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PLANS FOR MILL STREET DEVELOPMENT IN BUT NO MENTION OF SUBWAY

May 13 - Plans for a significant improvement to the former Royal mail sorting office at Mill Street have been received by the City Council. The development by Garrison Barclay Estates follows the provision of a £12 million public works loan from the City Council. However, while the development will be easily accessible by road, it also needs to connect with the city centre. The easiest connection is via the subway from Mill Street to Queensway. This is poorly lit and dangerous (see @crapsubway on Twitter). No plans for the development of this area have been forthcoming, without office workers at Mill Street will not use nearby public transport and will bypass the city centre.

The report states "
5.5 The immediate character of the area is not distinguished by a particular land use; the site is bound by commercial uses to the east and west, whilst also adjoining residential terraces to the north. The main city centre shopping area is located on the opposite site of the railway line, which is within walking distance of the site and accessed via a subway tunnel ..

4.1.1 There are good quality walking routes connecting the site to the key local services, residential areas and public transport interchanges. This includes access via Active Travel Routes to the City Centre, bus stops, Rail Station, Shopping Centre, taxi rank, local shop and the closest car parks to the site. NCC have included the majority of the routes linking to the site on the Existing Active Travel Routes Map."

WORK ON RINGLAND REGEN TO START SOON

May 11 - Housing association Newport City Homes has appointed a developer for the £7.5m first phase of a regeneration project for the city's Ringland area. Lovell will start work this September on the redevelopment at the Cot Farm estate, which consists of 56 modern homes and apartments for social rent to the area.
The design and build scheme will create 26 modern two- and three-bedroom homes and 30 one- and two-bedroom apartments on land at Hendre Farm Drive. A number of existing maisonettes – which are empty – are set to be demolished to make way for them.
The scheme, due for completion in December 2019, is the first part in a wider redevelopment of the area. Newport City Homes Board chair Nicola Somerville said: "We want to ensure this is a community in which people want to live. We want to provide more affordable homes, design out areas that allow anti-social behaviour to thrive and improve access to community facilities.

LIBERTY EYE UP TATA NEWPORT STEEL PLANT

May 11 - Liberty has declared an interest in acquiring five Tata Steel businesses put up for sale, which includes one of Tata's two Newport plants.
Tata's electrical steel subsidiary Cogent has sites in Canada and Sweden, with the company's Newport site sitting less than half a mile from Liberty Steel Newport on Corporation Road and employing about 350 staff. A spokesperson for Liberty told Insider Media Wales the company would potentially be interested in acquiring all of the five businesses Tata has put up for sale. They said: "We're always interested in exploring acquisitions of businesses that fit into our strategy when things come on the market, in terms of our green steel strategy with sustainably integrating production with downstream manufacturing.We have a good relationship with Tata, we have bought around nine UK sites from them over the past two years, however it is too early to say any more."

CONCERN AT LACK OF NEW SCHOOLS FUNDING FOR ST.JULIAN'S

May 11 - Newport Conservatives have expressed concern at the lack of 21st Century Schools Funding for St.Julian's Comprehensive. There is no double-gazing in much of the school  and it's educational attainment has not been good, the school has been placed in special measures. They are writing to the Council to clarify it's plan for investment in the school.

WALKING AND CYCLING ROUTES TO BE IMPROVED

May 10 - Walking and cycling routes across the city are to be improved and expanded by Newport City Council. The improvements to the network will give residents more choice of routes and the chance to be active. The projects can go ahead thanks to grants of £687,000 from the Welsh Government to improve the Active Travel Network across the city. The funds come from the Local Transport Fund, Local Transport Network Fund, Safe Routes in Communities and Road Safety funding for 2018/19. This will involve the council working with organisations such as Newport Live and Sustrans to improve road safety and developing new safer routes and walks to school with the community. The work will include improving air quality through pioneering emission reduction schemes will be undertaken by Streetscene staff working with officers in environmental health.

EVANS SLATES ST. PAUL'S WALK MARKET PLAN

May 10 - Conservative leader Matthew Evans has slated plans for a street market in St. Paul's walk, the new walkway joining Commercial Street and Kingsway claiming it will be in direct competition with Newport Market and further affect trade there.

St Pauls Walk is a newly created public space at the lower end of Commercial Street. Two vacant buildings were demolished to open up a new public space funded by the Welsh Government’s Vibrant and Viable Places scheme. The Council claims this has improved the street scene and image of the area, offering a new green walkway from Commercial Street through to the Dolman Theatre and Friars Walk. It complements the aim of the Vibrant and Viable Places project to ‘connect Commercial Street’ with other parts of the City. The space has been designed to provide an outdoor events area in the City Centre suitable for a market. The Community Interest Company, Cotyledon is interested in hosting a monthly day market on St Pauls Walk to promote local produce and hand-made items. The market will ‘activate’ the area, further enhance the redevelopment and increase footfall at the lower end of Commercial Street.
Matthew Evans said "I wish to strongly object to this proposal which would be a kick in the teeth for the market traders. I have no objection to events being held there but the traders in the city centre need all the help they can get. Surely it would be far better for them to utilise the upstairs of the market where toilet facilities are provided and they wouldn’t have to worry about inclement weather? It would also increase footfall there, rather than at the far end of the city centre which would put them in direct competition."
The Council's report on the issue admits the area has been significantly blighted already by anti-social behaviour "Section 17(1) of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 imposes a duty on the Local Authority to exercise its various functions with due regard to the likely effect of the exercise of those functions on, and the need to do all that it reasonably can to prevent, crime and disorder in its area. Regeneration has been shown to reduce the impact and incidence of crime and anti-social behaviour. Though designed as a pleasant open space within the densely developed City Centre, and with the potential to host events specifically in mind, St Pauls Walk is currently targeted by those engaging in Anti-social behaviour whilst it is under-utilised for these intended purposes. Increasing the intended uses via events such as the Day Market will therefore reduce opportunity for crime and disorder, and improve public safety in the city centre."

POP-UP BUSINESS SCHOOL SET FOR CITY MARKET

May 9 - A PopUp Business School comes to Newport Market from 4 to 15 June and will be open to anyone who dreams of starting their own business.
Run in partnership with Newport City Council, the two-week training course will give participants the support, tools and confidence they need to make that important first step. People can attend for the full two weeks or drop in to the sessions which will include workshops on topics such as starting a business without investment, sales and marketing, building a free website and finding customers.
They are also open to people who have already started a business but would like some expert guidance.

18 YEAR OLD CHARGED WITH ATTEMPTED MURDER AFTER CAMBRIAN ROAD INCIDENT

May 5  - A man has appeared in court charged with attempted murder and dangerous driving after four people were injured outside a nightclub. McCauley Cox, 18, of Newport, was arrested following the incident on Cambrian Road at 05:30 BST on 29 April.
Two women remain in hospital with serious injuries. The incident happened on the morning of the Newport Wales Marathon. A second Newport man, 19-year-old Ben Thomas, has been charged with affray and also appeared at Newport Magistrates' Court. One of the two women in hospital has a ruptured spleen and also had surgery on her ankle. The other woman is being treated at a hospital in Birmingham for a fractured arm, nerve damage and chest burns. Two other people from Newport who were initially arrested, a 19-year-old man and a 22-year-old woman, have seen been released pending further inquiries.
Both Mr Cox and Mr Thomas have been remanded in custody ahead of their appearance at Newport Crown Court later this month.

Update May 6 - A 19 year old Newport man has been charged by police with affray at the incident on April 29. Gwent Police state "a 19-year-old has been charged with affray and he was due to appear before magistrates on Saturday morning."

CRASH VICTIM IS DEAD

May 3 - A 37-year-old man who was seriously injured in a crash in Newport has died. Vladimir Cech was the passenger in a car that was involved in a crash with a Volkswagon Golf and a parked Black Ford Focus on Caerleon Road. The Newport man was taken to hospital after the crash at about 02:30 BST on 25 April and has now died.
A 25-year-old man has been charged with causing serious injury by dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, and driving without insurance.
He also faces a charge of failing to stop after a road accident.
Gwent Police said a 20-year-old woman from Newport was also arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and has been released under investigation.

ROUGEMONT EXPANSION PLANS

May 3 - An independent school in Newport is to expand its facilities after receiving a £3.5m funding package from NatWest.
Work has begun on the project at Rougemont School, with plans for a 600-seater auditorium, sixth form centre, refectory and advanced gym facilities.
The facilities will be multi-purpose, used for concerts, gala dinners and sporting events. The new building will also feature additional teaching facilities for the school’s 530 pupils, while local residents, community groups and sports teams will be able to use the new floodlit rugby pitch, part of a link up with Newport RFC.
Robert Carnevale, headmaster, told Insider Media Wales: "The new build heralds a new chapter for Rougemont, building on our past success to create a strong and thriving future for our pupils and our whole community."
Declan Griffiths, senior relationship manager at NatWest, said: "Rougemont’s facilities and grounds provide an exceptional learning experience for its students, and the new development will build on that legacy."

SUSPICIOUS PACKAGES CLOSE SPYTTY AND QUEENSWAY

May 2 - Suspicious packages led to the closure of Newport Retail Park and Queensway. The Retail Park was closed on Tuesday evening as the Bomb Squad were called to deal with a package near M&S. In Queensway the road and railway station access to the city centre was closed as police searched the area due to a package in a bin near to the taxi rank but found no issue.

POLICE VAN ARSONIST JAILED

May 1 - Kurt Higgs from Bettws has been jailed for 10 months for setting a police van on fire at the estate. The Court heard that Higgs had been unsteady on his feet due to alcohol and cocaine at the time of committing the offence. The vehicle damage is estimated at £7,500. The incident was captured on CCTV.

SUPPORT FROM LOTTERY FOR BRIDGE BID

May 1 - Newport City Council has received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to repair and revamp Newport Transporter Bridge it was announced today. Made possible by National Lottery players the ambitious project aims to carry out essential repairs to secure the future of the city’s iconic structure which spans the River Usk.
Development funding of £1,052,800 has been awarded to help Newport City Council progress their plans to apply for a full grant at a later date.
The funding is needed to carry out essential on-going repairs to the bridge, improve the gondola which dates back to 1906 and to create a bigger and better visitor centre which will include improved visitor facilities at the site. Newport Transporter Bridge is one of five remaining operational transporter bridges worldwide and is the most complete original structure of all the remaining Transporter Bridges.
Significant maintenance and repairs to the bridge have taken place over the years, the last being replacement traveller rails and comprehensive repainting carried out in 2010. The bridge is open to the public from March to October and last year attracted more than 20,000 visitors from around the world.

SLAB STEEL ARRIVES AT NEWPORT PLANT

Apr 30 - The first shipment of slab steel has arrived at Liberty Newport which will enable the company to ramp up production and create new jobs, according to Insider Media Wales. The arrival of the 24,000-tonne cargo is a milestone in the development of a global integration strategy by Sanjeev Gupta’s metals, energy and industrials group, the GFG Alliance, which includes Liberty.
The shipment will enable the Newport mill to begin ramping up production of hot rolled coil, as the Welsh site waits for the installation of its own liquid steel and slab making facilities.
Whyalla will supply Newport with about 100,000 tonnes of slab in the first year, allowing it to boost output of coil by about a third, to meet growing UK and EU demand for steel from industries such as construction and heavy engineering.
The Newport plant is also investing over £10m in the coming year to upgrade its rolling mill as part of a wider development plan that will eventually include the installation of an electric arc furnace to recycle scrap steel.
VB Garg, chief executive of rolled products at Liberty in Newport, said: "This is a milestone in our development as a global business and shows how, by working together, steel businesses at opposite sides of the world can achieve strong mutual benefit. This shipment demonstrates that we are now part of a truly global enterprise."

FEAR GROUP TO SELL OFF SAINSBURY SITE

Apr 24 - Fear Group are set to sell off the former Sainsbury's site at Wyndham Street in Newport after the completion of demolition work. Stephen Fear told the Argus that due to delays at the site they will sell it off or find a construction partner to carry out the development.

COUNCILLORS SIGN OFF THREE YEAR MARATHON DEAL

Apr 22 - Newport City Council have signed off a deal to stage the Wales Marathon and 10k race until 2020. The first ABP Newport Wales Marathon and associated 10k race takes place on April 29. Newport council will pay £90,000 towards running the events over the three-year period and the Welsh Government up to £120,000.
The council report notes that after three years, the events should become "self-sufficient and sustainable without a need for additional public funding". Around 6,500 runners will compete in this year's marathon and more than 1,700 in the 10k.
Between 18,000 and 20,000 spectators are predicted to watch on the streets of Newport and neighbouring Monmouthshire. Councillors hope the races, organised by not-for-profit business Run4Wales, will generate £1.1m for the city as a "direct economic impact" from participants and spectators. Newport Bus state no extra public transport will be laid on for the event.

ANOTHER CALL TO OPEN NEWPORT-EBBW RAIL CONNECTION

Apr 21 - Jayne Bryant Newport West AM has called on the Welsh Government to commit to a connection to Newport on the Ebbw Valley line. A commitment Welsh Labour has to date failed to make.
Bryant  said “One extra train per hour on the line, running from Ebbw Vale to Newport via Rogerstone and Pye Corner on to Cardiff, would connect the Valleys and two of the largest cities in south east Wales and vice versa."
With the new contract for the Wales and Border franchise, currently held by Arriva Trains Wales, to be awarded in the near future, Ms Bryant asked for the link to form part of the negotiations with a new provider.
Replying, the first minister said: "We do remain committed to increasing frequency of services along the Ebbw Vale line and the options being considered do include services calling at Newport."

CITY FOOTBRIDGE RE-OPENS

Apr 21 - Newport city centre footbridge reopened today after closing for cleaning. The City Footbridge, opposite Friars Walk in the city centre, closed on Monday April 9 for cleaning work to be carried out. It stayed closed from 8am to 4pm for nine weekdays to allow specialist contractors to scale the struts and blast off years of dirt and grime with high powered hoses. The bridge's boardwalk was also given a spring clean.
 

£10 MILLION FUNDING BID FOR TRANSPORTER

Apr 15 - Newport City Council has lodged an application for £10million to redevelop a site beside the city's transporter bridge. The bridge can be seen from many points across the city with its huge metal structure and the gondola used to carry vehicles across the River Usk is now open for the tourist season. Plans include a new visitors centre. The council bid for funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund is up against projects from across the UK, with no guarantee of success. Councillor Debbie Harvey said: "Our popular and iconic Transporter Bridge attracts visitors from around the world and we are very grateful to all our volunteers and the Friends of Newport Transporter Bridge for all their support over the years."

MP CRITICISES POLICE FUNDING CUTS

Apr 14 - Jessica Morden Newport East MP has criticised central Government funding cuts in policing and highlighted their impact at a time of increasing crime in Newport and elsewhere. In a recent House of Commons debate she said "Locally, Gwent has seen its budget cut by 40% in real terms since 2010. That has meant the loss of about 350 frontline officers and 200 members of staff. Policing is obviously not devolved, but the Welsh Government have stepped up to the mark and funded 101 PCSOs for Gwent. Without that, we would have about 30.....This is a debate about money and resources, but what matters to my constituents is the human cost. The statistics show clearly that crime is increasing at the same time as central Government funding is shrinking. As our PCC said, the inevitable conclusion is that policing is under-resourced to deal with an escalating problem. We must bear in mind that cuts to other services have an impact on the police, who are often the backstop service. There are fewer resources to deal not only with proactive crime prevention, but with new types of complex crime such as cyber-crime and the demands of counter-terrorism. That makes the Government’s refusal to invest in our police forces indefensible. I hope that the Government reflect on this debate and urgently review their strategy on police funding."

TWO RESCUED FROM PILL FIRE

Apr 14 - Two people have been rescued from a building fire in Newport. Fire crews helped them from a blaze in a communal area of flats in a three-storey property on Alexandra Road in Pill at about 09:00 BST on Saturday.
Officers from South Wales Fire and Rescue Service also helped another two people to safety as the blaze took hold near the front door of the building.
Two people were taken to hospital in an ambulance. Police and fire officers will investigate the cause of the fire.

NEW PLAN FOR GLEBELANDS SITE

Apr 13 - New plans to build homes on a 5.2-acre site on the banks of the river Usk have been submitted to Newport City Council. The land has permission for 251 homes, with the construction of 20 apartments already underway. But developer Pobl Group believes the plot south of Glan Usk Primary would be more suited to 206 units rather than the 231 units permitted in addition to the apartments.

MAN JAILED FOR TRYING TO STAB POLICE OFFICER

Apr 11 - A man having a "psychotic episode" who tried to stab a police officer with two kitchen knives has been jailed.
Tony Buttigieg was sentenced to four years for attacking PC Rhydian Jones at his flat in Newport. Swansea Crown Court heard the Gwent Police officer "genuinely feared for his life".
The 37-year-old admitted attempted grievous bodily harm for attacking PC Jones after he had been Tasered.
PC Jones was not injured because he was wearing a stab vest, but in a victim impact statement, he described it as "the most frightening episode of his life". Judge Paul Thomas QC said PC Jones was "subjected to the fear and trauma" of a knife attack and he "could not ignore" the psychological impact on the officer and his family.

CABLE THEFT HALTS RAIL SERVICES

Apr 8 - Major rail service disruption in south Wales on Saturday was caused by cable thefts between Cardiff and Newport. Engineers were due to complete repairs on Sunday morning, according to the National Rail Enquiries service. Some Sunday morning services between Cardiff Central and Bristol Temple Meads have been cancelled. Arriva Trains Wales, CrossCounty and Great Western Railway services were cancelled or faced delays of up to 70 minutes on Saturday afternoon.

