLENGES GRAYLING TO ADDRESS CROSS-BORDER TRAIN SERVICES

 

Oct 9 - Jessica Morden, Newport East MP, has challenged he Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling to ensure his rail review looks at cross-border travel between Wales and England to ensure services can be improved for passengers, many of whom have endured poor services for far too long. This is a reference in particular to commuter services between Newport and Bristol hampered by delays and overcrowding.

 

FRENCH ARTICLE POINTS TO REASONS WHY CITY BACKED BREXIT

 

Oct 9 - An article in Le Monde Diplomatique entitled 'Bad News from Newport" by Paul Mason has indicated why Newport did not back the EU in 2016 referendum. Mason says "The city and its surrounding valleys were home to some of Britain’s earliest and heaviest industries, and are still a heartland for the Labour Party. But neither loyalty to Labour, nor expert opinion that Brexit would mean industrial doom, could stop 60% of Newport’s voters choosing to quit the EU. A walk down the city’s high street answers the question ‘why’. Just as in 2016, shop after shop stands closed. Those stores that are thriving are mainly payday lenders, pawnbrokers and the many charity shops selling second-hand goods. The sodden blankets of the rough sleepers, the groups of young addicted men, the prevalence of diseases of poverty, all confront the people of Newport with a daily reminder that their community has got a very raw deal from the neoliberal era." Mason warns that there is no obvious desire from people here to remain in the EU, irrespective of current Tory negotiating troubles or the demand for a People's Vote on whatever deal the Prime Minister does achieve.

 

ARGUS READERS BACK REMAIN

 

Oct 9 - A poll in the South Wales Argus indicates voters have changed their mind and would prefer to remain in the European Union. A total of 1,518 people took part in a poll on the Argus’ website. When asked what they think should happen next with Brexit, 63 per cent of respondents (956 people) said: “We need a second referendum to give people the chance to vote on whether or not we should remain in the EU”.

 

LATVIAN MAN ARRESTED

 

Oct 8 - A Latvian man arrested on suspicion of labour exploitation in fresh food packaging and processing. 36-year-old Latvian man has been arrested in Newport, south Wales on suspicion of labour exploitation offences in the fresh food packaging and processing sector.
Investigators from the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) were joined by officers from Gwent Police in carrying out the dawn raid at an address east of Newport city centre on the morning of Tuesday 9 October. The suspect is being questioned following intelligence that he was acting as an unlicensed gangmaster, contrary to Section 12 of the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004. Officers also searched the property to seize evidence relevant to the investigation.
Anyone who provides workers for food packaging and processing, agriculture, horticulture, and shellfish gathering requires a GLAA licence by law. The maximum penalty for operating without a licence in one of the GLAA-regulated sectors is 10 years in prison and/or a fine.
 

WILDINGS CONFIRMS CLOSURE

 

Oct 7 - Wildings has confirmed its plans to close and is holding a sale of outstanding stock. The closing down sale will be taking place until December 21. Managing director Peter James said: "We want to get rid of all our stock. We are expecting there to be crowds of people. There is half a million pounds-worth of stock to clear. Many of the items will be for less than half price."
 

COMMUNITY COUNCIL BACKS NEW CHARTIST MURAL

 

Oct 7 - Rogerstone Community Council has revealed that - subject to planning permission - it hopes to unveil a new Chartist mural between the bottom of Ruskin Avenue and the top of Chartist Drive. The proposed memorial will include a timeline to illustrate what led to the 1839 Newport Uprising; a petition made by the chartists; and a copy of the original mural which was torn down from John Frost Square during the development of Friars Walk.

 

COUNCIL TO TAKE ON PARKING ENFORCEMENT IN JULY 2019

 

Oct 5 - A formal application for the transferral of parking enforcement powers to Newport City Council has been made to the Welsh Government. It follows confirmation of Gwent Police's intention to withdraw from parking enforcement and the council's decision in January to apply for civil enforcement powers within the city.

With the legislative process likely to take up to six months, combined with the creation of the new service within the council, it is anticipated that the council will begin civil parking enforcement on 1 July 2019. Councillor Roger Jeavons, the Council's cabinet member for Streetscene, said: "With the police withdrawing from enforcement, and continuing dissatisfaction being expressed by residents and businesses across the city regarding the rising levels of illegal parking, the introduction of civil parking enforcement is widely welcomed across the city. Under these new powers, the council will deploy 12 enforcement officers to work across the city with authority to issue penalty charge notices for parking contraventions."

