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QUEEN'S HOTEL UP FOR SALE

 

Mar 14 - The Queen's Hotel in Bridge Street is up for sale. Owner JD Wetherspoon has listed 16 pubs for sale around the UK. The Lloyds No 1 bar, which is located on Bridge Street, currently employs a total of 70 staff members on a mixed- and part-time basis. The Queen's Hotel also has 29 bedrooms, including eight single rooms, four family rooms and a wheelchair-access room with en suite shower facilities.
Wetherspoon spokesman, Eddie Gershon, said: “We can confirm that The Queen's Hotel in Newport has been put up for sale. But it will stay open and trade as normal until a buyer is found."

 

NEWPORT GP CRISIS DEEPENS WITH CLOSURE OF EVESWELL SURGERY

 

Mar 13 - The crisis in Newport GP services deepened this week with the news of the closure of Eveswell surgery at the end of this month. After 70 years Eveswell Surgery in Chepstow Road is closing after difficulties recruiting for another doctor with 4,000 patients to be transferred to neighbouring GP practices already struggling to cope.The Aneurin Bevan University Health Board said it was notified in September last year that Dr Clive Phillips and Dr Alison Burton would resign on March 31. According to the Argus Dr Burton said the pair had been managing the workload between themselves since September, 2017, when another doctor had left the practice
 

MONMOUTHSHIRE COUNCIL BUYS PRIME CHUNK OF NEWPORT REAL ESTATE

 

Mar 12 - Monmouthshire County Council has purchased the freehold of the Newport Leisure Park on Spytty Road for £21m. The 141,000 sq ft property includes a dominant 13-screen Cineworld cinema, xercise4less gym, Home Bargains superstore, Energi Adventure park and a range of restaurants such as McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut and Harvester. The park has seen significant new investment in the past three years as well as many new tenants so that it is now fully let. Alder King acted for Monmouthshire, and KLM and Cooke Arkwright acted for Otium on the transaction.

 

FIRST PICTURES OF HOTEL DEVELOPMENT

 

Mar 12 - An interior design company has shared images of the £12m luxury hotel in Newport's city centre as the project nears completion.
The IAD Company has spent the past nine months transforming the derelict building into a 15-floor luxury hotel complete with an in-house restaurant, 30,000sq ft of office space and 18,000sq ft of retail space. Planning permission for the project was approved in July 2018 and since then IAD has worked closely with the hotel’s owners Garrison Barclays Estates to breathe new life into the 1960s derelict former office building. The four-star Accor Hotel on Commercial Street will have 142 bedrooms.

 


Rebecca Lewis-Chapman, director at IAD, said: "After months of hard work we are very excited to give you a sneak-peak in to the Chartist Tower Hotel. It has been an amazing project to work on and will provide much-needed hotel, conference and office facilities in the heart of a rapidly expanding city centre for Newport."
 

 

PARKING CHARGES ANNOUNCED FOR NEWPORT PARKS

 

Mar 12 - Details of parking charges in Tredegar Park and Fourteen Locks Canal Centre in Newport are now available. A notice of the plans has now been published, giving residents until April 11 to lodge objections. The charges at Tredegar Park and Fourteen Locks are planned to be in place from 6.30am until 4pm, seven days a week. At Tredegar Park, the charge would be £1 for up to two hours, £3 for up to five hours, and £5 for more than five hours. At Fourteen Locks the charges would be £1 for up to four hours, £3 for up to five hours and £5 for more than five hours.

 

NEWPORT WEST CAMPAIGN FIRES UP

Mar 9 - In the midst of Brexit uncertainty the voters of Newport West will be going to the polls to elect a replacement for Paul Flynn on April 4. In the 2017 General Election he had a majority of 5,658 over his Conservative opponent.

The eleven people trying to succeed him are:

Jonathan Clark -Plaid Cymru
June Davies -Renew Party
Matthew Evans -Conservative
Neil Hamilton -UKIP
Ruth Jones -Labour
Ryan Jones -Liberal Democrat
Ian McLean -Social Democratic Party
Hugh Nicklin -The For Britain Movement
Richard Suchorzewski -Abolish the Welsh Assembly
Phillip Taylor -Democrats and Veterans Party
Amelia Womack -Green Party

LIDL DEVELOPMENT GETS GO AHEAD

Mar 8 - A new supermarket development has been given the go ahead on Cardiff Road. Lidl will be demolishing the existing South Wales Argus buildings and replacing the site with a supermarket and large car park. The South Wales Argus will relocate to office buildings in the city centre.

Plans for two apartment blocks for the banks of the River Usk in Newport have been given the go-ahead. Once completed, the development will include 76 flats across one five-story and one six-storey building. The proposal, which were submitted on behalf of Jehu Group, had been recommended for approval subject to a 20 per cent affordable housing component as well as contributions towards education and leisure.

DRUG DEALER JAILED

Mar 6 - A Newport drug dealer who was caught with more than 7kg of amphetamine has been jailed for 20 months. David John Griffiths, aged 47, admitted possessing a controlled drug of class B with intent to supply. In another incident, a drug dealer was caught after police in an unmarked car spotted him riding on a motorbike without number plates through the centre of Newport. The report states that 'while being chased, Liam Sheppard, aged 20, hurled away two plastic bags with cannabis and cash inside.' Sheppard, of Constable Drive, Newport, pleaded guilty to possessing a controlled drug of class B with intent to supply, the offence was committed on January 7, 2018, he will serve a youth custodial sentence.

COUNCIL TO ROLL OUT SMALLER BINS

Mar 5 - From April Newport City Council will be limiting the amount of rubbish collected from households in a bid to encourage people to recycle items that would otherwise end up being sent to landfill. Each year the council spends £2.2m disposing of waste. Currently over half the contents of rubbish bins contain items of easily recyclable materials, food or garden waste.
New smaller 120 litre wheeled bins will be rolled out over a three month period, replacing the existing bins. Further information explaining how to recycle will be sent out to residents ahead of delivery.
The council acknowledges there are many residents in Newport who are keen recyclers however it is those residents who don’t recycle that the council hopes to reach.
A spokesperson said: “Recycling rates in Newport have improved dramatically over the last 15 years and now sit at 60 per cent. We know Newport is already one of the best performing cities in the UK for recycling, however in order to meet Welsh Government targets of 70 per cent - and to avoid heavy financial penalties - we need to do more.” Easily recyclable items (paper, cardboard, plastic bottles, cans and tins, glass bottles and jars), food waste and green waste will no longer be allowed in household rubbish bins.

NEW COMMUNITY HUB WORK STARTS IN RINGLAND

Mar 3 - Work has begun to transform Ringland community centre into Newport's first neighbourhood hub. Last year, the Council agreed to develop the hub concept to enhance and integrate the delivery of support services. Ringland, with high levels of deprivation and the greatest number of users of community services, was chosen as the first location to pilot the model before it is rolled out to other areas.
Local company TPS won the contract to reconfigure and modernise the community centre which will become home to many community services such as Work & Skills, youth services, Families First, Resilient Communities, libraries, Flying Start and other partner organisations. At the moment these services are managed across a number of buildings across the city. It is anticipated that the project will be completed this autumn.

DIGGERS WRECKS PLAYGROUND SITE

Mar 1 - A digger was stolen from a Lliswerry construction site and used to wreck a children's playground nearby, police have said. Residents alerted police after they spotted a group of youths using the JCB to demolish a climbing frame and goalposts at Black Ash Park in Newport.
Gwent Police said officers turned up only to find the culprits had fled after leaving a trail of destruction. Councillor Alan Morris said it would be young people who suffer as there were "precious few" facilities in the area. An appeal for witnesses has been made.

TINY REBEL EXPANDS FURTHER

Feb 25 - Tiny Rebel Brewery has submitted plans to redevelop the land opposite its current headquarters on Wern Industrial Estate in Rogerstone, according to Insider Media Wales
Moving operations to the new centre will allow the firm to expand production at its main brewery by seven times and brew more than 12 million litres of beer annually. The company hopes to achieve turnover of £10m and create 25 new jobs in its brewing and operations teams to support growth.
Founder Brad Cummings said: "The British craft brewing industry has exploded in recent years thanks to growing demand in both local and overseas markets. Our core focus remains on expanding sales across the UK, and the new distribution centre will provide us with the flexibility needed to increase production and expand our product range"

RARE BREXIT STATEMENT FROM MP

Feb 24 - Newport East MP Jessica Morden made a rare statement on Brexit last week in a newspaper. She said she 'received hundreds of emails and phone calls from constituents ahead of the meaningful vote on the Government Brexit deal on January 15. The overwhelming majority of constituents who contacted me – including both leave and remain voters in 2016 – urged me to vote down the deal.' On a turnout of 70.2 per cent, the city voted 56-44 to leave in 2016. The Labour Party conference unanimously agreed a policy in September that could lead to a second referendum.

ST MODWEN ANNOUNCES NEW BUILD PLANS FOR GLAN LLYN

Feb 23 - Developer St Modwen has submitted plans for the construction of 203 homes at Glan Llyn near Newport.