Network Rail states "Metal theft is a big problem for the railway as thieves target signalling cables, overhead power lines and even fences to sell for scrap. As the rail network is designed to 'fail safe', when a cable is cut trains are brought to a standstill. This protects passengers and train crew but can lead to long, frustrating delays while the problem is found and fixed safely. Cable theft costs the industry millions of pounds each year. The total cost to the economy, taking into account the impact of freight delays to power stations and supermarkets, and on passengers who miss appointments or have their day ruined, is even higher. You can help by reporting suspicious behaviour on the tracks to the British Transport Police: 0800 40 50 40
Text 61016.

MARATHON COULD PROVIDE £1.1 MILLION BOOST FOR CITY ECONOMY

Apr 6 - A marathon in Newport has the potential to generate £1.1m for the local economy in the next three years, according to a Newport City council report. About 10,000 runners have signed up for ABP Newport Wales Marathon and a 10k race on Sunday 29 April. Organisers Run 4 Wales estimate there will be a crowd of 20,000 people who the council said would boost traders. Newport council is being asked to pay £90,000 towards the race until it is expected to be self-sufficient by 2020. The Welsh Government has agreed to provide up to £120,000 over the same period, said the report. The new marathon comes after the organisers had tried to hold a marathon in Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan in 2017 but could not settle on a route.

HOTEL PULLS OUT OF DEVELOPMENT

Apr 4 - Hotel chain Premier Inn has pulled out of the proposed Mill Street office redevelopment at the rear of Newport railway station due to lack of agreement about the negotiated rate for the building with the developers. New office based plans are likely to be submitted in another blow to Newport's plans to take advantage of the new hotel market created by the International Convention Centre Wales.

MASTERPLAN ATTRACTS LITTLE INTEREST

Apr 3 - Newport's Masterplan consultation attracted only 24 responses, according to the South Wales Argus. Critics have stated that the document is lacking in ambition and vague in terms of detail.

CONSERVATIVE LEADER 'NEWPORT ALWAYS PLAYING SECOND FIDDLE TO CARDIFF'

Apr 1 - Although Newport City Council has backed the £1.2 billion for the Cardiff region Conservative leader Matthew Evans took the opportunity to raise significant concerns about who will benefit from the investment. He said “Anyone who has been to Cardiff recently will see the huge investments already taking place and we shouldn’t have to always play second fiddle to them.”

COMMENT - The City Deal sets out a funding strategy for the ten local authorities for the next 20 years. Some aspects help Newport in terms of new technologies, cyber security and semi conductors, it is largely ignored in the Metro and will probably see greater gains from the closure of the Severn Bridge tolls later this year.

Former Pill Labour Councillor Omar Ali has defected to the Conservatives.

TOY RETAILER TO OPEN KINGSWAY STORE

Apr 1 - Independent toy retailer Toytown is set to open its 27th UK store in Newport and its first in Wales. The retailer is recruiting staff for an opening in mid May in the Kingsway Shopping Centre. A number of retail closures recently have halted progress in the city centre including Candle Company in Friars Walk. The latter states that they may have news regarding developments shortly.

COMMENT - Examples of expanding city centre outlets not currently in Newport city centre - Pret a Manger, Love Coffee, Lush, FatFace, TK Maxx, HMV, and Skinny Dip

CHEMICAL SUBSTANCES GO MISSING FROM SCHOOL

Mar 30 - Four low-level radioactive sources, used within science lessons, have been reported missing from The John Frost School, Newport.
The items are classed as low risk and do not pose a general risk to people’s health.
The school is working closely with Newport City Council to investigate. All relevant organisations including Gwent Police, Public Health Wales, Natural Resources Wales and South Wales Fire and Rescue have been informed and a joint agency approach has confirmed the low level of risk posed by these sources.
The Health and Safety Executive has also been informed as the regulatory authority.
The majority of secondary schools hold a number of small radioactive sources which are used for teaching students about the properties of radiation and radioactivity.
Pupils do not have access to them nor have direct contact with them as part of lessons. All such handling of the substances is carried out by specially trained staff in a controlled environment.
A search of the premises been carried out and specialist detection equipment has also been used. The items were not found as a result of these searches. Investigations will continue and as the school has had considerable works carried out over the last year, a further in-depth search will be carried out during the Easter holidays.
The sources were stored in lead-lined wooden boxes with radioactive identification labelling. The sources comprise a small cup 1.3cm in diameter by 0.8cm high. The radioactive material is mounted in the back of the cup and protected by a grill at the front. There is a stem attached to assist in holding the source.
As an example, one of the radioactive materials and associated levels are similar to those found in household smoke detectors and do not present a general hazard. If however they are handled directly or kept outside their protective box in close proximity to people, there is a small exposure risk. Around 13 hours of exposure would approximately equate to a single dental x-ray.
A council spokesperson said: “Full assessments have been carried out by the specialist agencies and have confirmed that the missing substances pose little risk to health. However, we are taking the matter very seriously. Further searches will be carried out and a full investigation completed.
“If anyone has any information please contact Gwent Police or Newport City Council.”

WELSH GOVERNMENT WANT TRAVELLER TRANSIT SITE

Mar 29 - A transit site for Gypsy and traveller families is needed in Newport after £64,000 was spent cleaning up an unauthorised site, the Welsh Government has said. Travellers moved on to government-owned land at Tatton Road, with costs coming after they left in April 2017.
While Newport council has identified a residential site, the Welsh Government also wants it to provide a transit site for families passing through.

CITY'S RICH AND POOR AREAS EXPOSED IN SCHOOL MEAL FIGURES

Mar 25 - Huge disparities in free school meal take up figures provided by Newport City Council underline the gap between rich and poor in our city. Based on 2017 information the following primary schools all have under 5 per cent take up indicating a high level of prosperity -  Glasllwch (2.5 per cent), Langstone (2.3), Mount Pleasant (1.5), Pentrepoeth (4.3), and Caerleon Endowed (2.4). At the other end of the scale schools with over 30 per cent take up can be considered as areas of high deprivation including Somerton (40.7 per cent), Alway (34.6), Monnow Bettws (33.6), Milton Ringland (32.9). There are no surprises perhaps but the figures indicate the significant and high level of poverty in city schools.

Eligibility for free school meals is for families in receipt of a range of benefits (including Jobseekers Allowance and Universal Credit) and those with an earned income below £16,190 - but families on working tax credits are excluded.

Pupils taking free meals are also used to decide how much money schools receive in deprivation funding, targeting funding at disadvantaged youngsters. Recent research by Prof Stephen Bullivant also highlighted that the measurement of free school meals pupils is based on take-up, rather than eligibility. There are parents who might be eligible but who do not accept free meals - because of a stigma around children being identified or because of "cultural" reasons for not wanting to accept welfare.

For more details on eligibility go here - Claiming Free School Meals in Newport

Detailed take up figures here

CHARTIST TOWER DEVELOPER APPOINTS ENGINEERING TEAM

Mar 25 - Developer Garrison Barclay Estates has appointed Hydrock's Cardiff-based Building Performance Engineering team to deliver building services design for the proposed redevelopment of the 15-storey Chartist Tower in Newport.
The project aims to transform a vacant 1960s office building into a new destination for the city, comprising a 4-star hotel, restaurant, Grade A office space and multiple retail units. Working alongside the developer and Powell Dobson Architects, Hydrock’s team will deliver M&E design consultancy, fire engineering consultancy and acoustic design.
Subject to planning consent, the transformation of the Chartist Tower will include 160-hotel bedrooms over 11 floors, retail units on the ground floor and 25,000 sq ft of Grade A office space. Rooms will be designed to provide fantastic views across the city and the Bristol Channel.

BREAST FEEDING SCHEME SHOULD BE ROLLED OUT ACROSS WALES

Mar 24 - A scheme to make it easier for women to breastfeed in public places in Newport should be rolled out across Wales, midwives have said. Cafe and restaurant staff will receive training and window signs will make it clear premises support it.
It hopes it will encourage more mothers to breastfeed beyond a baby's first few weeks in a bid to cut the risk of them developing obesity in later life.
Some mothers said they had been asked to stop feeding their babies in public. The Newport Breastfeeding Welcome Premises Scheme aims to make shops, cafes and other public places more welcoming. A register of supportive premises will be drawn up and staff will receive "awareness sessions" on the reasons women choose to breastfeed.
Newport council said 2016 figures from Aneurin Bevan University Health Board showed that although a high percentage of babies born in Newport were breastfed at birth, that number fell considerably after six to eight weeks.

APARTMENTS GIVEN GO AHEAD

Mar 23 - Four apartment blocks are set to be built in Newport after the city council gave developers the green light, according to Insider Media. The blocks, which will comprise 92 residential units, will be built on land in Lliswerry that is part-owned by developer Heyworth Homes. The structures, which will be located at the end of Liberty Grove, will all be four storeys tall.

PART OF LANGSTONE BUSINESS PARK SOLD

Mar 22 - Robert Hitchins Ltd has sold its 24 Severn office complex at Langstone Business Park in Newport for £2.45 million to the Grammont Group. It intends to reinvest in the South West and South Wales property markets. The Langstone Business Park, close to junction 24 of the M4, east of Newport, is one of the most prestigious office addresses along the M4 corridor.
24 Severn consists of two multi-let buildings which were offered freehold with high-quality occupancy and excellent on-site facilities.
Built in 2006, they form part of a modern courtyard development of five buildings in the Langstone Business Park environment. Both two-storey buildings offer Grade A office accommodation of 7,020 sq ft and 11,735 sq ft respectively.
The tenants include NFU Mutual, New Bridges Care, Henry Howard Finance, Grenke Leasing, Handelsbanken and pointOne EPoS.
John Jones, Asset and Development Managerfor Robert Hitchins Ltd, said: “We developed 24 Severn at Langstone Business Park and secured a strong line-up of tenants. This sale of our remaining interest was a strategic decision to realise some cash resources and re-invest in the South West and South Wales property markets.”

FIRE IN DISUSED CHURCH CAUSES DISRUPTION

Mar 22 - South Wales Fire and Rescue Service responded to reports of a fire at a building on Lower Dock Street, Newport, after being called at 12.19pm on Tuesday. 32 firefighters and five officers from Malpas, Duffryn, New Inn, Roath, Maindee, Cardiff Central, Barry and Merthyr Tydfil were in attendance - with five fire appliances, two aerial ladder platforms, one heavy rescue tender and three water bowsers. A fire service spokeswoman said crews were met with a "well-developed fire" throughout the three-storey building which caused the roof to collapse. Neighbouring commercial and residential properties were evacuated as a precaution and Lower Dock Street was closed to pedestrians and traffic.

FEAR GROUP THANK THE NEIGHBOURS

Mar 22 - Fear Group thanked local residents as the former Sainsbury store in Wyndham Street was reduced to rubble this week "Sainsburys site Reduced to rubble! #NewportGateway site demolition on course. Thank you to all the neighbouring residents whilst our contractors continue as quickly as possible to safely carry out the works. Similar sites required throughout the UK. #Housing #commercialproperty #Land #RealEstate"

RINGLAND APARTMENTS APPROVED

Mar 22 - A 56-apartment development in Newport has been approved. The application by Newport City Homes to build the affordable homes development includes the demolition of 12 three-bedroom maisonettes in the Ringland ward.
According to the report seen by Newport City Council, the maisonette block is "of a dated design, is partially boarded up and is of little architectural merit and therefore its demolition would not have an adverse impact upon the appearance or character of the area.
"In fact, as the building is at least partially vacant at present and ground floor openings are already boarded, it currently has a negative impact upon the streetscene and local amenity and its removal is welcomed."

BRISTOL BOOST FOR NEWPORT PROPERTY MARKET

Mar 18 - Newport in South Wales has been identified as Britain's fastest-moving property market, with the average length of time it takes to find a buyer in the city having been slashed by nearly a third over the past year. Last year's announcement that tolls on the Severn Crossings will be scrapped at the end of 2018, and interest from buyers coming from more expensive areas such as nearby Bristol where the average asking price is over £300,000, have helped Newport's housing market activity to surge.
Estate agents said buyers are able to swap a small terraced home in Bristol for a large detached family property in Newport for around the same price. The survey by Right Move found that in Newport the average time it takes to secure a buyer for a property has fallen from 76 to 52 days - a 32 per cent drop. Average house prices there have also increased by 7 per cent to reach £175,944.

SNOWFALL LEADS TO SECOND POSTPONEMENT OF NEWPORT HALF

Mar 18 - Another March snowfall has led to some disruption in Newport including the second cancellation of the city's half marathon. Organisers were forced to postpone the event in advance of last night's snowfall following the issue of an amber warning by the Met Office. The second wave of easterly winds in a month has brought a snowfall of four inches to the City and temperatures at the time of writing are below zero and it is still snowing. The snow is expected to become more intermittent. Newport City Council reported that all main routes were clear following the deployment of gritters. Newport Bus were operating on all routes bar the St Julian's route via Hove Avenue. Arriva Trains Wales state trains are not running between Hereford and Newport due to heavy snow. Tredegar House is closed but all leisure services are open.

NEWPORT LANDLORD FINED FOLLOWING FAILURE TO REGISTER

Mar 16 - A Newport landlord has been fined for failing to register and become licensed with Rent Smart Wales. Abdul Kahim of Queens Hill Crescent, Newport was found guilty of offences under the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 at Cardiff Magistrates Court. He was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay costs of £444 and a £100 victim surcharge.
Mr Kahim is among a number of South Wales landlords fined a total of £3,720 recently for evading compliance with Rent Smart Wales, the Welsh Government scheme which is improving the private rented sector in Wales.
All landlords with property in Wales are required to register themselves and their properties, while self-managing landlords and agents must pass training and become licensed. Newport Council is working closely with Rent Smart Wales to identify landlords who continue to flout the law.

FRIARS WALK STORE CLOSES / COFFEE SHOP PLAN IN

Mar 15 - In a sign of the perilous fragility of the economy of Newport City Centre the Candle Company store in Friars Walk has closed, this will be followed shortly by New Look for Men. Elsewhere in the city plans are in for signage for new Second Cup Coffee Store on Commercial Street. COMMENT - The city centre economy in Newport is so fragile, a radical plan is needed for Commercial Street to protect Friars Walk and the work on the new hotels in Mill Street and on Dock Street cannot start soon enough.

PLAID CYMRU CRITICISES MASTERPLAN

Mar 14 - Newport City Council's Masterplan for the city centre is "timid" and "short term", Plaid Cymru group has stated. Their spokesman Peter Keelan told the Argus: “The current city council proposals are too short-term. Newport’s problems are not going to be 'fixed’ ready for the next local elections. The council’s current proposals are too timid and show too little ambition and lack any clear joined up thinking as well as indicating a lack of any real coherent strategy or well thought out action-plan."

CAF TO HOLD JOBS FAIR

Mar 13 - CAF the company set to build trains and trams at its new factory in Newport is hosting a jobs fair for potential employees at Coleg Gwent Campus, Nash on March 19 between 12 noon and 6.30pm

CITY FOOTBRIDGE CLOSURE FOR SPRING CLEAN

Mar 13 - Newport City Council has announced that it is to carry out the cleaning of the City's footbridge over a four week period starting this week. The bridge will be closed at various times to allow the cleaning to take place (in advance of the Wales Marathon?).
 

PREMIER INN 2 PLAN FOR CITY CENTRE

Mar 12 - Premier Inn the sequel is coming to Newport as Cardiff-based developer, Garrison Barclay Estates, has appointed Hydrock’s multi-disciplinary consultancy services to support the proposed development of a hotel and much needed, high quality office space in the city centre. Led by Hydrock’s team in Cardiff, they are appointed to provide civil engineering, structural engineering and transport advice for a project that will create nearly 40,000 sq ft of new office space at a former Royal Mail building at Mill Street, close to Newport train station.
The development will also see the construction and integration of an 80-bedroom Premier Inn hotel if planning permission is granted for the project. Developer, Garrison Barclay Estates, aims to create a thriving new commercial centre offering flexible leases to attract the city's growing number of ambitious start-up firms, as well as larger spaces for businesses wanting high-end offices that break from the traditional feel.
Hydrock is working with Rio Architects who have designed the scheme to include incorporating shipping containers both within the existing façade and within the building itself.

METRO OFFERS BUS RATHER THAN LIGHT RAIL SOLUTIONS FOR NEWPORT

Mar 11 - The £1 billion South Wales Metro will largely ignore Newport as it focuses on the development of light rail for the centre of Cardiff. Two private-sector bidders are competing to build the Metro and run the Wales and Borders rail franchise from October. The successful bidder will be announced in May.

The Metro has been billed as a transformation of public transport particularly in Cardiff and the south Wales valleys. Newport and Monmouthshire have been largely ignored, the town of Monmouth was left off some of the initial maps. The plan envisages heavy rail lines from Cardiff Queen Street to Merthyr Tydfil, Treherbert and Aberdare which will be converted to light rail and electrified. However, a proposal to electrify the line from Cardiff to Ebbw Vale has been "discontinued from future consideration at present", according to one of the maps published by transport regulator Transport for Wales. Lines in Cardiff are due to be converted to light rail in the next stage of the project, including the line that connects the city centre to Cardiff Bay, with a possible extension as far as the Porth Teigr development.