 

TOLLS TO GO EARLIER THAN PLANNED

 

Oct 5 - The tolls on the two Severn crossings will be scrapped a week before Christmas Eve, earlier than planned.
Charges on the bridges were scheduled to be axed by 31 December but Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns confirmed they will be lifted on 17 December. Tolls, currently £5.60 for cars, have been in place since the original Severn bridge was opened in 1966. Mr Cairns made the announcement at the Tory party conference in Birmingham.

CAERLEON PLANS THROWN OUT

Oct 4 - Plans to partially demolish buildings at the University of Wales College Newport in Caerleon and build 311 residential units and 25,833 sq ft of business space have been refused. The plans for the site involved demolishing part of the main building to replace it with 42 flats, building 263 residential units and 25,833 sq ft of business use space on land currently occupied by university buildings. The plans also include demolishing a number of other buildings to be replaced by small numbers of residential units. The university site includes three grade II listed buildings. The plans were recommended for refusal by officers on grounds of highway capacity, traffic flow, residential amenity and human health.

COUNCIL LEADER CALLS FOR END TO LOCAL GOVERNMENT SPENDING RESTRICTIONS

Oct 3 - Councillor Debbie Wilcox, Leader of Newport City Council, has called for an end to spending restrictions imposed on local government. In a statement she said “I understand that the Welsh Government has itself been dealing with the UK’s austerity agenda which means it is getting less cash to pass on to councils. However, while cuts have been made across the public sector there is no doubt that local government has, and continues, to take the brunt despite the fact that the pressures and demands we are facing continue to grow considerably – and show absolutely no sign of diminishing in the future. Meanwhile, the funding we receive has stayed more or less the same for several years now and that means the gap between the money we get and what we have to spend keeps getting bigger. On top of this, the recently announced pay awards will next year cost the council around £6.5m – the UK Government has not provided adequate funding to cover this, let alone the mounting pressures of delivering key front line services. We have an aging population and more and more people will need care either in their own homes or in residential/nursing homes. We are a growing city which is vital for creating jobs and the local economy but it means more children and more school places. We have more and more children with complex needs transitioning into adulthood and need continuing support and care, probably for the rest of their lives. Many services are being stretched almost to breaking point but we have fewer staff and resources to meet ever-increasing needs. The work we have carried out in preparation for a considerable funding gap next year has already been extremely challenging – we feel that we have already cut to the bone – and this announcement will only make the decisions needed, just to balance the books, even harder. Public service is about making people’s lives better but councils need to be properly funded. I will continue to discuss the issue with my colleagues on other councils, as we are all facing the same struggle and need to make the politicians in Westminster and Cardiff Bay understand just how desperate the situation is rapidly becoming.”

NEW FIRM BRING TEN NEW JOBS / OTHER PLANNING NEWS

Oct 2 - A newly refurbished unit on a Newport industrial estate has been let in a deal brokered by property agent JLL, according to Insider Media Wales. Aluminium window and door manufacturer Fentrade has taken a 3,000 sq ft unit at Maesglas Industrial Estate, which will bring ten jobs to the area. This means the estate is now fully let until a further four units come back onto the market after refurbishment. JLL is the sole letting agent for Maesglas Industrial Estate and also manages the site, which is owned by Arundel House Estates Ltd. ToG 24 is set to close its Friars Walk store next month. The Second Cup Company has opened new premises on Commercial Street as work commences on the new Mercure Hotel development there.

POLICE CLAIM NEWPORT CITY CENTRE HAS FEWEST CALLOUTS IN FORCE AREA

Oct 3 - Chief Constable Julian Williams played down problems in Newport city centre in answer to Cllr Bill Routley (Con) at this week's full Council meeting. According to the South Wales Argus the chief constable agreed that there was an “issue” in Newport but said the city centre was the police area in Gwent which attracted the fewest amount of calls “by far”. “Because it’s Newport city centre, it attracts a huge amount of publicity,” said Mr Williams "We’ve given eight extra members of staff to the city centre and they’ve been taken from other areas of [Gwent] to deal with those issues. We think we’ve had a positive response. We don’t think on occasions that has been [portrayed] positively in the media but that is something for us to do. Any issue, no matter how minor the antisocial behaviour, will make people feel more anxious. I can assure you we’ve put extra staff in the area and we’ll concentrate on and deal with that appropriately.”