'CRYSTAL MAZE' DEVELOPMENT PLANNED

Feb 23 - Plans have been submitted by a Somerset-based paintball company to create an adventure-style venue similar to the Crystal Maze on a Newport industrial estate, according to Insider Media. The plans have been submitted on behalf of Bridgwater-headquartered Diverse Coaching by Jo Draper, of Pontypool-based Strength and Performance Torfaen.
If approved, the 4,445 sq ft unit on Mariner Way in Newport would employ up to six people, two of which would be employed full-time.
The application's planning statement said: "This is a completely new activity not yet seen in the UK and is a physical adventure style problem solving activity similar to the Crystal Maze/ Fort Boyard; its exact name is still to be confirmed.
"The activity is based upon a team of four to six people completing a single overall objective during a two hour session, however, to achieve this, they most work as a team to complete/solve multiple types of physical and mental problems in a multi room game area.
"It is also planned to utilise the same space to provide two-hour "Nerf parties" for children when not otherwise in use and would not envisage more than 20 children taking part at any one time." The site will also accommodate a paintball venture.

CROSS COUNTRY TRAINS SAY NO CUTS TO SERVICES

Feb 22 - A train company has confirmed it has no plans to reduce the number of services it operates from stations in Monmouthshire following questions from Newport East's Jessica Morden. She was worried Cross Country Trains, which runs services from Cardiff to Nottingham, passing through Newport, Severn Tunnel Junction, Caldicot and Chepstow, was planning on reducing services in the county.

TRIBUTES PAID TO PAUL FLYNN

Feb 20 - Tributes have poured in for veteran Labour MP Paul Flynn who has died, aged 84, after a long illness. Mr Flynn represented Newport West since 1987 when he was first elected.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described him as an independent thinker who was a credit to the party, while Wales' First Minister Mark Drakeford said he was a "giant of the Welsh Labour movement". Newport West Labour Party confirmed in a tweet that Mr Flynn died on Sunday, saying he was "a hero to many of us". Mr Flynn announced in October he would step down from Parliament "as soon as possible" after becoming confined to bed because of rheumatoid arthritis.
Mr Corbyn said: "I'm very sad at the passing of my good friend Paul Flynn. He had such love for Newport, knowledge of radical South Wales history and a dry wit. "He was an independent thinker who was a credit to the Labour Party. He will be greatly missed."
Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson said Mr Flynn was "one of the great characters in politics", adding that he was "loved and revered by many".
House of Commons Speaker John Bercow opened proceedings on Monday by paying tribute to Mr Flynn.
"Paul was a standing rebuke to those who thought it was vital always to be in the closest possible regulatory alignment with one's whips office," he said. "It wasn't. He spoke his mind, he did it his way. He did it with eloquence, with knowledge, with character, and often - as we all know - with mordant wit."

COUNCIL BACKS COUNTY-WIDE TO HOMELESSNESS FIGHT

Feb 19 - Newport City Council has recently adopted the Gwent Homelessness Strategy following a thorough review of the issue in the city and four neighbouring authority areas.
The Council says "This partnership approach uses the skills and knowledge of key officers to enable a joined up approach to tackling an extremely complex issue."
Newport, Torfaen, Monmouthshire, Caerphilly and Blaenau Gwent councils have a common vision - that everyone in the region has a home to live in and, if needed, the right support to lead a fulfilling life.
The strategy sets out four priorities:
• Help improve access to suitable and affordable housing
• Offer fast and effective advice and support, working with partners to help vulnerable people
• Minimise homelessness and prevent it through early intervention
• Ensure fair, equal and person-centred homeless services
Newport City Council's housing needs team works hard to help families and individuals that find themselves in such difficult circumstances.
People who are homeless and approach the council are immediately helped to find emergency accommodation and then assisted with longer term solutions. Homelessness is on the rise across the country and Newport City Council works with partners to provide a range of services for people at risk of homelessness, those who are homeless and rough sleepers.
Rough sleeping is just one aspect of homelessness and the reasons why people sleep on the streets can be complicated but the numbers are quite small in context of those who need assistance with housing issues.

COUNCIL TAX SET TO RISE BY 5.95 PER CENT

Feb 17 - Newport City Council's Cabinet has recommended a April 2019 Council Tax increase of 5.95 per cent. They said "Since the draft budget was prepared at the end of 2018, the council's final settlement figure confirmed an improved grant from Welsh Government plus an increase in council tax base funding - the number of dwellings in the authority area and therefore the anticipated level of council tax income. As a result, Cabinet considered a positive balance of £655k and how this could be best invested or used to offset proposed savings."
Councillor Debbie Wilcox, Leader of the council, said: "Although council tax contributes less than a quarter towards the total budget, we recognise that this is a considerable outgoing for households. In our early deliberations we warned that, however much we might not want to do it, we would have to consider raising it substantially. However, this 'cash in hand' has provided some room for manoeuvre and I and my Cabinet members felt it important to use some of that money to reduce the proposed increase in council tax."
The final recommendation made by Cabinet was to increase council tax by 5.95 per cent, compared to the proposed increase of 6.95 per cent.
 

COUNCIL BACK-TRACKS  ON SENCOM DECISION

Feb 16 - Following further talks with Welsh Government, and the offer of financial support through the Welsh Local Government Association to develop a more sustainable regional model, Newport City Council has backtracked on its decision to leave Sencom, the special educational service needs. They offered to extend the withdrawal notice from the joint Gwent service until March 2020.
Leader of Newport City Council, Councillor Debbie Wilcox, said: “We remain clear that the current model is not providing the best possible service for young people in Newport. However, we want to work with all authorities in Gwent to review the current regional Sencom service and hopefully agree a model that meets everyone’s requirements. We have to balance our responsibilities to service users with our broader responsibility to ensure value for money for all council taxpayers which means we are not able to continue with the existing set-up. However, with agreement from the other local authorities, we will now have time to consider how the service can be improved or remodelled so that it is fit-for-purpose for all users.”
Newport City Council has approached the other Gwent authorities regarding the proposed extension of the withdrawal notice from the current regional Sencom service until March 2020.

CITY KURDISH DEMO PROTESTS ABOUT POLITICAL LEADER

Feb 16 - Police were called to a protest on Friday and Saturday in Newport. More than 100 activists engaged in a protest outside the Kurdish Community Centre, in Chepstow Road, to demand the release of Abdullah Öcalan, leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, who has been arrested.
Activists claim Turkish authorities have violated Mr Öcalan's human rights. The protestors marched along Chepstow Road and were joined by flag wavers in cars.

NEWPORT HOUSE PRICE RISES HIGHEST IN UK

Feb 14 - Newport saw the biggest jump in house prices of any UK town or city in 2018, while Aberdeen was the worst performer outside of London, according to a new analysis of Land Registry figures. Average property prices in Newport increased by 10.6% to £182,505 while Aberdeen suffered the worst fall outside London, with prices down by 6.5% to £152,799, the study from Gatehouse Bank shows. The average growth rate across the UK was 2.6% last year with 318 or 78.3% of all 406 local authorities saw prices rise in 2018, while 88 or 21.7% saw them fall.
 

REGEN DEVELOPMENT REDUCES AFFORDABLE HOUSING LEVEL

Feb 12 - One of the biggest regeneration developments in Wales will have the amount of required affordable housing halved to protect the viability of the scheme. 4,000 are set to be built at Glan Llyn in Newport, as part of a redevelopment of the former Llanwern Steelworks approved in 2010.
But an independent assessment from a district valuer found the site is 'unviable' with a requirement for 20 per cent affordable housing.
Councillors reluctantly agreed this would be cut to 10 per cent at a planning committee meeting on Wednesday.

MILTON HOTEL OWNER FINED

Feb 12 - The owner of a hotel where customers suffered food poisoning after eating a Christmas Day meal has appeared in court along with the former restaurant manager. Dr Steve Hodgetts, owner of the Milton Hotel (Llanwern) Ltd and former restaurant manager Karen Evans pleaded guilty to several charges when the case was heard at Newport Magistrate’s Court on 8 February and were fined a total of £9,000.
The court heard the outbreak affected more than 20 people including a three year old child who became ill with Clostridium pefringens food poisoing.
The meal had been incorrectly cooled and reheated leading to the growth of the bacteria which commonly causes sickness and diarrhoea.
Those affected had the meal on Christmas Day 2017 with symptoms starting hours later in the early hours of Boxing Day morning and lasting for around 24 hours. Officers visited the restaurant on 27 December 2017 in response to the owner reporting the incident to the Food Standards Agency.
Samples of the food were taken and sent for analysis which later proved the link between the illness and the meat eaten by the diners on Christmas Day.

COUNTY VICTORY BRINGS WELCOME ECONOMIC BOOST TO CITY

Feb 8 - An increased attendance of near to 9,000 for next week's visit of Manchester City is likely to bring another big boost to Newport's flagging city centre. The scheduled 5.30 kick off means that the city centre's bar and restaurants are likely to be crammed for most of the afternoon and evening. To date Newport County has secured £887,000 in prize money and television revenue from their journey into the last sixteen, the first time they have reached this stage of the FA Cup since 1948/49.