According to Transport for Wales green or phase 1 schemes include Bus Rapid Transit schemes from Newport to Cardiff and to Malpas and a Bus Rapd Transit from Monmouth to Celtic Manor. Phase 2 schemes include a light rail line from Caerphilly to Newport. Phase 2 also envisages a new railway station at Caerleon. The proposals for Newport contrast with Cardiff where a host of local light rail services are planned.

SOLAR FARM PLAN FOR LEVELS

Mar 11 - Plans to build a 345-acre solar farm, which could produce nearly 50MW of electricity on the Caldicot levels, have been submitted to the Welsh Government. If permission is granted, the solar farm would be split over six parcels of land and could power the equivalent of 15,000 homes for a projected 30 years.
The plot sits just south of the former Llanwern steelworks and is owned by nine farmers / landowners who would look to continue sheep grazing at the site. In order to spread capacity into the night, the site would also incorporate a battery storage area.
The application has been prepared by Savills on behalf of Llanwern Community Energy. According to Insider Media Wales the application states: "The renewable energy hub seeks to provide green energy for over 15,000 homes and save over 21,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum. It will enable a group of nine local landowners to diversify their agricultural enterprise and help secure their livelihood during uncertain times for farming communities."

MAN DIES AFTER M4 ACCIDENT

Mar 11 - A man has died after being hit by a vehicle on the M4 in Newport. Police were called at about 05:10 GMT on Thursday to a crash involving several vehicles and a pedestrian on the westbound carriageway near the Brynglas Tunnels. The motorway was shut between junction 24 for Coldra and junction 26 for Malpas Road for nine hours causing miles of tailbacks, but has reopened. Gwent Police said two people were in Newport's Royal Gwent Hospital with non life-threatening injuries.

COUNCIL LEADER THANKS STAFF FOR SNOW EFFORT

Mar 7 - Council leader Debbie Wilcox has thanked staff for their efforts during the recent snow storms "I would like to extend my thanks and recognition to the public servants, emergency responders, partnership agencies and volunteers who have given their all over the last few days. Firstly, my thanks to council workers in all parts of the city who have been working incredibly hard clearing roads, caring for the elderly and maintaining services in such poor weather conditions. We worked hard to plan ahead, responded to weather forecasts and implemented contingency plans well in advance of this extraordinary weather event."

INQUEST QUESTIONS GP PRACTICE PROCEDURE

Mar 6 - A five-year-old girl with a history of asthma was turned away from seeing her doctor because she was "late" - and died that night in hospital. An inquest heard Ellie-May Clark was not seen by Grange Clinic in Malpas despite having an emergency appointment because it operated a "10 minute rule". A chance to "provide potentially life-saving treatment was missed" said the coroner, giving a narrative verdict.
After the hearing in Newport, Ellie-May's family said "she was let down". The family released a statement and were "disappointed that a finding of neglect was not reached". Their lawyer Justin Chisnall stated "The family acknowledge an apology from Dr Rowe, especially as they have been waiting in excess of three years for an outcome and to receive answers to their questions." The coroner will write a report to the clinic and the local health board to address the lack of an effective and robust care plan for Ellie-May.

SLOW THAW - CITY SERVICES RETURN TO NORMAL TOMORROW

Mar 5 - A slow thaw has begun in Newport after the huge snowfall that brought the City to a halt between Thursday and Saturday. Most schools in the City will be open on Monday apart from Glan Usk Primary. Most City Council and public transport services are expected to return to normal. The Council stated "All council buildings will be open on Monday 5 March. The intention is to achieve normal service delivery, but we acknowledge there may be some services still affected due to issues arising as a result of the weather and challenges faced by some staff that live outside the city.
Bus services are extending their operations - please check the latest service details with local providers. Waste collections are expected to resume on Monday although a further assessment will be carried out before full services resume. There will obviously be a backlog, so residents are asked to leave bins/boxes out and they will be collected as soon as we are able.
The Household Waste Recycling Centre on Docks Way has now reopened. Some Newport Live centres have now reopened. All Newport parks which can be locked (e.g. Belle Vue, Beechwood, Tredegar Park) are remain closed. This decision has been taken because of the dangers posed by such severe weather."

HUGE SNOWFALL HITS NEWPORT

Mar 4 - A significant snowfall hit Newport on Thursday and Friday bringing up to twelve inches of snow blown into deeper drifts by the biting easterly wind. The snow began falling on Thursday morning with temperatures throughout the day in the City not exceeding minus 3. Many services were closed in anticipation or shutdown at lunchtime as the snow continued to fall and gathered in intensity. The City Council closed civic buildings at 1pm as it  focussed on gritting and snow clearance. A further red weather warning on Friday led to worsening conditions. Many main roads were blocked, dozens of vehicles were stuck on the M4 near Newport between the Coldra and St Julians as the motorway closed due to the deteriorating weather only released after police and other helpers dug them out with shovels. Police thanked locals and the City Council for helping out. In the City Centre emergency staff at the Royal Gwent battled to get in to work and brought overnight bags. Businesses rallied to help the homeless, two city bars on Cambrian Road and a sandwich cafe gave food, drink and warmth to rough sleepers. No bus services ran in Newport on Friday but resumed in part on main routes on Saturday. All rail services were cancelled in south Wales. All weekend sporting fixtures were called off including Newport's Welsh Cup fixture against Bedwas and Newport County's home game against Accrington Stanley. The John Cooper Clarke Riverfront event and the Admiral Half Marathon were both postponed. From Thursday lunchtime through much of Friday and Saturday temperatures did not rise above zero with a restbite from snow for much of Saturday. Sunday has brought improved conditions and slightly higher temperatures.

FEAR GROUP EXPECTED TO CHANGE DEVELOPMENT PLAN

Mar 2 - Fear Group, the developer behind a £75m project for a former Sainsbury's supermarket site in Newport is considering submitting altered plans for the site as demolition gets underway. Insider Media Wales states that Fear Group believe improvements to the city's transport links, including the abolition of tolls on the Severn Bridge, means the company is considering increasing the amount of residential space on the site.

Contractors are currently moving machinery onto the site, which Fear bought in 2010, ahead of the construction of flood defence works as required by Natural Resources Wales. Fear told Insider: "We've made a start, the contractors have been slowed up by the snow but we're making a start. It's been a long time coming, we've been eager to get going, we've been working and working on it and it's only now we've been able to get going. For Newport, it's an important project. It's one of the last remaining major sites in the city for redevelopment, and it's a prominent site in the city itself. We've got a 12 week programme for demolition and then preparing the ground and then flood defences, and we're currently reviewing what we have planning permission for, we may make adjustments."

RECRUITMENT FOR TRAIN FACTORY UNDER WAY

Mar 1 - Recruitment events are being held across Newport and area in March to help fill more than one hundred jobs coming to the area later this year. The jobs will be a result of Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) opening its new state-of-the-art assembly hub for the manufacture of UK rolling stock in Newport. A spokeswoman for the Welsh Government said: "The establishment of this new £30m centre is expected to create 300 highly skilled and well paid jobs. "These recruitment events are part of a local employment drive to help fill the first tranche of vacancies being created." A recruitment open days was due to take place on Thursday, March 1 at Coleg Gwent's City of Newport campus from noon to 7pm.
Another recruitment day will take place at Newport's job centre in Charles Street on Wednesday, March 7, from 10am to 1pm. The last recruitment day will be on March 8 at Careers Wales, in Ystrad Mynach, from 10am to 2.30pm.
The spokeswoman continued: "The new assembly hub is being designed so that CAF can build a range of different trains.
"The employment opportunities are wide ranging - from technicians, engineers and logistics specialists, through to production and testing operatives, to communications, payroll, finance, logistics and purchasing personnel."
Welsh minister Eluned Morgan said the fact that Newport has been able to secure this new facility, against stiff competition from more than 100 other sites across the UK, is a major coup for the Welsh economy.
For more information about the recruitment events please email careers@cafrail.co.uk

FIRST PLANS IN FOR NEW LLANWERN PARK AND RIDE STATION

Feb 25 - The City Council has received a screening opinion request (right) for plans to be submitted by Welsh Government for a new Park and Ride railway station for Llanwern. The station will service the Celtic Manor and the city centre and include a major event service line to allow travellers to disembark without interrupting passenger services or to faciltate additional services onward to Cardiff.

The station will include a 1000 space car park with access to/from the Eastern Distributor Road. It will also be in close proximity to the CAF new train factory set to open in autumn 2018. The development will be in two phases, the additional major event staging lines in phase 1 and the station / car park facility in phase 2. The station will join local services either between Newport and Bristol or Gloucester/Birmingham.

DISAPPOINTMENT AS CRIME-RIDDEN SUBWAY SET TO STAY

Feb 25 - A new development on Mill Street will not see the end of a dreadful, crime ridden subway as had been hoped. The subway linking Devon Place and Kingsway will remain as the Council look to deploy improvements including improved lighting, two way mirrors and closed circuit television. They have been given £250,000 by developers Garrison Barclay and £50,000 from Welsh Government for the purpose. Unfortunately, visitors to any hotel on this side of the railway will be put off from opting to walk in to the city centre by this unwelcoming and dangerous access way.

BOUTIQUE HOTEL GETS APPROVAL

Feb 24 - Plans for a boutique hotel at Rothbury House in Stow Park have been given the go ahead. The plans for the site (from the Cinnotti brothers)include a change of use to a seven bedroom hotel at first floor level and a ground floor restaurant. The building was previously a residential care home and has been empty for ten years.

EMOTIONAL APPEAL TO TRACK DOWN HIT AND RUN DRIVER

Feb 24 - A father has made an emotional appeal to track down a suspected hit-and-run driver who left his son in a coma. Police believe John Conibeer, 32, was hit by the driver of a Ford Transit who then fled the scene at Pwllmeyric in Monmouthshire.
He had been a passenger in one crash and was checking the damage on that car when he was hit by the van. Anthony Conibeer, 64, from Newport, said the "heart has been torn out" of their family .
John Conibeer was a passenger in a black Honda Civic when it crashed into a wall on the A48, near Chepstow, on Saturday February 17.

DRUGS GANGS HEAD TO JAIL

Feb 23 - Nine drugs dealers mostly from Newport were sentenced to 38 years imprisonment for pedalling class A drugs in Swansea. Police tracked dealers’ mobile phones as they travelled from Newport by car and train to sell drugs in Swansea, a court has heard.
While they used a variety of vehicles for their drug runs they always took the same train - the 10.24am service from Newport.
Together, two gangs of dealers were estimated to have been earning around £3,600 a day from their trade in heroin and crack cocaine before being arrested as part of Blue Thames, a police operation targeting gangs from outside the area dealing on the streets of Swansea.
Bromley, aged 29, of no fixed abode, Damien Mitchell, aged 39, and 19-year-old Peters, both of John Penry Crescent, Penlan, Swansea, Southall, aged 22, of Sheridan Close, Newport, Purnell, aged 32, of no fixed abode, Collins, aged 28, of Clytha Square, Newport, Smith, aged 25, of Thornbury Park, Rogerstone, Newport, and Barton, aged 19, of Coniston Close, Newport, had all previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs when they appeared in the dock for sentencing. Judge Keith Thomas told the defendants Class A drugs were a serious problem in the communities of South Wales, and those involved in dealing them could almost always expect immediate custody.
Bromley was sentenced to a total of seven years and four months in prison; Collins to six years and eight months; Mitchell to five years and eight months; Purnell to four-and-a-half years; Smith to three years; Meredith to three years and three months; and Southall to 32 months; Peters was sentenced to 36 months in a young offenders institution, and Barton was sentenced to 31 months.

COUNCIL TAX TO GO UP BY 4.8 PER CENT

Feb 22 - Council Tax in Newport will increase by 4.8 per cent in April under revised plans. Newport City Council had previously proposed increasing rates by five per cent in its draft budget for the coming financial year.
But it has been revealed the proposed increase - due to be signed off by councillors later this month - was being cut by 0.2 per cent following a public consultation. Cuts to a county-wide missing children service and a respite centre for disabled children and young people have also been reversed, while an extra £420,000 is being invested into the city's schools under revised budget plans revealed by Newport City Council.
But a number of other cost-saving plans, including closing all six public toilets in the city and introducing parking charges in Belle Vue Park, remain on the cards. A typical band D Council Tax of £1237.56 (including the addition for police) will go up by around £60 per year.

AMs CALL FOR EBBW SERVICE

Feb 18 - Newport AMs Jayne Bryant and John Griffiths have joined forced to call for the opening of rail services between Ebbw Vale and Newport. Current work on the Western Valley line to dual the track means that capacity can be increased. The City was snubbed in 2008 when the Welsh Government opened to run services to Cardiff only and bypass Newport. The  increase in line capacity offers the opportunity to run an hourly service to Newport and then on to the west of England or to Abergavenny.

CALL FOR ACTION OVER NEWPORT MARKET

Feb 17 - Newport Conservatives have criticised the Labour run City Council for inaction over the plight of Newport's Victorian Indoor Market. In March 2013 they say there were 12 empty shop units (37 with first floor), in May 2014: 18 empty shop units (43 with first floor) and by November 2017: 19 empty shop units (44 with first floor). They have called for a summit meeting involving traders and the Council to address the issue.

RESTAURANTS OPEN / SHUT / OTHER PLANNING NEWS

Feb 16 - Sixteen Restaurant has closed. The property was located at 16 High Street in Newport, but the premises is now empty.
Co-owner Lewis Lewis, who also owns Mojo The FoodBar and the Riverside Sports Bar and Kitchen, told the Argus: "Sixteen has not closed down. Sixteen will be relocating to Clarence Place and will be merging with Mojo The FoodBar as Sixteen proved so popular. The difficulty all stems from issues with the building on High Street."
Meanwhile, the Cinnoti brothers plan Gemelli to reopen on High Street shortly. Despite their painful experience trying to open a much needed boutique hotel at Rothbury House in Stow Park they say they are still committed to Newport.

Elsewhere near Market Street buildings adjacent to the former King's Hotel previously occupied by a book store are set to become offices for Newport City Homes. Time has been extend for the planning application for Queen's Hill. The City Council has approved demolition plans for the former Sainsbury supermarket in Wyndham Street and continues to liaise regarding planning matters with the developer of Olympia House.

The former Avana Bakeries site in Rogerstone is set to become a 200,000 sq ft business park after it was acquired by a developer.
Cardiff-based Rombourne plans to refurbish and subdivide the existing accommodation at the nine-acre site to create a range of distribution and manufacturing units from 10,000 sq ft upwards, as well as smaller workshops and open storage compounds. The site, which will be named the Avana Business Park, is situated on the Wern Industrial Estate in Rogerstone, two miles north of junction 28 of the M4 motorway. A £13.7m Welsh Government scheme to upgrade access to Junction 28 will be completed this year.

KNIFE AMNESTY OFFERED BY POLICE

Feb 15 - Gwent Police offered a knife amnesty this week to help prevent knives being used on our streets and getting into the wrong hands. This amnesty is running alongside Operation Sceptre (Monday 12th – Sunday 18th February 2018), a national campaign which aims to educate people about the dangers associated with knives.
Inspector Neil Jones said: “Crimes involving knives are rare in Gwent and we are taking positive active to try and prevent offences by removing knives and offensive weapons before any harm is caused. “People might think that having a knife is some kind of status symbol, or that they need one for protection, but they don’t realise that in 65 per cent of cases, people who carry knives have those weapons used against them. If you know a friend or family member who carries a knife, urge them to surrender it as part of the amnesty. Every knife handed in is one less that can potentially be used on the streets of Gwent.”
People can deposit knives at secure bins throughout Gwent. Knife bins can be found in the enquiry area at the following police stations:
Newport Central / Maindee

RINGLAND DEVELOPMENT APPROVED

Feb 13 - A 56-apartment development in Newport has been approved. The application by Newport City Homes to build the affordable homes development includes the demolition of 12 three-bedroom maisonettes in the Ringland ward.
According to the report seen by Newport City Council, the maisonette block is "of a dated design, is partially boarded up and is of little architectural merit and therefore its demolition would not have an adverse impact upon the appearance or character of the area.
"In fact, as the building is at least partially vacant at present and ground floor openings are already boarded, it currently has a negative impact upon the streetscene and local amenity and its removal is welcomed."
The development will also include building on 0.6 hectares of currently open land. However the report states: "The proposed development fulfils a regeneration and affordable housing need within the Ringland area and forms the initial phase in the wider regeneration of the area.

CALLS FOR RESIGNATION OF LOCAL EDUCATION CABINET MEMBER

Feb 12 - Renewed calls have been made by senior Conservatives in Newport City Council for the resignation of the Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Cllr Gail Giles. A Conservative spokesperson stated "It's really quite simple when you analyse the FACTS ..the Labour led Newport Council are failing the people of Newport and diminishing their responsibility by outsourcing day-to-day management of Council assets to third parties."
Newport Conservative Chairman Cllr William Routley said “In the recent Welsh Government ratings system, 5 out of the 9 Comprehensive Schools' either declined or showed no improvement. Three of these schools' received a RED RATING and two of these are in SPECIAL MEASURES. This is really worrying.”
Newport Conservative Group Leader Cllr Matthew Evans said “Our teaching staff and head teachers work extremely hard. I know there are many passionate people working in education and I don’t blame them, but ultimately somebody has to take responsibility for this. The buck stops at the door of the Cabinet Member for Education and she should do the honourable thing and tender her resignation”.

