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CHARITIES JOIN FORCES OVER SENCOM

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

COUNCIL WARNING ABOUT COLD CALLERS

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

BEER GARDEN TERRACE SET FOR QUEEN'S HOTEL

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

CITY COUNCIL COMMISSIONS LEISURE AND SHOPPING STUDY

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

TOLLS FREE FROM MONDAY

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

NGD EXTEND THEIR REACH

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

WOMAN IN HOSPITAL AFTER HOME BLAZE

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

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

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

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

CONCERN OVER SENCOM SERVICE CUT

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

CITY MP CALLS FOR MORE FIREWORK CONTROLS

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

GO COMPARE ANNOUNCES REDUNDANCIES

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

RINGLAND RE-GEN SCHEME UNDER WAY

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

NEW FRIARS WALK STORE

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

DEATH 'NOT SUSPICIOUS'

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

POBL OPEN OVER 55's COMPLEX

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

M4 RELIEF ROAD ANNOUNCEMENT DELAYED

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

CITY TEENAGERS REMANDED OVER ST. MELLONS MURDER

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

ANOTHER GRANT TO ASSIST WITH NEW FOOTBRIDGE

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

MAN JAILED AFTER FIGHT ENDED WITH EAR BITTEN OFF

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

PUB CHAIN FINED FOR HYGIENE BREACH

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

TWO MEN JAILED FOR COUNTERFEIT RECORD OFFENCES

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

STILL WAITING FOR RELIEF ROAD ANNOUNCEMENT

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

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

TOLL REMOVAL PLANS OUTLINED

 

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

GLASS-ROOFED TRAINS TO BUILT AT NEWPORT?

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

 

LOCAL PUBLIC TRANSPORT IN CRISIS

 

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

 

ENERGY PLANS MOVE AHEAD

 

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

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

KEY HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS ON WAY

 

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

VELOTHON WALES COMES TO AN END

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

 

TRIBUTES PAID TO NEWPORT BUSINESSMAN

 

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

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

RECYCLING PROJECT GETS BACKING IN MAINDEE

 

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

 

LANDLORDS PROSECUTED FOR BREACHING HOUSING RULES

 

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

 

TAXI DRIVER FINED FOR SMOKING IN CAB

 

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

CITY CAR PARKING INCOME REVEALED

 

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

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

 

COUNCIL LEADER NOT STANDING FOR NEWPORT WEST

 

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

 

MONMOUTH MP PAYS TRIBUTE TO FLYNN

 

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

 

 

BIRD PORT INVESTMENT PLAN

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

ELEVEN ARRESTS AFTER SURPRISE POLICE RAIDS

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

CARAVANS SEIZED

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

MAIN POST OFFICE RE-LOCATION

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

HOTEL PLAN FOR TJs

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

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

M4 RELIEF ROAD DECISION IN DECEMBER

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

MP CALLS FOR CHARTIST RECOGNITION

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

OLYMPIA HOUSE COMPLETION SET FOR FEBRUARY

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

QUEENS' SCHOOL SITE SET FOR APPROVAL

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

FLYNN TO STEP DOWN AS MP

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

SEIZED GOODS TO BE GIVEN TO CITY HOMELESS

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

TRAVELLERS EVICTED FROM NEWPORT SITE

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

FIRST APART-HOTEL TO OPEN IN NOVEMBER

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

FILM COMPANY MOVES TO QUEENSWAY MEADOWS BASE

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

SMALL BUSINESS BROADBAND BOOST

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

HIT AND RUN TEENAGER JAILED FOR 12 YEARS

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

HOTEL PLAN FOR FORMER TAX OFFICE BUILDING

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

FOCUS ON CHILD EXPLOITATION IN NEW NEWPORT PROJECT

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

COUNCIL LAUNCH NEW SAFETY ORDER

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

PLAN FOR NEW CORPA ROAD DEVELOPMENT

LATEST SURVEY SHOWS HOUSING PRICE RISE

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

COUNCIL RECEIVES NOTIFICATION OF ITS GRANT SETTLEMENT

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

MORDEN CHALLENGES GRAYLING TO ADDRESS CROSS-BORDER TRAIN SERVICES

 

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

 

FRENCH ARTICLE POINTS TO REASONS WHY CITY BACKED BREXIT

 

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

 

ARGUS READERS BACK REMAIN

 

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

 

LATVIAN MAN ARRESTED

 

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

WILDINGS CONFIRMS CLOSURE

 

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

COMMUNITY COUNCIL BACKS NEW CHARTIST MURAL

 

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

 

COUNCIL TO TAKE ON PARKING ENFORCEMENT IN JULY 2019

 

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

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

 

TOLLS TO GO EARLIER THAN PLANNED

 

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

CAERLEON PLANS THROWN OUT

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

COUNCIL LEADER CALLS FOR END TO LOCAL GOVERNMENT SPENDING RESTRICTIONS

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

NEW FIRM BRING TEN NEW JOBS / OTHER PLANNING NEWS

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

POLICE CLAIM NEWPORT CITY CENTRE HAS FEWEST CALLOUTS IN FORCE AREA

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

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

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

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

CAERLEON CAMPUS PLAN SET FOR BIN

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

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

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

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

"There are no leisure facilities in Caerleon."

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

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

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

 

CHILDCARE OFFER EXPANDS IN TO NEWPORT

 

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

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

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

 

CONSERVATION AREA PLAN FOR CAERLEON

 

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

YET ANOTHER GYM CHAIN OPENS IN NEWPORT!

 

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

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

 

PARKING CHARGES SET FOR FOURTEEN LOCKS

 

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

• discourage commuter parking and free up space for park visitors

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

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

UK SPACE CONFERENCE HEADS TO ICC

 

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

 

COUNCIL HIGHWAYS BETTER THAN WELSH AVERAGE

 

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

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

COUNCIL MOUNTS DEFENCE AGAINST PARC PANTRY CLOSURE CRITICISM

 

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

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

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

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

 

MARKET ARCADE GRANT RECEIVED

 

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

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

Medium Priority: 15 & 17 Market Arcade.

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

NEWPORT BUS APOLOGISE AFTER WEEKS OF POOR PERFORMANCE

 

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

 

NEW FOOTBRIDGE SET TO REPLACE DREADED SUBWAY

 

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

 

TOURISM NUMBERS UP

 

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

 

MP EXPRESSES CONCERN AT POVERTY OF WORKING PEOPLE IN NEWPORT

 

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

 

NGD HOSTS US BANK

 

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

 

ARREST FOLLOWING ROBBERY

 

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