'NO EVIDENCE' CAERLEON CAMPUS DEVELOPMENT IS LINKED TO CITY EDUCATION QUARTER

Oct 1 - A Newport City Council report has exposed tensions between the Council and University of South Wales (USW) regarding the proposed Knowledge Quarter in the city centre. USW had stated that the failure by the Council to agree the plans for development of the Caerleon Campus site would have a significant impact on the Knowledge Quarter.

The Council's planning report states " The applicants have confirmed that the capital requirements of the project will be supported by receipts from the disposal of the Caerleon Campus. As a non-profit making organisation, the receipts will assumedly need to be recycled in some way but this will be a matter for USW. In terms of the Newport Knowledge Quarter, there is no planning permission, application or formal pre application advice sought or given in respect of any scheme and whilst there is clearly an initiative developed, it is unclear how, if considered necessary, such “recycling” could be secured through this planning process. The Newport Knowledge Quarter is referred to in the draft City Centre Masterplan document issued for consultation in January 2018. This identifies the Quarter as a strategic outline proposal. The potential options for Newport, anchored on the Higher Education of the University of South Wales's Newport City Campus, include a new Further Education development for the College and creation of shared facilities to enhance learning and progression to university study. The joint ambition is of creating a unique learning environment in the heart of the city centre for enhancing academic and vocational skills, and expanding future opportunities. There is in principle support for the knowledge quarter in draft strategic regeneration documents. The draft masterplan also refers to USW seeking funding from Welsh Government to support the scheme. There is no dispute that the initiative itself has a positive theme, but for the purposes of this assessment there is no guarantee that the capital receipts from this project will be recycled into the knowledge quarter or that the knowledge quarter will actually be delivered. There is no definite link showing that this development would result in economic or educational benefits arising from the Knowledge Quarter. In the event that such recycling could be guaranteed through this application despite the wider economic uncertainties that affect projects of this type, there is no evidence that the recycling of money is dependent upon this application being approved. Whilst it is appreciated that a grant of planning permission adds value to sites, the site has value regardless and there is no evidence that the bringing forward of the Newport Knowledge Quarter is entirely dependent upon permission being given to this scheme or dependent upon it all. The Quarter requires multiple funding streams to encourage delivery, not just income generated by the sale of this site. The recycling of funds certainly has no direct relationship to the negative impacts of development on this site and has not therefore been considered in relation to viability negotiations for section 106. If such recycling cannot legitimately be secured by legal agreement it is unclear how it could be required as part of any permission on this application. The issue is whether it is a merit/relevant factor of this proposal not whether the Knowledge Quarter is a positive initiative as there is agreement on the latter. If it is a material consideration for the purposes of this application, what weight can it be given? At time of writing, officers are of the view that the recycling of funds obtained by land sales to benefit local community facilities can be a material consideration, but in this case there is no facility to benefit and no clear reliance upon value associated with this application being a determinative factor in bringing it forward. Furthermore, there is no clear and legitimate way of securing such recycling (through any decision on this application) to benefit any such initiative either. At best it is considered that the recycling of sale receipts to the proposed Knowledge Quarter pursuant to this site obtaining planning permission is a material consideration of the scheme that can be afforded limited weight in planning terms. At worst it is not a material planning consideration at all."

CAERLEON CAMPUS PLAN SET FOR BIN

Oct 1 - Newport planning officers have recommended refusals of a plan to develop the Caerleon Campus into a residential site. A huge number of objections have been raised against the USW proposal. "Given the pressing need to ensure an improvement of air quality in Caerleon - I cannot support this application," the officer wrote.

Caerleon Civic Society objected, raising concerns about school capacity, GP services and traffic issues. Despite recognising the plan meets regeneration objectives, officers said: "The benefits arising from the proposal would not demonstrably outweigh the objections." A spokesman for USW said the application sought to respect the heritage of the site and meet local issues. He warned of "potentially significant implications" for the funding of the Newport Knowledge Quarter - a plan to build a further education college next to the university's city centre campus." But the USW spokesman added: "There will be no kneejerk reaction; we will now review the detail of the recommendation and our options for next steps."