DEVELOPER EXCITED ABOUT NEWPORT PLANS

Feb 11 - Developers Garrison Barclay have spoken of their excitement about plans to develop two key sites In Newport. Director Ian Carter told Insider Media Wales: "We saw the Chartist Tower as a strategic building for the city before the masterplan was released, and we picked up the former Royal Mail sorting office on Mill Street six to eight months ago. We've looked at the sites as strategic for the regeneration of the city and the new Newport masterplan reaffirms that. We're also looking at a hotel at the former sorting office as well, there's 38,000 sq ft of space there. The council have offered a loan, which was approved in December, to aid development and I'd say we are two to four weeks off an application. For us, it's all go, and we're very excited and looking at new sites. We see Newport as a city on the rise - it's a bit of a cliché but I think Newport definitely is. There are things like Friars Walk and some other fantastic stuff in the pipeline and we're very excited to be part of it."

MORDEN CALLS FOR IMPROVEMENTS TO CROSS-BORDER RAIL SERVICES

Feb 11 - Jessica Morden MP used the opportunity to speak at the Welsh Grand Select Committee to once again highlight poor cross-border rail services. In a question to Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns she asked “If the Secretary of State is serious about improving cross-border connectivity between parts of my constituency and Bristol and beyond, will he get the Department for Transport to improve the cross-border services which take my constituents to work in Bristol and further afield, as they are woefully inadequate." He responded by saying he wanted to see the best possible connections in place between Bristol and south Wales cities.

NEWPORT - MOST CONGESTED CITY IN WALES

Feb 10 - Newport was the most congested city in Wales in 2017 with motorists spending an average of 24 hours a year in traffic jams, new figures have shown. But drivers in Cardiff were worst hit financially, with jams costing them on average £1,119 in lost time and fuel. Wales' most congested road was the A470 where the average speed during rush hour was just 7mph (11kph).
Traffic analytics firm Inrix's study found the total cost of congestion in Wales in 2017 was more than £1.8bn.

FIRE-FIGHTERS DEAL WITH RINGWOOD AVENUE FIRE

Feb 9 - Fire-fighters have been at the scene of a fire involving a number of cars and outbuildings in Newport. South Wales Fire and Rescue Service said two crews from Maindee and Duffryn tackled the blaze on Ringwood Avenue in Newport. Fire crews were called to the scene at about 5.40pm on Thursday and the road was closed while the fire was brought under control. Welsh Water said some residents in the area may have noticed problems with their water supply.

FENTANYL DEALER SENTENCED TO EIGHT YEARS

Feb 8 - A man who used the dark web to export and sell the high-strength painkiller fentanyl has been jailed for eight years. Kyle Enos, 25, from Newport used a number of identities to buy and supply "significant amounts" of the opioid in the UK, USA and Canada. When officers raided his house they found 25,000 doses of the drug, said to be more potent than heroin. He admitted three charges relating to its supply at Cardiff Crown Court.
Sentencing him on Monday, Judge Eleri Rees said that four of his customers had since died, "evidence of how dangerous a drug it is".
But the court heard there was no certainty the fentanyl came from Enos, who used the name "Soviet Bear", and that no charges are being pursued in relation to these deaths.
After his arrest, Enos admitted purchasing fentanyl from China and selling it on the dark web - part of the internet only accessible using special software, allowing users to largely remain untraceable.

TOILET COULD BECOME MICRO-THEATRE

Feb 7 - A former public toilet in Pill become a theatre. Plans for the grade II-listed Edwardian public convenience in Pillgwenlly, Newport, have been submitted by Janet Martin, the woman behind Robbins Lane Studios and Barnabas Arts House.
The building ceased to operate as a public toilet in 2006 due to lack of use and was subsequently sold by the council. It is regarded as having "a strong Edwardian character which promotes it above a simple utilitarian facility."
The proposed works would mean removal of the building's urinals and many other original features to be replaced with a performance space suitable for 20 to 25 audience members. Subject to planning permission, the space would become a 25-seat micro-venue used for monologues, site-specific works, magicians and other professional and amateur performances.

COUNCIL TO TAKE ON PARKING ENFORCEMENT ROLE

Feb 4 - Newport City Council has agreed to go ahead with proposals to tackle the problem of irresponsible drivers who ignore traffic regulations and park illegally across the city. A report on whether decriminalised parking/civil parking enforcement (CPE) could be introduced in Newport was agreed by full council on Tuesday, January 30.
The process was started in December last year after members of the overview and scrutiny management committee recommended the council pursue the action. Councillor Roger Jeavons, Newport City Council's Cabinet Member for Streetscene welcomed the decision by full council.
"Everyone is rightly very concerned about the number of motorists who selfishly park wherever they want, ignoring traffic orders such as double yellow lines and zigzags on crossings near schools. I have said many times in council meetings there is a real danger someone will be seriously hurt or even killed because motorists are ignoring basic rules. The process to bring in CPE has now started and I welcome the decision," said Cllr Jeavons.
The decision to bring in parking enforcement powers had to be made because of concerns raised by the public over illegal parking and confirmation that Gwent Police are taking a step back from exercising their powers in this area from December 2018.
The Traffic Management Act 2004 enables local authorities to adopt the powers of enforcing parking, however implementation will take between 18 months and two years said a report to council.
The application to start the process of getting legislation approved via Welsh Government has been approved and in the meantime Gwent Police has now pledged to carry on parking enforcement until an official date for CPE to formally start is introduced.

DOCKS TO WITHDRAW RELIEF ROAD OBJECTION

Feb 4 - One of the main objectors to the building of the M4 relief road is due to remove its opposition to the plans. The Welsh Government is set to "sign and seal" an agreement with Newport Docks owners Associated British Ports.
It comes after the government agreed to carry out £135m improvements to the docks. The works will take the cost of the scheme in Newport to £1.4bn and push back the scheduled opening date of the six-lane motorway to 2024. The Welsh Government hopes to build a 14 mile (23km) motorway around the city, bypassing the Brynglas Tunnels. ABP had objected to the plans, saying a bridge over the River Usk would have cut across its site.

NEWPORT BUS FARES TO GO UP

Feb 4 - Newport Bus are to increase fares from today. Most fares have not increased since October 2014. The single fare will go up from £1.70 to £1.80. The unlimited city day pass will be £3.70. Weekly passes are £15, monthly £48, annual £530. A single to Cardiff or Cwmbran is £2.20. Newport Bus will also be joining the weekly Network Rider service allowing travel across south Wales for £26.30.

MORDEN CALLS FOR ACTION ON BRISTOL SERVICE OVERCROWDING

Feb 2 - Jess Morden MP has again raised the issue of the poor rail service from Newport and Severn Tunnel railway stations to Bristol "In Parliament this morning I again spoke on behalf of constituents who work in Bristol and beyond who continue to put up with chronically overcrowded rail services - even as fares increase.

PLANNING UPDATE - GYM / FOOTBRIDGE / RESTAURANT

Feb 2 - A new CrossFit gym is to open in Newport after planners approved a change of use. The gym will occupy units three and five at Leeway Court on the Leeway Industrial Estate. The Welsh Government is supporting the City Council by providing some funding towards a new footbridge scheme linking Devon Place with Queensway. The area is set to see a redeveloped grade A office building at Mill Street. Garrison Barclay, Chartist Tower developers have confirmed a fifteenth floor restaurant forms part of their plan for the building. Online flooring company Flooring Superstore has opened its first retail outlet for Wales. The company has taken a 6,000 sq ft unit at the East Retail Park, with its Newport location its biggest so far.
Flooring Superstore sells carpets, laminate and vinyl flooring, launching in 2012.

SCHOOL BANDINGS

GIBSON TO HEAD UP BUSINESS NETWORK GROUP

Feb 1 - Simon Gibson, one of Wales' leading business figures, has agreed to take the helm of the Newport Economic Network as it moves to a new level of maturity. Three years ago, the network was established as a result of work carried out by the ReNewport taskforce to look at business opportunities under the leadership of Professor Gibson. A broad partnership of representatives of key bodies within Newport, it has regularly met on an informal basis.
It has helped prepare the city centre masterplan, a framework for future development which is currently out to consultation, and supported the City of Democracy initiative. A number of significant factors have recently emerged which means a more formal economic body is needed to exploit opportunities and promote the best interests of the city. These include the Cardiff Capital Region partnership and City Deal; the reduction in, and likely abolition of, the Severn Bridge tolls; and the Great Western Cities initiative involving Newport, Bristol and Cardiff in a potential "western powerhouse".
Professor Gibson is chief executive of investment company Wesley Clover, based in Newport, which has funded more than 150 tech start-up firms. As chair of ReNewport he recommended the establishment of the UK's first National Software Academy, the National Cyber Security Academy, Innovation Point and a hospitality school which are all now flourishing in the city. He was one of the driving forces behind BeTheSpark which champions entrepreneurship and innovation in the Welsh economy and the Newport-based Alacrity Foundation, an educational charity which mentors and trains graduates to create the next generation of hi-tech Welsh companies. He was awarded a CBE in the New Year's Honours List.

CITY BUZZING AFTER COUNTY'S EXPLOITS

Jan 28 - Newport is buzzing today after the exhilarating exploits of Newport County in the FA Cup at home to Tottenham Hotspur. Bars and restaurants reported an excellent trade with the influx of fans into the city centre as Rodney Parade enjoyed a record attendance of 9,846 for a football match. Despite being a mere eight minutes away from victory the draw offers the opportunity of a money spinning tie at Wembley Stadium. With attendance at the Stadium likely to be restricted to 50,000, Newport are likely to receive an allocation of 7,500 tickets for the tie expected to take place on February 7. With ticket prices in the region of £15 County could net a dividend in the region of £300,000 from the replay. This will bring their earnings from the competition including television revenue near to £1 million.

A pilot has been detained after a drone was flown over Rodney Parade during Newport County's FA Cup fourth round clash with Tottenham.

Match reports / reaction

Pictures

HOTEL OPERATOR TO BE CONFIRMED IN SIX WEEKS

Jan 27 - The developer behind the Chartist Tower project in Newport states an operator for the site will be confirmed in the next six weeks with a planning application to follow. Garrison Barclay state they are talking to a number of hotel businesses in the 4 star market including the Celtic Manor which see a hotel of up to 160 bedrooms across 11 floors of the Tower.

In addition to the hotel, the plans include

  • retail units on the ground floor including the former BHS store
  • 25,000 square feet of Grade A office space
  • a roof top restaurant with views across Newport and the Bristol Channel providing 150 to 170 covers

The development will include gym, sauna and steam room. Garrison Barclay are also developing the former Royal Mail building in Mill Street, this could also include a 80 bedroom hotel.

NEWPORT HIGH SCHOOL PLACED IN SPECIAL MEASURES

Jan 26 - A school in Newport has been placed in special measures after a report found it needed to be improved in all areas.
An Estyn report recommended Newport High School in Bettws needed "urgent improvement" in standards, as well as leadership and management. It said pupils had a "positive attitude" towards learning and have been making "suitable progress". But it ruled key stage 4 performance as "weak" and below the level of similar schools over the last three years.
Several areas, including wellbeing and attitudes to learning, were described as "adequate", but in need of improvement. The proportion of pupils gaining three A*-A grades at A-Level has been "very poor over the last three years", with boys performing significantly worse than girls.

Students on free school meals were also achieving results "consistently below these groups of pupils in similar schools," the report added.
The standard of teaching was described as adequate, but said teachers expectations of pupils were sometimes too low. The report went on to say that the school does not provide effective enough support to pupils with additional learning needs. Newport High School is now required to develop a plan to address the recommendations and Estyn will monitor the school's progress on a term-by-term basis.

QUINN RADIATORS ON THE REBOUND

Jan 25 - Newport-based Quinn Radiators has said the foundations are in place for a bright future after reporting a loss in the year leading up to a merger and restructure at the £50m-turnover radiator distributor, according to Insider Media Wales. In the year to 31 March 2017, pre-tax losses at the business, which supplies the building industry, widened from £2.7m to £7.2m despite turnover rising by 10 per cent to £51m.
Following the year-end in April 2017, Quinn merged with material supplies group International Industrial Metals.
As part of the merger, the company undertook a major refinance, with its borrowings of £18.9m replaced with a combined debt facility of £55m. The company also sold and leased back its manufacturing facility in Newport, generating £20m of cash.
William Kelly, group commercial director at Quinn Radiators, said: "We've completed our restructuring and taken out £5m of costs and the wider company now is trading ahead of plan.
"Things are continuing to improve and these things do take time, but the foundations are there to see us to a very good place, and we're now part of a very profitable wider company."

MAN CHARGED WITH CAUSING DOCK STREET FIRE

Jan 23 - A 23 year old man has been charged with arson and burglary following a large fire at a three-storey building in Newport city centre. About 35 firefighters spent four hours tackling the blaze at the building, which contained a vape shop and offices on Upper Dock Street on 24 August 2017.
Roads were closed and neighbouring buildings were evacuated as a precaution. The man, 23, is expected to appear at Newport Crown Court on 20 February.

MAN JUMPS TO DEATH FROM KINGSWAY CAR PARK

Jan 22 - Gwent Police have confirmed that a 26-year-old man died at the Kingsway Car Park on Monday. Emergency services were called to the car park after reports a man jumped off the building. The road alongside the car park remained closed for a couple of hours.

A spokeswoman from Gwent Police said: “On Monday, January 22 2018 at 11.10am, emergency services were called to the Kingsway car park in Newport, where a 26-year-old man from the area was sadly pronounced deceased at the scene. The family has been notified. The death is not being treated as suspicious.”

MAN CHARGED WITH MURDER

Jan 20 - A 54-year-old man has been charged with the murder of Anthony Bubbins, who was found dead at a house in Newport. The body of 57-year-old Mr Bubbins was found at a house in Brynderwen Road in the St Julian's area of city on Monday afternoon. The charged man, who is from Newport, was due before the city's magistrates' court on Saturday.

CITY TO BE 'PAINTED BLACK AND AMBER' IN HONOUR OF SPURS TIE

Jan 20 - Football fans are in for a massive treat at the end of the month when Newport County AFC take on Premier League Tottenham Hotspur in their fourth round tie of the FA Cup. Newport City Council, Newport BID (Businesses Improvement District) and the football club are joining forces to help people across the city show their support for manager Michael Flynn and his team ahead of the biggest FA Cup match for decades.
There will be good luck banners and bunting put up at key points around the city centre and local businesses and residents can join in the fun by decorating their windows with anything black and amber
And a special poster highlighting the big match is being prepared by the club for everyone to download so they can put it in their windows.
This will be available on the council website and that of Newport Now BID.
Leader of Newport City Council, Councillor Debbie Wilcox said the council is delighted to join forces with the BID and Newport County AFC to help celebrate the club’s success. “Newport County AFC is our city’s team and we know they have a lot of support among their fans but we hope everyone will get behind the club, the manager and the players by showing support by displaying the poster and dressing premises in the club colours."

MASTERPLAN REVEALED AT CITY SUMMIT

Jan 19 - Newport City Council is inviting views on a vision for the future development of the city centre. A consultation was launched at the fifth Newport City Summit which was held at the Celtic Manor Resort yesterday. The council wants to build on the success already achieved in the city centre following the delivery of Friars Walk and transformational projects carried out under the Vibrant and Viable Places programme. It has set out a strategy and priorities by focussing on three main areas - a northern gateway; the city core and the riverside. The consultation ends on 5 March 2018. Find it here.

Ian Edwards, Celtic Manor Chief Executive, revealed at the Summit that the hotel chain would be interested in the proposed Chartist Tower development in the city centre. The development will involve the reconfiguration of the building into a 120 bed, 4 star hotel with spa facilities and car parking.

MASSIVE SCHOOL BUILDING PLAN RECEIVES WELSH GOVERNMENT SUPPORT

Jan 19 - Newport City Council recently submitted a funding bid to Welsh Government to support £70 million of improvements to schools in the city. The council states it is delighted that in-principle support has been confirmed and that work can now begin on the next steps of the plan. The aim of Welsh Government’s 21st Century School and Education programme is to reduce the number of schools and colleges in poor condition and ensure Wales has the right size schools and colleges in the right locations.
Councillor Gail Giles, cabinet member for education and skills, said: “This is fantastic news for Newport schools. This money will not only enable us to make some much-needed improvements, it will also help us ensure our schools are fit to offer current and future generations the best possible educational experience.”
Councillor Debbie Wilcox, Leader of Newport City Council, said: “We have made a clear commitment to schools and education and have backed it up with additional cash injections in this financial year and proposals to continue such support in the coming year. However, the funds available to us are very limited and the challenge facing us and schools continues to grow. This makes this support and financial injection from Welsh Government all the more welcomed – it will go a long way to help us deliver on our priorities for young people in our city.”
Under the programme, local authorities were invited to bid for funds to carry out such works in their area. Newport put forward a programme of improvements to the value of £70 million in anticipation that Welsh Government would fund 50 per cent.
The schools included in the proposal were selected in line with the council’s strategic aims and the priorities of the programme. Those taking priority have been selected based on condition, the number of school places available in the area and ways in which we can make best use of current assets.
Work on the detailed plans, businesses cases and work programme will now begin and will be further considered by Welsh Government as required by the funding programme.
The outline scheme submitted included the following projects but the exact elements may be subject to change as negotiations with Welsh Government continue:

Secondary schools

It is proposed to carry out improvements to the following schools, such as replacement of demountable buildings and remodelling, to ensure sufficiency of school places:

•Bassaleg School
•Caerleon Comprehensive
•Ysgol Gyfun Gwent Is Coed
Primary schools

It is proposed to carry out on-site improvements, for example to catering and external areas, to improve facilities and create additional places at the following schools:

•Maesglas Primary
•Pillgwenlly Primary
•Maindee Primary
•Rogerstone Primary
•St Woolos Primary
•Malpas Church in Wales
The proposals also include funds which will support new schools in the city which are partly funded by developers:

•Glan Llyn and Llanwern Primaries
•Proposed new school on Whiteheads development

RELIEF ROAD COST NOW £1.4 BILLION

Jan 18 - The M4 Relief Road is expected to cost more than £1.4bn once VAT is taken into account, a senior Welsh Government official has told AMs.
Simon Jones said it was not yet clear what VAT would need to be paid. Welsh Government recently announced it had committed to spending an extra £135m to improve Newport Docks - pushing costs up 10% to £1.3bn. Economy secretary Ken Skates, who was also giving evidence to the Welsh Assembly economy commitee, said she "understood members concern" about £139m being made available for work at Newport docks.
"That investment will ensure that Wales becomes a more attractive place for investors," he said.