 

See footage of Newport's match at Portsmouth in 1948/49 here

 

MAN SUSTAINS INJURIES AFTER BUS STATION ATTACK

 

Feb 7 - A man has sustained head injuries after allegedly being attacked and robbed by three unknown men in Newport. Police were called to the incident at Newport Bus Station at around 10.25pm on Wednesday, February 6. The three men are believed to have assaulted the 37-year-old man, before taking his bags and fleeing the scene. It's understood witnesses paid for the 37-year-old victim's bus fare home.
Police are reviewing CCTV footage of the incident.
A police spokesman said: "It is believe that the victim was approached by three unknown men who then assaulted the victim. They then took the victims bags and left the scene. The victim sustained injuries to his head. Investigations are ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact Gwent Police on 101 or direct message us on Facebook or Twitter quoting log 525 of 6/2/2019. Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."

 

ILLEGAL PARKING CLAMPDOWN IN CITY CENTRE

 

Feb 7 - Police in Newport targeted illegal parking in the city this week. Gwent Police officers handed out tickets to drivers who had parked illegally in disabled spaces.
The force shared a photograph of three vehicles in a row, all of which were parked in a zone for disabled drivers, but none of which was displaying a blue badge in Upper Dock Street.

 

CONCERN ABOUT SCHOOL REPAIRS

 

Feb 6 - A primary school will not receive money for repairs despite fears rats may enter classrooms through "decaying" windows, according to a BBC report. An inspection of Newport's Monnow Primary School raised concerns some children were also learning in cold classrooms. School governors blamed the state of disrepair of the building. Newport council denied there were rats and said there were schools in even more need in the city

 

PRESSURE GROWS ON WELSH GOVERNMENT TO MAKE M4 RELIEF ROAD DECISION

 

Feb 1 - Business and political leaders have called on the Welsh Government to get on with the decision to build the new M4 relief road. Wednesday's joint statement was also signed by arguably Wales’ most successful entrepreneur Sir Terry Matthews, business organisations including CBI Wales and IoD Wales and the leaders of the local authorities of Monmouthshire, the Vale of Glamorgan and Newport.
The statement, signed by more than 90, says: "The M4 motorway enables tens of thousands of jobs and underpins millions of pounds of private sector investment in the Welsh economy. The problem of congestion around the Brynglas tunnels needs to be tackled urgently.
"It has been known for over 20 years that a relief road is needed. We ask the Welsh Government to commit to build the relief road. Only the relief road will effectively tackle the congestion which frustrates commuters and businesses on a daily basis."

The Welsh secretary has said he understands a report from a public inquiry into an M4 relief road is in favour of going ahead with the scheme.
Alun Cairns warned failing to build the road, south of Newport, now could delay the project for more than a decade.
The inquiry began in February 2017 and finished taking evidence in March 2018. A Welsh Government spokesperson said: "Necessary due diligence is ongoing on what would be a significant infrastructure investment for Wales. Cairns said "If we don't build the road now the road won't be built until 2031 at least. The reason I say that is that it will take around five years for another first minister - that is the indication that Mark Drakeford has given [to remain in the job]."
"There will then be the new need for a public inquiry and that will take 18 months or so, then there is a five year build programme so it will be 2031 before a road is built if it's not built now," he added.

 

SNOW LEADS TO SCHOOL CLOSURES

 

Feb 1 - Most schools in Newport closed today after overnight snow. The snow started at nine yesterday evening bringing a snowfall of five centimetres but most main roads were clear and other services were unaffected. Newport's home game with Llanelli tomorrow has been called off.

 

CALL ON NEWPORT TO CUT TIES WITH GUANGXI


Jan 31 -A Chinese dog meat festival involving Newport's twin city in China has led to a strong campaign of opposition across the UK.  The Lychee Dog Meat Festival, commonly referred to as Yulin Dog Meat Festival, is an annual celebration held in Yulin, Guangxi, China, during the summer solstice on 21 June, typically lasting 10 days - 2 weeks during which festival goers eat dog meat and lychees. The Council unanimously decided to do this by sending a "strong-worded letter" to the provincial government in Guangxi. A meeting of Newport council on Tuesday heard that the city's relationship with Guangxi is now "dormant". The council decided the only action it would take was by sending a "strong-worded letter".
The leader of the Conservative opposition, councillor Matthew Evans, had urged the council to take heed of an online petition, which has been signed more than 27,000 times, calling for Newport to cut ties with Guangxi.
 

DISABLED NEWPORT RESIDENT WINS LANDMARK HOUSING CASE

 

Jan 30 - A disabled woman has won a landmark discrimination case against her landlord after she was told she could not adapt her home to suit her needs. Stacey Smailes, 33, was forced to move out of her flat with her husband when their landlord refused to budge from a term in their lease which prohibited alterations. Mrs Smailes suffers from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome which affects her joints, ligaments and blood vessels and restricts her mobility.
She had requested permission from Clewer Court Residents Limited to make alterations to her kitchen and bathroom at her flat in Clewer Court, Newport, which she and partner Andy owned the lease to.
But she said their requests were met with “hostility” by landlords who even asked her to “prove” her disability, despite a report stating the proposed changes would not affect other residents.

 

TECH COMPANY WINS CONTRACT

Jan 27 - According to Insider Media Wales, Newport tech company Talkative has won a contract to provide retailer Bravissimo with its suite of web shopping-based products. The retailer is now using Talkative's full suite of products which include live web chat, web calling, video calling and cobrowsing to give customers a more personal and comprehensive shopping experience from home.
The use of the software has already resulted in tangible benefits for the retailer.
Talkative director Felix Winstone said: "Talkative connects customer-facing websites with contact centres. Our goal is to help companies connect better with their customers through humanising their websites. Our real-time communication software achieves this by enabling meaningful conversations to take place, which boosts brand trust and drives sales.
"Bravissimo is well known in the industry for their impeccable customer service, so we're pleased that we have been able to contribute to their successful track record in this regard. Bravissimo is now able to accept video calls and web chats through their service, with integration into their existing contact centre systems.

 

ORGANISED DRUGS GANG SMASHED

Jan 26 - Six members of an organised crime gang involved in a conspiracy to flood the streets of Newport with heroin were jailed for nearly 45 years. The city’s crown court heard how their drugs empire was smashed by police who used covert surveillance and mobile phone analysis to topple them. Judge Williams condemned the six who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs.
He said: “Heroin is a vile drug which ruins lives. Each of you had important roles in sustaining the addictions of countless, nameless users of this drug.”
Prosecutor Andrew Jones said Altaf Hussain, of Munnings Drive, Newport, who already had three previous convictions for supplying heroin despite being just 22, was the “head” of the gang also comprising Ryan Moody, Sageer Abbas, Zain Abbas, Rizwan Raza and Tara Jones
Hussain was jailed for 10 years, Moody eight years and eight months, Sageer Abbas seven years and four months, Zain Abbas six years, Raza seven years and four months and Jones for five years.

POLITICAL PARTIES SELECT NEWPORT WEST CANDIDATES

Jan 26 - Labour has selected Ruth Jones as their candidate for the Newport West Parliamentary constituency. She was previously a candidate for Monmouth bus is a Newport West resident. Ally-yr-yn Tory councillor and leader of the City Council’s opposition Conservative group Matthew Evans has been revealed as his party’s choice.
Cllr Evans has also previously served as Mayor of Newport and was also defeated as a candidate for the Assembly constituency. Speaking after his nomination, Cllr Evans said: “I am delighted to have been selected, and I would like to say straight away that if I am elected to parliament, my priority will be to represent all of the people of Newport West - regardless of their political persuasion." He has twice

STREET LIGHT IMPROVEMENTS PLANNED

Jan 26 - Street lights will be on for an extra two hours every night under a proposal by Newport City Council to introduce highly efficient LED lights across the city. The scheme will also save money and help the council to reduce its energy usage and overall carbon emissions by 6.5 per cent a year, a major step towards being carbon neutral by 2030.
Councillor Roger Jeavons, the council’s cabinet member for Streetscene, is considering a report on the LED proposals which is due to go out to members for consultation.
In recent years if a street light was beyond repair the council has replaced it with an LED light and so far 3,262 of its 18,519 street lamps have been converted.
Following a comprehensive internal report on street lighting, the costs of operating the council’s stock showed that there is a strong business case for making the switch especially as electricity costs are due to rise in the future and that carbon emissions must be reduced.
Last year it cost £993,960 to operate the city’s street lights, signs, signals and bollards. After the first year of completion the move to LEDs could see an electricity bill saving of more than £500,000 per year.
The scheme has also been identified as complying with the council’s corporate plan objective to promote economic growth and regeneration whilst protecting the environment. And because of the savings and the efficiency of LEDs the street lights which were turned off at 10pm could now be left on until midnight.