Objectors noted "Caerleon Comprehensive School is over crowded and currently has 1600 pupils. Many buildings are in a state of disrepair and the whole site needs regeneration."

"It seems a shame and wasteful that some of the University site buildings will have to be demolished after only about 20 years of use (some of the halls of residence, etc). Surely the site would be better kept and upgraded as some sort of public amenity with new schools and leisure facilities for use by and benefitting the whole population of Newport."

"There are no leisure facilities in Caerleon."

"The excellent sports facility was well used by individuals and community groups before the decision was taken by the USW to close it and this has particularly impacted young people of the town."

"The feeble proposition to retain the rugby field as a concession towards implying a concern for incorporating green space within the development is an insult to local people."

"The proposals for future use of the Kegie building and those older buildings that have been given a listing by Cadw lacks any particular credibility or suggestion of serious evaluation to meet a definitive and sustainable use in the future."

 

CHILDCARE OFFER EXPANDS IN TO NEWPORT

 

Sept 30 - Working parents of three and four-year-olds in Newport will be able to apply for the Childcare Offer in Wales next month October, much earlier than expected. It was planned to extend the scheme from eight wards to the whole city from early next year but it has been brought forward following the successful implementation of the pilot. The Welsh Government is committed to providing 30 hours of government-funded early education and childcare for working parents of three and four-year-olds for up to 48 weeks of the year.

Councillor David Mayer, the council's cabinet member for community and resources, said: ""This is marvellous news for Newport. The public interest in the pilot has been overwhelming and shows the great need for such schemes. We are glad that the Welsh Government have recognised our excellent, well organised staff and extended this valuable scheme". Work is now taking place to sign up childcare providers across the city and parents can start applying from 8 October for the scheme which will begin on 5 November, after the autumn half term.

To qualify for the 30 hours a week of free early education and childcare for three and four-year-olds, parents have to live in the city and be employed or self-employed. For further information about the scheme, the full criteria and how to apply, visit www.newport.gov.uk/childcare

 

CONSERVATION AREA PLAN FOR CAERLEON

 

Sept 28 - Three new localities in Newport including Caerleon are set to become conservation areas. A consultant by the Council was commissioned in November 2017 to undertake a review of these six Conservation Areas. They were given six months to appraise Clytha, Town Centre and St Woolos Conservation Areas. This report seeks the approval of the Caerleon, Stow Park Circle and The Shrubbery appraisals.
Conservation Areas are designated to reflect the character of a group of buildings, places or spaces which work together as a whole, to create a special character which is considered to be worthy of special protection. It is not just the buildings which make up the special character; it is also the setting of buildings; including street patterns, use of characteristic local materials, shopfronts, street furniture and hard and soft landscaping. Particular uses and activities can also contribute to the character or appearance of an area. Report next week approval.

YET ANOTHER GYM CHAIN OPENS IN NEWPORT!

 

Sept 26 - A gym chain has expanded in Newport after revamping the former Car Craft building as part of a £1m investment project which was backed by Barclays. One Gyms had been operating at Treforest Industrial Estate for more than 26 years before moving to Langland Way.

Its new facility spans more than 30,000 sq ft and the move has created 16 jobs. Alex Bodin, co-founder and company director at One Gyms, said: "We try to create an atmosphere whereby members look forward to coming and interacting with other members and friends. Newport is heavily saturated with gyms but part of our business model was to attract members from the competition to our premium, yet affordable proposition. After only five weeks we have over 1,000 members."

 

PARKING CHARGES SET FOR FOURTEEN LOCKS

 

Sept 26 - The Council has indicated it will introduce car parking charges at Fourteen Locks after the scheme at Belle Vue is evaluated. In answer to a question from Cllr Chris Evans (Rogerstone) they stated "’The scheme will start in Belle Vue in 2018 before being rolled onto other sites within the authority such as Fourteen Locks. The roll out will depend on the success of this project.’’
This charges aim to achieve the following objectives:

• discourage commuter parking and free up space for park visitors

• generate income for the service area that can be brought in as expected revenue

• generate income that will be re- invested in the infrastructure of these sites.
 