SEVERN GROWTH SUMMIT

Jan 17 - Business and political leaders will gather at the Celtic Manor on Monday to consider the impact of the abolition of the Severn Bridge tolls on the local economy. Alan Cairns, Secretary of State for Wales, will be the keynote speaker. Cairns told Insider Media Wales "“The reduction and removal of Severn tolls will create an opportunity to create an economic region on the west of the UK that can compete with the Northern Powerhouse, the Midlands Engine and London and South East England.” Part of the area defined by Cairns was covered by the Great Western Cities partnership between Cardiff, Newport and Bristol, which was launched in 2015. 

COUNTY TO INCREASE SEATING AS CUP FEVER GRIPS CITY

Jan 13 - Newport County are to increase the seating and ground capacity available at Rodney Parade as the city is gripped by FA cup fever following the announcement of their cup draw against Tottenham Hotspur. The match on January 27 will be shown live by BT Sport.

Ground capacity changes are likely to include a new temporary seated area across the North Terrace, South of the ground including changes to allow more seating for Spurs fans. The Spurs allocation has increased to 1640, this indicates the overall ground capacity will be 8200. Tickets will be allocated to on a two per season ticket holder, one per Trust member basis (if both season ticket / Trust member the maximum is two). All those purchasing tickets for Friday's game against Crawley up to yesterday will also be able to obtain a guaranteed ticket. Tickets go on sale on Thursday, any general sale tickets will be available on the following Monday, but the match is likely to sell out. Prices will be announced on Monday but are likely to follow Yeovil (who host Man United) with seats at £35 and standing at £30.  

COUNCIL TO REVIEW CITY CENTRE SAFETY ORDER

Jan 9 - Newport City Council has started a review of the Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) currently covering the city centre.
Members of the overview and scrutiny management committee agreed on January 8 that now is the time to review the PSPO introduced in November 2015 as it expires this November and has to be renewed before then.
As the review includes some changes the committee agreed on a consultation plan to seek the views of the public on these proposals and where there are problems with other kinds of anti-social behaviour that need to be tackled.
The review examines which proposals can be kept or revised and whether we need to introduce new restrictions to tackle other forms of anti-social behaviour in the city centre.
A report to scrutiny highlighted a particular problem is youths gathering near takeaways in the city centre in late afternoon and evenings.
Police say 29 per cent of the calls they receive in the city centre relate to gang/youth antisocial behaviour which is worse at weekends.
High Street remains the highest area for recorded antisocial behaviour in the city centre.
Of the proposals out for consultation, one is to disperse groups that are committing anti-social behaviour and another is to stop people begging near cash machines, following complaints from the public.
The public will now be asked to comment on all proposals to tighten up controls on anti-social behaviour in the city centre.
The consultation will last for two months with the results brought back to the overview and scrutiny management committee at its meeting on 26 April 2018 to review and to make recommendations to the Cabinet Member for Licensing and Regulation and to Council as to what restrictions are to feature in the revised order.

SEVERN BRIDGE TOLLS TO BE CUT BEFORE ABOLITION

Jan 2 - The toll on the two Severn crossings were not be increased on New Year's Day for the first time in many years. The charge is usually increased in line with annual inflation on 1 January but the toll will actually be reduced for the first time since 1966 on 8 January. A car crossing the Severn will incur a cost of £5.60 rather than £6.70. The cut is when the two bridges between south Wales and England will return to public ownership from Severn River Crossing PLC next week. The tolls will be scrapped by the UK government before 31 December.

DISMAY GREETS RAIL FARE INCREASES

Jan 2 - A massive hike in rail fares was greeted with dismay by passengers today on the congested and controversial commuter line between Newport and Bristol. Fares increase today by £91 from  £2,528 to £2,6i9 for an annual season ticket between the two cities. The annual cost of a season ticket between Newport and Cardiff is currently £796, the equivalent bus service including all services in Newport and the express service to Cardiff is £550.

MISSING WOMAN FOUND

Jan 2 - A woman who went missing on Christmas Day, before returning home in different clothes and disappearing again, has been found. Sandorne Kovacs, 63, who is originally from Hungary, was reported missing in Ringland, Newport, on 25 December.
Officers were concerned as she returned home later wearing waterproof trousers and boots, which she had not been wearing previously, then left again. Gwent Police said on 2 January she had been found.
A man has died following a "medical emergency" at a petrol station in Newport. Emergency services were called to the Tesco supermarket on Spytty Road just after 08:45 GMT on Tuesday. The man was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital where he died. Police said the death was not believed to be suspicious. A police cordon has been put in place around the store's car wash.
Police have confirmed that a boy has died at a house in Newport . Gwent Police were called to a house on Claremont in Malpas on Saturday, December 30. His death is not being treated as suspicious. A spokesman for the Welsh Ambulance Service said: “We were called at approximately 3.10pm on Saturday, December 30, to an address on Claremont (Malpas). We sent the Wales Air Ambulance, a crew in an emergency ambulance and a paramedic in a rapid response vehicle to the scene.”

SEVERN SUMMIT TO BUILD CLOSER LINKS WITH SOUTH WEST

Dec 30 - The Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns has called for stronger links between Cardiff, Newport and Bristol. The Severn Growth Summit set for January 22 at Celtic Manor Resort will explore the great potential to build cross-border collaboration. He said "he said: “I am keen to develop an economic hub on the western side of the UK. For example, from Bristol to Newport to Cardiff we have one of the strongest digital clusters in the UK. Another key cluster is financial services. The Treasury recognise Cardiff as a financial services centre of excellence and Bristol has similar expertise too. So developing this region is one of my key priorities. This is why abolishing the Severn tolls is so important. It was my number one aim when I became Secretary of State for Wales – sending a direct message to businesses, commuters and tourists that Wales is open for business. Furthermore, Bristol is the only city in England and Wales, outside London, that adds to UK productivity. That’s why one of my priorities is to improve rail connectivity between Cardiff and Bristol.” The Newport City Summit takes place at the Celtic Manor on January 18.

DRUGS PEDDLERS BEHIND BARS

Dec 28 - Two drugs peddlers have been caught and sentenced following police action. Harry and Nico Cook of Cumberland Road used a lock up garage in Crawford Street to store thousands of pounds of packaged drugs. The haul was estimated in value at £35,000 and included 22 bags of cocaine and 1,103 bags of cannabis. They both have previous convictions relating to drugs. both men must serve terms of three years and four months. Police were alerted after reports of a stolen vehicle in Aberdare led them to Newport.

COMMENT - The peddling of drugs is a daily and visible occurrence on the streets of Newport. Boys on bikes and mopeds acts as intermediaries for the pushers, cars parked in cul de sacs or car parks waiting for a deal. It is welcome that that these two men have been caught and dealt with but there is a positive legion out there supplying public demand, operating illegally. The drug users are often using the drugs for recreational purposes rather than due to an addiction. More visible policing would surely act as a deterrent and prevent this blight on our city.

FOURTEEN REFUGEE FAMILIES SETTLE IN NEWPORT

Dec 26 - A Freedom of Information request has revealed that fourteen families, from Somalia and Syria, have been resettled in Newport in 2017 as a result of the Government's resettlement programme. The highest number was 51 in Carmarthenshire, all from Syria.

LIFEBOAT RESCUES BOAT ADRIFT

Dec 26 - The Severn Area Rescue Lifeboat was launched this morning to rescue a boat adrift on the Usk, it was taken safely back to its mooring in Newport.

POLICE ATTEND ASB ON CHRISTMAS EVE

Dec 26 - Police attended reports of anti-social behaviour in the Ringland area on Christmas Eve, including the lighting of refuse bins. The children involved made off before they arrived. This follows recent reports of attacks on buses and taxis in the area. Police warned parents to ensure they are aware of the whereabouts and safety of their children.

'BRILLIANT NEWS' AS CHARTIST TOWER PURCHASED FOR £6.5 MILLION

Dec 22 - Garrison Barclay, the developer behind the Mill Street Sorting Office scheme, has purchased another landmark building in Newport city centre for £6.5 million. The fifteen storey Chartist Tower building is the highest in Newport spanning Upper Dock Street and Commercial Street, built in 1966 it was the former home of the Passport Service. Ian Carter, development director at Garrison Barclay Estates said: “We are extremely excited by the acquisition of Chartist Tower and the redevelopment opportunities that are now under consideration." The site includes a number of retail premises including the former British Home Stores retail unit. The site enjoys spectacular views across Newport and beyond. Council leader Debbie Wilcox welcomed the announcement, calling it 'brilliant news' and evidence that 'confidence in Newport is growing'. The purchase has followed a series of complex discussions in order to remove long leasehold interests that would have prevented the development of the building.

Newport Council's Cabinet approved the £12 million loan for the Mill Street scheme on Tuesday. The scheme is expected to include office space and a new hotel. A number of other schemes are now under way - 123-129 Commercial Street will see the demolition of a pub and shops to make way for over 55's housing and a revamped Park Square Car Park. Work on Olympia House is set to start soon and will see the redevelopment of the former Court building on Dock Street and Skinner Street into 60 apartments, reconfiguration of ground floor retail units and removal of the fire escape blighting Skinner Street.

The former Westgate Hotel was purchased for approximately £2 million recently although no plans have as yet been announced. The Council has made a significant funding application to the Townscape Heritage Initiative to development Newport Market Arcade. There are also approved proposals for a new office block on Queensway, demolition of the former Sainsbury supermarket at Wyndham Street and a new public square at the rear of the Kingsway Centre.

Councillor Debbie Wilcox, Leader of Newport City Council, said: "Confidence in Newport is growing. We're getting increased interest from companies that can see the city's potential and want to do business here. As a council, we want to do everything we can to see the city thrive and grow as this will bring benefits to those who live here. That means we have to be bold and innovative to ensure those opportunities do not slip through our fingers but become a reality as soon as possible. We have agreed to borrow the necessary finance to make a £12 million phased loan to Garrison Barclay Estates which will be repaid with a market rate of interest. They will use this to regenerate the former sorting office into much needed high quality offices and a hotel. It will also enhance a building which, at the moment, is a blot on the landscape close to the main railway line from London. The news about Chartist Tower, the former BhS and other shops in that block is also brilliant news and I look forward to seeing GBE's proposals to regenerate this landmark property. It is more positive news for the city centre and Newport as a whole - and I'm sure there will be more to come in 2018."

£136 MILLION INVESTMENT IN NEWPORT DOCKS TO SAVE BLACK ROUTE

Dec 21 - The proposed M4 relief road is to cost an extra £135m and the opening will be delayed by two years, it has been revealed. The move means the Welsh Government can carry out improvements at Newport docks. It expects the measures will result in the port's owners, Associated British Ports (ABP) withdrawing its objections to the favoured black route. The 10% rise in costs will take the bill for that option to £1.3bn.
ABP has a special status which means its objection to the proposed motorway stretch around Newport carries extra weight at the ongoing public inquiry. The Welsh Government - which supports the so-called black route - has been in negotiations with ABP and is putting forward a package of measures that it says will mitigate the concerns over the damage to the business.

These include:
-Providing new buildings for firms operating in the port
-Developing the south dock to overcome ABP's concerns that the bridge being built as part of the relief road will cut off access to the north dock for some vessels
-Under the proposal, the height of a new bridge carrying the M4 over the River Usk would be 146m, roughly double the height of the nearby transporter bridge, and marginally higher than the second Severn crossing
If given the go ahead, the relief road would now be fully operational by 2023 rather than 2021.

A public inquiry began in February and is now expected to finish in the spring of next year.

LIFE SENTENCE FOR ROGERSTONE MAN

Dec 21 - A Rogerstone kick boxer who tried to murder his girlfriend at his flat in Newport has been jailed for life. Dennis Ross, 33, beat his partner Sian Davies over three days in July and strangled her, leaving her in a coma. One police officer told Cardiff Crown Court the attack at Ross's flat in Rogerstone was the worst he had seen. Miss Davies' injuries were so severe she had to learn to walk again. Ross was told he must serve a minimum of seven years and 140 days.

BURGLARIES TARGET ASIAN JEWELLERY

Dec 20 - Gwent Police are appealing for information following two burglaries in Newport where quantities of Asian gold jewellery, estimated to be around £60,000 in value, was stolen. The first incident occurred on Thursday, December 14 at around 6.10pm, when officers received a report of a burglary at an address on Eisteddfod Walk. During the burglary the offenders took two identical Asian gold bracelets, worth approximately £2,000.
Two men, described as being in their late teens or early 20s, white and wearing dark hooded clothing and tracksuit tops were seen running from the property towards Chepstow Road. The second incident occurred at a property in Ladyhill Road at around 7.50pm on Tuesday, December 19.
Officers understand the offenders gained access through a downstairs rear window and during the burglary Asian gold jewellery worth between £50,000 and £60,000 was taken. Anyone with information about these burglaries or has been offered high value gold for sale is asked to call Gwent Police on 101 quoting the relevant log number: Eisteddfod Walk – 378 14/12/17; and Ladyhill Road – 447 19/12/17.
Gwent Police has had a number of similar cases in recent months and we believe the offenders are targeting specific homes in a bid to steal valuable Asian gold.

MP RAISES RAIL OVERCROWDING WITH MINISTER

Dec 18 - Newport East MP Jess Morden has raised significant concerns regarding the overcrowding on South Wales - Bristol rail services in a letter to Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling MP. She states on 10 out of 20 commuting days in October there was only standing room for boarding passengers at Severn Tunnel scheduled to catch the 0744 from Newport to Bristol and frequently only three or fewer carriages instead of five. On the returning 1720 service from Bristol there were less than three carriages on 8 out of 20 days. She stated "It is simply unacceptable that people are being left behind.....or being forced to stand in uncomfortable and cramped conditions and this is an accepted norm."

£12 MILLION BUILDING DEVELOPMENT COULD INCLUDE HOTEL

Dec 17 - Newport's poor city centre hotel offering could be boosted by the development for the former IAC/Royal Mail Sorting Office in Mill Street. The building at the rear of Newport station is set to be redeveloped to provide much needed grade A office space but could now also include a new hotel on the site. Newport Council's Cabinet meeting tomorrow is set to approve a £12 million development loan would allow Garrison Barclay to proceed with the project. The report also states the project will improve the accessibility of 'walking route' to the city centre without stating whether the existing disastrous subway linking Devon Place and Mill Street with Queensway will remain or be replaced by a much needed pedestrian footbridge or similar.

PEOPLE SMUGGLER JAILED

Dec 17 - A man from Newport who was involved in two separate attempts to smuggle people into the UK has been jailed for five years, according to ITV news. Adriano Bettoja-Allen, a British national aged 37, was sentenced at Blackfriars Crown Court on Thursday 14 December after pleading guilty to two offences of assisting illegal immigration which happened on 2 October and 9 October 2016 at Calais and Coquelles ports respectively.
Sentenced alongside Bettoja-Allen for one count of the same offence was 50-year-old Wendy Thomas, from Cardiff, who was his co-conspirator in the Coquelles smuggling attempt. She received a jail sentence of two years and nine months having also admitted the offence.

GUPTA HAILS NEW DEAL

Dec 17 - Sanjeev Gupta, the founder and executive chairman of the GFG Alliance group of companies, has hailed its "ground-breaking agreement" with tidal power developer Atlantis Resources that is set to create a new player in the renewable energy market. Atlantis will acquire the 363-megawatt Simec Uskmouth Power Station in Newport and, in return, Simec Energy will own a 49.99 per cent share of Atlantis, which will be renamed Simec Atlantis Energy Ltd and become part of the GFG Alliance. The new entity aims to build a global green power enterprise, driving forward the £200m conversion to renewable energy of the power station as well as the development of the Meygen tidal stream project in Scotland and the Wyre Estuary tidal barrage project in Lancashire. There are also plans to acquire other Simec Energy power generation assets in due course and partner with Simec in developing new power assets.

NO MASTERPLAN AS YET BUT LOOKS OF TALK!

Dec 15 - A much awaited update to Newport's city centre masterplan has yet to materialise. Council leader Debbie Wilcox recently promised to consult residents on the plan. Then bizarrely the Council consulted its members on whether they thought they should consult with residents! But still no sign of the plan!

BODY CONFIRMED AS MISSING WOMAN

Dec 13 - Police have said the body has been discovered in Barrack Hill in the search for an elderly woman with dementia who had been missing since the weekend has been identified as Joan Doherty. She was reported missing in freezing cold temperatures on Sunday. "We can confirm, that the woman has now been formally identified as 72-year-old Joan Doherty, who was reported as missing to Gwent Police on Sunday 10th December 2017."