BETTWS LIBRARY VANDALISM PROVING COSTLY FOR COUNCIL TAXPAYERS

Jan 25 - The cost of repairing smashed windows at Bettws library is costing Newport City Council more than £6,000 a year. Anti social behaviour is being blamed for the constant attack on the building which has seen every window smashed and replaced several times.
Now the council is urging local residents to tell the police if they know who the culprits are. Councillor Debbie Harvey, Newport City Council’s cabinet member for culture and leisure, said she was disappointed that anti social behaviour resulted in such damage.
“This is your library and a community facility which is used by local residents but it is also a target for vandals. “At a time of austerity the council has to look at expenditures against a tight budget and the council can only commit to replacing smashed and damaged windows for so long. “If anyone has information about this vandalism we would urge them to contact Crimestoppers,” said Cllr Harvey.
You can ring Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 anonymously or use the online form at https://crimestoppers-uk.org/give-information

CHINESE TAKE-AWAYS PROSECUTED FOR UNSAFE FOODS

Jan 23 - Three takeaways in Newport have been prosecuted for selling unsafe foods. The three were found to be in breach of food safety regulations and were discovered after Newport City Council’s trading standards officers posed as customers with an egg allergy as part of an allergens survey.
Officers visited a total of 10 takeaways between October and December 2017 where, posing as customers, they ordered special fried rice from the menus while stating they had an egg allergy and no egg should be present in the meals.
After the meals were supplied officers identified themselves as representing the council’s trading standards department and formally sampled the meals which were then sent to the Public Analyst. Three of the 10 takeaways were found to have supplied food which contained high levels of egg.
As a result two takeaways pleaded guilty at Cwmbran Magisrates Court on 6 August 2018 to charges of placing unsafe food on the market and selling food which was not of the nature demanded by the purchaser.
The Oriental Long Limited trading as The Oriental, Corporation Road, Newport and Shelax Limited, trading as Jasmine Rice, Commercial Road, Newport, were both fined £200 with £900 costs being awarded for each. Additionally, the persons in charge of each business, Jian Long Xie and Ke Gei Lu respectively, were each fined £100.
On 17 January 2019 at Newport Magistrates Court Lukas Lai trading as The Great Wall, Cromwell Road, Newport, pleaded guilty to the same offences after originally opting to take the matter to trial. He was fined £2,419 and ordered to pay £2,189 costs.

NEW HOTEL FOR PREMIER INN SITE

Jan 23 - A new hotel is opening in Newport city centre next month - in the building which had originally being earmarked as a Premier Inn before they pulled out. According to the Argus Newport Central Hotel by Hotel 55, which will have 62 bedrooms, a bar, cafe and restaurant, will be run by husband and wife team Simon and Jessica Marsh on behalf of the building's owners, Richard Hayward Properties.
The new hotel, in the grade II listed former Yates' wine bar building on the corner of High Street and Queensway, will create about 15 jobs, which could double when the cafe, bar and restaurant are up and running.

POLICE CONCERNED DANGEROUS DRUGS BATCH MAY BE IN CIRCULATION

Jan 12 - Police are linking the sudden deaths of two men in Newport to heroin and are warning about a "potentially volatile" batch of the drug which may be circulating in the city. Medical emergencies involving two other men are also been linked to the drug.
All four incidents happened between January 1 and January 8.
Gwent Police said it is not yet clear whether they were caused by the strength of a particular batch of drugs or contamination with another substance.

HOUSES PLAN FOR RESIDENTIAL CARE SITE

Jan 12 - Charter Housing Association and Pobl Group are behind the plans to knock down the former care home and build 14 houses in its place. Hillside in Gaer Road previously offered 24 en-suite bedrooms as well as other assisted facilities and a hairdressers but it has laid vacant for several years. A 39-bed care home for older people has also recently been completed nearby, at the Bryn Gaer site off Drinkwater Gardens.

BIG INVESTMENT IN NEW FACILITIES AT ROUGEMONT

Jan 11 - A private school has received a £3.5m funding package from NatWest to develop a new set of facilities including a 60-seat auditorium, sixth form centre and refectory, according to Insider Media. The £4.28m facility, built on the 55-acre grounds of Rougement School in Newport, will also serve the wider community, providing space for events and conferences.
Andy Knight, the school’s director of business and finance said: "The arrival of the new build is a key moment in Rougemont’s history with the school now keen to put itself at the heart of the community. Our fantastic facilities will be available to hire for local clubs and organisations."
Zoe Mott, senior relationship manager at NatWest, said: "Rougemont School has always prided itself on offering fantastic facilities that supports its pupils’ education. Whilst working with the team on the redevelopment, every aspect has been carefully thought out, with both the pupils and the local community’s best interests at the forefront of all decisions. The school now has some of the best facilities in the country."

INVESTMENT FAILURE MAY HAMPER CENTRE EVENTS

Jan 11 - One of Newport's largest entertainment venues may not be able to attract bigger events in the future after its seating was deemed unsafe, it is claimed in a BBC report this week. The Newport Centre was told in October that it cannot use the current retractable seating for shows.
The venue has hosted artists such as David Bowie, the Manic Street Preachers and the Wales Open snooker tournament.
The trust that runs the centre said "the situation is currently being reviewed". But the delay in renewing the seating has been described as "short-sighted" by one business expert. Prof Jonathan Deacon, from the University of South Wales' business school in Newport said concert bookers and event organisers are looking up to 18 months in advance to book venues - and would be "looking elsewhere" for hosts. "Once we have lost that, it's a real tough job to get them to come back again," he said. Newport Live, the trust that runs the centre, said it is still able to stage big events with alternative seating, and could hire in tiered seating "should it be cost effective to do so". It said capacity at the 2,000-seat venue has not been reduced. The Newport Centre will host the music acts Wombats in January and the Vamps in April.

COUNCIL COUNTS COST OF CLEARING TRAVELLERS' SITE

Jan 10 - Newport City Council paid out more than £4,000 to follow the legal process to ensure the travellers moved off Black Ash Park in Lliswerry on October 25 last year. Added to the deep cleansing of the site, the cost of repairing the field so football can be played there and ensuring the site is secure against future illegal encampments has resulted in a hefty bill.
The cost of this one visit was more £2,800 to clear waste, more than £300 to reinstate the goal posts and reseed parts of the damaged pitch and to carry out subsequent litter picks and paying staff working overtime.
The council is aware of the criticism relating to the length of time the illegal encampment was on site but must point out that it has to comply with legislation as well as follow the guidance from Welsh Government. This means when the travellers move onto a sensitive site officers do carry out a series of checks, request the travellers to move and after assesments by health officials, then have to resort to costly legal action.
Councillor Roger Jeavons, Cabinet Member for Streetscene, whose staff carry out the cleansing operation, said: “We were appalled at the state the park was left in following this illegal encampment however we had to follow the legal procedures to remove the encampment and pay for the clear up.”

COUNCIL CONTINUES TO DEFEND SENCOM DECISION

Jan 10 - Newport City Council has defended its decision to depart a wider arrangement and says it has "a responsibility to deliver the best services to local communities and that includes its pledge to deliver the service provided by SENCOM. It is important to restate that the new arrangement will not result in a cut to current service provision." It also stated "Over the last few weeks there has been media coverage which suggests our decision to establish a Newport only service will cause disruption for service users and also destabilise the remaining partnership. The council does not understand why a judicial review of the decision to withdraw from the SENCOM service partnership has been called for when there are no proposed changes to the service to be delivered by Newport."

MARSDEN GATHERS NOMINATIONS IN NEWPORT WEST

Jan 8 - Phillipa Marsden has attracted support in her bid for success to be become Labour candidate for Newport West The selection meeting is now just two weeks away. She says "I’m grateful to have so far received nominations from Caerleon, Rogerstone and Shaftesbury branches, as well as Unite, USDAW and BFAWU trade unions". Rachel Garrick has the support of the Coop Party.

MP CRITICISES UNIVERSAL CREDIT

Jan 8 - Yesterday in Parliament Jessica Morden MP called on the Government to address the hardship being caused to young parents by Universal Credit. Under Universal Credit, a parent under the age of 25 receives a lower standard allowance than they previously received under tax credits, when they would have been up-rated to the over-25s rate.
In a question to the Minister in the Commons chamber she said “Under tax credits under-25 lone parents got paid the higher over-25s rate. Under Universal Credit they do not. What’s the Secretary of State going to do about this? I ask this on behalf of a group of young parents in Newport who are worse off under this system and in hardship.” Morden stated "It is wrong that young, working parents living alone are worse off under the new Universal Credit system, which the Government claims was designed to incentivise and reward work. This is just one of a multitude of problems with the system which the Government has ignored, and is further evidence of the Conservatives failing working families."

MOTORCYCLIST DIES IN WHITSON CRASH

Dec 29 - A 19-year-old Newport man has died of injuries following the collision in Whitson Common Road yesterday. Specialist officers from Gwent Police are currently supporting the motorcyclist's family. Officers are requesting that any motorist who used the road around this time of the incident - approximately 11.45am - check any dashcam footage, which could provide further information to help their inquiries.Anyone who may have witnessed the incident is asked to contact Gwent Police on 101, to direct message the force on Facebook and Twitter, quoting log number 170 28/12/18.