UK SPACE CONFERENCE HEADS TO ICC

 

Sept 25 - The UK space conference July 9-11 is set the become the first ICC Wales event. The biennial flagship event brings together the entire space community, including government, industry, academia, research and financial communities. The conference will offer the space community unrivalled opportunities to meet, network, do business and shape the landscape for the coming years. ICC Wales is an £84m joint venture between Celtic Manor Resort and Welsh Government, and when complete in 2019 will accommodate up to 5,000 delegates. The venue includes a 4,000sqm pillar-free main hall, a 1,500-seated auditorium, 12 flexible meeting rooms, a double-height glass atrium and a 2,500 sqm outdoor plaza.

 

COUNCIL HIGHWAYS BETTER THAN WELSH AVERAGE

 

Sept 24 - Newport City Council, like local authorities all over the UK, is struggling to maintain highways across the city. However when compared to other areas the percentage of roads in poor repair in Newport is better than many parts of Wales. Figures release in a report to the council scrutiny committee show that only 2.6 percent of our A roads are in poor condition compared to the Welsh average of 3.7 percent.

We are comparative with the Welsh average when it comes to the state of B roads with Newport having 4.4 percent in need of repair compared to the average of 4.3 percent. And as far as C roads are concerned Newport is way ahead with 7.1 per cent in need of repair compared to the Welsh average of 14.1 per cent. Figures released in a report to the council scrutiny committee show replacing the city’s highway assets which include carriageways, footways, subways, bridges, street lights and safety fences would cost £1.1 billion. The report highlights that to repair all categories of roads would require £5.3 million for the red category roads with a further £16.2 million needed for those in the amber category.

COUNCIL MOUNTS DEFENCE AGAINST PARC PANTRY CLOSURE CRITICISM

 

Sept 24 - Newport City Council officers say they are shocked and disappointed by the comments of the Parc Pantry operators who have decided not to renew their concession to run the café at Belle Vue Park. The Council had to close the café at short notice on health and safety grounds. The decision was taken following the annual inspection of the business where it was identified that working practices needed to be changed to meet electrical safety standards

Parc Pantry operates under licence to Newport City Council who own the café premises. A council spokesperson said: “Following the annual inspection of the premises the council was advised there were issues with working practices and the decision was taken to close the premises down immediately. The business was advised what changes needed to be carried out by them as licence holders but they were reluctant to comply. The council then installed extra electrical sockets to stop the practice of overloading extension leads to run equipment and the café was then allowed to reopen.”

It has been suggested that introducing car parking charges at Belle Vue Park had also affected the café business. However Parc Pantry were consulted on the proposal and, following this process, were offered two permits for parking in the car park. In addition, they were offered provision for their staff in the former nursery site which is a short walk across from the park.

“The café had complained to the council on a number of occasions about the lack of parking for customers, due in the main to commuter use and this was one of the reasons for introducing the parking charges,” said the council spokesperson. The café concession holder indicated to the council they would not be renewing their licence on the Monday before the charges came into effect, which was less than two weeks ago. “When they gave notice to terminate their licence they did not make any reference to the parking charges, which had not come into effect at that time, and we do not agree that the business could have been affected so drastically in such a short time after they were introduced. In fact, since Parc Pantry announced their intention to terminate their licence, the council has been inundated with enquiries about taking up the concession, which serves to confirm the council’s view that there are no trading or parking issues. The council is aware that there are a number of bookings that have been made with the current concession holder and these will be honoured either by the council directly or with the new providers."

 

MARKET ARCADE GRANT RECEIVED

 

Sept 24 -  The £1.1 million Market Arcade grant has been received from Townscape Heritage. The Scheme will prioritise properties that comprise the Market Arcade on the following basis:

High Priority: 1-14 & 16 Market Arcade, no’s 11 and 12/13 High Street

Medium Priority: 15 & 17 Market Arcade.