TINY REBEL CHANGE CAN DESIGN

Dec 13 - Tiny Rebel has been forced to change its can design after it was deemed "too attractive" for children. A complaint was made about the colourful yellow design on one of the Newport-based brewery's cans.
A customer said they bought the can thinking it was a fizzy drink. Alcohol industry standards body, The Portman Group, said the can of beer breached packaging and marketing codes for alcoholic drinks. A ruling by the Portman Group's independent complaints panel agreed the packaging could appeal to under-18s and could encourage "immoderate consumption".

GEMELLI FEED CITY HOMELESS

Dec 13 - Following a recent publicity campaign Gemelli, in Newport Retail Park, served a three course meal to 41 homeless people in the city.
Pasquale Cinotti, who owns the restaurant said: “We have to help one another. Newport has given us so much and we want to give back."

CITY SUMMIT PLAN

Dec 11 - Newport’s next City Summit is being hosted by the Celtic Manor Resort on 18 January 2018. It will focus on the next stage of the city centre’s regeneration as well as other developments that promise to boost the local economy and Newport’s profile.
Newport is continuing to attract significant interest from business and investors that can see the city’s potential.
Since the last summit in 2016, there have been a number of major announcements including the planned IQE semiconductor foundry, which will create up to 2,000 highly-skilled jobs. As well as new and expanding businesses, Newport’s reputation for hosting major events has led to it being chosen for the first ABP Newport Wales Marathon next year and the British Transplant Games in 2019.

POLICE SEEK SHANE DREW

Dec 11 - Police are looking for a convicted burglar who has breached his licence conditions have been released from prison. Shane Drew, aged 19 of Newport, was released on licence while serving a two-year prison sentence for burglary. As he has since breached his licence conditions, he has been recalled to prison and police are appealing for information to locate him. Anyone with information regarding his whereabouts is asked to call 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, quoting: 1700480453

SNOW CLOSES THREE SCHOOLS

Dec 11 - The recent snowy spell did not impact Newport as much as neighbouring areas but still led to the closure of three schools - Glan Usk Primary, Ysgol Bryn Derw and Mount Pleasant Primary.

PUB DEMOLITION SPURS COMMERCIAL STREET DEVELOPMENT

Dec 10 - The initial stage of demolishing a Newport pub as part of plans to build affordable apartments is nearly complete. Work to demolish The Hornblower pub in Commercial Street, Newport, has been ongoing for around six weeks. The demolition of the back part of the pub, the first stage, is now nearly complete. Demolition work is expected to last around 16 weeks in total and is expected to be completed in February, 2018. Plans by Pobl Group, which form part of a regeneration project, include demolishing each of the buildings at 123-129 Commercial Street and building a new retail unit on the ground floor and 38 flats exclusively for over-55s above.

REINDEER EXHIBITION CLOSED DOWN

Dec 9 - A reindeer exhibition at the Celtic Manor has been removed after the Council found the site "not suitable". The reindeer were part of the Resort's Christmas Kingdom. The RSPCA later received phone calls from a person expressing concerns over the animals' welfare. A council officer inspected the site and the hotel closed the exhibition following discussions with the Council.

TINY REBEL EXPECT SALES RISE

Dec 8 - Tiny Rebel, the Newport brewer, expects a 50 per cent rise in sales next year, after more than doubling its beer production in 2017. Co-founder Brad Cummings told Insider Media Wales that Tiny Rebel was likely to make 2.4 million litres of its beers such as Cwtch and Clwb Tropicana in 2018. That’s up from 1.6 million litres in 2017 and 750,000 litres in 2016.
Cummings said: “We can’t keep up with demand. We could be making more. We are going through a growth spurt to fulfil demand.”
The company opened a new brewery and pub on Wern Industrial Estate in Rogerstone in June, and has since acquired a 1.3 acre site across the road to enable it to expand further. Cummings said a more general increase seen in the number of UK breweries in recent years was “not sustainable”. But he said: "We don’t class ourselves as a craft brewery. We are a premium brewery. There is still high demand for premium beer. The trend is going back to drinkability, and flavourful session beers.”

CONSERVATIVE LEADER CALLS FOR URGENCY ON M4 RELIEF ROAD

Dec 4 - Newport Council's former leader Matthew Evans has urged building work on the £1.1bn M4 relief road south of Newport to start as soon as possible. The Welsh Government wants to build a 14-mile (23km) motorway between Magor and Castleton which would open in 2021. A public inquiry at the Lysaght Institute is being held into the plan. Conservative leader will put forward a motion to Newport's full council on Tuesday calling for  "urgency" from the Welsh Government in resolving outstanding concerns.

TOURISM BOOST FOR CITY ECONOMY BUT STILL NOT ENOUGH HOTELS

Dec 4 - Newport's tourism industry provided a boost to the city's economy of almost £375m last year, according to newly released official figures. The latest STEAM survey found that the total economic impact of tourism on the city in 2016 was £373.6m, a rise of 19.4 per cent on the year before.

During the year, 4.78 million people came to the city, an increase of more than 57 per cent compared to the previous year. The number of day visitors rose to more than four million, an increase of 74.8 per cent. However, the number of staying visitors rose to 730,000, a rise of only 0.7 per cent, highlighting the inadequate supply of hotel accommodation in the City. There was also 23.3 per cent increase in the number of jobs supported by tourism with 4,102 people employed in the industry last year.

Jane Mudd, Newport City Council's cabinet member for regeneration and housing, said: "Newport has delivered some key regeneration projects including the opening of Friars Walk and numbers have increased at key locations such as Tredegar House, which is managed by the National Trust. With the International Convention Centre Wales due to open in 2019, we are looking forward to more investment in hotel and guest house accommodation to cope with an increasing demand."

DISPERSAL ORDER FOR ALWAY

Dec 3 - A dispersal order is in place for the Alway area as police respond to anti-social behaviour in the area. It came into force at 7.30pm last night and is in place until 7.30pm on Monday, December 4. The areas included in the order are Aberthaw Rise, Aberthaw Court, Aberthaw Place, Ladyhill Road, Alway Crescent, Ladhill Green, Vaughan Williams Drive, Aberthaw and Balfe Court.

PLANNING GRANTED TO TIM HORTON STORE

Dec 2 - Planning permission has been granted for a Tim Horton Cake and Bake Shop at 40-41 Commercial Street (the former Clarks shoe shop). The shop has been largely vacant since September 2014. City planners felt that the prominent corner unit would be beneficial for footfall on Commercial Street and its links with Friars Walk. A similar store recently opened in Cardiff. Another Canadian coffee house, Second Cup, has submitted plans further along Commercial Street (in the former Monsoon property). KFC has opened in Friars Walk with Smiggle set to follow on December 15. The Pod coffee house and wine bar has opened near to the Town Bridge. The Windsor Castle public house on Upper Dock Street has re-opened following partial damage due to fire on August 24. The neighbouring properties where the fire began are still boarded up.

NEWPORT LEADING THE WAY WITH NEW HOMES

Nov 30 - Newport is leading the way as far as new build accommodation is concerned in Wales and the UK. New homes as a proportion of all house sales was 19.9 per cent putting it only behind London (20 per cent) and Cambridge (21.1 per cent) in the UK. The lowest proportion sold was in Oxford at just 4.3 per cent, followed by Cardiff at 5.9 per cent and Ipswich at 6.6 per cent.

CHURCHES OPEN DOORS TO HOMELESS

Nov 27 - Newport Night Shelter is running again this year to assist rough sleepers on the city's streets. The Night Shelter is a group of 15 churches who welcome in the city's homeless and provide a hot supper, a warm, safe bed for the night, breakfast in the morning, and genuine friendship.

1300 EMPTY PROPERTIES IN NEWPORT

Nov 25 - Despite the homelessness crisis in the City there are 1293 long term empty properties in Newport, according to a BBC survey. 'Long term' means they have been empty for six months or more. Only 50 returned to private rented occupation in 2016. This is a density of 6.77 empty properties per square kilometre, 0.87 homes are empty per 1000 people.

The City Council published an Empty Homes Strategy in 2010 this identified three areas with significant numbers of empty homes - Pill, Stow Hill and Lliswerry. In his Budget this week the Chancellor announced that local authorities will be able to charge a 100 per cent premium on council tax on empty properties. The power to vary the charge already exists in Wales, Newport consulted residents on a proposal to impose a 100 per cent premium in December 2016 but as yet has not changed its policy.

Newport had the second highest number of households in temporary accommodation in 2016-17 (189 households) and the second highest rate at 30.4 per 10,000 households, compared with a Wales average of 15.1 per 10,000 households. According to figures produced in October 2017 by the Wallich charity 27 people per night are rough sleeping in the centre of Newport. The Council has spent nearly part of a £15 million Welsh Government grant converting accommodation over shops and commercial premises into residential premises throughout the city centre.

COMMERCIAL STREET DEVELOPMENT MOVES AHEAD

Nov 25 - A project to revamp the area around Park Square car park, which includes the demolition of some buildings and creating new homes, is now well underway. Earlier this year Newport City Council made a Compulsory Purchase Order application in respect of the Hornblower Public House at 126 Commercial Street. This property forms part of a significant VVP (Viable and Vibrant Places) project which will deliver a new entrance to the Park Square car park and up to 30 affordable apartments plus improved retail space.
However in order for the work to progress the car park entrance off Commercial Street will be closed as from 27 November 2017 until the summer of 2019 during the re-development of 123 – 129 Commercial Street. In the meantime all users should use the main entrance on Park Square where the manned kiosk is located. The developers and Newport City Council apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause.

CRAFTED SET FOR KINGSWAY RETURN

Nov 25 - Popular store Crafted specialising in crafts and artwork from local businesses is set to pop up again at the store it previously occupied in Newport's Kingsway Centre.

BOXING DAY BUS SERVICE FOR BIG MATCH

Nov 25 - Newport Bus will be running a special Boxing Day bus service aagain this year for customers to attend sales and the match at Rodney Parade between the Dragons and Cardiff.  Hourly services will operate to Ringland, Malpas, Bettws, Alway, Caerleon, Duffryn, Moorland Park and Cardiff with two hourly services to the Gaer and St Julians. As Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve fall on a Sunday normal Sunday services will apply with an earlier finish, most services ending between 1830 and 1900. Details here.

AM TAKES UP TRAFFIC ISSUE WITH WELSH GOVERNMENT

Nov 24 - Newport West AM Jane Bryant has taken up the cause of motorists who have experienced extensive delays due to traffic works on the way to Junction 28 of the M4. Residents and people who use the Bassaleg, Tredegar Park and Pont Ebbw roundabouts on a regular basis have complained of long delays since the work began in March.
And speaking in the Senedd this week, Newport West AM Jayne Bryant said: "The work around junction 28 and Forge Lane roundabouts in my constituency has seen residents from Rogerstone, Bassaleg and Rhiwderin face a huge amount of disruption to their daily commute for many months. A new traffic lights system has recently been installed that has caused even further disruption and longer tailbacks during peak times...... know the Welsh Government have been urgently reviewing the situation, but can the cabinet secretary set out how traffic flow is being managed and provide myself, constituents and commuters reassurance that it will improve as a result?" Ken Skates Cabinet Secretary said he was reviewing the issue and would report back urgently to Ms. Bryant.

NEW CREMATORIUM OPENS IN LANGSTONE

Nov 23 - A new crematorium to serve Newport and Monmouthshire has opened. Langstone Vale Crematorium, in Magor Road, will aim to relieve congestion on the Greater Gwent crematorium, managed by Newport City Council, in Croesyceliog. A spokeswoman for the crematorium told the Argus: "Sitting against a background of established woodland, the new crematorium has been designed in local stone and natural finishes, in keeping with the character of the rural area, blending into its surroundings. The quiet location offers the privacy that families appreciate at a funeral."

HMRC PROVIDE LESSONS IN TAX FOR WELSH SCHOOLS

Nov 22 - Children will be taught about tax in schools in Wales from Spring 2018. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has joined with a university to enable trainee teachers to deliver a programme on the facts of tax to school children.
More than 200 trainee teachers, studying at the University of South Wales (USW), will be trained to teach ‘Junior Tax Facts’ to primary school children in English and Welsh-medium schools. The education programme for young people was developed by HMRC and is available for schools to use, free of charge. HMRC will deliver the awareness sessions to the trainee teachers based at USW’s Newport Campus, over the next academic year.
‘Junior Tax Facts’ offers an introduction to tax for 8 to 11 year-olds. The programme aims to help young children understand where the money comes from that pays for all the things that are essential to them, their families and communities – like local transport, the police, doctors and their school.

TRAIN WOES CONTINUE ON COMMUTER LINE

Nov 17 - Passengers are continuing to report their experiences of overcrowding on the Bristol - South Wales commuter service. Rachel Garrick, a regular commuter, told the Bristol Post "On board the journey conditions are terrible. People are overheated, they can't move because there is no space. Travellers are understandably grumpy. I've seen incidents where someone has started to feel faint due to the crowding. I've seen another person get their head shut in a door due to crowding. I've witnessed yet another person have their head cut open from an object falling from an overhead luggage rack." Great Western Railway claims it has had train maintenance issues with the rolling stock utilised for the service.

This weekend (November 18 and 19) Network Rail is carrying out engineering work between Patchway and Filton Abbey Wood closing the line. Buses replace trains between Newport and Bristol Temple Meads.

UNIVERSAL CREDIT GETS UNDER WAY IN NEWPORT

Nov 17 - The controversial new benefit, Universal Credit, has now come to Newport (as of November 15) as part of its national roll out. The new benefit replaces six legacy benefits for working age people. If you are making a new claim or have a significant change in your circumstances you will be required to claim Universal Credit. The benefit is digital by default requiring claims to be made online with following up interviews with a work coach at Newport Job Centre. Newport Council will no longer administer housing benefits for claimants requiring help with their rent for those going through Universal credit. It will still administer help with their Council Tax.

 Universal Credit replaces these benefits for new claimants in Newport:
• Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) – if you lose your job
• Housing Benefit – if you need help with your rent
• Working and Child Tax Credits – to top up your income
• Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) – if you’re off work because you are unwell
• Income Support – if you have young children

TWO SITES IDENTIFIED FOR HEATHROW HUB PLAN

Nov 17 - Two sites in Newport have been identified by Welsh Government as potential hubs for Heathrow airport if a third runway is built there. Sites at Newport Docks and at Llanwern have been included on a list to host logistics 'hubs' - locations for the offsite construction of the infrastructure for the runway. If the controversial runway is ever built the logistics hub could deliver significant local economic benefits.

FINAL GREEN WASTE COLLECTIONS ON DECEMBER 1

Nov 16 - For people who want to make sure their gardens are ready for winter the last garden waste collections by Newport City Council will be on Friday 1 December. However, they will be returning a bit earlier next year when the collections of the orange lidded bins start up again week beginning Monday 26 February 2018. You can also take garden waste to our Household Waste Recycling Centre on Docks Way which is open 7.30am-4pm Monday to Friday and 9am-4.30pm on Saturday and Sunday. The last access to the site is 15 minutes before closing time. The site is closed on Bank Holidays (except for Good Friday). Plastic sacks and bags should not be put in the recycling or composting containers.

INDOOR FOOTBALL CENTRE PLAN

Nov 16 - Planners are being asked to consider a change of use for an industrial unit on Usk Way Industrial Estate. Scenic and Property Hire are seeking to change the unit from storage to create two all purpose football pitches with associated facilities.

NEW RESTAURANT OPENS

Nov 16 - A new steak and chicken restaurant Sixteen has opened on High Street in Newport, a new venture from Niche Hospitality - the team behind Mojo the Foodbar and the Riverside Bar and Kitchen, both in Clarence Place. “All the food is fresh and prepared in house for convivial sharing," said owner Lewis Lewis, who runs Niche Hospitality with Seng Koh. "Paired with seasonal starters and gorgeous puddings, Sixteen is ready to give a real boost to the independent restaurant scene in the city.”
Work is also underway at the new bar, the Pod, set to open opposite Mojo. Elsewhere, B&M bargains has opened a new store on the East Retail Park on Docks Way.
 

NEWPORT CITY HOMES IN MAJOR LAND PURCHASE

Nov 15 - Newport City Homes has bought 10 acres of land in Old Town Dock, as part of its ambitious regeneration plans for the city. The site, which is between Usk Way and East Docks Road, forms part of the Old Town Dock development scheme. It already has planning permission for housing, retail, leisure and office space. The association’s board gave approval for the purchase last month, following robust due diligence and cost scrutiny processes. The executive director of operations at Newport City Homes, Robert Lynbeck, said: “These are exciting times for us and the city we serve. This is our first major land purchase and signals our intention to become the social and physical regeneration vehicle for Newport and south east Wales. “The Old Town Dock site is prime land within the heart of the city. It is surrounded by opportunity and has huge potential. “While we are a few years away from starting work on site, this area of land could easily see us build at least 150 homes, which will help us tackle to housing needs of the city.” “However, before we decide exactly how we will use this land, we will consult extensive with all our stakeholders to ensure we deliver the development that this city needs.” Old Town Dock is the latest in a line of ambitious regeneration plans by Newport City Homes. It is currently delivering a £10million scheme in Pillgwenlly and a £1.9million scheme in Bettws. It has also recently submitted a planning application for the start of its ambitious multi-million pound regeneration plans for Ringland. Board chair Nicola Somerville said: “Our core purpose at Newport City Homes is to create homes in communities in which people want to live. It’s the corner stone for all our work. “We work to ensure the resident is at the heart of everything we do and that we make a difference in our communities. The Old Town Dock has massive potential. We are confident that this project will completely revitalise the area. Our substantial financial commitment is testament to this and gives you just a sense of our future ambitions.” During 2018 we will be working on the master planning exercise with stakeholders and the local community to determine the appropriate design and layout for the development prior to submitting a planning application in 2019.