CLASHES AT BOXING DAY HUNT

Dec 28 - Violence broke out at a traditional Boxing Day hunt between hunt supporters and protesters. The annual Lord Tredegar Farmers' Boxing Day Hunt was marred by clashes in Bassaleg, Newport, between some of the 200 or more people watching the start. The Argus stated "Onlookers, including a young boy, were almost trampled by horses that were startled by the noise outside the Tredegar Arms pub." Gwent Police had to separate the sides but confirmed no arrests were made. Some animal welfare organisations state the hunt is still pursuing foxes in contravention of the law.

CONSERVATIVES ATTACK PROPOSED COUNCIL TAX RISE

Dec 24 - The Labour-run Council in Newport has warned that the Council Tax will rise by 6.95 per cent as it seeks to save over £8 million from its budget. At a recent City Council meeting, council leader Debbie Wilcox said “modest” council tax changes – equating to Band D properties paying an extra £1.41 a week – come amidst continued austerity. Newport's funding from the central taxpayer via the Welsh Government increased by 0.6 per cent.

Tory leader Matthew Evans told reporters that the Conservatives were concerned about the proposed rise and other cost-cutting plans set out by the council which are now out for consultation. Plans to increase off-street parking charges in city centres “would do nothing to encourage shoppers into the city centre”.

Band D average Council Tax in Newport

2008/09 £714.98 (£882.12 including police and fire precept)
2010/11 £772.56 (£953.94)
2018/19 £1057.14 (£1295.98)
2019/20 £1130.61

Council Tax in Newport has increased in the period by 58 per cent. Consumer prices in the same period have increased by 21 per cent. The Council has seen some real terms reductions in central funding.
The poorest 10 per cent of households in the UK pay a greater proportion of their income in tax than the richest 10 per cent, a recent analysis by Equality Trust has revealed. Officials statistics show the lowest tenth of earners pay an average of 42 per cent of their income in the form of income tax, national insurance, VAT and council tax.
In contrast, the richest 10 per cent see around a third (34.4 per cent) of their earnings go to the taxman, according to analysis by The Equality Trust. The ONS study Effects of taxes and benefits on UK household income: financial year ending 2017 shows 40.02 per cent of average gross income being paid in taxes (direct and indirect including Council Tax). Council Tax increases have a disproportionate impact upon lower and middle income households particularly those just above the entitlement level for Council Tax Reduction (rebate). 20.8 per cent of Newport households (13,729) qualify for assistance with their Council Tax due to low incomes.

150 BREATH TESTS, TWO ARRESTS

Dec 23 - Gwent Police tweeted that they had carried 150 breath tests in Newport on Friday night and arrested two drivers for exceeding the limit.

TRAVEL NEWS OVER CHRISTMAS PERIOD

Dec 23 - Newport Bus services here, Great Western Railway here

HOTEL PLAN MAY TURN INTO APARTMENTS

Dec 22 - Newport City Council is to consider plans for a residential development at the city's former tax office. If approved, the plans for Crown Buildings could see the building redeveloped as 56 apartments with a ground floor gym. The building is also the subject of an application for redevelopment as a 123-bed hotel. Built in the 1970s, the 44,347 sq ft office which is currently vacant sits close to the city's bus and railway stations. The plans were submitted by LRJ Planning on behalf of Mr M Nazir.
The application's design and access statement reads: "Full planning permission is sought for the change of use of office space to residential at floors one to eight and use of ground floor as residents only gym and storage area.
"The application proposes 56 flats comprising 44 one-bedroom flats and 12 two-bedroom flats. The existing access and serving arrangements will be retained. 60 parking spaces are proposed. In addition, cycle storage and areas for motorcycles are proposed. No external alterations are required to the external fabric of the building to facilitate the conversion.
"The site comprises a vacant property within the urban boundary and extensive attempts to market the property from both Nuttall Parker and Savills since 2011. Given the extensive marketing efforts that have been undertaken over the last seven years, there is no interest in second hand accommodation of this size. The residential use of the building represents a more sustainable and beneficial use of the building."

COUNCIL GETTING READY FOR PARKING ENFORCEMENT

Dec 21 - A programme of work has been taking place in recent months to ensure Newport City Council is ready to take on Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) next year. A formal application for the transferral of parking enforcement powers to the council was made to the Welsh Government In September 2018.
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, the council will begin civil parking enforcement on July 1, 2019.
Up until 30 June, 2019 enforcement of traffic regulations still resides with Gwent Police.
In the meantime work on reinstating faded double yellow lines, limited waiting and traffic enforcement regulation signs has been going on across the city. So far Bettws and Caerleon wards have been worked on with the roll out continuing until June next year ready for CPE to operate from July 1.

BREXIT WILL DAMAGE PROPERTY MARKET - FEAR GROUP

Dec 20 - According to Insider Media Wales, the developer behind the former Sainsbury's site in Newport is predicting a subdued property market in 2019 after a positive 2018.
Fear Group has received some interest in the site, which is up for sale.
Demolition began on the site in March, after planners approved an amendment to existing planning permission in February.
Despite his predictions for the overall property market, an influx of new prospective purchasers following the removal of tolls on the Severn crossings could benefit Newport in particular.
Director Leon Fear told Insider: "We have received some interest in our Newport Gateway site but haven’t accepted any offer and are in no rush to sell. The overall landscape has changed considerably since we bought the site over eight years ago and with Brexit looming and we don’t feel the time is right to sell now and as we are under no pressure to do so we will review our options next year.
"2018 has been a positive year for us with new acquisitions made in the residential and care sectors in particular across the UK and we will be continuing this programme of buying new sites throughout 2019 regardless of the outcome of Brexit.
"In my opinion there will be some fall out in the property market which could be considerable in the next 12-24 months and we are likely to see an end to some of the very high prices paid for development sites, as in my opinion peak land value during this cycle was way surpassed during 2018.

FAKE CARPENTER GETS TEN MONTHS IN PRISON

Dec 19 - Following an investigation by the National Trading Standards Investigation Team (Wales), a 23 year old Newport man has been sentenced to 10 months in prison and 180 hours unpaid work at Cardiff Crown Court for six offences of fraud. The prosecution was conducted by Newport City Council as two of the offences took place in the city.
Between June 2016 and January 2017, Mitchell Day advertised his services as a carpenter on Facebook. His advert included photographs of work he had supposedly carried out. Victims contacted his business, JP Carpentry & Building Works via the social network site and arranged for Day to attend their homes to carry out a survey and to provide a quote.
When victims agreed to employ Day, he would request an immediate deposit to pay for materials. Having received this, Day would make arrangements to carry out the work. These arrangements were never met. The total financial loss incurred by the six victims in the case amounted to £7,300.
Day’s activities were not confined to the Newport and South Wales. One victim lived in Cheshire and another in Essex. He provided a false business address to his victims which made it impossible for them to contact him to complain about his non-attendance.
The oldest of his victims was a 75 year old lady from Merthyr Tydfil who paid Day a £3,800 deposit to fit a new bathroom at her home. She needed specific equipment to cater for her mobility and health issues. No work was ever carried out. She was forced to live with her daughter until her bathroom could be modified.
Another victim from Barry used her savings to pay a £1,200 deposit for a new bathroom. Once again Day took her money but failed to carry out any work at her home. She was forced to take out a loan to pay a legitimate business to carry out the work.
Due to an early plea, Judge Jeremy Jenkins gave a third off the sentence. In total Mr Day received:
• 10 months concurrent for each of the 6 counts to run concurrently suspended for 18 months
• 180 hours unpaid work
• 19 counselling sessions
• £1,000 costs to be paid at £100 per month
• No compensation order
 

ROGUE BUILDER JAILED

 

Dec 18 - Newport man who defrauded a local woman of thousands of pounds – while on licence from prison for a similar offence - has been jailed.
Ronald Connors of Marshfield, Newport pleaded guilty to an offence of fraud when he appeared at Cardiff Crown Court on 30 October. He was sentenced on December 14.
The court heard Connors, trading as Barleystone Driveways, agreed to carry out work for an elderly single woman at her Newport home in March 2015.
He initially offered to do low value garden wall and driveway maintenance but this quickly escalated in other work including a new roof, quoting a price of £38,000.
Believing the work was necessary the resident agreed the price and work was carried out over the following few weeks.
However the constant demand for payments concerned the woman who then contacted Newport City Council’s Trading Standards but by then she had paid him £14,000.
The court heard that even after trading standards’ intervention Connors again visited the resident in July 2015 hoping she would pay more money.
During the visit Connors showed the resident the electronic tag he had on his leg - which he was wearing as he had recently been released from prison on licence for similar offences committed in Cardiff.
For this violation Connors was recalled to prison.
During the winter of 2015 the shoddily replaced roof leaked resulting in the resident having to pay a local roofer £3,200 to rectify the issues.
Connors appeared for sentence at Cardiff Crown Court on 14 December and was given a 16 months prison sentence. He was also ordered to pay £7,300 compensation to the victim and £5,000 costs.
Connors was also made the subject of a CRASBO (Criminal Anti-Social Behaviour Order) which will run until December 14 2028.
 