Reserve Properties: Neighbouring properties at no’s 9, 10 and 14/15 High Street and 6 Market Street are identified as ‘reserve’ properties should there be an under- allocation of funds across priority projects.
Works eligible for Grant support will typically involve repair and sympathetic renewal of external detail essential for the conservation of the structure. But will also include communal elements (internal and external) that are essential to the presentation and operation of the Arcade (for example, the glazed canopy, communal corridors etc). An overview of eligible works is provided in the detailed scheme plan (See Appendix 3 - Market Arcade THS: Detailed Scheme Plan)
 

NEWPORT BUS APOLOGISE AFTER WEEKS OF POOR PERFORMANCE

 

Sept 22 - Newport Bus has apologised to customers after weeks of poor performance and a proliferation of social media stories from disgruntled passengers. The company blamed external factors for dreadful delays that have caused considerable inconvenience. However, unofficially staff refer to resource shortages as a significant factor. The statement says "Newport Transport are aware of the frustrations our customers have felt over the last few weeks with many of the reliability issues being caused by increased traffic volumes at the start of the new school year, combined with the number of major road works affecting the network, particularly around Tredegar Park and Caerleon Road. We thank our customers for their patience and continued loyalty whilst improvements are made to the road and rail network in Newport, and can assure you that all our staff, are equally as frustrated by the problems that the service faces at this time. We continue do to all that we can to overcome these problems."

 

NEW FOOTBRIDGE SET TO REPLACE DREADED SUBWAY

 

Sep 21 - Newport City Council has finally published plans for a landmark footbridge near the main railway station. The proposed bridge is planned to replace Devon Place subway and improve access to Newport railway station. Under the plans the bridge will connect Devon Place with Queensway.
Ramps will be included on either side of the main span to allow cyclists to walk their bikes over the footbridge.
"Installing the footbridge will encourage more pedestrians, including the mobility impaired, to cross the railway and enter Newport’s city centre, which will help to maintain Newport’s local economy," says a design and access statement, submitted by Capita Property and Infrastructure on behalf of the council. With a main span of 53 metres, it will be owned and maintained by Newport City Council. The bridge has been designed to be "an attractive open and inviting replacement" to the subway. The superstructure is planned to be painted 'moss green', while panels over the bridge will be light grey.

 

TOURISM NUMBERS UP

 

Sept 21 - Newport's tourism industry is still on an upward trend, according to the latest set of official statistics. STEAM, an independent economic activity model which is used by all councils in Wales, has produced the visitor report for 2017. It shows that the visitor economy in Newport has almost doubled since 2006 and the growth last year, compared with 2016, was 3.5 per cent meaning the industry had a total financial impact of £396.56 million per year.
In 2017, the number of overnight stays increased by more than four per cent - with around 750,000 people spending one or more nights - despite the number of hotel rooms staying the same.
This meant there was a good occupancy rate for hotels and other guest accommodation in Newport despite the limited amount available beyond the leading hotels. Integrated campaigns resulted in a high request ratio across the UK for the Newport's consumer marketing guide and the city has also been successfully attracting group travel operators, a growth market in Wales.
The Council claims key events such as the annual Newport Food Festival and regional events, including the UEFA Champions League final last summer, also helped to boost overnight stays and day visits.

 

MP EXPRESSES CONCERN AT POVERTY OF WORKING PEOPLE IN NEWPORT

 

Sept 21 - Jessica Morden, Newport East MP, has expressed concern that work is not paying for large numbers of Newport residents. She said "The UK Government is letting down working people in Newport East. Research from the Living Wage Foundation shows that in Newport East 30.1% of people in work earn less than they need to live on each day. This is above the Welsh average of 24.7%. Recent increases in the Government’s so-called National Living Wage have not tackled the persistent problem of low pay across Britain, particularly here in Wales where wages have not grown as fast as in other regions of the UK. Real wages are still lower now than they were in 2010, and millions of working families are set to be worse off under Universal Credit which replaces the benefits and tax credit system. More families are working harder to get by, but the rising costs of living and low paying work means that a job is no longer the reliable route out of poverty that it once was. "

 

NGD HOSTS US BANK

 

Sept 20 - Newport-based cloud services provider Next Generation Data (NGD) has completed a data hall for a major international bank.
Early last year the bank commenced consolidation of its UK data centre estate with a significant number of racks being relocated to NGD’s facility in an initial custom-designed 500kW hall. NGD’s commercial director, Simon Bearne: "NGD’s highly secure out of town location, scale and large power capacity are enabling the bank to continue growing their footprint with us, cost-effectively and with absolute confidence."

 

ARREST FOLLOWING ROBBERY

 

Sep 19 - Gwent POlice state "We recently appealed for information following the robbery of a 75 year old man in the Nash Grove area of Newport. Officers have been investigating and a 15 year old boy has now been arrested and released under investigation. " The robbery took place on August 29.