AUCTION HOUSE CHANGES HANDS

Nov 14 - A Newport-based auction business has been acquired by UK Wilsons Auctions to strengthen its presence in South Wales and the South West of England. The purchase of Newport Auctions, following the retirement of its former owner, brings the total number of sites for Wilsons Auctions to 17, including nine branches and logistic and storage locations across the UK and Ireland.
The Newport site has been in business for 35 years and has grown to become one of the largest independent auction houses in Wales, selling about 20,000 used vehicles annually.
Following the acquisition, the 30-strong workforce will transition to Wilsons Auctions along with its weekly car and general goods auctions.

SEVERE OVERCROWDING REPORTED ON NEWPORT-BRISTOL TRAINS

Nov 12 - Customers on morning commuter trains are reporting severe delays, overcrowding and passengers being left on the platform. The popular commute between Newport and Bristol has been badly affected by shortened trains and delays particularly affecting its 0714 and 0744 Cardiff - Portsmouth service. The situation has lasted a number of weeks but operator Great Western Railway states it is a short term issue due to the maintenance of its existing rolling stock and plans to replace some of the stock in January.

Some of the comments on Twitter are listed below -

@GWRHelp your service from #Bristol #TempleMeads to Newport is a JOKE! Several delays! A train manager having a 'tantrum'. Customers don't pay to sit on a stationary train for several hours! Same situation for several months! Sort it out!
@GWRHelp who Do I contact for a refund on my over 2 hour delay? I pay your outrageous prices and yet accept that I will have to stand from Bristol to Newport. #customerscomesecond
@GWRHelp thank you again for ruining another week of commuting. Every morning and evening my train has been delayed or cancelled.
Astonishing incompetence. Bristol to Newport train travel is an ordeal!!
@GWRHelp 2 carriages instead of 5 on the 7.44 Newport to Bristol - interesting choice..

COUNCIL PROPOSES HERITAGE DISCOVERY CENTRE

Nov 12 - Newport City Council's Corporate Plan includes a new proposal to develop a Heritage Discovery Centre building on the City's pivotal role in Chartism and the battle to widen the voting franchise. In addition, the plan notes major city centre regeneration projects in the Chartist Tower and the Westgate Hotel. Possibly the latter could be the location for the Heritage Discovery Centre. The Plan also notes that Newport's tertiary education (16 plus) will be reconfigured for 2022 and link with the new Knowledge Quarter site near to the University campus building.

DISPERSAL ORDER FOR CITY CENTRE

Nov 11 - A Dispersal Order has been issued in Newport City Centre to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour. The Order started at 5pm today, Friday 10th November 2017 and will be in place for 48 hours. The order comes after concerns from the public in relation to being harassed, alarmed or distressed following reports of anti-social behaviour including abusive language and groups congregating. The order provides Police Officers and Community Support Officers with the powers to direct anyone to leave this specified area if they are involved in anti-social behaviour or if officers think their behaviour may lead to anti-social behaviour. If they return to that area after being moved on, they face being arrested.

TRANSPORTER BRIDGE FUNDING BID

Nov 11 - Newport City Council is to submit a bid for £10 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund to carry out work on the iconic Transporter Bridge.
The Bridge, which can be seen from many points across the city with its huge metal structure and gondola used to carry vehicles across the River Usk, is now closed for the winter season. The Heritage Lottery Bid will be used by the council to carry out repairs, restoration of the gondola, improvements to the site and building a new visitor centre. Newport Transporter Bridge is one of five remaining operational transporter bridges worldwide and is the most complete original structure of all the remaining Transporter Bridges.
The council bid for funding would be up against projects from across the UK and there is no guarantee a bid will be successful. The proposed application has to go through two stages, this initial bid is the first phase and the council has to identify a potential £1.25 million in the council’s capital programme for the matched funding requirement should the bid be successful and reach stage two. A report on the proposed bid will be discussed at the next Council cabinet meeting on Wednesday, 15 November.

COUNCIL TO CONSULT ON CITY CENTRE DEVELOPMENT

Nov 11 - Debbie Wilcox leader of Newport Council has confirmed in a South Wales Argus that the public will be consulted on new developments proposed for the city centre very soon.

TWITTER ACCOUNT HIGHLIGHTS SUBWAY ISSUE

Nov 11 - The Crap Subway Twitter account is now highlighting the issue of the dangerous and poorly lit access way under Newport railway station. This is part of the ongoing campaign to get the subway replaced with a public footbridge. The site has picked up 106 followers to date.

ARRESTS AT THE COLDRA ROUNDABOUT

Nov 10 - Three men were arrested on the M4 in Newport after police found stolen number plates and tools in the “suspicious vehicle” they were travelling in. Police said the men were arrested on the motorway near the Coldra roundabout at around 7pm on Thursday, November 9.
The vehicle was stopped by police after acting suspiciously. The men attempted to take off from the scene before being detained and arrested on suspicion of theft from unattended motor vehicles and going equipped for theft. The three men remain in police custody.

MORDEN SUPPORTS CHARTIST COMMEMORATION

Nov 9 - Jessica Morden MP provided the reading in support of the Chartist anniversary recently. She said "It was an honour to give a reading at the annual Chartist Commemoration evening at St Woolos Cathedral churchyard on Saturday. Thanks to all who organised the event. These men should not be forgotten, and future historical research will surely reveal more both of their lives, and their faith in the Chartist cause. The thoughts of George Shell, sent to his parents on the eve of the Rising, should stand forever as their epitaph, ‘I shall this night be engaged in a struggle for freedom and, should it please God to spare my life, I shall see you soon; but if not, grieve not for me, I shall fall in a noble cause’."

MAN APPEARS IN COURT ON ATTEMPTED MURDER CHARGE

Nov 8 - A man has appeared at Newport Crown Court charged with the attempted murder of a police officer. Tony Buttigieg, 36, of Flavius Close in Caerleon , Newport, was arrested following reports of disorder at an address in Caerleon on October 2.

MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR MARKET ARCADE

Nov 8 - A conservation management plan for High Street has been prepared as part of a project aiming to restore Market Arcade. Earlier this year, Newport City Council secured first stage funding to develop a scheme to for the link between High Street and Market Street.
The project has been promoting and celebrating the awareness of Newport's rich heritage and aims to establish Market Arcade as an attractive commercial proposition within the city centre.
Later this year, it will submit a bid for the second phase which will enable architectural details of the Victorian Grade ll listed arcade.
The High Street Conservation Area Management Plan continues the work undertaken by a characterisation study which was published in the autumn.
Its principle points include:
• Recognising the heritage assets in the area
• To identify risks which threaten the significance and special interests of the area
• An action plan to ensure the management, preservation and enhancement of the area
Comments have to be made by 8 December. To read the full report, find out how to submit comments and for more information about the Market Arcade project can be found at http://www.newport.gov.uk/en/About-Newport/CityontheRise/Market-Arcade.aspx

NEWPORT TEENAGER DIES IN BRISTOL CLUB

Nov 8 - A teenager has died after taking ecstasy at a nightclub. The 19 year old from Newport died in the early hours of Sunday after taking "Tesla" MDMA tablets at the Motion nightclub in Bristol city centre.
The man's family are being supported by police officers. "We're urging people to avoid taking any tablets marked with the word Tesla due to the associated health risks. Anyone who has information about this incident should call Investigations on 101 and please give the call handler the reference number 5217252944." - – Avon and Somerset Police spokesman

ARREST MADE AFTER LASER SHONE AT HELICOPTER

Nov 5 - The Welsh Air Ambulance Service is reporting that a person has been arrested after shining a laser pen in the face of a helicopter searching for a suicidal person in the Newport area.

In March a Merseyside man who shone a laser pen in the direction of two planes and a police helicopter was jailed. Steven Baxter was locked up for eight months after pleading guilty to three counts of endangering the safety of an aircraft.

A Leicester man who shone a laser pointer recently into the eyes of the pilot of the police helicopter has been warned he faces jail. On October 10 , Neil Wright was “larking around” at his home in Croyland Green, Thurnby Lodge, Leicester, with his uncle when the police helicopter passed overhead.
Wright pointed the laser at the cockpit of the helicopter, blinding pilot Captain Andrew Gill. He was so disorientated ed by the light in his eyes he had to turn the helicopter. Officers on the ground were immediately sent to Wright’s address where he was quick to admit his “stupid” action
.

UK LEADER HEADING TO NEWPORT

Nov 4 - UKIP's new leader Henry Bolton is heading to Newport Neon to meet and greet local party members on November 13.

FREE CITY PARK AND RIDE IS BACK

Nov 4 - Newport's fee Christmas Park & Ride is back for 2017. Provided by Newport Bus on behalf of Newport City Council, every Saturday between from 11th November - 23rd December there is a free 10 minute Bus Service between the Civic Centre Car Parks into the City Centre.

Whether you are shopping at Friars Walk , Kingsway Centre , Newport Market or on Commercial Street this service is FREE for you to use. Please see timetable on right

CITY CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN STARTS ON NOV 18

Nov 4 - Newport is starting its countdown to Christmas on Saturday, November 18 , with live music from Into the Ark and the annual festive lights switch on. It will also see the return of the Tree of Light, which allows people to honour their loved ones. This year, the event is running from 12pm until 5pm, and will feature music, fairground rides, celebrity guests and cartoon characters, along with the official switching on of Newport’s extended city centre Christmas lights and a fireworks display.

TRAVELODGE EXPRESS CITY REGEN INTEREST

Nov 4 - Budget hotel chain Travelodge has written to 12 local authorities across Wales as it searches for new partners for its regeneration scheme. The company, which currently operates 14 hotels in Wales, has written to Newport confirming interest in working as a partner in the development of a local site. Travelodge has previously completed seven local authority development partnership deals, including new hotels in Aylesbury, Bicester, Dudley, Eastleigh, Redhill (scheduled to open end of 2017), Telford (opening 2018) and Thetford.

CITY REMEMBRANCE SERVICE ANNOUNCED

Nov 3 - Newport's annual Remembrance Sunday service will be held at the Cenotaph in Clarence Place on Sunday 12 November. A parade, led by Newport Pipe and Drums Band and the Boys Brigade, will start in High Street at about 10.30am.
Newport's Mayor Councillor David Fouweather and Mayoress Paula Fouweather, accompanied by two mace bearers from Newport Sea Cadets, and Councillor Debbie Wilcox, Leader of Newport City Council, will walk to the Cenotaph.
Representatives from service organisations and other city groups will also be taking part in the parade. Led by the Bishop of Monmouth, the Right Reverend Richard Pain, the service will take place just before 11am and guns will be sounded to mark the start of the two minute silence before wreaths are laid. Afterwards, the Mayor, Lord Lieutenant of Gwent, the Commanding Officer of 104th Regiment, the High Sheriff and other dignitaries will take the salute from the parade as participants walk back to High Street. At 10.45am on Monday 6 November, the Mayor and Mayoress will attend the opening of the Garden of Remembrance next to the Cenotaph.

FOOTBALL CENTRE PLAN LODGED

Nov 3 - Plans have been lodged to develop a new indoor five-a-side football centre by converting an industrial unit on an estate to the south of Newport city centre. The application, submitted to Newport City Council, covers the change of use of a unit at the Usk Way Industrial Estate to class DD, allowing assembly and leisure activities.
According to Insider Media Wales the property comprises two steel framed units that are currently occupied by a road marking company and a traffic management business. It would be converted to provide two pitches together with a café, office and bathroom, together with 22 parking spaces in the adjacent yard. It is expected to be the first indoor football centre in Newport.
According to the design and access statement submitted with the plans, the applicant and his business partner have previously been involved in football to international level and are now aiming to provide new facilities for young players.

COUNCIL SAYS IT IS SERIOUS ABOUT TACKLING CITY HOMELESSNESS CRISIS

Nov 2 - Newport City Council claims it is tackling homelessness and rough sleeping despite official statistics suggesting nu,bers are on the increase. It claims "homelessness is an issue which is taken very seriously by organisations across the city that want to ensure everyone has a safe place to sleep every night. But, as the numbers of people who are homeless continues to rise across the country - not just in Wales and Newport - it is a complex and sensitive issue. It should be said that not everyone who is classed as homeless is a rough sleeper and not everyone who is a rough sleeper is unable to find accommodation."
In the same way, not all those who are begging are homeless or rough sleepers but may be asking for money for a variety of reasons including to fund addictions or for financial gain.
Newport has many services aimed at helping those who are homeless and sleeping rough which are offered by organisations in the city.
Newport City Council, Gwent Police and specialist charities such as The Wallich and Eden Gate work closely together as they recognise that there are some very vulnerable people in our society who need support.
They also acknowledge that there are a small number of individuals whose anti-social behaviour can impact disproportionately on others.
Councillor Jane Mudd, the council's cabinet member for regeneration and housing, said: "Homelessness is often seen only in relation to people sleeping rough. While this is the most acute form of homelessness, it is worth noting that the number of people living on the streets represents a small number compared to those who approach us and other organisations for assistance with homelessness.
"The council has a number of effective procedures aimed at tackling and alleviating homelessness and we work with a number of partners to make sure there is a joined-up approach to accessing accommodation and support. Above all, we aim to intervene at the earliest possible opportunity to assist those who are at risk of becoming homeless."
 

COUNCIL PUSHES SCHOOL ATTENDANCE MESSAGE

Oct 29 - Newport City Council has launched a powerful school attendance message to cut down on non-attendance due to holidays and unauthorised absences.

Schools are open to pupils 190 days of the year which allows 175 days for holidays, rest and non-urgent appointments.

Good attendance means that pupils have the best chance to:

•keep up with school work
•meet their expected progress
•meet friends to learn and play with
•learn good habits for adult life like regular attendance and arriving on time

In September 2014 Wales introduced a fixed penalty notice and fines for parents whose children have more than five days of unauthorised absence. The notice can be issued for any absences not authorised by the school, including holidays. Newport City Council will issue these notices when concerns are raised by school or the police. The fine is £120 unless paid within 28 days when it is £60.

ANOTHER CANADIAN COFFEE HOUSE SET TO BATTLE IT OUT ON COMMERCIAL STREET

Oct 27 - Second Cup, Canadian rivals to Tim Horton's are set to open a shop in the former Monsoon retail unit at 37 Commercial Street. The two storey coffee house will be three doors away from Tim Horton's set to open in the former Clarks shoe shop at 41 Commercial Street. Elsewhere, on Commercial Street, the former Dorothy Perkins property at number 6 is under offer opposite the recently purchased Westgate Hotel.

PROPOSAL FOR SECOND CELTIC MANOR ROAD BRIDGE

Oct 27 - The Celtic Manor is proposing a new link bridge to the hotel from Chepstow Road as it moves through the development of the Convention Centre. The new bridge will cater for those leaving the hotel area and the current two way bridge would be solely for those entering the premises.

QUEEN'S HOTEL UNDER OFFER

Oct 26 - The Queen's Hotel is under offer. The 29 bedroom hotel with substantial bar and dance floor facilities is currently part of the JD Wetherspoon chain but was put up for sale in February (whilst continuing to trade). It was being marketed as part of a portfolio of 14 Wetherspoon properties by Savills. It is described as follows "A substantial corner property which is of brick construction with painted and rendered elevations under a pitched roof. Ground Floor - Trading accommodation with central bar servery and seating. Hotel reception desk with large function suite which has its own bar servery, cloakroom and disabled WC. Basement - Additional trading area with dancefloor and seating, customer WC's, beer cellar, spirit store and a variety of store rooms. Upper Floors - At first floor there is a catering kitchen, customer WC's, meeting rooms and two staff flats. At second floor there are 29 en-suite hotel bedrooms (8x single, 17x double and 4x family rooms)."

THE QUEEN'S HOTEL IN FOCUS

This building dates from the mid-19th century and was named after Queen Victoria. It was built on a corner plot in the Italian stucco style, which was fashionable in Britain at the time. The builder was Henry Pearce Bolt, who served as Newport’s mayor in the 1870s. Two streets in the city are named after him.
The open area outside the hotel became known as Queen’s Square. One evening in June 1908, a large crowd gathered in the square to listen to speeches by two suffragettes (campaigners for women to be allowed to vote in elections). One was Nellie Crocker, who had been secretary of a Liberal Association in Somerset until 1907, when she went “on strike” in protest at the party’s lack of support for women’s votes. She then joined the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). She told the crowd at Queen's Square that the women of Newport were preparing a banner for a major suffragette demonstration in London’s Hyde Park.
As stated the Queen's Hotel was the work of Henry Pearce Bolt. Originally a stonemason from Devon, Bolt lived in Newport for several years, where his work made him a builder of some renown. Bolt built his own home in the nearby hamlet of Christchurch and named it Hatherleigh House, after the village of his birth. He later served as Mayor of Newport (1875-76) and gave his name to Bolt Street, Pillgwenlly, as well as Bolt's Row, Chepstow Road. JD Wetherspoon invested £882,500 in bringing the building back to life.