CHARITIES JOIN FORCES OVER SENCOM

Dec 16 - Four national charities supporting blind children in Wales have sent a letter to Newport City Council expressing their doubts over the decision to leave a Gwent-wide special needs service (see our story - Dec 9). RNIB Cymru joined forces with Wales Council of the Blind, Guide Dogs Cymru and Sight Cymru to voice their concern.

COUNCIL WARNING ABOUT COLD CALLERS

Dec 15 - Newport City Council is warning people not to deal with doorstep sellers after being made aware of bogus cold callers operating in the city. Our trading standards team say the individuals are selling household goods and claiming they are ex-convicts or probationers. They might say they are on a rehabilitation course but this is not the case. They may even show a card to try and validate their claims.
The callers may offer poor quality goods at inflated prices. It is also possible they may be gathering information for future criminal purposes.
Please warn other people, particularly elderly or vulnerable neighbours and relatives, not to open the door to strangers or to buy items on the doorstep. For more information on the work of trading standards visit http://www.newport.gov.uk/en/Business/Trading-Standards/Trading-Standards.aspx

BEER GARDEN TERRACE SET FOR QUEEN'S HOTEL

Dec 12 - JD Wetherspoon has been granted permission to create a 140sqm modern terrace area at the rear of The Queen's Hotel in Bridge Street, Newport. The beer garden will be built in the service area and courtyard, which the firm say is only partially used for deliveries, storage and car parking. Womenswear company, Utopia, has opened in Friars Walk.

CITY COUNCIL COMMISSIONS LEISURE AND SHOPPING STUDY

Dec 12 - Newport City Council has commissioned work on a retail and leisure study by experts Nexus Planning to feed into an updated technical background paper to the Newport Local Development Plan. Part of the information gathering will involve asking residents about their shopping and leisure preferences. A telephone survey, involving around 1,400 residents in and around the Newport City area, will be conducted by NEMS Market Research.

TOLLS FREE FROM MONDAY

Dec 11 - The scrapping of Severn Bridge tolls is set to boost the South Wales logistics industry, with house prices also rising.
Crossing both bridges over the river will be free from Monday.

NGD EXTEND THEIR REACH

Dec 11 - Newport-based Next Generation Data has connected its datacentre to the Global Cloud Xchange (GCX) network, a privately-owned next generation network carrying about a fifth of global internet traffic with extensive reach throughout Asia and the Middle East.
GCX owns the world’s largest private undersea cable system, which spans more than 68,000 route km.
Stefano Mazzitelli, president of Europe and USA, GCX said: "NGD’s world class data centre and its direct connections to major hyperscale cloud services will be of real interest to our enterprise customers whose digital transformation is underpinned by Cloud services like those hosted in NGD.”

WOMAN IN HOSPITAL AFTER HOME BLAZE

Dec 10 - A woman in her twenties has been taken to hospital with smoke inhalation, following a house fire in Newport. South Wales Fire service sent three crews to the house on Gainsborough Drive, St. Julians, at 19:00 GMT yesterday. The woman, whose condition is not known, was taken to Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport. Gwent Police confirmed it sent officers to the blaze - though the cause of the blaze is still yet to be determined.

INFORMATION STATION TO GO PART-TIME AND PARKING CHARGES UP AS COUNCIL GOES FOR BIG COUNCIL TAX RISE

Dec 9 - Higher parking charges, staff redundancies, reduced customer services hours and changes to waste collection are being considered for Newport's 2019/20 budget.
Contentious proposals to withdraw from the special needs support service Sencom, and introduce parking charges at Tredegar Park and Rogerstone’s Fourteen Locks, have already been agreed.
Council leader Debbie Wilcox said services are being “stretched to breaking point” by demand while the council faces a £15 million funding shortfall. A significant 6.95 per cent increase in Council Tax is planned.
Cuts in customer services operation hours at the Information Station will see it open four rather than five days a week. The council’s civic centre operations will be unaffected. Saving: £31,000. The reduction in opening hours means the Information Station service so that it is open on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays but no longer open on Wednesdays.
This would encourage residents to use automated services during this time such as webforms and automated payment lines, but would also increase the number of callers to the Council on the day the Information Station was closed.
This is likely to create bottlenecks as although the overall demand for services would remain the same, the operating hours would be reduced. In effect this would cause longer queues and wait times during the remaining opening hours both on the phone and face to face. However, following implementation of My Newport in February 2019 there will be additional functionality to mitigate the impact e.g. pre-booked appointments for face to face services, online accounts for customers etc. Engagement with other service areas and partners is required to understand the impact of the change for them – for example emergency homeless cases would need to have clear alternative arrangements in place to get in touch with the Council on the day the Information Station was closed.
As the Customer Service Officers are multi-skilled and cover the City Contact Centre, Main Reception, Information Station and administrative support, the reduction in staff would mean there was less flexibility and resilience in the team to manage the impact of holidays, sickness absence and any exceptional circumstances.

At a time when the city centre retail is still struggling the Council is proposing to increase car parking tariffs in its own car park from £2 to £2.50 for up to three hours parking, and increase all other tiers of charge by 50p realising income of in excess of £80,000 per annum.

CONCERN OVER SENCOM SERVICE CUT

Dec 9 - A woman caring for her grandson who is blind told the BBC that changes to a support service they use could be "unbearable". Dawn Battersby, from Newport, cares for Brogan, aged nine, who has learning and physical disabilities. Newport council has pulled out of Gwent Sensory and Communication (SenCom), a service for children who have vision, hearing and communication problems.
A spokesman for the council said it believed it could provide the same service in a more cost-effective way. Staff at SenCom have been working with Brogan since he was three months old. Budget documents published on Wednesday show the council plans to save £250,000 by withdrawing from SenCom. Its new service will support 380 children and young people in Newport.
Torfaen AM and chair of the children's committee in the Senedd, Lynne Neagle said: "I think Newport pulling out could destabilise the whole service for all the children and young people involved. "I'm very worried children in Newport will not get a service as good as the one they're getting at the moment." Newport council said it has given "serious and appropriate consideration to the wellbeing" of those affected by the change.

CITY MP CALLS FOR MORE FIREWORK CONTROLS

Dec 8 - Jess Morden MP has called for more controls on fireworks in a speech in the Commons. She said lives are being made a misery by the lead up and aftermath to Bonfire Night. She said "The problem exists in the build-up and aftermath, from Halloween through bonfire night and all the way to the new year; and particularly this year around bonfire night, I, like other hon. Members, received a host of emails and messages from constituents complaining about the distress that fireworks can cause to vulnerable loved ones, pets and other animals—livestock has been mentioned. Many of the complaints related to antisocial behaviour, and I think it is true to say that the firework season has become an excuse for a destructive minority to cause misery for the public at large.
I would therefore like to praise the partnership work between Gwent police, the fire service and other organisations, such as Newport Live. One example is Operation BANG—Be A Nice Guy. Its aim is to reduce antisocial behaviour, particularly around Halloween and bonfire night. I praise Newport Live for the diversionary activity that it puts in place every year for young people in our communities in Newport.
Despite that, one constituent this year told me that he had come home from work early, at 2 pm, on the day of bonfire night to find teenagers in his back garden throwing fireworks at the house, deliberately aiming to frighten his two young children. Another resident, an on-call carer, described fireworks being thrown at her as she walked down the street, and witnessing a mother run down a nearby road with a toddler as fireworks were thrown at her and her child. Similarly, a former NHS worker wrote to me to describe the firework-inflicted burns he regularly dealt with in A&E on bonfire night. One local family lived through this when their four-year-old daughter was hit in the neck by a firework at a private display last year."

GO COMPARE ANNOUNCES REDUNDANCIES

Dec 7 - A number of staff are to be made redundant at GoCompare's headquarters in Newport as the company looks to reposition its business, according to Insider Media. The company recently launched its weflip auto-switching service, and recently acquired two businesses in Energylinx and MyVoucherCodes. The redundancies are to be less than 20, and within one department at the company. A statement from the company read: "We have grown our workforce in Newport by 60 per cent over the last couple of years, across departments and in highly skilled, technology-focused roles. This reflects the repositioning of our business following the launch of our new automated energy switching service weflip, and our acquisitions of Energylinx and MyVoucherCodes.

RINGLAND RE-GEN SCHEME UNDER WAY

Dec 8 - Ground has been broken at a £7.5m housing regeneration scheme in Newport.
The redevelopment of the Cot Farm estate, which is being carried out by partnership homes developer Lovell, is the first element of a wide-ranging programme set to bring new life to the area. The new homes, set for completion in summer 2020, are taking shape through a large-scale transformation programme for Ringland which has been developed in close consultation with the local community.
Lovell regional managing director Kate Rees said: "The start of construction on these new homes represents a key step forward in the regeneration of Ringland.
"Our experienced team are proud to be working in partnership with Newport City Homes using our expertise in large-scale housing-focused renewal programmes to deliver these much-needed houses and apartments which will widen choice for local people and contribute to a new and exciting future for the area."

NEW FRIARS WALK STORE

Dec 7 - A new store is set for Friars Walk. Womenswear store UTOPIA are poised to open in the former site of outdoor clothing store Tog24.
UTOPIA womenswear has stores in various locations throughout the country. A notice posted in the window of the vacant site states that the new store is looking for full and part-time employees.

DEATH 'NOT SUSPICIOUS'

Dec 7 - The death of a 56-year-old man in Newport is no longer being treated as suspicious, police have said. Gareth Williams was found unresponsive at a house in Bryn Bevan, Brynglas, at 03:00 GMT on Sunday and was declared dead at the scene. A 21-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder but has been released without charge following extensive inquiries, Gwent Police said.
The force said it would now share all its information with the coroner.

POBL OPEN OVER 55's COMPLEX

Dec 6 - A new complex for housing over 55's has opened in Newport. The complex, on Drinkwater Gardens in the Gaer, features 39 homes and a large two-story communal hub area named ‘The Curve’ for hosting various activities, aimed at reducing the impact of loneliness.
Housing association Derwen Cymru, which is part of the Pobl group, started the project, known as Bryn Gaer Place, in 2016 and they had expected it to be open in Spring 2018.

M4 RELIEF ROAD ANNOUNCEMENT DELAYED

Dec 6 - A key assembly vote on whether to build the M4 relief road will happen under the next first minister (Mark Drakeford) it has been confirmed.
AMs were told all three Welsh Labour candidates in the running to succeed Carwyn Jones have committed to a vote. It had been pencilled in for Tuesday, but the Welsh Government is still weighing up the findings of a public inquiry into the project. Drakeford is known to be opposed to the preferred route. In a bizarre announcement Plaid leader Adam Price suggested the closure of junctions from Malpas Road to stop Newportonians using the road.

CITY TEENAGERS REMANDED OVER ST. MELLONS MURDER

Dec 6 - Three teenagers have been charged with murdering a 32-year-old man whose body was found in woodland in Cardiff. James Jones, 19, appeared before magistrates along with a 17-year-old girl and 16-year-old boy who cannot be named, all from Cardiff. They were remanded in custody and will appear at Merthyr Crown Court on Wednesday. Anthony Winter's body was found in St Mellons on Thursday.
John Junior Phillips, 27, from Bettws, Newport, charged with section 18 assault, and Lauren Hutchinson, 19, from Maindee, Newport, charged with perverting the course of justice, appeared alongside them and were also remanded.
Family of Mr Winter, who was from the Pentwyn area of Cardiff, said they had been "devastated" by his death.

ANOTHER GRANT TO ASSIST WITH NEW FOOTBRIDGE

Dec 5 - Plan for a new footbridge replacing a dilapidated subway in Newport have been assisted thanks to a £132,000 grant from the Welsh Government. Of the cash, £77,000 is allocated towards the construction of a new footbridge linking Devon Place and Queensway, while £30,000 will go towards plans for new pedestrian and cycle routes at the area known as Monkey Island in Lliswerry. The remaining £25,000 will be used for a study into sustainable transport in the city centre.

MAN JAILED AFTER FIGHT ENDED WITH EAR BITTEN OFF

Dec 5 - A customer who bit a man's ear off in a drunken city-centre pub brawl has been jailed for four years. Andrew McNamee, 38, bit off "almost all" of the ear during a confrontation outside a pub in Newport. Victim, Paul Jenkins, who needed 13 hours of surgery, had waited outside Breeze bar after an incident inside. McNamee, of Lliswerry, Newport, claimed he acted in self-defence but was found guilty of unlawful wounding at Cardiff Crown Court.
Neither McNamee nor Mr Jenkins could remember what happened precisely on 3 September 2017. However CCTV and police evidence showed that as McNamee left the pub in the early hours of the morning, Mr Jenkins attacked him. He was restrained by McNamee who then bit off his ear.

PUB CHAIN FINED FOR HYGIENE BREACH

Dec 4 - A national pub and restaurant chain has been fined more than £150,000 for a series of hygiene failings at one of its pubs in south Wales.
Suffolk-based brewery Greene King was hit with the £152,000 fine after admitting seven food hygiene charges at its Newport pub, the Tredegar Arms.
Newport council said it was the highest fine it had issued in recent years, due in part to the size of the company.
A spokesperson for the pub said it now had a food hygiene rating of four.
A Newport council environmental health officer visited the pub, on Caerphilly Road, on 17 and 20 July, 2017, and found "a number of food hygiene failings. The pub has since had a number of inspections and we are pleased to say it has held a four star rating for over a year."

TWO MEN JAILED FOR COUNTERFEIT RECORD OFFENCES

Dec 1 - Two men have been jailed and two others given suspended sentences for selling tens of thousands of counterfeit records.
Alan Godfrey, 66, Christopher Price, 68, Robert Pye, 66, and Stephen Russell, 66, distributed unlicensed singles by 1960s Northern Soul artists.
Newport Crown Court heard some records had spelling mistakes and mismatched labels.
Pye was jailed for 10 months, and Russell for eight months. Godfrey was given a sentence of nine months and Price one of eight months, but both of these sentences were suspended. Prosecutors said catching the gang took four years. The British Phonographic Industry came across the operation after test purchases.

STILL WAITING FOR RELIEF ROAD ANNOUNCEMENT

Nov 25 - First Minister Carwyn Jones has hinted he may leave the M4 relief road decision to his successor. Labour are picking their Welsh leader at the moment. Jones stated although the inquiry into the decision concluded in March it was a major matter and more time may be needed. Welsh Government previously stated that AMs' would vote on new route across the south of Newport in 'early December'. He admitted "It's not absolutely guaranteed I will able to take the decision, although that is still the intention. It's the sort of decision people will be unhappy with whatever the decision and might look to challenge it in court so the proper process has to be followed." The road was originally proposed in 1991 but dropped by the Welsh Government in 2009 before being revived in 2011. The so-called 'black route' was selected in 2014.

The completion of a multimillion-pound project to improve traffic flow at the M4 Junction 28 roundabout will benefit thousands of motorists every day "at a junction that is a principal link between the M4 and the major employment area of west Newport", transport secretary Ken Skates has said.
Skates was speaking at the official opening of the roundabout at junction 28 of the M4.
Work on the £13.7m project started in February 2017 and is expected to reduce delays on the motorway and encourage drivers to use the Southern Distributor Road in Newport.

TOLL REMOVAL PLANS OUTLINED

 

Nov 25 - The Prince of Wales Bridge will close westbound on the penultimate weekend before Christmas to remove the M4 toll booths as the bridge goes toll free.The renamed Second Severn Crossing will shut westbound on Friday, 14 December at 20:00 GMT ahead of the Severn tolls being scrapped on Monday, 17 December.
Motorists will be diverted around the original M48 Severn Bridge. The M4 bridge will reopen early on 17 December for a formal ceremony, as it is believed it will be the first time in about many years that crossing the Severn estuary will be free.
These will be narrow lanes with a 50mph speed limit. The M48 crossing between Aust in Gloucestershire and Chepstow will be closed westbound later on 17 December, reopening early on 19 December so the booths on the English side can be taken away.
Further work will be carried out in 2019 to return both routes to a three-lane motorway with the usual 70mph speed limit.
 

GLASS-ROOFED TRAINS TO BUILT AT NEWPORT?

Nov 25 - Some of the new diesel trains being built at the new CAF train factory could feature windows extending into the roof. According to a report in Modern Railways, James Price, the Chief Executive of Transport for Wales has indicated that the idea is being investigated for some scenic lines. CAF will supply 26 3 car units and 51 2 car units fro Newport and it is expected some of the new 2 car fleet will work the CAmbrian Line from Shrewsbury to Aberytstwyth. In addition to the CAF order the Welsh Government has ordered 36 tram-trains from Stadler for the Valley lines (along with 35 diesel units). The initial light rail deployment is expected in and around Cardiff Bay from 2024. There is no news of the Ebbw Vale-Newport service reinstatement as yet. Work has commenced on ground works for the new station at Llanwern. A new stabling facility is being built in sidings at site as part of preparations for the events at the Celtic Manor International Convention Centre.

 

LOCAL PUBLIC TRANSPORT IN CRISIS

 

Nov 25 - Paul Davies AM for the Welsh Conservatives highlighted that "one of TfW’s morning commuter trains from Chepstow and Caldicot to Newport and Cardiff has been cancelled 16 times in the last 20 weekdays". Colin Lea of Transport for Wales said they are trying to fix things as, Autumn is always a difficult time for all rail operators. We expected things to be difficult but we didn't expect this level of issues." Newport Bus are continuing to feel the heat of public criticism of their services. A new company City Fox is set to start a new Foxstar service from Bettws to the City Centre from December 3 running at a peak frequency of a service every twelve minutes. Newport Bus stated "“Some timetables changed on July 22, reducing frequency on a number of routes in an attempt to improve reliability because of the increased journey time caused by congestion. 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 the moment.”