COPPER THIEVES ARE SENT DOWN

Oct 26 - Two men used high platforms and zip wires to steal copper wire worth £45,000 from Llanwern Steelworks. Lee and Wayne Hennessy were caught after leaving a mask and drinks can at the scene of the incident, which were seized by police and found to contain their DNA.
Sentencing at Cardiff Crown Court , Judge Eleri Rees said: “This was a sophisticated burglary with a significant amount of copper cabling taken.” The court heard the incident occurred at Llanwern steelworks between January and March last year.They were each handed 18-month jail terms, suspended for two years, and ordered to comply with a 16-week curfew. Both must pay £10,000 towards compensation, plus £1,400 in costs and a £100 victim surcharge.

ALBANY CHAMBERS CONVERSION SET TO GO AHEAD

Oct 26 - Plans are in to upgrade a substantial property on the corner of one of Newport's main shopping streets. Albany Chambers, a late Victorian building sits on the corner of Commercial Street and Skinner Street on one of the major junctions within Newport City Centre. The front part of the building is made up of 1-2 Commercial Street with the remainder being 29-31 Skinner Street. The upper parts of the building will make way for nine affordable homes.

POPPY APPEAL LAUNCHED IN CITY CENTRE

Oct 26 - This year’s official launch of the Royal British Legion 2017 Poppy Appeal took place today. The Mayor of Newport, Councillor David Fouweather, together with local war veteran and Poppy Appeal stalwart Ron Jones, BEM, who is 100-years-old, attended along with the Lord Lieutenant of Gwent, Brigadier Robert Aitken, CBE. Newport RBL organised the event in the open area of John Frost Square. The band of the Prince of Wales Division were in attendance.

TROLLEYWISE TO WORK WITH COUNCIL

Oct 26 - A plan to work more closely with a national firm who retrieve abandoned shopping trolleys has been agreed by Newport City Council. The council’s Cabinet Member for Streetscene, Councillor Roger Jeavons, has met with Trolleywise who work with local authorities across the country to tackle the problem.
Trolleywise provide a range of services to return abandoned trolleys to local supermarkets and patrol trolley hotspots in local communities. Trolleys are often abandoned in roads, on walkways and in parks, where they have the potential to cause accidents and are an eye sore within the community. Many are also dumped in local waterways, rivers and canals where they can cause harm to wildlife and the general environment. Since 2006, Trolleywise has collected and returned more than 5 million abandoned shopping trolleys from local streets and rivers in the UK, working closely with a number of supermarkets, local authorities, police and Streetscene teams around the UK.

TWO CONTROVERSIAL BEECHWOOD DEVELOPMENTS GO BEFORE PLANNERS

Oct 25 - City planners will consider two controversial development at their meeting next week. One application seeks planning permission for the change of use from a Tai Chi Centre to a place of worship at 348 Chepstow Road,. The proposed place of worship would be operated by the Universal Pentecostal Church, a worldwide organisation, having seven branches within the UK. The property is a detached building (originally a telephone exchange) located on a corner plot between Chepstow Road and Windsor Road. Additionally, Newport City Council's Planning Committee will discuss an application nearby, which would see a large unit (formerly HSS Tool Hire) in Chepstow Road converted into a gym to be run by Snap Fitness. Both applications have resulted in residents concerns regarding parking and congestion.

CONCERNS EXPRESSED AT UNIVERSAL CREDIT CHRISTMAS IMPACT

Oct 21 - People to the full Universal Credit system once it is introduced in Newport next month could face waiting until after Christmas for their first payment, Jessica Morden MP has said. The new system, which has recently caused controversy, with widespread reports of delays in making payments including in neighbouring Torfaen is due to be introduced in the city on Wednesday, November 15.
The system affects all  new claims for Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance and Working Tax Credit. Benefit must be made online and is paid with a single monthly payment, claimants are required to wait six weeks before their first payment. In most cases they are waiting longer.
Jessica Morden stated "The Government may decide to stick their head in the sand and ignore these valid criticisms, but let me explain what that might mean in my constituency. As I said earlier, the roll-out in Newport is due to start on 15 November. Given the six-week waiting period, my constituents will be lucky to receive their payment on the day after Boxing Day if it is on time, and not until the new year if it is not. No payments before Christmas will mean real hardship, and any payment received will be used to survive and to pay for food and heating, which by then—after six weeks with no income—will be a greater priority than paying rent. In neighbouring Torfaen, with the full service roll-out, 27% of Bron Afon tenants who moved on to universal credit in July had to wait an average of nine and half weeks for payment, which led to debt and borrowing from high-interest lenders."

MISSION BURRITO CLOSES / SMIGGLE SET TO OPEN IN FRIAR'S WALK

Oct 21 - A second restaurant in Newport's Friars Walk has bitten the dust. Fast food Mexican outlet Mission Burrito has closed in the past week. Frankie and Benny's has also closed  and has still not been re-let. Kentucky Fried Chicken has a planning application in to convert the empty unit adjacent to Cineworld. Elsewhere in Friars Walk Smiggle is set open in the former Occasions store next to Debenhams. They are hiring staff now. In John Frost Square the Principality Building Society will be relocating from its current High Street. There is no news as yet on the much rumoured TK Maxx signing in the main mall. In Kingsway a new finance loan company Moneyline has opened in the main centre but two stores at the front of the mall remain empty and there is a change in ownership at hair salon Ashley Daniels. The arrival of Canadian coffee store Tim Horton will provide a huge boost to Commercial Street but it has attracted opposition from some local coffee shops. The St David's Hospice shop on Commercial Street has closely, there is speculation that HMV are looking for premises in the area. Newspaper reports are now confirming what we reported recently namely that the Westgate Hotel has now been purchased. The Escape Rooms are expanding their premises in Newport Market with a new Griffin Street entrance planned.

TORY FOI REVEALS POOR RECORD ON MISSED BIN COLLECTIONS

Oct 19 - A recent Freedom of Information Request (FOI) has revealed there have been 3269 missed bin collections in Newport over a 1 year period from 14th September 2016 to the same date in 2017. The FOI was conducted by the opposition Conservative Group who say "Given there are an estimated 65,000 households in the City this would equate to 1 in every 20 over a one year period." Newport has a population of approximately 145,000. Alternatively, a separate FOI to Gloucester City Council which has a population of around 128,000, revealed only 1399 missed collections were reported there. The Conservatives say "Gloucester was selected as a comparison because it's not far off the same size as Newport as a City". Newport Conservative Group Leader Cllr Matthew Evans said "The data and comparison is concerning. We've recently revealed there have been 39,000 abandoned phone calls to the council due to lengthy wait-times. Newport's tip has one of the earliest closing times Wales. There are currently rumours of 5% tax hike in Newport - so taxpayers really are paying more for less."

SUPPORTERS AND RESIDENTS COMPLAIN ABOUT POOR ROADS NEAR RODNEY PARADE

Oct 19 - The poor state of roads, pavements and inferior lighting in the Rodney Parade could lead to injuries and accidents residents and rugby and football supporters. The area is heavily congested on match days and the roads are in an appalling state. Many of the roads in the area are un-adopted and the Council states it expects the developer Taylor Wimpey to fulfil its obligations once work is completed.

NEW CALL CENTRE HOPES TO CREATE 300 JOBS

Oct 19 - A new call centre run by funeral planning company set to employ 300 people has been opened in Cleppa Park by the Welsh Government's economy secretary Ken Skates. Caepeo Estates Planning moved into a site in Cleppa Park for its new contact centre following financial support from the Welsh Government in July.

SCHOOL COUNSELLING SERVICE LAUNCHED

Oct 18 - A counselling support project that is the first of its kind in Wales has been agreed between the University of South Wales (USW) and Newport City Council. The renewed partnership will see USW specialists providing counselling services to every school in the city, and ensure children aged between three and 19 given access to vital services, including counselling and psychotherapy, both face to face and online.
USW will also provide counselling for children not in education, employment or training (NEETS) from the Helen Kegie Centre for Therapies, which was opened earlier this year in the University’s Newport Campus.
The partnership is a result of Welsh legislation which requires local authorities to provide school-based counselling services to children aged 10 (year 6) and above. Newport council extended this to age three, and designed the only scheme of its kind across Wales in partnership with USW specialists.
Christian Davies-Trigg, School Counselling Service Manager at USW, said: “We’ve been working with Newport council since 2010, initially providing counsellors to all primary school pupils, before extending the programme to cover all secondary schools.

NURSE JAILED FOR THEFT OF PATIENTS' BANK CARDS

Oct 17 - A nurse from Newport who stole bank cards from elderly patients at the Royal Gwent Hospital has been jailed. Trudy Jones, 53, took the cards of the two women in their 90s and then bought £3,100 worth of items including clothes and mobile phones. Jones was sentenced for 14 months for the six-week spending spree with the card of 94-year-old Evelyn Jewell which she stole from her handbag at her bedside. Cardiff Crown Court heard Jones also took the bank card of 91-year-old Esmee Miller from her bedside table on the same day she died, but Jones had not used the card.

CLAMPDOWN ON ILLEGAL BIKES

Oct 16 - Nine people were arrested and 19 vehicles were seized by police during an operation to target illegal bikers in Newport.
Gwent Police officers spent two consecutive nights targeting the criminal use of mopeds, motorbikes and other electric bikes across the city. The operation, involved patrols in unmarked vehicles in a bid to catch offenders in the act of riding anti-socially and committing crime.

HMS SEVERN GRANTED CITY FREEDOM

Oct 13 - A Royal Navy ship due to be decommissioned this month has arrived in Newport. The ship's company is taking a break from fisheries protection duties for a final stop at the ship's affiliated city of Newport where it undertook a freedom period. HMS Severn is also used for escorting foreign vessels like this Russian ship through British waters. The ship was also designed to carry out a number of other tasks including environmental protection, search and rescue and maritime security. While docked, the ship, which is a river class offshore patrol vessel, is only open to schools and not to the public.

DRUG SUPPLIER BEHIND BARS

Oct 12 - A Newport man has been sentenced to fifteen months behind bars after a police arrest. The police report stated "On Tuesday 29th August 2017 PC Gardner and PC Mallett were on patrol in Marshfield Street, Newport, when they saw Gareth Jenkins walking with a large bag of cannabis hanging out of his pocket. PC Gardner quickly exited the police vehicle to speak with Gareth , where he made off before being detained after a short foot chase. Gareth was found to be in possession of 6oz of cannabis and a large quantity of cash. He was arrested for possession with intent to supply cannabis and remanded in custody until his sentencing. PC Gardner said 'This kind of offending will not be tolerated by Gwent Police and we will continue to actively target the areas suffering from drug dealing.' "

COUNCIL LEADER EXPRESSES FRUSTRATION AT FINANCE DEAL

Oct 11 - Today’s draft budget settlement from Welsh Government has confirmed that Newport City Council will receive a cash reduction to its year-on-year revenue support grant. After taking into consideration specific grants which will now be transferred into the general settlement, Newport will receive a cut of 0.3 per cent for 2018/19, taking it to under £207.7 million.

Leader of Newport City Council, Councillor Debbie Wilcox, said: “This draft budget puts us in a very difficult position – despite making savings year-on-year we have even less money to spend when demands on protected services such as education and social services are growing. Welsh local authorities will again bear the brunt of the austerity measures on-going in the UK while still doing their best to maintain and deliver public services. There are a number of proposals being drawn up as part of Newport’s budget process and today’s announcement will influence what changes we will need to take forward. We have the difficult challenge of protecting the services our most vulnerable rely on, while trying to invest in our city and continuing to build a better Newport."

CITY FIRM JOINS CYBER SECURITY PROGRAMME

Oct 10 - Newport-based cyber security business has been selected from more than 500 businesses worldwide to join an accelerator programme in the Netherlands according to Insider Media Wales. Westgate Cyber Security has developed technology that allows organisations that do not share common IT infrastructure to set up instant secure networks, especially circumstances such as disaster relief or international mergers and acquisitions.

The company recently attended the Start Up Bootcamp selection week for fintech and cyber security, a competition that attracted more than 500 applications from businesses worldwide. Westgate was the first business to be selected among the ten that will go on to the four month accelerator in Amsterdam. David Notley, chief financial officer at Westgate Cyber Security, said: "To be number one on the shortlist against over 500 worldwide applications is real validation for our patent pending technology and its global market applications.

GLEBELANDS WORK SET TO START

Oct 9 - The Parks Department at Newport City Council are to undertake improvement works on some footpaths at the Glebelands Recreation Grounds.
Many of the internal paths in the area are constructed from gravel and are used by walkers and to provide access for council maintenance vehicles.
Historically the Glebelands was an old civic amenity site and the ground is prone to sinking slightly due to the ongoing composition of the buried materials. As a result officers have identified a number of gravel paths which need to be upgraded as their condition means access is almost impossible, especially during wet weather. A contractor has been instructed to supply, distribute and compact stone gravel to improve these paths. The work is due to start in the week beginning 16 October and every effort will be made to reduce any disruption to the community.

COUNCIL TRIES TO FEND OFF BIN COLLECTION SPECULATION

Oct 7 - Newport Council has moved to quell reports that it is moving to a three weekly bin collection service. The cabinet member for Streetscene, Councillor Roger Jeavons, said he was very concerned that people might be misled over what is being considered by the council on improving its waste services.
And he gave his assurance that three weekly collections are not on the agenda when the council considers its budget for the coming year.
“We have a working party which is looking at ways we can deliver the service that will result in an increase in recycling. This working group is considering all aspects of waste management and recycling, and everything must be on the table. Some suggestions may be progressed, whilst others may be removed, and at this stage three weekly collections are not part of our budget considerations. Misleading statements to suggest otherwise is just scaremongering and upsetting for our residents. We have thousands more houses being built across the city which have to be added to our routes, so we are looking at ways to make our collections more efficient. It does not mean the introduction of three weekly collections. We are well aware our residents do not want this and it is currently not on our agenda."
“However recycling is a priority for the council and we might have to consider further measures if people choose not to participate in our recycling schemes,” said Cllr Jeavons.
In a statement made to the local press today Councillor Chris Evans, a member of Newport Independent Party, said people “shouldn’t be bounced into bin collections every three weeks.”

HUGE BOOST FOR NEWPORT AS THEY HOST WALES MARATHON

Oct 5 -  The first ABP Newport Wales Marathon will bring a a huge boost to the city and new running experience to Wales on 29 April 2018 (a week after the London Marathon). The much anticipated race will take place in the spring of next year to satisfy the demand for an annual 26.2 mile mass-participation event in Wales.
The late April date falls in the ideal window for marathon running in the UK and provides the perfect opportunity for the 210,000 runners who will miss out on entry to the London Marathon to run a world-class course.
Associated British Ports have paved the way for another global sporting event to arrive in Wales after pledging its support as Title Partner.
The UK’s leading port operator has signed-up with the aim of enhancing their local community engagement through grass-roots sport.
Matthew Kennerley, Director, ABP South Wales said: “We are delighted to be playing such a pivotal role in what is set to be a major event for Wales, the city of Newport, and the sporting world. At its core, the ABP Newport Wales Marathon will work to bring together communities from across Wales in an exciting way and we are thrilled to be supporting this brand new flagship event for Wales.”
The ABP Newport Wales Marathon will provide a flagship event for Newport City Council’s emerging portfolio and will support their city centre regeneration programme.
The route, drawn up by double Olympic marathon runner Steve Brace, will start and finish in the Newport Business Improvement District and will provide a high-profile opportunity for locals and visitors alike to experience the revamped city centre.
It will also allow competitors to run quicker than ever on a flat, fast course that will take-in a host of iconic landmarks along the way. Runners can book their place on the start line when entries open today. Two thousands runners have already signed up for the event. The tour of Gwent cycle race originally scheduled for April 29 will now take place on April 15.

NEW STORE SET FOR COMMERCIAL STREET

Oct 4 - Canadian Coffee shop and Bake House Tim Hortons has put a planning application in for a large unit at 40-41 on Commercial Street. The shop has been largely unoccupied following Clark’s departure in 2014. The arrival of the Canadian outlet is subject to approval but will prove a huge boost for Commercial Street and the gateway to Friars Walk along Llanarth Street.
Elsewhere on Commercial Street new shop fronts are planned for the Thomson store near to the Westgate (rebranded as TUI) and the Works store opposite the former BHS store. Further along the Street Newport City Homes will open their first customer centre.

£50 MILLION FOR LLANWERN RAILWAY STATION

Oct 4 - The Welsh Government has announced £50 million for a new railway station and park and ride facility at Llanwern near to Glan Llyn and the new CAF train factory. The new station will offer a park and ride facility for Newport and also the nearby Celtic Manor Wales International Convention Centre.

USW COMMITS TO REINVESTING CAERLEON FUNDS IN CITY CAMPUS SITE

Oct 1 - University of South Wales has committed to invest the funds from the sale of Caerleon Campus site into a new site in near their existing city centre campus. On their Caerleon site consultation website they state "The proceeds from the sale of Caerleon will be reinvested in Newport for the development of the Knowledge Quarter. The University of South Wales and Coleg Gwent have formed a task force to develop options for a new Newport Knowledge Quarter, an education and skills hub in the heart of the City. The potentially £60m development will be anchored on the University’s flagship Newport City Campus.

The aim is to expand from the current campus in developing a major new learning hub along the riverbank and the surrounding area that would include:
• A major new FE campus development to accommodate a potential long-term relocation of Coleg Gwent’s Campus at Nash Road into the city centre.
• A shared development by the University and College, linking the HE and FE campuses with a shared library, learning and social spaces.
Funding for the development is likely to involve a combination of USW money raised from the sale of the former Caerleon campus, Coleg Gwent investment, commercial finance, and Welsh Government investment.