 

ENERGY PLANS MOVE AHEAD

 

Nov 25 - Heads of terms have been agreed for a major infrastructure fund manager to acquire a 25 per cent shareholding in Uskmouth Power in what was described as a "huge milestone" for the conversion of the Newport power plant into a generator of electricity from 100 per cent waste-derived energy pellets, according to Insider Media.
Sustainable energy generation company SIMEC Atlantis Energy told the stock exchange that terms had been agreed for it to sell the shareholding to Equitix for £32.9m. Equitix is an investor and developer in the UK and European infrastructure markets with more than £3bn of funds under management. The existing Uskmouth coal-fired power plant will be converted to generate 220 MW of baseload power using energy pellets.

An energy development on the Levels to the south east of Newport capable of producing power for up to 15,000 homes has been given the green light by planning officials. The project is thought to be the first renewable energy scheme to receive planning permission as a development of national significance under the Planning (Wales) Act 2015.
The application, submitted by Savills on behalf of the Gwent Farmers Community Solar Scheme, details plans to build a solar farm with up to 250,000 solar panels and 200 battery storage units with a capacity to generate 49.9MW.
The site is located to the south of the former Llanwern steelworks, on land owned by nine local farmers.

KEY HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS ON WAY

 

Nov 25 - Detailed plans for a 471-home development on the site of a former steelworks have been revealed. The plans, for the former Whitehead Steelworks in Newport, have been submitted by The Urbanists on behalf of Whiteheads Development Company.
The site received outline permission for 529 homes as well as a primary school, 24 assisted living units and two retail units in September.
If approved, 471 homes would be built as a mixture of houses and flats of varying sizes, with a separate application submitted to develop the North West corner of the site at a later date. Elsewhere, ground works are now starting to the first phase of a development in Llanwern which will see in excess of 800 houses built near the SDR. Redrow will be building the initial phase of 85 properties.

VELOTHON WALES COMES TO AN END

Nov 25 - The organisers of Velothon Wales have announced that are no plans for Velothon Wales to continue in 2019 and beyond. Thousands of cyclists have taken part in the cycle race in South East Wales between 2015 and 2018. It has been the UK's biggest event of its kind with the route stretched over 140km taking in Cardiff, Newport, Torfaen, Monmouthshire and Caerphilly. The organisers said "despite a successful event in 2018, in which more than 8,000 riders took part across three distances, it is unfortunate that we are unable to find a sustainable model for future events".

 

TRIBUTES PAID TO NEWPORT BUSINESSMAN

 

Nov 24 - Newport businessman and former Conservative councillor Gerald Davies has died aged 74. Mr Davies was executive chairman of Kymin Financial Services, Bridge Street, Newport. Born in Llandaff he had previously run a chain of menswear stores called Clobber and served as a Conservative councillor on Newport Borough Council both in the 1970s. He also unsuccessfully stood as a Conservative candidate in the 1979 General Election for the Newport constituency losing to Labour's Roy Hughes. Kymin is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Mr Davies founded the business in 1993 with Simon Aston and moved to Newport in 2002.

In an interview with the Argus in February 2018 he stated "U =was a councillor in Newport for eight years, starting in the 1970s. When I was elected it was to Central ward, which is now Stow Hill ward. Before it was Central, it was known as Caerau ward.
That had been represented by Arthur Dolman, my mother’s first cousin, and Harold Tilney, my great uncle and godfather, so three generations of the same family represented the same area. Arthur Dolman was a solicitor and was very keen on the Newport Playgoers, He was involved for many, many years. When the redevelopment that was to become the Kingsway Centre was proposed, the developers went along and kept offering money for the Playgoers site and buildings around that they owned. They kept going back and offering more, but he told them that really, they didn’t want any money, just a theatre. In the end it cost the developer something like £375,000. Dolman got his theatre, which is now named after him of course, and negotiated a special rent."

RECYCLING PROJECT GETS BACKING IN MAINDEE

 

Nov 24 - Eight new projects worth £5.4m have been announced across Wales to reduce waste and increase recycling. The projects will help improve facilities to repair or refurbish unwanted items. A new reuse facility will open in the Maindee area of Newport. Wales is first in the UK, second in Europe and third in the world for household recycling.

 

LANDLORDS PROSECUTED FOR BREACHING HOUSING RULES

 

Nov 23 - Two men were fined thousands of pounds after being found guilty of housing offences relating to a rental property in Newport.
The case of Abdul Kahim of Queens Hill Drive, Newport and Muhammud Rubel Ahmed of Wellington Road, Northampton was heard at Cwmbran Magistrates’ Court on October 1 when they were found guilty of offences relating to 24 Caroline Street, Newport.
The prosecution was brought by Newport City Council’s environmental health officers as a result of an investigation following a referral from Rent Smart Wales. The council is obliged to licence Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) (any house with three or more tenants who are not a family) and enforce the management regulations to ensure HMOs are provided with the correct facilities and that they are maintained to provide safe homes.
HMOs include properties such as shared houses, bedsits and some buildings converted into flats.
The court heard the property, which was occupied by three unrelated men, was inspected on February 1 this year.
Officers found the property to be in a very poor condition with numerous breaches of the House in Multiple Occupation (Wales) Regulations 2006 including unsafe electrics which posed a fire risk, no fire alarm system, an upstairs floor which was so unsafe a person could fall through it and a missing handrail on the stairs.
In addition officers requested documents from both Mr Ahmed and Mr Kahim including rent receipt books, gas certificate, electrical installation condition report, tenancy agreements etc. under the Housing Act 2004 Section 235. Such documents were not received.
Muhammud Rubel Ahmed and Abdul Kahim were both handed a fine of £2,000 for operating an unlicensed HMO; £9,000 for multiple breaches of the House in Multiple Occupation (Wales) Regulations 2006; a £3,000 fine for failure to provide documents and were ordered to pay £811.63 costs and a £170 victim surcharge taking the total to £14,981.63 each.

 

TAXI DRIVER FINED FOR SMOKING IN CAB

 

Nov 22 - A taxi driver who was caught smoking in her vehicle on several occasions has been prosecuted by Newport City Council.
Helen Elizabeth Jones of Chepstow Road, Newport, broke the law when she was found smoking in her taxi which is classed as a smoke-free place under the Health Act 2006.
Miss Jones had previously received five Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) for smoking or littering between 2016 and 2018. One of these went unpaid and she was prosecuted by the council in 2017 and the court imposed a fine of £220 plus costs. A senior council manager then witnessed her smoking in her taxi and throwing a cigarette butt on the ground in June 2018. Because of the previous offences it was decided to proceed straight to a prosecution as opposed to offering her another FPN. A community safety wardens then witnessed her smoking in her taxi on another two occasions and these were added to the prosecution. In all Miss Jones was prosecuted at Cwmbran Magistrate’s Court for four offences – one of littering and three of smoking. She was found guilty in her absence as she did not attend court.
She received the maximum fine of £200 per offence for the three smoking offences due to the persistent offending and her blatant disregard for the law. In total she was ordered to pay £980 including costs.

CITY CAR PARKING INCOME REVEALED

 

Nov 21 - According to RAC research Newport City Council made £306,000 profit on car parking in the year 2017/18, up from £9,000 the previous year, an increase of 3,295%. The City is due to take over parking and traffic enforcement in May. English authorities make huge amounts of money from enforcement of traffic regulations e.g. Westminster Council generated in excess of £90 million. A look across the border in Cardiff reveals that

Cardiff Council issued £5.6 million pounds in bus lane fines last year, the second highest in the UK.

 

COUNCIL LEADER NOT STANDING FOR NEWPORT WEST

 

Nov 21 - Newport Council leader Deborah Wilcox has confirmed she has no plans to stand for the shortlist of candidates for the Newport West seat when sitting MP Paul Flynn eventually stands down. According to the Argus Mr Flynn, who is 83, said his rheumatoid arthritis - which he has suffered with from a young age - had escalated to the point it had become extremely difficult to do his job fully, and he had decided to stand down to make way for someone who would be able to fully carry out the duties of an MP.  He has said he will stand aside if a General Election is held in the near future, but will consider calling a by-election if this doesn't happen
Wilcox said she has not ruled herself out of running in the future, saying in a later Tweet: "This is not the moment but there will be other opportunities in the future I’m sure - I’ve got a lot to give."

 

MONMOUTH MP PAYS TRIBUTE TO FLYNN

 

Nov 20 - David Davies, MP for Monmouth, paid tribute to Paul Flynn in his recent South Wales Argus column. He said "I first met Paul when he visited Bassaleg School in the 1980s where I was a pupil, and enjoyed asking him difficult questions as practically the only Tory in the class. He told me to become an MP so I owe him! Whatever our differences, Paul was my MP for many years and I would be the first to acknowledge his commitment to Newport and his willingness to help anyone with a problem, including lifelong Conservative voters. Moreover he is a great example of an MP who is proud to sit on the backbenches and speak his mind. Whoever is next elected to represent the constituency will have big shoes to fill. "

 

 

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.